Memories

Recently, I have not been able to sleep more than a couple of hours each night.  I’m exhausted!  As I lay in my bed last night unable to sleep, I was thinking of my grandson.  As is typical with me, my mind started to analyze his stage of life.  Why is it, for instance, that one cannot remember being his age?  When do memories begin?  Do we have to learn to have memories?  Is that why, in general, an earliest memory will not go beyond being younger than 3?  As I thought about these questions, the following came to my mind.  It contains my very earliest memory–a shiny, silvery moon coming in the mail.  What was that?  Anyway, I call this “Memories”.

Nothing!

No memories.

New in the world.

New ideas waiting to be formed.

But then, in time, faint memories begin to form.

A shiny, silvery moon in the mail.

A puppy with a collar and a dangling, jingling bell.

The school playground; sand in fingers, sand in shoes.

Jump rope, hopscotch, flying through the air.

Playing kickball, foursquare, chasing boys and playing tag.

Grandma dies, the world stops, waiting for hearts to heal.

Junior high school lockers, friends surrounding, mean girls always in the mix.

On to high school, turning sixteen, sitting cool behind the wheel.

Having boyfriends, breaking up, waiting for hearts to heal.

Graduation, off to college, missing home so much the heart could break.

So much homework, new friends, late nights, class comes early, missing home, when will this end?

Disappointments, cannot do this, missing home, look, now success.

Graduation, leaving college, missing friends, waiting for hearts to heal.

New job, new life, new everything, not sure this is going as was planned.

Adjustments follow, love blossoms, marriage proposal comes along.

New family formed, first baby born, feeling the joy she brings.

First hearing mommy, baby walking, soon another comes along.

Being busy, no time wasted, running errands, catching breath, what’s for dinner, need more groceries.

Out of milk, another baby comes along, helping with homework, giving baths, reading stories, when will this end?

Work in classroom, helping with homework, driving carpools, one more baby comes along, catching breath, sick child up all night.

Helping with homework, baby crying, buy more diapers, watching children grow, baby laughing, need more groceries, does this ever end?

Laundry piling, what’s for dinner, reading stories, watching children grow, driving carpools, now one in elementary, one in junior high, two in high school, helping with homework, school play, awards banquets, catching breath, baseball game, piano lessons, soccer balls, practices, helping with homework, what’s for dinner, graduation, taking her to college. . waiting for hearts to heal.  The time is flying, last one’s leaving, waiting for hearts to heal. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Did it really end?

Children moving, wedding receptions, teardrops falling, waiting for hearts to heal.

Missing children, silence screaming, grandbabies coming, Christmas gatherings,

Children’s voices, carol’s singing, grandchildren cuddling, sending them home again.

Silence screaming, missing loved ones once nearby,

Waiting for phone calls, parents buried, waiting for hearts to heal. . . . . . . . . . . . .

Going for visits, staying with children, leaving once again.

Thanksgiving feasts, grandchildren’s visits, taking walks with each of them,

Grandchildren’s weddings, gathered with family, the heart feels joy again.

Where are the keys? Telephone ringing, children’s voices on the line,

Happy to hear them, which street is the house on, finally find it on the right,

No longer driving, waiting for hearts to heal.

Nowhere to go, nothing to do, now who are you again?

Sometimes they’re known; sometimes they’re not,

The days go by so slowly, do they end?

This is your daughter, this is your son,

Can you remember them?

Tear drops falling,

Waiting for hearts to heal.

Giving a smile, waving good-bye,

Wishing they were here,

Until the memories are . . .

Nothing!

I did not realize that this would be so hard to write.  When I got to the point of burying my parents, I could hardly stand it and, of course, after that I was a mess.  Nevertheless, I’m glad that I did, so that I could take a moment and reflect upon those memories that have created within me such a love.

Remember that 2 Plus 2 Doesn’t Always Equal 4                                                                     [And please take time to read my original post to understand Why the Title of this Blog? (Feb. 17, 2011)]

Somewhere Over the Rainbow

I guess little children are supposed to dream of what they want to be when they grow up.  For me it was not so much when I grew up, but rather “if” I grew up.  Some people would doubt whether I really ever have; I kind of like it that way.  I do not remember too much about those childhood dreams.  Oh, there was the time I got an Oakland Raiders’ helmet for Christmas when I had a dream of becoming a professional quarterback.  That was in the Raiders’ glory days when Kenny Stabler headed their offense. The last time I saw my third grade teacher, which was really not that long ago, she told me that she still remembers me bringing a football in for show and tell when all the other girls were bringing in their little girly things.  That dream, of course, would not come to fruition; a five foot eight inch tall female cannot become a professional quarterback no matter how hard she tries.

I once thought about becoming President of the United States after my 5th grade math teacher wrote on my report card that he would not be surprised if I became such.  Obviously, that is not to be either, although I guess  technically it is still possible since we have not yet had a woman president.  Now that Hillary’s dream seems to have been dashed into pieces, I think Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachmann are doing their best to beat me at that attempt.  I am more than willing to let someone other than myself have that designation, although I am not so certain that I would want it to be either of them.

One dream that might have been a little more practical is that of working for NASA.  Perhaps in today’s world I would have thought that such a dream was a little more realistic, but back then it was just more of a fantasy–one that I did not really think I had the potential to attain.  I only knew of two things that I for sure really wanted to be–a wife and a mother.  I do not know for sure how most girls feel today, but back when I was growing up, I think it was something most wanted.  I was one of the lucky ones; not only did I get the opportunity to get married, I have been blessed with a wonderful husband.  I also have had the opportunity of becoming a mother to four wonderful children, two daughters and two sons. I have spent the last 26 years of my life being a stay-at-home mom, although eight years ago I did return to school at first taking only one class per semester.

When I was in my youth, that is as far as I had my life planned.  Becoming a mother and raising children did not seem like a short term deal; it seemed more as if it would be my life.  What I did not realize at the time, was that although I would be a mother for the rest of my life, I would not be raising children for that entire time.  Even if somebody would have told me 28 years ago when I first got married that my last child would leave home when I was 48, I would have thought they were speaking of an eternity; little did I know how quickly 28 years would pass.  Now, in five weeks I will finally graduate from college and one month later my youngest child will graduate from high school.  It is only a matter of  four more months before all of my children will be gone and I will be left wondering, “Now what?”

There is a quote I like from the television series “The Wonder Years” which aired in the late ’80’s to early ’90’s.  I think it explains a great deal of how it feels for parents to see their children grow up and move on, so I wanted to include it here.

“And so we finally got our new car. It wasn’t red, it wasn’t a convertible, heck, it wasn’t even a Mustang. But it was brand new. And it was pretty cool. ‘Course, Dad got his shot at king-for-a-day… and we were happy for him. But that afternoon, I began to understand what Dad had been going through. There was more to that old car than fuel pumps and crankshafts. There was a part of all of us in that car. The places we’d gone, the things …we’d done… the family we had been. The family that was moving on. And for the first time, I understood the value of what my Dad had put into it. And why it was so hard to let it go.” –Kevin Arnold (The Wonder Years)

Truly we love what we put our most into.  For me, it was my family and I am glad I did so.  I now understand why elderly people often have a hard time leaving their homes.  It is not the home itself, it is all of the beautiful and even sometimes difficult memories.  It is where nostalgia reigns, not in the walls or furniture, but in the very heart and soul of each individual who passed through its doors.

I know I am not the first to go through this transition, nor will I be the last, but obviously for me it is a first.  Although many others have dealt with such a transition, no one in the world is exactly like me so my transition will be unique.  Therefore, no matter what the answer is for the rest of those who have or will find themselves in similar circumstances, I have to find my own answer.  Although I should have seen the obvious, I never knew that there was life after children; I never knew that what to do now would be such a difficult question to answer, both emotionally and logistically; I never knew it would leave me feeling so empty!

I know there is much more life to live, at least I hope, and I know that I have several options on my table.  I have thought about teaching high school math, but to tell you the truth, I just do not know that I want to go back to high school.  I could continue my education going on to get a masters and perhaps a PhD, but most people already think I am a little off my rocker for studying math and physics with no real goal in mind.  I know that when it comes right down to it, though, I will not base my decision on what others think, unless of course, one of those “others” end up being my husband who has been my greatest advocate and adviser and who has sacrificed the most during my educational journey.  I have also thought about doing volunteer work, but I do not know what type of volunteer work would give me fulfillment and satisfaction.  One thing I know I cannot do, is just stay home.  If I do, I know I will literally go crazy.  I find this interesting because my favorite place to be has always been home.  There was a day when I would have given anything to have some peace and quiet, now the silence screams at me.

What bothers me the most, though, is that I have lost my passion for life.  I do not know what direction I want to go, yet I know I cannot just stand still.  I have always had a need to tackle challenging problems; a need to feel as if I am not intellectually stagnant.  At the same time, though, I feel a deep need to give something back to the world from which I have taken so much.  I did not mean to be a taker, it is just that I have been so greatly blessed and why, I do not know.  I have not deserved these blessings anymore than the rest of the world.  At times, the depth of my blessings truly puzzles me. They have truly been beyond my wildest dreams.  That is why I do not feel right about dreaming for anything more, yet dreams make life worthwhile. I know what I really want to do is to dream again; to have something for which to look forward.  I guess you could say that my dream is to dream.  I think I am at a point that many call a mid-life crisis.  Perhaps that means I am sitting atop of a rainbow and as I gaze down on the other side, I have an inner hope that somewhere over the rainbow dreams still really do come true.  Maybe it is time for me to help in making the dreams of others come true.  But how?

Remember that 2 Plus 2 Doesn’t Always Equal 4                                                                     [And please take time to read my original post to understand Why the Title of this Blog? (Feb. 17, 2011)]

Not About Football! Really!!

Recently my oldest son, Trevor, and I had a discussion about the current NFL players’ negotiations.  My son expressed his frustration with the current demands of the players and stated his opinion that they were not worth it.  Normally I would agree with him, but I have to admit I have had a change of heart.  Before those of you who are anti-sports and anti-athletes stop reading, please hear me out.  Even Trevor was shocked by my comment because he knows that although I love sports, I have not placed a great emphasis on them in our home and usually have expressed disgust at the high salaries of professional athletes.  Therefore, I had some explaining to do.

I explained that professional football generates a certain amount of revenue during any particular season.  That income is divided amongst various groups; players, owners, television networks, coaches, trainers, referees, etc.  What percentage each of these groups receive of the total revenue, I do not know.  But, as I told my son, if the players feel that they deserve a greater percentage, they can rally together and with their collective bargaining powers, the league and owners may decide to meet at least some of their demands.  If that happens, then obviously the players are worth it.  The owners now have a few options on their table.  First, they can take a cut in their profits–unlikely.  Secondly, they can try to generate more revenue.  This can be done in a few different ways.  One very likely option is that ticket prices will increase.  They could also negotiate higher contracts with television networks.  The networks, of course, in turn would try to pass this extra cost on to advertisers.  The advertisers may or may not be willing to pay higher prices for those time slots.  If they choose to pay the higher price, then again, we have proof that the players are worth any increase they have received.  Actually, this is just simple economics.

Now, if there comes a time when fans are unwilling or unable to pay the exorbitant ticket prices that seem to plague all professional sports, or, if advertisers refuse to pay the increased cost of advertising slots, then there would be a need for further negotiations. Under such circumstances it would have to be decided which group is willing to take a cut in the percentage of generated revenue? The question then must be asked, if athletes do not deserve the multi-million dollar contracts they now enjoy, who does deserve the income generated by professional sports?  But, why does someone who can throw a ball through a hoop or a long pass for a touchdown deserve so much money?  The answer is simple; because society says they are worth it.  Society is willing to pay outrageous ticket costs; they are willing to buy official NFL, NBA, or MLB merchandise; and they are willing to buy a product because a super-athlete endorses it.  It is not the football players’ fault, nor the other professional athletes.  It is our fault.  We tell these men that they are worth millions of dollars because they give something so important to our society as football, basketball, baseball, or any other professional sport.

Let me be clear that I am not against sports whether professional or otherwise.  My family and I, in particular, love March Madness.  I could write an entire post on whose pocket the revenue from college sports end up in—obviously not the athletes’ if they are playing by the rules.  In my opinion the NCAA and the BCS are just another form of organized crime.  However, I do know that competing in and watching sports can be great entertainment.  What bothers me is not so much that people value these athletes so highly (well that may bother me a little); it is that they do not value, at least as equally, more important contributions to society.

As many of you know, I have been studying mathematical sciences and physics at UNLV.  During my years at UNLV I have had the opportunity to associate with some very outstanding mathematicians and physicists.  One in particular, Dr. Michael Pravica, received his Bachelor of Science Degree from Cal-Tech and his PhD from Harvard University in High Pressure Physics.  I am sure most of you would agree that this would be no small fete.  In addition to teaching various physics classes at UNLV, he is also involved in important research as well as consultation for The Department of Energy and the Army.  You can see a more detailed description of his work on his website http://www.physics.unlv.edu/~pravica/.  Do not feel bad if you don’t understand all the terminology on his website.  That alone might convince you of his impressive resume.  He also has a few videos on You-Tube which can be found by searching his name on that site.

Dr. Pravica is also an activist for quality education especially in the sciences.  He often makes his voice heard through writing OpEds and letters to the editor of papers throughout the country.  He offers his voice on other subjects as well and is not afraid to take on his critics, which is what this post is really about.  He recently wrote a letter to the editor about the educational crisis we are currently facing in the state of Nevada and the dangers of cutting funds toward higher education.  Well, he had a couple of critics who just couldn’t help but get into the conversation.  One in particular, Chuck Muth, a conservative activist with the Nevada Business Coalition, has made Dr. Pravica his personal vendetta.  On March 7, Mr. Muth again took on Dr. Pravica in an on-line publication “Muth’s Truths”, entitled UNLV Prof. has BS in Hyperbole.  Among other areas of criticism, Mr. Muth criticized Dr. Pravica’s “generous” salary of $122,895 annually.  Now I am not arguing that such a salary would be greatly welcomed by many, but what I am stating is that for someone who has gone through as much education as Dr. Pravica at great sacrifice and debt, has done valuable research for our country, and has inspired future generations, is not being over compensated.  In fact, I believe he and his colleagues are being under compensated.  Mr. Muth, who seems to be proud of the fact that he has only a high-school education, obviously does not know what it takes to get a PhD in any subject little lone one as rigorous as physics.  He also failed to mention that the Physics Department at UNLV is self funded and also puts money into UNLV’s coffers because of their ongoing extensive research.  In addition, Dr. Pravica’s salary also includes compensation for consultation work and per diem reimbursement for travel and expenses which does not come from UNLV.

I am not claiming that all research done by scientists is valid and necessary, but I do know that all of the technology that we each enjoy started with discoveries through research in mathematics, physics, chemistry, and biology labs.  I know others contribute, as well, by using the knowledge gained to develop useful and marketable items, but let us not forget those who gained much education at such a high cost both fiscally and with great personal sacrifice through higher education.  Is our higher education system perfect?  No!  We all know that we need to take another look at how education is administered in our country, but to mock Dr. Pravica’s salary to me is laughable.  If only he could also throw a football for a winning touchdown then he might be worth something to our society.  Well, I would love to continue my rant on this subject and I would also like to watch the two Final Four games, but instead I will go back to working on a take home math test consisting of only one problem that has now taken me approximately four hours of work.  I would imagine I have at least another hour, but I said that at the two hour mark.  Maybe I should go outside and practice throwing a football instead.

Remember that 2 Plus 2 Doesn’t Always Equal 4                                                                     [And please take time to read my original post to understand Why the Title of this Blog? (Feb. 17, 2011)]