Thursday, May 10, 2012

Live, Live, Live

Live, Live, live! "Life's a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death!" - Auntie Mame
The above quote was written by Patrick Dennis, and it is one of my most favorite quotes, while the movie is one of my favorite movies (right up there with my all time favorite flick: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory [the original]).

My other favorite quote is:
Live, Love, Laugh
I have no idea where this quote came from originally, but it has always struck me as a strong motto for the short time we have here on earth.

Amazing People I know:

I am contemplating these quotes because some amazingly strong and inspiring people I know received some equally amazing bad news. One friend has to endure treatment for breast cancer, and the prospect of a full mastectomy.  Another newly acquired friend is dealing with the death of her best friend and three, now inherited, teenagers to raise after this friend shot herself.  I also watched a strong skater and amazing kind woman fall and break her ankle last night.  She broke both bones around the shin area, but her resolve and strength while the medics removed her skate was heroic - even if she let go with some choice words in the process. I also have a male friend who is fighting cancer and has been undergoing stem-cell treatments.  He has an amazing partner and friend who makes sure he sings Karaoke whenever he can.

Over the past few years, I have had friends lose their homes, and become nomadic in order to financially survive. I have seen friends actively squat in their homes after losing their job, not able to find a new job, waiting for the bank to take it all away (banks that refuses to work with them - "Oh that paper work got lost, you will have to fill it out again"). 

I have seen a kindred spirit almost give up on her life entirely, only to re-embrace life and living once more - rising above it all. I have family members who have had to deal with the company they work for being sold and then sold again ... hanging on to their job by a thread and a prayer, knowing that without that job, and the health insurance it provides, taking care of a special needs son will be more than simply difficult.

What strikes me about these folks and many more amazing people in my life, is that despite it all, regardless of it all, including their own down moments and hitting a few brick walls, these people embody the two quotes above, even in the midst of heart wrenching, life attacking news. We would all be wise to take their lead and emulate them.

As Dennis observed, most of us are starving to death in life.  We work for big houses, shinny toys, or to get a head and plan for that illusive, but promised, retirement.  We work for the day we will have time to savor life.  What a mistake. What a pack of lies we all have been spoon fed and for why? For what?  Often, simply to help others live the high life that we will never gain. And even if we could gain that high life, would it be worth the life we sacrifice in order to get it "all," the so-called "American dream"?   For me, that price is just too high.

The meaning of life: 

42.  Yep, Douglas Adams was right because it was about around the age of 42 that I started to realized that life was about living, experiencing, loving, laughing, and learning.  If we live to make money, to buy things, we are doing none of the above.  Although it is spouted as a virtue, the puritan work ethic has failed most of us. Work is important, but somehow in the U.S. (I can only speak for my experience in this culture), working replaces living.  We even give up or work thorough our vacations.  I know my husband and I did this for years  -- what idiots we were!
Fools! Live, live, live!
Don't Worry, Be Happy .....

... is a stupid phrase, but a fun song. Life won't be about moments of perfection without worry everyday, and it certainly is not about escaping worry.  Learning always comes at a price and the cost is rarely cheap, although the payoff can be glorious. Go a head and worry, but do not let that worry displace or replace happiness and the chance for happiness.  In the midst of worry, find excuses to laugh, find excuses to make bad jokes or make light of a horrible situation.  Learn the Ukulele, learn Roller Derby, make your friend teach you how to draw or paint, sing karaoke and go play a rousing round of butt darts. Those are my vices and you will have to find yours.  But find them!  Our ability to laugh and to not take life too seriously is one of our gifts, one of those national medicines given to us in this world, and it is squashed/wasted far too much.

As I write this, I realize I am the queen (or a queen) of melodrama, dwelling, and workaholic tendencies. But I have actively worked against these qualities for a while now and I must say, letting go of that control is really quite a lovely gift and a relief.

To my friends and family struggling right now, I thank you for your gift of friendship, for your example of grace and fart jokes under fire, your lessons about living, and your presence in my life. 

Now, the next time we get together, we should play some butt darts ... Butt Darts on Roller Skates ... just because.

Friday, May 04, 2012

A Mental Pause Jammer Moment

I had my first Roller Derby Bout last Sunday, and I had a ball.  Since I banged up my knee really bad at the beginning of the year, I was worried about its ability to perform well. Although still sore today, the knee did rather well.

 I skated with my home league's (Toxic 253 Roller Derby Project) sister league (One World Roller Derby), using Old School Roller Derby Rules (OSDA).  The rule set was not too difficult to adapt to since they are very close to the USARS rules for roller derby, rules that make an interesting intersection between OSDA and WFTDA rules. Anyway, I love being able to skate for both leagues, as the women on these leagues are amazing, supportive, and strong.  That is partly what women's Roller Derby promotes, a place of power for females of all ages.  

Anyway, here is my first real Jam as a Jammer.  I kicked some butt, made 20 points, and over took the other teams Jammer.  Not bad for a Roller Derby Skater over 40!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Demonstration against French nuclear tests in 1995 in Paris. Wikipedia Commons.
This week I have been contemplating the line between personal and professional since my CMST 275 class online communication class is discussing the project of Total Recall, and the process of digitalizing all the memories and moments in one’s life. Although the authors of the text Your Life Uploaded, Gordon Bell and Jim Gemmell both promote life-logging, the private act of storing digital memories for one's own consumption and enjoyment, our society is leaning toward life-blogging, a public presentation of our digital memories and life moments. If you are interested in the discussion regarding life–logging VS life–blogging, feel free to listen to the short podcast I made for my students on this topic, below.

This distinction between what is personal and what is professional is profound, and it is a timely discussion as well. For example, just last week many of us were reading about how some employers were asking for employee’s passwords to their social media accounts, in order to… Spy? Eavesdrop? Although the outcry was loud, and laws are now being passed against this intrusion of privacy, it does appear as if the assumed line between the personal and the professional is being actively renegotiated. Indeed, last year there was a great deal concern about a budding new practice where employers were asking potential employees for their credit report.

To control the lives of one's employees is not a new thing. Consider the great capitalist Henry Ford. Ford was ruthless in how he worked to control his workers personal, professional, and spiritual lives.  Indeed, there is always been an attempt by many employers to control their employees fully, to make one's personal life fall in line with the expectations of one's professional life. If you can control an employee, then you can better control how your company is "branded" out in the real world. After all, society doesn't want their K-12 teachers also moonlighting in strip joints. It just looks bad.  Businesses don't like to look bad.

But we have to decide how much power we, as employees, will give over to businesses and corporations.  This is not a one-sided negotiation, but very much a two-sided discussion. The recent issue regarding whether or not businesses can decide who can get what medications through Insurance, is another huge topic on the table. The issue? Birth control.  Besides being a religious debate, as many businesses are claiming the issue of morality within their decision-making, this debate has the potential to affect and encourage selective medical decision-making regarding what medication is good for whom.  It is bad enough that insurance companies make these medical decisions, individuals who have no medical degree, to right to "doctor," but we certainly do not need our employers making this decision as well. I'm not suggesting that denying birth control becomes an absolute slippery slope, but the door is open to then start denying other forms of medical care .... should this company or that person deem the care immoral. Since employees pay a good portion of their medical insurance coverage at most companies, it seems to me that this issue should remain private (between the patient and his or her doctor), not public (between the patient, the doctor, and the patient's employer).

Many of these issues come down to how we view public vs private spheres of living and life. As technology starts to erode many of our assumed moments of privacy, and private spaces, this situation also creates problems regarding private versus professional life and living.  In your opinion, where should this line between the personal and the professional be drawn? How much control should a company be allotted over its employees? I would be interested in your thoughts on this.

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