Something dawned on me today. Women have served in the Armed Forces alongside men for years. If the flesh and blood, real bullets military allows women soldiers why are the makers of G.I. Joe still behind the curve? I grew up on an Army base and hated Barbie much to my younger sister’s confusion. Hate may be the wrong word. I didn’t hate Barbie so much as I hated what she stood for and to some extent still does. Yes, I am aware that she has come a long way from her inception but to me she will always be vapid and come across as too concerned with breaking a nail to ever earn my respect. I an also aware that Barbie has enlisted in every branch of the service although in order to find her in a uniform you have to shop on the base itself most of the time.
That being said Barbie wouldn’t survive basic training long enough to become the female company clerk who sleeps the commanding officer. The world of plastic needs to catch up with the real world. If people are worried about what message a girl with short hair might suggest they should know that military women aren’t required to cut their hair. Instead a woman with long hair is only required to make sure that her hair stay up off her collar while on duty. So I am left to wonder why the makers of G.I. Joe haven’t yet caught up with reality.
While surfing another blog site I frequent I came across this post and it made me think. I don’t delete my blog posts or comments. I have several defunct blogs on other sites that stand as a now mute testament of my refusal to delete. I also don’t delete the comments of those who happen to disagree with the opinions I may express in my posts. I firmly believe that world would be a lot saner if we all learned the art of civil disagreement. I have written a few posts, like this one which have resulted in disagreements but all parties remained reasonably civil. By civil I mean that there were no four letter words exchanged.
Note: This story has been repeated in various forms on this blog, those of you who have heard/read the story before bear with me.
When I was ten years old my dad managed a comic book shop for a friend. Of all the jobs he has held in my life that was my favorite. One of the regulars was a young man named Anthony. He was a comic book junkie who was never afraid to laugh and be silly. There were many sword battles held within the store, the weapon was foam swords covered in silver cloth. There was no such thing as an overly dramatic death so long as it made me laugh or smile. It took me a while but eventually I noticed several odd things about my dear friend. For one thing, he always wore a baseball cap, in and out of doors, sun or rain. For several weeks I thought it was nothing more than simple habit.I can’t remember exactly when I noticed the fact that his hair,(what you could see from under his cap) was brittle and thinner than it should be. I knew something was up. Rather than ask Anthony and bring up a subject he obviously wished to avoid I asked dad. I don’t envy my dad that day. In the space of fifteen minutes I learned things that I still wish weren’t true. I learned that children can get sick with things much worse than a cold, fever. Or even pneumonia. It wasn’t the first time I had heard the word cancer but it was the first time it felt solid, real, and scary. My friend had fought it since he was a little boy and the battle was almost over. It didn’t happen the next day, the next week, or even the next month. In fact I think it took a year and a half. Every time I saw him after that conversation with dad I smiled, laughed and joked and every day I felt my heart crack just a little bit. I was also on a mission. I held a grudge against that cap, for me it had become a symbol of his illness. I resolved to show Anthony that his sickness didn’t mean a darn thing to anybody who cared about him. To that end I began trying to steal his cap. It became a game of keep away. Anthony wold let me get just within reach before he’d laugh and move away. I never did capture his hat but I think I made my point anyway. Then he came in on a Friday evening and I knew he was done. What could I do? I smiled, I joked, and I hugged him. Right before he left I hugged him as though I were trying to compress a whole lifetime of hugs into less than five minutes. He went home, fell into a coma and died two weeks later when he was taken off life support.
I didn’t cry the day of his funeral. I didn’t actually go to the service I might have cried if I had gone but dad wouldn’t let me. It took ne until my freshman year in college for the perfect memorial to dawn on me. Every year since then I’ve cut my hair and donated it to a charity that makes wigs for cancer patients….no one should have to wear a baseball cap because of chemotherapy.
Postscript: It wasn’t until after Anthony died that I learned the story behind his cap. The cap had the faces of the Seven Dwarves stitched into and is not one you’d catch most guys in their twenties wearing. Apparently that was the hat his parents had given him when he first started chemo at the age of ten. It was buried with him and is now very likely dust but I think it was a very fitting ending.
A blinking cursor and a blank page:the bane of all writers. So when all else fails write about the blinking cursor. Most writers have had the option of using a simple pencil and spiral notebook at some point. I have never had that option. My handwriting (if somebody feels kind enough to describe the graphite squiggles that somehow appear instead of the script I wish I could manage. So the blinking cursor has been my personal for longer than most. The cursor appears to be taunting me, laughing at my more than occasional bouts of writer’s block, I suppose for someone who writes on pen and paper a blank page is just as bad but somehow a computer cursor seems to almost develop a personality, one that seems to reflect the tone of the writing itself. Then again, it is quite possible that I just spend too much time with text documents open on the screen.
I was in college when I got my first cell phone. I haven’t personally had a cell for several years because of this screwed up economy but when I did I paid my own bill. My younger sister only got a cell phone when she got a job so she could pay for it herself. We were never given one. Today I’ve seen second graders with them.I admit there is a logic to”latch key” children having them as a safety measure that makes sense. What will never make any sense is a child who isn’t even in kindergarten but has a cell phone . I’m not talking about a plastic toy they insist on carrying to be just like mom and dad. I mean a real, pay the bill every month, cell phone. I personally know a three year old who has one. Three, really?! If people think my generation has entitlement issues they have no idea what’s coming. If this recession has no lasting positive effect other than to break this trend I will consider the hardship worthwhile
My friend Kurby was a super hero. A normal person’s heart has three valves,his had only two. This can be repaired but for some reason it wasn’t found until after he died . This means my friend was a ticking time bomb his whole life and didn’t know it.Someone with that kind of defect should not be able to run for any distance at all.In spite of this he ran track in high school and after that at least two miles every day serving in the Army. I am amazed that he was here for this long. My mom says that the reason he was able to stay this long was because he was living off “heart” and the love of his friends instead of depending on his physical heart. Seeing how many people spoke up at his service, I believe it.
On May 20, 1985 I came into the world for better, worse, or somewhere in between I don’t think the Universe has decided yet. I read something today that struck a chord. In the past I have been known to edit myself in my writing afraid that people I knew would see it and feel like they had earned the right to critique what I said. I’m not saying you aren’t allowed to have an opinion but remember your opinion is YOUR opinion only. I will listen but your opinion may or may not effect how I make the decisions I make in my life. A lot of things have happened between 1985 and now. One of the better things is tlot more confidant in myself. If other people’s belief in me is slow catching up it’s not my issue.
The past few years can be summed up in one word…stressful. I am starting to realize that some of that has to with my reactions to other people. I live with some very annoying people but the things that annoy me about them probably won’t change any time soon. So instead of getting upset about things that won’t change no matter what I do. I resolve to redirect that energy that would otherwise be wasted in pointless anger into being supportive of those who are actually trying to change their lives for the better. In this new world that is mine I will not give a second thought to those people who let me down.Instead I will smile (even if it looks manic sometime) because I will get out of here and when I do I will shake the dust and the slug people off my feet and never look back.
Sitting on my nightstand is a Christmas card with a picture of a German Shepherd laying in the snow.A simple card to mean as much as it does. I see a promise not of something perfect because nothing ever is but of something that could be great in spite of the imperfections. There are some things that need to be sorted out before it can go past where it is now but those are worked on. So until then I wait and pull together some of the things which will probably come in handy at a later point. One of the things my disability has taught me, sometimes the hard way, is patience. So I wait and every time I see that card I smile.
Well guys 2012 is here. A blank slate to do with what I want. 2011 was the year of unexpected things happening to me, mostly pleasant, some not so much. Today marks the start of the year that I make things happen. The biggest lesson the past year has taught me? Life is short and can be over in the space between one breath and the next…stop living the life that’s expected. Live the life that makes you happy, because in the end you are the one who lives with the regret if you don’t. So this year I’m living for myself. In almost 27 years I have a long list of regrets. No more. I’m not saying that all the choices I make will turn out exactly how I’d like but they will be mine and because of that I refuse to regret them. A lot of things will be said when I die but it will be said I lived it my way, even if that way seems unconventional to most people.