Tools for Peace – A worthwhile read

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As a mother, I often wonder how my Texan grandmothers felt when their sons exited their thresholds en route to foreign battlefields during WWII. How did they deal with the fear and uncertainty of whether they would ever see their babies again? Though perhaps not to the same degree, many parents face similar fears when they drop their kids off at school or the bus stop. A friend – one of the most awesome attorneys and advocates I know – has written a compelling article in The Huffington Post to guide and empower parents in navigating issues of school violence and bullying.  A must-read.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/areva-martin/tools-for-peace-the-power_b_5193638.html

On Running, While Not Running

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The TexPat is still recovering from too much Honey Baked Ham and red wine this Easter weekend, but this Boston Globe article by Jennifer Graham on running is helping to rouse me from my stupor. Thank you Ms. Graham! The TexPat is a perennial member of the back of the pack crew at New York Road Runners weekend races and bigger events like the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco (and the upcoming half in DC) and the More/Fitness Magazine Half Marathon. I was an occasional, recreational jogger when I was younger and fitter. Distance running and races became a part of my life much later – a healthy, motivating, uplifting pastime that entered my life at a critical juncture when I really needed it most. It would be hyperbole to suggest that it saved my life, but in many ways it has. I am fully aware that many self-proclaimed “real runners” sneer and snicker at me and my compadres who would be thrilled to run an “embarrassingly slow” 9 minute mile (can we say 10?). Luckily, they don’t own the open roads or trails, and unlike skiing or golf, the price of entry to become a runner is a mere pair of sneakers and the will to move forward. And for every pacesetter that brushes by me, annoyed that I’m blocking his way to break land speed records on the Central Park loop, there’s a woman who gives me a pat on the back when I’m chugging up Harlem Hill and says “we got this!” And on at least one occasion, there was a group of dudes in pink unitards and tutus cheering me up the nastiest, most spectacular hill on my Nike San Francisco marathon route. The tutu wearers, penguins and slowpokes like myself have raised hundreds of millions of dollars for wonderful causes that actually DO save lives by lacing up our sneakers and daring to dream the same dreams as the elites – to cross the finish line.

Monday, Monday – Weekend Weary

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The TexPat is weary from a weekend of slinging hash while hosting the in-laws over Easter weekend (excitement Saturday for my first opportunity to fire up a grill this year, though I apologize for not upholding my Texan heritage and using a gas grill instead of dusting off my grit-covered kettle). So I’ll post a link to a hilarious article from the Huffington Post re hipster food that I will keep in mind the next time I return to my Oak Cliff ‘hood. Or Brooklyn.

Godspeed to all the Boston Marathon participants today. The TexPat is wearing running clothes and watching the marathon on television rather than actually running to prep for this weekend’s Nike Women’s Half Marathon.

Happy Easter!

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In true Texan “i’m fixin’ ta do it” fashion, I’m getting my Easter greeting in just under the wire.  Hope your Easter was happier than the TexPat’s poor puppy.  She does not appreciate having to do Easter Bunny duty every year just because she has a button nose and walks on four legs instead of two.

Oak Cliff, Texas: When Your ‘Hood Becomes Hipster

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The southern Dallas neighborhood of Oak Cliff has been proclaimed by no less of an authority on all the news fit to print, The New York Times, as a “hipster enclave.”  There’s a boutique hotel with a great bar, a film festival, yoga studios and really good coffee (snapped the photo above at Oddfellows one morning).  I found goat cheese and arugula at the supermarket (though don’t despair – there’s still Dr. Pepper and pork rinds).  One of my mom’s neighbors almost became Dallas’ first openly gay mayor.  The transformation of my ‘hood from the place where “those gross Blacks and Mexicans live” (a quote from a Highland Park teen that appeared in D Magazine back in the ‘80s that I have never forgotten) to the hot spot where folks drive from all over the Metroplex to check out the latest restaurant has my head spinning.  The Oak Cliff of my youth (and my mother’s) was not at all “gross,” so that’s not the source of shock.  Oak Cliff was a relatively quiet and diverse (compared to the rest of Dallas) neighborhood of middle and working class folks populating modest but well-maintained ranch and craftsman homes among pecan trees and limestone hills.  Strip malls, fast food joints, a few nice golf courses and parks, pockets of blight, pockets of privilege and no alcohol (during my last visit, the wine aisle at the Walgreen’s near my mom’s house was almost as startling as the availability of artisanal cuisine).  Like many neighborhoods near downtown areas across the country, white flight during the ‘70s and ‘80s had an economic impact on Oak Cliff – even though many white residents chose to stay, merchants and services still abandoned the area.  Folks had to drive to the northern part of town to find clean supermarkets and department stores.  My parents sent me even farther north – DC, Boston, New York – to pursue my education and my career, and I still haven’t found my way back across the Trinity River to my Oak Cliff ‘hood.  But I visit often.  Each short gap of time between visits reveals so much change that it challenges my notions of the kind of place that Dallas is or can be.  A new mayor ran and won on a promise to “GrowSouth!”  I’m thrilled that this place I love is now experiencing some love – and investment in its future.  Hopefully it’s a future that won’t shut out the old as it embraces the new.  More on this to come.

Pinterest is NOT a Waste of Time!

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Jeff Goldblum’s character in the Big Chill was right about rationalizations – and here’s a juicy one.  Pinterest is NOT a waste of time!  The TexPat is an avid pinner – pursuing a maximal approach (in true Texan fashion) as opposed to carefully curating a perfect collection of pins.  I pin everything that interests my eye as I plow through emails, blogs, articles and online research.  The rationalization?  As a writer Pinterest opens my mind and imagination; as a human being it connects me to people, places and sensory experiences outside of my suburban NYC cocoon.  Pinterest is not just an escapist pastime to avoid the real world and real work.  It has become my virtual visual library.  My fiction and much of my nonfiction writing centers around my home state of Texas, and Pinterest takes me home when my life and budget don’t permit a visit.  And it makes me happy – no small thing.  Hopefully my last rationalization for the week.

Sympathy For the Devil

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“So if you meet me, Have some courtesy, Have some sympathy, and some taste…”
From “Sympathy for the Devil,” The Rolling Stones

The TexPatch is an attempt to understand, possibly explain, and at least discuss all things Texan with the rest of y’all. The TexPat is a free-thinking, progressive Texan who has lived in the Northeast for most of her adult life. The TexPat doesn’t have all the answers, just a perspective from experience on both sides of the great divide. Have some sympathy, and some patience, as we experience all the weird, wonderful, awful, hopeful, hopeless and head-scratching stuff seeping out of the Lone Star State. Not to mention the TexPat’s musings on her journey through the world and the world wide web.

image courtesy of rollingstones.com