Thursday, October 23, 2014

People are stupid...

I have a son. Online I refer to him as C. This started when he was younger and I realized I was talking about him and blogging about him a lot but I was still being protective of him. You will see in older blogs I referred to him by his name, not the initial and then I switched. It made me more comfortable. I figured anyone who already knew him knew his name but this way I wasn't putting it out there more than it needed to be. Even though he is an adult now it stuck because it's just easier to type C than it is to type his full name. I've used it for so long now that there are times I actually call him C when I'm talking to him and not just about him. Not often, but sometimes.

And that's not the only different name I call him. Not just nicknames, though he has a ton of those. But his name. Christopher. Family and family friends are the only ones who call him that. He goes by Chris otherwise. Has since he started school. See when your last name has 11 letters in it you really don't want to spell out that plus Christopher on every paper so he shortened it to Chris. All of his teachers called him Chris. Every friend he made in school calls him Chris. He is Chris to everyone but us. But even though that's what he went by in school he has never been Chris at home. It's Christopher. That's the name we use here. 

Doesn't change who he is. Doesn't change how people interact with him. It's just a different name. One the school used. And just because it was a school thing didn't make it a home thing. (we asked, he was fine with us using his full name) Because the school had its way and we had ours.

And here is where we turn.

Just because the school doesn't lead a prayer before class doesn't mean your kid can't pray in school.

Just because the teacher doesn't open a bible and read a bible verse in class doesn't mean your kid can't take his bible to school and read from it during his own free time.

Just because the school has winter break doesn't mean your kid can't say Merry Christmas. 

Don't be stupid.

Just don't.

There is a story making the rounds right now about a Sikh child who has been granted permission to wear his kirpan at school. Don't worry, I had to Google it too. Anyway in the article there are two things that stuck out to me. The person who made a big deal out of the story doesn't even volunteer at his school but felt the need to bring it to the press. And there have been Sikhs wearing their kirpans for YEARS without incident. YEARS people. It's small. It's under the clothing. If Big Mouth McScardey Butt hadn't run to the press nobody would have even known. It would have been a private thing between the school and this family. A religious exception to a rule. You know how we like to point out that we should have religious exceptions to rules right, Hobby Lobby?

Anyway...people are freaking the fuck out and there are recurring themes. First off people do not know that Sikhs and Muslims follow two different religions. Which then shows the level of absolute hate and fear there is out there about people who are different than they are. Then there is the "kids get suspended for bringing toy guns" and the joining argument, "I worship guns so I will bring mine now". Which is also idiotic. One the gun suspensions for toys and drawings and poptarts and whatever else you want to bring up are stupid. You do not fight stupid rules by allowing more stupid rules. And then the whole worship thing? Are you trying to be offensive? Because when I quote Harry Potter books at religious fanatics who are quoting bible verses at me I fully understand I'm being offensive. That's the point. So saying that your religion says you should carry a gun (and heads up guns weren't invented during the start of most religions so probably not) you are being obtuse and offensive.

And then there is the one I referenced earlier the whole no prayer, no bibles, no Christmas argument. Sorry, gang, but that's bullshit. There is an old saying, "As long as there are tests, there will be prayer in school." Just because it's not out loud, just because it's not teacher led, just because it's private doesn't mean it's not allowed. And while we are on the subject, the bible itself talks about prayers and shows a really healthy level of disdain and contempt for big showy public prayer. Go home and pray in private because if you are praying loudly in the public square it's most likely not for God's glorification but your own. Look it up.

Public schools do not push one religion over another. They shouldn't. But just because they aren't leading bible studies, or prayer groups doesn't mean they aren't happening. There are clubs. There are kids who quietly read their bibles during passing periods. There are prayers happening. And there are people wishing each other Merry Christmas. So get over it. Stop saying it doesn't happen. Or that it's not allowed. It just makes you look uninformed and unintelligent. 

As does your irrational hatred of Muslims.

And not knowing that Sikhs aren't Muslim.

And pretty much any hate fueled rant you post on a news site about poptart guns.

Seriously. Just stop being so fucking stupid.



Wednesday, October 22, 2014

She's got that magic touch...

Janet drained the last sip from her coffee before heading in to the store. This was the final inspection of the day. Which made it the final inspection of the week. The final inspection of this two week road trip. Thank god. One more store, one more night in a hotel and then flying home tomorrow to spend the rest of the weekend in her yoga pants and a sweater, curled up on the couch with a book. She closed her eyes and gave a contented sigh just thinking about it. But for now one more inspection.

Her territory covered Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Northern California and Idaho. Pretty far reaching which meant some serious travel at times. But it was fine. Except in the winter. Alaska inspections in the winter months could be truly dreary. But for the most part it was easy. Not like some of her co-workers. The woman who covered New Orleans, for instance, was constantly being called out for site visits. Not a lot of travel for her since she pretty much just covered the local parishes, but a lot more emergency calls.

Shaking out her hands she took a centering breath and entered the store. The overwhelming smell of incense hit her almost like a physical blow. Why did they all burn so much incense? So unnecessary. The woman behind the counter smiled at her, "Goddess blessings to you. May I help you find anything?"

Janet smiled back, "No thank you. I'm just looking around."

She walked past the rows of books, trailing her fingers along the spines. Basic things here. Nothing you couldn't find on Amazon. That's good. There were shelves of crystals. Pretty to look at, but not really special. Passing her hand over a carved box she got a small spark. Holding the box in her hand she felt the power of the previous owner. It was soothing. This had been much loved and would be safe to pass along to a new generation.

Even finding something with a little power like the box was rare in most of these shops. Most everything was mass produced junk. Tourist traps and stores for teenage girls trying to shock their parents. It was the older used items, like the box, that she was really looking for.

She looked over the collection of dried herbs and teas. No unusual ingredients, though she would make note to let them know storing their peppermint next to their wolfsbane was just going to make both go bad quicker. Ingredients were just ingredients though. No worries here.

She moved on to the next display shelf. More tiny fairy sculptures. Why people felt the need to buy such trinkets was beyond her. She reached out and picked one up off the shelf. Janet tilted her head. Something odd here. Just a slight buzz. She looked a little closer and deeper at the sculpture and then whispered, "Oh I am so sorry."

The woman from the counter came over, "Aren't these lovely? We just got them in from a local artisan. She casts the metal herself. Such great details. Sometimes when the light is just right from that window I swear they are moving. She is truly gifted."

"Yes, they are lovely. How long have you been carrying them?"

"Not long at all. This is our first shipment actually. It's amazing isn't it? She brought in a sample last month," a hand waved toward the window where Janet saw another sculpture on the ledge, "and we liked it so much that we ordered a dozen more."

Janet counted the figurines, an even dozen. "I will take them all. As well as that one on the shelf."

"Oh, I don't think that one is for sale. She's kind of our shop guardian angel now."

Janet smiled again and reached in her bag pulling out her badge, "I'm sorry, you are misunderstanding me. I will take them all. As well as the one on the shelf. I'm also going to need the name of the woman you bought them from."

The woman's face fell. "I didn't recognize you as an Inspector. I see. Let me box them up. I'm assuming you will want to continue looking around?"

"I think that's best. I will also want full access to your storerooms. And when you box them, please be careful. We don't want to damage them any more than they already have been."

"Damage?"

"Oh yes, you've actually bought an iron bound fairy collection. Your truly gifted sculptress is a slaver. As soon as you get me the information we will free who ever else she has trapped in her circle and she will be delivered to the authorities."

"Oh! We didn't know! How horrible. We would have never...."

Janet cut her off, "That's why you are supposed to clear all new suppliers through us. We really aren't doing it to be petty, or to restrict your profits, or to keep you from 'the good stuff', there are rules for a reason. Now, the contact information please?"

Janet called in a rescue team for the slaver's workshop as well as a team of smithologists who would be able to free the iron bound ones with minimal damage to them. Depending on how long they had been held there would need to be a recovery period but Janet was confident everyone would heal.

It was times like this that all of the travel, the endless paperwork and even the oppressive smell of incense was worth it.

Well maybe not the incense. So unnecessary.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Ugh...

I've written about how I really wish I could write a good scary story. I've shared some of my mediocre (to put it kindly) poetry efforts with you. I've done the write and dump with very little polish so you can see how a story starts and then come back with a different version to show how it can take a turn and end very differently. I've shared a variety of genres. Everything I put out there is all me the good and the not so good and the downright awful.

I'm usually pretty aware if something isn't my best work. I post it anyway. But I'm usually aware. I've explained that this is my space for writing. Just writing. Put it up, put it out, get it done. I have files and stories and ideas that sit and percolate without ever seeing the light of day. I have pieces that have been polished and shined and submitted, never to see the light of day. And then I have here. Where all the rest goes.

So what does that all mean for today?

Frustration.

This morning on the drive in to work Brent and I heard a story about Fall TV and the shows that were succeeding and the shows that were failing. And one show that is succeeding is doing so because of a highly successful show it follows. And that's where the rant started. The highly successful show is awful. The writing is trite. It's schlocky. It's a soap opera disguised as a police procedural. And the very worst of all of the soapy tropes. Just awful. So much so that C and I have made it the punch line for a variety of situations.

But it's hugely popular.

Now normally with books and movies and music I just take the "it's not for me" stance when I don't like something. Because really that's all it is. I don't like the same things as someone else. And even if a lot of people really like it it can still not be for me. Normally it doesn't make me that angry. Well, sometimes. If it's a book that is just truly awful and it happens to cross my path on a day I've just heard nothing from a contest or a publisher I might get a little testy, but usually I bitch a little to people who either understand or have to listen because they love me and then I let it go.

But there are times when it's just so bad that you wonder what the hell does everyone do when they watch/read/listen to this crap? Do they shut their brains down? Do they really believe in a world where evil twins eat their siblings in utero? And honestly even that wouldn't bother me so much if they just admitted it is a soap. I watch Nashville for god's sake. It's a soap with music! But it knows it's a soap. It's not trying to be serious.

And I guess that's where I ended up with the real question. Do you think the writers for bad shows know it's bad writing? That it's just a chance to write. And writing just to write is fun. Writing and getting paid for it would be awesome. So maybe they get that what they are writing is pure drivel and because that's what they are being paid to write that's what they write. And maybe I am just telling myself that to feel better about people getting paid to write pure crap.

Or maybe I'm jealous. Maybe I just wish I was that successful and I have blinders on because of my failures and it's making me bitter?

Nah...it's really just crap.




Monday, October 20, 2014

Here come t-r-o-u-b-l-e...

This morning while I was warming up on the treadmill I looked down at the machines below and could see someone using one of the machines I work out on, not to workout on but as a chair. He was watching the alpha male racquetball group play. Now there are two of these machines but the other one had the wrong attachment hooked up. I can replace it but it's a pain in the butt because I'm short. So anyway, I spent my 10 minute warm up getting a little ticked at this guy just sitting there at the lat machine watching the game.

Then when I actually hit the floor he had moved on to play his round in the game. Oh well that worked out fine. Except then when I started in on the machine that I alternate with the lat pull down machine someone else started to use the lat machine. Dang it. I was going to have to switch out the bar after all and I hate to do....oh never mind here comes someone else who is doing it instead of me...and by the time I was done with my hamstring curls they were both done with their sets and now both machines were free and had the right attachment. Guess I was starting to stress for nothing.

I've been working on a story in my head for a friend of mine. It was one of those; "This funny thing happened to someone, you should make a story out of it" moments. Amazingly, that happens more often than you would think...anyway... I had a few of the bare facts and was starting down the path of the story. I had asked for more details and originally had planned to get all of them before I started. I should have. I was missing a pretty big piece of information that changes everything I had planned. It's obviously not a big deal in the grand scheme of life, but it does change where I can go with the story.

There's a Bible verse that tells you not to worry about tomorrow because tomorrow will worry about itself. You also see a take on it sometimes as don't borrow trouble from tomorrow because each day has trouble of its own. That's such a good thing to keep in mind and such a hard thing to always practice. It's part of living mindfully as well, right? Be in the moment. Each moment is its own moment. Stop thinking so much about the past or the future or you miss now.

Now, I get it, there is a fine line between planning for tomorrow and worrying about it. I'm not saying you shouldn't save money, or have an insurance policy or stock up on toilet paper, I'm just saying pay attention to where your mind wanders. Are you planning for things that are going to happen, or panicking about things that probably aren't. Or even if they do you have no control over anyway so why bother thinking about them. Why worry about something that might or might not happen. If it doesn't happen you've wasted your time worrying about it, if it does happen worrying about it did no good anyway. Good guideline, are you planning or panicking. (just a quick hint, if you are thinking about what you are going to do when you catch Ebola, you're panicking.)

Pay attention to what is going on right now and stop worrying about the things that are out of your control. Enjoy your life right now. Not in 10 less pounds. Not after the next raise. Not during your next vacation. Right now. Worry isn't going to make it better. Getting pissed off at what might happen is pretty much guaranteed to make it worse.

Even if someone is using a weight machine as a couch....

Sunday, October 19, 2014

I would never...

A few months ago I was driving down Bethany and reached the overpass for Highway 26 as I crossed over the bridge I thought to myself, "Hmm...I wonder where I would have ended up going?" Because I should have turned left on Laidlaw over a mile earlier. But I hadn't. I was driving on autopilot. Not sure where I was going because I realized I was not where I wanted to be before I got there.

At the beginning of the summer when C was still home we were headed to the gym one Tuesday morning. I pulled out of the neighborhood and turned right on Springville and headed in the opposite direction of where I wanted to be. Because for the past month on Tuesdays at that time I had gone to PT. I normally go to the gym right after I drop Brent off at work, not later in the morning. But with C home we were going together so it was later in the morning. But I still turned right instead of left. Habit.

Once in Florida after working close one night and then having to get Brent to work by 6 AM the next morning I remember being almost all the way home and having no memory of the drive from the time I left base to where I was. About 15 minutes worth of driving. Just not there. Habitual driving. I learned years later about how the brain forms habits and patterns and that we do a lot of things like that without ever being completely conscious of them. It's a great system actually. Keeps us running efficiently. Except when it fails.

When C was a newborn I woke up one night to the sound of him fretting (he didn't cry when he was hungry or needed changed, he fretted, he was an amazing baby). Anyway...I reached over to pick him up and he was gone. Not lying between Brent and I. I patted down the bed and couldn't find him. The panic started to hit as I realized I had lost the baby. Where was he? Then I realized he was in his own room in his crib. He wasn't in the bed with us. But I will never forget that moment of panic as I had no idea where he was.

Last Thursday Brent left work early. Well early for him, he got off at five. As we were driving home an ambulance passed us. We watched people who had no clue how to get out of the way and just stopped in the road instead of even attempting to pull over. Because we had the discussion about it the ambulance stuck in both of our heads. Later that night the news reported the tragic story that someone at Intel had left their baby in their car while they were at work. That's who the ambulance was for. The baby did not survive.

As I watch people react the first thing you normally see is the "How could that ever happen? How could you ever forget the baby?" Well, if you aren't the parent that normally has the baby, if it's not your habit to drop the baby off, if the baby is sound asleep and you never look in the back seat...if you are tired, if you are thinking about something else, if you get distracted...

And then people will say, "There is NO WAY I would ever do that." And it's true there might not be anyway you ever would. Most people never do. But is that as much luck as anything else? And then there were people who were shocked that not one person noticed the child all day. And I thought, I was in that parking lot right about the time the dad was discovering his life was now completely destroyed. And I had no idea. I don't make the habit of driving up and down the rows of cars looking in their backseats. Does anyone?

I lost C. In that moment between sleep and awake I had no idea where he was. Now it worked out just fine that he was in his own bed. But what if it had been the other way around? If I had thought he was in his crib and he was in our bed instead and I has rolled over on him not remembering he was there? What if I had gotten out of bed and tossed the blanket on him when I got out? None of that happened, but what if?

I cannot imagine what that family is going through. To lose a child, and to know it was at your own hand? Unimaginable. How does the marriage survive? And they have another child. How do you trust yourself again? How do you ever start to forgive yourself? And to know that almost everyone you meet has judged you. That there are people who assume the worst of you, not just that you made a tragic mistake with unimaginable consequences but that you obviously must have done it on purpose because there is no way THEY would have done it.

I can't take that stance. No, I never forgot C in a car. I never forgot I had him. But that's because when he was a baby I was a stay at home mom. Of course I had him. I always had him. And by the time we were switching on and off who took him to day care and school he was old enough to let you know he was in the car so there was no chance to forget him. But there were times where we had to check with each other, "Are you picking up today or am I?" He is the most important thing in our lives. Brent and I were extraordinarily doting parents. And we didn't always remember who was supposed to be on pick up duty that night. It happens. Thankfully we never had any sort of tragic results because of autopilot or forgetfulness.

Now maybe because I know what it's like to absolutely forget something important to you and have someone tell you "If it was important you wouldn't have forgotten" and knowing that's not true I have more understanding. Maybe because of that moment of losing C when he was a baby and I was exhausted I understand that it can happen. Maybe because of the moments where I am driving on autopilot I understand that habits can take over. Or maybe it's because I cannot imagine adding my own judgement on a family that has to be devastated that I cannot see jumping on the "hang them high" bandwagon.

Or maybe it's just because as I age I realize more and more that "I would NEVER!" most often really translates to "I have never..." Because you don't really know what you would never do, you just know what you have not yet been faced with.

Our local news gave some really good tips to make sure you "would never" and I'm going to pass them along here along with my condolences to that entire family. I cannot imagine what they are going through and I am so sorry for their loss.

1. Always leave something needed for your day (purse, phone, briefcase, computer, etc.) on the floor of the back seat so that you are reminded that the child is back there esp. if the youngin' is asleep.

2. Always arrange with the daycare center, babysitter, etc., to call the parents if the baby is absent (much like our schools do)

Thanks, Sherri, for sharing these tips.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Scary Stories...

How do you feel about scary stories?

I don't read a lot of them. Pretty much just Stephen King and Joe Hill. Mostly because I like the characters. King writes in such a way that I feel like I know the people in the story. Even if they are going through something completely out of the realm of reality he grounds his characters so much that you feel it; like it could really happen. His son writes in a similar fashion. So much so that I am sort of waiting for the day it's revealed he doesn't really have a son and Joe Hill is just a new Bachman.

I don't watch them. Scary movies just aren't for me. At least not for the most part. I don't like the jump out and boo moments. So the slasher films are out. The torture porn is for sure off the list. I think they are disturbing in a bad way. Not disturbing in a good way like a good suspense story. Though I did watch The Strain on TV and that sort of counts I guess. But it's more creepy than scary. And The Walking Dead, I've read and watched those. Though they don't really fall in to scary stories for me. Horror, sure. But not really truly scary.

Absolutely don't do haunted houses. They take the worst parts of scary movies for me and condense them in to one event. It's all jump out and go boo moments. When I was growing up our church had a harvest festival every year on Halloween night. You know to keep us all from going out and celebrating the devil's holiday. Well when my sister was in high school they somehow convinced the church to let them do a haunted house every year. I wouldn't go through it. Hated them. Wouldn't do it. Couldn't make me. Until the year she decided to make me. And when Jeff Wenchel popped out of the trap door and grabbed my ankle and I kicked him in the face I never had to do it again. I don't care for being scared.

So what does it say about me that I still wish I could write a really solid scary story?

One that creeps you out.

Like look over your shoulder because you can feel someone behind you creeps you out?

Turn out the light and then have to turn it back on again creeps you out?

I know I can write a story that makes you cry. It's okay, you can admit it.

And I've written plenty that made you laugh. I'm fucking hilarious.

Now I want to write one that gives you the shivers.

So what does that say about me?

Don't scare me, I'll scare you.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Joy and grumpiness...

I posted on Facebook earlier today a list of things that were making me grumpy right now. And chief among them was having no ideas for a blog today as well as not enough grumpiness to construct one. I tried working myself up in to a state about the idiocy surrounding the fear mongering the media is successfully doing regarding Ebola. But then a friend made a joke that I made another joke about and it was off and running. And even later I polished my first joke and had a new one.

"Is it a coincidence that Ebola and Obama are both 5-letter, 3-syllable words? That is a little TOO big of a "coincidence" if you ask me." That was my friend Jadey's first joke. Which is outstanding.  My final spin on it is: It goes much deeper than that! Ebola and Obama both start with vowels and end with the letter A. You know what else starts with a vowel and ends with an A? AMERICA. And USA. Which just goes to show that Obama brought Ebola to the USA to be the END OF US.

Which makes me laugh. Not just because I made the joke and I tend to find myself fucking hilarious but because I could drop that as well as the joke I made about it being a truly socialist disease all about sharing bodily fluids and redistributing the germs in to any discussion on line right now about Ebola and it wouldn't even be the most ridiculous statement made. Not even close. So it's funny because people are insane.

I am also a little grumpy because I had a set back day with my cold. You know those days where you are pretty sure you are over it and then the next day hits and you are exhausted and unwell again? Today was the second day. So a little grumpy. I was planning on going and doing a few things today but didn't. I will have to tomorrow. I am out of peanut butter. It's a catastrophe. But I couldn't stay grumpy about it because there were pictures of happy babies on my news feed. And who can stay grumpy when there are happy babies to look at?

I also re-watched the video of the guy skipping the rock on the frozen lake. Oh my gosh that makes me laugh. Brent missed it when I posted it yesterday so I showed it to him last night. His reaction? "Gee that reminds me of someone." Which made me laugh again because when I had first posted it I made the comment that he and C would say I acted that way at Disney. Truly I act that way whenever something really tickles me. He is used to it. I am the person who has been busted more than once dancing in the aisle at Target after all. And he knows that if I am staring out the sunroof in to the sky I am probably watching a hawk fly and I will do it until I lose sight of it. And act like it's the first time I've ever seen one.

And then today when I saw the rock skip video posted on another site I read the comments and a large number of them mentioned that they thought the guy was stoned. Because who acts like that who isn't high right? Which made me laugh again because that's a standard joke. My sober straight brain is everyone else's brain high as a kite. I don't do drugs. I cannot even imagine what it would be like to alter my consciousness anymore than it normally is. No urge to find out either. I like my off kilter world, thank you very much.

So I didn't have quite enough grumpiness to fill a blog but I had enough joy to balance it out. And that's fine by me. Joy is better.

Now if you'll excuse me I need to start thinking about a wandering chicken and her adventures in the world...

And no I'm not going to explain it any more than that. Making you all confused makes me laugh as well.