The Mind of Bluesleepy

Ain’t no such thing 4 October 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — bluesleepy @ 11:12 am

There ain’t no such thing as a nice relaxing morning when you live in military housing, not when you’ve got a work order scheduled!

See, a couple of nights ago, Kurt replaced the light bulb in our backyard (did you know you can call maintenance to replace a light bulb??  I think that’s a bit of overkill, myself.  It’s not hard to replace a light bulb, for crying out loud!), and as soon as he flipped the switch on, the bulb blew again.

Obviously there is a larger problem than simply dead bulbs here.  Not only will the bulbs blow, but there is a hole that was melted into the light bulb cover.  Oops.

So I visited the website for the military housing and put in a work order.  Actually they’re not called “work orders.”  I guess we’re not to “order” around the maintenance guys.  They’re “work requests.”

This morning I was a bit late getting up, as I had stayed up last night finishing my book.  As soon as I opened the blinds in the living room, I noticed the maintenance guy pulling up to the duplex across the street, where is where they park sometimes when work needs to be done in this duplex.  And I wasn’t even dressed yet!

I flew back into my room and threw some clothes on.  I even managed to put in my contacts.  But come to find out, the maintenance guy wasn’t heading to my house.  He had work to do in the empty home across the street!  This makes me think someone is going to move in soon, which makes me happy.

My neighborhood is a little odd — of the eight or so duplexes on my street, only one (mine) is completely filled with two families.  Several of the homes only have one family living there, and the rest are totally empty.  It makes for an odd sensation as you’re driving down the street and you can see straight through the windows to the backyard.

It also seems as though the housing authority is segregating the families to some extent.  There is an Indian family living one street over, and I just saw another family from the Middle East yesterday that live just a few houses down from the Indian family.  It’s almost as though they’re putting all the foreigners on one street instead of mixing them together with the rest of us.  I would rather be all mixed in so we can share our cultures with one another.

I know the one family is from the Middle East because the men in the family were wearing the long, floor-length shirts with pants underneath.  Kurt is so envious of those outfits when he’s in the Middle East because it is so freakin’ hot over there.  When he’s wandering around on liberty, he has to wear a polo shirt with nice slacks.  Shorts are out because it’s somewhat offensive to Muslims to show that much skin.  And Kurt’s naturally a hot guy — he’s always sweating.

It’s so nice to be back in an area where there are a lot of diverse cultures.  When we had dinner at the sushi place a couple of nights ago, the family that sat right behind us were from Russia.  We have in our neighborhood the Indian family and the Middle Eastern family.  I see lots of other ethnicities just when we’re out shopping, and I love that.

In Washington, we only had white people in our neighborhood.  Once we had Samoans a few houses down from me, but they were really looked down upon.  Seeing someone of another ethnicity in my neighborhood was always somewhat shocking to me.

Such insulated areas scare me.  I was ten years old when we moved to northern Illinois, an area with no diversity at all.  I had attended pre-school and kindergarten at a school full of African-Americans, where I was the minority.  Then the rest of my elementary years were spent in northern Virginia, which is really a huge melting pot.  Even my small little cul-de-sac had four or five different ethnicities.

Moving to northern Illinois was quite a culture shock.  Anything that made a kid different became a target for that kid.  For me, it was my last name, which was obviously of Jewish origin.  I heard “Jew girl” each and every day I attended that school, although what’s so wrong with being Jewish, I have no idea.  I tried to explain to my tormentors that I wasn’t Jewish, that I went to church every Sunday, that it was my heritage that was Jewish.  It made no difference.  I was still “Jew girl.”

The year before we moved there, when we were still in Virginia, we were playing dodgeball outside during recess.  In our class was a Sikh boy, whose religion forbid him from cutting his hair.  He piled his hair into a bun on the top of his head and secured it with a white handkerchief, as he was too young yet for a turban.  During that dodgeball game, he was hit in the head, knocking off the handkerchief and unwinding the bun.  The game was stopped, all of us in shock that this had happened to him.  We surrounded this boy, asking him if he was okay, and trying to help him put his hair back together.  He managed to get his hair done up again, and we went back to the game.

But nothing was said because he had long hair, longer than any girl.  We somehow all knew that that was his culture, that it was off-limits for teasing.   Sure, we teased this boy, as all kids were teased, but it was for other things, like how shy he was, and how quiet he would talk.  We would never dream of teasing him for his ethnicity.  We would never call him “Sikh boy,” the way I was called “Jew girl.”

I don’t know for sure if the kids in the schools in Washington would be as ignorant as they were in Illinois when I was a kid.  But I’m sure glad Grace will be attending a school including lots of different cultures.

Ignorance of other cultures breeds fear of them.


6 Responses to “Ain’t no such thing”

  1. art Says:

    true words here!!!

  2. Caroline Says:

    Amen sister! Moira’s at that age where she’s questioning why people are different, ie: different color or why someone has a turban on his head. Although her cousins are telling her those things are “bad” and I’m having to re-“teach” her that being different is not bad but a good thing!

  3. michele Says:

    I had no idea that you were ever called Jew Girl. That sux. I got made fun of for the “usual” stuff but never for anything like that. I got teary-eyed when I read the part where you and your classmates had compassion for the little boy during the dodgeball game. It was very kind that everyone let him take a moment to put his hair back in place. Wow. You usually don’t see that in elementary school kids.

  4. whatdayisit Says:

    I agree, having a chance to meet and befriend other cultures can only be a win….you get to learn about each other, exchange recipes and enjoy all the best parts of each other. I hope you met many new families and enjoy each special moment.

  5. purple chai Says:

    When I was growing up in this community, I vowed I would never raise children here because it was so un-diverse. And now, we are totally a United Nations, so as it turned out, raising my kids here was just fine.

  6. twisterjester Says:

    That’s really inexcusable, though it doesn’t surprise me. My mom taught us tolerance and that prejudice was equal to or worse than drug abuse. My dad, on the other hand, demonstrated in person the definition of bigotry. This was life in the Midwest.

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