OPINION | BRENDA LOOPER: A life in review

As birthday weekends go, this one wasn't that bad, even with the absence of red velvet cake (dang it). Plus the "Arctic Hammer" (seriously???) waited till my oldest brother's birthday to hit. Many years ago, he almost got a sister for his birthday. Now I almost got an arctic blast for mine. I'll leave that to others to judge who's luckier.

Birthdays are a chance to think about how your life has gone and how you hope it will go in the future. To that end, a few thank yous must be made.

Thanks, Mama, for teaching me right from wrong and the power of kindness, and for passing down your sense of humor, love of reading and learning, and fierce love of family. I could have done without the stubbornness at times, but that's OK. What you gave me made me the funny little weirdo I am, and I can't fault that.

Thank you to my brothers for not actually cooking me in the oven as I imagine you were probably thinking in those stories Mama used to tell of all of you coming home from school to stand around my crib and stare at me. And thank you for showing me that big brothers come in handy, whether it's learning to think like a 12-year-old boy while editing (i.e., thinking dirty before the readers do), learning how to ride a bike without training wheels or read before everyone else in my class (because I wanted to be just like you), or learning to live without one of you, though that lesson I would rather not have had, anymore than doing without Mama.

Thank you to my friends, not just the ones from long ago, some of whom I still count as wonderful companions, but those more recent. You've taught me that even weirdos like me can find their people, the ones who love deeply and strongly and who will protect and defend those they love, open their hearts and their doors if needed, and who keep me on an even keel, which is sometimes a hard row to hoe. And thank you for accepting that occasionally you and/or your pets will end up in this column.

Thank you to all my teachers, but especially those like Hazel Russell, Carol Ferguson, Jo and Mike Elsken, Mary Looper, Alexander Sydorenko and Jennifer Rogers, who inspired me to better myself in ways big and small. Without their support and encouragement, I might not be fulfilling even a fraction of my potential.

Thank you to the bosses, good and bad, who taught me patience (admittedly I'm still learning that; I was born early, so I've never really stopped being impatient) and other skills that have served me well over the years. You can take the credit or the blame, whichever you deem appropriate, for what I have become in my working life.

And thank you to my readers. You've let me into your lives, and some of you have even become friends. Your support means a lot, but so do your critical comments (at least those not done for trolling "lolz"), as all that helps me learn. I'm a nerd. Learning is sorta what I do.

What lies ahead for me? Hopefully more time here at the paper in a job I love with people who make the days better whether I'm in the office or working remotely. There are also the occasional side gigs like freelance editing of presentations and other things, and cat- and house-sitting, things I love doing and do well, and made for introverts like me.

There will definitely be more time with my fur-nephews Charlie, Ollie and Spike as well as new and old fur-friends because I can't deny the power of cat and dog therapy when you're feeling low.

More time with family and friends is also in order, whether in person or on social media, texting or phone calls. There will be tears, but there will almost definitely be more laughs, usually at ourselves. We are endlessly entertaining, after all.

For the world at large, I have hopes:

More consideration of our fellow humans. You don't have to necessarily like others or want to hang out with them, but at least respect their right to exist. The fact that they exist at all--whether Christian, non-Christian, LGBTQ+, MAGA, Bama or Longhorn fans or whatever--doesn't infringe on your rights, but making laws to make things difficult for them because you don't agree with their beliefs most likely infringes on theirs.

Sanity. Please, please, please ... stop with all the culture-war nonsense that really has nothing to do with anything but which political party is "protecting" you from things that for the most part don't really exist. Rather than trying to solve problems that exist mainly in fevered minds (what my friend Earl Babbie calls soluprobs--solutions without problems), let's try working on those that exist for more than a few people, like taxation that hits lower incomes more harshly, and immigration.

While we're at it, how about ditching political theater altogether, especially if you consider political theater to be only what the other side does? It isn't doing anything but riling up the masses. Imagine if more effort was put into finding real solutions to the actual problems we face.

Will my hopes come to anything? Only time and a little effort will tell.

Surely we can put in that effort.

Assistant Editor Brenda Looper is editor of the Voices page. Email her at blooper@adgnewsroom.com. Read her blog at blooper0223.wordpress.com.

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