What do you say when…

justice isn’t justice?

A brief update: My step-Dad left my Mom after 25 years of marriage. He came into the union with debt and a job that only made ends meet because my mom already had a house and was paying her own bills. Using her house and inheritance they, together, decided that she would not work any more, built an additonal house and bought and sold several properties along the way, making a few investments as well. The seed cash was hers, the living money mostly came from his job and loans based on the properties they owned jointly.

Now, he’s abandoned her and committed adultry and is financially able to buy her half of their jointly owned vacation home. She, meanwhile, is going to be left with less than what she had as a single mother, before he moved into her life 25 years ago. I’m not saying either of them should be out in the cold-but is it “just” to claim that her social security is all she should have when he’s the reason it’s so low, and he’s in a financial position to buy her out of what she made possible for them to have together?

But, the law doesn’t take any of that in account- not the adultry, the abandonment, the previous finances, the inheritances, his free-of-charge living situation with a wealthy mistress, or her attempts simply to stay in her townhouse, etc. All the law does is look a the bottom line: 1/2 for each.

Equal is not always fair. Bullies often win. But how do you explain that to the victim?

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If I can’t figure out what to write for a status message on facebook, how will I ever come up with something interesting for a blog again?

Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words

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by Nathan Spoor
www.nathanspoor.com

Developmental Observations

Today is my son’s 11th birthday. We are both very excited, waiting for the Hogwarts owl to show up.

I may be the least sentimental Mom on the planet; I honestly don’t miss the previous ages as they go by. I can’t tell if it’s because I’m not a “baby person” or if it’s just that I enjoy the age the kids are at a given moment, or that, as my Mom would say “her feet are firmly planted in the ground” enough to understand we’re not going back. Or, more likely, I still have a lot to learn and haven’t realized I miss it yet. (and, yes, I am a parent of a teenager, along with several inherited adolescents who hung around eating all our food for the last several years)

This year has been a tough one for this particular son. He’s discovered the reality that being a person ultimately means being alone in yourself. It was a not a happy discovery. I have another child who relishes his alone time; but this guy spends every waking moment trying to make the loner want his company. This extends to crying fits when the loner got a later bedtime, and so he’d have to spend half an hour in his room alone. He even asked to move in with his sister so he didn’t have to go to bed alone. And, no, he;s not afraid of the dark; he just prefers company.

He also competes with everyone over everything- did he get the best speaking part in Sunday school for the Bible drama? His sister got one more bite out of her candy than he did (her mouth is smaller). His Proudest Achievement was when he had a bloody nose that wouldn’t stop for two hours because he currently holds the title for Longest Nosebleed in our family.

These two personality quirks came together this year in basketball for him. It has been kind of incredible to watch him. Not because he’s some superstar basketball player. He’s a pipsqueak who is just barely strong enough to make a shot here and there. It’s the way the two quirks have offset each other. He gets to be part of a team, which has shown him that, while he’s still ultimately alone, he can work with others for a similar goal and in that find a sense of togetherness that prevents alone from being lonely. And, at the same time he’s finding out that cmetition has a place where it works: for the good of the team. And where it doesn’t: for the good of the self.

In combining those two in the right place at the right time for this particular kid he overcame so much of the stuff he used to sabotage himself. He’s more his own person, not subject to others’ whims or approval, than he has ever been since he was tiny. He stands up for people, tells those who need it off and grew up from being a pile of mush a few months ago, who couldn’t manage to bring his homework home because someone said “get in line”, to a self-reliant little guy, who has a pretty decent juggling act going on to keep all his interests an responsibilities going.

It wasn’t an easy few months for him, but I wish it was that simple and short for all of us.

The Hogwarts Owl has not arrived yet, however. That will be a disappointment for us all.

iSheep update

Just in case you’re actually interested-there is now a new, Amazon Kindle free app for the iPhone and iPod Touch. I guess I’m not the only one feeling torn between two technologies….

I have become an iSheep

I’d been eyeing up a Kindle for about a year. I was ready, committed. I was getting a new tech friend, that would let me read endlessly; shop for new books without a pause in reading; allow me to store my books on memory cards to organize them for work and for fun. Then, when I was about to click Checkout in my cart, the Kindle 2 came out.

The sleek new simple design was alluring-so thin and light! None of the 80’s angles that made Kindle 1 so, umm, ugly? But, also, no memory card slot…or replaceable battery…or cover! After a year of reading reviews, checking on the price, researching options, the Kindle 1 passed out of existence into the limbo of eBay. And the Kindle 2 just didn’t light my fire the same way.

So, in my grief and mourning over the loss of something I never had, I looked at other electronic reading possibilities. Netbooks were terrific but too big and with a laptop I already loved, there was just no room for another, albeit small and unassuming, computer. Then, I read a review of the Kindle in which an iPod Touch owner wondered why people would pay $359 for a Kindle that would read books well, surf the internet and play music badly, and not do much of anything else, when for $100 less you could get an iPod touch that did all those things perfectly, with a touch screen AND had the ability to be used as an eReader? Sure the screen is smaller, but you get used to it, said the review. I had my doubts- it’s really small for reading, I thought. It’s just a glorified mp3 player. And, after all, it’s an iPod.

Caving into Apple and their Matrix-like iTunes control center is a big step! I rejected the idea and read reviews about Sony’s new eReader. It has a touch screen! But the cost is even more than a Kindle 2, and the eBook store is the same one you can go to with the iPod. The eReader has no wireless connection at all. Snyc or die. But, the iPod keeps track of my calendar, music, photos, books, games, you name it. It was starting to seem like a no-brainer. But still, me with an iPod? Me, inside the box?

I had to push my pride out f the way and admit it. I was wrong. I was wrong to refuse to partake of the Apple table for so long; perfectly good iPods had been at my disposal for years and I had disdained to touch them, even looked down on what they had to offer.

So, with a hanging head, I went to Costco and bought my new technological best friend, an 8GB iPod Touch, joined the herd and became an iSheep.

Book Review-A Long Way Gone

The memoir of a child soldier from Sierra Leone, Ishmael Beah.

Even though I wouldn’t say this was a book I loved, it is a must-read. And, even more, it’s a must-tell so others will know what has happened in Sierra Leone and what continues to happen, over and over again, because of greed, poverty and power. Most of the book is about running from or recovering from soldiers’ brutality. It’s a coming of age story in a place where coming of age for a young man means drugs and violence, period. The only other possibility is death.

My son chose this book-if any of my kids ask for a book, I buy it. He’s about the age of the boy in the story. He’s a privileged kid, and not a reader. It languished in his room for months. I thought he wasn’t going to bother reading it after all. Then, he brought it to me one afternoon and said “this was really good”. Nothing else. Now, my kid can talk-he tells story after story after story about school, his friends, his homework, the bug on the wall, why his shoes smell bad, why he needs a new xbox, etc. So, I pressed him for details about why the book was good, and all I got from him was “Read it yourself, it’s really good.” I have, and he’s right-if you’re the least bit interested, read it yourself; it’s really good.