Monday, August 2, 2010

And In Case You Were Wondering, The Shrubs Look Fabulous

Today, I couldn’t find Happy.

I peered inside the cookie box and for a fleeting moment thought I saw her there, but it wasn’t her at all. It was merely Hurt and Sadness wearing a disguise of chocolate chips.

So, I looked somewhere else.  “Happy? Where are you?!”

I went into my office and sat down at the computer hoping to find her there, but all I found were the names and pictures of a few dozen fellow travelers in search of Happy, too.

So, off to the store I went hoping that Happy had made her way there and that I could bring her home with me. But, no matter how many aisles I walked down or how many thingamabobs I put into my shopping cart, Happy never appeared.

Back at home, Happy not only seemed to be completely avoiding me, but now Sadness and Hurt were nagging at me to join them in their game.

Grabbing the garden shears, I headed to the front yard. Maybe if I did something productive and useful, Happy would just naturally want to come and join me. (I’ve heard rumors that Happy just can’t stay away from Usefulness and Productivity!)

As sweat beads poured down my face, tears joined them as Sadness and Hurt laughed at my silliness in thinking that Happy would reveal herself today. Sitting in the rocks in between the freshly manicured foliage, I tried to just will Happy into appearing. Minutes passed…no Happy.

Tonight, having told Sadness and Hurt to go on their miserable way, I will go to sleep hoping that with the return of the morning sun, Happy will find her way home.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What If...

Yes...I've been absent. Three vacations in two months, kids out of school for the summer, out of town guests and of course, the periodic occurrence of my brain cells taking an announced and unwelcome sabbatical.

The following article is one I'm going to post word for word as it was written, simply because the author said what he said better than I could ever possibly articulate it. I'm putting it in front of you if you care to read it (and I hope you do), for the purpose of jarring your own brain box into possibly looking at things from a different angle than you might currently.

If after reading it, you decide that I'm merely a bleeding heart liberal and an apologist, well...there's no hope for you and me. Sorry, Mate.

The actual title of the article is, Imagine: Protest, Insurgency and the Workings of White Privilege. However, it has earned a "street" name and I quite like it: What if the Tea Party Was Black?

Here you go. Read on....

Imagine: Protest, Insurgency and the Workings of White Privilege.
By Tim Wise
April 20, 2010

Let’s play a game, shall we? The name of the game is called “Imagine.” The way it’s played is simple: we’ll envision recent happenings in the news, but then change them up a bit. Instead of envisioning white people as the main actors in the scenes we’ll conjure—the ones who are driving the action—we’ll envision black folks or other people of color instead. The object of the game is to imagine the public reaction to the events or incidents, if the main actors were of color, rather than white. Whoever gains the most insight into the workings of race in America, at the end of the game, wins.

So let’s begin.

Imagine that hundreds of black protesters were to descend upon Washington DC and Northern Virginia, just a few miles from the Capitol and White House, armed with AK-47s, assorted handguns, and ammunition. And imagine that some of these protesters—the black protesters--spoke of the need for political revolution, and possibly even armed conflict in the event that laws they didn’t like were enforced by the government? Would these protesters--these black protesters with guns--be seen as brave defenders of the Second Amendment, or would they be viewed by most whites as a danger to the republic? What if they were Arab-Americans? Because, after all, that's what happened recently when white gun enthusiasts descended upon the nation's capital, arms in hand, and verbally announced their readiness to make war on the country's political leaders if the need arose.

Imagine that white members of Congress, while walking to work, were surrounded by thousands of angry black people, one of whom proceeded to spit on one of those congressmen for not voting the way the black demonstrators desired. Would the protesters be seen as merely patriotic Americans voicing their opinions, or as an angry, potentially violent, and even insurrectionary mob? After all, this is what white Tea Party protesters did recently in Washington.

Imagine that a black rap artist were to say, in reference to a white politician and presidential candidate: "He's a piece of shit and I told him to suck on my machine gun." And what would happen to any prominent liberal commentator who then, when asked about that statement, replied that the rapper was a friend and that he (the commentator) would not disavow or even criticize him for his remarks. Because that’s what rocker Ted Nugent said in 2007 about Barack Obama, and that's how Sean Hannity responded to Nugent's remarks when he was asked about them.

Imagine that a prominent mainstream black political commentator had long employed an overt bigot as Executive Director of his organization, and that this bigot regularly participated in black separatist conferences, and once assaulted a white person while calling them by a racial slur. When that prominent black commentator and his sister--who also works for the organization--defended the bigot as a good guy who was misunderstood and “going through a tough time in his life” would anyone accept their excuse-making? Would that commentator still have a place on a mainstream network? Because that’s what happened in the real world, when Pat Buchanan employed as Executive Director of his group, America's Cause, a blatant racist who did all these things, or at least their white equivalents: attending white separatist conferences and attacking a black woman while calling her the n-word.

Imagine that a black radio host were to suggest that the only way to get promoted in the administration of a white president is by “hating black people,” or that a prominent white person had only endorsed a white presidential candidate as an act of racial bonding, or blamed a white president for a fight on a school bus in which a black kid was jumped by two white kids, or said that he wouldn’t want to kill all conservatives, but rather, would like to leave just enough--“living fossils” as he called them--“so we will never forget what these people stood for.” After all, these are things that Rush Limbaugh has said, about Barack Obama’s administration, Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama, a fight on a school bus in Belleville, Illinois in which two black kids beat up a white kid, and about liberals, generally.*

Imagine that a black pastor, formerly a member of the U.S. military, were to declare, as part of his opposition to a white president’s policies, that he was ready to “suit up, get my gun, go to Washington, and do what they trained me to do.” This is, after all, what Pastor Stan Craig said recently at a Tea Party rally in Greenville, South Carolina.

Imagine a black radio talk show host gleefully predicting a revolution by people of color if the government continues to be dominated by the rich white men who have been “destroying” the country, or if said radio personality were to call Christians or Jews non-humans, or say that when it came to conservatives, the best solution would be to “hang ‘em high.” And what would happen to any congressional representative who praised that commentator for “speaking common sense” and likened his hate talk to “American values?” After all, those are among the things said by radio host and best-selling author Michael Savage, predicting white revolution in the face of multiculturalism, or said by Savage about Muslims and liberals, respectively. And it was Congressman Culbertson, from Texas, who praised Savage in that way, despite his hateful rhetoric.

Imagine a black political commentator suggesting that the only thing the guy who flew his plane into the Austin, Texas IRS building did wrong was not blowing up Fox News instead. This is, after all, what Anne Coulter said about Tim McVeigh, when she noted that his only mistake was not blowing up the New York Times.

Imagine that a popular black liberal website posted comments about the daughter of a white president, calling her “typical redneck trash,” or a “whore” whose mother entertains her by “making monkey sounds.” After all that’s comparable to what conservatives posted about Malia Obama on last year, when they referred to her as “ghetto trash.”

Imagine that black protesters at a large political rally were walking around with signs calling for the lynching of their congressional enemies. Because that’s what white conservatives did last year, in reference to Democratic party leaders in Congress.

In other words, imagine that even one-third of the anger and vitriol currently being hurled at President Obama, by folks who are almost exclusively white, were being aimed, instead, at a white president, by people of color. How many whites viewing the anger, the hatred, the contempt for that white president would then wax eloquent about free speech, and the glories of democracy? And how many would be calling for further crackdowns on thuggish behavior, and investigations into the radical agendas of those same people of color?

To ask any of these questions is to answer them. Protest is only seen as fundamentally American when those who have long had the luxury of seeing themselves as prototypically American engage in it. When the dangerous and dark “other” does so, however, it isn’t viewed as normal or natural, let alone patriotic. Which is why Rush Limbaugh could say, this past week, that the Tea Parties are the first time since the Civil War that ordinary, common Americans stood up for their rights: a statement that erases the normalcy and “American-ness” of blacks in the civil rights struggle, not to mention women in the fight for suffrage and equality, working people in the fight for better working conditions, and LGBT folks as they struggle to be treated as full and equal human beings.

And this, my friends, is what white privilege is all about. The ability to threaten others, to engage in violent and incendiary rhetoric without consequence, to be viewed as patriotic and normal no matter what you do, and never to be feared and despised as people of color would be, if they tried to get away with half the shit we do, on a daily basis.
Game Over.

*(Denver Post December 29, 1995)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Reasons Why I Don't Sleep OR Why My Pseudonym is "Bitchy"

1. The $2,000 water softener unit that sits in the garage and underneath my room, sounds like a Boeing 747 when it decides to do its thing. I am clueless as to what it's thing is, but it jolts me awake at 2:00 a.m. and causes the hair on my arms to stand on end and makes my extremities feel like every nerve ending in them is standing at attention. (Is this what an adrenaline rush feels like?! Who knew?!)

2. The growling puppy who thinks she's protecting me from a Boeing 747 crashing through the bedroom and then  proudly determines that her ten pounds of growling, fluffy, fury has diverted a catastrophe, decides she now has to go outside and tinkle.

3. Darth Vader who awakens slightly when the puppy and I return to the bed and groggily decides that he no longer needs the Vader sleep mask which keeps him from snoring like a coal powered freight train and then proceeds to snore like a coal powered freight train.  

4. The uneasy (and paranoid)  feeling that the reason the puppy is not going back to sleep and is standing en pointe on the edge of the bed is because bad Ninjas have invaded my home and the noise in the garage wasn't the $2,000 Boeing 747 water softening unit at all, but the sound of my flat screen t.v. being Ninja'd out the door and into a windowless, unmarked van. (Sleep deprivation is used as a form of TORTURE you know.)

5. The oh so detailed dreams about my Bloggy Friend in Germany in which I visit her and she takes me on a walk through a war zone, only to return to her countryside home where we cook in the kitchen with her two sisters and I finally meet her husband who is wearing overalls and making applesauce ("You like cinnamon in yours, right?) She offers me pink homemade candy coated pretzels and inquires about my net worth. (Forgive me, Angela...I'm delirious.)

6. The banging and slamming of doors and closets as Snotty prepares herself for her 8th grade promotion ceremony. I roll over and look at the alarm which I've set for 6:15 a.m. The clock tells me it is 5:45 a.m.

7. The sound of the screaming in my own head.

8. The sound of my own voice, very much NOT in my own head this time, saying, "SCREW IT!"

Monday, May 17, 2010

On a Day Like Today - May 13, 2010

If I thought that standing in a pool of someone else's urine was a lousy way to begin a day, I was wrong. Yesterday morning as I stood over the toilet with plunger in hand, ankle deep in urine and toilet tissue, I said to myself, "Self...this HAS to be one of the worst ways EVER to start a day."

What in the hell do I know?

As my eyes tried to fight their way open this morning, The Duchess leaned over the edge of my bed and said, "Mommy? I am NOT happy today."


Upon inquiry, I was informed that although the Countdown to Disneyland calendar I'd so craftily constructed for her was "very nice," she just could NOT wait any longer to go. There was more than a bit of whining as I gave my speech about time, and waiting and choosing to be happy, blah, blah, blah.

We made our way downstairs and as I stood at the kitchen sink re-filling my water bottle to put in the freezer for a quick cool down, The Duchess looked at me and said, "You're going to get germs." Lovely. Here I am trying to save the planet by using a recycled water bottle and I'm getting blowback. *sigh*

As I opened the freezer door, the words, "Oh, shit," involuntarily escaped my lips. Being the thoughtful mommy that I am, I'd come home yesterday from the store and stashed a bottle of sparkling apple juice in the freezer so that The Duchess could share a glass of "fancy special drink" with her daddy over dinner. This is one of her very favorite things to do and I needed to get that juice cooled down, STAT!

In one catastrophic instant, Thoughtful Mommy was turned into Moronic Mommy as I opened the freezer and stared slack jawed at the apple slush and glass massacre inside.

Damn, damn, DAMN!

As I pulled out each shelf and bin with care and ease, green glass and frozen juice went everywhere. The Duchess kindly offered instruction from her perch on the kitchen counter. The dog discovered that she loved frozen apple juice, the bird discovered that landing on my head while I'm pissed off and standing in apple juice is NOT a good idea and I learned that little invisible shards of glass do not feel very pleasant when impaled in one's hand. Oh...I also learned that I hate...nay...DESPISE that damn alarm on my freezer door that beeps incessantly when the door has been open for more than thirty seconds.

After the freezer was reassembled, the floor mopped, the counters cleaned and the juice filled towels washed, I settled down with my morning cup of hot chocolate.



Apparently the Blu-ray player wasn't cooperating with The Duchess and needed a good talking to by Mom. As I fiddled with the thing and seemed to be getting nowhere, The Duchess sighed heavily and walked into the office and speed dialed Daddy for back up.

So now I'm talking on the phone with Daddy, a.k.a. Technical Genius, and trying to figure out which of the four remotes operate the Blu-ray player. The Duchess is yapping in my ear and has decided that she's over the Disneyland debacle and is now "nervous about starting school." I can HEAR Alvin & the Chipmunks playing in the DVD player, but I can't SEE them. The Duchess is lamenting about school, the dog is barking, and the Technical Genius is now trying to tell me about a conversation he had on the phone with his grandfather this morning.

Mr. Right: I got a call from Grampy this morning!

Me: (Holding the phone between my neck and my ear while trying to press buttons on all of the remotes to see what works) Really?

Mr. Right: Yeah. He's in Arizona and wants to know if we can come see him.

Me: (Shaking the remotes one by one in the direction of the television) Of course we can.

Mr. Right: Grampy said he was at Brand X Convenience Store in Texas and ran into a lady named Linda who knows me. Said she did work for me in Texas and Arizona and that we're friends. That either has to be Linda Y. or Linda Z!

Me: Wow! Neat. What in the HELL are you doing with your phone?! It sounds like you're rubbing it against your butt!!

Mr. Right: (Getting the idea that I'm irritated as hell)  It's windy out here. Oh...okay...I'll talk to you later. Bye.

As I hung the phone up, the wailing began.

"I TOLD you I wanted to talk to Daddy when you were done!!" AAAGGGHHHH!!!

And that's when it hit me. I OWE this child.

Standing there with remotes in hand, Alvin & the Chipmunks screaming in my ear and The Duchess crying, I flashed back to last night. I'd become consumed with what I was doing in my office and had lost track of time. When I looked at the clock it was 10:30 and I hadn't put The Duchess to bed. As I scooted my chair away from the desk, my eye caught sight of The Duchess. Under my desk. Curled up with her puppy in the dog bed. Asleep. You see? I OWE her. She deserves some patience and understanding, because she has a disaster for a mommy sometimes.

The phone has just jingled and it's Snotty. She needs lunch money before 1:25.  It is currently 11:48 and I'm still in my jammies and covered in apple juice. So, off I go to the showers. As I'm tearing out of the garage on my way to the school, will you please keep your fingers crossed for me that I actually remember to take Snotty's lunch money with me? I'm having one of those days. You know the kind...don't you? *grin*

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Una Mas Cerveza, Por Favor

These words can only lead to trouble. And, bloat.

Cabo San Lucas. Home of...hell if I know, but what a place! The cerveza flowed freely, Pesos were the name of the game and the cost of taxi rides to the exact same place every day, changed...every day.

I missed Sammy Hagar by ONE day. Son of a bitch.

My innards are now completely acclimated to Mexican fare and I can NOT stop eating food that lights me on fire. I did, however, cease injesting the grilled serrano peppers served as a side at nearly every taco stand. After three days of living with blisters and sores all over the inside of my mouth, I determined that I should forgo those little devils for the rest of the trip. It was a necessary sacrifice. My mouth was in full revolt.

With sores fading but still present, I spent an entire day on Lover's Beach in the sun. My hair turned a lovely, more pale shade of yellow, my already tanned skin turned a deep shade of brownish red, lips and eyes got sunburned. The next morning I looked like a blonde Mexican who'd been in a bar fight. My lower lip had doubled in size and my eyes were practically swollen shut.

As a cure, I flung myself in a beach chair, in the sun...for six hours. It's quite possible the sun had damaged my brain.

In all likelihood, I singlehandedly consumed five pounds of guacamole. Of the five nights I was in Cabo, I ate dinner exactly one night. The rest of the time my meals consisted of splitting gaucamole and various appetizers between the five of us...and beer. Ahhhh....Mexico.

The second day we were in Mexico, we went to the local Mega store. It's a cross between a grocery store and a Wal-Mart, but with antiquated cash registers, no A/C and unrecognizable food. It was an adventure attempting to find things we recognized and were agreeable to consuming. We searched for lunch meat...specifically turkey...and had almost given up after looking at clump after clump of Spam-like loaves of processed "meat." It was all identical in color and shape. *gag* As we were walking away from the deli, I spotted a familiar name. Oscar Mayer. All hail, Oscar Mayer!! We did a little dance right there in the middle of the store, high fiving one another for finding meat that actually appeared to have come from an actual turkey.
After about an hour, we loaded our wagon ( actual wagon) with the following:
  • Coconut rum
  • Mango juice
  • Sprite
  • Frozen strawberry daquiri mix
  • Bananas
  • Avocados (More guacamole, please!)
  • Cilantro (Sad, sad looking cilantro)
  • Tomatoes (Sad...SAD looking tomatoes)
  • Onion
  • Lime
  • Tortilla chips
  • Turkey (2 packs!)
  • Wonder wheat bread (did you know that Wonder made wheat bread?!)
  • Kraft (YES!) Manchego cheese slices (who knew?!)
  • 2 six-packs of Corona
  • 2 six-packs of Pacifico
  • 1 box of granola bars
  • Six diet Cokes (not a damn diet Dr. Pepper in the whole flippin' place)
  • 1 chubby little round of Gouda cheese AND
  • a box of Garden Vegetable crackers
Rock and roll!!

We grabbed a beer, hit the pool and proceeded to work on our itinerary for the week. It went a little something like this:

  1. Wake up
  2. Go to pool (with beer)
  3. Stay at pool until sun goes over the top of the condo and begins to disappear
  4. Go up to condo and grab a beer
  5. Take a shower and get dolled up
  6. Grab a beer
  7. Take a taxi somewhere, haggle with the driver over the price and over pay unintentionally
  8. Say we're going to eat dinner, but end up sharing appetizers and drinking beer
  9. Talk loud, talk dirty, use bad language and behave altogether like a bunch of 40-something women turned loose in Mexico
  10. Order more beer
  11. Find a place to dance to music not played by a mariachi band and shut the place down
  12. Hail a taxi, swear at the driver in piss poor Spanish because the cab ride for some reason has now increased by 100 Pesos. 
  13. Arrive at condo and unintentionally over pay the driver
  14. Sleep. To hell with the sand in the sheets.
  15. Wake up and start all over again.
Now that, my a vacation. 

Friday, May 7, 2010

Why I Fell Off The Blog

It's my mother's fault.

Actually, it's my own damn fault for allowing my mother to screw with my head again, but I get a wee bit of glee trying to pin it on Mommy Dearest. I sometimes live in the Land of Delusion. It's not such a bad place but I only like to visit every now and then, as it's never very sunny there. went down like this:

A few days after writing the blog, "A Letter To My Sister," I was coming out of the semi-annual appointment to have my sparkly whites cleaned and rotated. As I was fastening my seatbelt, I looked down at my phone and noticed that Middle Sister had left a message. As is my modus operandi, instead of listening to the message, I just picked up the phone and dialed her number.

Me: Hey, Middle Sister! I just saw that you called. I was in the dentist's office. What's up?

Middle Sister: The. Shit. Has. Hit. The. Fan.

Me: What? What's going on?

Middle Sister: Are you sitting down?


I shan't go into all of the gory details because, quite frankly, I still don't know them all and don't care to. The long and the short of it is that our estranged older sister (Let's call her, Crazy, shall we?) who has wanted nothing to do with our family for decades and who tries to pretend we don't exist and who most likely tells all of her friends that she's an only child who was adopted by elderly philanthropists who kicked the bucket shortly after her adoption... read my blog. She then, with all of the self righteous indignation she could muster, (which is a shit load by the way, as she is well practiced) called my estranged father to attempt to obtain a phone number for Little Sister, whom, by my best guess hadn't heard from Crazy in about fifteen years.

Reflecting back, I'd received a phone call from my father about a week before but hadn't picked up due to not having enough brain power at that particular moment to deal with that particular piece of history.

Apparently, after not reaching me, our pater familias (who by the way hadn't attempted contact with me in over two years) called Middle Sister and asked for Little Sister's phone number, which he promptly passed on to Crazy.

Whew! You still with me here?

Crazy then jumped on her white high horse and rode from New Mexico to Oklahoma to blaze in and save the day. She convinced Little Sister that she needed a new beginning (which had been offered to her on numerous occassions by numerous people) and then proceeded to pack Little Sister's shit, load it into a U-Haul and ride off into the sunset.

Well, Bessie bar the door. My mama's baby done up and left her.

So, for the first time since my car wreck in December of 2007, Mommy Dearest called me.

Me: Hello?

Mommy Dearest: Hello, Amy. I know it's been a long time since I've called and that I don't talk to you very often, but (chuckling uncomfortably) I guess there's a reason for that.

Me: I suppose there is.

And it all went to hell from there.

She then proceed to alternately berate me for "betraying" Little Sister by penning such a horrible letter and posting it on my blog, and make statements such as, "Well, I guess something good has come out of it because Little Sister has a place to live and is being taken care of."

Ultimately, I was condemded for my wicked, wicked betrayal, no matter the good she percieved it may have wrought. I reverted right back into the berated child with no self confidence and no voice.

As she repeated the word, "betrayal" for the upteenth time, Grown Up Amy finally had enough. I stopped Mommy Dearest mid lecture and said, "I'm not keeping your secrets any more. These were my thoughts that I put into writing and put on my blog.I spoke my truth. I didn't use Little Sister's name and I used a picture that was twenty years old. The only reason you even know about it is because Crazy stalks my blog for some insane reason. I have no room left in my life for this chaos."

And that's that.

I've spent the past couple of months trying to mentally regroup. I had to figure out exactly what it was that made me want to find a cave and do nothing but sleep and talk to bats. The desire to write was zapped from me instantly after that call. Bats seemed like a reasonable alternative to family.

It's all been sorted and re-sorted and compartmentalized. I allowed myself to momentarily lose the voice I've worked so hard at trying to tune and that just pissed me off. I also allowed criticism of something I wrote to affect my desire to write. Tsk, tsk.

Almost daily for two months I thought about subjects about which to write and then summarily dismissed each of them. Nothing seemed to fit, nothing seemed to flow. By the time I finally sat down to write, my brain cells seemed to have forgotten the routine. In the middle of all of this re-grouping, I'd been asked to do some freelance work and I spent a few hours hacking away at some content for a legal website. I submitted my writing and to date, have not heard back from them. My confidence in Self, is battered a bit. Okay. It's smashed into a billion bits. Damn lawyers.

To say "I'm back," might be pushing it a little. I want to be back. I want to write. It's what I truly enjoy doing. I never intended for people to read what I wrote, but have been so thrilled that people have read my ramblings and that they have reached out and commiserated and shared their stories with me. It has been so enlightening to hear so many common voices from seemingly vastly different people and it has strengthened my faith in humanity. So, stroke by stroke, I will regain my voice and I will sound my barbaric YAWP over the rooftops of the world!! Or maybe just over the Land of Blog. But, you get my drift.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Beatle Wisdom

Ad nauseam, I have heard variations on the quote, "Everything happens for a reason." I call bullshit. What logical and rational basis is there for that load of horse puckey?

Nothing happens for a reason. Things just happen. Some events we are able to control or direct, or at best, alter the outcome. Other things...many things...most things, just are.

I've been watching and listening for years now and I've developed what I'm sure is not an original theory. It is my belief that the major source of unhappiness/depression/anxiety...label it what you will, is due to the unwavering and ignorant belief that everything does indeed happen for a reason. We spend our lives analyzing the events that are the daily stuff of living, turning over the "what ifs" and "if onlys" until our brains can no longer process it all.

As human beings, we seem to be wired to immediately attempt to explain things we don't understand, even at the risk of irrational thinking. Throughout history, humanity has conjured up gods of the earth, sea, underworld, heavens, etc. in order to explain the unexplainable. Modern day religions conjure up gods who are supposed to personally care and watch over each and every being on the planet, while all over the Earth each day, thousands die heinous deaths from starvation, torture, natural disasters and disease.

For most of the "big" earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes and other natural disasters, scientists have pretty much figured it out. Scientists know why they happen, how they happen and can predict with some accuracy, when they might happen. But...they can't control them. Natural disasters just are.

Science has also advanced so dramatically over the years that doctors can, with astounding accuracy, determine what ails you and remedy that ailment. Bones can be replaced with metal, hearts can be repaired using animal organs and fetuses can be operated on while still attached to the womb. It's not perfect, but they pretty much have this figured out as well. Doctors sometimes fail and cannot save every life, and they've not yet figured out how to halt the aging process so that we can live forever, but we must accept that death is a part of life. Death just is.

When I was in a car accident a couple of years ago, the physical result was a shattered collarbone and a fractured hip. I spent weeks and months in pain and was a horrible beast because I wanted to be "whole" again. After the pain medications and the anti-inflammatories were no longer a part of my daily life, my brain had a chance to review things a bit. What it concluded was this: I was no longer "whole" and would never be. There was a choice to be made. I could be a beast and whine and moan, despairing for the loss of my perfectly functioning skeletal system, or I could accept that my accident just was. Could I have done things differently? Maybe. Could I have changed the outcome? Maybe. I don't know the answers to those questions and never will. What I do know, without a doubt, is that this and every other negative occurrence in my life is simply a part of life.

Over the course of our evolution as human beings, we have un-learned our natural coping skills. We have advanced so far technologically and have had so many things made easier for us, that we expect ease. In essence, we have de-volved. Coping skills keep us functioning, happy and emotionally healthy. Without these skills, we languish in despair and hopelessness, waiting for someone to drop in and solve our problems for us and to make our lives easier.

Life isn't easy. It also isn't half as bad for most of us as we make it out to be. In most developed countries, life for the majority of people doesn't "suck" or even come close. There are far too many creature comforts, too much food, too much of everything for us to want for much. What makes our lives "suck" is our own self-indulgence, self-pity and inability to accept and understand that shit happens.

True happiness comes when you finally, really and truly understand the "shit happens," concept. Sometimes, yes, it's really bad shit. However, no matter how bad it is, we always have a choice. We can either choose to roll around and wallow in said shit, or we can trudge out of it, wipe off our boots and get on with it.

Yes...this is slightly over simplifying things. I understand fully that sometimes we need professional intervention, time and self awareness to "get on with it," but that's all a part of reaching an understanding that we do need to get on with it and seeking out appropriate resources to aid us in that process.

My happiness comes from the knowledge that life is a series of peaks and valleys and that although the valleys may sometimes seem vast and deep, if I pedal my ass off, there will most certainly be revealed a delightful and breathtaking peak. My happiness also comes from eliminating those people from my life who refuse to acknowledge the peaks. I have no room for those who are standing atop a beautiful mountain and are constantly looking down and whining, "But...look at that VALLEY!"

The inevitable stage of my life has come where I realize that those old people weren't full of shit when they told me that, "life is short." You bet your ass it is.  Much too short to blame, whine, kvetch, wallow and lament.

If you need to talk about things to sort them all out, I'm all ears. If you want to use those things as an excuse not to make progress in your life or to be happy, don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Life can be a real bitch sometimes, but it can also be the most joyous and amazing experience. It's not an all or nothing proposition, this life. We get the good with the bad. Once we learn to just let things be, the good just seems to get better and better.

When I find myself in times of trouble, mother Mary comes to me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be.
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.

And when the broken hearted people living in the world agree,
there will be an answer, let it be.

For though they may be parted there is still a chance that they will see,
there will be an answer, let it be.

Let it be, let it be, .....

And when the night is cloudy, there is still a light, that shines on me,
shine until tomorrow, let it be.

I wake up to the sound of music, mother Mary comes to me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.

Let it be, let it be, .....

(When Paul McCartney of the Beatles was experiencing an anxious and trying time in his life, he had a dream in which his mother, Mary McCartney, came to him and told him to just let things "be." He in turn, sat down and penned the classic, "Let it Be." Wise woman, that Mary. And...good son, that Paul.)

P.S. Yes, I'm aware the beetle in the photo was not one of the Beatles. But he is a cute little fellow, isn't he? Sitting there all Zen-like...just letting it be.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Hoosegow Blues

Oftentimes and against my will, the sleepy little neurons lollygagging around in my head wake up and start poking around in piles of old and long forgotten files. When they’ve found one they feel is of interest, they fling it with abandon into the inbox of my brain. The hateful little bastards have a nasty habit of doing this when I least expect it.

A few days ago, Mr. Right and I were in the car on our way to a hotel we’d booked for our anniversary weekend. I was gazing out of the window watching the cars go by when suddenly and without warning, those dastardly neurons slam dunked a file into my inbox.

N96154. What? What’s this? Wait...yes… I know this.

There I was, on the way to spending an enjoyable weekend with my husband, and those evil little beasts who reside in my head go and find the old file containing my father’s prison number.

You’re nasty little devils, you are.

My father was in prison for thirteen years and has been out for eight. For thirteen years I wrote that number on every piece of mail I sent to him. In the past eight years I’ve spoken to him maybe six times, and yet my brain steadfastly refuses to purge those old files.

Thirteen years of old files. Thirteen precious years. Years I spent giving birth to, and raising the grandchildren he’s never met. Thirteen years of carrying around fear, remorse, guilt and shame over a burden that was not mine to bear. Thirteen years of writing letters, taking collect calls and hoping, hoping, hoping that those words about how changed and sorry he was were true, only to find out during the next eight that he wasn’t changed at all.

I’m very well aware that it was my father who spent thirteen years behind bars. But sometimes…sometimes…it feels like I’m the one doing time.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue

To borrow a phrase, "Bad choices make for great stories". 2009 must have been a stellar year for me in choice making because I have no good stories. Or, maybe 2009 was the year my mind finally began to fail and I just can't remember a damned thing. Either way, here I sit, twenty-six days into 2010 and all I can think of is how this so called, "New Year," feels suspiciously very much like the old one. *sigh*

2009 really stunk it up for most of the world in general and not a day went by that the headlines weren't filled with gloom and doom. The national unemployment rate was the highest since the Great Depression. Our country's families spent yet another year losing its daughters and sons in wars no one quite seems to understand. Banks that were "too big to fail" took billions of dollars from taxpayers in order to avoid "economic collapse" as we all stood by with empty pockets, watched them hand out multi-million dollar bonuses to each other and...watched our economy collapse. The stock market dipped and rose wildly while many of us watched our retirement plans and our homes lose half their value. The hope we so wildly clung to at the beginning of the year faded to a dull gray as the months of war between the Left and the Right raged on, oblivious to the ever-worsening plight of "We the People."

If I didn't regularly pay someone $85 to color my hair the shade of Denial, I'm sure I would have noticed that it all turned gray in 2009. It was a year of worrying, fretting, wringing my hands and trying to comprehend the unbelievable display of greedy, hateful, intolerant, dogmatic, partisan and downright ridiculous behavior of our nation's citizens.

It was a year during which millions of those who proclaimed themselves "Christians," donated a mind-blowing amount of money and worked tirelessly to squash a proposition which would have allowed millions of other Americans the right to marry the ones they loved. It was a year in which racism awoke from hibernation, rose up, and reared its ugly sleepy head to let the world know that it was indeed alive and well. It was a year which left our nation divided against itself, and a year which left many of us in fear that our nation could not stand.

2009 was also a year that saw Mr. Right holding firmly to his job. Yes, his wages were frozen and cutbacks were made, but he had a job to go to every day and brought home a paycheck without fail. Our health benefits stayed intact and his annual bonus survived the crisis. It was a year during which the cost of everything went up from groceries to credit card interest rates, but with a snip and a clip or three to the budget, we made it through just fine. It was a year we all stayed healthy minus a couple of mild cases of Swine Flu and some sneezes and wheezes here and there. It was a year in which we determined to bloom where we'd been planted and began the journey of discovering friends and making a life in this forsaken hellhole of a desert. (Okay, I admit it...I'm still working through the whole, "I hate Arizona," issue. Give me a break.) All in all, boring and mundane as it was, 2009 was a year we made it through relatively unscathed.

On the eve of 2010, I was gently nudged awake by Mr. Right who proceeded to plant a kiss on my lips and say, "Happy New Year!" And, that was that. (Try not to envy our wild and crazy life.)

The dawn of 2010 brought with it no fanfare, no bright and happy headlines and no new glimmer in the air that the winds of change might shortly begin to blow. No, it brought with it merely the rising of our same old warm and wonderful sun and later that evening, the remainder of a blue moon that looked familiar, peaceful and reassuring. In the following days as I heard the repeated refrains of, "Happy New Year," I smiled a little smile and whispered, "I hope...I hope...I hope."