Family life, Paleo-ish eating and Coping with Chronic Illness

Posts tagged ‘Marijuana’

Immigration From My Perspective

Do you remember when I blogged about marijuana?  I told a story that only I could tell.  I told a story about what I have learned about marijuana from the people in my life who have used marijuana.  I didn’t pretend to know the right laws to pass, and how to proceed in the  bigger world.  I just said that what I have witnessed is the destruction of bright, talented teenage boys who have decided they love marijuana enough to marry it.  Or, at least, trade it for their future.

I said that maybe legalizing marijuana will do what some folks say.  Maybe all sorts of problems will be solved when legalizing marijuana happens.  That’s how I’ve heard the story spun.  So be it. Maybe those pro-legalization folks are right.  But, I can’t change what I have seen.

I will continue to tell my kids that even if they see marijuana Twinkies on the shelves at Wal Mart, don’t be fooled.  (And, really, you shouldn’t be eating Twinkies anyway.)  Marijuana puts exciting, adventurous, productive young lives at risk.  I’ve seen it.

My viewpoint on immigration is also colored by my own experience.  Really, do we have anything else?  I’m not impartial.

It’s interesting to me that my thoughts on immigration have also been formed by taking part in the lives, and building friendships with teenage boys.  I should thank my husband for bringing these kids into our lives.  I’ve learned a lot from them.

I’ve been trying to listen to the larger immigration debate.  I’ll tell you straight up, I don’t have a handle on it.  I don’t know all the issues, and I don’t know who is right and who is wrong.  I can’t imagine being in a position of having to sort it all out.  It’s a lot.

My personal stance on immigrants is that I love them.  Or, at least, I love the immigrants I know.  I never realized these kids I know are immigrants.  I just thought they were awesome kids.  They are just kids I like with fewer privileges than most, and  kids who work really hard.

One day , Scott asked me if I could give one of these young guys a ride home from wrestling practice.  This boy usually rode his bike to practice in the early morning, and home at night.  I assumed he lived in town.  He didn’t.  He lived eight miles away.  Morning practices start at 6:30.  Wrestling is in the winter.  In Wisconsin.

When I dropped this boy off, I could see that our modest house was luxurious in comparison with where this boy lived.  After I dropped this boy off, I  had a rare experience.  I had no words.

Later, when I was freaking out and telling Scott how amazing this kid was for riding his bike to practice, Scott said he knew.  He also told me that the gears on this guy’s bike weren’t even working properly.  The bike was stuck in a high gear, making the hills on this boy’s route even harder.

We found that boy a better bike after that,  and made sure he had rides (in a car) as often as possible.  Because really, how many Americans don’t have extra bikes in the garage? Not many.

My kids were young,  and in the car with me when I gave that boy a ride home.  On the way home,  after my words came back, I started wishing I could make that boy understand that my kids were better people for knowing him.  I was grateful to him for teaching my kids and me about how to work harder and be more appreciative.  I was hoping I could some how pay him back for that.

This boy is just one of Scott’s many friends who came from, or who had parents who came from Mexico.  We’re lucky to know these people.

Most of these guys we know through wrestling.  Many times, these boys end up having to quit the team before their senior year.  These boys apologize, and tell Scott they wish they could stay on the team, because they love it.  But, sadly,  they can’t.  These boys have jobs, and families who need whatever income these boys can provide.

Some of these boys have made it to their senior year.  Some how their families were able to sacrifice the boys’ earning potential, and allow the boys to have this American wrestling experience.  I’d like to get to know the parents of these boys better, and hopefully be friends.  But, I don’t know most of these parents, because I never see them.  These parents work 7 days a week cleaning offices and hotels, and working in factories.

We have received thank you gifts from one single mom, for helping her boys.  Jeesh.  I’m embarrassed to even write that. Can you believe it?  I want to tell that Mom this, “I know you are as fiercely devoted to your children as I am to mine.  I know that you would do anything to protect your kids and help them succeed in life.  I know that you would love to watch your kids wrestle, if you could.  But, you have to make a choice to feed and shelter your boys over watching them wrestle.   I’m sorry that I get to watch our kids while you work.  That isn’t fair.  I hate to ask anything of you, but could I ask you to PLEASE just let me be the one who is grateful?

I’m grateful to you,  because you inspire me.  I hope that if I was in your situation I would have the grit and determination to do everything within my power to give my kids a good life.  I hope I wouldn’t feel sorry for myself, but I think that maybe I would  I see what you are doing, and I love you for it.  We are the ones who owe YOU a gift.  We owe you a gift for the lessons you’ve brought into our lives.  Valuable lessons are worth more than any possessions.”

I like living in my world.  I like a world where my kids get to be friends with people who speak a different language, and who can teach them about another culture.  It would be excellent if our family had the resources and time to travel to other countries and see families living in other cultures in person.  That’s NOT our life.   Our life is here, in a small town in Wisconsin.  So, I thank God for finding another way for us.

One boy from Mexico brought this home to Scott from his last trip to Mexico.

Hello! I’m El Chavo

This is a popular cartoon character in Mexico.  His name is El Chavo.  A large plastic version of this guy sat proudly in our living room all summer.  Scott, finally took him to his classroom.  I’m not gonna lie and say I was sad to see him go.  He was a little out of place with our current decor.  But, he was fun, and we loved that our friend shared part of his world with us.

I heard an American politician on the radio this week say that he was only in favor of keeping immigrants who were highly skilled.  He thought the rest should be sent back.  I heard and a I listened to this politician.  He certainly has a right to believe what he believes, and he has the right to express himself.  He’s probably a good guy.  But, he is NOT speaking for me.  There isn’t anything about his statement that fits my experience.  Truthfully, I am repelled by his sentiments.  Doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like him as person, but there it is.

I was thinking I’d better speak for myself.

I know there should be laws to organize immigration, but, if you ask me what my opinion is, I will tell you ALL are welcome.  If it were up to me, I would tell immigrants that of course you can live in the  United States, if you’d like.   We gotta be organized about it, but we’re glad you came.  And, honestly,  I didn’t realize the permission was mine to grant.  The United States isn’t really mine, you know.  I don’t own it.  This is just the country where God decided I should be born.

One of the boys  from Mexico that we know is becoming an adult now.  He’s going to a trade school full time, and working full time too.  He is working and going to school 7 days a week,  trying to make a better life for him and his little brothers.  I’m not sure if that politician I mentioned would consider this young man a “highly skilled” person,  or not.  But, this young man is my friend.  We watched him grow up, and helped him understand all the things you could do in the United States to make a better life for yourself.  He’s doing everything Scott suggested he do, and more.

I would like to embrace opportunity, and work as hard as this young friend of ours.  I don’t think he’s been given anything that he hasn’t returned with interest. I want to live in a world with guys like this, and in a world that welcomes them.  And that’s just what my life has taught me about immigration.

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Epic Adventure with my Teenage Sons

When I was in college I roomed with my sister and my lifelong best friend.  They were responsible students.  They did their homework.  They studied for exams.  I just pretended to do those things.

At that age, and all the ages before that age, I mostly just wanted to have fun. Remember that song, “Girls Just Want to Have Fun?”  Yeah.  I wrote that.  Or, I could have, if someone else wouldn’t have thought of it first.

I always had good intentions.  I always meant to do my homework and study, but then someone would ask me to order pizza with them, or come to their dorm room and make prank calls. Classic 90’s entertainment. (Really.  IS your refrigerator running? I’d check it, if I were you).  Sure, I had a ton of homework that needed to be done, but how could I say no?  That seemed kind of rude.

You might be able to get away with not studying in high school, but in college it catches up with you.   It only took a few horrible grades before I started figuring out that being irresponsible was not bringing about desirable results.   I experienced my first steps towards being an adult during that phase of my life.

Now I’m a full fledged, card-carrying member of the adult race.  Like all the rest of the adults I know, almost every minute of my day is devoted to fulfilling my obligations.  I am not complaining.  I love this life.

But guess what?  Little, irresponsible, good-time-gal is still buried somewhere beneath my adult exterior.  She’s still ready to have fun whenever the opportunity presents itself.

Scott was scheduled to chaperon his Spanish students on a trip to  Costa Rica the week school got out.  Olivia was going to be at Church Camp the same week.  That meant Zeke, Eddie and I would be home alone.

My oldest sister, and her son were visiting one of my other sisters and her family  in Colorado Springs this same week.  That was fun just waiting to happen.  We made a pretty last minute decision to  hop in the car and drive to Colorado to join the party.  We left at 2:30 in the morning, and drove 16 hours each way.

I could tell some people who loved us were a little worried about this plan (those are a LOT of miles to cover with just one experienced driver).  I would guess that the car ride alone would have been worth the effort though.

My boys are 17 and 14.  They are rough and tumble boys, and they have everything in common with their rough and tumble Dad.  My boys and Scott have shared many road trips together going to various sporting events, and on missions trips.  I can tell when Scott and the boys return  that the time they spent together was the best stuff life has to offer.  I was hoping for the same.

Trapping your teenage sons in a small car with you for 16 hours is key to getting a conversation started.  This strategy did not disappoint.  I talked and listened to these young men for hours.  They had such interesting things to say.  They’re funny.

I learned more about their plans for the future.  We talked politics, faith and even about relationships with the opposite sex.  Not for very long about that.  That was their least favorite thing to talk about.

We missed Olivia and Scott  a lot.  I’m not going to lie.  We also enjoyed a road trip with a lead driver who keeps a little looser hold of the reins.  That’s right.  I’ve got Scott totally beat in the let’s just go with the flow department.  After we had been driving for several hours, one of the boys told me he had to go to the bathroom.  I said, “The tank isn’t empty though.  We have to stop when it’s empty, so we can fill it up.”

One of my sons responded, “Why can’t you just stop now, and fill it up even though it isn’t all the way empty?”

I thought about that for a while.  I said, “Because Dad?”

That’s when we decided to defy tyranny.   For the rest of the trip, when someone had to go to the bathroom, we stopped immediately.  I filled the gas tank up when it was  half empty and three-quarters empty.  First trip ever that no one had to cry in agony from extreme bladder holding.   Scott will shudder to hear of this complete mismanagement.  I liked being in charge.

We had ourselves some fun.  The boys were looking forward to spending time with their cousins.  If I gave my kids the choice between Disneyland, a major league baseball game, or being with their cousins, cousins would win every time.  Our kids have always loved their cousins.  When they lost one, they started loving them even more.

cousins

One of the boys’ cousins just graduated from college.  He’s joining the ranks of responsible adults.  Poor kid.  My boys and their  two cousins enjoyed three full days of non stop boy fun.  It was the perfect send off for their older cousin.  Hearing these four boys giggling and teasing each other made their moms happy. Did you know boys can giggle?  It’s a good sound.  All the driving was worth it.

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Garden of the Gods

 

I was feeling good about being with my sisters too.  These are women who are easy to enjoy.  Don’t get me wrong.  We fight.  One time in Colorado I said something one of my sisters didn’t like.  She said she was going to give me the silent treatment.  That was the longest 60 seconds of my life.  She said that she hoped I learned my lesson.  I definitely did.

 

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We spent a lot of time outside, and we saw a lot of pretty things.  I tried to take as many pictures as I could.  Boys aren’t very cooperative with that.  After the first day, they told me they wanted to be done posing for family portraits.  Fine.  They’re not very good at it anyway.  I am.

 

photo 2

 

My big girl job is promoting Wisconsin.  It’s easy, because I love Wisconsin.  Colorado also has my heart.  Pretty scenery and the outdoors make me happy.  The low humidity, bugless air, and commonly blue skies are so cooperative.  There wasn’t much reason to stay inside.

One day, one of my sisters and I were reading under a tree while the cousins played frisbee golf.   My sister left to use the bathroom, and  a man about my age approached.  He was dressed very  Coloradoee (real word).  Coloradians don’t try too hard.  That’s another reason I love it there.

He noticed my Wisconsin License plates.  He said, “Are you from Wisconsin?”

I said, “Yes.”

He took a drag of his cigarette.  As he moved closer, I noticed that he must have been wearing marijuana flavored cologne.

He told me that he moved from Wisconsin to Colorado 16 years ago.  He said he plays all year round: white water rafting, fly fishing, frisbee golf, skiiing.

I said, “That sounds so awesome!”

He told me that he works a little here and there, doing odd jobs to fund all of his play.  Mostly he just plays.   I believed him.  He definitely looked like my teenage nephew from Colorado.  Only this guy was trapped inside a 40 something year old body.

He said he found Wisconsin to be distasteful.  He said, “I left, and never looked back.  When I have gone back I see my friends from high school, and it’s like, dude, you’ve never even done anything with your life.”

I said, “For sure.  They probably just got married, had kids and are working hard to raise them.  Seems like a total waste. Some people just don’t get it.”

He said, “For sure, Dude.”

Then he invited our whole family to get a free frisbee golf lessons from him.

I loved this time with some of my family.   It’s true.  I am one of those poor suckers from Wisconsin who never did anything with their life.  But, I am getting better at recognizing an opportunity for fun when I see it.  I’m learning not to hesitate. You can only grab an opportunity while it’s there.  I’m glad I’m learning that.

 

miki and boys

 

My Marijuana Story

I smoked marijuana, then got in to more hard core drugs. I lived a life on the streets, until I was busted. I’m just grateful my time in prison finally turned me around. None of that is true, but do you realize how awesome my blog would be if I could just make stuff up? Darn it!

I actually haven’t ever smoked marijuana, or touched it, or planted it in my herb garden, or rubbed it on my ear lobes, or baked it into a bundt cake, or whatever you do with that drug. I did SEE it once. When I was on a tour of an evidence room at a police station. I’m just dangerous like that.

Marijuana is what people like to talk about right now. Maybe because smoking marijuana is how a lot of people want to pass their time. Those people want to make getting marijuana easier and more affordable.

As long as so many people are interested, I thought I’d tell you what I know. I hope you don’t think I’m going to go political on you. I’m not going to pass a verdict on legalizing vs. not legalizing. You know why? Because politics make people stupid. I’m speaking from experience here. I’ve been guilty of being stupid about politics. I was young then. I’m tired now. Have you ever noticed that the stronger and the more often a person expresses their political views, the less likely people are to listen? People are funny that way.

My intention is to narrow the lens. I want to focus on this one little area of my own time and space on Earth. It’s a blip, really. I want share my experiences, and tell you what I’ve learned from the people I know. That’s it. That’s my only area of expertise.

I’ve listened to an intelligent discussion regarding legalizing marijuana. I’ve heard the persuasive arguments stating the benefits: less drug related crimes, improved economy, help for those who are terminally ill. Those arguments are compelling. Maybe all of those arguments are valid. I am especially interested to see how the one about the economy turns out. I always wondered if we could have avoided “The Great Depression” if only more of the people at the time were high. It seems sort of like a basic economic principle they may have overlooked. But, I didn’t study economics; I’d have to do more research.

What I do know a lot about is teenagers, especially teenage boys. My husband has been coaching boys for 22 years. 22 years ago when we were young and fresh out of college, we had no opinions on marijuana. Marijuana affected our lives about as much as Flying Tree Monkeys. Are Flying Monkeys real? They don’t sound real, but we saw them with our own eyes in “The Wizard of Oz”, so we know they exist somewhere.

What I was trying to say before you got me all caught up in the Flying Monkey debate (C’mon, man. Just stay focused.)is that when Scott and I were just starting out in our careers, marijuana was inconsequential. I wish marijuana was STILL inconsequential. Scott and I were forced into this conversation. We were forced to develop opinions through painful, rip your guts out, face-to-face interaction with kids who smoke it. We do have opinions now. Our opinions are not favorable.

We have learned that teenagers tell each other that marijuana is totally not as dangerous as adults make it sound. They tell each other that it’s easier to get than alcohol, plus there’s not a messy hangover. They tell each other that it is NOT addictive, it is NATURAL. It is practically harmless. They say that marijuana is legal in some states for pity’s sake. Do teenagers say, “pity’s sake”? They would if they wanted to sound cool.

Once a teenager is convinced marijuana is no big deal, and they start smoking it, new and fun things begin to unfold: lies (lots and lots of lies), erratic behavior, loss of focus, lack of ambition, preoccupation, under performance in life, and eventually more and new drugs. I know. I know. People who like marijuana say that is completely untrue. They say, “marijuana is NOT a gateway drug, you fool.” They say, “just because you smoke marijuana, does not mean you’re going to smoke crack.”

If that’s you, then I’m happy for you. I’m glad you can manage your marijuana smoking. I just don’t happen to have any experience with teenagers who have been able to maintain a light to moderate marijuana smoking habit.

I can only speak of the boys I know. One hundred percent of the boys I know who smoked marijuana, eventually started doing worse. Those boys either didn’t finish or didn’t go to college like they thought they would. Those boys broke their parents’ hearts, over, and over and over, and in many different ways. Those boys all once had shining potential. They were sweet and smart and awesome. And, I personally believe that marijuana was the worst thing that ever happened to them.

It’s really hard to see boys you love stolen away from you. As young teenagers they have this energy and ambition. They have big goals and you believe they can accomplish them. Then they start smoking marijuana. Eventually, their personalities change. The boy you knew is replaced by this person who is either high, or preoccupied with becoming high. Have you hung out with people like that? They don’t get much done.

If people think legalizing marijuana is going to solve a bunch of problems, so be it. I hope they’re right. I don’t try to pretend to know things I don’t know and have not experienced. But, if they try to tell me that marijuana is NOT dangerous, and it does NOT steal potential, it does NOT lead to worse drugs for many kids, and it does NOT do families harm, I just know they’re telling lies.

People can lie and smoke pot, if that’s what they want to do. I’ve got my own problems. But, if people tell lies that have the potential to harm my kids or any one else’s kids, I’m going to speak up. I don’t care if it makes me unpopular, uncool or unfunny, because I’m mad. It feels weird to be mad. I am not mad very often. Mostly I just like to have fun.

I know some of the people telling these lies are so darn cool. They’re famous and they make a lot of money. I’m not sure how they could be wrong about anything. Ever. In their lives. They’re good looking, for cryin’ out loud. You can’t be wrong if you’re good looking. It’s in the Declaration of Independence.

They are wrong about this. The evidence I have seen, witnessed and know first hand supports my belief that marijuana does kids harm. Kids will exchange their future to stay high. That sucks. And that’s what I know is true.

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