Posts Tagged ‘Duke’

Who gets to define you? My first step into studying Buddhism asked this very question in a different way – how would you describe yourself? Easier maybe than a definition. I’m a nana and mother, a writer, a wife, stringer etc…easy. These are the simple ways, stating what you DO in the world rather than who you are!

An old friend from high school was visiting this weekend, and though our hair has turned a pale blondish white, we stood out in high school because we were both redheads. Being a “Redhead” has a certain cache. But when I was little I hated my hair, I wanted to be like everyone else, I wanted to fit in and belong. I wanted black hair like Snow White!

Edie and I were also both raised as the one and “Only” child in our families. Does that define us?

I woke up this morning to National Geographic’s special edition on Race through an Instagram video. They contend that science defines us by our DNA, but the environment, our culture defines us by the color of our skin. Their mission is to make us re-examine that paradigm; their example was a pair of fraternal twin girls, about ten years old.

The April edition of the magazine, The Race Issue, features a pair of black and white fraternal twin sisters from the United Kingdom, Marcia and Millie Biggs, on the cover (more here). The Biggs twins on the cover are a catalyst for readers to rethink what they know about race. The full issue is available now at natgeo.com/TheRaceIssue.

Now you know, and I know my DNA because I spit in a tube and sent my sample to Ancestry. Although I really didn’t need to know I was almost 100% Irish, because the priest at Sacred Heart School always told me I had the map of Ireland on my face! And I was mortified whenever he picked me out in class, although I’m sure it was meant as a compliment.

When our L’il Pumpkin was born with my exact shade of flaming strawberry blonde hair I was determined to help him feel proud about his carrot top. Well either that or ignore it altogether. But how will his ghostly white skin affect his journey through life? Will his schoolmates tease him when he’s putting on sunscreen before playing baseball? Will he yearn to have brown skin like some of his friends?

I remember when we visited Duke on the Bride’s college tour, and the Rocker, only 13 at the time, watched a group of African students walk by in colorful traditional dress. He thought it was so cool. Isn’t this what we want for our children, to enlarge their cultural influences, to expand their minds beyond a neighborhood of white privilege.

With our nation so divided – by political party, by religion, by geography – I wonder if we can turn inward to see what in fact we all share. Has Mr T unleashed this underbelly of white-neo-nazi terror in order to make us choose sides? Can we reject that? I choose to embrace our common sense of decency and civility, our humanity. We ALL want better schools for our children, schools without guns and active shooter drills. We ALL deserve comprehensive healthcare.

America, in our many shades of white/beige/brown/black, is at a tipping point. On the 50th anniversary of Dr Martin Luther King’s murder, I remember marching in the streets of Boston with my black armband. I was a college student then, and I would have defined myself as a “Dancer!”

Here is our superhero Spiderman. I can’t wait until he’s old enough to see Black Panther.


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So it’s Sunday, and while just about everyone I know is melting Velveeta and salsa together for Super Bowl munchies, let’s talk about the game that really matters – basketball!

Last night my beloved Blue Devils came from behind to beat the Cavaliers 69 to 63 right here in Cville at John Paul Jones Arena. Y’all know that Bob went to Duke, and the Bride graduated from Duke when Shane Battier was the major heart throb. We also had a close cousin go to Duke Medical School. So you can see that we come from a long line of Cameron Crazies, that our blood runs Blue – and royal blue, not that wimpy Carolina blue.

Even if the Bride went to UVA Med and we’ve been living and working in Wahooville for nearly a decade, this hasn’t changed my allegiance.

What, you didn’t know I was competitive? Didn’t I tell you about my halcyon basketball days at Camp St Joseph for Girls? This is about as close any woman my age can come to understanding warfare. That tight band of brothers/sisters we fought with, running up and down those pine planks; sweating, grunting, shoving, grimacing and feeling like our hearts were about to explode. I loved basketball, with a capital B!

Football, meeh.

Anyway, last night Duke delivered a must-see game if you’d like to know what it takes to win. And here’s the simple trick that I first heard about back there on Lake St Joseph, it’s called making “fast break points,” or REBOUND. When the opposing team has the ball, and they take that lay-up shot and it bounces off the rim, that’s your cue. You jump higher. You take possession of the ball. And you run like hell down the court. Swoosh. Their loss becomes your gain.

Time and time again, you keep on doing this, because you see all the other players are still trying to unstick their eyes from that near-miss basket, pivot their feet to go the other way, and stay in the game. Their brains are stuck for a second, and the smart team takes advantage of that. They end up in their court with most of the guards still shaking their heads on the other side of the center line…

Virginia lost their first game in 21 home games to a packed stadium last night decked out in orange. And Duke was behind for a good portion of the time, that’s another secret – You just never give up! “Duke’s 11-possession, 28-point explosion in the final eight minutes against Virginia turned the game — and perhaps the state of the ACC race — on its head.” cores.espn.go.com/ncb/recap?gameId=400587955

So, bring it Super Bowl. In my mind you just cannot compete with Travelocity’s Gnome, who was making the rounds in Cville this weekend. Life lessons aren’t learned in a feudal football jersey, with concussion injuries and too many sexual and domestic assault cases involving players in the news:

“The crime was horrific and the verdict stunningly swift. Two former Vanderbilt University football players are facing the possibility of decades in prison after it took a jury less than four hours to convict them for their roles in a 2013 sexual assault of an unconscious woman. Two more former football players await trial.”


Lessons happen when we reach higher and run faster than any opponent. And when we can find a gnome at Bodo’s!

Twitter: @roaminggnome

Twitter: @roaminggnome

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I’m not talking about college hoops. Although I must say I felt rather conflicted when VA beat Duke for the ACC title 72 – 63 on Sunday. And it was the first time since 1976 that UVA brought that trophy home. When your husband and daughter went to Duke undergrad, and you find yourself living in Charlottesville because that’s where she went to medical school, along with the Groom who is a “lifer” (both VA undergrad and med), you can understand why my alliances were in conflict.

The madness I’m referring to is the third death that’s been reported of a critically injured person from the SXSW Music Festival in Austin, TX. When we heard that two people died on the scene, my ears tingled. Remember the Rocker is there playing in Nicole Atkins’ band. I didn’t panic, I didn’t call him immediately. In fact, my first reaction was rage. How could the police have chased this drunk driver right into a crowded street, right into a line of people waiting to get into a club? Yes, the drunken/killer made the decision to drink and get into a car, he was responsible for dozens of injured people and now three deaths.

But that cop who was in pursuit presumably wasn’t impaired.He must have had some training about how to apprehend a guy fleeing a sobriety checkpoint that wouldn’t involve chasing his car into a crowd and killing innocent people.  http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2014-03-17/news/chi-sxsw-austin-car-hits-crowd-20140317_1_southern-mississippi-sxsw-austin

So I casually texted the Rocker, “How’s SXSW going?” This wasn’t his first time at the Austin festival. The Parlor Mob blew through town a few times in the past…”It’s fun for us!” You can see they were head bangin, long hair, hard rock playing back then!

Here’s a clip from a month ago with Nicole. That’s the Rocker over there on the left. His hair is considerably shorter…My son texted back, “Just played the last show, we leave for Dallas tomorrow morning.”

Being on tour, on the road day and night isn’t easy. Don’t cry me a river, but I’m serious. They drive all day, do a sound check, maybe get something to eat and by now the bar food isn’t bad, then they play till the wee hours, get some sleep and get up early to hit the road again. I know he’ll be staying with his sister in Nashville this weekend. At least they didn’t get this last snowstorm. I just hope he has a little time to play with our Love Bug. She’s just starting to sing, and her dance moves are adorable! http://mercylounge.com/calendar/venue/highwatt/2014/03/22/nicole-atkins/

So stay warm and safe out there on the road son. Tell me if you met Lena Dunham, or you listened to Edward Snowden’s Skype chat. http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2014/03/10/288601356/live-edward-snowden-speaks-to-sxsw And GO DUKE!

The morning aviary view

The morning aviary view

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On a morning when most of the news involves the ecstasy of Russian Olympics and the agony of its bordering state, Ukraine (where the city of Kiev is about to implode), the ratio of 1:5 is what sticks in my craw. According to the White House, one in five women in college will be raped. I don’t know about you, but I found this to be rather alarming.

Equally infuriating is that one in three teenage relationships has experienced dating violence. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-26263171

Our little town has been singled out recently for two contradictory things: 1) Charlottesville has been voted the second most “Friendliest” small city in America http://www.movoto.com/blog/top-ten/friendliest-small-cities/; and 2) the One Love Foundation has developed a new App to help students and their friends assess their level of dating danger http://www.joinonelove.org.

Just weeks before her graduation from UVA in 2010, lacrosse player Yeardley Love was killed by her ex-boyfriend. Her mother and sister have started the One Love Foundation in order to address dating violence and educate students about the signs and symptoms of a relationship on the brink of chaos.

The “One” represents the number Yeardley wore on her jersey during her high school and college lacrosse career. The number has since been retired by the University of Virginia in her memory.

The Bride volunteered at a rape crisis center on her Duke campus. And I’ve just found out that my cousin Anita, in Richmond is being trained as a volunteer advocate for rape and abuse cases in her local hospital’s Emergency Department. I was surprised at my immediate reaction to this news; I was proud of her at once, while knowing deep down I could never do it.

It pains me to admit it, but I know I would want the women to immediately leave their abuser, to get a restraining order, to go into the witness protection program if need be and move to Arizona. I’d buy the plane ticket! This is most likely the same reason I could never see myself becoming a psychologist, like my MIL Ada or my brother Dr Jim, it’s just not in my DNA to suffer for days and weeks and years on end vicariously with patients.

It’s not that I don’t feel compassion for the abused, but I would have trouble feeling empathy. I cringed when I wrote this, so I had to look up the word – empathy “the intellectual identification with or vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.” And I guess it’s true, because I myself would be the first one out the door if a man ever tried to hit or rape me, I can’t really identify with women who stay. I learned to love from my foster father Jim Mahon, and it never included a raised hand or a harsh word.

And I get that the abuse comes on slowly, that the abuser is so remorseful and kind after the incident and soothes his victim into thinking it will never happen again; he just has to stop drinking so much or she just has to make his eggs a certain way. I know it’s a slow insidious dance of death – if not physical, an emotional disconnect from her family and friends that strangles any hope of salvation.

I wonder if an App can help a victim understand she is in danger, or can it help one of her friends in our friendly city to alert her parents or a counselor? If it can, then I applaud One Love, which means more than just a number on a jersey. If we never learn to cherish and love ourselves, we can never expect others to do the same.


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