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Judy Atchinson's A Stubborn Woman
by Judy Atchinson

A Stubborn Woman

A Daily Gazette community blog
QUEST leader's wanderings and musings

Disturbing comments in a chat room

“There is only one teacher.
What is that teacher?
Life itself”

-- Charlotte Joko Beck

I just finished reading a book called “The Third Angel” based on the lives of three women over a period of 60 years and a third angel. The two we already know about are the angels of death and life and a third angel who is neither, but an angel in disguise as a mortal who may actually need help from a human to survive. I really like this idea; if it ever caught on, people would be tripping over each other to help those they thought were angels in disguise.

“Be not afraid to entertain strangers for some thereby have entertained angels unaware.”

But then again on a harsher note -- a noted local news anchor has been running a chat room on Facebook; she poses a question daily and local folk write in and debate (mostly uninformed arguments.) Things get pretty heated sometimes and ugly.

I let myself get involved over the weekend, the question was about cuttfing the budget of the military. And the anti-Obama tirades were rude and crude. I posted some facts, documented facts, and let’s see now – I was called an “ugly bitch” when I responded with a “typical male comment.”

The swift response was “Listen you Dyke,” yadda-yadda-yadda, and then, "you’ve probably never had a real man." I posted that I have been married for 32 years, and that my husband had completed the Hawaiian Iron Man three times. And then all hell broke loose. I responded about the dump Schenectady, I worked with off the page and let worthwhile people get on, and on and on.

I was stunned, the male in question was 54 years old and races horses in Saratoga, or so he says. He calls himself a devout Catholic, with special reverence for Mary. His favorite movies were all about the mafia, and yet his favorite musician was John Lennon. (Go figure that one out; I wonder if he ever heard “Imagine.”)

I am disturbed about the kinds of people I ran into this chat room. Over and over I kept running into folks who were misinformed about their “constitutional rights,” and almost the entire clientele at this posting hated Barack Obama, hated his wife and made the most outrageous statements. Words based on half-truths, gossip and wishful thinking. I went back to the site today and saw that two comments had been taken out -- the one that called me a dyke and the one that said I had probably never had a real man -- another called me an “abhorrent bitch.” “Typical Schenectady lowlife worker; retire old lady before one of your kids shivs you.” “Bitchy old woman who needs to keep her trap shut. Beat up old battle axe with nothing to live for.”

Well, you get the picture. People so misinformed, they call Iran a communist country. This is so 50’s all over again and it seems we never grew up. Is this our future? All everyone does is quote the constitution. Maybe we need a citizen’s course, in the said article plus the Bill of Rights -- in God we Trust never went on any official documents until the 1950’ -- Our motto was “E Pluribus Unum.” “From many one.” Our whole country from sea to shining sea is made up totally of immigrants, or the children of immigrants. Only the first nations were here at the beginning and even they came from somewhere else.

What is a true American, after all, but someone seeking hope, justice and inclusion? Without the huge influx of newcomers we would have no nation. We would have no nation for its immigrants and their hard work who built this nation. Without them we would still be living in log cabins, no steel, no railroads, no Lincoln Tunnel or skyscrapers.

Einstein was from another country. Aaron Copeland was Jewish -- Balanchine came from Russia. Look at the names in the great hospitals and universities. And yes, I do get tired of repeating of myself over and over. But there was that Facebook post that I received on Saturday (from an Italian -- no less the mafia and whose favorite book was the Bible. I do not believe any American wrote that book). Saying that I probably worked with illegal aliens. My grandparents were immigrants, Polish and German in fact. What does that make me but part of the great melting pot.

“To understand truth one must have a very sharp, precise, clear mind; not a cunning mind but a mind that is a capable of looking without any distortion, a mind innocent and vulnerable.”
-- J. Krisna Murti

“We are equal under the law, even though sometimes it feels as if; some people are more equal than others.”
-- George Orwell

To be told by a complete stranger that I am not as good as he is, because I am old and useless really rankles and yes, I must admit it is hurtful. Being old is difficult enough without being singled out and more or less being told to leave the room. And yes I know there are times when I don’t get it, and am pretty helpless and useless.

Better days

But there are days like today, when Hector took a one-week enforced absence, called me. This young man is much beloved by me but we had issues and I asked him to leave and since he came to the conclusion to be best to attend another agency, I felt like he was gone from me forever. But no, he asked to come back and takes the AIDs program. He asked -- he did not demand or become ugly, he simply asked if I would mind and I did mind. I literally wept with happiness. He was the young man everyone pointed to and said, "You can’t help everyone.” And I know that, but really I care (and some say that’s a bad thing) for my charges so much. And now we both get a second chance.

That was the first thing, in trying to expand our outreach I have been working with the Department of Disabilities. And as partners we have hooked up with some people in Buffalo who are passionate about the arts. I and a prominent woman in Buffalo spoke today. And she spoke to me from a lifetime ago. “I know you,” she said, “well, not know you, know of you.”

“How is that possible?” I replied. “A long time ago,” she said. “I took an arts course in college, and we were studying women composers and I was given your picture and bio, and I still remember it. You’re a woman composer and very few of you there are indeed.”

“Yes,” I thought. “I was, am and will be still who I am, a woman composer and artist.” “Not so worthless after all,” I laughed, and now I told you dear readers and may you remember it too. And maybe you can send me some memorable facts about yourselves and we can all, doctor, lawyer, Indian chief, housewife, mother, daughter, grandparent, aunt, cousin, friend, all of us be a part of this great nation. E. Pluribus Unim

And yet another small heart-lifting miracle. I do get so tired of people telling me, “Never heard of QUEST, what does it do anyway?”

And here is someone who did some online research and donated money in lieu of flowers because we offer classical ballet. We have been offering 2 to 3 classes a week in ballet for almost 12 years and like the Energizer Bunny, still going. As you all are probably tired of hearing, our classes are free, taught by a professional dancer and teacher, and a hot meal is served after class.

We supply appropriate clothing and shoes and take care of washing everything ourselves. Plus we offer pick-up and delivery and visit assisted living centers to offer interactions between residents and dancers. We are unique in this regard and I think pretty successful. Children learn a smattering of French and hear classical music and are taken to performances at SPAC, sometimes even backstage. What is really special; classes are just about evenly split between boys and girls. We hope to start telling "your life in dance” in February adding a literally to the program. I am very, very proud of this program, and we actually got an award from RPI for excellence in the arts last fall.

I never met Barbara E. Spillare but am most humble and grateful and very touched by this much needed donation. It will be spent judiciously, directly on the kids and will certainly brighten their lives in a special way. Lincoln Kirstein (the founder of the New York City Ballet) said it best. “Ballet is about learning how to behave.” It expands both the mind and body and the newest data out there says dance should be a lifelong pleasure.

Stanford University did a three-year study and discovered the best prevention for dementia is dance! Reading, crossword puzzles, golf, running and bicycling also help. Pretty much all dancing lessens your chance of developing dementia (76%)!

Think of that. It is the combined physical movements (also good for the heart) and coordinated mental accompanist the organization of mental and physical that does it. Isn’t that grand! Miss Barbara Spillane, by your generosity and that of your children who in turn are becoming many colored flowers, I applaud and thank you. Remember QUEST stands for quiet endeavors and small triumphs. Miss Spillane died on Jan. 2, 2012, at the age of 81. The thought of the family being flowers do not last, but the flower of childhood growth goes on and on. Barbara Spillane was from this and was passionate about dance. We do hope that this gifting to QUEST will help her children to feel less alone in this time of grief.

Maybe this is all really about that third angel after all. Only the third angel here is a multitude of angels all helping each other, moving together as a large free flying battalion, an army of joy and deliverance.

And to that I say
Peace to ALL

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January 21, 2012
9:29 p.m.

[ Flag Post ]

wow Judy, very, very, interesting and disappointing and I don't know what all....I don't go into chat rooms for some of the reasons you described here, but particularly the one who called himself a devout Catholic, well, that says a the glass half empty or is half full?? Lets look at the possible upside of this chat room experience. What you described reminds me of conversations and arguments in bars that evolved into drunken brawls. The upside could be that these people are at home drinking and are not out in public??? That could be the upside. People think they can hide behind a computer and that the screen is a barrier that protects them therefore they can be as uncivil as possible. Go figure.

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