Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Beyond the Yellow Brick Road

A couple weeks ago, the Kravitz's mixed a little business with pleasure by taking our first ever family vacation. Five whole days in New York City.

But, as it turned out, my much-longed-for vacation quickly became an endurance test. Day after day, hour by hour I was required to cajole, beg and bribe the kids to leave Nintendos and hotel air-conditioning behind - merely for the opportunity to plod alongside me on hot crowded sidewalks, to endure mysterious and frightening world-class cuisine, and to spend long arduous hours discovering infintely tiresome museums, greenscapes, architecture and works of art.

So on our last day, I gave them a break. I took them to New York's version of Disney World - Times Square.

Toys-R-Us, Applebees, Ripley's, and a two and a half hour ride on the top deck of a tour bus salvaged what was left of my sanity and put smiles on my children's exhusted little faces. And heck, after the room-service pizza arrived for dinner, I think they decided that New York was an OK place after all.

Then, upon returning home to Bridgewater, I learned that my Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road blog had set off yet another gigabyte busting Topix tantrum, that the Governor's over-priced, rubber stamped "independent" casino-gambling study had been released and that I had over two hundred e-mails, a full answering machine, and my laundry list of meetings to attend, issues to address, and important deadlines to meet - all related to my anti-casino involvment - and my actual laundry - was still there waiting for me.

With the suitcase still unpacked, I dove back in. I answered the e-mails, read through the backlog of casino-related articles, blogged, and spent all day Friday pretty much like a shut-in, trying to get a newsletter out.

And then something made me realize - I was tired.

I was really tired. Somewhere along the line, casino fighting had become my full-time job. In addition to my full time job as a mom. In addtion to my now part-time job as a web designer.

So I did something pretty unusual for me. I stopped opening my e-mail.

Tomorrow it will be two weeks.

On my first e-mail free night, as Abner and I were enjoying some Chinese takeout by the firepit in the backyard, I tried to decide whether I felt guilty or gloriously unfettered by ignoring the inbox. A little of both, I decided.

I leaned back in the adirondack chair and took a deep breath of fresh night air. I'd decided to take the night off, too. It felt good not to have to get in the car and drive to a stuffy meeting in someone else's town for a change. How many meetings had I gone to? I can't even count. How often had I juggled kids and meals and schedules and homework and sports and blogging just so that I could get to a meeting.

And I hate sitting in on meetings. I still have a coffee mug from back in my corporate days which reads, "Meetings - the practical alternative to work."

Meetings... Last year an old friend from my bygone Middleboro days asked me to come to a meeting about the casino the Mashpee Wampanoags wanted to build in Middleboro. I admit, I was concerned, but I also remember thinking how it was going to be a nice warm night that night - just like this one. And the last thing I wanted to do was leave home to go sit in some stuffy room in another town.

Then I Googled some information on casinos. Hmmm. OK. I decided I'd go to the freaking meeting - but just to one - so I could feel like I'd made the effort. Besides, I figured, after all the things I'd read about these mega casinos, there was no way they'd let them build one in Middleboro...

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Mostly because it always seemed like there was something more that I could do to help. And I wanted to help.

"Um, I was wondering... would you like any help with the web site? I'm a web designer..."

And there were other ways. Writing editorials, slapping a bumper sticker on my car, putting a sign in the yard, attending more and more meetings, volunteering, holding signs, showing up and showing support, speaking up and speaking out. Designing, reading, researching, writing. Getting things printed, getting things signed, getting things done. There were always ways to help.

But after all those miles, after all the firestorms and urgency and drama, after all those nights getting home to find the kids already in bed, after so many long hours at the computer, after all the general meetings, CRAC meetings, selectman's meetings, board meetings, Casino Free Mass meetings, Task Force meetings, conferences, forums, hearings, fundraisers, rallies, and all the other places I felt I needed to be, and which always seemed to be in someone else's town, and after my Bataan death march of a vacation, I was sorely in need of a break.

Except for the blogs and blogging. Blogs really are a lifeline. I experience major withdrawl symptoms if I can't get to the blogs. Where else can you have other people tackle hundreds of articles, regulations, court cases, meetings, experiences and web sites, then squeeze them all down for you into a few easy-to-understand paragraphs, complete with links, video, graphics and a sense of humor. In fact, I've learned so much by trying to be a good blogger that once I was able to fire off a lengthy bullet list to a TV news reporter, complete with links, explaining why Kofi Jones was wrong (again) about Indian casinos, in the hopes that his evening news report wouldn't be as grossly misinformed and inaccurate as his late night report was the day before. It wasn't.

And blogs can be great motivators too - and motivation is an important aspect of any battle. And I speak from experience when I say that fighting casinos is a brutal battlefield.

But out by the firepit two weeks later, I am still feeling unmotivated to open my e-mail. Out here it's easy to ignore a request for help. And It's easy to imagine that someone else will take care of things that need to get done. It's easy to imagine a world without urgency, or a life that doesn't revolve around the latest crisis in the casino world. I try to imagine what it would be like blogging about something else for a change. Like movies, or being a mom. I tell myself I'll go to the beach, to the spa, that I'll get back in shape. I think, wouldn't it be nice if meetings on hot summer nights could be held outdoors where you could sip a margarita and sit under the stars?

I wonder what would have happened if I'd never gone to someone else's town last year to attend that meeting. I try to think of the good things that have happened because I did. I tell myself that maybe I've made a difference. I marvel at the richness of the experiences I've had, of the new skills I've aquired, of the fine people I've met. But then I realize, I also would have been spared a lot of bad experiences, a boatload of frustration, and certain unsavory egos, actions and agendas.

Oh well. It'll make a good book someday.

I don't know when I'll go back to the e-mail. The kids went back to school today, so it's possible that, eventually, all this blissful quiet will entice me back to the fray. Who knows. But I'm sure I will.

In the meantime, I'm confident that somewhere out there, vicious bloodbaths are still being raged on message boards, that Team Bond is making plans for a casino grand opening, that the media will persevere in their relentless efforts to misinform the public, that the the banner of inevitability continues being hoisted on high, and that breaking news is continuing to break all around.

Just not around me.

Abner tells me what I would have earned at his company for the work I've done this past year fighting casinos. It is a ridiculously high figure and it makes me laugh. There's no money in being an activist. I look down at my old red sequined ballet flats - worn, battered, and faded. I'd just be happy with a little more shoe leather.

21 comments:

Jacquie said...

Gladys,

The effort you have put forth is priceless. There is NO monetary equivalent to the difference you have made in this fight... and we are all very grateful.

No one knows why all of our lives were crazily turned upside down over the past year. None of us could have ever imagined we'd be thrust into a fight like this...but we all rose to the occasion and we've done very well.

Who knows what lies ahead, but with the CFO crew that we've met along the way....I say, BRING IT ON!

We all understand why you would need a well rested vacation, but I'm glad to hear that you will BLOG ON.

BTW, I can't wait to read your book...it will be a BEST seller.

(Now, we just have to figure out who the stars will be in the movie.)

Anonymous said...

Dearest Gladys: I fully understand and can sympathize with your mind set at this time. It is familiar ground that many civic activists who have gone before you, have walked.

Do what you must and do not look back because you have done one heck of a job and on one will hold it against you if you take a back seat from now on.

Bellicose Bumpkin said...

It's all about balance. Nobody can fight(or promote) the casino 7x24x365. You like blogging so stick to blogging. Mix up the blogs with something that is not about the casino - I'm sure your readers have interests besides the casino or wanting to sue you.

I have a saying, free time is taken not given. The demands of most peoples lives give them precious little time to do things that are fun, relaxing, and/or good for you. You must take time for yourself or else you'll wind up as a miserable cranky beyotch who sits at their computer all day obsessing about people or events that are out of their control.

Wait ... I think I just described all the prominent pro and anti luminaries.

Point is - take a break, have fun, take care of yourself.

All things in measure.

Anonymous said...

Carpe diem! You certainly deserve some down time and the chance to catch your breathe after a long, arduous, but productive year. You're a great lady and much loved.

Anonymous said...

If they would have named the Titanic "Mary Tufts" she'd still be sailing today. If the iceberg was a casino, she would have plowed right thru it, without a mark. Good on ya love, good on ya. Nuff said.

Anonymous said...

Yes, this has been so tiring,and it can suck the life out of you, but I myself would like to mention for me, a sad thing & a good thing that came out of this mess. The sad thing is I lost the friendship of some long time friends just because of my difference of opinion. The good thing is? I met & made many new friends that I would never have had the pleasure of meeting if not for my anti-casino stance, and this is the rememberence I will always have when I look back, and Gladys you were one of them. Fight on w/us, It will be worth it for we are winning! NO CASINO!

carverchick said...

Gladys,

rest and be well. Bumpkin is right. Balance and taking time for yourself is much needed and in your case, well deserved and long overdue. Don't worry about the things that need to get done - we have got it covered. Probably not Gladys covered, but who actually can pull off Gladys? No one can, you are one of a (wonderful) kind. We miss you but we forge on. Keep on blogging and blog about whatever you want to blog about. We are here and we are reading!

Lola said...

Maybe going to the spa in the Emerald City might help? Pedicure, facial and salon. Go shopping more. Nothing like a good purchase to relax a woman.
Keep blogging girl!
XOXOXO

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure we would select NYC for relaxation although it has its merits. Unwind, destress?
But, we love you, appreciate your talents, creativity and humor.
We appreciate whatever gifts you share with us.
God speed!
Nathan

Gladys Kravitz said...

Thanks everyone!

I got a little teary-eyed reading some of your posts!

Jacquie, you brought up one of my favorite games to play on long car trips. "Who would play who in the movie?"

I'm thinking...
You would be played by Nicole Kidman, Carverchick - Angelina Jolie, Frank - Bruce Willis, Carl - Brad Pitt, Judy G. - Sharon Stone.

Carverchick - I'm glad to hear you've got it covered. I hope you are not covering it all yourself because I know how hard you work! Also, I notice there are now 2 events on the 27th. Please tell me they are both covered. (Ok, I'll stop now ;~)

Bumpkin - I bet if you worked all year w/o a paycheck you'd be a miserable cranky beyotch too.

AND PROUD OF IT!

Gladys Kravitz said...

p.s.

Jacquie, I tried to think of who would play some of the pro side folks in the movie, but I couldn't come up with anything. But they do sort of remind me of the staff at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

And not in a good way.

carverchick said...

No worries Gladys - both events covered! It will be a busy day, but lots of fun!

who could resist yardsaling and festing all in the same day??

Gladys Kravitz said...

Ah, merci beaucoup, ma cheri!

My heart can rest.

Anonymous said...

Gladys-
I was thinking about the casting of your screenplay:

Evil demented business owner: Jack Nicholson

VegasVal: Helena Bonham Carter (Sweeney Todd)

Gladys Kravitz: Keira Knightly

Carverchick: Meg Ryan

A-Bomb: Gary Oldman (Dracula)

MiddleboroReview: Kathy Bates (torturing A-Bomb ala "Misery")

Bogofree: Anthony "Hannibal Lector" Hopkins

Anonymous: Jim Carry and Jeff Daniels (Dumb and Dumber)

Bellicose Bumpkin: James Gandolfini (The Sopranos)

ROFLMFAO!!!! You'll make millions!

Anonymous said...

Changed my mind about the casting of Bumpkin:

Darth Vader---> redeemed, of course. dum dum dum da de dum da de dum......... LOL

Gladys Kravitz said...

Anon. 2:40! Now I am shedding a tear from laughter!

...Though I'm certain that in your comment you are not referring to anyone named Anonymous who posts regularly on my blog, as they would all naturally be played by Sean Connery, Penelope Cruz, Ed Harris, Matt Damon, George Clooney, Charlize Theron, Will Smith, Julia Roberts, Uma Thurman and Resse Witherspoon. To name a few.

BTW, thanks for the Keira, though she is far too young and skinny. Though, in most of her movies she IS a hell of a fighter! Arrrrgggh!

Gladys Kravitz said...

"Adam... I am your faaaaaather".

LOL.

Smoking Owl said...

Thank you for helping to free us from the casino BONDage imposed by the Bondites.

Yoda said...

Gladys Kravitz, Jedi Master, Concentrate...feel the Force flow. Yes. Good. Calm, yes. Through the Force, things you will see. Other places. The future...the past. The Force is strong in you little one.

Feona Facts said...

Gladys, We love you. We appreciate the sacrifices you have made. We support you and need to be asked to 'clone' for you. (I would gladly attend a meeting for you.) We can understand the great price you have paid.
But someone-a venomous poster with nothing to do with his time posted a listing on the cesspool that sorted the posts on several blogs by time. So Verna Venom, or was it Tickleish Tony, I just posted on another blog. I'm not Gladys and I'm not CFO. I'm just opposed to casinos based strictly on the facts that you don't understand.

Gladys Kravitz said...

Hi Feona!

Thanks for your kind comments. I've stopped reading Topix, and I'm still out of the e-mail loop - so I'm not sure what's going on or what's being said about Bumpkin and turkeys or anything else - only what I've read on other blogs. But if it was anything compared to how bizarre some people acted there after seeing a picture of a rubber chicken on my blog - I imagine it's not pretty.

And no, I'm certainly not posting there.

But if you ever want to print out some of the stuff and send it to me - it would undoubtedly make for some 'um' interesting reading for the book.

Love,
Gladys

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