Shaking My Head

The headlines are out of control again.  This morning I woke up to this first:  Do Babies Need Crawling Helmets (; then this: Obama Sticks Up for Ann Romney in Working Mom Flap(; US Halts N. Korea Food Aid After Rocket Launch (multiple sources).  Plastic Surgery Gone Bad ( The inanity goes on ad nauseaum and I close my news browser quickly and shake my head.  Too much stupidity so early in the morning. 
Do babies need crawling helmets? Are you freaking kidding me?  We’ve already raised a generation of overindulged, narcissistic, germ-free and allergy-ridden children who bring their parents to job interviews.  Now we are going to wrap their little heads in helmets?  Good grief.
Obama needs to grow a pair already.  Hilary Rosen was right on when she said that a wealthy mother who stayed home to raise her five boys is not the best source for women’s views on the economy.  Ann Romney knows as much about women’s struggles in the real work a day world as, hmmm, say, Donald Trump.  Why in god’s name would Obama defend her? Maybe if she had been a single mother of five who had to work three jobs she’d have a clue.
Clearly the N. Koreans need food, and their pathetic rocket launch attempt only proves that malnutrition hampers proper brain development.  Besides, the starving masses had nothing to do with Dear Leader’s megalomaniacal need to engage in a pissing contest with leaders of the free world (and I use the term free loosely).
And finally, I got sucked into a series of slides of plastic surgeries gone badly awry.  Just further proof that the world really is going to hell in a hand-basket.  I mean, look at this face (and that’s a dude):  

Rigid Notions

Writing a memoir is hard.  I didn’t think it would be, you know, given that I have had first hand experience and front row tickets to the whole show all these years.  But a few difficulties have in fact arisen in the past few months, and the biggest challenge has been My Memory.  My Memory sucks.  Fortunately the writing class in which I am currently enrolled is subtitled Memory Sparking Imagination.  Because my memory isn’t sparking any memories.  Now that I want to get my memories in the official record, I can’t remember shit—it turns out that my past is one vast impressionist painting.  If I try to look more closely, train my mind’s eye on the details, it just deteriorates into unrecognizable blotches.  So, that’s the first challenge:  teasing the detail out of the blotch.
The second difficulty arises when the elusive details, some of which (with enough scrutiny) do become focused and sharp, reveal Disturbing Truths.  Cuz, you know, sometimes I can discern the details and that’s when I realize that we lose our memories for a reason.  We do not need to be able to recall the nitty grittiest parts of our youthful traumas.  Turns out God made the blotches to protect us from ourselves.  He made it that way so we could go on living, free of the DTs.  For me, Religion is my primary DT and I don’t even believe in a god.  But religion formed me and made me who I am, so clearly it is going to be a big, BIG part of my memoir.  Remembering leads to reliving the trauma.  I have very definite ideas about Religion, and in spite of what I said about God in the earlier part of this paragraph, I don’t really believe in God (that god, the one with the white hair and the flowing beard who sent his only son to die for our sins, if only we believe in him, etc. etc.).   I do not believe there is any kind of great life force that we cannot see, no great spirit has our meager little lives in its consciousness.  I have judgments, really, really negative and condescending feelings about people who do believe.  Super narrow and very prejudiced feelings.  I have Rigid Notions.
I am realizing it might be time to dispense with my Rigid Notions.   Writing my memoir entailed taking some very close looks at how my life is currently informed by choices I made while under the influence of said Notions.  I constructed much of my self-image (not my self-esteem, don’t confuse the two) from being an unbeliever. In my mind, my (lack of) beliefs made me smarter, more free-thinking, more better. JThis is not a Universal Truth.  This is a highly biased, circumstantial personal belief formed in reaction to the Bad Religion of my childhood.
I would like to stop visibly twitching every time someone utters any of the following:  church, god, Jesus, the bible, heaven, Christians. When I was a believer, I was encouraged to hold myself apart from the “world,” i.e. people who did not attend our church. I’ve spent the last 25 years doing the same damn thing, cutting myself off from a vast swath of experiences as I’ve held my self apart from the religious world. My last job (in a Catholic school), my writing classes and workshops, and my current van pool are bursting with smart, creative, intelligent and discerning people, people I respect. People, alas, who adhere to the whole Higher Power thing.  I am unable to dismiss them as I might have even nine months ago. I do not want to hold myself apart any longer as it finally occurs to me that I am getting mountains of acceptance and love from the very people I judge based on my very outdated Rigid Notions, which are rooted in fear.  Fear of things that are long over, gone, past, and mostly difficult to remember.  How crazy is that?
Writing, as I always suspected, demands much from the writer, but the hard work is not always about what goes on the page.