Sunday, February 5, 2017

"His Way"

pseudo intellectualism     
demanding attention with parasitic tenacity    
irrational and illogical    
he vomits     
spewing intolerance and injustice under the guise of patriotism    
he infects and incites    
taking pleasure in belittling    
priding himself on accomplishments borne by breaking others    
he kills    
in the hearts of those he can’t love    
demeaning those who need because he cannot give    

 Copyright 2012 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

"America, Love It or Leave It"

            Out of curiosity, I ventured onto a site the other night that listed real estate in Ireland. I wondered what the dollar (or in this case, Euro) would buy in another country. Imagine my delight to stumble upon a wonderful cottage dating back to the 1880s. I fancied myself strolling through the acre of garden, adding in my mind a bird bath here, a pond there. The site included photographs of the interior of the two bedroom place. Exposed beams enhanced the ceilings while a combination of original wood and tiles decorated the floors. The modest kitchen had “newish” appliances while the miniscule bath proved functional. The total square footage? Just a little over seven hundred square feet. The price tag? About $300,000 American dollars. As I fantasized moving to this rain blessed country, I wondered what I’d do with all my stuff.
            When we travelled to Ireland last fall, it didn’t take me long to realize just how plentiful our lives are here in the states. We take for granted our warehouse sized grocery stores stocked with twenty different cereals. Choice. Our entire economy functions on supplying the consumer with a multitude of choices in every product imaginable. We make certain through our constant advertising to convince our citizens that the next, newest, biggest product becomes necessary for personal happiness and survival. Being in another country forced me to realize that we have too much. The gluttony within our country makes us into petulant children whining, “I want” or “Gimme.”
            Our country faces as many problems as it offers opportunities and choices. Frustration floods me when I hear the trite slogan, “America, love it or leave it.” I don’t love everything about my country. Right now, the political landscape makes me wonder what it would be like to escape into the Irish countryside. Then I get angry because those citizens spouting “Leave it!” have an agenda that will take away the strengths of this country. The choices and diversity found, not just on our store shelves, but within our fundamental beliefs become endangered as people like me are painted as being “un-American” when we make critical suggestions for improving our world. These same people who scream, “Love it!” try to impose a narrow interpretation of rights that reflect their personal values and beliefs while excluding others. In their minds, warping our society into their point of view falls into their rights of citizenship; and yet my right for a government not bound by religious views or corporate interests should be denied. No matter how much that little piece of Irish real estate entices me, I’ll remain firmly rooted here because I still believe in the possibilities of our country.

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman 

Saturday, November 19, 2016

"Family Gatherings"

          My siblings and I talk weekly. The habit, established years ago when you paid for a long distance phone call by the minute, resists change. I usually contact my sister during the week. We chat about family and friends. Although each of us have only met the other’s friends a few times, over the years the life events of these people weave into our conversations. We spend time discussing world events and allergy seasons. We share with one another the grind of our jobs (both retired teachers who now substitute to keep out of trouble.) My sister lives in a small Texas town and participates in her church, political party events, and the “this-n-that activities” of her community. We divide our worries and our woes and multiply our joys. These phone calls ebb and flow with a life of their own. Sometimes they last only a few minutes. Other days we drain our phone batteries.
          In contrast, talks with my brother have slipped into such predictability that variations bring unexpected pleasure. I call my brother during the weekend. We enjoy a little contest on who will call first on Saturday without it being too early. These tête-à-têtes time out to fifteen minutes, give or take. My brother loves following weather, so a hurricane in the Atlantic will swirl us into a longer conversation. If I need to download a problem, he offers a sympathetic and non-judgmental ear. If he faces car trouble or a plumbing problem, we’ll figure out a way to fix the situation. As he is single, he sometimes needs another pair of hands to handle household challenges, but I know he’ll never ask for help. Every few months, I suggest that I visit. Sometimes my sister will rendezvous with us. Sometimes my husband and son will make the trip with me. All of us feel it’s important to help my brother maintain the family home.
          Getting to spend weekends or holidays with my siblings always proves a challenge. My sister and brother-in-law spread their holidays in several directions:  their son, daughter-in-law and grandkids; my brother-in-laws siblings; my brother; and my family. Many holiday choices are dictated by my brother’s work hours. If he has consecutive days off, he’ll head for San Antonio. Often times, he only gets a single day at Thanksgiving or Christmas, and so he’ll make the shorter two hour drive to my sister’s house. It isn’t unusual for them to have Stouffer’s Lasagna as a Thanksgiving meal. When my brother has more days off and decides to come to San Antonio, we celebrate the event will special holiday treats and trimmings.
          Over the last few years, my sister and her husband have tied themselves to their town because of responsibilities for one of their community obligations. My brother-in-law runs the local KC hall, and someone almost always uses it on Thanksgiving. His responsibilities include inspecting the hall after the event. This year, my sister convinced him to delegate some of his duties. She called yesterday with the wonderful news that, although they wouldn’t make it up for Thanksgiving Day, they’d arrive on Friday morning! My nephew and his wife and kids have other plans, and so they won’t be adding to our holiday, but we like that different branches on our family tree begin their traditions with family and friends.
          During this week, television sitcoms revel in the mishaps and mayhem of dysfunctional families gathering for Thanksgiving. I appreciate the humor mixed within the discord, but feel especially blessed that our holiday will embrace a laidback air of “adulting” with shopping during the day and nice dinners and drinks in the evenings. 

Copyright 2016 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

"Food Poisoning and Politics"

  Last Tuesday, my psyche took a full-frontal attack that left me dazed throughout the week.  I arrived home shell-shocked after a rough day at work. One look at me, and my son suggested we eat out for dinner instead of settling for Plain Jane meatloaf. 
  Desiring to give myself a boost, I proposed that we try a new restaurant that had opened recently just around the corner. My nephew thought it would be fun to join us, and so we waited for my husband’s 5:30 arrival before heading out.
  David grabbed the first available parking spot as we could see that the new place already did a booming business. Our chippie waitress highlighted her personal favorites, and we decided to begin our meal with fried pickles paired with a Ranch Dressing and the restaurant’s special blend.
  By 1:30 AM, I knew the wrenching intestinal pain that wracked though my body could only be food poisoning. Some tiny microbe sent my entire gut into “Warning! Warning! WARNING!” alarms. That toxin, no matter how minute, drove my system into protective hyper-drive. 
  For the next seventeen hours, I flushed out every sweet potato French fry, fried pickle with Ranch dressing, and burger bit that lingered in my stomach and intestines.
  My body defenses knew to purge this danger.
  It responded rapidly to the threat.
  It won.
  And while this germ battle raged within, I barely noticed national events. My peripheral senses picked up another visceral response occurring, but on a massive scale. As protests grew, my foggy brain toggled through Facebook and Twitter feeds, and I realized many Americans simply don’t understand the psychological and sociological necessity for hundreds of thousands of people to take to the streets to protest against an election they know they cannot change.  
  Protest in our country is not unpatriotic.
  Protest is not the product of childish, whining people who need to “put on their big boy pants” and “grow-up.”
  Protest provides our political “bodies” one way of purging something harmful and dangerous.
         For many of us, the placement of someone like Trump into the White House represents the beginning of an infestation of venomous mindsets. We know our election process put this man into power. We know we’ll honor the change because this transfer of power is one of the fundamental strengths of our country and the Constitution.
          But, like my gut forcing out poison, the discord of protest can possibly end with a cleansing.

Copyright 2016 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman