Monday, August 31, 2009

Pardon Me While I Stand On My Soapbox

Politics and religion make lousy bedfellows. Has someone said that before? Ah, yes. But, the phrase was "strange bedfellows." I'm going to go with "lousy." Either way, it deserves to be said again...and again...until enough people open their eyes to the reality that politics and religion should not be in bed together at all.

If you're not already brain dead from listening to or reading about the insanity that seems to have stricken a multitude of citizens in this country, spare a few cells won't you?

A couple of weeks ago here in Phoenix, President Obama took a break from his family vacation to hold a town hall meeting on the subject of national health care. Within minutes, live coverage of the event was being broadcast to media outlets all over the country. The images were shocking. Camera crews were capturing video of several people outside of the event who were carrying firearms. Some of these firearms were large semi-automatic weapons.

Sure, I'd seen the coverage of the lone gunman at another town hall meeting in another state who calmly held his sign carrying the quote about watering the tree of Liberty and toting a firearm strapped to his side. Although frightening, he had a license to carry the gun and was behaving in a non-threatening manner and making no threats other than the one implied by his sign. It was directed at no one in particular (although we know to whom it was directed) and he didn't behave in an aggressive fashion. I completely disagreed that he should be wearing a firearm at or near an event where our nation's leader was speaking, but apparently the CIA knows their stuff and seemed to have it all under control.

But, to see images of multiple people wearing firearms standing outside a venue where our President was speaking, was astounding to me. (I wonder how these fine, upstanding Americans would have reacted had people dressed in Muslim garb toting licensed weapons shown up to protest?) And, these images were being recorded just miles from my home. These are the people among whom I live. And worse.

After some investigating by people who had an interest in knowing who these gun slinging folks were, it was determined that at least one of those fellows was the parishoner of a church in Tempe, AZ, called Faithful Word Baptist Church. The pastor of FWBC is Steven Anderson, who it turns out, is a self-proclaimed pastor who actually has no credentials whatsoever, except what his church's website states as an ability to "recite from memory, over 100 passages from the Bible. " Steven Anderson is crazy.

Steven Anderson is crazy because he has allowed religious fervor to poison his mind. Steven Anderson is crazy because the day before our President spoke at that town hall meeting in Phoenix, he stood before a congregation and gave a sermon he titled, "Why I HATE Barack Obama." He stood before his congregation and quoted passages from the Bible (from memory, no doubt) to support him in his belief that the President is evil and should be killed. He passionately and with conviction, laid out the reasoning behind wishing death to the President. He rationalized why Mrs. Obama should be husband less and why Sascha and Melia should be fatherless, and he used the Bible to back him up.

So, the next day...filled with the impassioned words of his pastor's sermon still ringing in his ears, Mr. Gunslinger shows up at the President's town hall meeting in Phoenix with a semi-automatic weapon slung over his shoulder.

Many a debate between myself and others has been engaged in on the topic of gun control. I'm a lover, not a fighter and I'm all about peaceful protest and making love, not war. I know there are many people in our country who think they need/deserve/have the pack heat. I disagree. Our forefathers believed in arming citizens for the purpose of forming militias in order to guard against foreign insurgents. The "right to bear arms," or to possess them, has become inseparable in our nation's mind, with the right to form a militia.

Add into this mix, a big heapin' handful of religious zeal and fervor, and you've got yourself...well...Iraq. That's right people. We're not any better. We're not "the greatest country on Earth." WE are the same as THEY. Yes, THEY. Those "crazy" people who believe in jihad. You know the ones. The ones who can't separate their religious zeal from their political agenda? WE who try to export "democracy" to other nations whether they ask for it or not. WE who could care less about the horrific genocide occurring in other lands, but who will rip your heads off and blow you to bits if you dare mess with our fucking oil supply?

Don't nay say me. When your religion becomes your foreign policy, you're in for some real trouble, my friends. And now, it appears that religion has become our internal national policy. The "far right" who constantly yammers on about hoping that our president fails and who call him a racist and a socialist and compare him to Hitler...ask them how many of them are also devoutly religious. I don't have to poll them, because it's already been done. The overwhelming majority of those who hope to see our president fail...or worse...also proclaim to be religious.

By no means am I saying that only religious people are fanatical and it's only religious people who wish our president ill will. What I AM saying, is that religion brings with it, by its very nature, the possibility...and raises the probability of fanaticism.

I realize I run the risk of alienating some people. So be it. I cannot and will not continue to sit idly by and watch the crazies take over my country. Mr. Right will not hear of me joining the group that will be picketing Mr. Anderson's church next Sunday, so I am peacefully protesting via my blog.

And, just to offer a bit of contrast to the hateful and venomous words of the "Christian" in the video, here are some words written by a fellow political liberal and atheist. (You know...the people the religious right think are the crazies.)

Imagine there's no heaven, it's easy if you try

No hell below us, above us only sky

Imagine all the people, living for today...

Imagine there's no countries, it isn't hard to do

Nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too

Imagine all the people, living life in peace...

You may say I'm a dreamer

But I'm not the only one

I hope someday you'll join us

And the world will be as one.

Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can

No need for greed or hunger, a brotherhood of man

Imagine all the people, sharing all the world...

You may say I'm a dreamer,

But I'm not the only one

I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will live as one.

Monday, August 24, 2009

I'm Not Old...Just Older

Sunday is the 30th day of August, which means that forty-one years ago on that date, an incredibly adorable and deliciously sweet chunk of a baby girl came howling into existence on this 3rd rock from the Sun. This is a picture of that little girl a few months after she'd unpacked her rattle and booties and settled in and adjusted to her new surroundings a bit.
This is that girl today at 41.

I use the word "girl" because it's still very much the way I feel. Not that I don't experience moments when I feel womanly, because I most certainly do. I know that I'm an adult and for the most part, behave as such. But, the vision of Me that I hold in my mind's eye is one of a girl. I am still the girl who sometimes laughs too loudly and occasionally snorts when trying to stifle it. I am still the girl who dances with abandon (while sucking in my womanly tummy) and who still seems to be able to "shake it all night long."

Aging isn't scary to me. Growing old is.

Yes, I notice some subtle signs that I am older, but they don't make me feel old. If anything has contributed to the feeling of being a bit broken down in the past couple of years, it's the fact that I was actually broken in a few places after my accident. But, I know the popping in my hip that sounds like a ratchet is due to it having been fractured, and I know that my arm and shoulder sound like a bowl of Rice Krispies freshly doused with milk because it has been shattered and mended and re-mended. Yes, I use deep wrinkle cream between my eyes and across my forehead with the hope that it will somehow magically diminsh the lines that have appeared there, but I also don't regret those lines.

Forty-one feels like a favorite pair of broken-in Levis on a crisp autumn morning. In these jeans I am comfortable and confident, and although sometimes I think maybe I'd like to have a new pair, I know that those new jeans could never compare to my good old broken-in pair . In them I still feel sexy and cool, not insecure and fearful like the girl who used to wear them when they were new. I've been wearing these old jeans for awhile now, and I like who I've become in them.

I know that my skin will age and that the wrinkles will deepen and that the snaps, crackles and pops will increase until I sound like a one-woman band, but that's okay. It's not going to keep me from laughing and dancing and acting a bit too young for my age for as long as I possibly can. Because in the words of the great Jon Bon Jovi, "It's my life and it's now or never, 'cause I ain't gonna live forever."

Right on, Jon. Right on.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Original Transformers

With a wee bit of hesitation, I'm hiking up my skirt and jumping on the Meme Wagon.

While going through the frustrating nightly ritual of attempting to drop off to sleep, my noggin swirled with thoughts about the last blog I'd read. Bloggy Friend, Reya , wrote a lovely post about a transformative moment in her life. It was one to which I could completely relate as I'd had a very similar experience in my childhood. But, every time I thought of a moment that I felt had transformed me, the naysayer that always resides on my shoulder shot it down as being too boring or not really transformative enough.

In putting my thinker to work on determining which moments in my life had truly transformed me, I quickly realized that books were a recurring theme. I have books on the shelf in my office that have my handwriting inside the front and back flaps. As I read some of those books, epiphanies would zing about me like little lightening bugs and I would hurriedly catch them and scribble them down before they escaped my grasp. Occasionally, I will pull those books off the shelf and open them and read those thoughts which I felt so inclined to record at the time. Most of them still resonate and I am reminded of the lessons learned at those times in my life.

So, after thinking and thinking and straining more than just a bit to come up with a moment which transformed me, I must tell you that I couldn't do it. All I could think was that my life has been a never ending series of moments which have transformed and changed me into the human I am today.

In an effort to be true to the Meme, I will go back to the beginning and tell you what I feel was the genesis of all transformation in my life.

In the beginning...there were books. Books I could not read.

My parents and teachers thought that I was learning disabled as a child. I was made to sit at the front of the class because it was the only way for the teacher to try to hold my attention as I was always looking down at my desk, or staring off in the distance, lost in my own world. I wrote with my face almost touching the paper and couldn't write, read or spell up to grade level.

One day, when I was about six, my mother and sisters and I were all in the bathroom at our house. My mother dropped something on the floor and asked if I would pick it up. I searched and searched and told her that I couldn't find it. Slightly perturbed, she exclaimed, "It's right there!" I got down on my hands and knees and searched and still I couldn't find it. My mother looked at me and said incredulously, "You can't see it?!" When I responded that I couldn't, it hit her like a brick. Her daughter couldn't see.

An eye appointment was scheduled, a trip was made and glasses were ordered. I remember my mother crying in the optometrist's office when she realized that I couldn't even read the big "E" at the top of the eye chart. I'm sure that countless memories of her chastising me to "pay attention" ran through her mind and made her ashamed.

The day arrived to make the trip back into town to pick up my glasses. After they'd been properly fit to my face, we headed back home. From the back seat of the car I stared in amazement at the world around me. I shouted to my mother, "What are those?!" She couldn't figure out what I was talking about. "Those green things! What are they?!" It took her a moment or two to realize that I was seeing the individual leaves on the trees as we passed by them. It was the first time in my life that I was actually seeing each leaf instead of a fuzzy green blur stuck on top of of fuzzy brown trunk.

From that moment forward, I became an excellent reader, practiced penmanship constantly and won more than a few spelling bees in school. I excelled in my studies and became a chatterbox who always made good grades, but whose teachers wrote, "Talks too much in class," or something of that nature, at the bottom of my report card.

It seemed I couldn't get enough of books. I spent countless hours of my childhood reading under trees, on my bed, in cemeteries, in the car or on a mound of grass in the middle of a stream. When my family finally moved into town for the first time when I was about eleven, I had a library at my disposal. Katie bar the door! I helped Nancy Drew solve every mystery that ever came her way, knew every single move that Laura Ingalls Wilder ever made and went on exciting and wonderful adventures with Heidi, Anne of Green Gables, Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.

As I grew, I began to question and wonder about the world a bit more and that, coupled with my rebellious streak, led me to begin reading books that had been banned by schools or libraries. I wrote a letter in protest to the local paper when I found that my beloved Tom Sawyer had been pulled from the shelves. I read Vonnegut, Salinger, Golding, Faulkner, Tolstoy and Trumbow.

After marrying at the ripe old age of eighteen and having my first child at twenty, my misery was palpable and I began to search books in the quest for answers as to why I was so unhappy. The religion in which I'd been raised wasn't providing any answers, only raising more questions, so I poured through books on world religions and philosophies. The first time I read Siddhartha, was most certainly a moment which transformed me.

Life moved forward, dragging me with it and still I searched. Books led me to finally seek out a Buddhist therapist who led me to believe enough in myself to end a disastrous, painful and damaging marriage. I had fought and struggled and inflicted pain both to myself and those around me and I had endured more pain than I felt I could bear.

As I stepped tenuously out into life as a single parent, I continued to read and it was during this time that epiphanies struck me with startling frequency. It was as though I'd been walking in darkness my entire life and suddenly, someone was pulling up the shades and throwing the windows open to let in the sun.

At this point in my life, I have found my path to peaceful and joyful living. My reading now consists mostly of books about history, government, politics and biographies of those who have gone before. I break it up now and again with a novel or writing by someone I find humorous enough to make me laugh and remember that the world is not always the frightening place I read about every day in the news.

My books keep me informed, they educate, enlighten and remind me to keep questioning and always learning. Through the written word of those brilliant and beautiful minds who saw fit to put pen to paper, I have indeed been transformed.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Apparently, I went about my experiment all wrong. Silly me.

After reading my blog, Mr. Right took out the bathroom trash. Oh, quit rubbing your eyes in disbelief. Yes, it did pile up to near overflowing, but he did it. He really did it!

So, look forward to future blogs about how to get Mr. Right to find the laundry room, where the switch is on the electric broom, the fine art of vacuuming and the joy of scrubbing toilets.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Cleaning Day

It's quite possible that I have Multiple Personality Disorder. Wouldn't that just be a kick in the pants? It might go far in explaining why some days I feel like bona fide altruistic Polly Anna who can barely restrain herself from hugging strangers, and other days, feel like I want to beat the ever living crap out of every other person I meet. Crazy much?

So, Mr. Right fixed my "t" (unfortunately, that's not a filthy euphemism for anything) and, now that I have a perfectly functional "t" I have no desire to write a damn thing. I'm in a funk. A slump. A funky slump.

We've been through this before folks, so you know what's next. It's time to sweep the corners, brush out the cobwebs and shake the rugs. The old brain box is due for a cleaning. So, in no particular order, let the freak show begin.

*I wonder if beautiful people know that they're beautiful? They must, right? How can you have two fabulously sparkling rows of teeth in your face, a copious mane of perfect hair, the chiseled cheekbones of a supermodel, the lithe body of a young Greek goddess and look in the mirror without saying to yourself, "Hello there, you stunning creature?" Bless their perfect hearts, but sometimes I wish they'd all break out into horrible disfiguring rashes. Just sometimes. Now is one of those times.

*Once upon a time, I worked at a mortgage company far far away. During slow times, my young co-workers and I (They were young. I was not) used to look at the clock and count the minutes down until lunchtime. After lunch, we'd count the minutes down until the end of the day. One day, Young Co-Worker Chad, at several decibels higher than his normal speaking voice exclaimed, "OH MY GOD!" We all turned to stare at him like the lunatic we presumed he'd quite suddenly been turned into. Gently, so as not to startle him with loud noises, we asked, "What?!" He said, "Don't you see what we're doing?! We're committing suicide?!" Young Co-Worker Chad went on to expound upon his epiphany. "By wishing for time to pass more quickly than it does, we're wishing our lives away! How many days of our lives do we wish away waiting for something in the future to happen? We're slowly committing suicide!" That was ten years ago and Young Co-Worker Chad's words still ring in my ears. I think of them every time I find myself saying, "I wish it would hurry up and...." Deep, Young Co-Worker Chad. Real deep.

*I'm a horrible scientist. Repeatedly, I've attempted to conduct an experiment and repeatedly, I've failed at seeing the experiment through to its end. The experiment goes as follows: I allow Mr. Right's bathroom trash can to become completely full. I wait. As the trash begins to fall onto the floor, I pick it up and squash it all down into said trash can, thereby creating more space than was there previously. I wait. As the trash can reaches maximum capacity, debris begins once again falling to the floor. I wait. Debris begins to pile up around the overflowing trash can. Q-tips are now bouncing off the pile and landing in various locations around the trash can. Some bounce up and land on the edge of the bathtub. I wait. No I don't. I empty the trash can. I have yet to discover the exact quantity of piled up garbage lying in the floor that is required to motivate Mr. Right to actually empty the trash. I suck at science.

*As we've previously discussed, (actually I've just ranted and raved and you've ever so politely and patiently listened) reading the news makes me crazy. Lately, what's really making me crazy is the fact that there's not much news actually being reported. Our president isn't really a U.S. citizen?! Oh, my! *gasp* It's nauseating to read about these ignorant and uninformed people running around and screaming that the sky is falling. It's even more nauseating that their screams are being reported as actual news. What would be real news is this: A Republican and a Democrat would hop on an airplane and fly to France. They would meet with the French authorities in charge of that country's health care system and they would gather every shred of information available from those people and jump a flight back to the U.S. Then they would tailor a health care plan for our nation based on their findings and present a bipartisan bill to the Senate. And, what would really be news would be if our senators and congressmen and know...our elected public servants would lay aside their greed and gluttony and quest for power long enough to pass that bill into law because it would be for the greater good of the citizens who elected them into office. Now, that would be news worth reading.

*I've put The Duchess on a waiting list for a charter school. The more I learn about these schools, the more I like them. I pulled the philosophy of our local charter school off of their website. It goes like this:
"Our philosophy is to:
*Train the intellect
*Teach skills
*Instill a sense of pride in and respect for self, others, and country
*Equip students with the necessary skills to become decision makers and problem solvers
*Prepare students for the world outside by challenging them to compete for achievement of standards in the classroom
*Develop an atmosphere of tolerance and acceptance of all students regardless of physical appearance and culture"

What?! A school that actually focuses on the intellect and on teaching children to make decisions and solve problems?! And, on top of that...a school that teaches tolerance and acceptance?! It can't be, you say! In America?! We don't value intellect, we value football! (Just look at teachers' salaries vs. NFL players' salaries) We don't value tolerance, we breed intolerance! (Just ask African Americans, women, homosexuals and a myriad of other American citizens who have had to fight for their basic civil rights) Well, that's what I said too, but I'm hearing otherwise. I adamantly refuse to put my child in a school that has a religious based philosophy and public schools are increasingly giving me cause for great concern. So, we'll sit on the list and wait. And, hope. Hope that there is still an avenue in this country that can be taken which will lead to a truly good education in an environment where intellect is valued, tolerance is expected and achievement is based on academic success and not athletic prowess.

*I just found out that my niece is baking a girl muffin. Delighted is what I am. Mr. Right's side of the family is short on girls and needs substantially more estrogen in order to achieve proper balance. Today's discovery of the gender of The Muffin has triggered my shopping gene (yes, all chicks have one) and I have the desire to leap off my chair this very second and hit the streets with wallet in hand. I shall restrain myself (somewhat) and try very much to not go overboard. I actually believe I have an Overboard Gene, so this will be a challenge. I find it completely unfair that Niece lives in Texas and I live in Arizona. *sigh* I'm hoping that as The Muffin grows, that she will look forward to the little boxes and envelopes postmarked "Arizona" that arrive in her mailbox. I hope that Niece will explain to her that, yes, Aunt Amy is a wee bit "off", but that she loves her and wishes she was able to spend time with her. And, I hope that when I do see The Muffin, that she will give me little fist bumps or flash me a tiny "peace" sign so that I will know that she knows, I'll always have her back.

Okay. Maybe this has helped. We'll see. Grumpy and Snotty have arrived home from school and my peace has been shattered and chaos abounds. I hope to be back in the game, as they say, and back to my Bloggy self again.

As always, thanks for listening. You're truly dears, you are.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Irate, Irritable and Uptight all have a "t."

Blogging has come to a screeching halt. The "T" on my keyboard is sticking. Every time I go to strike it, I have to hit it at least twice and occasionally have to jab at it. Attempts to remedy the problem have failed miserably.

As I have been going through the excruciatingly painful process of typing this, another key has completely fallen off. It's the one that perches directly under the period key. So not only can I not type a "t" when I want, but every time I go to add a period, the wobbly key underneath lodges itself under the period thereby preventing me from ending a sentence.

I may have a heart attack.

There is another laptop I can use, but it's older, more cumbersome and doesn't have all of my files loaded on it. Apparently, I'm going to be forced back into the Dark Ages and use that four year old dinosaur. (That's kind of sad isn't it? Four years old and you're already thought of as having aged out of the game. Poor Computersaurus.)

Let me get this figured out. It will require a bit of foot stomping, a lot of whining, more than likely some cash and a whole bucket load of whimpering.

But, as always, I will overcome. Maybe. *sniffle*