Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Green Banana's

I can tell when it's getting to be time for me to write another blog, for days now I've been hearing internal dialogue's going on in my mind... phrases turned, concepts tried, meaning sought. I chose this title because of a phrase my father used to say in reference to his health "I don't even buy green banana's anymore." There's something comical to me about a person seemingly having so little sensitivity about their own eminent mortality. It's as if whats of the greatest importance is to engage the other person by means of "truth telling" or "gallows humor." It also reminded me of our current economic malaise, the whole de-flation thing. Banana's are normally about .69 a pound (green bananas) But if you wait for a short while, they bundle them up on a tray and sell 'em for a quarter a pound! They say they're "over-ripe" but I've never thought so, they're actually just right and the price is right too! Why should I care if somewhere in Central America a banana farmer has to lay off a few workers or cut the wages of some others because I wouldn't pay .69 a LB for banana's?

Over Ripe Bananas .25 .LB

(these are the banana workers)

What am I trying to do, guilt you into paying full price for some bananas?

No, I'm just using the banana story to illustrate something I'm sure most of you already know. That for every person who holds the clean end of the stick...(well you know what that leaves)

Also, to try to give a real life example of what each of our choices or actions say about what we really think is going on.

How about the consumer confidence level? Given the uncertain nature of our economy, right now may not be the best time to spend money on new big ticket items or take on long term debt. Many Americans are only spending on necessities and are putting off the"wants" in favor of the "needs." Still others are of the opinion that our current economic cycle is precisely that. That there's little cause for serious concern. To quote a late great elder statesman, one Frank Zappa, who in a song by the same name playfully mocked American people by saying, "It can't happen here!" (please,check it out) What can't happen? That our highly prized way of life could rather suddenly go by the wayside...

It certainly has "happened" to me!

I find it to be the height of coincidence that my situation has so closely paralleled the bigger picture of our country, not only in the last few years but in the years since my birth in 1960. So if you're looking for someone to blame I suppose that'd be me... I witnessed the American family becoming less relevant than the self, providing the proper mindset to embrace the rising drug culture as my "religion" in the 1970's. I was flush with the fashion in the conspicuous eighties, doing my utmost to consume enough "whatever" to keep the wind from whistling through the hole in my soul. It's a lot harder than you think to be tragically hip..

And then one day you find ten years have got behind you no one told you when to run you've missed the starting gun...(Breathe-Pink Floyd)

A great ironic hallmark happened to me in the 1990's, supposedly I was "over the hill" chronologically. But due to my years of drug use I was emotionally still a child in a lot of critical ways. Before this decade was through I had had it all and lost it all, I faced the new millennium sober for the first time in my adult life. I was a 40yr old "Green Banana"

A brave new century, and a new life! which seemed to me to be about putting out fires and exorcising the demons of the past by living "politically correctly" in the present. A plausible theory if you don't start any new fires which can harbor new demons. We all must eventually confront our own frailties and understand our own new limitations. I became old early in February of 06' when I slipped and fell on some wet steps. It was more than my rotator cuff that shattered that groundhog's day morning, it was my invincibility. Sort of like my own personal "twin towers" moment.

They say it's a recession when it happens to someone else, but it's a depression when it happens to you.

My last full time job prior to being a school bus driver ended on 07/07/07...
I was blacklisted in the trucking industry when a former employer lied about me to the driver "advocacy" council, (legally libeled)
By December of last year I was behind on my mortgage and looking to put my home on the market...(I'm still in my home by the grace of God!)
By April my car had been repossessed, (which made me eligible for food stamps) and my pastor provided me with one that was donated to him.
I went "belly up" on my credit cards, owing about 7-8 thousand dollars, I've gotten a lot of phone calls but nothing more than that.
I "survived" for months on money I made selling vegetables I grew, fresh eggs, and stuff I owned that I sold as well as some small odd jobs I took on.
I turned myself in to the authorities in August because I was unable to appear in court on contempt charges related to my child support and spent 10 days in jail, I was deemed too wealthy to receive "free counsel." (I was released on 08/08/08)

Naturally, I had to chuckle when they announced in late November of this year that our country was in a recession.

There's something comical to me about a person seemingly having so little sensitivity about their own eminent mortality.

My father passed on last the summer before last, now it's me that doesn't buy green bananas.

Friday, December 12, 2008

What Child Is This?

Having the opportunity to work around a school and "school children" has really put me in touch with a lot of my own "school days" memories, that's sometimes a good thing but other times it's not. Because of the circumstances of my own education I have a real soft spot for special needs kids or kids who just seem to fall through the cracks of the system. Any educator worth his or her salt knows that children's behavioral issues (beyond simple boundary testing) are manifestations of the circumstances in their lives that they have no other way to express other than to "act out" in the fervent hope that someone will be able to understand and "fix" the fear/anxiety producing "situation" that they're unable to verbally express. When a four year old bites and hits and causes chaos in a classroom do we simply discipline them with swats on the butt or time outs expecting that to make the scary stuff in their heads go away?

AK000587 by you.

I think that in many cases that's exactly what we do...and it doesn't work

AK000586 by myboogers.

Years later, When this same child who has now been labeled a "discipline problem" develops conditions with names like "oppositional defiant disorder" or "attention deficit hyperactivity disorder" we scratch our heads and send them off to the psychiatrist for "evaluations," some get the help they need and others don't . Its these kids that don't whom oftentimes, in an attempt to get a need met, become involved with substance abuse, gang's, teen sex, or even just good old fashioned stuff like being disruptive and talking back to teachers. Sadly, conventional wisdom says that the "problem" is best handled by suspensions, expulsions, or other "bullying" techniques, (apparently, there are not enough good school counselors, I know there are many so don't write) And while I'll admit that those techniques are effective on some students, remember...we're talking about kids who have "special needs" here. Kids who have 55 gallon drums of industrial strength pain that are constantly leaking into their psyche, to whom the idea of being suspended as punishment seems laughable or absurd, or even a relief from the daily bludgeoning they receive from peers, principals, and worst of all themselves...It is indeed a very dark place.

AK000596 by you.

Lets fast forward to the rest of their lives...

Looking into the face of this young girl we quickly remind ourselves that circumstances don't have the last word on her life and that sometimes they prepare us for life in special ways.

We can choose to let our circumstances get in the way of what we want to do with our lives, or we can choose not to. This is true, but few of us could summon up the necessary tenacity to see this through...

This is a much more common result of having been failed by every person who was charged with helping to produce a successfully functioning adult... A chronically underachieving person whose life challenges also include the inability to maintain long term relationships with people or hold steady jobs. They're alcoholics, drug addicts,or maybe in prison...why? because when you're young and cute and so vulnerable it's easier to garner compassion and perhaps understanding from people, but as you grow older peoples perception is basically that you ARE your behavior which is patently false. We may be much older but our techniques of self expression are at times much the same as a small child' also makes sense that the solution would also be the same. In the life of a child or a young adult the positive influence of even one person in they're lives can make a profound impact. When we practice "understanding" people we validate their feelings instead of beating them up for having them. Learning new more functional ways to get our needs met in this life is what it's all's irrelevant how old they are or...who's child is this?