We live in a world of blame

 Originally posted on Tumblr, February, 2014…

William Wordsworth said that poetry comes from the “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings.” This perfectly describes the point at which I become compelled to blog. I allow the powerful feelings to build up over hours, perhaps days. The feelings begin to interfere with my ability to think about anything else, and I’m left with no choice but to sit at my laptop and write.

As I snuggle inside, enjoying another southern snow day, I cannot help but react to the news blips I have heard over the past few weeks in not-so-Hotlanta. The snowy debacle of January’s Snowpocolypse was a true testament to the layers of blame that our community piled on our local officials. Atlantans blamed the DOT, the Governor, the Mayor, the weathermen, and even the south for the horrible conditions here a few weeks ago.  Each of these individuals and groups were placed on the stand and forced to testify. Not surprisingly, they all had someone to blame.

We live in the sphere of CYA  (cover your a*&). Everyone has to CYA in order to avoid the proverbial finger pointing. Alibis and justifications are more important than fresh fruit. We fear decision making as it brings impending censure.  When decision makers decide in error, they are crucified by those around them, which causes them to lash out in blame-game desperation. It becomes vicious. Rapidly.

This blame game doesn’t live exclusively in city politics- it plagues our schools, too. Communities blame schools and teachers for low test scores, low grades, and low self esteem. Teaching in the modern world is a daily CYA workout, where hours are spent determining ways to reteach, intervene, help, nurture and placate our youngsters in a way that will offer the least resistance from parents. Everything we do must be justifiable, or there will be blame.

We are going to back ourselves into a corner where no one will be willing to be the decision maker. Who would want the responsibility? Our pool of leaders will eventually dwindle, as no one will want to risk the blame. Only true CYA geniuses will fill these slots; those with the true power to self-vindicate, yet these may not be people that we should trust. We will run out of city leaders, teachers, and school administrators, who have tired of the sport of CYA. Our worthy leaders will seek shelter in safer careers; careers not so badgered by blame.

Folks need to start a grassroots “STOP THE BLAME” campaign.Blame is a bully who has to find a victim.  If we don’t hurry, there won’t be blankets broad enough to CYA adequately. Blame is not a food group; we do not need it.

-H.C.

Confessions of a list hoarder

 Originally published on Tumblr -August, 2014:

Someone laughed at me the other day because I make lists. I am a list maker. I may even be a list hoarder.  I like to see my responsibilities mapped out- with bullets and stars.  I am not sure if this grew out of my need to remember things in my crazy, three-kid-work full- time world, or if it is my deeper need to feel a sense of accomplishment when I can scratch items off the list(s). When life gets hectic, it’s nice to know that, although the laundry didn’t make the cut, I did pick up my oldest child from practice, and I did email the mom of the kid who seemed depressed. These are things I can hang my hat on as the moon rises.

I have lists all over the place.

I have lists on sticky notes that I attach to my work laptop.These are the urgent, must-finish-today things. These are the “CYA” things. These are jotted in nearly illegible scratches. The residue left from the trashed sticky note makes me happy; I accomplished. I dodged a bullet. Or two.

I have lists in my “notebook-o-lists” which I keep visible on my desk. Here I scrawl tasks both large and small, albeit not tasks with the same imminence as the sticky-note cousins. I draw lines through finished items. If a page has too many scribbles, I move to the next page and put the unfinished items at the top. Its a fresh start. I feel bad for the items who keep getting bumped along. They eventually get my attention out of this sense of pity.

I have lists written under each day in my calendar of the activities that need pick ups, drop offs, snacks, and/or fancy clothes.

I have lists of my favorite books: books I want to read, books that folks recommend to me, and books I hated. I keep these lists on my favorite book-nerd app, my soul-calming app: Goodreads. This app also allows me to view the lists of all my reader friends. Yes, I like to look at the lists of others- a sure sign that I have a problem.

I have “lists of lists” housed in the “NOTES” app on my phone. These lists are all over the place.  I keep lists of blog ideas, lists of gift ideas, lists of cool quotes I find, lists of who paid dues for things I collect, lists of cool snippets I think of that I may want to use somewhere, lists of ideas for my novel, lists of songs I hear that I want on my ipod, and lists of my dreams.

I have lists that I don’t have time to write down. These are the lists that rattle around my brain at times when I can’t write them down. These lists are often fleeting, thus frustrating. I need these orphan lists to find their forever homes.

I buy books of lists. I’m drawn to them. The English Teacher’s Book of Listsstares at me from the right, and 10,000 Ideas for Term Papers, Projects, and Speeches watches me from the left. I have David Letterman’s books of “Top 10s”, and they crack me up.

Even as I disclose my lists, I feel annoyed at myself-  I should have pre-written a list of my lists, to order them and make sure that they flow properly. Alas, I cannot allow it. What I can do is try to understand my list lunacy. I can realize that my lists are therapeutic in my life. They make me feel good. I work best when I have lists. Lists bring order to a life of confusion. Lists take away the fear of forgetting.

My name is Heidi and I am a list hoarder.

-H.C.