Saturday, April 16, 2011

North vs South

I have just spent a few days in South Carolina. What an interesting step back in time.

I was struck initially by the friendliness of the people here. Sir, ma'am and how are y'all doing? are common phrases.

At the restaurant this morning for breakfast, I could not help but think of segregated lunch counters as I watched blacks and whites sitting together, talking, sharing stories, arguing over gas prices, kids, food prices and the like. Dr. King would surely not recognize this South all these years after his "dream" (deferred still for so many of our people).

I ached to see so many people of color bussing tables, cleaning my hotel room and in school for low level healthcare jobs (medical assistant, etc). In a day where our President represents the very best of a white mother and black father, a graduate from an Ivy league college and a powerful, equally well-educated wife, it is unconscionable that blacks are not reaching for their highest aspiration here in the South.

Granted, in my home state of New York, all is not well - clearly evidenced by recent studies indicating that NYC is the 3rd most segregated city in the country - Miami, incidentally is THE most segregated city - interesting dichotomy I must add.

I spoke quite candidly with my cab driver on the long drive from the airport who spoke achingly of his desire to live in a truly integrated place, where race does not matter and one is treated equally, no matter the color of ones skin - does such a place exist?

A recent survey indicates that an overwhelming majority of Republicans living in Mississippi (46%) reject interracial marriage - this is a clear contradiction to census data that shows that more interracial marriages are occurring there than in almost any other state in the nation.

I wonder whether the South will indeed rise again, given the racial tensions overt and covert bubbling below the surface - time will tell.

I do know that I am proud to be a Northerner and living in Westchester is a boon to me at this point in my life. When I am finished with my sojourn there, I will likely return to Kentucky to be closer to my children and grandchildren in Michigan - this will require a sacrifice as I am not easily given to racism and frankly have neither time nor use for it, but as I did while living in Utah, will suck it up and make the best of the situation.

After Kentucky who knows.....

Thoughts for today from my hotel room where my maids are from Columbia South America and South Carolina.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Chase bank - where everyone knows your name - who knew????

I have been attending my local Chase bank since they merged with WAMU some years ago. Laura and Barbara are the two tellers who generally provide me with the most assistance. Laura, in particular is bright, articulate, intelligent and is definitely going places. She recently shared with me that she is attending Fordham University, taking just a few classes at a time and I asked her whether she had considered becoming a personal banker - she is definitely on track! I put a good word in with her supervisor. I frequent the bank with my various questions, deposits, favors, etc, etc, etc. Seems that my favorite personal banker, Jose has moved on to bigger and better things - good for him! In his place is a charming young man from India - a Sikh, complete with dark brown eyes and a turban and an intense passion for cricket. He helped me on my visit today. The VP of the bank is Youssef - talk about a tall drink of water. He is from Pakistan and came to the U.S. when he was 7. He speaks flawless English with a hint of a Pakistani accent. He lives in Connecticut and is tasked with community outreach - my favorite - I hope he will be able to help me with my latest project - and technology in the branches. He is hot, hot, hot, graduated with a Bachelor's from UCONN so was most pleased with the outcome of the NCAA finals this week - he doesn't know it yet, but he is going to meet Manisha at a dinner party next month - sure hope he is not taken. When I left the bank, I ran into Midge Gravely from the Church in the Highlands - a church where I worked for a season when I first moved to the area. Midge lost her sweetheart of over 50 years to a massive heart attack in the middle of the night - she now has early onset Alzheimers and is struggling with her health in general and is also very frail. She lives around the corner from me - I am glad that she has a lovely Irish girl, Anne Marie to take care of her. I shall make an effort to outreach to Midge while I still live in the Co-Op for the next few months. Midge has a bad back and uses a cane - I asked Laura to come over to the comfortable chairs and help her and she immediately complied. I had thought of switching banks earlier this month, particularly when Chase stopped using Debit card rewards. Some things just can't be bought.......

Monday, April 4, 2011

My beloved Wildcats and UCONN - Basketball is life!

This is my favorite time of year - Spring and March Madness! I am proud to be the blessed mother of four outstanding young men: Ryan, Kyle, Tye and Bryce. They are all taller than me, blessed with their father's good looks, physical abilities and my intellect - a very good combination if I may say so myself. I have been rather preoccupied this year, finding a new place to live, working on school and personal stuff, etc, etc, etc - in other words life. It was not until about two weeks ago when my Mum mentioned that the Wildcats had made it through in the tournament - It did not register that she was speaking of my beloved UK Wildcats, rather I assumed she spoke of the AZ Wildcats. Why the interest in basketball and the UK? For 5 amazing years, we lived in KY - home of two types of people - those who bleed red for the Louisville Cardinals and those who bleed blue for the Kentucky Wildcats. I honestly believe I began watching UK games because Rick Pitino was the coach and he was and still is incredibly hot and sexy. I was a young mother with three rambunctious boys who adored sports - they played softball - yuck! Flag football - quel horreur - a tad too much for this genteel Brit who wanted nothing to do with a sport where her sons might - gasp - be injured and spent games with her eyes mostly shut so she wouldn't see collisions and fingers in her ears so she wouldn't hear the sound of crunching shoulder pads making contact. Either way, I recall us sitting in their big bedroom when their dad was at school at work as he was wont to be in those days post his 15 years of service in the US Army. His days were long and he worked hard to provide for his young family and balance his time between the demands of school, work and family time. We spent hours watching the games, screaming for the Wildcats until our throats were hoarse. At that time, we were devout LDS/Mormons and my former husband was one of the finest church basketball coaches I have ever seen - okay, so he was my husband and I was in love with him, but he was still damn good! I remember him going to bat for Erik Bernhard, a young kid with earrings - the referee did not want him to play with earrings (they had seriously high standards back then) and Dan, bless his heart, negotiated with the coach to have Erik put band-aids over his ears so that he could play. When we moved to Michigan, it was hoped that Dan would attend Tom Cooley law school - he had been a paralegal in the army and it seemed like a natural seque. Unfortunately, that was not to be. Dan continued to be active in the LDS Church, as did I and we spent our Saturdays going to tournaments, cheering on people we didn't know, by and large and supporting our husband and father - happier times. I recall the year that WMU made it to the sweet sixteen when my children were attending Moorsbridge Elementary where I frequently volunteered as a parent. I came to school to sign them out early and all the children were so jealous that my three boys were getting out of school to watch the game at home, while they were relegated to watching it at school on TV's erected on stands in hallways and break areas by accomodating staffers. Dan and Ken Vargha went to a UK finals game once - they were great friends, though Ken was a graduate of a school in CA, he knew how much Dan loved the Wildcats - Ken worked as some big shot in a company that afforded him such things as tickets to Final Four basketball games - Dan and I attended church in the same congregation and lived closeby, but our home was modest and theirs was shall we say opulent in comparison. When Dan and I divorced some years ago, I was awarded custody of the 4 boys and we moved to Utah with the exception of Bryce. I did not have daycare lined up for him and so Dan encouraged me to leave him behind in his care, promising that when he finished his management training at Meijer, he would follow us to "Zion". Ultimately I lost custody of Bryce 11 years ago and have seen him only sporadically since then. He lived with me along with his father and brother in Utah for a few weeks and for the first time in years I was happy and felt like a mother to Bryce. I coached Kyle's Jr. Jazz b-ball team and even tried to emulate Rick Pitino, wearing business attire as I yelled encouragement from the sidelines and argued with the coaches - talk about a rush! I recall one time, the guys were doing layups during half time and Kyle (who was over 6' at the time) did an amazing slam dunk - do you know that they actually penalized us for that? Seems there is some stupid rule about dunking in Jr. Jazz - sheesh! Who comes up with this stuff? We went to see the Jazz play in nosebleed seats and Ry got to sit in VIP seats courtest of Thomas Karrenberg of Anderson and Karrenberg Attorneys at Law for his birthday. In fact, I had stupidly thought Ry would invite me to go to the game - I was after all the basketball queen - he had the nerve to ask some girl. I never did find out where Tom Karrenberg sat that night, but I do know that he came to Ry during halftime and introduced himself. I found out quite by accident last year (long story) that Bryce who is 13 and 6' was playing on his school basketball team - his principal shared this with me, assuming that I was in regular communication with Bryce and/or his dad. Can I say that losing Bryce has been the single most painful thing in my life? I am crying as I write this - I feel as though I have been robbed of all these years - 11 Christmases, Thanksgivings, summers, spring breaks, birthdays, etc, etc, etc. All this because I did not want to rock the boat with his father. Truth is, I have always been afraid of my former husband - no more - while he is very good at being passive aggressive and is certainly verbally abusive and condescending when he wants to be, I am in a place where I can move forward and take appropriate steps to mitigate the parenting time disparity. I missed the Wildcats game on Saturday - I had a migraine - I have been crying for a week over missing my boys - when Bryce did not call for my birthday, I thought I would die - clearly I did not - I wanted to see the final last night - another migraine. I went into my room and called my three closest guy friends - and told them how much I loved them and how thankful I was to them for being such great parents even as their former wives had tried everything in their power to keep them from their fathers. I will be at Bryce's games next year - I am quitting my job and will not take classes during the time his season is on. I have the most amazing boys - We are Daleys, we are different, we will dare to do what's right! Go Wildcats - next year, maybe.