Saturday, June 13, 2015

"Summer Games--Tug of War"

            As a child, seeing a rope hauled out and white handkerchiefs tied in strategic spots made me want to run for cover. Of all the neighborhood games, this one appealed the least to me. A battle of strength and endurance, Tug of War lured the larger and older boys outside. Even a few fathers joined the teams, staking out territory determined by a line.  My Olive Oyl arms couldn’t begin to handle the powerful pulls of this game. As an adult, I realized that we often play this game at work or in our relationships. 

Tug Of War
Us versus Them
Love overcoming Control
Intellect conquering Emotionalism
Endurance vanquishing Selfishness
Perseverance defeating Indulgence
Us versus Them
Right overcoming Wrongs
Strategy conquering Shallowness
Persistence vanquishing Neglect
Reality defeating Rationalization

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Friday, June 12, 2015

"Summer Games-Red Rover"

            Our quarters at Dover A.F.B. lent itself to play. Laid out in the pattern of a giant U, base housing had a row of attached houses to the right, center, and left. The front doors and yards of the houses faced outside the U, and we rarely played in that area where the perfectly clipped and edged lawns and pristine white sidewalks reminded us that the families enlisted in the military along with their fathers and mothers. The back doors of our homes dumped into a common play area. Some families, like us, put up fences around their yards for their dogs. Other families kept their back yards open to the field. A huge black topped parking lot filled the cup of the U and provided not only a slot for the family car, but also the perfect roller skating and skate boarding surface. Beyond the parking lot, toward the center was The Field.
            In this field, we played together on endless summer nights. Roaming the area like a pack of stray dogs, all the kids from our section shifted in play from football to baseball to games like “Crack the Whip” and “Mother, May I?” Some evenings, when we gathered a large enough group after dinner, we’d divide into two teams to play “Red Rover.”
            “Red Rover” intimidated me. My pixie sized body rarely broke through the linked hands, meaning I became captured round after round.  The other team never failed to get delight in watching my futile attempt. Every time they sang, “Red Rover, Red Rover, send Lizzy right over!” I’d critically analyze the opposing line for the weakest link. My heart pounded, my breathing picked up, and my little scrawny legs pumped furiously as I flew across the distance to fling myself at the selected spot. I tried torqueing my body at the last second to add force to my plunge, but it never mattered.  The hands never broke free. I’d hang like a wet rag, winded and ashamed while guffaws and catcalls erupted from both teams.
            I learned strategy and tenacity from playing “Red Rover” because I didn’t give up. I could have opted out of this game, retreated to the safety of home and a piece of Mom’s fresh baked pound cake. Or I could have pretended I wanted to play on the slides and swings with the other younger kids. Something in my personality drew me into this challenge, and the humiliation of defeat after defeat never swayed me from my desire to play. Perhaps all of these summer games of childhood served more purpose than keeping us out from underfoot at home. I learned teamwork, tactical planning, perseverance, and doggedness. I tasted victory and survived loss—all of these elements necessary in maneuvering through adulthood’s life games.

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Thursday, June 11, 2015

“Midnight Musings”

“We know all men are not created equal in the sense some people would have us believe- some people are smarter than others, some people have more opportunity because they're born with it, some men make more money than others, some ladies make better cakes than others- some people are born gifted beyond the normal scope of men.
But there is one way in this country in which all men are created equal- there is one human institution that makes a pauper the equal of a Rockefeller, the stupid man the equal of an Einstein, and the ignorant man the equal of any college president. That institution, gentlemen, is a court.”
―Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
            I know the difficulty of law enforcement officers. They go, sometimes blindly, into situations that scream danger. However, my father took great pride that he only drew his gun once while on duty--at a distraught, suicidal man who was threatening to kill his entire family. Dad talked him "down" and the man got the help he needed. Dad taught me that his job required the ability to quickly assess a situation and to do his best to reduce the possibility of violence. This skill requires constant training and a mindset that the officer must deescalate a situation.
            I know, first hand, how families of officers feel and deal with the stress of this career. If the phone rang in the middle of the night, I'd bolt out of sleep and say, "Dad's been shot." That was my greatest fear.
            My father went into law enforcement late in his life. He was the oldest man to ever graduate from the sheriff's academy for his county! He honestly liked almost everyone he met, and the people under his care respected and trusted him. Because he maintained the same patrol for many years, he built a personal relationship with the residents and business owners in his area. Maybe our police force needs to revisit the importance of the "cop on the beat," the cop who lives in his or her neighborhood.
            Before he retired, Dad worked at the county jail and taught GED classes. He prided himself on having a high success rate of students getting this diploma. Over and over again, he stressed that many of the inmates with whom he worked came from poverty or had little education.
            Now I know that many, many of my students snubbed their noses at the opportunities offered to them through public education. They were, after all, children; and unfortunately children make mistakes that impact their entire lives. Most of them had parents who also started their pattern of poor decisions early in life. Generational problems weave themselves into the very tapestry of a family history and become the knotted threads that all of us must untangle. People who don’t have this type of family dynamic find it difficult to comprehend and easy to condemn.   
            We have fractures cracking through the structures of our society. What if these foundations fail? What happens if we hold distrust towards those who should protect and serve? What happens when we feel disenfranchised and disillusioned?
            I can spend the rest of my life listing the problems within our society, but solutions begin when we embrace differences and walk in another person’s shoes. We can talk about poverty, drug abuse, and violence in homes and on the streets. We can point our fingers and place blame on almost everyone and everything. But until we learn tolerance, we will continue to disintegrate into fragments.

 Copyright 2015 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman          

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

"Summer Begins"


Summer begins  
shedding stress by    
lusting for Father Ralph  
I become Meggie   
slipping into heartbreak  
reliving my own devotion  
veiling my Catholic guilt under Italian lace 
missal clutched in small, white-gloved hand   
crystal Rosary, blessed by Pius XII,  
soothing my restless fingers  
his Irish brogue a supple song   
his blue eyes like laughter
he kneels before me, eye-to-eye   
proposes a date  
he’ll be my father—  
a surrogate breaking bread 
erasing my disappointment 
drying my tears with his finger tips  
tugging my hand to the crook of his arm 
his brilliance dazzles me
my heart worships him 

Copyright 2011 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman


Tuesday, June 9, 2015

“Summer Plans”


Responsibility drags me from comforting quilts out into the sodden world.    

My shoes, rain soaked by puddles, encase my feet in cold and damp.    

The air conditioner chills my bones.    

My attention drifts to the large wall clock and fixates on the second had tick-tick-tick-ticking away. 

I escape.  

I nurture thoughts from deep within and retell yesterday’s tale with intuitive creativity.        

My first draft practically perfect.    

My thoughts stir up summer’s lazy mornings and conjure long, hot days filled with writing.   

Two months to drench myself under a waterfall of words.     

Copyright 2015 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman

Monday, June 8, 2015

“A Sense of Self”

Boldly marks through the problem 
An expression of your autonomy 
You decide which Life complication you’ll solve  
or delete  
or deny  
Your independence gets erased   
Because questions can’t be skipped  
You spin out of control   
Terror and tantrums entwined  
As you scream and run and hide—  
Even from yourself  
Copyright 2015 Elizabeth Abrams Chapman