Catholic? Really? How can you even do it?

I attended the Catholic Church as a young child by obviously no choice of my own.  I learned the prayers and the songs but never really knew what it all meant. It was totally confusing to me.

I went to Catholic school as a very young girl (first and second grade if I remember correctly until my parents’ violent and frightening divorce.) I recall being slapped across the face by a nun for doing something with my mouth that she thought was gum.  It wasn’t gum, it was just something weird I was doing with my mouth.

I remember a nun saying my gorgeous and amazing drawing of a birthday party could have no way been drawn by me, put huge red exes through my art, told the entire class that I was a cheater and a fraud and to steer clear of me. I was asked to stand in front of the class, hold my hands out in front of me while she bashed them with a gigantic yardstick. Nice. I was a little girl in first grade.  I never attempted to engage in art again. And my drawing was amazing for a first grader, BTW.  I may have had a talent.

I am outraged at the Catholic Church and have a hard time believing anyone can still support it.  Gay men entered Catholic seminaries so that they had access to young alter boys to molest.  This is now documented and it went on for years and years with high level people in the church turning a blind eye.  It makes me want to throw up and makes me wonder how anyone can remain a Catholic.

Just TODAY Cardinal George Pell, former archbishop of Sydney and Melbourne and CURRENT head of the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy is facing multiple charges of sexual assault on alter boys and other young men in the church.  This is an outrage!

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The Goosebumps

“The Week” is what I would describe as a News Literary Journal. It sums up the prior week succinctly and in nice little sound bites. The Editor in Chief’s name is William Falk.   He doesn’t always write the editor’s letter as other editors sometimes do, but I love it when he does because he is an amazing thinker and writer.

I was lounging around the other day reading The Week. I came upon an article called How They See Us: Europe Loses Faith in America. I was appalled at a comparison that was made and immediately went to my computer to email William Falk.

Here is my email to Customer Service that had “For William Falk” in the subject line:

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Dear William,

I’ve been getting your mag since the beginning.  I love it.  You are a wonderful editor and an incredibly skilled writer.  I LOVE it when you are the one who writes the editor’s letter.

There is something that has upset me in your June 9, 2017 issue of The Week.  In the article called, How they see us: Europe loses faith in America, the author says and I quote, “Trump even physically shoved aside the Montenegrin prime minister as NATO leaders gathered for a photo, displaying the “diplomatic grace of an orangutan.”

I am an amateur expert on the great apes.  This is actually a disgrace in comparing the gentle, diplomatic Orangutan to this frightening president.  Whoever wrote this piece (and it doesn’t say who) needs to research the great apes before using them irresponsibly for comparison in their articles for your publication.  I encourage you to demand this writer go to a zoo where there are Orangutans and observe them for a considerable amount of time.  This person clearly knows NOTHING about great apes, the comparison was an outrage and that person should not be using them in an article.

With frustration and the best to you,

Andrea Thompson

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A day or two later I received an auto response that they appreciated my contact but that they receive so many emails there was no way they could respond to every one.

Yeah, of course, I thought, and not many people care so much about the great apes, anyway. And what Editor in Chief of a major news magazine is going to care? I still felt good about fighting for apes though.

I got home late from the zoo today.  I talked to a lot of people about gorillas and chimpanzees and I was tired. I saw on my phone that I had several emails so I went to my computer with the intention of answering or getting rid of as many of them as I could in the shortest time possible.

And then, as I scanned the inbox content, my eyes landed on an email from “Bill” Falk.

I was stunned, actually.  Here is his email to me:

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Dear Ms. Thompson,

Your point is well taken, and I am sorry we let Tom Peck of the London Independent insult the great apes. (It was his piece that we were quoting from, as we indicated in the magazine.)  I would guess that Peck believes orangutans and other apes sometimes engage in territorial displays. Hence, the comparison to Trump.

I envy you your life’s work. I am fascinated by apes of all kinds whenever I go to a zoo; they are so clearly related to us, and yet so different.  The intelligence in their eyes always gives me goosebumps.

Bill Falk

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I’m a softy and this made me cry. Here is my response to him:

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Hi Bill!

Thanks so much for your response.  I received a auto-response from your team saying there is no way you guys can answer every email you get so I’m honored that an issue about apes rendered your reply.  I am thrilled you are fascinated by great apes.  I know what you mean about the goosebumps.  Many, many people say that.  The latest statistics are saying we share 98.8 percent the same DNA with Chimpanzees.  In fact, Chimpanzees are more closely related to humans than they are to Gorillas!   The apes feel like brothers and sisters to me and I love them so deeply.  When I look into their eyes it calms my soul.  I love them way more than I love most people.

What bugged me, of course, is Peck’s comment comparing an Orangutan in any way to Trump, but I get your take on it.  Orangutans have a lot more diplomatic grace in every way than Trump.  In fact, when they do territorial displays, they make sense and are for a very clear purpose.  I’m not seeing this with Trump.

Please recycle your electronics (phones, tablets, computers, etc.) at an electronics recycling facility to minimize the need to go to Africa and mine for a mineral in our electronics called Coltan.  The great apes are losing their natural habitats at an alarming rate because of this mining and the Coltan from old stuff can be removed and used in the new electronics.  Google “electronics recycling” in your area.

All the best and thanks again.  And thanks for the awesome magazine!

Andrea

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Strong, Silent Type

My husband is generally a man of few words and not someone earlier in our marriage I would have pointed to as a philosopher, but things change. Steve is Executive Vice President of Prime Lending. It’s a big job. Neither of us participate on social media and sometimes I feel like everyone in the world except us loves it. One day I asked him why he’s not on social media and his response was rather breathtaking.

“First of all, I don’t think I’m all that interesting and I don’t find anyone else all that interesting either. I aspire to a state of grace, not perfection. I always had pressure to be perfect and I’ve learned it’s not realistic. You can always be graceful and elegant, but you cannot be perfect.”

This must have been something that had been on his mind. The first sentence answers the question about social media. The other three seem unrelated to the question but so eloquently communicate something he’s learned over the years that he has obviously embraced wholly and make him seem pretty interesting.

It’s been fascinating over the past 20 some odd years watching this man grow, change and evolve. My bohemian albeit extremely talented and affluent brother once referred to him as “a banker with a soul.”

Amen

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Do We Really Do This?

A chair and a whip in front of an innocent lion who was born in captivity and has never known anything else?? One time that animal was a sweet, innocent cub with eyes barely open looking for mommy. Now she’s being abused on a daily basis and has no choice in the matter and no one is speaking out for her.

A social animal like a chimp in a cage alone only let out when he is required to perform? This is a chimp who is suffering every day of his life. He desperately needs other chimps to be with and without them his life is gut retching. I won’t even get into chimps in labs because I couldn’t finish this.

THANK GOD BARNUM AND BAILY CIRCUS IS GONE FOREVER!!!   F#@*& them!!  They were animal abusers. Cirque De Solei is the replacement!  No animals!

Animals love their babies. They kiss them. I saw a mother chimp kiss her baby the other day.  Here’s a baboon mommy kissing her baby.

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We as the human race are acting like idiots if we don’t take this more seriously. Elephants are being poached at a rate that will make them extinct in 20 years. And it’s for their tusks which are nothing more than our own teeth!! Somehow, somewhere, some human decided these tusk/teeth were worth something. They are worth nothing more than the 25 cents you get from the tooth fairy when your tooth falls out!   Please, DO NOT buy ivory. You would be killing elephants.

Great apes have a different challenge and of course it is human related. The Great Apes are the gorilla, the orangutan, the chimpanzee, the bonobo and the human being. Yes, we are one of the great apes. Except for us, every great ape is HIGHLY endangered because of US! Their territory is being encroached upon for a mineral called Coltan which is used in all our devices; our cell phones, tablets, cordless phones, computers, etc. PLEASE recycle your electronics. If you don’t know how, figure it out!! In Texas, Staples will do it for you, check it out in your own state. Coltan can be taken out of recycled electronics and used again. HUGE for the great apes!

We are working hard to be sure the captive population of endangered animals is bio-diverse which means if and when these animals go extinct in the wild, at least our grandkids can see them in captivity. Bio-Diverse means we will not be mating sisters and brothers, etc.  If things continue the way they are, in 20 to 30 years  there will be no such thing as “wild animals”.  How horrible is that? Please figure out a way you can help. Recycling your electronics is a tiny start but what else can you do?

-Minimize your use of plastic in any way, plastic ends up in waterways and in the ocean and animals eat it.  Little tiny sea turtles will eat anything and so many of them die from eating plastic.

-If you can afford it, buy “sustainable” products like toilet paper and paper towels.  There is a sustaianble logo on the products.

-Recycle everything that you can.

– Try hard not to use Styrofoam in any way.  Its the absolute worst thing for the environment and wildlife.


Technology Meets Old Age

“We’re probably the youngest ones in here,” I said to my husband Steve.  “I thought the Beatles had a new younger following.”

“Yeah,” Steve said, “I don’t know…..I don’t see anyone younger than us either.”

At 55 and 58 it’s rare for us to be the youngest ones anywhere.  The other day Steve and I went to the Music Hall at Fair Park, Dallas Texas to see Let It Be, A celebration of the music of the Beatles. The concert hall was nearly full and almost everyone was over 75.

The show started with the voice of Ed Sullivan introducing four “youngsters,” the curtain went up and with I Wanna Hold Your Hand blasting, there was what looked almost exactly like Paul, John, George and Ringo singing and playing as very young men.  On either side of the stage were huge screens with the old footage of girls screaming, crying, fainting and trying to run up on stage.

Then, before the fab four started performing songs from the famous concert at Shea Stadium in New York on August 15, 1965 the screens showed footage of John before they went on stage looking out at the 55,600 in attendance and is heard saying in his thick English accent, “They’re here to see us? These Americans, they must be out of their minds!”

Like many people, I’ve followed these guys since I was very young and this performance reminded me of what I observed over the years. To say Paul was the happy Beatle is cliché of course, but true. John was obstinate and antagonistic. George lived his life painfully paranoid and scared to death of the fame and mobs. Ringo rolled with it, lucky that he was the second drummer after Paul and John were not happy with Pete Best. Ringo, was always number four. Four might not be the greatest if you are a chimpanzee but it kinda doesn’t suck if you are a Beatle.

At the end they were playing Hey Jude and everyone wanted to pay respect to this amazing imitation ensemble and let them know how much we appreciated their performance. In the dark, you couldn’t tell that this audience was a very elderly group of people. I didn’t smell like marijuana like in the old days but I did see the light of cigarette lighters swaying.  I looked around and realized it wasn’t the old cigarette lighter thing at all, it was cell phone flashlight apps swaying all around the arena.


Hair Drama

Let me try to explain this to you. I’ve been trying to explain this my entire life. My hair is really curly. I mean really curly. It dries naturally in frizzy ringlets. I have tried EVERYTHING under the sun to love my curls. My bathroom cabinet looks like a beauty supply store with so many lotions and potions to try to love curly hair. One called “Be Curly” made my mom laugh when she saw it.

I’ve been to curly hair “specialists” to cut my hair in strategic ways and sell me products that were supposed to change my life and make me love my curly hair. Never worked and took as long to do the friggin’ process of putting all the goop on the hair, hanging forward to squish the hair as it air dried as it does to blow dry the damn stuff straight!

Once a year something weird happens and I don’t know what it is and my hair dries naturally and it looks phenomenal. That’s the photo you see on my blog….It only happens once a year so I CANNOT depend on it.

Okay, anyway, I know I have new followers and BY THE WAY THANKS TO YOU NEW FOLLOWERS! But you don’t know that I am a Pickle Ball player! Yes sirree! I’m 58 years old, I was a tennis player for 25 or 30 years and then my husband found pickle ball for me after I had back surgery because he was scared I wouldn’t be able to play tennis again. My mom calls my husband a “peach” and he is. I’ve been married 20 years and I’m madly in love. But I digress.

Pickle ball is a combo of tennis and badminton, and some say ping pong. I said in an earlier post I don’t get the ping pong connection except that we are playing with a paddle instead of a racquet. We play in a gym on a badminton size court and it is a fast, aggressive game that gets us sweating in minutes. It is so fun and so addicting. I play 4 to 5 times a week for two to three hours a day. I’m blessed I have that kind of time for recreation. I’m also really good at it, an advanced player.

Oh, has anyone ever told you about Dallas weather? Air conditioner one day, heater the next. Humid usually then suddenly dry. Ice storm then heat wave. I’m not kidding, it’s the weirdest weather I’ve ever seen in my life. Luckily my sport is played in a gym!

But, back to my hair. Women in Dallas use hairpieces. This has never occurred to me. I was intrigued and bought a thing that plops on a high short ponytail I create on top of my head. It’s the EXACT same color of my highlighted hair. I just pull my own hair up, rubber band it, stick the hairpiece on, pin it secure with bobby pins and I’m looking good and set to go. No humidity worries (it’s synthetic hair so it doesn’t frizz) It changed my life in terms of how long I spend on my hair and I’ve since bought a couple other styles of hair pieces!

I was at pickle ball one day playing hard and confidently. I made a great shot and turned to go retrieve the ball because I was the server. As I stepped to the baseline to serve the ball, my friend who was on the opposing team bowed her head toward something. There is the middle of the court was my hairpiece. I had forgotten to pin it in!

“Scary, Andie!” someone from the stands yelled.

“Rug rat!” someone else shouted.

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Beetle

My grandmother called me “My precious Annie.”  For some unknown reason, my grandfather called me “Beetle” which was short for “Annie Beetle Bum.”  All my aunts, uncles and cousins on the maternal side of my family still call me Beetle.  Cute and strange.  I had an Aunt-in-Law whose name was Kioko.  She was Japanese and not fluent in English.  After 15 years she found out my real name was Andrea and not Beetle.  She was shocked. She didn’t know what sounded right or not right for an American woman’s name and Beetle was all she’d ever heard.

One time, 20 years ago at my sister’s wedding shortly after I had married, one of my drunk uncles came up to my husband Steve and blurted “You got the Beetle!”  Steve now calls me Beetle most of the time.  So sweet how things like that stick and perpetuate over so many years.

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“OUCH!!”

“Ouch, oh god!” I exclaimed.  “OW!”  Helen made consoling sounds but kept on working.

I was born with several congenital abnormalities and as a result I’ve had more surgeries than the average person and maybe a few more aches and pains.  Big areas are my hips, low back and since taking up pickle ball my shoulder and elbow.  I probably play more pickle ball than I should although who is to say?  (Is 14 hours a week too much?)

She calls it “Korean Massage” but what Helen does is outrageously deep tissue muscular therapy.  It keeps all my parts working and I see her twice a month.  She is a master at her craft and if the issue is muscular, she can fix it.  It might take a while but she will do it.  Her Christmas card to me said, “Thank you for letting me keep your body updated.  Happy Christmas.”  I supplement her work with regular stretching so I can joyfully and addictfully continue playing my sport.  (I take the creative license on my own blog to make up words!)

Helen is Korean and trained in her country and in the US.  She is soft-spoken, subtle, graceful, highly intelligent and respectful.  When I enter her space she performs a slight bow.  I return the gesture.  Her English is coming along but isn’t fluent.  We have a wonderful time together.  I am very good at understanding accents and I’m very patient and persistent in trying to understand what she is saying and we’ve made huge strides in in our communication.  She tells me I’m “opened mind” so she feels comfortable as we go back and forth until we understand what the other is saying.  We do all this while she is expertly finding any and all areas on my body where my muscles might be sore, tight or utterly killing me.

I look forward to seeing Helen every other week but I don’t look forward to the pain.  As I drive away however, I am pain free so it’s worth it.  Today as she worked on me I was saying “Ouch!! and OW!”  At these times she models a deep breathing technique and I can hear her and begin doing it myself.  Sort of like Lamaze for childbirth.

Then this gentle soul quietly said, “You say ouch and ow, some people I work on say son-of-a-bitch or mother fucker.  I know what son-of-a-bitch means but what about mother fucker?”


No Parking!

I was waiting in the car while my husband ran into a store and I looked across the street at a business called “The Mattress Firm.”  I’m pretty sure it’s a national chain.  We were in a very busy and rather chic part of Dallas where parking is at a premium.  I saw a sign at the entrance of their parking lot.  It was clearly a very professionally made sign.  It read No parking except for Mattress Firm customers.  All others will be towed at the owners expence!  I was shocked!  My fellow writers, notice anything downright wrong here?  I wish I had thought to take a photo!