Bah Humbug!

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Weaving the disparate strands of my life and belief system has been a challenge this holiday season. 11 months of the year, I can ride comfortably in the gap between society’s standards and my own. At Christmas, however the contradictions between Martha Stewart’s world and Julianne’s are a bit overwhelming. The commercialization of the holiday creates pressure that I resist each year.

Aside from making sure my home is festive, cooking the requisite holiday treats and wrapping and tagging the kids’ gifts, I will try to avoid the trite holiday rituals and commercialism of Christmas in order to focus on what feels real to me. My childrens’ excited smiles, the spiritual harmony associated with the advent of Christ, and the warm greetings offered by random strangers every time the words: “Merry Christmas” are uttered are the things that get me into the Christmas spirit.

I may never visit a nearby Lexus dealership at Christmas, and that Mercedes Benz with the huge bow on it belongs to my neighbor. I am not expecting a gift of a carat or more, and I’m okay with that. What I want for Christmas, and what I want to give to others…is a reflection of the healing power of Christ and the universal love he ushered into the world. Those are the real gifts of the season. Last time I checked, those things are still free.

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Condoleezza in E Flat

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Condoleezza Rice is the 66th United States Secretary of State, as well as the first black woman to serve in that capacity. She was a professor of political science at Stanford University where she served as Provost from 1993 to 1999, and during the administration of George H.W. Bush, Rice served as the Soviet and East European Affairs Advisor during the dissolution of the Soviet Union and German reunification. (1)

Condoleezza Rice recently performed a Brahms melody at a private recital for Queen Elizabeth II of England. As an observer of U.S. foreign policy, I have always  wanted so much to respect Condoleeza Rice for the value of her knowledge.  As an African-American woman, I wanted to revel in her professional accomplishments.  As a music lover, I understand her artistic passion. But as a student of history, I am mad as hell at her.

Elisabeth Windsor, or more accurately, Elizabeth Alexandra Mary (Saxe-Coburg-Gotha) Windsor,  known to the world as Queen Elizabeth II, reigning monarch of England, is the pinnacle of global social stature.  Anyone could recognize the allure of meeting and socializing with her.  In British peerage, her title is unparalleled and her royal bloodline, German though it may be, (as opposed to British) is incontrovertible.

In my opinion, when Secretary Rice performed for the Queen, she relegated herself to a second-class status un-befitting a woman of her position. When the American Colonies declared their independence from Britain in 1776, colonists ceased to be subjects of the British crown, therefore it was unseemly for Secretary Rice to serve in such a capacity.

The reigning monarch has nothing more than ceremonial command over what’s left of the British Empire, and Condoleezza Rice has more power than the entire royal family put together. So why, then would the Secretary of State deign to perform for the Queen? The royals, while colorful and interesting, are an anachronistic relic of the past. When Princess Diana began dating Dodi Al Fayed, Elizabeth is reported to have said: “She’s dating an Egyptian? We used to own them.” (2)

Was it some Eurocentric fantasy gone horribly wrong? Did Condoleezza believe that the performance would somehow persuade the Queen as to her ‘equality’? Was the performance aimed at garnering some additional status or prestige that her own position and talent hasn’t yet wrought?

I don’t want to sound harsh or mean-spirited. I have my own fascination with the British monarchy, and it’s human nature to want the acceptance and prestige of affiliation with the elite, whomever they may be. In America, however, true status should be conferred by hard work, character, merit, achievement, and education. By putting on a show for her majesty, Secretary Rice made a minor mockery of the dignity our freedom demands.

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1. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
2. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Continue reading

What’s Love Got to do with It?

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Love makes your soul crawl out from its hiding place.

Zora Neale Hurston

For the past few months I have evaluated a number of romantic relationships  in my life.  Being the jump-in-and-drown type, I usually decide against playing it cool, so I fling all of my emotions against the wall, assuming some of them will stick to my opponent/object/victim, and accordingly, receive the messy result I deserve.

Case closed.

Relationships, when they work, tend to reflect a dominant positive trait shared between the couple that allows each of them to complement the other.  In the good times, each person feels free to grow and develop as an individual while honoring the bond they share.

I had that once.  At least I thought I did.

But then I woke up from the dream.  I found myself tied to someone I didn’t know, who I found really didn’t like me very much.  Or himself.  Instead of complementing each other, we had really established a co-dependence on the appearance of a loving relationship.  We portrayed the characters of Claire and Cliff Huxtable without realizing it and found ourselves adrift.

So what do I jump into next?  My girlfriends say:  “Hey, do you.”  I hear that.  ‘Doing me’ means I tighten up every part of my life; from new job/business, new house/living space, new parenting techniques and new relationships.  I got it.  I get it.  I will pull away from the pier and set sail on a new journey in life, knowing that the ‘security’ of old relationships was just an illusion.

The task of cutting an undefined path is scary.  A male friend challenged me, saying:  “Don’t you want to see just how bad you really are?”  Of course I do.  But I also want to give an honorable sendoff to the protected, tradition-driven princess I used to be.

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