View from the Shoe

SWIPE RIGHT. WRITE LEFT.

What if left-handers are the normal ones — and righties look awkward? I mean, did you ever hear southpaws say with surprise “Wow, I didn’t know you were right-handed”?

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Southpaws. Lefties. Scrammies. History wasn’t always kind to us left-handers. Seen as evil, sinister, we were even accused in the Middle Ages of being witches. Anything ‘left’ was never right. Salt was thrown over left shoulders because that’s where ghosts lurk. Getting out of bed on the ‘wrong side’ meant stepping out, left foot first. Greeks and Romans wore rings on their left hands to fend off evil spirits, which might seem weird since that’s also our wedding ring hand. The Incas thought left-handers had magical healing powers while Eskimos believed we were sorcerers. Schools came equipped with a good old wooden ruler, smacked against your hand in hopes that eventually you’d do the ‘right’ thing. (Not how I roll) The ‘Right’ hand of God. Your right hand man. Left handed was assigned to compliments and of course those darn clumsy feet.

Hellooooo. Left-handers are not extinct. In fact, we number 11% of the population, are twice as common in twins, and count for 20% of Mensa members. At least 4 of the last 7 US presidents have been left-handed, as well as luminaries like Mark Twain, Madame Curie, Nicola Tesla, Aristotle, Mozart, Napoleon and Mother Teresa. Right handed people were thought to be left brained, and left handed the opposite. Of recent years, that’s pretty much been proved a myth. It’s also been said that we left-handers use both sides of our brains in ‘unusual’ ways. Cool. That might explain my life! On the other hand, it’s also been suspected that we lefties have a higher risk for breast cancer, schizophrenia, Parkinson’s , allergies (thank you, ragweed) sleep problems, and early death. None that, of course, has been proven either but still, not the winning powerball ticket.

Red-haired people are thought to be rare, ‘unusual’, yet I have ginger daughter and two grandsons. We can’t trace the genetic heredity of their hair any more than we can find a reason for familial left-handedness. It just is. That being said, it doesn’t mean growing up southpaw is always a piece of cake. Things righties take for granted in everyday life can be inconvenient, painful, or even dangerous for southpaws. Scissors, spiral notebooks were definitely designed to torture. If tennis was your game, you figured out quickly the sport comes with only half the options than those of your right-handed counterparts. If crocheting is your jam, good luck finding left-handed directions for that next lopsided sweater. On the other hand, ever notice that all Star Wars Storm Troopers are lefties? Not sure what superpower that gives them but I’ll take it.  

As an artist, how do you think charcoal, pencils or pastels went? Yup, about like that. I found out, late in the game that, instead of the scraps of paper I shoved under my hand to avoid inevitable smearing, there was an actual ‘bridge’ some clever artist invented. Still, it was amusing to hear people’s faux shock that I actually was capable of drawing altogether, as if being left handed  painted me unable to do more than use a computer mouse. Though I’m hardly planting myself on the same planet of genius, I’m thinking Leonardo DaVinci managed pretty damn well as a left-hander, no? I could blame being left handed on having poor spatial judgement, however, since I’ve never able to park less than 5 feet from the curb, but it’s probably my bad.

Continue reading “SWIPE RIGHT. WRITE LEFT.”
Politics and other awkward stuff, View from the Shoe

The Kid Next Door

If this past week showed us anything, it was that you never know. You don’t know what anger, depression, resentment or embedded racism hides behind that typical teen’s grin or the neighborhood crank’s frown. We don’t know what propels a person to grab a gun and take target practice on unsuspecting other humans with a vengeance.

You just don’t know.

This week two more shootings happened, one in El Paso; the other in Dayton. They say the flip side of anger is fear though it’s hard to imagine such calculated, heinous acts by those scared and afraid. Yet, these terrorists are definitely frightened, just not in the way you think. You see, for them the bogeyman is not something that goes bump in the night but the ‘tired, hungry, and poor’ that giant green lady in the NY harbor welcomes. The bogeyman — is the ‘other’.

To be fair, I am afraid, too, not of immigrants but of ‘shadow’ Americans. I don’t want to be scared of my homies but religious fanatics and sycophant politicians who dance for a divisive Puppeteer while raining hateful diatribes like confetti grenades, do the job.

I have grandsons – 5 of them. I know all about the sometimes crazy video games (though my kids keep rein on what the nuggets can or can’t play). But to blame mass shootings on said games is nothing short of absurd. When I was a kid, my brothers played with cap guns and toy rifles, pretending to be soldiers, cops or bad guys. To my knowledge, my remaining brother never grew an interest in shooting up a theater.

Let’s face it – WORDS MATTER. How we talk to and about each other matters. It matters how we frame those who were brought here on slave ships and those who seek asylum from torture, painted as murderers, rapists, and an invasion. White supremacists are dubbed ‘fine people’ and even American born elected officials are told to go back to where they came from. (Brooklyn?)

I agree, that most likely some level of mental illness rendered every perpetrator unequipped to process hateful rhetoric with less than deadly actions. I also agree, that if identified, those people should be treated before catastrophes happen – that is if mental health budgets have not been slashed. But the truth is — GUNS KILL PEOPLE. Period. That being said, knowing people are the ones pulling the trigger doesn’t let gun regulations off the hook. Nor should anyone look the other way as AK-47s are blithely utilized as a mass shooter’s weapon of choice. These economically speedy killing machines have no place anywhere but the battlefield. Full stop. Continue reading “The Kid Next Door”

Politics and other awkward stuff, View from the Shoe

Not In Kansas Anymore

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Boy, has this place changed, Toto. Some days our America seems as unfamiliar as Oz. We’ve seen odd characters with no brain, heart or courage in abundance but enough about politics. We’ve been in twisty, scary situations before. In fact, history is full of times when the red, white and blue was as divided as the Hatfields and McCoys, complete with messy family food fights.

It’s been said this past election didn’t divide America – it revealed it. Racism and xenophobia are hardly new; they are just more butt naked than we’ve seen them for awhile. Did we think political paranoia left the building when Joe McCarthy did? Ha! We might have been a teeny bit convinced that we made healthy improvements in womens’ rights and sexual choice tolerance, but no. And immigrants? Fear of the ‘other’ is stoked daily, as you wait. Every culture has gone through a purgatory of prejudice and alienation when they arrive on our shores, but, these days, the Statue of Liberty hides her face in utter shame.

For 243 years, America has invented, innovated, inspired and banded together for better. We’ve dominated both outer and cyberspace. Baseball, blue jeans, jazz and rock ‘n roll are as American as too many guns, slavery and the atomic bomb. Everything is big in America – buildings, landscapes, cars, business – and dreams. To many, their dream is elusive along their respective Yellow Brick Roads.

But few things in life are linear – and history isn’t neat.

Over the decades we’ve seen riots, scandals, assassinations, world wars and cold wars. We’ve struggled with healthcare, financial reform, racial strife, taxes and political mayhem. There’s little we haven’t seen. When elections were over, protests were heard, amendments enacted, and we usually went back to business as usual. No matter how politics, cultural roots or societal platforms differed, we united as AMERICA, not a polarized land of misfit toys. Continue reading “Not In Kansas Anymore”

Politics and other awkward stuff

Divided We Fall

There’s an elephant in the room. In fact, there’s an entire herd. Our country is divided in ways not seen since the Civil War and that divide goes past party, right smack into a giant morass. This land of the free and home of the brave has been steadily careening toward a constitutional crisis and no one seems to know where the brakes are.

Uh oh.

Yes, I know jobs are on a steady rise and so is the stock market. The economy continues its 7-year recovery. So far, so good. But things like incivility, racism, gun violence and moral equivalency are ramping up to unseen levels, too. The gaping crevasse of division has been magnified, in no small way, by the man whose very position is supposed to bring us all together — not fuel a growing turmoil. Under his reign, politics has morphed from that of my parents’ voting climate to a near monarchy. Party has become loyalty to a man, not the law or the values it once held firm. The aura of ‘presidential’ has become a myth as has national unity.

I am proud to be American and always will be, even though, like many relationships, ours can go off the rails sometimes. The relationship can get testy, make you worried and upset, but, like every family’s version of the drunk uncle, we accept it as part of a tribe we love. While we can’t disavow some frankly ugly parts of our American history, we are rightly proud of its multitude of shining achievements, generosity of spirit and so much more.

Your vibe attracts your tribe. Continue reading “Divided We Fall”

Politics and other awkward stuff

We’re Bigger Than This.

Flag USA July 4 Celebration Indendence Day ConceptYes, it was inevitable. Post-election fallout has forced everything else that populates my peculiar mind to take a number.  Actually, I suspect every everyone in the US has PLENTY of thoughts to share right now but these are my two cents — so, fasten your seatbelt!

No one escaped the stress and strain of a seemingly endless campaign that often defied description. Regardless of which side of the aisle you sat, the seats have been horribly uncomfortable. Constant rhetoric irritated tempers and eardrums. Hats were promotional party favors. The issues, candidates and constant rallies neatly sliced up this country and escape to Canada became a handy exit strategy.

Election night saw a fair amount of hand wringing, nail-biting and yelling at the TV. In the end, like white smoke from the Vatican chimney, the results were in – there was a winner. Some were thrilled; others not so much to put it mildly. Whether joy or anguish, there was certainly no lack of emotion on either side and some have not recovered. The dark horse won, not by popular vote, but by something most people only heard in high school history class – Electoral College. Social media was on fire, the airwaves were filled with ‘Monday morning quarterbacking’ and everyone was shell-shocked with either happiness or devastation.

Who I voted for and how I felt about the outcome doesn’t matter. I have plenty of company either way. But one thing seems clear. The real election results evidenced the tragic birth of us’ — and ‘them’. Yes, I realize that our treasured ‘melting pot’ has been melting, in many ways, for years beneath the surface of our indifference and complacency. It just took the proverbial last straw of this year’s vitriolic, inflammatory campaign rhetoric for the pressure cooker to explode – and explode it did. Wedges have been jammed between white people and people of color, LGBT and religious fundamentalists, liberal vs. conservative, urban vs. rural, educated vs. uneducated and — men vs. women. We’ve heard the most inflammatory statements. Racial harassment is rampant. A canyon has opened up and we are all in danger of falling into the abyss. No matter which camp you’re in, to say it all pretty much sucks is a mammoth understatement. Continue reading “We’re Bigger Than This.”