Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Surly - The word of the day

Disclaimer: don't read if you don't want to hear about someone struggling with class prejudice.

I just signed up yesterday for Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day...and it's poetic that the first word I get describes my mood right now:

surly (adj): 1 : menacing or threatening in appearance. *2 : irritably sullen and churlish in mood or manner : crabbed.

I am feeling definition #2 - churlish, crabbed. I'm struggling with my feelings about my neighborhood, the children in this neighborhood (and hence within the school), the children's parents or lack thereof, and Burlington liberal bullshitters.

Burlington has a beautiful veneer that hides the rot underneath. Yesterday the kids were out front playing with their basketball, my son came in to get something and then went right back out. In that short span of time, two boys walk by and ask my daughter for her to give them the basketball. She told them no, and luckily they left her alone. And on top of that, a boy at after-school care punches my son, and he reacts - but do the people watching over them see the first incident - no, of course not - they see my son react. I walk up to hear some guy talking shittily to my son - and come to find out he's a teacher at the school. This guy did apologize to me - not to both me and my son though, it still has me pissed off.

We need to move - but we can't afford any of the other places, and the ones we can afford are just tiny crap boxes.

I keep thinking that perhaps God is challenging my own liberal beliefs. Can I walk my own talk, can I see beyond the stereotypes so beautifully choreographed in my daily living? Can I love these people? And I have to be honest - not yet. I just can't seem to like let alone love people, be they adults or kids, who fuck with my family.

I'm just not used to living in a space where people really don't care about one another, they don't look out for each other...I don't want to embrace this culture - I miss San Antonio. I never felt unsafe in SA, but the wife and I don't feel safe here.

And I think I'm most upset, because I'm worried about what affect this place will have on my kids (on me). My daughter already modeled some of my words spoken in anger about the people who stole their soccer ball right in front of them - those people are assholes. So the daughter used that same word on the two boys that tried to take her brother's basketball on them - and she even did so with smarts...she waited until they couldn't hear her. I'm worrying about my own modeling of my(re)actions.

So, I've had to remind my children (which isn't a bad thing - just makes me sad) what to do when someone is doing something they don't like; what to do if they're being hurt.

We've had to talk about the demographics of our neighborhood and what it means to live in a poor neighborhood where parents and kids don't respect other people and things. That just because we see these things and these types of behavior does not make it ok.

I wonder at what my kids think about all the talking they've been doing in school (weeks of this now) about being good citizens and community builders. Cause what's being talked about is not being modeled in most homes, nor apparently by the teachers who teach it.

I keep wondering why I seem to only get a small amount of time to live in the moments here that feel good. Like I'm not allowed to get comfortable, maybe there's something I'm being pushed towards that I wouldn't seek out otherwise.

And then I start asking myself if I can really do 2 years of this when it's only been 4 months. My God, what if somehow it extends out past 2 years? Is the price I'm asking them to pay, for me to pursue my calling not selfish? Is this fair? Is it worth it? I want to scream at these people - can't you just live in community together! Don't you understand what that means, what it can mean!

If you made it this far thanks for listening to me rant.


Lee said...

Bummer, JS! I wish you were here too!

Can't do a thing about your neighborhood but if you research Ruby Payne's "A Framework for Understanding Poverty", and compare yourself to the criteria for living in that condition, it might give you some ideas about why it's so hard and perhaps how to deal with it. It's never going to be easy. I grew up a little closer to it because my folks had lived through the great depression. No one had anything and everyone was poor, even some of the rich.

You are in my prayers! And I'm always willing to listen to you rant even if I may sometimes want to fix it a wee bit too much. :)


murat11 said...

jsd: You go, churl! :-D

I know, that's inappropriately glib. I just love the word churlish.

It's bad enough when conservatives in power bullshit on about "reality" in their arrogantly clueless ways, but we expect that, it's almost a given. It feels like a betrayal when the clueless arrogance comes from folks we thought ourselves in league with.

Of course, what I've learned along the way is that it ain't about what comes out of our mouths anyway: it's what comes out of our hearts in our walks. I was helped in a most generous way years ago by two people who were of the nastiest, most rabid, ultra-conservative streak (if you just listened to their mouths), and yet when I needed their help, they were the picture of grace. On the other hand, my tenure at our local literary center was marked by horrific nastiness from an executive director whose politics were squeaky liberal clean.

Surely, something is asking you to clarify in all this: I wouldn't presume to know what is at play between and you and your God, but continue to hold you in prayer I certainly will.

jsd said...

murat: thanks for the humor - I almost pulled the post, then had the wife look at it - she had the final say.

Angela said...

Jeez - so sorry to hear about this crap! That's really frustrating and I am sure that's an under statement.

Keep your head up! I know your family will make it! We still remained inspired by your move :)

I am glad you went ahead and kept the post!

jsd said...

angela: thanks for the support...we had to talk to the principal today...long story, but I'm at the point where we need to see if we can't get the kids into private school. The one I'm interested has a wait list for the son's class. We'll see, maybe things at this school will work out. The principal seems genuinely concerned and wanting to make sure sonshine is ok.