Reflections, 1994

Forgive me, this is rambling and doesn’t make sense. Much like me, in person.  🙂

1994.  That was the year Kurt Cobain died. OJ was in the White Bronco. Genocide in Rwanda. Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan. Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie??  It was a big year, now that I am reflecting upon it.  I graduated high school and started college, much to the disappointment of my family.  Girls were to be married off to some man who would support them and make them into perfect little housewives. ICK.  The sourness and my disdain for those senitiments are very much, still real to me. Really.  I filled out my applications junior year as all my friends did. I stayed after and typed them up.  Seriously, typed the neatest type job I could. Google: typing. I called and got a ride home from my father who asked why I was late after school.  I told him I had been typing my application to Southern Illinois University. I said it very lightly, since I knew that SIU had a horrible reputation for partying.  I will never forget these conversations with my father.  He is not much of a talker, so anything he said was serious business.  At that time, he spoke as if he had a set number of words and he had to horde them, so that he wouldn’t run out and have nothing left for 40+ more years.  So, he says to me, ‘You’re not going there.’  Well, this was damn news to me.  I was an average student and loved science.  SIU had a great science department and I had to go. I had to get away from home. Later at dinner, we got into this more. I was in a tizzy because he said I couldn’t go and finally he broke down, I could attend the local community college if that’s what needed to happen.  I remember being so dissappointed with my parents.  I looked at them both. I looked at my dad and said, “You didn’t expect us to amount to much?” (I was referring to us, my older sister and myself.) And he looks at me and said, “No.” 

Dinner was over and I went to my room.

My sister did not attend college for long, as she was in the throws of a vicious case of morning sickness.  She was 18, freshly high school graduated and pregnant and unmarried.  (As was my mother, except for the high school graduation part and she was 17.)  So, the track record in my family was pretty shady. Nothing was expected from the women in our family, because the women had never done anything except get pregnant. I get it, the bar was very low set.  I got emense push back about furthering my education. I loved college, I found my groove there. It was great.  I had had one realtionship in high school.  He was a beautiful boy I was totally in love with, we had such great times together.  It was great really.  I refused to have sex with him, because I did not want to suffer the same fate of high school  pregnancy that befell my mother and sister.  That was not going to happen to me.  Not a chance. I wanted to have sex with him and him with me, but seeing how it was not gonna happen, eventually our relationship died out and I was crushed.  In college, I had so many crushes, but no relationships. This made for a sad time. I always had fun with my friends, but loneliness is a cruel companion.   My favorite song was The Earth Stopped Cold At Dawn, Hootie and the Blowfish.  (Back before Hootie was country.)  

Another reason to doubt me
Another teardrop falls
Can’t wait for a friend when loneliness calls
Another kiss in the basement
Pour salt on my tongue
No one cries for heros left unsung
Look at me when I’m talking to you
Look at me in the eyes
Then look away and tell me why…why
Another tasteless movie
Another kiss goodnight
Could be a dark oasis in my life
Another icon smashed to pieces
By yesterday’s romance
Another hated person no more chances
Look at me when I’m talking to you
Look at me in the eyes
Then look away and tell me why…why
Playin’ with a happy boy
A cold place for a man
Familiar faces in a foreign land
The hands kept spinning around the face
But the earth stopped cold at dawn
For a moment, then moved on
For a moment, then moved on…

I look back at those days, how sad I was to not have anyone in my life. How desperate I was. No support from my family, no partner in crime. And that was just the normal “growing up” period of my life.  Growing into the person I was gonna be.  You talk long hours with friends about what the world means and what we can do to help people.  What can we do to harness ourselves for others.  What can we do to make the world a better place.  Bill Clinton was just elected and it was like the second coming of Kennedy. My best friend and I would have a holiday party and everyone would have to bring a pair of gloves for Coats for Kids and year after year, they did.  I felt like we were doing something, even if it was small.  Some kids would have warm hands.

I can’t remember the first time I heard about the Dalai Lama.  I try really hard to remember, but it fails me.  Really it does. And that makes me sad, because with major life events, you want to remember them. But alas, nope.  I remembering using any extra money I had to buy books the Dalai Lama wrote or basic Buddhism books. It was fascinating.  It was not like anything I had grown up learning about.  Totally different perspective. It was so warm, inviting and non-mysterious. I instantly fell in love with it.  It was the best thing I have ever done for myself.  Understanding what the Buddha was teaching. Understanding not ‘the how’ we came to be, but how we were to go on and live this life we were given.  I lost friends and relatives.  People are so very close minded and afraid.  I was instantly stung but the losses. How could we be happy and friends one second, and then the second this comes into my life, (to give my life meaning and measure, and how essentially nothing had changed), but you were gone.  I could not reason why I was always being dumped, dropped–like a dead weight.

Look at me when I’m talking to you
Look at me in the eyes
Then look away and tell me why…why

The thing about it, I reflect back upon, is that I had no ill will towards the ‘stay at home mom’.  Just the fact that nothing else was expected or even encouraged in  my family. Women weren’t expected to produce anything but a home and family.  I resented that for a long long time. I am more than a broad mare and men’s property.  We all are more than that.  I am sad that violence against women is so pervasive in the world.  India, Pakistan…..ugh.  Malala is a bright light in that world. So, now that I have 2 girls to raise, how will we successfully raise them?  What is the definition of success. Happiness. Happiness is the definition no matter if the are stay at homers, doctors, janitors, lawyers, teachers, cocktail waitresses.  I just want them to be happy and that happiness is not what you accomplish in life, not in how smart you are, not in how much money you make, but in how you treat people and how you treat yourself.  At a very minimum, pledge to do no harm to others (or yourself) and happiness will be in your heart.

I believe the very purpose of our life is to seek happiness.

Whether one believes in religion or not,

whether one believes in that religion or this religion,

we are all seeking something better in life.

So, I think, the very motion of our life is towards happiness…

The Dalai Lama

My favorite book:

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