…since I posted something.

I’ve been busy trying to find a job and being a mom of two teens. I’ve always heard that the first years were the hardest. Not true – my girls were easy babies and easy toddlers – well-behaved, easy to entertain – and no saying on what to wear, eat, go, when to sleep, shower… I think it gets harder as they get older!!!! I’m always taking kids somewhere – and, goodness, they have an opinion!!!! Just joking – they are lots of fun! With that said, I am the very proud mother of two incredible girls and my older one just won the video festival at her school! Super cool. So here is a link to her video:

or

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/62310951/Making%20a%20Difference.mov

Hope you enjoy it!


English: Seal of the President of the United S...

Image via Wikipedia

I wasn’t born here but I have always favored the Democrat US Presidents over the Republican ones while growing up in Brazil. I moved to the US during Clinton’s second presidential term – and the beginning of a retrograde in American life the way the world perceives it.

I could not understand why such a private matter with the President was considered as a reason to impeach him. I could not understand it at all. Not that I endorse cheating, but I thought it was not a matter of State or political agenda – it was a matter between a husband and a wife. After Bush “won” the election, I understood it was the beginning of a false moralization movement to gain Republican vote. I also understood that there was a great number of Americans who wish they still lived in the 50’s – and when I moved to Texas, I confirmed not only that, but also the use of religion in politics, most specifically, Christianity as a way to compel and convince people that they (the Republicans) were the good guys because they were against abortion, pro gun, pro death sentencing, against gay (and many other minorities), and pro rich.

But I digress: my intention here is to explain why I can’t be Republican. My husband’s family was Republican until Obama (not sure if they are Democrats, but I believe they voted democrat in the last Presidential election), except for my husband, who has been a democrat since College. We first lived in Arizona, a Republican state and then moved to Texas – a supersized Republican state – so, I’ve been surrounded by Republicans most of my American life (16 years so far). We are a middle class (struggling) family with no pretension of looking and acting as if we were rich – we live from pay check to pay check (I lost my job in February – so our pay check to pay check has been tightened…), hardly go on vacation, focus on our kids – and pay our taxes, no matter what – we have no investments – just our house. I had to cash most of my 401K to make ends meet. I don’t mind paying taxes, because I do enjoy the benefits of paying taxes: roads, schools, health care, culture, libraries, arts… I don’t enjoy paying the same (or more) than a person who makes 20 times more than my husband and I make together. It is just not right, period. The very small percentage (getting smaller and smaller) of millionaires also use the roads, the schools, culture, arts – in fact, I think they are the ones that take most advantage of it – even with health care, because of all Federal Grants that can be awarded to medical research and help with treatment that most likely will be available to the ones who can afford it first!

What I notice is that, most of the Republicans that I meet, fell for the Republican message that they need to protect the rich because they will be rich one day!!!! And the poor are just lazy, incompetent, and made a bad choice in life (I actually heard these exact words from some people). Some bought into the whole “moral” discourse (which is just a discourse, but not lived by the majority of them) – Christians should behave and follow Christ’s example of love…

The majority of Republicans just love a “bully” – a “leader” who won’t take no for an answer, etc. Yet, if Obama shows any sign of being fed up with the Republican boycott to our economy, he is not fair, he is a “communist” (that’s quite funny in my opinion)… oh, the double standards. I think that’s one of the things I dislike the most – together with the racism I perceive, the intolerance, the selfishness, the ego trip. If Republicans were to follow the rule they proclaim as theirs: small government, no government messing with our business – then the corporations would be even more ruling than they are now (yes, because if a corporation is viewed as a people and have the same rights as I have in Campaign contribution, then they should pay taxes as I do – in Texas they pay much less than small business owners). Corporations control how our political, economical, legislative state go – they don’t even need lobbyists anymore – they just “buy” their politicians with campaign contribution and control the course of our lives. I think that, in a near future, if we don’t scale down campaign rules, we won’t have politicians any longer – it will be only Corporate CEO’s determining how much more they can profit by making the middle class and the poor pay for it.

But, again, I digress – I can’t be a Republican simply because I grew up with the understanding that even if you are more privileged, you share, you care, you do your part so the world is a better place – in all aspects. I don’t see that sentiment in the Republican politicians – it’s all about greed, money, and telling lies – all about this supreme power that is beyond their control and their reach, but that they feel compelled to protect, because, this way, they will have their interests protected (money, money, money with a taste of power). I can’t be a Republican because I don’t believe in their discourse, because I’ve only witnessed serious character scandals on them that jeopardize the country, the unethical “playground” rules that they enforce, and their hijacking of the Christian beliefs. I’m neither pro-life, nor pro-choice – I am pro-education – and during the Republican years I’ve experienced so far, children and young adults were robbed of their rights of being educated – the campaign in schools for abstinence were ridiculous and unrealistic… (Let’s be frank: how many more teenage pregnancies resulting in dropping out of school occurred during Bush’s administration? And how about venereal diseases? I don’t think educating kids about the risk of contracting a disease or becoming pregnant means that I am encouraging them to have sex. But telling a horny teenager that wearing condoms will not prevent them from getting someone pregnant and abstinence is the only way, will not stop them – in fact, I think it will give them carte blanche to not wear a condom…) The pretend game Republican leaders play scares and worries me… I can’t be a Republican because I don’t want to live in the 50’s when it was OK to be a racist, to be ignorant, to be selfish, and not to care about our responsibility in preserving the world’s resources. I can’t be a Republican! Period.

But I have to say: I am not that happy with the Democrats either…

***Note: I started writing this on October 1st, 2011. Since then, lots more have happened that just corroborate my feelings: Occupy Wall Street and We Are 99% movements, the Republican presidential candidates circus – Cain, Perry, Bachmann, and, the worst: Gingrich (a serious threat to this country’s freedom and constitution and a step back of another 50 years… come on, child labor is OK? among many other scary things he says), GOP skipping town to make the poor pay more taxes… Oh, my, what are my choices? Isn’t it obvious? But I do need to learn more about Ron Paul.


Knitting the time
With colored yarns
Creating a pattern
Of useful thoughts

The rhythm of clackety needles
The peace it gives me
To just repeat
And repeat
And repeat
Till time is so
Painted and decorated
That we make sense of it
With tired eyes…
Looking back
At the net we weaved (or knitted)
To pass the time
And find ourselves in the now
We used to know


Atardecer

Image by ogme via Flickr

 

 

Prove me wrong, please

I’m tired of being right

Or thinking I’m right.

 

Prove all my thoughts,

Beliefs, theories,

Prove them wrong

Let me have hope

And believe something new.

 

All my behaviors – so cemented in me

Will fall apart

Will have no base

On this old shield

That is around me – supposed to protect

But all it did was destroy me

 

Prove me wrong

So I can start tasting life


Oh, no! I’m afraid some people will start throwing stones at me… Don’t get me wrong, the purses are pretty – but way over priced.

Let me explain what I don’t like about Vera Bradley, American Girl dolls, etc: they make children want to be what they are not! The whole branding fascination does that and the children that cannot afford them, feel worthless. And make parents try to live beyond their means… They are elitist and exclusive!

There is a tendency in the American society to compensate every need with material things – let’s go shopping for when things go bad… And it is hitting kids at younger ages every year. And the trends, that are so instant and replaceable in the era of flash love, hit schools like a hurricane. There is the case of wall paper, carpet, and chandeliers for lockers – FOR LOCKERS!!!!! What is the real use of it but create more garbage????? And all the girls feel they must have them to decorate their school lockers… and the girls that don’t do it are out (popularity, anyone?). And the “need” to have a Vera Bradley purse or backpack – to go to school, really? And the brand jeans, shirts, shoes. I have to confess that I ended up buying Tom’s shoes for my kids – they are overpriced, but I think I felt compelled by the Company’s campaign to shoe kids in developing countries for every pair of Tom’s you buy. The capitalist charitable way…

I can see my girls fascinated by all this – wanting and wanting – and feeling less valued and important because they don’t have them (am I being a bad mother?) But I am trying to teach them that these “things”, because they are just things, are not what define them, or make them happy. It’s just an outside validation that will go away, replaced by the next… and it will be impossible to keep up with it to “feel” happy.

We did have our brands and trends when I was growing up, but I did not feel less valued because I didn’t have them – if I liked something and it resonated with my style (because style and liking to dress are part of growing up) I’d try to find a good deal – and so did most of my friends. The ones who didn’t, were not show offs, just a bit lazy… but no one was an outcast because of what they wore or had…

But this is a different culture and society and I am a bit lost (and old… very different generation…) – and honestly reaching out to all mothers – am I messing up with my kids’ life by not fulfilling what I consider an empty desire? By not surrendering to the “popular” concept that I don’t understand? Do we, as parents, need to subscribe to these material wants so our kids feel accepted? How, when I start seeing kids so young going to school with their iPhones and iPads, and their expensive shoes, and purses, and jewelry, just so they are above (or better, the same) others?

Being a teenager is already such a delicate and sensitive phase  – and with this material interference, it makes it harder and harder. We preach against peer pressure, but subscribing to this whole issue is accepting the pressure… why do we conform to the wrong causes and issues?…

Would love to know what you think – I’m at loss…


If I were music

I’d be all over the score

Incoherent – no cadence

No rythm nor harmony –

A noise – mismatched sounds

Like the Orchestra tuning the instruments

Just before the concert –

The intention of calm melody

Being declared…

If I were a painting

Cubist I would be

With precise geometric forms

In an altered manner –

Landing ground for the chaotic stance

That reigns over the internal order

The colors of dried flowers

Proclaiming the inevitable – end

So we can complete the cycle – so round and circular

Thus reaching the beginning

If I were a tapestry

I would have seedy thread

A sign of fatigue that comes with time

Feet that walk the long walk of life

And found rest in me.

My stitches would be spun

By old women hands –

Quiet – arthritic – contorted bones

conquered by the mighty needles

With every stitch a story

Forming an image

Searching the memory

What an irony

The elder can only sew

The remembrance of the wound

I am not painting, music, nor art

I’m not whole – nor part

But I spread myself – in disasters

I don’t try to hide what ignites me


She wakes up early
And goes to work
Doesn’t take care of the house
She is the bread winner – not a homemaker
The kids complain
Food feels like plastic
No taste – no spices
The world is practical
More laundry to do
Dust covers the furniture
Husband works hard
She pays the expenses
Get children in the shower
TV is calling
It’s midnight already
No time to turn the dial…
She answers the emails
A little wired
And the day comes too soon
Full of routine
And smoke
Messes
And pranks

She takes a deep breath
And faces the world
Fights the traffic
Her personal daily war
Modern woman
Like sardine in a can

Feels robbed of her instincts
Cannot listen to intuition
And – to hide her shame
She has a pill
To stop her monthly menses


I GAVE YOU A CHANCE
AND YOU FLED
AND I, PENELOPE,
WEAVE MISTAKES TO MYSELF
TANGLED IN MY LOOM…


Open the faucet

Letting all words and ideas in a torrential spill

Flooding the soul

That was rusty and stiff – empty without inspiration

So hard to control the flow

The stream is powerful

Runs freely – no caution

It’s better to follow the natural

The little sprinkling of the water

Refreshes me

But the rocks

Make the walk harder

Bruising my steps

The fall is consequence –

The climax of the navigation

I’m so out of control – no rudder, nor compass

I continue adrift – submitted to the torrential waters

I shall get to the Valley

That is expanding in my mind


Yesterday my 12-year-old told me she was giving up! Seriously, this early in life? Then she gave me her reasons. She has tried being elected for the Student Council Body in her school for the last 4 years with no success – she came close a couple of times, though. Today she realized she can’t win because she is not “popular”. I hate this concept of popular and losers that reigns in schools and, sadly, office spaces… I did not grow up in the US and had a really hard time understanding the whole idea of being popular and being a loser and I quickly noticed how those ideas are linked to bullying. So, why do schools continue to support such mentality? In the end, what popularity means is that you are mediocre – you look and act as everyone else. When you think, dress, and act differently, then you are considered “weird”, or a “loser”. Well, I rather be a loser than being “cattle” – I love everything creative, and different, and unexpected. But everyone wants acceptance and likes recognition – and popularity is the peak of being accepted – by being common and mid stream…

Gabi, my 12-year-old, is a very good kid – gets good grades, complies with the rules, is kind-hearted, stands for what is right. Yet, she goes unnoticed by the school at large. She does not have a bubbly-in-your-face-it’s-all-about-me personality – and I don’t think she likes competition. Quite honestly, there is too much competition in school today – and it is never for merit, but for popularity (again). Too much focus on the individual instead of the group – even in team sports… And now, that she is in 7th grade, she is definitely not “popular” and is losing friends, as most kids do not subscribe to what she believes as important: kindness, originality, friendship, family, help others. She told me that the kids that will win Student Council elections are the ones that are rich, wear the trendy and expensive clothes and accessories (Vera Bradley, Abercrombie, Aeropostale…  I shall create a brand to spoof the over priced purses: Vera Affordably!) – and are “popular”! (and isn’t this happening right now in our political scene? People want the bullies, the “popular” and not so much the honest leader…). It’s not about content, or what you want to carry out as a Student Council. It is about getting votes as a proof that all kids know you and, in a way, worship you… and you are accepted… Don’t get me wrong – Gabi’s teachers like her and always have kind words for and about her. Yet, they don’t encourage or promote the kids who have the right attitude and she hardly gets the awards she so much deserves and for which she longs – like the positive attitude award, kindness award, go above and beyond types of awards. She is no “loser” also – she is just slowly becoming one of those invisible kids that populate the hallways in our school system. What is wrong with that picture? A lot – no student should feel like they were numbers – everyone has potential to contribute to society – and we would like for that contribution to be a positive one, but if we neglect the good traits and character in the median student and only emphasize on popularity, how do we expect the kids who will lead our future to be confident, independent, free thinking, authentic, problem solvers, and – most importantly – to have good values?

Because we do not subscribe to the “loser-popular” idea in our house, my kids make friends and choices based on character, moral values, empathy … and they suffer when their friends have a dominant and overbearing personality tending to the  “popular” attitude.

After we talked about it, Gabi decided she was going to join forces with her friend as a team to run for the two Librarian spots available. I am very proud of her – not only for not giving up, but also for not selling herself out by the pressure of popularity.
Our schools need major reform – and I believe the reform will need to start with the social aspect of it – how to engage all the kids, how to eliminate the alienating notion of popularity and with it end bullying. But this will be subject for an entire new entry!

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TRANSLATION

Paula Date