Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Head Wounds

To err is human, to forgive Divine.”

Sometimes I hate using social networks that connect me to people I don’t connect with in real life. I posted a grumpy status recently and got PollyAnna’d in response. Which hurt my little negative feelings. It never helps when someone tries to fix you without your permission.

I almost wrote a retort, but then I thought, maybe my insecurity filter was just set too high and I misunderstood. A snappy comeback would be like lobbing a heart piercing arrow at an innocent person, only to discover I took out one of my own teammates.


The truth is I’m so sensitive that it’s easy for a comment or a look, whether it’s truly mean or not, to hurt so much it feels like someone dropped a can of soda on my forehead. Which may or may not have happened to my granddaughter recently. Accidently, of course. But it hurts the same whether it was intentional or not. And it can hurt all day if I don’t find a way to put some ice on it muy pronto.

Here’s the problem: how do I "pay no attention" to hurtful remarks lobbed at me?

I started pondering all the “benefit of the doubt” and “err on the side of caution” lines of philosophy. I hate that something as stupid as one-liners can get to me. I think it has something to do with my emotional scale being set at an “eight” a lot of the time instead of its God-given default setting of “one.” When I think I’ve been attacked, my anger shoots up two points which should equal a very manageable “three” but instead it can become a Vesuvius-erupting “ten.”

Talk about crummy math.

Besides all the damage done to my thermostat as a kid which corroded my sevens, sixes, and fives through two’s, my temperament is melancholy/choleric. What a curse. (See Tim LaHaye’s book, Spirit Controlled Temperaments, if that makes no sense to you.)

Melancholies walk around with their heart hanging outside their bodies so often that even good touches can feel bad. Cholerics hit their “ten” threshold with such frequency and force, they’re forbidden to play the Strongman Game at state fairs anymore—they win so well they break the equipment.

Do you see how handicapped I am? How unable to do anything to change myself? Between all the bad programming and wounding of my childhood, and the state of my flesh today, free advice from Positive Thinking/New Age Believing/God Is In Controlling/Get A Gripping friends goes in one ear and . . . never even clears the first canal.

I try to think, so what if another imperfect human being tried to fix me? That’ll teach me to be honest! But honestly, being honest is better than hiding behind a wall just so I can’t be a target for other people’s Eula Improvement Projects.

What if I did misunderstand the comment? What if I look at it from another point of view and decide there was no animosity involved? What if I give grace and mercy to the friend? Then I have an outlet for my angst (besides this writing exercise, of course) and can walk on past the prison of unhappy emotions.

What if I was right? The remark was snide, but I forgive the shot aimed at my heart, grab the arrow in mid-air and break it in two, never to be used again to hurt me?

What if I don’t? My heart will hurt all day. And I’m tired of having an aching heart.

To err is human. It happens every day. I do it, too.

To forgive Divine

“Love—God’s love in us—does not insist on its own rights or its own way, for it is not self-seeking; it is not touchy or fretful or resentful; it pays no attention to a suffered wrong. . . Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything without weakening. (1 Cor. 13—look it up yourself)

Ever ready to believe the best of every person. Ready to believe it even though wrong was suffered. Misunderstanding happened. But Love was not thrown off the throne.

To forgive Divine.

Or maybe, the Divine—God Himself—does the forgiving on my behalf. I look at His love for me instead of at the unkindness of others.

Forgiveness is His job.

Trusting Him to do it is mine.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

With Liberty And Justice For All

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America . . .

Yesterday one of my friends told me about her recent pat down experience by a TSA agent. She had worn a skirt the day she flew, which apparently sends up a red flag now and will guarantee an extra personal screening. God forbid that women dress like women now at an airport. Thanks a lot, you Muslim maniacs. Then she said that the TSA agent felt up inside her legs and way up into her . . . personal space. Way up. She was pretty surprised.

I’ve read on the internet about similar experiences by today’s airline passengers, but this was the first person I’ve talked to who went through it. At least our mouths are still dropping open when we hear or read stories like this. The day we stop being shocked and dismayed is the day we become frog soup.

". . . And to the Republic for which it stands . . ."

For now, I’m desperately—and with great frustration— trying to figure out how to get across to others why it’s unacceptable to make American citizens walk through scanners which bombard them with uncertain amounts of cumulative radiation. And why is it so hard to explain that it’s illegal for airports to pass you on to a “professional” who puts their hands or fingers into your genitals simply because you chose to use an airplane to travel?

“Professional” what? Hookers are professionals, too.

Some say that we must keep flying or the terrorists win. They say the purpose of 9-11 was to scare us out of the skies. But that didn’t scare me out of the sky. It hardly scared anyone out of the sky. My husband and I flew thousands of miles away to the UK less than three weeks after our country was attacked. But ten years and numerous flying miles later, I’ve taken my last flight until things change. I’m refusing to fly. I’m not afraid of terrorists blowing up my plane. That’s not how the terrorists are winning. I’m afraid that, if I give up my Fourth Amendment right to the protection of my body from unreasonable searches (and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that Gate Rape is unreasonable), I will have all of my rights as an American and a human being taken from me under the guise of governmental prerogative. More than that, I fear for my children and my grandchildren. The terrorists are winning by making me afraid of my own government.

". . . One nation under God . . ."

Fourth Amendment? So what. Child abuse and elderly abuse? So what. Ineffective? So what. Listen, if police did the things to citizens that the TSA does, without reasonable suspicion and a warrant to back them up, they’d be up on charges. And, in my opinion, that’s what should be happening to the blue glovers in airports.

". . .indivisible . . ."

The sad, pathetic irony to all of this is that the very people who assert that the invasion of our bodies is the only way to keep us safe are the same people who have sworn oaths to defend the Constitution, including all 27 of its amendments. You’ve seen it in January every four years as the president takes office. With his hand on a Bible, the most powerful man in the world swears to protect and defend our great document and guarantee of liberty. The same oath is taken by the vice president, his cabinet, federal and state judges and congressmen and women, firefighters, police and our military. They all hold up their right hand and say, in part,

“I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic. . .”

They’re swearing out of both sides of their mouths. Either they promise to protect us from unreasonable searches of our bodies and mean it, or they need to quit swearing.

". . .with liberty and justice . . ."

Thank God somebody's keeping us safe from the terrorists. Because we have our hands full right now surviving the stripping of our clothes, our dignity, our self respect, our children’s security, and our rights by our own government. I don’t think I can take much more of this kind of “security.” It’s destroying my peace of mind.

I have never been so ashamed of my country. I can hardly even say the pledge of allegiance now—the words catch in my throat—because there is no “liberty and justice for all”.

There is only Big Brother.

". . .for all."

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A Rose By Any Other Name . . .

It isn’t easy having a name like mine. No one can spell it, most people can’t pronounce it, and you’ll never find it on a keychain in a gas station. When I was a kid, I dreamed of having a normal, beautiful name—like . . . Linda. Everybody can spell . . . Linda. But if your name is. . . Eula . . . you can’t even get that spelled right on your Starbucks cup.

When I order my Iced Grande Decaf Whole Milk No Whip Three Pump Peppermint Mocha, I usually let the barrista spell my name any way she wants to, hoping that phonetics wins the day. But that’s no guarantee that the guy at the other end of the counter will have any idea how to pronounce it when it comes his way. I’ve been called Evla, Ulla, Oolah, Lula, Elva. Last week it was Yuma.

But the one that took the cake happened a couple of months ago. It was business as usual in my local Starbucks: I order my drink, she spells my name wrong. She tried to fix it. But she made such a mess of the cup that the other barrista couldn’t make any sense out of her handwriting at all. He looked at my drink and finally settled on, “Mike!”

So . . . you’re wondering where I got such an interesting name. It was a gift from my parents. I was named after both grandmothers. My mother’s mom, Eula Cook, had been told as a child growing up in rural Alabama that her first name was Creek Indian, meaning “devil.” My father’s mom, Marie Jennings, told me her name meant “bitter.” So, there you have it. According to family tradition, my full name—Eula Marie—means, “Bitter Devil.” And then I married a man whose Scottish surname, McLeod, means “Son of Ugly Face.” Sigh.

I once met a woman who shared my name. Not only was her name also Eula Marie McLeod, the spellings were identical. She was twice my age and lived in Phoenix. I learned about her by accident when a friend told me she’d seen my name in the newspaper announcing I’d won a free pie at Marie Callendar’s. But when I called to claim my dessert, they told me . . . I was the wrong Eula McLeod. You know, with luck like that, I am NEVER going to Las Vegas. I can’t even win when the odds are one out of two.

But, I was a good sport. I looked the lady up in the phone book and called to tell her about her good fortune. In case she hadn’t read the paper that day. She hadn’t. She was 80 years old, not very impressed by Marie Callendar, and less impressed by me sharing her name. I guess since she’d had it all her life, she figured it belonged to her. She told me that since it was her maiden name and only my married name, that I wasn’t really a McLeod. And I told her. . . well, that by then I’d been married longer than I’d been single, so I was pretty sure I was off probation.

To add insult to injury, my name has recently surfaced among those who are computer savvy. You know what I’m talking about. The acrostic E-U-L-A now means End User License Agreement. Imagine my delight. Well, you can be sure that I am the end user of this name and did not pass it on nor did I sell it to my daughter.

We gave our children normal names that they could find on mass produced coffee mugs and keychains in any gas station across America! And that’s worked very well for our . . . son, Lee. Unfortunately, K-A-T-Y is not the current popular spelling for our daughter Katy’s name. So despite our best efforts, she shares my pain.

Not only was it important to us to give our kids names that were easy to spell, we gave them names with wonderful meanings, too. Well, except for that whole McLeod thing. There wasn’t much we could do about that. And for a long time, I didn’t think there was anything I could do about my name either. Until the day I discovered the truth. And I was set free.

It’s a long story, but it turns out Eula is Greek – not Creek - and literally means Good Words. And Marie means “bitter waters made sweet” or “consolation.” I like that. And McLeod. . . still means Son of Ugly Face. Well, two out of three ain’t bad.

I was dinging around on the internet the other night and thought, hey, it might be fun to google myself! I do not recommend this. I discovered there’s a whole dimension in cyberspace happily using my name in vain. There’s a town in Texas—home to 125 people—who support their Eula Pirates. Right here in Phoenix there’s a punk rock band—named after me—whose lyrics could make me believe that Eula does mean “devil”. There’s a EULA Hall of Shame, a SpycarEula, a EULA-lyzer—I want one of those—and an anti-Eula that promises to make mincemeat of me!

And wouldn’t you know it. Just when I start to feel good about introducing myself again, some bozo named Mitchell blogged on the internet for the entire world to read that “anything EULA-like is disturbing.” Fortunately, Webopedia came to my rescue and told the truth: “Not every Eula is the same.” I already knew that, though. That’s what an 80 year old spinster in Phoenix once told me.

I really think they should have let me deliver that pie—personally.