Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Moderation is the key...

Comments on my blog are moderated. By me. Cause it's my blog.

Just thought I should put that out there. So if you make a comment on the blog it first is visible only to me. I read it then approve it for posting. This keeps two things from happening in the comments section, first off no spam posts. Though I am sure that there are some of you out there that might be totally interested in how Gina met a rich single millionaire I am thinking most of you have already met your millionaire and are now reading my blog while relaxing on your yachts.

Secondly, and most importantly, it keeps things a little more polite. You don't have to agree with me. I have such a variety of friends that there is no way that each blog I write will be met with universal approval. Sometimes I know that I am pissing off a good chunk of you with every word I put on the screen. But what I do insist is that you add more to the discussion than "You stupid bitch". You can disagree. Post about why. Even post something that has nothing to do with what I was talking about. But keep it civil.

I know this seems a little shocking to all of you since I am blue in my word choice quite often. I am unsparing with my opinions and I am unflinching in my resolve (at times, except when you make a really good point and I have to change my mind) but here is the thing, I am me. I'm not hiding behind an anonymous screen name and saying vile things. Or screaming them (caps lock is yelling). I'm writing this blog as my opinion, my thoughts, my reasons on what I believe and why. And one of the things I believe is that anonymous posting on the internet turns a lot of people into jerks.

If you and I were sitting in Starbucks having a cup of coffee discussing gay rights and we took opposite sides of the issue the odds of it ending in us screaming at each other (forgive my language here, just an example): HOMOPHOBIC REDNECK IGNORAMUS!
FAG HAG!
DOUCHEBAG!
CUNT!
are very very small.  But you see it online all of the time. Discussions devolve into name calling. You feel safe behind your computer screen to let your anger out. But it's not productive. It's not okay. And it goes against my most basic rule of life. Don't be rude.

So yes, I moderate my comments. And no, not all of them make it on to the blog. But it's not because you disagreed with me, it's because I need more reasoning than, "YOU ARE A QUEER LOVING SINNER WHO WILL BURN IN HELL!" Not that I'm not a lover of queers and if you believe in hell then you probably believe I'm headed there for a lot of reasons, but really, you need to add more to the discussion than that, so try harder, won't you? Disagree. Argue. Make your points. But don't be rude about it.  Same goes for the Facebook page tied to the blog. I will delete comments that veer off in to the insulting without adding territory.

Moderation in all things....


Saturday, July 28, 2012

You knew it was coming...

So everyone has their "things", their "issues", their lines in the sand and you all know this is one of mine. So you won't be shocked at all by this blog. But it doesn't mean I don't feel the need to write it. You can skip ahead to the end if you want, since you know where I stand, but this saves me from going on a rampage on Facebook and pissing off a lot of people in little doses. I will piss them off in one fell swoop this way instead.  We're going to start this blog out with few definitions because it seems to me that people use words and phrases without understanding what it is they are saying so we are going to clear things up right at the start.

hypocrisy- Noun
1. a pretense of having a virtuous character, moral or religious beliefs or principles, etc. that one does not really posses.

2. a pretense of having some desirable or publicly approved attitude.

3. an act or instance of hypocrisy

intolerance- Noun
1. lack of toleration; unwillingness or refusal to tolerate or respect contrary opinions or beliefs, persons of different races or backgrounds, etc.

I wanted to start with those two because they are the ones that are starting to make the rounds right now. For those of you living under a rock you know that this past week the debate in social media has been about Chick-Fil-A's president's public statements that he is against gay marriage. He believes that it is arrogant of this generation to try to redefine the biblical definition of marriage. So then the shit storm started. People that were unaware of his opinion (though I'm not sure how you could be) were made aware. People that felt passionately about what he said made plans to either 1. Boycott the restaurant or 2. Eat there more often. And now we have moved on to the part of the debate where people start calling each other names.

My stance on this is really solid. Has been for years. I don't care that Mr. Cathy believes what he believes. I think he's wrong, he thinks I'm wrong. Don't care. What I care about is if I am someplace with a Chick-Fil-A and I stop in for a chicken biscuit and some waffle fries part of the dollars I spend there end up in his pocket and he donates to support legislation blocking things like gay marriage rights. He does it personally and according to reports the company also does it. Because well companies are people too, don't you know. So for me the choice is crystal clear. I don't eat at Chick-Fil-A. And I am vocal about why I don't eat at Chick-Fil-A.

Same stance I took on the Boy Scouts of America years ago and has been reinforced just recently. BSA promotes that old nugget of an idea that homosexuality is not only a sin but is equal to pedophilia. So when C reached the age where they were recruiting I told him that he could not join. Then I told him why. Explained how they don't line up with our values or beliefs and exactly why they don't. He understood and that was the end of the discussion. Why join a group that preaches a message you don't believe in? I also don't buy their popcorn, Christmas trees, or anything else that financially supports the organization. And this is where I get in trouble with friends. "Oh the BSA do so much good! They help make sure boys are raised with strong morals and skills! How can you deny a boy over something like this?" Over something small like saying that people I love are child molesters because they are gay? That's not really small. Over something small like saying that because they are gay (and thus potential child molesters) they aren't welcome to join this organization? This isn't small to me. It's insulting. You call that raising a boy with strong morals? I call it teaching them that institutionalized prejudice is okay.

You will notice on both of these fronts though what I am really clear on is that these are my opinions and my choices. I don't eat at Chick-Fil-A. I don't contribute to the BSA. What you do is up to you and your choices. But people get really upset about these sorts of stands. And then they start getting insulting. And calling names. And getting irate. And calling people who hold the beliefs I do hypocrites because we are intolerant of intolerance. Well let me make this really clear for you. I'm no hypocrite. I'm not intolerant of intolerance. I'm intolerant of you forcing your intolerance on me. I'm intolerant of people preaching hate and couching it as a religious belief and then telling me that makes it okay. I'm very consistent in my intolerance.

If I said NOBODY SHOULD EVER BE INTOLERANT OF ANYTHING! Then have at it. But I think we should all be intolerant of things that go against what we believe. That's not hypocrisy, that's conviction. If I said that I was anti-gay rights while at the same time soliciting sex from a woman, that would make me a hypocrite (see Ted Haggard). Hypocrisy is stating one belief while practicing another. Or even stating a belief because you think it's what the people around you want to hear while you believe something else. Mr. Cathy from Chick-Fil-A isn't a hypocrite, he believes that gay people don't have the same rights as straight people and he will do what he can to make sure that stays that way. He's an idiot (in my opinion) but in that area he's not a hypocrite.

Now, his idea that the biblical definition of marriage is clear makes him like most Christians, and that is woefully uneducated about the book they base their own religion on. The bible has a lot of things in it that we don't follow now. Including marriage definitions, you hear these a lot during these sorts of arguments, polygamy, marrying your brother-in-law if your husband dies before you have had a son, how much a man needs to pay the father of the woman he raped to make the marriage then binding. There is also the talk about homosexuality being an abomination. Well so is wearing cloth of two different fibers and eating shellfish. So if Mr. Cathy eats lobster and wears a cotton/poly blend then we could probably call him out for a touch of hypocrisy considering he is taking his views on homosexuality from the same passage as the shellfish and fabric.

But we don't. We say that it's silly to hold people to these odd passages. And really we should all be grateful for these touches of hypocrisy because the bible also states that disrespectful and disobedient children should be taken out to the city limits and stoned to death. How many of us would have made it out of our teen years if we had a truly biblical upbringing? Not me, that's for sure.

Now here is the thing, keep your faith. Keep the parts of it that make sense. I don't have an issue with you doing so. I don't even have an issue with you raising your children to believe what you believe. But when you start to try to actively legislate your beliefs I have issue. I have issue with the fact that you pick and choose which of your "sins" you decide should be laws. You think homosexuality is a sin so you say no gay marriage. Well, buddy, adultery makes your top ten list of sins yet it's legal. Those bible verses you like to quote about a man leaves his parents and clings to his wife, but you say it's about man and woman marriage. Know what? They are about divorce. SIN. Big one. Unless one of you is an adulterer (remember top ten list) you don't get a divorce because it's a sin. But still legal. So why aren't you out there proposing that divorce should be stricken from the books? Or that adulterers should go to jail? Why? Because that would affect too many of YOU. It's easy to say it's a sin and it should be illegal if it doesn't affect you personally.

So Mr. Cathy speaks out against gay marriage. I speak out against Mr. Cathy and also stop going to his restaurants. Mike Huckabee speaks in favor of Mr. Cathy and urges other people to go to his restaurants. J.C. Penney hires a gay spokesperson and Million Moms call for a boycott. J.C. Penney hires a gay spokesperson and I go shopping there as often as I used to. This is what living in freedom is. It's not hypocrisy to say I don't agree with you so I am making my opinion known, that's freedom. It's not hypocrisy to say I find your stance intolerable to me just because their stance is intolerance of someone else.  Again, I'm not saying it's wrong to be intolerant of everything, I am saying I don't agree with who you are being intolerant of. It's a definite distinction and one people would do well to pay attention to or else they just look stupid.

And while we are on the subject other things that make you look stupid are bringing other religion's beliefs in to the argument, "Why is it that Christians are the ones getting blasted for the anti-gay message when Muslims believe the same thing? And you know that they want us all living under Sharia law!" I don't care what your religion is, keep it to yourself and out of my law books. Why is it that people who are the most paranoid about Sharia law coming to the States are also the ones who want to legislate based off of their religious beliefs?

Heard one today about stopping driving my car because the Leaders of OPEC kill homosexuals. Really? Which ones? Or is it that you are stating that some of the people in some of the countries that are members of OPEC hold a religious belief that says that they should? Because you really don't want to wade in to the waters of what Mr. Cathy's religious beliefs have led people to do in his god's name. Or even what is a kill-able offense in the bible (remember that disrespectful children part).

Here's the deal. Mr. Cathy made his personal religious beliefs publicly known. People reacted. They either agreed or disagreed or didn't care. From those reactions to what he said and what he does with his money people were left with other decisions that they made. Either they changed their behavior (no more CFA, more CFA) or they didn't. As much as anything he gave a lesson to other companies, be very careful in today's day and age of instant media sharing what you say. If you don't want your company involved in hot topic political discussions then keep your private opinions just that. If you want to take a stand for your beliefs, then feel free. But don't expect everyone to agree with you. And it could affect your bottom line.

My friends, this is not what hypocrisy looks like.

This is what freedom looks like.

(puts soap box back in closet until next time)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

To tweet or not to tweet....

So I've been thinking about getting back on Twitter. I tweeted years ago and left because the volume of tweets and information coming at me was overwhelming. It just was all too much. But lately I've been thinking it might be time to head back in and try again. I subscribe to Wil Wheaton on Facebook and often what he posts is a response to a tweet that has come through, now because I am not on Twitter I can't go see what the whole thread was and that bothers me. Friends of mine who are more active with their writing promote pieces through Twitter and this gives them a more robust readership base. And I've been thinking about getting off of Facebook and this would give me a way of posting when a new blog went up.

Did you catch that last line and have to re-read it? Yes, I'm thinking about getting off Facebook. Or at least severely limiting my time there. Now this isn't a new idea, in fact I blogged about it almost two years ago here. And that blog is all of the reasons why I am thinking of getting off, but two years later. It just goes to show how addictive it is for me. I knew back then that I was probably online too much but didn't do a lot about it except ponder it for awhile. But Facebook is a huge time sink for me. After I check in on friends, news, pages I follow, games I play and then start the cycle all over again and again I will discover that I've lost the majority of the day. I've also discovered that I am getting to the point where doing one thing at a time is really difficult. Even if I am enjoying the book I am reading I find myself reaching for my phone to check in on Facebook "real quick."

And I have finally reached the point where it bothers me more than the idea of not being online bothers me. I'm trying to look at it realistically and know that I can't really just quit. I have friends that I only have contact with through Facebook and I would miss them terribly if I didn't get to talk to them a few times a week. C is about to go back to school and there is great comfort as a parent to being able to see that your child is safe someplace, even if it's from seeing that they are online. So I am trying to think of the ways to limit my time online, but still keep the positive aspects of the time online. I've come up with a few but there are other areas I am still experimenting with and this blog is one of them.

The blog itself is online, of course, I also have a Facebook page that promotes the blog and lets people know when a new piece is up and ready to read and there is my personal feed as well that I use to let people who don't follow the blog know when a piece I really want to call attention to goes up. So how do I do all of that without Facebook? Twitter? Maybe...Like I said at the beginning I used to tweet. When Twitter was first starting to be a blip on people's radar Brent told me I should tweet. He thought it was perfect for me.  My husband thinks I am funny and that the little quick tweets would be right up my alley so I tried it out.

I did the typical thing of following friends that were there (not a lot at the time, Twitter hadn't blown up yet) and picking up a few celebrities that I thought would be fun to watch. I discovered that someone needs to help Kirstie Alley with her internal to external filter. John Mayer writes wonderful song lyrics but is a real asshole. And that I was not beyond a fangirl squee when Stephen Colbert started following me! And then I discovered that there was just too much noise on Twitter. Too many tweets coming in all of the time. It started to feel like a job to try and follow them. To read EVERYTHING. Now what everyone says is that you shouldn't even try. But how in the world can you do that? How do you pick and choose what to read and what not to? How do you not get pulled in to hours and hours of reading?

Which then turns my Twitter idea into a really bad one for limiting time online. I see the future where I would just be switching Facebooking for Tweeting and what would I gain? More readers for my blog? Maybe. But I'm not sure I want that either. Like I posted yesterday I like that the people who read my work here are friends. I like that we are having a conversation of sorts. And that would change if more people I didn't know started reading my work. Yes, there is a part of me that thinks it would be great, and it would be wonderful to start a base for any fiction I might release, but this blog is also extraordinarily personal at times and I am not sure how comfortable I am flinging my doors open for the world. So for right now I am in limbo. Transition period ahead. I went ahead and picked a Twitter name for the blog, just in case, but I'm not going to do anything with it until September at the earliest. Why September? Well...

August is going to be the month of unplugging(ish). I will be online for an hour or so in the morning and then again in the afternoon. The phone will be kept in my purse and not in my hand. The computer will be used for writing with Facebook turned off except during those two times. I will continue to post my picture of the day. To post my blog to my pages. To check in with friends. But I will do it in confined time periods. It's how I quit smoking so we will see how it works for quitting an online time suck addiction. And then we will see what rises up and takes up the time. What fills the void. What have I been blocking out because I have been filling my time with noise? So for now no Twitter. We will see what happens later, and of course, I will keep you all posted.

Just not all the time....

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

You're doing it wrong...

So I just spent an hour reading blogs by Marc Ensign and they were thought provoking and well written and I enjoyed them quite a lot. They were recommended to me by a friend of mine who writes a clever little wine blog after we had a conversation about narcissism on the web. I'm pro narcissism by the way, not that you wouldn't have known that already, after all I'm writing this aren't I?

Anyway....while reading Mr. Ensign's well thought out and edited and planned blogs I read all of the ways that I am doing it wrong. I publish too much. Write often, publish less frequently was a suggestion. Basically write everyday, like I do but only publish once or twice a week. That way only your very best stuff gets out there. Edit, rethink, reread, polish, perfect! All of this is brilliant advice and would deliver a superior product to you, my handful of readers. And possibly deliver more readers to me. And while there was a part of me doing the amen pew nod while reading there was another part of me that was quietly settling in to the corner, arms crossed, lips pursed, eyes beginning to roll.

Because here is the real secret, I like my blog raw. I really do. It's a brain dump space for me. Sometimes something really awesome comes out of here that sparks discussion and debate. Sometimes something really awesome comes out of here that triggers memories and sharing of stories. Sometimes something really awesome comes out of here that you ask to hear more about. Fiction or nonfiction. And sometimes what I write is pretty much a waste of space. But that's my blog. It's Totally Random But....

The whole reason I started blogging was as a way to hold a conversation online with anyone who wanted to listen. Knowing full well that sometimes no one would. But as I started writing I discovered that really the function my blog holds in my life is a space to unclutter my brain. To put the ideas out there that are banging at the gates on a daily basis. I think this saves the checker at the grocery store from hearing every thought in my head when she makes the mistake of asking how things are. It keeps Brent from having to nod and smile as I tell him about the COOLEST THING I EVER THOUGHT OF! Well sometimes...because he has to listen to all of those thoughts when I am not sitting in front of a computer screen where I can dump them out on you instead.

It's a place for me to pontificate about my political, religious and social beliefs. It's a place to share things that make me happy. Or sad. Or that I find to be interesting. And I feel like the people that read my blog (mostly if not all already friends of mine) know what to expect when they come here. Because they know me. And this is what it's like to be my friend. I talk, a lot. But I also listen, a lot. I want to know why you think the way you do (so I love the comments) and I want to take your ideas and spin them off in to what they made me think about (ME! ME! ME!!).

So though I agree with Mr. Ensign's ideas on how I could make my blog so much better I guess I just don't feel the need to make it better. Or maybe it's that I don't necessarily agree with what better is in this case. I'm not trying to reach a wider audience (though you and I both know I have at times gotten wrapped up in the numbers of who is or isn't reading my work), I'm not trying to sell a product. I'm not promoting myself as an expert in any field. I'm writing. I'm sharing. I'm talking. Not polished, not edited, not perfect. Just Totally Random But....

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A stranger....

So for today's themed picture of the day the clue was A Stranger. Sometimes right when I read the subject I have an idea. This time as soon as I read A Stranger Billy Joel's song The Stranger started playing in my head. One of my all time favorite songs. I love the whole slightly sinister feel behind it, the thought that no matter how well you know someone or how well they know you everyone still has their secrets. A part of them that they keep to themselves. I loved it when I was very young and thought of it in more literal terms, visualizing the masks. I loved it even more as I got older and started to understand what he was really talking about.

Even though Brent and I have been married for a quarter of a century (I like saying it like that, it makes it seem really substantial!) there are times when we still surprise each other with things. Sometimes something as simple as not knowing that there is a food that one of us likes or doesn't like. When we went back to Kalamazoo two years ago and drove around the town where he grew up and his cousin Kim and he shared stories of his childhood I realized how much of that part of his life I had never heard about. The time with the cousins. It was fascinating to me. This is the person that I know about as well as you can know someone and there were still things about him that I had no clue.

We had one of those moments this last weekend with his mother. We were sitting at lunch talking about her parents and Ann casually mentions that she hadn't met her father until she was 16. What? Really? I had no clue. And it turned out that Brent didn't either. It was a pretty significant piece of Ann's history that had just "never come up." And as I got that piece of her history the respect I felt for the job she did raising Brent went up even more. Her mother is unpleasant. If unpleasant means horrible, then she is truly unpleasant. And to learn that Ann didn't know her father until she was 16, and it was at her insistence...well....She had no good role models for parenting and still managed to do a pretty bang up job with Brent. There were oddities for sure and he changed those things in his parenting of C. But if Ann hadn't broken her cycle and parented Brent in a way she had never seen then Brent wouldn't have had the head start he did to be the type of parent he is to our son. Just amazed me.

And then while I was thinking all of these thoughts on people being strangers to us even when we know them very well I started thinking about writing. I make up strangers all the time. People you've never met because they don't exist anywhere except in my head until I write them down and let you "meet" them. So the picture of the day worked for me on two levels. The Stranger with Billy Joel and the strangers that live in my head.

And then I decided I should blog about it because I thought that you all would be dying to know the random thoughts in my head!

Which you and I both know you didn't find strange at all...

Not the thoughts, those you might have, the fact that I shared them with you!


Friday, July 20, 2012

Moving and shaking...

Brent and I are thinking about moving. This isn't a surprise to anyone who knows us, we are almost always thinking about moving. We moved every two years when he was in the Navy and then again his first few years with Intel. We only stopped being so mobile when C went in to middle school and we decided it was best for him to have stability through the rest of his school years. But we had talked about moving as soon as he graduated.

Brent actually interviewed with a company in Pittsburgh C's junior year but it would have meant him being there and us being here for just over a year and that puts a strain on a family financially and emotionally so he turned down the job. The there was the interview last summer with the company in Tennessee. If that had been a better fit and a slightly bigger town we would have accepted the job offer there. Instead he ended up with a promotion and a new position at Intel so he moved (desks) and we stayed here.

But that doesn't mean we aren't still thinking of moving. It just might not be to a new city. Though if an offer in San Diego came  about we would be packed and out of here so fast it would leave a little cartoon dust cloud behind us. So for now we are thinking of moving in to town. Or farther out of town. One of those. We are waiting until after C graduates college and settles down someplace. With the way the economy is we feel like we need to make sure we still have space for him just in case he doesn't fall right in to a position after graduation. Though, honestly, we both think he will do fine. He picked up a very marketable minor so he has double skill sets going in to the workforce. But just in case it seems like a good idea to keep room for him for another couple of years.

But then we move. Maybe. I am torn right now between three ideas. One is the downtown condo that I have dreamed of for years. Something with a view of either the skyline or, even better, a slice of the river. Something neat and tidy and within walking distance to just about anything you can imagine. The second is moving toward the coast or up in to the hills.  Going more rural instead of more urban. Living on the beach would be outstanding, except for Brent's commute. Trying to get in to work could be a real challenge and would be super time consuming. Living in a little house in the middle of a wooded lot would be excellent as well. I love both ideas equally. Beach and mountain. *sigh*

And then there is the third option. We bought in to the townhouse at a pretty darn good price. We didn't get caught up in the refinancing boom when the houses were being over appraised so we don't owe more on it than it's worth. With only Brent working it's a nice manageable mortgage. There are benefits to staying put. We need to start doing the maintenance that you do after being in a house for 10 years. And part of me thinks that maybe I should just redo the floors and the kitchen and the bathrooms and stay here. We could take the money we aren't spending on a bigger mortgage and use it to go have fun. Maybe travel to mountains and beaches all over the place instead of moving to one or the other.

And I do like where we live. The inside and the proximity to things at least. I'm not thrilled with the car lot outside my window (seriously people use your garage!) and it makes me sad that they have pushed the urban growth boundary (and are petitioning to do it again!) so instead of the apple orchard and the farm land across the street I will have a new bright and shiny Arbor Homes development. But should we stay or should we go?

I have just over a year to decide I guess...though if we are staying I am doing the floors soon.  George McPukington the First aka the Vomit Comet has pretty much trashed my carpets and wood floors seem like a gift from heaven...

Anyway...what do you all think?  A new place on the beach, in the hills, downtown? Or this place just gutted and redone fancy and shiny? And how often do you get itchy feet and want to move and go someplace new? For me I am ready to leave a city after about 18 months. The fact that we have lived here for 10 years this time and two years before that shows how much we do love Portland. Maybe I just need to bite the cheap bullet and book a lot more travel to solve the itchy feet issue? It's a problem I have, for another day to discuss, I get a vacation all lined out then see the price at the end and FREAK THE FUCK OUT and don't book.

Hmmm....things to ponder...moving on up...to the East Side...to a deluxe apartment in the sky....or in the hills...in the woods...on the beach...to the west....

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

More Music Monday!

Okay, I know it's technically Tuesday but the blog idea came to me yesterday so I am using it.

I was reading a book yesterday about sociopaths and at the beginning of a chapter the author quoted a song lyric that has to be one of my all time favorite lyrics ever. (Yes, I am reading a book about sociopaths, it's called The Sociopath Next Door and so far it's an excellent read, nonfiction, psychology) So I get to the new chapter and there it is, "I saw a werewolf drinking a piña colada at Trader Vic's and his hair was perfect." I love that line. I love the way it feels in my mouth when I say it. I love the images it brings up in my head when I hear it.

I've blogged about music before here and again a couple of days after that here. I'm a lyric person, Brent and C are about the music itself, doesn't matter what the lyrics are as much as the overall feel of the song. For me I like the lyrics. But that doesn't mean they have to be deep or meaningful or even make sense. Sometimes it's just the way the words sound together, or the way they make you feel when you sing them that matters to me. And if there is a story as well? Bonus!

Yesterday at the gym I turned off my workout playlist and went with Bat Out of Hell. The whole album for me is just perfection. Each song is a story. The words all hang together in the best ways. It's big and bombastic and over the top and just the best thing. I have loved it since I was a little kid and I still do. I can remember writing the lyrics to Two Out of Three on my notebooks when I was in high school. I thought it was just about the most perfect song ever. And honestly, I still do. Though I discovered that it's not the best gym soundtrack because I want to belt it out with Meat on every song and I do find myself doing big over the top hand and arm gestures à la Neil Diamond and Celine Dion....

Then there are issues when I am the only one listening to lyrics and have to point out that it's a happy little song about date rape. Or killing your partner's lover when you in fact have been out cheating on them as well. Or when I ask if it's the finest silver from the South of Spain when looking at jewelry and no one else gets it. Or at least they pretend not to. Because they like to pretend that Brandy isn't one of the greatest songs ever. I mean come on...she's a fine girl who is in love with a man who will never stay with her because his life, his lover, his lady is the sea!

When I was little I used to make up little dance routines to songs acting out the lyrics. And there are times that muscle memory tries to take over and I still want to "gather up the tears" when Steely Dan starts singing. I can usually restrain myself, but it can be really difficult at times. Like yesterday at the gym when I had to keep putting my arms back down toward my sides when I was listening to Meat Loaf.

I think song lyrics were as much an inspiration for me to want to write as books were. I am not very musically talented but I did try my hand at a song once when I was younger. I still have the line in my head and someday it will probably work its way into a story so it has someplace to go.

A well crafted lyric, whether it's a story, an image or just a fun line to say can be a wonderful thing. Lyrics can stand the test of time. Make you remember where you were when you first heard them. They can make you happy when you are sad, bring on melancholy or nostalgic feelings towards days gone by. Or just make you glad to have heard the song and gotten a chance to sing along.

Even if it's something as silly as Do Wah Diddy Diddy Dum Diddy Do....

Monday, July 16, 2012

Oh the Horror!

Okay, not horror. But horo.  As in scope. Horoscope. Yeah, it was a long walk for that one but I liked the title and wanted to make it fit.

Do you read your daily horoscope? Do you follow it? Do you know your sign? Do you think you fit the description? And do you think you would have fit the description if you had never read it? Like, have you changed aspects about yourself to blend more with what you view as the positive aspects of your sign?

I'm a Leo. People who are familiar with the signs of the zodiac and their descriptions who also know me are not surprised by this. Leos tend to be loud, like to be the center of attention, like to entertain, are optimistic, idealistic, curious, are fiercely loyal to their friends and are generous. There are a few things I can own on that list, not all but some. They are also described as domineering, pompous, inflexible, status conscious, vain and childish. I can own a few of those as well, again not all, but some.

But I always wonder if I were another sign would I be a different person or would I just pick things out of those lists of personality traits that would fit me? Because in any description of Leos, the negative and the positive personality attributes there are some that just don't fit me at all. Leos are supposed to be highly social. I am not. Leos are highly ambitious. Nope. Status conscious, nope. But if I were to take a different sign, let's pick a water sign since they are opposite, what could I pick out of that one that would fit me?

Here were go, Aquarius:

Challenging Traits/Keywords
Absentminded, reclusive, eccentric, perverse, fixed opinions, detached, tacky, unpredictable, temperamental, bored by detail, cold, exploitive, radical, impersonal, rebellious.

Beneficial Traits/Keywords
Broadminded, idealistic, inventive, helpful, original, intuitive, independent, tolerant, individualistic, progressive, creative, scientific, logical, humane, intellectual, altruistic.

Okay, so I am absentminded, reclusive, eccentric, detached, tacky, broadminded, idealistic, inventive, helpful, intuitive, independent, tolerant, individualistic, progressive, humane...oh holy crap! I'm an Aquarius!

Okay, so you see what I mean right? I am pretty sure I am solidly Leo because I pay attention to the Leo descriptions and horoscopes, but I can pick out as many Aquarian attributes as Leo ones that match me.  So do I just think of myself as a Leo because I always have?

I also get my horoscope by email everyday. Last Monday my horoscope was all about how I was in the middle of a creative boom and to ride the wave. Well, I wrote fiction pieces for the blog Sunday, Monday and Tuesday and worked on some other pieces that I didn't post as well. Later in the week it was all about repeating the same patterns over and over again and right at that point I was thinking about exactly that sort of situation. Saturday my horoscope told me I needed to get dressed up and go out that night. Well, I went to a wedding! It's amazing isn't it?

But you see what I did there right? I only pointed out the ones that fit what was actually happening that day. I don't remember the others. I know there was one about getting out and dating again. Well, Brent would probably have issues with that one so I ignored it. I know that there was one a few weeks ago about having more children which I adapted to Grandchildren so it made more sense. But basically we notice the ones that seem to speak to us and ignore the ones that don't. So does that mean you believe in your horoscope or you don't?

I've talked before that I believe the Universe gives you signs. When you are looking for answers to questions, guidance on which way to go, I think that the world starts showing you the direction. Now I believe it partly does this through your subconscious pointing things out to you, PAY ATTENTION HERE! sort of thing. But I also do believe that sometimes something random comes along and focuses your attention on the path you are supposed to be taking. Horoscopes. Song lyrics. Street Signs.

So I checked my horoscope for today and it reads:
You may find yourself in a difficult position today, Denise, as if you are literally being pulled in two completely different directions with little say as to how things are supposed to end up. The acting forces are likely to be manipulative, and you should take special care that no one takes advantage of you in any way. The problem is that this may be easier said than done at a time like this.

OH MY GOD! That's totally right! I didn't want to go to the gym, but C did and since I told him we would work out together I really had no choice but to go with him. And at the end of it he tried to totally make it seem like it was a good thing to be exhausted and sweaty...manipulative little thing! Or it means something totally different than that (shocking I know) but it doesn't apply right this second so I will ignore it and forget about it by tomorrow.

Or in the wise words of The Boxer by Simon and Garfunkel which just happened to play while I was at the gym so it was totally a sign that it should wrap this blog up....all lies and jest still a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest...

Friday, July 13, 2012

Yes, I know we've talked about this before...

Today is a navel gazer of a post so you can back out slowly and I will pretend I never saw you here.  It's okay...go now. I will be back this weekend with frothier posts or maybe some more fiction. Steering away from politics because I am JUST SO ANGRY right now about the WASTE OF TIME AND MONEY that continues to happen while congress does nothing but pander to their special interest groups and FYI you and I are not their special interest groups...so I will stay away from that...So anyway you get a rehash of my issues instead.

Why a rehash if I've already posted about them? Because I might have blogged about it in the past, but I haven't gotten over it yet so rehash it is!

So here we go. I was talking to a friend of mine yesterday who is in recovery for his own addictions. He has been out of touch and off the grid while he went through rehab and post rehab and is just now starting to come out to face the world. I asked if he was healthy and strong and happy and he said that he was and that he was doing really well and trying to make sure he didn't get cocky. Because cocky is what gets you in situations like that. You think you have it all under control and then you start to slip. You let in behaviors that trigger relapse. It happens. It's why addicts refer to themselves as in recovery instead of cured. Because as soon as you think you are cured you are using again.

What does this have to do with me and my navel gazing you ask? Is it that I am addicted to navel gazing? No. Well, maybe. But it's okay. I think everyone who writes is to a point and that's okay. Where this really resonated with me was from something I caught myself doing on Wednesday and then a conversation I had with Brent about it that night. See there is this woman at the gym who is there when C and I go work out no matter what day or time we work out she is there, my guess is that she's actually there all of time. Looking at her I can recognize a lot of the signs of anorexia, though my guess would be she actually is more likely to be an exercise bulimic. She has the dry, thin hair and gaunt face of an anorexic. The absolute lack of body fat. Watching her on the mountain hiker machine it's slightly fascinating for me because I can see each individual muscle bundle working. She also never works her arms on the weights, only her legs so my guess would be that she doesn't want to add any bulk to her arms but sees her lower body as a "problem".

Yes, I know I am putting a lot of supposition on this woman that I don't know at all, and she might just be extraordinarily thin with bad hair, but the real point is the one I am coming to now. Watching her work out and seeing how skinny she is (not thin, thin can be healthy, she is was well into skinny) I started wondering how much she weighs. And wondering what it would take to get there. See? Don't get cocky because it's always there. I work out at least 4 times a week, sometimes 5. I eat what I want to eat. I'm not thin but I'm not fat either. I am 20 pounds lighter than my heaviest and 20 pounds heavier than my thinnest. I would like to lose about 5 pounds but I'm not working on it right now because though I say 5 I am thinking 10, and I know I would go for 15.

When I first decided that I wanted to drop a few of the extra pounds I put on last year I went back on Weight Watchers, it's what I did to lose the weight three years ago and it really worked for me. I lost the weight I set out to, then I lost about 13 more pounds just because I could. And then I thought I would lose about 5 more just to be the weight I was on my wedding day (after having been super sick for months and not able to eat) and then I was looking at pictures from a party I was at and didn't recognize one of the people that was there...until I realized I was looking at myself. Holy shit. No wonder people kept asking if I was done losing weight. And the funny thing is when that picture was taken we had just gotten back from vacation so I had actually put on a few pounds and wasn't at my thinnest.

So after I saw that picture I went upstairs to the bathroom took off all my clothes and really looked at myself. And I didn't like what I saw so I decided to put back on some weight. And then I got to the point where I had put on more than I really wanted to so back on WW I went. But I didn't stick with it because I could see the warning signs and the bells were clanging loudly for me early. I was already down 3 1/2 pounds and I was counting the next 10 in my head...so off again. And I've been maintaining ever since then. And that was in February so it's not bad at all to have maintained.

So anyway, I was telling Brent about seeing this woman at the gym and about how my reaction had been to get to that, even knowing how unhealthy it is, even knowing that it's not even attractive, but just this desire springs up to get there. And he and I started talking about what I could and could not do. Because I can take a really healthy plan (like Weight Watchers) and bend it to my will. I can take working out and turn it into a death march. So what do you do? And being Brent he sliced it right to the core. You just have to be extra careful and healthy about it. And then the next day I had the "don't get cocky" conversation.

Which is so much easier said than done. Because the funny thing is, I really do like the way I look. I like my curves. I like myself a little too heavy more than a little too skinny. I like the fact that I have boobs and a butt. I like the fact that I have strong legs that could kick down a door bad ass style if I ever felt the need. I like that I am getting my biceps definition back after having to take it easy from my shoulder injury. I like all of those things. But I also know that voice in the back of my head is still there....that, "five more pounds, five more pounds" chant can and will start at any point in time. So I just have to be extra careful.  And not get cocky. And try to not look at the skinny woman at the gym with envy.

And just because I talked about this being a rehash I thought I would post a link to a blog I wrote three years ago where I weighed pretty much what I weigh today and was having pretty much the same issue...It's also humbling to see how far I haven't come. Still working on that total self acceptance part. I guess accepting the demon skinny bitch voice in the back of my head is part of that. But can I accept that it's there and not listen to it? Understanding that the temptation will always be there, but the follow through is totally in my control. That's the next step.

And done...

Maybe I should get my belly button pierced....if I'm going to spend this much time looking at it something shiny seems appropriate.....

Thursday, July 12, 2012

It's a lecture, so you might want to sit down...

New findings are out today in the Penn State investigation. It seems as though everything is pointing towards Paterno knowing about the 1998 allegations when he had said that he didn't. Nike has announced it is taking his name off of one of their buildings due to this. Which is the right thing to do. And Nike was right to wait until the investigation reached this point to do it, in my opinion.

I have not made my feelings about this whole issue secret, I blogged here when it first was breaking and I blogged here when Sandusky was found guilty. I think the school was wrong in the way they handled it from the start. I think Paterno was wrong. I think the administration was wrong. And I think it was the sort of wrong that really could be called evil. But here's the thing that is bugging me right now. A lot of people are taking this opportunity to do a lot of "See? I told you so" and it bothers me.

It bothers me because the people they are "I told you so"ing are dealing with their own grief today. And we need to let them grieve. I blogged here about the same sort of issue when the world didn't end last year. I don't approve of being a jerk. And you sitting smugly in your warm safe house telling your friends who went to Penn State that the man they looked up to for years was evil and you had told them so all along is being a jerk.

Losing a hero is hard. Losing a hero because you see that they did something that was not only not heroic but just flat out wrong is even harder. And to those that now say, "This is why I don't do hero worship." To you I say, "Fuck you, stop being a smug bastard (or bitch as the case may be)" We have all had our share of hero worship in our day. Athletes, musicians, fireman, astronauts, political figures, family members...who ever it was that you looked up to. What ever field it was that you wanted to go in to and thought, "They are the best, I want to be like them." We've all done it. And to lose a hero is a hard thing.

I'm not asking you to ever feel sorry for those that knew what Sandusky did and did not stop him. I would never ask you for sympathy for Sandusky. But just stop and think about the people who knew nothing about it, who never had a chance to stop it, who it was hidden from who are also dealing with knowing that it was their hero who did part of the hiding.

End of lecture, you can carry on with your day now....

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

I need to ask you something....

When Gary walked into the room Debra put down her book at looked up at him. "Have you ever torn someone's clothes off of them?"

"What?" Gary was used to the randomness of Debra's musings but at times she still surprised him with the things she would say. This was one of those times.

"Well obviously before we were together. You have never ripped my clothes off so I was wondering if you had ever done it to someone else. It happens a lot in books. The couple is so enthusiastic they tear each other's clothes off. I have never torn nor had my clothes torn so I was wondering if you had."

"No, I have never torn someone's clothes off of them. That would just be weird. I can't wait to have sex with you so I am going to ruin what you are wearing. Doesn't that seem like a mixed message?"

"Hmm....maybe. But what if that is a level of passion that you are missing? What if you meet someone some day and think, I just want to rip their clothes off! What happens then?"

"I think I can safely say that I will never face that dilemma."

"How can you be so sure? I mean, it happens all the time! It seems as though there is a thriving group of clothes rippers all around us and somehow we just missed out on that piece."

"Did you want me to rip your clothes off?"

"Well, no, not now. Now I would know that you were doing it because you thought I was expecting it, not because you were just so ummm...enthusiastic you couldn't help it."

"Are you saying you are unsure as to my level of enthusiasm? I am pretty sure that you should be able to tell.  I mean, I might not be porn star enthusiastic, but you can't really miss it if you are looking directly at me."

Debra tossed a throw pillow at Gary.  "That's not what I am talking about! You know I am very happy with your ummm...level of enthusiasm...I was just wondering if somehow we had missed something in the passion department. And then was wondering if maybe it was just me. Maybe I am the only non-clothes ripper."

"Post it on Facebook as your status.  See what people respond."

"Seriously? You want me to post...I was wondering have you ever ripped off someone's clothes or had your clothes ripped off in a moment of unbridled passion? Don't you think that would be weird?"

"Weirder than this?"

"You are married to me, you have to put up with my weirdness. I am pretty sure it was in our vows."

"Yep, you are right, love cherish and put up with weirdness. It was right there."

"So it's a no for both of us. No clothes ripping even in our young and impetuous days. Maybe I will post it. It just seems like it wouldn't be in so many books if it didn't happen at least once in awhile. Maybe it's just a first time thing. And somehow we missed it our first time."

"Do you remember our first time?"

"Yes, of course."

"Do you think you missed something? Because I am pretty sure we didn't miss anything. It led to our second time after all."

"Well yes, but...."

"You were wearing that blue silk dress. It was so blue it was almost black but in the light you could see the blue. And it made your eyes look like the sky. We had been dating for three months. My friends couldn't believe we weren't already sleeping together but I already knew that I was going to marry you and I didn't want to do anything to spook you and make you leave. I wanted everything to go perfectly. To keep you safe and happy and secure and if that meant waiting three months to have sex, we would wait.

But we both seemed to know that that night was the night. You were in that dress and you had those shoes.  Do you remember those shoes? I had never thought I was a shoe guy before that but you wore those black shiny shoes...."

"They were patent leather pumps...."

"Yeah, those, and they made your legs look about two miles long. When we went back to your place and I got to unzip that dress and take you out of it...no way would I rip it. It was like unwrapping a gift on Christmas morning. Easing the zipper down your back exposing inch after inch of your pale white skin...Why would I rush that? I had waited three months for that. And then when you stepped out of the dress, still wearing your heels and your lace... And do you know what you did next?"

Debra smiled because she did know what she did next. She had hung up the dress in her closest. She had bought that dress that week just for that night. She had spent almost a week's salary on it. It was beautiful and fit her well and she knew that her date with Gary on Saturday would be important so she wanted to look perfect. But the idea of leaving that dress, that expensive dress, balled up on the floor? She couldn't do it so she had hung it up before they went any further.

"You turned to the closet and got out the fanciest hanger I have ever seen, it was padded and had a bow on it, the hanger was better dressed than some people I know, anyway, you got out this special hanger and you put your dress on it and hung it up. It was the sexiest thing I had ever seen. No, seriously, don't laugh, it was. You were in that black lace thing with those shiny shoes on, you turned your back to me to hang up the dress. And all I could do was just stare at you. I had waited three months of dating plus the year of being friends to see this. All of you. And it was worth the wait, believe me. Rip your clothes off? I am lucky I could make my legs work to walk back over to you. I am lucky my heart didn't explode out of my chest it was beating so fast. Debra, you are not a rip out of your clothes type of woman. You are a explore every inch of you slowly and deliberately before doing it all over again type of woman."

At that point Debra put her book on the couch and stood up. She held her hand out to Gary and said, "Let's you and me go upstairs and slowly and deliberately remove each other's clothes. It might not sell books, but you've sold me."



Monday, July 9, 2012

Hang ups...

Emerson had been working nonstop since he got the call last night. So many things had needed done in a very short amount of time. People he had to visit with. Documents that needed disposed of. And an entire house that needed to be relocated from the studs of the walls in. What a surprise that one will be for the bank when they foreclose. Opening the door to find they only have a shell of a house left. But that wasn't his responsibility. He had called in all of his crews for his part. He had taken care of what needed taken care of. That was his job. And he was the best at it.

Emerson had been the man to take care of everything for as long as he could remember. It had started out small. When he was in school he was the one who knew where the answer key for the big test was and how to get to it. He was the one who was never surprised by a pop quiz. There were no surprises in Emerson's world. Ever. He made sure of that. When he was in his 20's he became "that guy". You know the one. When you needed something done a friend would say, "Oh I've gotta guy." He was that guy. He knew everyone and everything. There was no problem he couldn't fix. No situation he couldn't get you out of.

Talent like that eventually catches the eye of people who need guys like that in their world. And Emerson became "that guy" to some very powerful people. He learned quickly that his particular talent and skill set could command a lot of money on the open market. He also learned that the people he was working for didn't like sharing talent so he could command even more money by keeping a closed market. But even though he had more money than he would ever need he still continued to work.

He liked the challenge. The puzzles that needed fixed. The pieces that other people didn't seem to see that needed moved to make sure everything ran the way they needed to. And that's how Emerson saw the world. A giant puzzle filled with pieces. Everything and everyone was just a piece to the puzzle. Something that needed dealt with to make sure the puzzle was always solved. Which wasn't easy. Imagine doing a 1000 piece jig saw puzzle in the middle of a tornado and you would get an idea of some of the challenges Emerson faced on a daily basis.

People didn't like to do as they were told. He discovered this very early in his life. He had a younger sister and realized quickly that telling her what she could and could not do rarely if ever worked, but getting her to do what he wanted by making her think it was all her idea always did. It was a good lesson for him and one he learned well. He was a master at getting people to do what they needed to do when they needed to do and be happy about it as well.

The only person it hadn't worked on was his wife. She seemed to figure out pretty early on in their marriage that he was guiding her decisions even when he was doing his best to make it seem as though they were all hers. She seemed to love to do things just to mess up his order. To make him sit back on his heels and have to start over again. And he thought that was probably why he loved her. She always surprised him. When the cancer took her away he looked at it as her one last "can't figure this one out can you?" poke at him, at his need to control the world and all the moving parts.

When she died he stopped working for awhile. His world had stopped making sense and he felt like there was no point to what he did. If he couldn't control the cancer that took his wife what was the point in anything else he did? He even went on a spiritual retreat to try and stop the buzzing in his head. When he met with the shaman he was expecting to see an old fraud who had figured out how to fleece the masses out of their money. Instead he met the real deal. The old man looked at him and nodded. "I see you."  I see you? What was that supposed to mean? I see you. Emerson had puzzled over that for hours. Finally he went to the old man and asked what he meant by that. And the old man told him again, "I see you."  Emerson said, "I get it, you see me. But what do you see?"  And the old man said, "Everything. Just as you do. We see everything." and then in a less mystical tone the old man said, "Now stop feeling sorry for yourself, take the lesson in humility the universe has just delivered and get back to work."

And that's just what Emerson did. He got back to work. With his wife gone and his focus renewed he found that he was busier than ever. So many things needed put back to right. He had only been gone for a few months but in just that time there were things that had started to slip. People making decisions based on their own petty selfish needs instead of what was best for the group. He commanded even more money and received more power and took care of more and more of everything.

And when he got the call last night from his boss that they knew everything he knew what needed done. He moved the people that needed moved. Shredded the documents that needed shredded. Met with the most likely weak links in their chain and had some deep discussions with them. Some of those ended well, some of those did not, but by the time he was through talking everyone was on the same page again. There would be a few months of down profits while the system settled back out, but all in all it was a good day's work. Things would run well again. The only piece that bothered him was that he had not seen this coming. There hadn't been any inkling of a leak in their organization. Of a pending betrayal. He didn't know who had called his boss with the tip off or why. Those pieces he would explore later. After he got some sleep. And he would find the answer. Things had been set right but they should have never gone off course in the first place and this bothered Emerson. And Emerson did not like to be bothered.

.....

"You're next."

"Come on, it's stupid, I don't want to."

"Chicken? Come on...it's funny. Sometimes people will start to tell you all of their secrets. It's like a soap opera on the phone!"

"Fine...."

*click* "Yes?"

"They know everything. What are you going to do about it?"

"Understood. It will be taken care of."

*click*

"Well?  What did they say?"

"That they would take care of it and then they hung up. See? It's boring! Let's do something else."

Sunday, July 8, 2012

This house is clean....

Rebecca walked through the house with a sponge in her hand just to make sure she had gotten every last bit of dirt. She had scrubbed every surface, swept, mopped, dusted, vacuumed and shampooed the carpets. The house was the cleanest she had ever seen it. But still she wanted to make sure it was spotless. So one last walk through with the sponge in hand wiping at phantom dust spots here and there.

After she was satisfied that no speck of dirt had escaped her watchful eye she peeled off the Playtex gloves (she actually had gone through three pairs, she had cleaned so much she wore out the other two) and tossed them and the sponge into the trash bag she had sitting on the porch. There was nothing left in the house that could be considered dirty at all. The house was spotless. It almost seemed a shame to go back inside. To touch anything. To start the cycle over again. The accumulation of dirt and grime that would build up so gradually that she wouldn't even notice at first. Like the smear of grease from the peanut butter sandwich her last roommate left in his room. Even though she had said specifically on the lease agreement that there would be no food in the bedrooms.

Once you started bringing food into rooms other than the kitchen it was too easy to leave behind crumbs. And crumbs would attract bugs. Or worse, mice. And then you had not only the mess from the food but the mess from the animals. Rebecca realized she was clenching her jaw and starting to get tense just thinking about the mess her former roommate had left in her house. She took a deep breath and let it out. No sense getting upset now. The house was clean. She had set traps and cleaned out the bugs and the vermin. She had scrubbed every inch of every surface of the house and now it was clean. A quick trip to the dump to get rid of the trash bags and she would be able to sleep in her spotless house tonight.

If only she didn't have to get another roommate. If only she could afford to live on her own she could keep the place just as clean as she liked. It never failed. Every ad she placed to find a new roommate she specifically wrote that she was very particular about her house and wanted only someone who was also tidy to move in. When she would do the interviews with the potential roommates she would stress how important it was to her to keep the house clean. No food outside of the kitchen. No water spots on the glass shower walls. She would show them how to clean up the messes they left. She would tell them over and over how important it was to her to keep the house clean. And they would always ALWAYS end up making a mess. So she would have to clean up her own mess and their's as well. Maybe this next time would be the charm. Maybe she could find someone who respected her things, who understood her rules. Who realized that a messy house was the sign of a messy mind.

Rebecca threw the bag into the trunk of the car with the rest of the trash and started the drive out to the dump. She drove cautiously just as she did everything else. She was a careful woman. An organized woman. And above all a clean woman. Her mother had taught her that cleanliness was next to godliness. And that it was important to remember that there was a place for everything and everything should be in its place. When she was a child she had resented her mother making her stay in and clean her room when her friends were out playing but she grew to understand how important it was to keep everything just so. Just perfect.

Her friends at work would tease her by moving things on her desk. Not a lot. Small things like moving the stapler to the left side of her computer instead of the right. Adjusting her chair so she sat just a few inches too high, or too low. Lowering the blinds on the window near her desk so they bunched on the bottom of the window sill instead of hanging with a quarter inch of clearance like they should. Changing the rolls of toilet paper in the lady's room so the rolled under instead of over. They would giggle as she had to adjust and fix all of the little things before she could sit down to work. She knew they were teasing her and they considered this to be fun and good natured ribbing so she just smiled along with them while she put everything back the way it needed to be so she could work. But they also respected the job she could do. No one was more accurate with their numbers than she was. No one turned in work with fewer errors. No one kept them on deadline and on task like she did. Their department was the most rewarded and commended in the whole company and they all understood that it was Rebecca that made that happen. So though they teased her here and there they also made sure that it was never too much. Never more than she could fix in the first few minutes of her day. And never ever ever anything that would leave a permanent mark.

If only she could find a roommate that would do the same. It was always the same story with them. There was the young executive who thought the house was just darling and loved the back yard. It was perfect for laying out and tanning. She never ate anything so the food wasn't the issue, but she would track her suntan oil through the house. Touching things with her greasy fingers. Leaving an oily film in the shower. On her bathroom counter. The last straw had been when she decided to try a self tanner in the middle of the winter and left an orange stain on the washcloth. When Rebecca confronted her with the stained cloth she just said to throw it away. It wasn't that big of a deal. But it was a big deal! It was just an outward sign of the lack of respect she had for Rebecca's things. So she had to go.

It was always that way. Small things at first. Toothpaste left in the sink instead of rinsed down. Water spots not sprayed and wiped with the squeegee that hung in the shower RIGHT THERE so you could use it as soon as your shower was over. Laundry left in the dryer instead of folded and put away. Dishes in the sink. Food in the living room. The list could go on and on. She would remind them, leaving notes, talking to them when she found a mess and they would always smile and apologize or at least they would at first. Eventually they would decide that it was Rebecca who had a problem, not them. That they were normal and she was some sort of neat freak. And then they would start making messes just to antagonize her. A magazine left on the couch here, a bag of trash not tied with a double knot there. And then they would have to go and she would have to deep clean the house again and start looking for a new roommate.

When Rebecca made it to the dump she took a deep breath and relaxed her shoulders. No need to be tense. Her house was clean. Once she got rid of this trash she could go home and sleep in her perfect house. As she drove past her mother's old house and the old barn she realized that if she sold all of this land she could afford to live on her own. But if she did that then she would lose access to her dump as well and Rebecca liked knowing she had a place to bring her trash that she could keep just the way she liked. No mounds of stinking garbage here. Just nice and neatly buried piles. Even trash should be treated neatly and disposed of properly. She went to the old barn and got out a shovel and grabbed a bag of lye from the stack. As she dug the hole to put her old roommate in she thought...a place for everything and everything in its place.


Friday, July 6, 2012

Well aren't you smart?

I can read a book in a day. Easily. A really great weekend for me is one where I just sit and read and finish off two or three. But those are books. I just finished a book that took me three weeks to read and it was only 180 pages or so long. But it was a Book not a book. And I have to admit that most of what I read washed right over me in a "well that's interesting" sort of haze, but that's okay. The book was The Grand Design by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow and I am more than comfortable not being as smart as they are.

The first thing that usually happens when you tell someone that you aren't smart, or that you don't understand something is that they try to buck you up by telling you just how smart you are. Or that you do get it and you just aren't giving yourself credit. And I totally understand this urge. That desire to make someone feel better about themselves. But honestly, if I tell you that I don't get something or I am not smart enough to understand a concept, I'm okay with that, I'm not looking for a compliment. It doesn't mean that I think I am dumb. I know that I am pretty intelligent. But I also know that if you consistently find that you are the smartest person in the room you need to find a better room.

Challenging yourself and what you think and why you think what you think is important. And expanding the base of what you know about is as well. If you only stay in the circle of information you know without adding to and growing that circle it's going to get pretty stale. Like a pond with no fresh water supply. But that also means being okay with the times that you hear about something that interests you and you look in to it further and find that it's really sort of beyond your grasp. You have options at that point, you can build your base knowledge and come back to it later, you can walk away from it completely thinking it's just not for you, or you can take what you do understand out of it and go on from there. The last is what I usually do with Hawking's stuff. When I hear him lecture or read his books or his articles I know full well that most of it is going to be above my head. But there is always something in there for me to grasp on to and puzzle about. Something that is going to make me think harder than I have been. Something interesting! And that's good enough for me.

I am very comfortable admitting when I don't know something. I'm comfortable saying that I don't have all the answers. I'm an agnostic who is registered "unaffiliated" after all. But I will keep looking and learning and finding things that are interesting and for me that is enough. A friend of mine uses the expression, "you don't know what you don't know" and I like it a lot.

He uses in decision making, that basically you do the best you can with what you have, but "you don't know what you don't know" so you can't make decisions based on what you don't know and even later when you do know it, you can't go back and change what decision you made in the past before you knew what you now know. (Did you follow that at all?) Anyway... I like it for me and my life.

I don't know what I don't know but I do know that I can know more, you know?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Scientific theories, good news and bad news and being a good neighbor....

So yesterday I had a working theory all day that since the Fourth of July fell on a Wednesday this year people wouldn't be up until midnight shooting off fireworks. It was pretty sound reasoning. In the years where the Fourth is on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday (Sunday meaning most end up taking Monday as the holiday) the celebrations tend to start early and last for a very long time so my reasoning was that unless you took a vacation day for today you were going to have to be back at work so you wouldn't be up as late.

The problem with scientific theories is that no matter how sound your reasoning appears you don't know your answer until you test it out. And when you test it out you find that you missed a crucial piece like...people like blowing shit up no matter what day of the week the holiday falls on.

The good news in this equation is that the economy seems to be picking up. Fireworks are expensive. Especially the big illegal ones. But that didn't seem to be any sort of hindrance to the neighborhood last night. The people that live to the west of us and the people that live to the south did their annual scofflaw  patriotic display and had enough to shoot them off not only at 10 but to do a second round at 11:30 just when everything was finally starting to quiet down and George had just stopped freaking out and I thought I might actually get to sleep.  Oh lucky me. More patriotism! And the even better news is all the houses in my neighborhood are still standing this morning. Another year, another year with no fires.

The bad news in all of this is of course the aforementioned cat freaking out. Anyone who has a pet (or child) that is freaked out on the Fourth knows what a special joy this is to deal with. Now George isn't as bad as some. We had a dog growing up that would pee every time she heard the boom so at least we just have crying George instead of peeing George. But it will take at least a day for him to settle back down. There has already been vomit comet action this morning, crying at doors to be let in, lap sitting, jumping at every little noise and movement,  hair licking, and on and on. When C and I leave for the gym I imagine he will freak out again. And when you add his neuroses to my lack of sleep it's going to be an awesome day.

The good neighbor part of the blog title? That's the part when I don't go stand in the middle of the street when the alarm goes off at 6 am and shout..."HAPPY FIFTH OF JULY!!!!  IT'S TIME TO GET UP AND GO TO WORK NOW!!!!!  YAY!! YAY!!! YAY!!!" and then go inside and get some pots and pans to bang on and repeat it all about 6 or 7 times.  Then do it all again at 7 and at 8. Because I'm a good neighbor. It's also the part where I don't call the cops on you. Brent and C both have told me I should. Because I can't stand it. This year has been a super wet year so the fire risk is pretty low, but growing up in a desert sitting and watching people shoot sparks over other people's houses makes me incredibly nervous. And as I mentioned, it's illegal.

But it's only illegal in Oregon, not Washington and for some reason that 15 minute drive over the border doesn't really deter people much. And as it's the only crime I can think of where you literally shoot off a flare to let the police know where you are while you are committing it and you still get away with it every year I am guessing it's not a high enough priority for the cops to do anything even if I did call. And honestly if the resources have to be split between illegal fireworks and idiots who have been drinking at their picnics all day now thinking they can drive home? Well...go for the drunk idiots and leave the firework idiots.

Now don't get me wrong, I love a good firework display. The one in New York is beautiful even on TV. Two years ago we went to Disney over the Fourth and that was spectacular. I've been to Sea World and seen theirs, awesome, Melaleuca put on one annually in Idaho Falls that was fantastic and the first one I ever went to where the music and the fireworks were coordinated (this was before C was born so over 20 years ago). But face facts, the ones that shoot up in the air that you can buy over in Washington aren't that pretty. They are kind of pathetic really.  Stick with your fountains and sparklers and leave the big in the air ones to the professionals.

And now if you'll excuse me I am off for more caffeine and another "don't go outside and wake your neighbors, that would be rude" pep talk.

Happy Fifth of July everyone!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

And then there was this....

Last night I had a dream that Brent and I played on a professional co-ed basketball team and my nickname was Google Doodle because I am so little...

Happy 4th of July, everyone! I hope you have a great holiday!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The American Dream...

If you Google The American Dream is Dead you will get a whole list of articles to back up that claim. I know that because I was looking for an article I just read in Time a few weeks about about the death of the American Dream and when I went looking for it I didn't find the article in Time but a whole host of other articles. And I just spent a very depressing hour and a half reading them.

Seems like the American Dream is dead because we have gotten too liberal in our belief systems, we don't stress the importance of marriage and having a father in the house and it's dying because our schools are failing because we are spending too much money on wars and the conservatives want to send what funds we have left in to a voucher system so that the kids and money that could be used to improve our public school system will go towards private schools which will only widen the gap and keep more and more people from buying a house which they can't afford but got approved for anyway because there wasn't enough regulation in the banking industry which led to the collapse of Wall Street which can only recover if there is even less regulation I mean more regulation no wait, I mean less regulation and we allow or don't allow them to be too big to fail or not fail and if we could strengthen the unions or weaken them that would surely help and....

Are you sort of getting my point here? You can read any number of articles on why the American Dream is dying and they all point fingers to different issues. It's not our fault, it's theirs. It's not their fault it's them over there. And the more I read the more I started to wonder, what the hell is the American Dream anyway? I mean seriously. We've all heard it tossed around all of our lives, but what is it? Do we all have the same one? So I looked that up as well and this is what I found:

a·mer·i·can dream
noun  The traditional social ideals of the United States, such as equality, democracy, and material prosperity.

and this (from Wikipedia):

The American Dream is a national ethos of the United States; a set of ideals in which freedom includes the opportunity for prosperity and success, and an upward social mobility achieved through hard work. In the definition of the American Dream by James Truslow Adams in 1931, "life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement" regardless of social class or circumstances of birth.
The idea of the American Dream is rooted in the United States Declaration of Independence which proclaims that "all men are created equal" and that they are "endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable Rights" including "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."


Okay, so now we know what it is. Sort of. And this is where it gets tricky right? This is where the basis for all of the other arguments come from. What is equality? What is the opportunity for prosperity and success and upward mobility? When does it become so difficult to escape your situation that the opportunity becomes an improbability? The regardless of social class or circumstances of birth part is especially hard. And then there are those that will point at the "hard work" portion and scream about people wanting everything just "given to them!"

Well to that I have to say that the funny thing is the jobs I have had in my life where I worked the hardest, I mean physically drained at the end of the day, sore feet, sore back, sore head were the ones where I got paid the least. So financial prosperity through hard work doesn't always happen. Yes, there are always people you can point to who came from poor backgrounds and worked themselves up the chain and are now business owners and quite successful, but let's be honest here, you can point at people who were born wealthy, had every opportunity and are now broke as well. So does that mean anything? To point to the outliers?

And what is better? My better could be your worse. We all know people who complain about being broke or how tight things are who drive nice cars, go on fabulous trips, are always going to see the latest band or try the newest restaurant and we think, "I'd like to be broke like you." And there are people who are quite content with what they have because it's "enough" but you might think that their "enough" just isn't.

Brent and I had this discussion a few months ago. I am really happy with where I am in life. I have a lovely house, a nice car that starts every time I need it to, money in my pocket, food in my belly and I don't sweat the bills or the bill collector showing up at my door. This is upward mobility for me. I'm doing much better than I ever dreamed I would. My reality growing up was working more than one job to barely make ends meet and many months they wouldn't. Driving a car that you had to start with a ritual and a few lighted candles and prayers. So my American Dream seems to be working out.

But what about my son's? What will his be like? He's two years into a four year degree, which is more than I have so he is better off there. But it's less than his dad's MBA so he is worse off there. We have no idea what the job market will be like when he graduates but are hopeful he will find a position in the field he loves. Will he make more than his dad and I did? Depends on what time you take the snapshot of what we made. At his age I was in college getting my accounting degree and his dad was in the Navy. When he graduates he will be the age we were when I was working as a full charge bookkeeper and his dad was still in the service. Will his job make him better off than we were or worse? And when do you start counting? Will he be able to own a house? Will he even want to? What about his kids?

And if we go back to the definition of the American Dream (which isn't it funny that the definition didn't come about until the 1930's was there no dream before that? Sort of blows the whole "founding father's wanted this!" argument out of the water doesn't it?) and it says, "better, richer and fuller" and why do we automatically assume that means money? Can't your life be better, richer and fuller without it? By doing things that make you happy? There's that pursuit of happiness angle as well. We have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. There is nothing in there about the right to make more money than everyone else. Why do we always assume it's money that drives the dream? Are you really happiest when you are at the bank? For me I am happiest when I am at the beach. Or on the couch. Or eating a brownie. Or laughing at a funny movie. Or listening to my husband and son riff on the world to the point where I am giggling like a fiend. Or sitting at my computer rambling away in my blog while the birds are eating at their feeder outside my window and my cat is sleeping in my lap

So I don't have any answers for you but just questions. What is YOUR American Dream? Or your Scottish Dream? Or your Australian Dream? Or Canadian Dream? Or your (fill in your country here) Dream? And do you think it's dead? And if it is what can you do to revive it and would that then make them Zombie Dreams?

To my American friends I hope you enjoy your 4th of July celebrations tomorrow and I hope for just part of the day you are experiencing your right to pursue happiness. Actually, I hope all of my friends have that tomorrow. You just might not get the fireworks with it....

Monday, July 2, 2012

One of the secrets to a long marriage....

 PMS
1. Psychotic Mood Shift
2. Puffy Mid-Section
3. People Make me Sick
4. Pimples May Surface
5. Pass My Sweatpants
6. Perpetual Munching Spree
7. Pass My Shotgun
8. Pissy Mood Syndrome
9. Potential Murder Suspect
10. Pack My Shit

Pick one, any one of those. Sometimes you can pick them all. But what you absolutely cannot do (if you are a man that is) is lose track of the calendar and pick one of those at the wrong time. PMS jokes are hilarious, unless of course you are actually PMSing. Then they are legal grounds for well...if the judge is a woman just about anything.

When you are asking a long term couple the secrets to a happy marriage one of the things that rarely gets mentioned but I would bet is up near the top of the list is that the husband knows his wife's cycle and knows when to keep his mouth shut. See here is the thing men (those who haven't already figured it out) need to understand. When a woman is PMSing or MSing as the case maybe be and her emotional cycle is, let's just say a little erratic, she KNOWS it's a little erratic and doesn't need you to point it out. Because as soon as you point it out it goes from being a little to a lot. And you go from being a husband to HIM. As Brent would say..."That's rookie shit."

I have male friends who do not get this concept at all. They think it's just awful that they have to deal with the mood swings each and every month. And to them I say, back away slowly. Because I am so sorry that you have to deal with a few mood swings directed your way. Your partner? What they are dealing with? Well let's see...they have the moment of ovulation, you know when the woman's body releases the egg? Doesn't that sound nice and easy? Releases the egg. What this really entails is an egg EXPLODES out of her. Seriously, the ovaries don't have a nice little opening for the egg to just slide through when it's time, they tear through the ovary to start their journey towards the miracle of life. And yes, you can feel it happen. For some women it's a little twinge that they get in their side, for others it's exactly what you would imagine part of your body exploding would feel like.

And that, my friends, is just the start. Then you have the oh you're not pregnant, fine we will douse you with extra hormones just to double check and then to clear the place out to start again. Which means all of the breast tenderness and swelling of a pregnancy accompanied by the cramping and bleeding of a period. Oh, and I know there are men out there that don't want to talk about this. It's icky. You think it's icky? YOU THINK SO? How about us? And if you think that your middle school years were embarrassing when you had to walk with your books in front of your crotch because Sally Salazar wore that short skirt to class again you try being Sally Salazar when she doesn't have a change of clothes in her locker and she started bleeding unexpectedly. Trust me she spent the day with a jacket wrapped around her waist, if she was lucky enough to have one or a friend who could lend her one, and she went home and thought she was going to literally die of embarrassment....she is sure she heard about a girl in Portales that that had happened to.

And let's just touch on cramping here for a second. Again, it varies, some women have just a mild, "oh that's not good" feeling, some women have nothing at all and some women feel like there is a small rodent trying to gnaw it's way out of her stomach. Oh, and some women don't know from month to month what is going to happen! It's like PMS roulette! Can I plan on going out with my friends or will I only want to lay on the couch watching Bridget Jones and weeping softly? What will it be this month?

And there are supplies involved. And you are too embarrassed to buy them for your girlfriend or wife? She feels like crap and you can't man up and stop at the store on the way home for a box of pads? Oh no...not good at all. Brent's dad was very funny about this one. Never bothered him at all to stop and buy. He grew up with all boys in his family so you would think it would have been the opposite, but the way he looked at it, he was buying pads and Midol and things like that because there was a woman in his house. A woman he was having sex with. So he felt pretty darned good about it all. And for you fathers out there, if you need to buy the stuff for your daughters, know that she didn't want to have to ask you anymore than you wanted to stop and buy the stuff. But just be glad that it means you aren't a grandpa just yet and buy the damn stuff!

And then there are those, like me, who get extra symptoms. I already have insomnia issues and when I am near or on my period I can go from a bad sleeper to a non-sleeper. It adds to the difficulty curve just a touch. And I also get anemic. I've been on iron pills a few times, which make my stomach upset, so I try to make sure I get a good dose of iron in my foods when I need it. But between the no sleep, the low iron, and whatever else I get hit with that cycle it often means there is a day or even two where I do nothing but sit on the couch and read. And for those of you out there playing along at home here is what Brent's reaction to those days is...

"I'm sorry you don't feel well, honey. Can I get you anything? I brought you some chocolate."

And yes, ladies and gentlemen, we have been married for 25 1/2 years. Now you know one of the secrets to a long marriage. And if you need me, I will be on the couch.



Sunday, July 1, 2012

A pregnant pause...

I am the same age right now that Brent's mother was when C was born. And when we decided to have him we had to sort of ease in to telling her. And when we did tell her she decided what she wanted called because she absolutely wasn't going for Grandma. And it sort of kills me a little because right now I am the same age Brent's mother was when she became a grandmother.....and I am probably 10 years away from it!!

Yeah, not where you thought that was going is it? Unless you know me. Or have been around me much for the past year. Or have talked to me at all about babies lately.

Over the past few years my younger set of friends (and more than a few of my age as well!) have started having kids. Now this has made some of our mutual friends "clucky" (I love that expression, my UK, Australian and New Zealand friends use it) for kids of their own. But not me. It's left me "Grandclucky" I am so ready for grand-babies. I want one to spoil and send back. Not one to keep.

But I am looking at two more years of college for C, plus getting established at a job and oh yeah, finding someone, falling in love, getting married, living together as a couple for awhile and THEN FINALLY WHEN I AM OLD FOR GOD'S SAKE finally having my grand-babies. C and I were discussing this at the mall on Friday and he said, "So I have this pressure to look forward to." I promised him that no, no pressure, but it wouldn't hurt my feelings at all when he finally had kids. Then he reminded me that if I got too pushy he could always withhold visitation rights to those future grand-kids so I better just watch myself. Can you believe this kid? Keeping my unborn grand-babies from me for no other reason than I might have volunteered to "get rid of" the boyfriend of one of the girls he goes to school with so he could step in. Okay, fine, I didn't bother to ask him if he was interested in the girl, or even what her first name was, but that doesn't mean I was being pushy....

Yesterday at my friend Jenn's baby shower her college friend Tiffer was there with her youngest. Five months of smiling goodness. I let Tiffer have about 5 minutes at the party before I took her child. But I only got to hold her for about 10 before someone else took her from me. And I was very mature and didn't knock her down and steal the baby back when I found out that she has a one year old at home.  Bitch, please...you still HAVE a baby, my baby is almost 20 and threatening me with my unborn grand-children, so give me back that BABY! I mean...no big deal...share the love...

If I can fight Jenn's and Steve's families for time with Gé Gé (working on how this is going to be spelled, it's G.G. Gee Gee? Gi Gi? Ge Ge? They'll let me know...) they might have saved C a few years of seriously, no pressure but are you seeing anyone? If not...well...if you catch me eyeballing your 20 something daughter it's nothing creepy, I just want to see if she would be a good mother to my grandchildren...

I'm kidding.

Totally joking.

Really...

(maybe)