Happy Star Wars Day

May the Fourth Be with You - Star Wars Day

Considering how much I loved (and still love) Star Wars, it’s surprising I can only find three photographs about “growing up Star Wars.

 

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I Was a Strange Child

Exhibit A

I had a four drawer filing cabinet in my bedroom during my teenage years. My grandpa subscribed to a few weekly news magazines, and when he had read them, he passed them along to me. I would scour each issue for interesting articles, which I would sometimes read but always tear out of the magazine putting it in its proper place, my own verticle file. I had a folder for beauty tips, relationship advice, and a slew of current events: the Iran-Contra affair, women’s rights, and education among them. This was before the internet, so information wasn’t as easy to access

This was before the internet, so information wasn’t as easy to access. However, I’m not sure I’m any less a hoarder of information now as I was then.

My Illustrious Tennis Career (Or, That One Time I Played Tennis)

B Street Tennis Courts (Ardmore OK)Since I moved my blog to WordPress, I’ve been browsing some of the other blogs on the site. I quickly found The Daily Post which offers blogging tips as well as a daily prompt. The World Cup Games inspired today’s prompt, “Offside Memories,” about funny, harrowing, or notable memories from sports we’ve watched, attended, or played.

Once, I even received an award for sports! When I was in eighth grade, I was on the tennis team. I can’t remember why I decided to sign up. Given my priorities at the time, I likely had friends who played or a crush on a tennis player. Back in fourth grade at Oak Hall, our class did play tennis regularly, but I hadn’t picked up a racket since then. The summer before 8th grade, I signed up for tennis classes.

On one of Oklahoma’s hot, humid summer mornings, I was standing on the court with a group of other students learning how to do a backhand stroke. We must have repeated it 300 times! I’ve never liked being hot or sweaty. I was probably daydreaming about whatever boy was striking my fancy at the time or thinking of how thirsty I was. Suddenly, I was looking up into a circle of faces, some concerned, some devilishly delighted. I had fainted – someone said because I had locked my knees – and fallen like a plank onto the tennis court.

Sure, it could have been worse, but it was bad. My chin had busted open when it hit the ground. One of the coaches took me to the emergency room, but they hadn’t gotten parental consent forms, so the doctors couldn’t treat me. (I think that I single-handedly changed the registration process for tennis classes to include parental consent forms in the case of emergencies.) My mother picked me up and took me to the doctor for stitches, and my aunt Lizzie joined us there. I asked her how bad the carnage was. She replied, “Remember that scene in Poltergeist where the man is tearing the flesh off his face?” The next day, I had to see my dentist for a tooth reconstruction because one of my molars split in two.

Despite that inauspicious beginning, I remained enthusiastic about joining the tennis team. The first step was taking a written exam covering the rules of the game. I earned the highest marks, thank you very much. I’ve always been good with things in theory. In practice, however, I was not a tennis whiz. I remained, to my horror, at the bottom of the ladder all season. I really hated tournaments, though I did enjoy away matches when we’d pile onto the old yellow bus. I also enjoyed my new, chic tennis racket and cute tennis skirt and bloomers. Early in the season, I pulled a groin muscle and was sidelined (to my relief) for a few weeks.

When the season was over, I resolved not to join a school sports team again – and I did not. I also never picked up a tennis racket or played tennis again. It was not my finest moment. My family like to reminisce that, although my tennis career was an undisputable failure, I did receive the “Scholar Athlete” award at the end of the year ceremony. I still feel slightly guilty. I was never really an athlete at all.

Metaphorical Death = Metaphorical Fertilizer

I have read and enjoyed “Free Will Astrology” since I was a college student in Chicago. Rob Brezny‘s horoscope for me for this week, beginning May 29, once again reflects my current circumstances. While the prediction may seem bleak, I am comforted by the thought of future growth.
I am going to try to concentrate on the flowers, not the cowpie.
Home Composting in Roubaix (Nord, France) by F Moreau Lille3

 

Children of the World

When I was little, my mother took me to the First Christian Church of Ardmore. As churches in southern Oklahoma go, it was fairly liberal, and I am so grateful that the family’s church home wasn’t a Southern Baptist congregation.

Although I am no longer associated with the church, I have fond memories of the fellowship and the friends I had in my Sunday School classes and at church camp.

I also enjoy memories of the songs, which were a part of youth groups, church services, vacation bible school, and camp. Sometimes, one of these songs will pop into my head for no apparent reason.

First Christian Church Vacation Bible School
circa 1981

Last night, just this phenomenon struck me, and the melody and words (at least those of the first chorus) of “Jesus Love the Little Children” arose as if I were in the fellowship hall on a summer afternoon. It struck me that this children’s religious song even now reflects my values and concerns about social justice (that is if you just assume Jesus is a kind, wise historical figure and if you ignore the racist undertones of the labels for skin colors*):

Jesus loves the little children
All the children of the world
Black and yellow, red and white
They’re all precious in His sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world

The Interweb records that a C.H. Woolston (1856-1927), wrote the lyrics to accompany the music composed by George F. Root (1820-1895) who had originally written the score for a Civil War song called, no joke, “Tramp, Tramp, Tramp.”

I know many of the people who grew up with me in Ardmore sang this song, too, as did children all over the country (world?). The song is the subject of myriad blog posts and forum discussions. And yet, here we are, in 2014, still plagued by prejudice and discrimination perhaps heightened (embarrassingly so) by the election of the United States’ first black president. (The New York Times has gathered a collection of opinion pieces that explore this issue in the Racism in the Age of Obama feature.) It is amazing to me that, as a whole, we are so poorly behaved and so cruel. Maybe the song is too childish and the message is too simple, but I cannot see how people who profess to be Christians and who embrace Jesus (as the son of god, not as my historical hero) are so often the same people who do this and this. (Look at this one just because it’s funny and you deserve it after viewing the first two links.) Even if you argue that these are fringe groups that don’t represent the majority of conservatives, modern racism affects people of color in subtle and insidious ways.

I certainly don’t have the answers, but I do know that many groups are working to achieve social justice. Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance program provides resources to educators to promote acceptance and understanding. Teaching for Change published a number of books and toolkits for parents and educators. Here in Ithaca, the Park Foundation has provided local organizations tens of thousands of dollars to promote equality and social justice. Many large corporations in the United States value and support diversity. Even Denny’s, which in the 1990s systematically discriminated against employees of color, has since improved it work culture and bottom line by committing to properly managing diversity (Brathwaite).

This might be an issue that seems so overwhelming that one might feel powerless to change the institutional forces contributing to inequality and injustice. And, yes, alone, we might be, but that doesn’t mean that we can abandon our individual efforts. Let’s remember and honor the meaning of the children’s song so many of us sang on Sunday mornings.

* I’m not sure how prevalent this is, but some internet sources indicate that the lines “Black and yellow, red and white / They’re all precious in his sight” is substituted with “Every color, every race / They’re all covered by his grace” for more palatable and modern lyrics.

Something Is Wrong with this Picture

I was so pleased with the sunglasses I bought in downtown Indianapolis and wore while walking around on a sunny day that when I was heading into the Eiteljorg Museum (just to get postcards – no time to see actual art!) I stopped for a selfie. Only after I returned to my hotel did I realize I’d left the UV notice sticker on the lens. Here I was thinking I was so cool…

First Birthday

I received my first birthday card (for my July 10th birthday) today from my tribe, the Choctaw Nation. I appreciate receiving personal mail from the tribe. (We also get Christmas ornaments and calendars.) Often, I will get postcards about special events, and I’m almost always impressed with the designs!