Dilemma

I have a piece of artwork that has got me in a quandary.

It’s a painting, done by a friend, that is beautiful, that is huge.

And that is so connected to him; he gave it to me in the woo-ing me back stage. I had mentioned once in passing that she was an amazing artist and that she had done this one…

And we all know what happened after that.

There’s some additional history to this gift that I won’t get into, but suffice it to say there’s a second one out there too.

So I hung it on my wall here because the space screamed for an extra-large piece of art.

But in the process of getting over him, I took it down.

And now it’s propped up against the wall in my house while I ponder on hanging on to it even though I have nowhere truly safe to store it.

But I do love it so.

For now, though, I I walk by it and think, “Oh yeah, there’s that fucking painting.”

my dilemma

Someone I know and respect just posted something about the atrocities imposed on bulls as part of the bullfighting culture in Portugal.

Things we don’t like to think about.

But then there’s this…

When I was 13 and was still an innocent child and yet also a budding bleeding hearted liberal, my family went to Spain.

We travelled all over the country going to castles and vineyards and eating tapas.

My mother who was the most incredible tour guide ever, always wanting us to experience the true culture of wherever we were, announced that Bullfights were on the agenda.

She’d never had a bad idea before so we all said yes.

My parents were concerned that their daughter, Elly May Clampett, wouldn’t be able to handle the murders, that they had a plan for extricating me from the arena if it looked like I might run into the ring to throw myself in front of the matador’s sword.

I surprised everyone, mostly myself.

I fucking loved every second of it. A good bullfight is a glorious thing.

It’s insane. You are hanging on the edge of your seat from the second the bull is released into the arena.

Six matadors. Six bulls.

It’s horrible when you think about it – truly cruel.

And yet, I was cheering them on.

Then, just to add to the experience, my mom found out about an artist who had been a bullfighter and lived in a tiny old stone home within the walled city and he painted using bulls’ blood.

And he had taken in a young orphan boy named Frederico and raised him and we came home with a portrait of the boy painted with blood.

So when I read that bit on Facebook, I felt a little defensive.

Does that make me a bad person?

might piss some people off with this one…

When my children were just tots, we, along with another couple, decided to start a charter school here in town.

We were educators; educators of the experiential and outdoor type; and we wanted to create a school that would create the environment that we believed was best for learning and growing.

Our intentions were good. We wanted this for the community, not just our children, and we “knew” that this was the best form of learning in a town this size with the resources at hand.

We put together a presentation for interested parties that was well researched, thorough, and super convincing.

We knew that everyone would jump on our bandwagon.

Until they didn’t.

I was standing in front of a room full of neighbors gathered in the community center and before I could even finish, a local woman (whose name I won’t mention but if I did, no one would be surprised that she was the one to set me straight) spoke up and asked,

“Who the hell do you think you are coming into our town and telling us what to do with our children when you haven’t even set foot in the existing school?”

Needless to say it kind of took the wind out of our sails. We were astounded that we didn’t have the support of this town because we obviously knew what was best for our children and therefore the children of this community.

Our school didn’t happen. Kids went to alternative preschools (primarily because we overqualified for Headstart by $13.) and then, our boys went to kindergarten at the public school and stayed there until they each graduated.

The school here did some great things for my kids and my children were failed in some ways. We got involved, PTA (for a brief time), classroom volunteers, school board, curriculum committees.

Fucking D.I.

Our kids made friends with the local kids, girls and boys, older and younger. They grew up knowing everyone in this town because the reality is, the school is the heart of a community like this and there is no faster way to become an integral member of the town than by getting involved in the school and going to school here.

During this last year, I have relied so heavily on friendships that developed while sitting in child-sized desks eating blue cupcakes. The other football parents are my family; 8 years of sitting in the stands, in the cold, in some place in the middle of the San Luis Valley, brought, along with the suffering, a bond that includes a deep love for those families and all of those boys in helmets and pads.

When Number 3 moved in with us, we were inundated with food, clothing, furniture, and love to help make it possible for this boy to thrive.

Everywhere I go in this town – the grocery store, post office, library, etc., I know people who care about me, care about my boys, and about whom I care deeply.

I am thankful that all of those years ago, DW, gave me that reality check.

The reality being…we did think that we were better than, our children more deserving, and that we knew better what was good for our community…

Without ever setting foot inside the institution that we were trying to protect our children from.

In a nutshell, we were elitists and we got shut down.

In all of the pros and cons of my children’s educational experience, I am so glad that my  boys went here; they are loved and included and supported by so many amazing people that we would have missed out on knowing had we kept them separate.

And each and every one of those people has added value to our lives.

Well most everyone.

My son said to me the other day, “Mom, I know that if the shit ever hit the fan I would have so many people here that I could turn to if needed.”

The other one has said, often, “Some of these kids have such hard lives, it makes ours seem pretty easy.”

Gratitude.

Empathy.

Compassion.

Sometimes I feel as if I can’t say enough about the beauty of being a member of this community, about the kind and wonderful and fun and funny and smart and valuable folks that make up this town – people I would not know if I had isolated my children and therefore myself.

I know people who I never would have known otherwise, good people who I may not have much in common with but we have children and that is all that we need to have in common.

We would never have known Number 3, and therefore would never have opened our doors and our hearts to him, and our family would be lacking.

DW also let us know that night that if we want something different, first, experience what already is and then, get involved, be the change that you want to see.

Don’t just go to a school board meeting when there is danger of a tree being cut down.

I’ve learned so much and grown so much, as my children have; I am no longer that wide-eyed snobbish gal who believed my children to be better than my neighbors’.

So, as this school year begins, I hear a lot from the parents of young kiddos asking “What are you going to do about school?” and the answer is not, but should be, “Duh, he’s going to kindergarten here.”

From my crone throne I see families going through the same angst that we did; I see solutions that range from homeschooling to driving 30 miles twice a day, several days a week to make sure that the kids get the education they deserve.

Let’s talk resources people.

I shake my head, I get a little fired up, I see the hypocrisy of preaching community and yet refusing to participate in that one thing that lies at the heart of said community.

There are more families now that are looking for alternatives than when my boys were young. That’s that many more children who will not be going to the public school.

That’s that much money the school won’t be receiving. That’s that many more educated caring parents with time to get involved who won’t be getting involved here. It’s more children who will grow up isolated from their peers, hanging out with only like-minded boys and girls with like-minded parents.

It’s opportunities missed to learn compassion and empathy and humility.

This school is far from perfect – I don’t know of any rural public school that is. But if we have chosen to call this town “home” then fucking participate don’t separate.

I say, at least give it a try. I know some folks whose children have gone here for several years and will now be attending school somewhere else. That’s different – that’s we tried it and it doesn’t work for our family. Not, we know that this school isn’t good enough for our child even though we haven’t even given it a try.

I will also give credence to those who have been committed to homeschooling since babies were in the womb. But there are opportunities  there to mingle, as some parents have – send your kid here for a couple of classes, let them participate in sports, or the school play, or music with the most amazing music teacher a school could ever hope for.

And let me also say here that predetermining who the good teachers are and who you’re willing to let teach your child is of the same mindset. We have some exceptional teachers. Phenomenal. And sure there are some less than perfect ones too – but you’re going to find that in any school.

And if you make the decisions about who you want to be your child’s teacher based on hearsay, then you’re still being a snob.

As I’ve gotten older I have less tolerance for anything that hints at elitism, especially when it’s couched, somehow, in “community.” You can’t be a part of a community if you avoid it, if you think you know more than, if you think that your children are more deserving, more special.

I say all of this with the wisdom of age and experience because, as I began with, I was one of those parents.

And I no longer am.

So, I will end my tirade with, give what we have a try. Get involved. Participate in your community.

Be a Blue Jay.

the discerning art collector

Whenever I walk past Pier One I look at the display windows and wonder, who finds mass-produced art attractive and actually wants it hanging on their walls?

Admittedly, it’s quite snobby of me.

I believe in one-of-a-kinds, originals, cool shit you find in the back of a thrift store, or art produced by friends.

So as I’m checking out at the Salvation Army the other day, I saw this hanging on the wall:

And I’m totally excited because it’s a real canvas stretched on a real wooden frame and there’s even a layer of gesso on some sections.

Convinced I’ve scored, I hang it on the wall, sit back and appreciate my new bird.

Then I notice that it’s hanging a bit cattywumpus and when I take it down to adjust, I see the sticker on the back:

Pier One Imports.

Guess who like mass-produced art.

Utah vs Colorado

I went to Moab this weekend to have dinner with my son.

What I am aware of when I go to Moab, is that I don’t call it going to Utah.

When I “go to Utah” I am going for desert and solitude and nature.

When I go to Moab I’m going for an urban experience, so the two barely feel like the same place.

When I am there, as beautiful as it is, I feel incredibly disconnected from the rocks around me; I’m distracted by cars and people and coffee shops and parking spots and sometimes even schedules.

But my boy is there, so there I go.

Tourists abound – it’s like a monstrous bus opened its doors and dumped out thousands of passengers then went away and came back with another busload.

The people are there for thrills, Arches, and shopping for Red Dirt T-shirts.

We have tourists too – they’re here for ruins and train rides.

The thing I notice the most about the adventure tourists is that they tend to be really uncomfortable in their bodies – these are people who do not spend a lot of time outside connecting with the dirt beneath their feet.

Everything in Moab is about the adventure; boatingbikingclimbing4-wheeling. It’s a scene.

My son loves it – he gets sick of the crowds, but as a river guide, he is right in the thick of the action – he’s part of the energy that creates the scene.

It’s a world that I used to be a part of but no longer am. I am conscious of bringing a little bit of country with me when I sit down at the dinner table at the restaurant owned by the boating company which caters to people in hiking boots and brand new Keens.

I used to feel so cool when I was a guide there. Now I’m totally not cool and totally okay with it.

After dinner, as I was leaving town, I thought about the fact that I no longer fit into that scene and I realized that after close to 23 years in a rural ranching community, I am very much a Colorado gal.

Albeit a Colorado gal from New Jersey.

2 hours away from each other, my town and my son’s town are like night and day – I feel like a hick – unsophisticated, working class, an intimate participant in the landscape of my home.

We work hard and get dirty a lot ’round these parts. W e are comfortable in our bodies because we use them and because we have a connection to the land.

On my way south to my very remote camping destination, I stopped at a used gear store on my son’s recommendation and my observations were proven correct.

In Moab, people buy pearl button shirts and straw cowboy hats at the same place they buy climbing equipment and wetsuits.

Hip, trendy, cool.

Over here, on this side of the border, we buy pearl buttons and hats at ranch stores.

Utilitarian.

 

 

Yep, my dog is THAT dog

My next door neighbors have two female black labs who Elvis crushes on big time.

If there is any sign of life next door, he races over, impossible to detain, deter, or dissuade, hoping that he’ll get to see the girls – even if only for a moment.

Said neighbors are getting married this weekend and they have family in town which equates to lots of activity over there and lots of “Elvis, get back here.”

It’s already embarrassing, but tonight…

There’s a man outside, Elvis’ substantial ears perk up and he’s running before I can even open my mouth. So I hurry over, yelling, “I’m so sorry.”

I’m far enough behind to be useless if he tries to eat someone, but close enough to see him run up to the wine casket and pee on it.

“I’m really so sorry. My name is Sally. I’m the neighbor with the wretched dog.”

Then I call the dog and attempt a graceful and hasty retreat.

I look over my shoulder at the father of the bride to say a quick toodleloo and watch my dog vomit all over their patio.

shitdamn

fuck

The answer

The question:

Is it ever okay to wear socks with sandals?

Opinions tend to vary, and are also, quite strong.

Not a lot of gray area.

Until now.

The answer that bridges the gap:

Yes, it is okay to wear socks with sandals as long as the socks are glittery.