Ted Chalfen, Gay Colorado Teen, Thanks Graduating Class For Support In Speech
Most of the time, graduation speeches are pretty predictable. Generation of generation of young dreamers attempting to sound erudite, use their time at the microphone to plead for a cause or to chastise a neglectful element or to reflect on life. The latter always makes me smile because I can still remember how I thought I knew so much of life when I graduated from high school lo so many years ago. The speeches usually include some kind of inside joke that the parents won’t quite understand, or some sort of grand charge for the varied members of the graduating class. Sometimes the speaker reveals a genuine sense of comedic timing, but rarely.
I don’t know if there is some unwritten rule that graduation speeches should stay within the confines of being generic, but that usually seems to be the case. I remember who gave the speeches at my graduation, but I don’t remember a single word of what they said (high school, college or graduate school). That being said, this particular speaker and his speech are worth listening to, if only because they reflect so well on his classmates, the school, the teachers, the administrators, and the parents.
“The future is a convenient place for dreams.” ~ Anatole France
Well, we survived graduation, all of us. I spent Sunday worrying about Monday. I spent Monday morning worrying about Monday night. I spent Monday night worrying about the next few minutes. I finally relaxed once it was all over and I was home. Of course, that’s when the migraine began . . .
But everything went the way that it was supposed to: Brett marched in with his class, received his diploma, and managed to smile. Actually, he smiled a lot. We took lots of pictures, but the camera was acting funky, so they aren’t the best shots, unfortunately. I think that fact that it was in the mid 90’s even at 9 in the evening also contributed to the overall feelings of craziness. We were all melting. No one wanted to stand still for pictures, and Brett insisted on making goofy faces in many of the pictures.
That’s okay, though. It was nice to see the joy on his face and to know that when all was said and done, he was able to enjoy himself.
Sunset at Pensacola Beach (NOAA Gulf Coast Collection)
“It is important to not let the fight become the life we live instead of the challenges we overcome.” ~ Skyewriter
I was fortunate enough to glean the beautiful quote above in a comment that I received from Skyewriter on one of my posts. She and I share a sense of great sadness over the current situation in the Gulf. The biggest difference is that she is looking into ways of getting there to help with the cleanup. I am so impressed by her commitment to doing something instead of just bemoaning fate. I only wish that I could participate in the cleanup as well.
Several people have written to me to comment that they, too, feel that something is just out there on the periphery. By that I mean a sense that the escalating incidents of intolerance and madness bespeak a mounting swing of the pendulum; I know that historically, we swing from one extreme to the other, with short respites in between in which life appears to be calm.
There are so many rumblings now: acts of incredible violence, attempts to legislate intolerance, blatant disregard for the planet and its other inhabitants—it’s as if there are billboards dotting the highway flashing warning signs, but no one is paying attention. Then again, perhaps I am overreacting.
Don’t misunderstand. I’m not talking about conspiracy theories or paranoia that someone is out to get me. It’s more a sense of feeling the pulse of the nation and noticing that something is not right, is off somehow.
“But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.” ~ Umberto Eco
The news in the past couple of days does not help to alleviate my feelings of dismay.
In Kabul, Afghanistan, the Taliban has executed a seven-year-old boy for spying. According to The Daily Mail, the child was taken from his home by Taliban militants. He was taken to a neighboring village, put on trial and found guilty of working for the government. Afghanistan’s president Hamid Karzai condemned the act as a “crime against humanity.”
In Salt Lake City, a leaked pipeline belonging to Chevron spewed between 400 and 500 barrels of oil into Red Butte Creek before being capped. The leak coated wildlife and cause the park to be closed.
BP Directors will meet tomorrow to discuss deferring payment of its next dividend to shareholders. Gee. You think? This move by BP comes as a result of President Obama’s request to the company to set up an escrow account for a third-party administered claims process. Meanwhile, more and more individuals who work on the water in the Gulf are watching their livelihoods disappear beneath a tarry sheen of oil. Dave Marino, fisherman and owner of a charter boat business in Myrtle Grove, Louisiana put into words what a lot of people are thinking: “My concern is that it’s going to tip the balance to where it’s too much to overcome. What happens when you tip the point to where there’s more death than life?”
In Arizona, Republicans plan to introduce legislation this fall that would deny birth certificates to children born in Arizona to parents who are not legal U.S. citizens—also known by the derogatory term anchor babies. Under the legal principle jus soli, or birthright citizenship, any child born in the U.S. is automatically a citizen. The term anchor baby refers to the belief that these children of illegal immigrants give the parents legal foothold in this country and allow for other family members to come into the country under sponsorship. Once again, state Senator Russell Pearce is spearheading divisive legislation. Pearce admits that he may have a Constitutional fight, but in his mind, illegal immigrants have hijacked the 14th amendment, which states that “all persons, born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States.”
“Disorder is merely the order you were not looking for.” ~ Henri Bergson
Meanwhile, closer to home, we are getting ready for Brett’s graduation tomorrow. Today he went to a graduation party at one of his friend’s houses, which is a good distraction because he’s getting really nervous about graduation. I don’t know why, but he is.
On Friday at rehearsal, he received his honor tassel and gold cord, which he was really happy to get. He’s been .04 points away from being an honor graduate, and his counselor had said that she wouldn’t know whether or not he would be graduating with honors until final grades came through, which was Friday. We’re so proud of him.
So my last baby is leaving high school. I have so many mixed emotions about this, another life milestone, but luckily pride seems to be the overwhelming emotion. Once we get through graduation, I have to see about driving lessons for Brett as he still doesn’t have his license. Unlike Alexis and Eamonn, Brett has never had any desire to drive or to have his own car, but with college looming in the fall, he needs to learn to drive.
Apparently, even though he will be 18, he still will have to have his learner’s permit for a year before he can get a license. That’s how the law is here in Virginia. And he also has to have behind-the-wheel certification because of his age. He never bothered to take it while he was in school, and I never pushed it as I wanted him to focus his energies on his academic classes. So that’s his next big step before beginning college.
That’s all for now as I need to iron clothes for tomorrow. All images are from the NOAA site’s Gulf Coast collection, pre-spill.
“The problem about the future is that it keeps turning into the present.” ~ Bill Watterson
I planned to write about something else today, but after sitting here for a while, I realized that I’m just not interested in that particular topic at the moment, which is always a sign that I won’t have much to say. So I’ll just backtrack a bit and start over.
Corey is at work until 11 tonight. It’s one of only two shifts for which he is scheduled this week, which really bites, but what can you do? I mean, it’s mid 2010, and shipping has not picked up at all, except for in the Gulf. Corey keeps sending out applications, but no one seems to be ready to hire yet. I never would have imagined when all of this began that he would be off boats for two and a half years. I know that he never imagined that either.
Brett’s graduation rehearsal is this Friday, and graduation is Monday. I am also having a hard time coming to terms with the reality that my youngest child is leaving high school and going to college in the fall.
“Very few things happen at the right time, and the rest do not happen at all.” ~ Herodotus
So I was reading about feverfew being a possible preventive for migraines. Feverfew (a member of the sunflower family), also known as bachelor’s buttons, was originally believed to help alleviate fevers, one possible derivation of the name, although, some sources attribute the name to the hot taste of the plant’s root. Although it does not help with fevers, feverfew is an anti-inflammatory, which means that it works much like ibuprofen. Feverfew has been used medicinally for years. In fact, a reference to the plant was found in the works of ancient Greek physicians.
One article I read stated that feverfew may inhibit chemicals that cause constriction of the blood vessels in the brain; feverfew is also purported to relieve smooth muscle spasms. The chemical in feverfew that is believed to help is called parthenolide. Recommended doses of feverfew as a preventive should contain .2 percent or more of parthenolide.
Apparently, the feverfew plant is easy to grow, and it spreads quickly. I also read that planting feverfew near roses helps to keep aphids off rose bushes. Another bonus is that one source says that chewing leaves from the feverfew plan offers instant headache relief. I’m all in favor of instant relief.
Since I am just now coming off the most recent migraine, I suppose this is the next thing that I will try as a supplement in addition to the 1200 milligrams of magnesium that I am currently taking. All I know is that the prescription medication is still a crap shoot: I never know whether or not I will get relief.
“Self-examination is usually a half-hearted, spontaneous thing we do when we’re either scared or bored. As a result, whatever conclusions we reach are distorted either by a clumsy urgency or a listless sigh . . . ” ~ Jonathan Carroll
I got an e-mail from my German sister-in-law: they will be here for eleven days starting on June 6. This now gives me an end date for everyone in the house to accomplish his or her goals in getting the house cleaned. Corey must clean off the dining room table. Brett needs to clean his room and find a place to put the gerbil tank. I need to do some work in Eamonn’s room. These are all attainable goals. We’ll see how that goes.
It will nice when the Germans get here, especially since the whole family is coming this year.
Speaking of flowers (feverfew), and I was, Corey’s sunflowers are huge. The tallest one is about nine feet tall. He planted three different kinds, but none are in bloom yet. That corner of the yard is going to be beautiful when the sunflowers bloom. He started planting sunflowers in the yard a few years ago, but this year he went crazy. I don’t even know the total number of plants that he has, and I don’t think that he does either, especially since the slugs kept attacking his seedlings, so he kept planting replacements.
The only other bit of news is that I’ve launched my tumblr site. I decided to call it Slow Dancing in Quicksand. It will feature the same quotes and images as this site, along with some additional quotes and musical selections. I’m still learning how to use the site, and there’s this whole thing called reblogging that I don’t quite understand yet, but I believe it involves clicking on links of items posted on other tumblr sites, which automatically copies the image or quote or whatever onto your tumblr site. I’ve tried it a couple of times, but I still don’t think that I’m doing it correctly.
Anyway, I don’t know what possessed me to start another site other than I convinced myself that it won’t involve a lot of extra work as I will already found the information for this site. I suppose I thought that it might get me more exposure on the web, which can be a good thing one day . . . I think.
“What you are comes to you.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
“I am returning this otherwise good typing paper to you because someone has printed gibberish all over it and put your name at the top.” ~ Unknown English Professor, Ohio University
Well, eldest son did it. He walked up there and took his diploma, and the school Superintendent pronounced them graduates. The ceremony was a fast-paced deal that lasted only an hour and a half, as compared to my daughter’s graduation which seemed to go on and on and on. The venue was good too, open, roomy, not squooshed up against the person you are sitting against, so I had no claustrophobia problems.
Aside from immediate family, his cousin who is graduating tomorrow came, as did his friends since childhood, Gordon and Tailor. I made Eamonn stand for pictures with everyone, and he was actually pretty gracious about it.
The only downside was when I was trying to move up a row (because of course every seat in the row that I selected was being saved), and I scraped my thigh on the arm of the end seat. I have a nice, big black and blue spot on my leg, but I don’t plan to enter any hot legs contests anytime soon.
As far as people being overly rowdy and loud, it wasn’t too bad. The school’s principal had already made a few announcements prior to the start of the ceremony in which she said that if the noise became too loud, she would step back and stop handing out diplomas, and she kept her word. Twice she stopped the procession until the crowd calmed down.
It’s such a shame that she had to make the announcement in the first place, and that she had to follow through with it, in the second place.
“What is the most important thing one learns in school? Self-esteem, support, and friendship.” ~ Terry Tempest Williams
I always like to choose a fitting quote to go into almost every card that I give, and I found a really good one on Goodreads. The quote is by writer Neil Gaiman:
“I’ve been making a list of all of the things they don’t teach you at school. They don’t teach you how to love somebody. They don’t teach you how to be famous. They don’t teach you how to be rich or how to be poor. They don’t teach you how to walk away from someone you don’t love any longer. They don’t teach you how to know what’s going on in someone else’s mind. They don’t teach you what to say to someone who is dying. They don’t teach you anything worth knowing.”
The reason that I like this quote so much is because it is essentially true. What do we take away from high school? How to conjugate a verb in French? How to find the square root of an isosceles triangle? What the Monroe Doctrine was?
If you remember this kind of information, you probably do really well at Trivial Pursuit and/or you have gone on to become a teacher. But what is my son taking away from high school?
A group of friends who have stood by him during the worst times of his life (so far) and the best times of his life (again, so far). Memories of some really great times that he would prefer his mother never finds out about, and more than a few regrets that he didn’t follow through on a few things (track, football).
He is also taking with him the following lessons:
Mom knows if you are lying if you giggle too much
It’s hard to explain why you were absent from a particular class if your mom dropped you off at school that morning.
The school is serious when they say they will confiscate cell phones
You cannot make the team if you never go to practice
Yes, you have a deceptively charming smile, but that smile only works with some teachers, probably females
Mom was right when she told you that you really would survive the second breakup with your first serious love
Girls do talk to each other, so it’s probably not a good idea to date friends no matter how hot they are
Asking your mom to type your paper that is due the next day at 9 the evening before does not put her in a good mood
It takes money to put gas in the Trooper, and it’s probably a good idea to check the oil sometimes
Your mother knows when you have been smoking in her car, even if you leave the windows down all night
“High school: Oh man. This is where boys and girls go from tweens to teens and become complicated and cruel. Girls play sick mind games; boys try to pull each other’s penises off and throw them in the bushes.” ~ Eugene Mirman
Okay, those are the fluffy lessons, so to speak. But he also learned some really hard lessons, like how much it hurts when your first love breaks your heart. And how hard it is to keep your word if you never meant it in the first place. Or how someone who claims to be a friend can stab you in the back without breaking a sweat. And how your parents can become real hardasses over things like curfews, and grades, and conduct notices, even though you don’t really understand what the big deal is.
I think that it is profoundly unfair that you first discover love at a time when you least know yourself in life. How is a teenager supposed to cope with all of the drama and accusations and breaking up one day only to make up the next day? How are they supposed to handle all of this angst and study for calculus too?
Frankly, when I put things in perspective, it’s no wonder that 11th grade becomes the make or break year for so many people. The pressure from their teachers is incredible because they are pushing students to think about college, and they are trying to cram as much information as possible into a brain that is essentially a sponge: and while a sponge can absorb a great deal, it also lets a whole lot seep out.
The pressure from worried parents intensifies in their junior year because there is college to think about, and if not that, then how have they prepared for a trade? And aren’t they spending too much time on the phone, and shouldn’t there be limits on the computer?
And the poor teenager is thinking “God, I wish that I could talk on the phone in peace, and I really don’t think that chemistry is going to make or break my career, and I’m responsible enough to stay out until midnight on a school night.”
And then comes the summer before senior year, and everything changes. By October, your senior is already thinking about graduation and getting an apartment, and you are wondering where all of the years went and praying that nothing goes horribly wrong in the next seven months.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” ~ Mark Twain
Eamonn made us tremendously proud today, but I have to admit that there were times when I wasn’t sure that he would make it. There were moments when it seemed that there was nothing more than Pooh fluff in his brain, and there were many nights when I would get anxious about his state of mind and just how much he was in control of himself when he wasn’t under guard at home.
But I really believe that the senior year is more for parents than it is for their teenagers. It’s nine months in which you can begin to accept the fact that you son or daughter isn’t 7 any more, that you are not the most important part of their world, and that they are thinking about life without you.
It’s a hard reality to face, and if you are anything like me, you don’t accept it gracefully. Even as your man-child or woman-child is thinking of new paths of discovery and a brand new chapter in life, you are reconciling yourself to fate and the need to close a chapter that has ended much too soon.
I hope that Eamonn figures out what his great adventure is going to be. I hope that he never stops dreaming, and trying, and loving, and living. I wish him star-filled skies at night, and red-orange sunrises that will take his breath away. I want for him all of those things that are possible, and even some that may not seem possible. I wish him joy, and I wish him love, but most of all, I wish him a life that is filled with hope.
Hope for better tomorrows, a world more at peace, people who are more in tune with their environment, friends who will be there at 3 o’clock in the morning if he needs them, and the immutable knowledge that home is always waiting.
And in the words of the incomparable Maya Angelou:
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget the way you made them feel.”
Moonrise on Long Key State Park, Florida by Janson Jones
“Deliver me from writers who say the way they live doesn’t matter. I’m not sure a bad person can write a good book. If art doesn’t make us better, then what on earth is it for.” ~ Alice Walker
Okay, so I’m back. Finally.
Brett’s last day of 11th grade was Friday. Eamonn’s graduation is tomorrow afternoon at 3. I am looking forward to Eamonn graduating, but I am not looking forward to the actual physical aspect of the ceremony. Huge crowd, people all together in the convocation center, hunting for parking. I can feel my claustrophobia setting in already. But it’s all for a good cause.
I told Eamonn that we wanted to take pictures of him in his cap and gown before we leave. Of course, he is not looking forward to that. Trying to get Eamonn to stand still for five minutes to take a picture is almost impossible. He bitches the entire time. We did pick up his senior portraits, though, and he is quite handsome, if I do say so.
My niece graduates on Tuesday, and my old friend Chris’s son Gordon, who is the same age as Eamonn, graduates on Wednesday. May I just pause here to say how fricking old this makes me feel.
So in an effort to make myself feel a bit better, I gave myself a manicure and pedicure. I’m trying to keep myself from taking scissors to my hair again. One of these days, I’ll be able to visit Cathy so that she can fix the haircut I gave myself. Until then, I hide the flaws with the waves. It’s much harder to see an uneven cut when the hair is wavy and dark.
“Love the moment. Flowers grow out of dark moments. Therefore, each moment is vital. It affects the whole. Life is a succession of such moments and to live each, is to succeed.” ~ Corita Kent
All of the pictures in this blog are from Janson Jones’s Floridana Alaskiana blog. He spent several weeks back in Florida a few weeks ago, and he has been posting some wonderful pictures.
I thought that I would share some selections with you in tonight’s post. The images are from several areas of Florida, and include birds, toads, frogs, moonrise, sunset, and several other wonderful subjects. To see what Janson has posted so far, click on the link.
I love this picture to the left. Everything is so verdant and lush, and there is an air of mystery about the whole location—as if in walking down this path, you are walking back in time, into the wilderness.
Speaking of which, I had a horrible dream last night in which I took my camera and started beating it against a metal porch rail. It was horrible. Actually, the whole dream was horrible, full of betrayals, lies, violence and broken glass. Anyone want to interpret that one?
As always, I told Corey about my dream once I woke up, but it was one of those weird ones where you can wake up and then fall back to sleep, and the dream continues. I always think that when that happens the dream is more meaningful somehow. But how exactly? I have no idea. But I always end up feeling disconcerted for the whole day when I have a dream like that.
“Time is a companion that goes with us on a journey. It reminds us to cherish each moment, because it will never come again. What we leave behind is not as important as how we have lived.” ~ Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), Star Trek: The Next Generation
In helping Brett to get his work completed for the end of the year, I reread Macbeth and Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. One of my graduate classes was a special seminar on Conrad. I don’t remember the exact reason why I needed three credits that I couldn’t get from the regular schedule, but I got approval to do an independent study.
The advisor they gave me was J. J. McNalley. He was a character, spoke in quotes all of the time. I liked the man tremendously, but would have preferred someone else for my advisor. J. J. thought that it would be splendid if I did research on Joseph Conrad. I would have preferred Virgina Woolf.
But I digress . . .
“Life resembles a novel more often than novels resemble life.” ~ George Sand
After I reread Heart of Darkness I started to think about Apocalypse Now. So I rewatched the movie. Although, the movie itself is still hard to watch. It is so full of violence and disillusionment. Just like the real Viet Nam war.
My favorite part is still the air cav guy played by Robert Duvall. I think that the Lt. Colonel Kilgore is probably my favorite Duvall role. He plays it to perfection.
Marlon Brando’s Colonel Kurtz is written to mirror Conrad’s Kurtz, but instead of ivory, the movie’s Kurtz is collecting people, souls. The movie plays Kurtz as having a mesmerizing voice, just like the Kurtz in the book. Brandon’s voice is perfect. The epic line, “The horror. The horror,” resonates.
“Life is a succession of lessons, which must be lived to be understood.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Other than that, Brett and I have watched Harry Potter 5 and 4 in anticipation of the release of The Half-Blood Prince. Yes, I like Harry Potter, and yes, I’ve read all of the books, at least three times. I’m actually quite sad that there won’t be any more additions to the series. The characters in the books grew up with each new book in the series, and I really admire the way Rowling made each successive book darker, keeping in mind that her audience was getting older, and the story necessitated moving from 11-year-old concerns to encounters with truly foul individuals, like Dolores Umbridge.
Yes, the basic story is about good versus evil, but characters like Umbridge are perfect antagonists for students: the teacher with the treacly sweet voice and the imperviousness to common decency. The one who addresses a room full of teenagers as “boys and girls.” Blech! Just thinking about this character makes my skin crawl.
That being said, I’m looking forward to the next installment of the movie version, even though we all know that it has an incredibly sad ending.
Other movies that I’m looking forward to are Inglorious Basterds, with Brad Pitt, and Public Enemies, with Johnny Depp. No. It’s not for the eye candy. Quentin Tarantino directed Basterds (yes, with an e), and Michael Mann directed Public Enemies. I love both directors and am hoping for a couple of good action movies that don’t involve large robots.
I know. It seems that I like both ends of the spectrum, but really, I’m pretty much at the action end unless it involves Tolkien, Star Trek, or something to do with literature. And no, I haven’t had a chance to see the new Star Trek. I’m still debating over that one. It’s hard to let go of the originals, even though I hear that the update is pretty solid.
“People grow through experience if they meet life honestly and courageously. This is how character is built.” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
And just let me finish by saying that I don’t have anything to wear to my son’s graduation. Oh, I have a closet full of clothes, but I feel like a sausage in everything that I own, which reminds me of a post that I read on Zirgar’s Fresh New Brain Squeezin’s. Zirgar delved into that sensitive area of being overweight.
Perhaps delve isn’t the correct word choice. It was more like broached the subject with a sledgehammer. It did remind me of the fact that I live in an area that is replete with woman in stretch pants, and shall we just say that stretch pants are not the most flattering attire for their body shapes?
Why do people do that? Seriously, why, or even how does a very large woman push herself into purple stretch capris with a cropped top? Now before you get riled, this is not an indictment on people who are overweight. I have no room to speak on this particular issue as I am carrying around more poundage than I like. What I’m talking about are people who choose to wear clothes that are too tight, too revealing, too skanky, too young, and too fugly for words.
I know that ordinary people do not have extraordinary loads of cash to spend on clothes when they are just trying to get by. But I shop in Target. I know that you can look on the 50 percent off rack and find a nice shirt for $7, a nice skirt for $8, a t-shirt that actually fits for $4. If you are going to buy clothes anyway, could you at least buy clothes that fit, or that are flattering, or cover up most of the private parts of your body?
Am I being too harsh? I don’t mean to be. I suppose I just don’t understand certain mindsets. Of course, if you are perfectly comfortable with your body, that’s great. If you are overweight, no one is saying that you have to hide in the house. I have worked with a few overweight people who dress to the nines and have wardrobes that made me salivate.
For me, the issue is not the weight or the body shape. The issue is fugly, ill-fitting clothes. Unless you are Rush Limbaugh . . .
Then the issue is not bouncing on your toes and making your egg-shaped body look like a Weeble (as in “Weebles wobble but they don’t fall down”).
Aren’t you glad that I used this beautiful picture instead of a picture of Rush?