Monday, October 30, 2006

Reading and growing up (Betty)

Betty here and I'm starting later than planned. Blame C.I. The kids and I got home this evening and there was a package on the porch. It was a book drop. The kids love those. They get excited about any package. But they know there will be stuff in there for them if it's from C.I. They were lost in books this evening. Which was really great because I was tired and it made for a very relaxing evening. They didn't even ask to turn on the TV. Not even my oldest who watches Everyone Loves Chris which airs on Mondays. I always loved reading growing up and I hope they do as well. Right now they do but I hope they carry that through their lives.

My oldest sister used to read all the time until? Until eighth grade when she became really popular with boys and, honestly, started playing dumb to be liked even more. I asked her if I could write about this and she said it didn't bother her but she doesn't remember it that way. The way she remembers it is that she never was interested in reading.

So maybe she's right?

I remember it differently and she said it was fine to write about that as long as I noted the way she remember it. So I've done that and now I'm going to tell you how I remember it.

My sister was a huge reader. There was something when she was in 5th grade, a national thing, where you got people to sign up and pledge to pay like a nickle or something for every book you read. My sister was always reading and everyone who signed up (all adults) were a little surprised because she had around 100 books and it was probably a 6 week period.

She was always reading and she was so smart. I was just starting to read and I'd just be in awe that she read books without pictures and big books and whatever else. I just remember I went around telling everyone I knew how smart my oldest sister was.

Then she just stopped reading in 8th grade. She started wearing lipstick. Sneaking it on after we left the house and taking it off right before we got back home. And I remember one bus ride home. She remembers this as well. She was kissing the guy on the bus and I was so embarrassed because everyone was looking and talking about. I probably should have thought it was cool. Then he starts asking her to touch him. That freaked me out then. I was just a kid but I couldn't believe she was reaching into a guy's pants.

On the bus.

In front of everyone.

And giggling.

But it happened. (She agrees with that. She says our mother may hit the roof on this but it happened and she's not going to pretend like it didn't.)

She was one of those kids who won spelling bees and did U.I.L. and all that academic stuff. I was really into sports and I wasn't an academic. (I was a reader. But I preferred to read my books and not my text books.) But that all changed in 8th grade.

She swears she was never in a spelling bee but she was over and over and there's a picture on the mantle of our parents' home even now of a competition she won. When we were on the phone, she bet me $20 that there wasn't. She said she'd go over right now if it wasn't so late. But that picture is there. She's just forgotten it.

(I'm not a better. But I'm also not a fool. That's a sure thing. I'll take her twenty bucks.)

That's probably my biggest fear about my daughter, that she'll go through that phase. Let me note that my sister is happily married and has been for years. Her life is not a nightmare or anything bad. My daughter would be very lucky to end up like that. But I don't want the knock down drag outs that my mother and my oldest sister had.

We also agree on those. That we both remember. That lasted from 8th grade through graduation when she moved out. And she moved out the day after she got her high school diploma. Or the thing they give you at graduation which isn't the real diploma which is mailed after.

I love my sister (I love all my sisters) and I love my mother but it was a nightmare as they fought and fought. My sister ignored all curfews, would lie about where she was going (say she was going to the football game but go out on a date -- usually with a guy 2 to 3 years older than she was) and lie badly so she'd end up caught every time, she'd be grounded and that would just mean more time for them to fight. It was a nightmare and you can ask anyone living in our house and they will tell you the same thing.

As soon as she moved out, I mean as soon as she moved out, they suddenly got along. My mother no longer felt responsible for her and she was living by her rules. One of our aunts came over for the 4th of July weekend that year and she hadn't been over since graduation. She heard from my mother that my oldest sister would be there and she was preparing herself for the worst. She could not believe how well they got along.

It really did happen overnight. They are very close now but I don't want to go through that with my daughter.

I can't imagine it with my sons. Maybe I'm kidding myself?

But my daughter is a lot like her (and a lot like my mother and my grandmother). (That may have been the problem with my oldest sister and my mother, they are too much alike.) They just have that beauty. I'm not being modest when I say I'm not beautiful. I'm not last of the litter, I crossed over barely. But you're either pretty or you're like a model in my family. Pretty's not a bad thing. But when you've got models around you, you may as well be plain or ugly.

That's what was on my mind tonight. Big thanks to my big sister for listening when she called and for telling me it was fine to write about this. (But let me add one more time that she remembers herself not being interested in reading ever.)

I hadn't planned to go on about this so. I was going to write something 'meaningful.' Well, I was going to try. I was going to try!

But this is Kat's site and everyone of her readers knows Kat's motto: It is what it is.

Let me start winding down. Plugs. Kat's latest review is amazing, "Kat's Korner: The death of Ani DiFranco?" Also check out Trina's "Appetizers in the Kitchen." Let me give myself a plug, "The column 'miracle'." I finished that Saturday morning and published it. But Blogger/Blogspot was screwed up and it didn't show up until Saturday night. My father came over Saturday afternoon and asked if he needed to take the kids somewhere. I said, "I'm sure they'd love that. Let me grab my purse and fix my hair." He told me no and that I needed to get to work on my chapter. He and my mother had both logged on earlier and not seen anything so he was concerned.

That was so sweet, that he was so concerned about my site. What happened was I just couldn't pull anything together Friday night. I tried and tried and wrote and wrote. Around eleven o'clock, I called C.I. and read what I had over the phone. C.I. asked, "Honest opinion?" I said "yes." C.I. said, "Go to bed. You've got some funny things in there but you're covering 15 things and it feels forced." C.I. told me that the four strongest points, any of the four, were a column. So we talked about that and then I asked for information about the speaking trips because I think it's awesome that C.I. speaks to all these students and also because I'm always eager to hear what's going on there. I know 'young people' care and I know they are out there trying so I'm always eager to hear about that.

But I took the advice, went to sleep, woke up the next morning and I knew which point I wanted to develop. It all just tumbled out then. But I'm always full of self-doubt and I need an audience so I called C.I. and read it over the phone. C.I.'s the best audience because if you're funny, you get laughter. Wally will tell you the same thing which is why Wally always wants to read his stuff (either that he does himself or with Cedric) before posting.

My dad would be a great audience as well. He loves to laugh. But I'd hate for him to ever realize how many starts and stops there are. I do draft after draft. Kat and C.I. are the ones I share those with and they're always so good to listen and read and they'll always say, "You lost me here" or "This is too funny, you need to add more to it." With Kat in Ireland, C.I.'s having to be my only sounding board.

Okay, before the snapshot, I picked the book that I'm going to read (for me and not aloud to my daughter and youngest son), Nora Ephron's Crazy Salad. I saw that and thought, "Yes!" I'm going to take it to work tomorrow and read some of it my lunch break.

Now, here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Monday, October 30, 2006. Chaos and violence continue in Iraq; the US reaches a 'benchmark' but not one that will market well; Different Drummer opens to business; and war resister Ehren Watada's father and step-mother continue raising awareness on their son.

Today, the
US military released a press statement announcing: "One Marine assigned to Regimental Combat Team 5 died Sunday from injuries sustained due to enemy action while operating in Al Anbar province." That death brought the total number of US troops who have died in Iraq this month to 100. On that benchmark, John Ward Anderson and Ellen Knickmeyer (Washington Post) reported that this month has been "the deadliest month for U.S. forces since Jan. 2005 when 107 U.S. soldiers were killed." Already, the number has climbed today to 101 (for the month, 2814 since the start of the illegal war). Reuters notes: "A sniper killed a member of the U.S. military police in east Baghdad, the military said in a statement. It was the 101st death in Iraq this month, making October the deadliest month for U.S. troops since January last year."

Meanwhile, in the United States,
Different Drummer opened to business last Friday in Watertown, NY. Celebrating the first G.I. coffeehouse of the current war, included a free screening on Saturday of the films The Ground Truth and this Saturday will offer a free screening of Arlington West (2:00 pm). The coffeehouse, located at 12 Paddoack Arcade, 1 Public Square, provides music, coffee, counseling for soldiers and more. The mission statement reads: "TO PROMOTE the free and uncensored exchange of ideas and information among military personnel and civilians. This includes, but isn't limited to, issues of war and peace, foreign policy, the military mission of our soldiers both at home and abroad, and the proper balance between the rights of citizen soldiers and military authority in a democratic society. TO PROVIDE accurate information, referrals, and counseling regarding the rights and duties of America's service members under U.S. and international law. TO ENTERTAIN servicemembers, civilians, and their families with performances of music, dance, comedy rap, poetry, and authors' readings reflecting a wide variety of viewpoints." The coffeehouse is a project of Citizen Soldier.

In Iraq, chaos and violence continued today.


AFP reports "a deadly bomb attack" in Baghdad today and quotes Abu Zeinad ("eyewitness") stating, "The bomb was hidden in a plastic bag. It's the third time that an attack has hit this place this year". The BBC notes that the explosion took place "early in the morning in Mudhafa Square". Reuters counts 28 dead and 60 wounded.
In addition to that bombing,
Reuters also notes 5 other car bombs in Baghdad today which left 13 dead and 43 wounded. Outside of Baghdad, the BBC notes a bombing in Kirkuk that claimed the lives of two police officer. Reuters adds that it also took the life of "a three-year-old girl" while 19 were left injured while, near Kahalis, a roadside bomb killed two workers and left three wounded while, in Mosul, five were wounded by mortar rounds.


CBS and AP report that Essam al-Rawi, "a leading Iraqi academic and prominent Sunni political activist," was shot dead outside of his home. Christopher Bodeen (AP) notes that appoximately "154 university professors have been killed since the March 2003 U.S. invasion." Reuters notes an attack by "gunmen" on a police station in Baiji which killed two police officers.


Reuters notes six corpses ("signs of torture, blindfolded . . . bullet wounds") were discovered in Mahmudiya, five corpses (ditto) were discovered in Suwayra. In an update, Reuters noted that four corpses were also discovered in Mosul.

Al Jazeera reports that Iraq's foreign minister Hoshiyar Zebari is stating that the United Nation Security Council resolution 1637 should be renewed and the occupation continued. Polling demonstrates that the Iraqi people do not support Zebair's conclusion. But the request comes one day after, as CNN reported yesterday, Nouri al-Maliki's convoy came under attack in Baghdad and one of his guards was wounded.

This also comes as the British consulate in Basra is being 'evacuated.'
Thomas Harding reported the evacuation in The Telegraph of London noting: "Despite a large British military presence at the headquarters in Basra Palace, a private security assessment has advised the counsul general and her staff to leave the building after experiencing regular mortar attacks in the last two months." [Polly noted that yesterday.] David Sanderson (Times of London) reports that: "Civilian employees will be moved to the airport, eight miles outside the city" and that the evacuation will not include "the Counsul-General and other staff from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department for International Development". This follows the August 24th 'evacuation' of the British military base in Amara (also due to mortar attacks).

In peace news, Bob Watada continues his third speaking tour to raise awareness on his son,
Ehren Watada, who is the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to deploy to Iraq. As Austin's KXAN notes, today Bob Watada is speaking "at Garza Independece High School.". Kim Miller (Austin's CBS 42) reports that Bob Watada and Rosa Sakanishi (Ehren's step-mother) also spoke in Austin Sunday with Sakanshi noting: "We know that he is taking the hardest way to do it. But he is eager to do it. Willing to do it because he thinks he's doing the right thing." Rudy Koski (Austin's KVUE) reports that at Sunday's gathering (Cafe Caffeine on Mary Street), Bob Watada stated of his son, "He is a patriot, by any definition he is a patriot because he is standing up for what is right in this country."

After Bob Watada and Rosa Sakanishi finishing speaking to students today, they next to head Oklahoma. Here are some of the upcoming dates of the speaking tour:

Oct 31, 7-9PM
Norman, OK
Location: Cleveland County Fairgrounds - Lobby
615 E. RobinsonSponsor: Veterans for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War
Contact: Jeri Reed, 405-307-0352, cell 405-606-9598,

Nov 1, TBAMiami, Florida
Democracy for America Miami Dade and the South Florida Veterans For Peace Chapter 32
Venue and time TBA

Nov 2, TBA
Cincinnati, OH
Meet Dr. Victoria (Vic) Wulsin, candidate for congress 2nd district Ohio currently leading Jean Schmidt who called Rep John Murtha from PA. a coward.
Sponsor: Vietnam Veterans Against the WarVenue: TBA

Nov 3, TBA
St. Paul MN.
Location: Quaker Peace Center -- 1725 Grand Avenue
Sponsors: Veterans for Peace Chapter 27
Contact: Barry Reisch, (H) 651-641-1087 © 612-269-8934

Nov 4, 11AM
Milwaukee, WI.
Location: Great Lakes Arlington Event
Contact: Mark Foreman, 441-760-9991,
Sponsor: VFP Chapter 102* See the unveiling of a new "Arlington"

Nov. 5, 2PM
Boston, MA
Encuentro 533 Harrison Ave. 5th floor(Chinatown)
Asian American Movement EzineAsian American Resource WorkshopBoston Hawaiian ClubChinese Progressive AssociationMassachusetts Global ActionNew England Japanese American Citizens League

Nov 5, 7PM
Cambridge, MA.
Location: Unitarian Church, Harvard Square
Sponsor: Veterans for Peace Chapter 9, Smedley Butler Brigade and Chapter 45, Samantha Smith Chapter
Contact: Lee Vander Laan, 978-257-2350

Nov 6, 2-4:30PM
Boston, MA
Location: University of Massachusetts/Boston
Sponsor: The Institute for Asian American StudiesWilliam Joiner Center for the Study of War and Social Consequence
Time: 2-4:30 pm

Nov 6, 7PMWorcester, MA.
Location: Clark University
University Building, Lurie Room
Sponsors: Veterans For Peace Chapter 10
Contact: Bob Flanagan, 508-755-1479,

full schedule can be found at Veterans for Peace and those interested in hosting a Bob Watada speaking engagement in their area are urged to contact Doug Zachary.

Brad Buccholz (Austin American-Statesman) interviewed Bob Watada for a piece that ran Sunday and wondered whether imprisonment was "a certainity" for Ehren? Bob Watada replied: "Well, right now, this is what the military wants to do. They have him for eight and a half years, for simply saying 'I do not want to go to Iraq to commit further war crimes. I don't want to go to Iraq to lead my men into commiting war crimes and putting their lives at risk, for nothing . . .' They (The Army) are basically trying to shut him up. They don't want their soldiers to tell the truth of what is going on in Iraq, though many, many are now. But (Ehren) is the first officer to publicly come out and say, 'This who war is based on a deception.' There were no weapons of mass destruction. There were no chemical and biological weapons. . . . There were no (9-11) terrorists in Iraq, and yet we're killing thousands of people over there, and getting ourselves killed (in violation of) the Geneva Conventions and the United Nations Charter."

More information on
Ehren Watada and other war resisters can be found at Courage to Resist.