Friday, April 22, 2011

It's Not Fair.

The house is quiet. The hubby and sons are off to spend 2 days in NYC, seeing a show, eating at famous places and doing fun things. I'm home sick, hacking and wheezing and feeling like hell. Not even a goodbye.

It's not fair.

I listen to the news and hear about more taxes that we'll have to pay. Congress doesn't have to contribute to their healthcare costs and get outrageous pensions even if they only serve 2 years, and the President spends money that isn't there, but we have to kick in more.

It's not fair.

Illegal immigrants can get in-state tuition rates while citizens like us have to pay the full ride and then some because of loan interest. My husband and I worked our ways through several college degrees with no financial help because of our race, religion, gender, or other aspect.

It's not fair.

People just coming into this country apply for Social Security and so many other benefits the minute they're eligible without having ever paid into the system, which will undoubtedly crash before I ever see a penny of it, no matter what the creative accountants in Washington say.

It's not fair.

When I was 21, a drunk fractured my skull, leaving me with years of operations, pain, debt and anger. He walked away, no jail time, and his insurance policy dribbled out a pittance for all my suffering and hardship.

It's not fair.

My neighbors and friends and family have suffered job losses, uncertain how they will pay their mortgages or send their kids to college, while government and other union workers protest having to make minor contributions to their health insurance costs, enjoying a job security unknown to most American workers.

It's not fair.


An earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster hit Japan. Instead of homes, they have rubble. Instead of family, they have dead.

In the Middle East, women plead for education and basic human rights and are stoned or murdered.

A family down the block spends their days in the hospital by their son's bedside, praying for a cure for his cancer.

Across the sea, believers of minority faiths are murdered and their churches burned because they do not fit a terrorist group's ideal.

So I will stop whining about missing a fun weekend because of a nasty cold. I am recovering, some will not. I am warm and fed, some are not. I have family and friends, some do not.

It's not fair.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Something New This Way Comes

Okay, something different this time. Once a month, I'm choosing one debut author's book to read and review. I'm serious about it, so don't expect to see celeb trash like Snooki's book. Sorry, dedicated authors only will be considered.

The Trouble With Half a Moon by Danette Vigilante (Putnam) debuted in January. Although listed as a YA (young adult for those unfamiliar with the biz of writing), this gently told story feels suitable for a younger set, 10-14. Told from the point of view of almost thirteen-year-old Dellie, it takes the reader through several months of her life. Dellie lives in a housing project surrounded by people who face issues of poverty, violence and despair. Dellie has her own troubles; she blames herself for her little brother's death. While she and her family grieve, new tenants move in; an abusive mother and her young son Corey, and a spirited older woman called Miss Shirley. Dellie tries to protect Corey, avoid Miss Shirley's questions about her brother's death, repair the betrayal by her best friend Kayla, and foster the blooming romantic interest of Michael. The obstacle in her path is her mother's adamant insistence she remain 'safe' by only leaving the apartment for school, even though Dellie's life is outside her home; friends, school, Michael, and freedom.

Simply written by Vigilante who grew up in projects just like Dellie's, this novel is a safe avenue to explore the dark shadows in life; death, betrayal, despair, violence and injustice-and the enduring human spirit that fights to be happy. And though the main character is a young girl, and a small romantic interest is present, this novel is well suited for both genders because of the many issues that can be opened for discussion. I would highly recommend it for the classroom.

Next review:  Exposed  by Kimberly Marcus

Monday, April 4, 2011

So Little Time...

I'm tired. Between routine duties, I sorted through almost 2,000 juice pouches. ???  I mentor the Bridgewater-Raritan FIRST Team 303 Panther Robotics. No, I don't help with the build, even if it looks like fun. I am the Public Relations, Chairman's Award and Green Initiatives mentor. Yep, three different sub-teams. The juice pouches are collected under our Green Initiatives from district schools and shipped to Terracycle, Inc., in Princeton, which recycles them into many different things. It's part of the team philosophy- think green, do green. In return, the team gets a donation. So why am I tired? Well, the juice pouches have to be picked up from the schools, emptied of straws and excess juice (not everyone finishes their juice! I'm gonna tell their moms.), counted, bagged and shipped. Since team members are in school, working on the robot for the next championship, or working on other projects, I do the pouches.

I don't mind, it's just that there are so many other things to do. The public relations and presentation for the  Chairman's Award, the highest honor that FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition in Science and Technology) gives out takes a lot of time, guiding the students, checking on projects that need to be okayed, finished, started, etc. Plus, I play in the bell choir at my church- or, sometimes all three bell choirs, if the younger kids need some backup. Then, there's the making meals and helping out sick friends, Career Day at the high school, judging stories for a contest, and other activities I don't want to bore you with, or make it seem like I'm bucking for sainthood; I have too much devil in me to qualify. Plus, there are plenty of people who do waaaaaay more than me.

My philosophy is everyone should do something that makes a difference, even if it's simply collecting old towels and blankets for the animal shelter, or a $10 check to relief agencies to help out victim's of Japan's triple earthquake/tsunami/nuclear meltdown tragedy. Sure, it's nice for Bill and Melinda Gates to give away all their money (after the kids' trust funds) but how hard is to write a check for something you won't miss? How disconnected is that?

Before I start to sound all preachy, let me say that I do this out of obligation. No, Mom doesn't make me do good deeds, nor do I have anything to feel guilty about because I don't cause disasters or want political favor or whatever. I volunteer for organizations and causes because I like the way I feel when I do. Kind of like Bill Murray in Scrooged. Roughly paraphrased he said that once you reach out to people, you feel good and you're gonna want that feeling over and over. I'm obligated to continue to volunteer for my own selfish want of having that good feeling. And it's part of being human- recognizing that we're all interconnected and dependent. If you're hiking and someone needs a hand up over a large boulder, you're going reach down, right? I feel obligated to be a better person, reach out to others and DO.

You can be sure I'm not under the delusion that all my little acts of kindness, in the scheme of the universe, the world, the nation, the town, or even in a person's life, will amount to much. But it means something to me, that on the craggy trail of life, I can ease the way for someone, who in turn, may help the next person. Reminds me of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, where Gandalf talks about help unlooked for. Ya just never know.

So get off your duff, commit to doing; where ever your passion, your interest, your inclination or your conscience lead. Gotta go; I volunteered to give a presentation at a writer's conference and it won't write itself.