More Wishes

When I was a child, I used to imagine that if a genie granted me three wishes, one of my wishes would be more wishes. As if I were the only person on earth to ever have thought of that. As if I’d never run out of ideas for wishes. As if I were a bottomless pit of need, greed, and desire.

Sure, I can think of a few monetary wishes. A paid off mortgage. The ability to retire. World travel.

But the older I get, the more my priorities change. My needs are quite simple. Now, if I were granted three wishes, I’d only need one, really. With that one wish, all other problems would take care of themselves.

What I’d wish for is boundless love. And that love would take on variety of forms. After all, that’s one of love’s strengths.

Naturally, I want someone to share my life with, who appreciates me for me, who understands me and loves me just the way I am. If I could wake up beside someone like that again, all other stressors could be handled. If I could just feel as if someone would always have my back, no matter what, I could face anything.

But I’d also want the love of mankind for one another. That would naturally lead to peace on earth. And love for the planet would mean that we’d take better care of it, and actually have a hope in hell of surviving. I’d like to have a government that loves its people, and actually works in our best interests. I’d like a love-centered employment model, in which the people we worked for actually gave a shit about our well-being, our morale, and our ability to earn a living wage without sacrificing our health or our dignity.

I’d like people to love to learn and to read and to vote. I’d like them to love diversity and curiosity and kindness. I’d like families to love one another in spite of, or perhaps because of, their differences. I’d like people to feel so much love that their generosity would know no bounds.

At the risk of becoming a cliché, I really do believe that love is all you need. So that’s what I’m putting out into the universe for 2018. Wish me luck.

genie

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Family Norms

One spring break in college I went home with a friend. Half Catholic Italian, half Jewish, hers was a noisy, welcoming household. Neighbors would come and go without knocking on their door, and help themselves to whatever happened to be cooking on the stove. The house was full of light and crackled with energy.

And forget about sleeping in. If you tried to, her father would kick open the bedroom door, shout, “Time to get up!!!” while throwing himself headlong into our bed. Then he’d bounce for a second until he was sure we were awake, kiss us both on the forehead and say, “Breakfast is ready.” Alrighty then. I guess I’m getting up.

For the first time in my life, I realized that not everybody grew up the way I did. Mine was a very quiet, reserved Congregationalist Waspy New England household. No one came to our door without giving about a week’s notice. For the most part, no one came to our door at all. Silence ruled. Calm and routine was what you strived for. The loudest noise was probably the hum of the refrigerator.

And for the most part, that’s exactly how my home is now. I have no idea why I bother renting a place with a living room. It’s not like I ever have guests or eat at the table. For me the living room is simply what you have to walk through to get from the bedroom to the kitchen.

I’m not saying that one lifestyle is superior to the other. It all depends on what you’re used to. I think living in my friend’s home would have made me a nervous wreck, but it was fun to visit. When it was time to go, though, I was a little relieved. I looked forward to getting back to what, for me, was normal.

Our families can probably trace their styles back for generations. That fascinates me. In essence, the way I live my life is strongly influenced by ancestors from hundreds of years ago. The way I do things and what seems comfortable to me was laid out long before I was born. I walk down the heavily trodden path that total strangers, who just happen to be related by blood, have followed for centuries.

And I’m actually kind of okay with that.

Norms

Uterine History

Have you ever noticed that the vast majority of historical information is dedicated to the exploits of men? Wars. Regimes. Exploration. The fact is that we often don’t have a clue what was going on in a day-to-day, routine sort of way in most periods in history. Especially in the lower classes. I call this Uterine History, and it’s shamefully overlooked.

How on earth did women with toddlers manage to keep them from burning themselves on the wood stoves they labored over for much of the day? (Well, yeah, many of them didn’t, which is why so many children didn’t survive to adulthood, but how did ANY of them succeed?)

How did you manage to find the time and supplies to sew clothes when out on the prairie, days away from civilization? If you dropped a needle through a crack in the floorboard, your family would be wearing rags. How did you feed your family when the men were off to war? In times of drought, what did you do when your children cried out for water? What did they do for toilet paper in the year 1000? How did you cope with menstruation while toiling in the fields? How did you handle childbirth when you were never even taught the birds and the bees?

It’s the daily grind of life that is often passed over in the history books, because, frankly, people engaged in that grind didn’t have time to write about it. You don’t even see cave paintings depicting people doing laundry or cooking or fetching water or changing whatever passed for diapers.

I used to think history equaled what happened in the past, but really it equals what people felt was worthy of mention, completely ignoring the fact that if someone didn’t take the time to cook, no one ate.

indian mother

Inuit Woman With Child. 1900. Alaska.

[Image credit: facebook.com/mosesonthemesa]

Why I Hate Alcohol

I haven’t had a drink in 30 years. Not even a beer. Suddenly one day I realized that I had never left a bar feeling better about myself. And then there was the time when I was 17 and woke up in the trunk of my car. No idea how I got there. Fortunately the lid wasn’t closed.

Over the years, with the benefit of sober clarity, I’ve come to hate alcohol and everything it stands for.

Because of my father’s love of alcohol, I never knew him. I never knew what it was like to feel safe, protected and loved by a father. Because of his alcohol I grew up on welfare, and wound up living in a tent. Because of alcohol I was thrust into a nightmare of sexual abuse. Because of alcohol I never felt confident or self-assured, and was never taught that I deserved good things, or how to choose a decent man to share my life with.

Alcohol not only devastates the drinker, but everyone who is sucked into his or her destructive orbit.

Drunk drivers kill people every single day, and often walk away from those accidents unscathed themselves. They leave children without parents, and parents to mourn their children for the rest of their lives.

I HATE it when alcoholism is described as a disease. Granted, some people are more predisposed to be alcoholics than others, but in my opinion it should be described as a mental health issue or an addiction at most. It’s a disorder in which the individual makes poor choices, and is selfish, selfish, selfish to the point of not caring about the havoc that those choices wreak on family, friends, and the wider community.

I also resent it when people try to pressure me into drinking. They are uncomfortable in indulging in this habit if everyone around them isn’t doing the same, so I get to be bullied, as if I have to apologize for doing what is right for me.

Sure, there are those out there who can drink socially and in moderation. But if that’s the case, why bother? Alcohol, even in moderation, takes away money and time that could be better spent elsewhere. Alcohol is a waste. And those responsible drinkers in question help make drinking seem socially acceptable, and that only encourages alcoholics to remain in denial for that much longer. A certain percentage of society will survive Russian roulette, but does that mean that they should show others who might not be so lucky how to play the game?

Alcohol gives people the liquid courage to be cruel, to be bullies, to be violent and to humiliate the people they claim to love. Alcohol makes you look like a fool. Alcohol destroys families, weddings, reunions, holidays, birthdays, funerals, graduations, concerts, parties, and untold numbers of public events. Alcohol encourages criminality and causes suicides. Alcohol destroys businesses, ruins livelihoods, causes homelessness, devastates relationships and undermines trust.

Alcohol is a fluid wall that you thrust up between yourself and the people who want to spend time with you. It’s a sword that you use to strike out at others. It makes you feel that screaming and shouting and hitting and hurting are acceptable. And in the end, alcohol will leave you all alone in the world, with nothing but your own regrets to keep you warm as you survey the chilling destruction that you have caused.

When my father died his cold, lonely alcoholic death, they found in his wallet a picture of my mother on their honeymoon—a woman he hadn’t had any contact with in 25 years. What a sad and pathetic reminder of what could have been. What should have been.

[See also my blog entry, Another Rant About Alcoholism.]

alcoholism-quit-drinking

(Image credit: sharecare.com)

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