Sunday, May 30, 2010

Turning Heads

It must be the promises of the summer ads that has this phrase revolving in my mind of late. I've decided to do a little series on it: First, in the most literal sense, what does it mean to turn heads? Second, what does it mean to be the "neck that turns the head"? and Third, how do these topics combine to turn the head of culture?

Turning His Head

What does it mean to turn the head of your man? Let's define 'turning the head' as remaining interesting and attractive enough to garner the interest of the man who vowed his future to you. This is definitely something at which we ladies want to succeed.

Deep down, this means enriching our own minds to be stimulating companions. It is said that you will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read. If you have small kids like me, this means the books on the toilet tank, because you KNOW that's the best quiet spot in the house (disregarding the waggling fingers under the door and yells of "Mommy, what are you doing in there?") And even if you only read 3 pages a day, that's 1000 pages a year of great literature. It should go without saying that our spiritual growth is crucial! I think the Bible counts as the greatest literature!
Externally, it means being as physically attractive to our man as we can be. A healthy weight is only a small piece of this equation. Most every man has a favorite hairstyle, a favorite dress, a favorite shoe style. Sigh. If you're like me, you may find that his favorites and yours are not even in the same catalog ;o) Just a tidbit of trivia: I have heard that men are always most attracted to the styles that were in when they first began maturing sexually. This means our husbands are SO stuck in their teens ;o) Nathan loves, loves, loves the styles of the early nineties (can we hear a big hurrah for Bible college huge poofs?) Sigh again. So we compromise.

And in a general way, we turn their heads when we put a genuine interest into what they like. It seems that this especially is true of their recreational interests. Before we had kids, I joined Nathan (reluctantly- I'm ashamed to say) in playing online WWII games with a Christian guild. I turned off all the blood, set up a machine gun, and strafed away (running around corners, etc. made me nauseous so I was a dead duck if anyone snuck up behind me ;o) Nathan STILL talks about how much he loved that time with me beating up on the Nazis. Things have definitely changed with kids, but maybe I listen to classical music in the day (to discuss a piece with my classical-loving man), fix the food he loves after a hard day, burn the candle he loves instead of the one I want, etc.

*Important: What happens if in turning my man's head, I accidentally turn SOMEONE ELSE's head? OK, ladies. Honesty here. We ALL know what a woman looks like when she's on the hunt. The way she carries herself, the openness on her face, the 'feel' of her. And we've all been single at some point, requiring a certain level of approachability to draw the opposite sex. Fine. But, I believe there is a "feel" to a committed, married woman. There is a grace, a cordial nature that still can shut down an interested party.******And just in case you're wondering, this happens very rarely for me, and normally they're old, toothless, wizened gentlemen who reached maturity in the 40's and 50's. And of course, my poof reminds them of their bobby-socked sweetheart and Ingrid Bergman ;o)

Go turn his head, lady.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Happy, Happy Mother's Day to our Moms and Grandmoms!

I have a new appreciation these days for these women in my lives. And for the ones that have been, and now are waiting in Heaven.

Momma- you have been late night chats, unconditional love, sweetness to the core. You have been vulnerability, dependence on God, dedication to others, a garden-lover, White Shoulders perfume.

Mom Brown- you have been a deep well of wisdom, class through and through. You have been a love for the Word, great thoughts, sewing tips, and pansies.

Grammy (Frederick Morgan)- you have been a love for Jesus, a sense of all things beautiful and praiseworthy. You have been kindness, Entemann's crumb donuts, never-forgotten birthdays.

Mamaw (Moman)- you were a shoulder to cry on, a servant to your family, a deeply patient person. You were peanut butter and honey sandwiches, a ceramics kiln-baker, and daylilies.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Peach Milkshakes and Bobcats

Today it was 90 degrees. Tonight I went to Chick-Fil-A. I ordered a small peach milkshake. I drank a memory.

The building in the above picture is the old Nixon Chapel Community Center, the site of all community watch meetings when I was a kid. The floors were old creaky wood, there was a stuffed bobcat in a glass case, and there were always churns of homemade icecream. Once a month we would gather, and in the summer there was peach icecream. In fact, Chick Fil A's milkshake tastes just like a cup full of out-in-the-sticks, real chunks of peaches, creaky wood floor icecream. Sometimes the county sheriff would come and bring his K-9 companion for drug-sniffing demonstrations. Sometimes they discussed who was mowing the cemetery or which roads had the worst potholes needing filled. Many times, local politicians dropped by to stump. In every case, there was icecream.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Illegal Immigration As I See It

In my last post, I spoke to the specific issue of the English-only driver's test. I would like to back away from that tree and look at the whole forest. First some background on my perspective.

With the exception of one great-great grandmother? who was Cherokee, I am the descendant of immigrants to this great land, whom I assume were legal. My ethnic heritage is best described as Caucasian "mutt." I have had close and personal knowledge of and relationships with Hispanics since I was 10 years old. First with a lovely Puerto Rican family (who as you probably know, are born U.S. citizens, as P.R. is a territory of the United States). Then with the largely illegal immigrant working population of Northeast Alabama while I worked as a translator in Human Resources for a poultry plant from 1998-1999 and from 2000-2001. I have worked with immigrant children of all nationalities as an ESL tutor while at the University of Alabama. I have taught English to housewives in their homes, eaten beef head with insanely HOT hot sauce, and in general, been in the Hispanic world a lot. I have never had the privilege of living in a foreign country, so my opinion of immigration must be said to be from an external position. However, maybe my experiences as blogged here will be interesting to some. (I have so many thoughts on this subject that this may be a bit random- sorry) I'd love to hear any thoughts you may have as well.

Illegal Immigration from a Moral Perspective:
-I.I. for the purpose of working involves stealing another's identity (or paying someone else to do that for you), lying continuously about your own, and breaking the laws of a sovereign nation. For this reason, I stand on the fact that illegal entry into a country is not only unlawful, but also morally wrong.
-Most of the Hispanic illegals are Catholic. The priest is able to absolve them of sin, so my guess is they feel OK with just confessing this sin and moving on.
-Even in the evangelical Hispanic congregations, I have heard the position that "Christ can understand what it's like to be an illegal immigrant in a desperate position, because He and His parents emigrated from Israel to Egypt to flee Herod." Considering that Egypt was included in the Roman Empire at the time of His birth, this is an sad argument made out of ignorance.

Illegal Immigration from an Economic Perspective
-"We need them." We have allowed our agrarian segments of the society to become dependent on illegally obtained labor. If all the illegals were magically "poof-ed" out of the U.S. right now, we would have some serious issues.
-"They're using us."If the situation were reversed, and poor Texans were looking across the border at a much more prosperous scenario in Mexico, I can guarantee you there would be illegal emigration involved. The idea that the majority of Americans in our post-Christian society would not do something illegal to make money is highly doubtful.
-"If they want to live here, they should learn English." This presupposes they want to live here. Many do come here for that purpose, but many, many just need the money, and plan to be here temporarily.
-"They don't pay taxes." That's false. They pay sales tax like everyone else. Do they file taxes annually? No. That is wrong and unfair to the citizenry of the U.S. When I was working in HR, we would get calls like this: "John Doe Gomez is an American citizen in a nursing home in Los Angeles. He was informed by the government this month that his social security number is drawing income in four different states. He is being asked to pay income tax on these salaries. Does someone with this SSN work for you?" This is really sad for those who are victimized.
-"They fill the jobs that Americans don't want." I found this to be pretty accurate. There were openings where I worked all the time. We would hire 90% Hispanic and 10% other. Many of the non-Hispanics we hired were playing the unemployment system. They would hire in, work 2-3 hours, and quit, claiming they were "unable to physically perform the job." Then I would have to process all their paperwork, which they took to the unemployment office to prove they "were actively seeking employment." This guaranteed them another series of checks from our tax dollars. Just for the record, the only time I ever saw Hispanics play the system was if they married an U.S. citizen who showed them how.

Illegal Immigration from a Social Perspective
-"They are a bunch of criminals." Do they have a higher crime rate? I would guess so. Simply because immigration for the purpose of work pulls the lowest echelon of another society into our own. Poverty tends to foster criminal behavior. Are the guys standing behind you in line at Wal-Mart discussing how to murder you in the parking lot? They're probably just talking about how much they're paying for that lettuce. Only once have I ever heard inappropriate conversation behind me. I turned around and kindly asked them in Spanish where they attended church. That was the end of that.
-"It just makes me mad!" It is perfectly normal to be ticked off when someone is stealing from you. Anger can be righteous. But we have to be super-careful to keep it in the righteous category. As Christians, we must remember all people are made in the image of God, and are worth His love. And ours. I found compassion for them by listening to their stories. I translated for one 11 year old boy who sat in children's church. His mother's brains were blown out in front of him over a land dispute in Guanajuato, and he was sent to live with family. Is it wrong to break the law? Absolutely! Without a doubt! Should we be loving and kind to even those who do wrong. Absolutely! Without a doubt!

Illegal Immigration from a Political Perspective
-I believe the INS system is B-R-O-K-E-N. I have personally worked with them, mediating stuff for legal immigrants. The layers of bureaucracy are terrible, and many decide being illegal is better than all the hassle. And I mean YEARS of hassle.
-I do not believe in amnesty. I think law-breakers should pay for law-breaking. Let's assume for a moment that you could actually apprehend and prove each illegal to be illegal. (A big, big assumption given the brilliance of the black market) I believe any illegal wishing to become legal should be AT LEAST required to go through the system, along with paying all backtaxes with interest applied for years worked without legal status. Their voting privileges should be just as restricted as each state mandates for its felons.
-I believe children born to illegals should be illegal. The country is full of illegals with legal children. That has big implications, including receipt of gov't funds, along with deportation issues.

And if you just read all THAT, go out and buy yourself an enchilada. Wow- that was my blog rant of the decade.
Makes Me Think

This is the new hot political ad in the state of Alabama. Everybody's talking about it on the morning shows, around the dinner table. Wondering if it is racist. What does it mean? And last night some black young men yelled at Nathan to get our family out of "their" park. So!!! I have some new thoughts about racism and loads of ideas about the immigration issue. My perspective on the I.I. is quite unique because of my previous work experience. Let's start with the driver's license test issue. And for the purpose of this blog, I'm going to assume the immigrant is legal.

In general, a driver's license is required for put in an application for a legal job in Alabama. Where I worked (in the HR department of a poultry plant), we required a driver's license and a Social Security card. Let's talk a little linguistics here. When I went to work at the chicken plant, I had a specified vocabulary I had to learn. Spanish class never included deboning terms. Nor did I have the innate ability to translate for a medical exam. Each instance of translation has required me to learn a new sets of special terms. I had trouble the other day looking for saffron (I couldn't remember the word for spice- it had been so long since I used it). Of course if I was native or truly immersed in the culture, this would be much easier.

All immigrants agree on one thing: the easiest way to learn a foreign language is to get out and live and work in it. Those who don't have a job (i.e. the mommas at home) don't learn English. The children have it the easiest. They're required to go to school, and voila. If you can't get a driver's license, you can't get out and work a job in most places. These are not rich people with loads of free time for hiring tutors for English lessons. They are here to survive financially. Even if they do speak English conversationally, a driver's test is full of specific language that requires special tutoring.

I thought a driver's test was supposed to test if you were able to drive. Not speak English, especially specific vocabulary (like "pull to the shoulder"). It reminds me of black Americans having to pass a literacy test to vote. It's just a sneaky way of making it hard for an undesirable population to participate in our society. I'm not saying that Mr. Tim James is a racist. What I am saying is that those kind of ads pull in the votes of those who ARE (and there are many here). And in case you didn't know, many blacks are antagonistic toward Hispanics and would vote for this as well.

By making legal options harder for legal immigrants, you encourage illegal means. If the goal is curbing illegal immigration, there are better options. More to follow...