As the world churns
Am I to take any message from the way 2015 has begun? I sure hope not. After a tumultuous Christmas that left me in a quandary as to why the holidays simply cannot go smoothly, when they are my favorite time of year in every way, the first week of the new year has only deepened my confusion.
So, this post may be a bit disjointed as I simply chronicle the inner workings of my mind while the events of the holiday season were unfolding. I might have titled this ‘as the mind churns’ or even ‘as the stomach turns’. Anyway, I am sure you get my drift.
Is there anything I can add to what has been said, world-wide, about the events in Paris on Wednesday? My good friend Cole has an interesting discussion that you can read, to take a scholarly approach to the entire subject of what I would refer to simply as schoolyard name-calling and a bully’s response. To me, the core of the problem is the immaturity of a group of individuals who have justified their puerile — but deadly — behavior by adhering it to their interpretation of a religion. What they really are is self-humiliated. They repeatedly throw themselves under the feet of people who are apparently unconcerned about trammeling the delicate sensibilities of a backward philosophy. Should the mockery and taunting continue and be encouraged? Personally, I don’t think so. After all, we can stand on principle and say we all have the right to free speech in the civilized, 21st century world. But we must also recognize that this, like so many enlightened ideas, is anathema and opaque to low-information and perhaps reduced intellect (I said perhaps) individuals who fall into a certain sociological profile, taking offense at the mere mention of a name, and a 1500 year old one at that. To these endarkened individuals, I want to say: get out of your own way. But, mind you, they are also likely young, unworldly, certainly unwise, and poor. That combination in any person, anywhere is likely to produce frustration. In some it is followed by violence.
I feel no less frustration when I hear about them, than I do at people like Timothy McVeigh or skinheads or David Duke and his followers or scheming radio talkshow hosts who incite stupid people to hate and fear.
The two are intertwined in my mind because just this morning Geoffrey put the last of our guests on a plane, finally. It has been almost a month of disrupted schedules and outlaying thousands of dollars to feed, house, entertain and even clothe the various relatives that flowed through our doors this season. All to have some of the extended circle make our lives more difficult by bringing up the inevitable emotional stew that every family simmers in this time of year, it seems.
When Geoffrey drove down the street with this particular female relative, I couldn’t wait to see the last of her. Here on the very heels of my favorite group — who come and contribute joy and laughter — came someone who, at 79, might as well have been born in the 7th century. For one week I had to hear the largely disinformed position she holds on just about every topic. She literally arrived talking and I could see her yakking at Geoff as they pulled away. I don’t think she stayed quiet for any time other than when she was asleep (10 hours from midnight to mid-morning, thereby throwing my schedule off completely the whole time, and with no recognition of it, even though we kept hinting that we retire early because we get going by 4 am). Not only did I have to endure hundreds of trivial anecdotes from her life in a rural part of another state, but I also had her insult me on a regular basis. How? Well, let’s say I challenged one of her wackadoodle stories (like, both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama knowingly and secretly allowed Osama Bin Laden to get medical treatment in Florida. To which I replied that Bin Laden had never been to the United States and got an angry retort that she had it on good authority, i.e., her church, etc.). At one point as she dismissively turned away from me, she asked Geoffrey if “that girl ever shuts up”. Nice.
Later, when I suggested that Geoffrey’s sister has rolled him regarding a piece of property he and she inherited from this woman’s brother, she stood up and seethed, “I don’t appreciate you lecturing me on my niece!”. She also tartly reprimanded us for having been out of touch with her and her daughter (who lives in Apple Valley, hence, part of the reason she parked with us during the week, so we could shuttle her back and forth, since her daughter and husband work at odd hours) for several years, which she attributed to the fact that Geoffrey must have been into drugs, drink, or organized crime (I am not making this up! Who could?). She and that witchy daughter of hers probably had an old, extinct email and cell for Geoffrey. They never tried to contact me. They just kibitzed among themselves drawing ridiculous and insulting conclusions. When I told her so, she let me have it.
On Christmas eve I had another of Geoffrey’s brothers tell me that I was of that generation that expects men to take care of us. Really? Does someone go through nine years of college and three degrees because they intend to be taken care of by a man? Does someone virtually give up her own career to help salvage a failed family business? Even foregoing a salary for several years when the budget was tight? Only this week have I gotten over fuming about that salvo!
OK, I admit it. I am complaining. These are minutiae compared with what Europeans are facing today with the prospect of pop-up attacks by childish fundamentalists on the rise.
But wait, there’s more. Remember my brilliant idea of getting a Nikon D610 because it is not only a slight upgrade from my current camera to a full frame, but also because I could use my $3500 worth of current Nikkor lenses on the FX or DX bodies? What I failed to recognize is that when the DX lens, no matter how fine, is on an FX body, no matter how flexible, it crops the picture to the lesser size camera. Luckily, Geoffrey got it at Samy’s in Pasadena. Back it went last week and in its place he was forced to get me a D800, which doubled the price of my Christmas present. I had to agree that I could not justify spending another dime on the new lenses that I will have to acquire to use it. Not having a golden goose in the backyard, and having spent twice as much this Christmas as we had anticipated, I will not be using that camera in the near future. Bummer!
Stay tuned … something new and different will likely emerge by next week. 😀
Images: Beth Byrnes archives — my week’s worth on Flickr