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Of Politics, Sports and Sex

OK, so there won't be a LOT on here about sex, but tell the truth, that's most of the reason you entered this site, right? So, I'll slip some things in from time to time just to keep you coming...back.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Everyone has heard of Catholic guilt and Jewish guilt, but with absolutely no knowledge of what either of those things entail, I submit that Quaker guilt can’t be any less powerful.
Quaker guilt surrounds the idea that we aren’t doing enough in the world. We aren’t doing it right. We need to make more of a positive impact on the world.

Over the years, a number of young people have said to me how unhappy they are with their jobs, primarily because they are embarrassed by it. It isn’t an ideal job, not because of the pay or responsibilities or because it doesn’t meet their passion. It’s a feeling I am well familiar with because I was once that kid. Heck, I was once that adult. And whenever one of those kids comes to me with that concern, I tell them this story.
Many years ago, one of the people from our Quaker Meeting who had known me since I was wee, passed away. I’ll call him Jim. Jim McQuail. Just a random name. He was a guy I had a great deal of respect for, and after listening to the messages at his Quaker memorial service, I realized that my respect for him was dwarfed by the dozens of people who spoke that morning. I don’t remember a single message specifically, but every message was about some way Jim had helped that person in their time of need or struggle. Some of them were clients of Jim’s, hiring him as their CPA, and some were members of our Meeting, and others were just friends he’d made on his journey through life.

(I said earlier that I don’t remember any of the messages specifically, but come to think of it, I do remember one, from his wife Virginia. Ever the blunt speaker, either with a comment that could make you feel a mile high or as low as could be (having been on the receiving end of both examples), but always said in love and with a smile, Virginia listened to nearly an hour of adoring messages reflecting on what a wonderful person Jim was, when she rose to speak, all of us expecting Virginia to add another touching tale to those already proffered. She stood, paused, and said “Well, now, he wasn’t THAT great!” The place erupted.)
Anyway, when the service was over, we headed over to the schoolhouse across the driveway for a luncheon reception where I found myself talking with a childhood friend, Jim’s nephew David. David asked me what I was doing with my life, and I told him about my accounting job and how, even though I generally liked my job, I felt unfulfilled, as I didn’t think I was making much of a positive impact on the world.

David listened to what I had to say and when I was done, he gave me a disappointed frown and said “Weren’t you just in Uncle Jim’s memorial service?” I told him that indeed, I had been. And he said the words I’ve never forgotten and have repeated so many times over the years:

“Then you heard all those people stand to talk about Uncle Jim. Did you hear any of them say anything about his job? About how he had saved them money on their taxes? About financial advice he gave them as their CPA? No. They all talked about the huge impact he had on their lives as a person, the help he offered, the personal advice he gave.”

Thanks, David. And thanks, Jim, for setting such a wonderful example.


Monday, June 6, 2016

And I'd bet The Donald would assume the Blacks aren't very good swimmers for some reason

You know you’re too obsessed with politics when you get this email, look at the subject line, and assume there is a Donald Trump joke waiting inside.

Sent: Monday, June 6, 2016 8:44 AM
To: Jamie McVickar
Subject: Invite From the Blacks

Hi from the Blacks!

If anyone forgot to RSVP to the pool party today no worries, come on over! 

Please see the below information from Sarah Black regarding their end-of-year party!

End of year pool party
Come over after the 6th grade picnic; After school - 5:30pm; Monday 6/6/16
Siblings are welcome. Bring bathing suits and towels. We will have plenty of snacks and drinks  

- Sarah Black

Friday, June 3, 2016

It must be Loyal Reader Week!

About once a week, I get a spam comment that tries to get itself posted to this blog, but can't be unless I accept it as post-worthy. They are often so complimentary, I just revel in their kind words until I get to the second sentence which usually asks that I check the exciting link they provide to their particular site, which, well, don't promote the sorts of behavior we like to share on this site. Not judging though!

This one below came through a few weeks ago and I decided to copy and paste it here, just because it reeks of such sincerity...and it reminds me of loyal reader, Becca Jane, for reasons she'll understand.

WWICS Review has left a new comment on your post "Filling your blog brain shopping cart with News It...":

Very attractive theme of your blog and i have have learn your blog and it's really in very nice. Thanks.

No no, really, thank you! I'm sure your blog is Very Attractive too. :-)

Since I'm such an expert on how to be a good Mom

I received a really nice email from another loyal reader, name of Judy, coincidentally NOT related to me, but is just about the sweetest person with one of the nicest, most sincere smiles you'll ever see. And she has a blog that is 10 times better than this one, but I'm not linking to it until she promises to make a new entry, even if it doesn't have anything to do with clutter! :-)

Anyway, with her permission, here is the email she sent me:

Hi Jamie,

I've been meaning to tell you how touched I was by Reat's journal entry words you quoted in your recent blog post.  (And a tip of the hat for keeping at your blog, unlike some people ... Ahem.)  

You reminded me of a few sun-drenched memories of mine, talking to Reat while waiting for Emily to finish her art class with Paul. One time she told me she had been reading over her journals, and she said, "I thought, wow, I was a really good mother!"  Such an enviable revelation ... especially to me ... one who is overly, overly self-critical.  She was so very special.



Well, first of all, thank you for taking the time to send me that, Judy. And secondly, judging from the quality of your amazing kids, you too are "a really good mother!"

But yeah, Mom was a great mom. I guess it's safe to say that we kids saw a side of her that many didn't, and are aware of decisions she made that we like to think we might have handled differently, and, I believe, in retrospect, that she wished she had too. (As is certainly true for me as a Dad as well.)  As wonderful a mom and person as she was, she did go through some tough times when she and we were much younger, but regardless, I put her in the small category of Quaker Saint from back in her era, along with people like Enid Brown, Virginia McQuail and Jane Moore. Not necessarily parent-related, except in the It Takes A Village scenario, in which case, since they certainly all helped raise me and my sibs, I think they certainly qualify.

I know Mom worked her butt off to be the best mom she could be. Funny, now that I'm a Dad, and have been for the best 18 years of my life, partly thanks to my kids, in some ways I have both more and less respect and awe for my folks. More, because I realize how incredibly hard it is, especially in terms of time and energy. But also, less, because I, like most of us, put my folks on a pedestal. A pedestal of perceived perfection (!) that though I still feel an element of for them, the idea that my kids may feel that way about me is just crazy. Whatever nice things they might think of me as a Dad, well, thanks, it means a lot, but there is so much I might have done better.

Mom was a mom during an important historical parenting transition, one I don't think has been written about much, at least that I have seen. Up until Dr. Spock (no, not this guy), the one who wrote THE book on parenting in 1946 which was a bible to post-war moms. But even past that, the women who were moms from the mid- to late-50's and into the 60's, when the idea of kids being seen and not heard was not only questioned, but pretty much abandoned. I don't know whether it was the moms who caused that to happen or the kids, starting around the time that Blackboard Jungle (really hitting Wikipedia hard today!) was written (another of the rare books that I actually read!...ok, it's a not a rare book, it's a book read by me, which is rare. Sorry, grammar/syntax-police.) and the movie version was filmed. (Movie note: "It is remembered for its innovative use of rock and roll in its soundtrack and for the unusual breakout role of a black Bahamian-American cast member, future Oscar winner and star Sidney Poitier as a rebellious, yet musically talented student.") Awesome book, awesome movie!

I remember a time in the late 60's/early 70's when Mom became really, really into reading up on all kinds of new parenting and education-related techniques. The book Open Classroom was especially important to her - not geared toward parenting, per se, but I know it had an impact anyway.

I guess that's all I wanted to share for now, when I think of Mom as a mom.  I guess the nicest thing, of many, that I could say about her as a mom, or more importantly maybe, as a person, was that after she died, my sisters and I decided going forward, without her as a person to help us with our day-to-day challenges, we would approach each such challenge based on WWMD: What would Mom Do. And that mindset has rarely, if ever, failed me...when I've remembered to use it.

All that said, the two things I always try to come back to related to parenting are:

1 - I believe that we play way less of a role in our kids development than we think we do, and...

2 - As our wise friend, Wanda, who lives in St. Croix in the Virgin Islands once said; "We're all doing the best we can." Amen, Wanda.

And thanks again, Judy.