Tuesday, September 12, 2017

We Live in Two Worlds

Literally, my Dutch husband and I live in two worlds. Two times a year (Spring and Fall) we travel from rural southwest Louisiana to the very small progressive European country of The Netherlands. Most of our acquaintances here in the US have had very little travel experience outside of Louisiana, much less out of the US. Our acquaintances in The Netherlands or elsewhere in Europe have traveled in Europe (and some even to the US), but few stay with the "natives."

But we actually "live"in two places/two worlds.

For eleven years we have socialized with the senior citizens at the local Baptist church here in the States. In other words, we have lunch once a month with the 5-15 oldtimers who show up at the church fellowship hall to talk through the young preacher's lesson and then eat a potluck lunch.

Today one of the faithful "keenagers" at the church asked my hubby what church we attended in The Netherlands. When he said, "We don't," she freaked out. She immediately shuffled over to me at another table and said she had asked the wrong question. I laughed, since there are no wrong questions. Then she looked at me and asked, "What do you two do over there? (meaning The Netherlands) Oh, I guess they have television."

I am still laughing twelve hours later. But I promised to bring her photos of The Netherlands and our apartment in the renovated 1920's Dutch high school so that she can see that we actually "live" a whole lot better in Europe than we do here in The Deep South of the United States.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

What Are You? I am an American🇺🇸

Years ago my Dutch mother-in-law asked one of my teaching colleagues from The American School of the Hague the following question:"What are you?"

Henry and his lovely wife were both of Italian descent and had dark hair and olive complexion and had been stopped once or twice at immigration when traveling, according to Henry. As there were over 45 nationalities represented at the international school where we taught, what we were or what country we came from was never an issue.

My MIL had met this particular family before at our son's first birthday some ten years earlier. So now she was ready to ask the big question, "What are you?"

And Henry answered Ma's question just the way I expected he would.

"I am an American."

Friday, May 12, 2017

Advice to My Bachelor Son on Mother's Day Weekend

Marry the housekeeper.

No, I really mean it. Although Fox News says "Most men just want a woman who's nice," a woman who can clean up after you, your children, and your house is the woman you should marry. Unless, of course you can hire someone else to come in at least daily to do the dirty work.
Then a "nice" wife is just fine.

Makes me wonder why your father married me 37 years ago? I am definitely not the housekeeper I would like to be. And not the cook, either. Plus, I haven't always been so "nice."

But I am your mother and Pop's wife.
Happy Mother's Day to me and all of the other "nice" (but sometimes nasty) women.

Friday, April 14, 2017

How Can Your Boyfriend Rape You?

"Is LITERALLY one of the least intelligent questions anyone can ask... 😑"
Abigail Breslin

Sorry that my blog has taken on another light, Followers. For years and years my life has had another light, and now I must change the light bulb.

When I shared with my family and friends, and about a week later with my blog followers, my "story" (as some called it), that proverbial light bulb began to flicker. It was as if someone kept switching my thought process on and off. The "on" moments were as they had been for the last 47 years. The "off" moments were as dark as a burned out lamp bulb. My thoughts and remembrances were like bits of tiny bulb wire sizzling and burning to mere dust.

To complicate matters of light and dark, there were questions. Oh, very few questions from me, since I remember the date rape incident and the following handling of the pregnancy and adoption situation. But my dear friends and family had many questions. Most questions I can answer,  unbelievably void of much regret or emotion. The questions that bother me the most are the ones that doubt my honesty and sincerity.

That doubt is not new to me. Even during the four months that I was a resident at the home for unwed mothers in New Orleans in 1970, other residents and staff members doubted that I had been sexually attacked by my boyfriend. When I shared my "story" back then in a therapy session at the Home, many girls laughed. "Date rape? You must be crazy! That doesn't happen," they said. I do not even remember the therapist defending or standing up for me.

Research shows that most rapes are not committed by someone jumping out of the bushes. The
perpetrator is most of the time someone you know and even trust. Also, the Internet is cram packed with lists of Myths and Facts of Sexual Violence. (For Example)

I have hid my light under a bushel for long enough. My lamp may not be the same as the one in the religious song for children, but I will not keep quiet about sexual violence any longer. For years I would not utter the word Rape, since I had been taught that was a bad word. I heard it used for the first time at school when I was in the sixth grade. A girl in our class had been raped by her father. When I asked my mother what "rape" was, she blanched and told me to look it up in the dictionary.
What sixth grader in the early 1960's or even in 2017 would understand this definition?
"unlawful sexual intercourse or any othersexual penetration of the vagina, anus, or mouth of another person, with or without force, by a sex organ, other body part, or foreign object, without the consent of the victim."

Well, I was the victim. But that will not shut me up.

Monday, April 10, 2017

We Are Our Choices (Jean-Paul Sartre)

It was not unusual for young men I knew in the early 1970's to boast that their former girlfriends had experienced an abortion or two. In most incidences I am aware of, the necessity for the abortion was the pregnancy caused by the said braggart.  It was almost as if the men of that time period were carving notches into something. It was not into a rifle handle or a bedpost. Perhaps it was their ego. Sort of a way of proving their manhood, their virility, but not of their fatherhood, unfortunately.

My mother told me many times that one particular aunt in the 1940's and 1950's had used extreme methods to make sure that she did not become pregnant. Sorry to say, I did not ask what those methods or potions were that kept pregnancy at a distance and perhaps eventually produced sterility for that dear auntie.

A woman has control of her body no matter what her partner, family, society, or humankind care to say about it. If our choices turn out well, we can take the credit. And if our choices are not so great, we suffer the most pain and agony.
In most cases alone.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Do You Have Aspergers?

Do you have Aspergers?
(Actually, I have some green ones in the fridge that need to be cooked tonight. Would you like them with a Hollandaise sauce or in a salad?)
Seriously, back to the original question. Do you have Aspergers? Not asparagus😳

The first time I ever heard about Aspergers was about 15 years ago when the mother of one of my students described her 7th grade son as "weird." I was shocked and thought that she was probably the rudest and cruelest mom I had encountered in all of my years of teaching. But she was dead right. He was "weird." And he was handsome and polite and always clean and neat. He was the best behaved kid that I taught, and he was writing a play script starring Joan Crawford and other actresses of her time. How many 7th graders that you know know enough about actresses in that time period to write a play? Much less write a play script about anything?

G's mother explained to me and the other teachers at our pre-school meeting that her son would wear the same type of clothes every single school day. A plaid buttoned-down shirt, khaki pants, brown loafers, and maybe a pullover sweater, if the weather was chilly. He would never have a casual chat with his peers, but would participate in a conversation with adults when he had no other choice. He would avoid almost all contact with peers unless that was part of the expected class participation. He would attend physical education classes, but mostly stand and watch the other students participate.

G. had Aspergers. Since that time that he was one of my students, I think that I have even recognized some Asperger symptoms in myself. Maybe that explains my "weirdness."

 You might want to know: "It was not until 1981 that Asperger’s syndrome (also called Asperger’s disorder) was acknowledged as a unique psychological condition."
http://aspergersquiz.com/the-history-of-aspergers-syndrome
"By the 1990s, Asperger’s was being diagnosed as a specific condition related to, but distinct from, autism. Generally speaking, autism is considered a more extreme pervasive developmental disorder, or PDD."
http://aspergersquiz.com/the-history-of-aspergers-syndrome
"However, those who live amongst us with Asperger’s are less likely to exhibit extreme behavior. If an early diagnosis of their condition is made and the people around them understand the syndrome, they have an excellent chance of remaining a productive and participatory member of their community."
http://aspergersquiz.com/the-history-of-aspergers-syndrome

And if you want to take a test to give yourself some more insight into characteristics of those of us who might have Aspergers, here is one test: http://aspergersquiz.com/

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Just Hang Up

Almost no one ever calls our landline phone except someone selling something or someone trying to scam us. I am almost tempted to unplug it.

Important message for today: Microsoft will not make unsolicited phone calls to help you with your computer. If you receive a phone call like this, hang up.

I hung up after I heard an Indian accent say,  "This is Microsoft."

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Eye Spy Times Two

Eye Spy Times Two

My blog friend Joanne of www.cuponthebus.blogspot.com asked how our cataract surgery went. So here goes, Joanne.

We were given a little booklet to read when we first made our appointments, and the procedure and follow-up pretty much went as planned.

Our taxi ride to the hospital was uneventful, since the Dutch are always prompt and reliable. It is just curious that the trip back home was a bit cheaper than going, but that method of transportation worked out and was reasonable.

Although some folks sitting in the waiting room near the operating room complained of having to wait too long, we were escorted right in, "stripped" of our outer clothes and jewels, and placed on stretchers to wait. And we did. Wait.

My husband was scheduled first, but we both received our "drupples" for pupil dilation at the same time. Then later more eye drops. In the meantime the salle ( group prep room) was buzzing with nurses, etc. trying to get the morning schedule finished before 12 noon. We were in that group, but it wasn't until after 1:00 pm that we were finished.

I knew that the anesthesiologist would be the one to look out for. I listened carefully as he did his thing on my husband, but that did not help much when he finally got to me. Even if he did make small talk and find it interesting that we came to The Netherlands for our surgery. It hurt!😩

J. and I were a bit of a novelty everywhere in the hospital since we were both having cataract surgery on our right eyes at the same time. When the nurse started to roll me into surgery, the attendant checked my identification and birthday for the sixth time and stated my husband's birthday. Luckily my nurse was attentive and said that was incorrect.

When my son was born 33 years ago by Caesarean section, I remember a green tent that separated my upper body from my lower part where the C-section was underway. For this cataract surgery, my head was tented with a heavy meshed plastic with my right eye left uncovered for the eye doctor. If you have claustrophobia, this is not the procedure for you. As for me, I could breathe. More than that I can't say. I was scared to death😳

I was told that I would feel water streaming in my eye, but no more. That was correct. When the doctor began pulverizing the real lens, she warned me that there would be noise. I am used to that, since my favorite dentist sometimes uses machines that can be noisy, too.

The surgeon told me when she was going to insert the new lens. I could hear the irrigation machine say in English "irrigation on" and then "irrigation off" many times during the surgery. Then the doctor told me that the surgery had been a success.

Whew! I was still breathing. And sitting up on the stretcher. My nurse was still amazed that both my husband and I were doing this on the same day and asked how long we had been together. When I said almost 40 years, she said that was quite remarkable.

Well, J. and I walked through the hospital as one-eyed pirates like in the photo on my Wetcreek Instagram. We will be sleeping with eye patches for the rest of this week and dripping in two kinds of eyedrops four times a day for longer than that.

Our local optometrist changed out our right spectacle lenses yesterday. Reading is not quite what it should be yet. But that will come in the next month.

We take seeing clearly seriously. And we want to be able to do that for a very long time. So for right now, we are seeing eye to eye.

Don't Stir the Pot too Deep

I am an awful cook! Really! Want to have a piece of my gummy banana bread I made yesterday? Oh, that is baking? Pretty bad at that, too, unfortunately.

My worst problem is that I scorch (aka burn) the goodness at the bottom of the pot or pan. Then without much thinking, I dig deep and stir the pot. You can see it, can you? All of that disgusting burnt food that could have been so good has now ruined my meal.

Moral of this story: It is a good thing to stir the pot, but be prepared that if you go too deep what you find won't be worth much and won't make your meal great.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Under the Knife

Everyone (and I mean EVERYONE) says this cataract surgery I am going to experience later today is "a piece of cake."

Now is the time for me to begin my strict diet.

I really don't want that cake.

Hold the knife!

Monday, February 6, 2017

And What Does Your Father Do for a Living?

One of the first questions many people ask you when you are young is, "What does your father do for a living?" We all know that this question is just a euphemism for, "How much money does he make, and are you rich or poor?" Coming right out and asking how much salary he brings home every month is an outright "no-no," but the job question is "Kosher."

While riding here in the taxi to the Beltway Apartment from the airport last Thursday, the Dutch taxi driver politely asked my Dutch husband what kind of work he used to do before his retirement ten years ago. My husband proudly told about his lengthy employment in the travel business, and then I chirped in with my equally lengthy employment in the field of education. If it weren't for both of us working all those many years, we wouldn't be where we are today.

Back in the fall when L. found me/us, one of her questions was, "And what kind of work did your father do?" Hopefully by now L. knows that our family managed on Dad's meager salary until I went off to college, and then my mom went to work to supplement our family income. My parents would have never done as well as they did if it hadn't been for their double-income family situation.

And then this morning my Dutch sister-in-law had a question about what L. did for a living. I chuckled to myself. I do not really know. I can see what L. has on her Facebook page, and she told me what she studied in college, but I never asked her what she really does every work day. Basically the same is true for her husband, although he did share that information with my husband when they chatted on our first meeting.

When was the last time someone asked you what kind of work you do/did? Does it really matter? I am always tempted to ask, "Would you like to see my monthly bank statement? Can I introduce you to my friend/relative/someone I know who hasn't worked a day in his/her life and is richer than you are?"

My mom never knew what any of her grandchildren were studying in college or what her children actually did at their jobs. Just the fact that we all studied and then worked was enough info for her.

I think that I agree.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

I Am A Christian! Is That Enough Proof?

The first amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America as adopted in 1791 reads as follows:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

Do You Carry a Religion Card?

Where does it say that God wants all of the Christians to come to the front of the line?

What if you have no faith? Does that mean that you have to show an empty space in your wallet where you keep your cards?

If there are no faith cards, how do I prove I am a Christian? I never memorized Bible verses.

Does that mean that those who just so happen to be Bible scholars but aren't real Christians will be at the front of the line?

Does just saying you are a Christian or a Jew or a Muslim or Buddhist or Hindu or Sikh or whatever other belief or non-belief make you that?

Where can humankind find the answers to the faith test?

It is times like this when I have no faith!


Sunday, January 29, 2017

Winners

Please take the time to read my important message below.  Love you all. ❤️ Linda

December 27, 2016
We are all winners.

Sometimes just one decision we make in our life makes everyone we care about a winner. Even if that decision seems at the moment to be a bit unusual and risky, the results can be rewarding and make us proud that we did what we did.

In my long lifetime, I have come to many "roads not taken" and made many decisions. I live comfortably in the present without dwelling on why I did what I did and what I should have done.  But I must say that the most difficult decisions have made me a winner. And I am pretty confident in saying that my other family members involved in my decisions are winners, too.

Perhaps the most difficult decision I ever made was at the age of 22. Near the end of an extremely successful four years of university study, I was a victim of date rape on New Years in my hometown ( whew! I finally wrote it) and became pregnant after my very first "sexual experience." In a time before Roe vs. Wade, and I having internally and mentally denied that this had actually happened to me, I finally told my parents about my pregnancy after about four months. My mom immediately began organizing my summer at the Methodist Home for Unwed Mothers in New Orleans, Louisiana, and I took my exams and graduated from college.

Much of what my parents and I said or did about this "situation" back  46 years ago has been lost in my memory. Over the years, I have pushed all of that as far back into that "file cabinet drawer" of my brain as I could. My parents must have done that, too. Because after I returned from the Home in New Orleans, we never talked about "the summer that I went away."

Last year when I cleaned out my mom's paperwork and belongings, I never found a trace of any documentation or letters (of which we wrote many) from that time. A detective would have had difficulty finding any proof that anything unusual had happened back in 1970.

As my parents are no longer alive, I can say with an open heart that as an adult I was the one who made the decision to relinquish my child for adoption. As I wanted to make sure that I would stand by that decision, I asked that no one should allow me to see or hold my child. As cruel and as hard as it might seem, the child I carried was not the child I planned. The situation of force and threatening during conception cemented even more my decision.

The sooner this could be over and done, the better.  I spent the months of June, July, August, and September 1970 working as a nurse's assistant in the medical clinic of the Home. I sorted and distributed meds ( basically iron tablets) to the other residents, took urine samples for testing, cleaned and sterilized medical equipment for the weekly visits from the OB-GYN, organized the timetable for the appointments for the doctor's visits, and took care of the residents in the infirmary who had given birth and were waiting to go home (with or without baby). I had a fulltime job for four months that I would never ever be able to include on my job experience resume.

Near the end of my stay in New Orleans, I gave birth by induced labor to a baby girl. After the birth, a hospital nurse helped me walk to a pay telephone to call my parents to let them know that I was okay and had had a girl child. I must not have stayed more than one night in the hospital, but then again I do not remember. I do remember that there was complete silence from the back seat of the car when we were driven from the hospital back to the Home. For over 46 years I wondered if that baby girl even came with the nurse and me or if she had passed away.

Louisiana adoption records are as locked tight as Fort Knox, so for over 46 years neither I nor my parents were notified that someone was looking for me. That all changed on November 9, 2016. While my husband, son, and I were still trying to recover from a presidential election like no other, I got the call. "Linda, does September 29, 1970 mean anything to you?" It was the child that I had given up for adoption. I was indeed surprised. Not shocked, since I knew that someday someone would reach out to me. If for nothing else than to ask, "Why? Who am I? And can I expect to have a healthy life?"  Or I would find out some sad news that she had passed away.

Recently I met L. face-to-face for the first time in my old hometown. The meeting was good. She and her husband were like dear friends that my husband and I had not seen in a while. Before we even left home to drive to meet them, I had finally come to the conclusion that I had definitely made the right decision over 46 years ago. We have all become winners because of that decision.

L's adoptive parents got the sweet baby girl they had always wanted. L. had two loving parents and siblings and a wonderful childhood in a happy family. She then met her future loving husband while in high school, and they are the proud parents of a smart, adventurous son.

The decision I made 46 years ago allowed me to go on with my career as a teacher (no school district hired unwed mothers as teachers in 1970) and finally earn enough money to travel to Europe and meet my future Dutch husband. My eventual move to The Netherlands would later lead me to teach for over 26 years of my 37 year teaching career at one of the most prestigious international schools in the world. And after marrying the love of my life, I gave birth to my one and only son who became a"jet-setter" dual citizen at the young age of 7 months and is now an engineer for an important international oil company.

We are all winners from the decision that I made.