Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sororities and the Like

My parents didn’t go to college. It wasn’t even on the radar screen. And neither did my grandparents.

(Correction: my mother may be reading this, so I’d better mention the college course or two she took when she was in her mid-forties; an effort worthy of mentioning.)

Listening to my mom talk about her childhood and subsequent entry into adult life is why I know that she considered college a form of the Promised Land; unachievable by her during the approximate age of eighteen, but not for her children. Throughout my youth and until the day I received my degree, she kept my eyes on the prize by telling me how hard it is to make a “decent salary” without “a good education,” something she knew all too well. It was also important to be smart.

The plan went awry with my brother after his one year of college; however, his path was that of a loyal government employee and a successful landowner/landlord.  He’ll be retiring soon.
I fulfilled the trailblazer role, graduating from a historically black college (abbreviated HBCUs) which trained me well to become a computer programmer analyst.

More training I got while there was due to my first real exposure to sororities, fraternities, and social clubs. I stared at the pledging pledgees, neatly dressed, walking across campus, and listened as my freshman friends vowed their allegiance to become one of them.
“Are you pledging, Anita?” they’d ask. “Which one!”

With no family legacy to form and mold my course and guide my thinking, I had to jump in on my own; after all it was the college thing to do – right?
Welllll… it didn’t quite work out. My independent spirit and somewhat rebellious nature reared its ugly head during my interview, in addition to my lack of exhibiting admiration to upper class sorority girls as they paraded around campus in their Greek lettered attire in the specified colors of the group. It didn’t take long to know that I didn’t fit; yet, I still wanted to want to fit for a couple weeks as I watched the new pledgees on line.   Never could conjure up that feeling, though.

During the remainder of my college years, there were a few times I’d have to say, “No, I didn’t pledge,” to the curious who tried to guess my sorority or social club based on my personality, looks, clothes, and friends… I guess...  What else could it have been?
But, that’s my story. So many others, obviously, fit well in this world of camaraderie.  While each group appeared to be cliquish; i.e. the smart girls, the attractive girls, the misfits, and others, there was a certain appeal about them. They wore the confidence of belonging and of claiming their territory. They had “sorors” who committed to helping when transportation or a place to crash was needed.  They were cool, which meant they had first dibs on the cool fraternity guys. They were having the full college experience.

I suppose they did other things, too; things beyond what I could see, like having meetings to decide upon philanthropic activities and then carrying out these plans. Presumably, they also “looked out for each other” when job opportunities arose; the seasoned career “Greeks” giving a hand up to the ones starting out. This is what I would hear.

To this day, I still don’t know the ins and outs of sorority life. Some of my friends and acquaintances rarely mention their past involvement, while others still express pride and stay “active.” And to them I say, why not? …if it remains fulfilling.

Did I miss out? Nope.
How about you? What has been your experience with sororities, fraternities, and social clubs?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

My Lips Are Sealed

Hmmm… Do I dare say anything even remotely related to the election? I’m notorious for staying away from the discussion of politics, a place where the emotions run high; however, I’m going to brave it with a personal account of what I experience each time an election rolls around.

As a resident of Virginia - a great state to visit, by the way, with its ocean, mountains, museums, gardens, and historic homes – it is assumed by the masses that I always vote the democratic ticket in a state that has received the electoral votes for the Republican presidential candidate from 1968 through 2004. It is assumed by many, if not most people, because I am black; there is no other reason. I’m lumped in with the 47 percent. And not just by white people, but by black people and other people of color, too.
It may seem that I’m disturbed by this, but I’m not. The last of many statistics that I saw pop up on a TV screen alongside a news panel assessing the election results, showed 96 percent of black voters voted for Barack Obama. If I were not black, I’d think that all black voters voted for him, too.

Am “I” in the 96 percent, or am “I” in the 4 percent? My lips are sealed.
A cop out, maybe? …not letting you know. Will it change what you think of me if you do know?

Four plus years ago, a white friend became so upset because I did not take enough of a political stand (according to her) on the issues, and mainly because I did not hate Barack Obama. She’s one of the reasons why I limit my political discussions to a few chosen people, some who are Democratic and some who are Republican.
I get the passion. We’re talking about our futures, and that of our country and of our children. A lot of brain power and labor has gotten us to where we are and none of us want to stumble. Fortunately, in the great United States, we have the freedom to express our differences toward whom and what we think will keep us on top, and that is often done by our support of elected officials and candidates running for office.

In recent years, I’ve chosen not to label myself as a Democrat, a Republican, a Tea Party supporter, and not even as an Independent. As a black person, I’ve had labels attached to me my entire life, and thought I’d take a break from it for a little while, but don’t let that keep you from putting one on me. *smile*  (Also, this has helped my children to make their own decisions as we've discussed the issues.)
One label that I will wear proudly and thankfully is, “citizen of the United States of America,” and in a way that may be different from yours, I will continue to work towards the longevity, success, and freedom we desire.

We’ve been through a revolutionary war, slavery, a civil war, a major depression, 9/11… We can get through this parting of the ways that, I hope and pray, is temporary.  Nothing stays the same.
Hey… call me an optimist.

Comments? Go for it. J
Millicent Owuor and her newborn twins: Barack Obama and Mitt Romney
story found here

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Hurricane Sandy - Silver Lining Stressbuster

Surfing through the talk shows while eating lunch, I heard The View women expressing the same pleasure I felt at not having another routine day during the storm confinement, and that is when I decided it is okay to talk about my Hurricane Sandy silver lining while many are suffering. Like the talk show women, I experienced no power outages and no inconveniences; just the skipping of a shower and a few other minor offenses.

Usually, too many days of rain has me teetering on the border of gloom, though not this time. Who knew that Sandy, our fearless hurricane, would provide me with a bit of rest and rejuvenation. Even the kids did not disrupt my haven, because they, too, were in a state of reprieve. When notified that schools were closed, I had occasions to laugh as I watched them do the happy dance, accompanied by a dose of audible joy.
It was pajama and yoga pants day – for two days – Monday and Tuesday. Girl#3 and I preferred PJs, while Girl#1 and Girl#2 sported the yoga pants. When Darling Husband/Daddy came home from work, he walked into the kitchen where we were stuffing our mouths with hurricane junk food. His first words were, “No fair!”

I felt sorry for him (for a whole 30 seconds) as I thought of my time reading books and blogs in bed, watching a DVD on my laptop, writing notes for future blog posts, talking to the kids about non-obligatory things; etc. It was also good to see the kids reading, looking at things that interest them on the computer, Skyping their friends, making artsy and crafty things, baking, and watching reruns of Full House.
Our blissfulness extended beyond sedentariness. I completed cycles of laundry - washing, drying, sorting, and delivering to the bedrooms of the three girls, where they folded and hung up their clothes. They caught up on homework and studying. I mopped bathroom floors and washed dishes. It’s funny how domesticity doesn’t bother me when I’m stuck in the house.

It was good… for us.
For others, not so good.
The news reports featuring the devastation from the storm were so sad that I had to turn it off after seeing fires and floods and crumbled buildings and destroyed docks. I had to remind myself that bad things happen to good people; however, the people will bounce back.

As the sun made its intermittent appearance, giving us a warm and fuzzy back-in-the-grind feeling (oxymoron?), Hurricane Sandy will be remembered as “the storm that wasn’t” for us; the storm that gave us a little more family time in this phase of rush, rush, rush. And, even hard-working DH/Daddy managed to get in on some of it.

What do you do when you’re stuck inside due to weather conditions?
What are your stressbusters?

American Red Cross 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767)