Wednesday, November 5, 2008

My Greatest Moment As An American

I grew up being taught not to put too much stock in government because the institutions of this world come and go.  The belief system I was raised in and around attested that nations rise and fall.  Leaders come and go, but the world beyond this world is where we put our stock and measure.  "Lay up treasures in Heaven", not on Earth.  That is, do good deeds and lead a life extraordinary and noble.  Don't strive for contentment in a perfect home, car, job, government, bank account, etc.  Strive for an existence that lasts beyond your body itself through a life lived in service to God and fellow man.  

I still hold these beliefs.  Governments, nations, leaders come and go.  Putting stock in things that pass away will only lead to a life half lived and in great disappointment.  Therefore, I have never been too much of a nationalist.  I have respected beyond measure the sacrifices that others have made to make U.S. what it is today.  I have been enthralled with history, but I do realize that just like every other nation it will fall at some point.  It will not always be so great and mighty.  There are other nations that have remarkable histories and liberating policies.  America is not so untouchable or infallible.  

With some people I grew up with this mentality of "This place is not my home." went a step further.  They would not vote or involve themselves in any politics because Heaven was their ultimate goal.  It mattered so much to display belief that they did not regard this existence as their primary existence, that they relinquished any involvement with government whatsoever.  I could not follow this because I knew that while there may be important things to come I also knew that we were given this existence for a reason and we have the power to change the world around us.  Making this existence a better one for everyone around us is part of "laying up treasures in Heaven".  This can sometimes be done through governments and policies.  They hold the purse strings and puppet strings.  Sometimes it takes playing the game to win.  Sometimes it takes waging against the game to make a difference.  Either way, it's all political.  It cannot be avoided.

Having said this I can safely say my greatest moment as an American was last night, as I watched the man I believe will be the next great leader make his acceptance speech.  I appreciated the historical importance of the moment.  To see in my young life how far our country had finally come to elect a black man was remarkable.  To see the sea of people that came out of the woodwork to stand in line and say, "I believe in this guy." and who came out afterwards to celebrate his victory.  It was all one big confirming, "Yes.". Yes, he can be a great leader.  Yes, we need this.  Yes, we need to move on.  

I watched with the reserved understanding that he will come and go.  He will make mistakes.  I cannot not put too much stock in one human being or one nation.  Yet, every now and again there is an Abraham Lincoln, a Franklin Roosevelt, a Martin Luther King.  I can't help but think that he can be great, that he is great.  Every now and again a nation comes together for once to collectively stand behind someone or something good and right.  I can't help, but think, this is that time.  This time and it's leader will come and go, but right now I'm appreciating my greatest moment as an American.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Let's Not Shit Ourselves

It began in Kindergarden or perhaps it was first grade. I don't remember. I was on the bus to school and I remember this horrible sensation. The churning of organs and shifting of air, fluids and solids in places that would normally flow like a peaceful stream made me hurry from the bus. I ran to the door. I jiggled the handle. I jiggled the handle the way a blonde, buck-some, teen-age girl would shake a door knob in a horror film. Just as true as it was for her, it was also for me. The door would not budge. I attended a small private school in the country. People were in no hurry to open doors for confused students with diarrhea. I was confused because I did not know that I had diarrhea. I had to go - now! I kept trying to manipulate the door open. It wasn't happening. I knocked, but this door opened to the cafeteria and not anywhere where anyone would be. I yelled, but again, it was just as in vain as the blonde, horror movie chick inevitably running up the stairs.

I stopped. I cried. I did it. I pooped my pants. There was no stopping it. It happened. No one must know... and my day had not yet begun. I was convinced that there was no telling anyone. I had to live out that day as if nothing happened. I would be in worse condition if my parents found out I couldn't even control my bowels. What good was a kid that stop herself from shitting? I had already showed them I had issues with my bladder. If the bowels came into the conversation, then all bets were off.

School began. I walked to my room and pretended nothing was wrong. I read. I wrote. In my small class when anyone (and everyone) passed by and said, "Peeyew! What is that smell?", dramatically pinching their noses and waving their hands back and forth in front of their faces, I pinched my nose, waved my hand and said, "I know! Whew! That smells terrible! I don't know what that is. It isn't me."

I don't remember if anyone found me out or exactly how that story ends. Perhaps it was all too much and blocked some of it out. I do know that this was the beginning of my traumatizing issue of shitting myself. It has been repeated after long nights of drinking, subsequently reeking havoc on whoever is reluctantly deemed my caretaker for the night. I has been revisited during horrifying bouts of illness most people call "The Flu", but I call "Contagious Demon Possession". It can only be exercised through one orifice or another.

One night when I had the flu, my husband and I were relaxing on our big L-shaped couch. He on one side and me on the other. I had been couch ridden with my Contagious Demon Possession that day. I lay naked, excepted swaddled in a favorite blanket. I had gas. I farted; or so I thought. I crapped all over myself and that blanket. I was utterly disgusted with myself. I silently gathered my blanket and self and walked past him to the bathroom where I began to clean the blanket and myself. He knew nothing. A few minutes passed and he said, "Does it smell like shit in here?" From the bathroom I said, "Yes." Silence passed for a few moments. I continued my endeavors. He said, "What the hell is that? It really smells like shit." I heaved a sigh, turned to him and replied, "I shit myself.". Pause. "I was laying in the blanket. I had to fart, but I accidentally shit myself.".

Perhaps good will come of this. Maybe when I'm old and inevitably loose all control of my bowels it won't be as embarrassing. Maybe I'll declare, "Oh this is nothing. You should have seen me when I was 25."