Hello all! Here is my contribution to Christmas carolling. The tunes should be easy enough to recognize, so on that note, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Kwanzaa. I especially feel for the Atheists at this time of year. Who DO you talk to when you have sex?! On that note, everyone, sing along....
Friday, December 18, 2009
Hello all! Here is my contribution to Christmas carolling. The tunes should be easy enough to recognize, so on that note, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Kwanzaa. I especially feel for the Atheists at this time of year. Who DO you talk to when you have sex?! On that note, everyone, sing along....
I remember Christmases past and while some of them were really great, there was often a torment within me that was worse than having an eight foot Frazier fir shoved up my butt. At that time, my parents, my brother Patrick, and I lived in Tallahassee. Since the rest of the extended family lived in Tampa, we always made the trek to Tampa so we could visit with the whole family. We could always count on some kind of Christmas drama, like someone getting pissed off because we spent more time at some other relatives house. Or I might get a toy that I deemed 'not age appropriate', in other words, a BABY TOY, and then I'd throw a fit and offend the gift giver and my parents would bawl me out while my brother Patrick laughed! Such was the season of giving.
One thing that I remember clearly (primarily because my family won't let me forget!) is that a four hour trip to Tampa usually took us close to two days. Why? Because I had to throw up at every rest stop and public restroom along Interstate 10. Seriously. As soon as we'd get in the car to leave, I would start to heave. Sing with me, "Vomit spewing in a crowded car, everybody hold your nose...." My parents tried to explain it away as pre-Christmas excitement, but I never accepted that explanation. Surely Patrick was excited and he wasn't doing the yuletide hurl. It seemed strange, somehow, and I always wondered about it. After years of introspection, therapy, and Kendall Jackson, the answer came to me upon a midnight clear.
It was my parents fault.
THEY TOOK ME TO SEE MALL SANTA!!!
This has apparently scarred me deeply. Allow me to elaborate. Mother and Daddy were two of those sentimental, drippy types who loved nothing more than to dress me and Patrick in some Osh-Kosh holiday finery and drag ours asses to Sears to pose for pictures with Santa. From the time I was small, I NEVER got close to MALL SANTA! I knew he was evil! And the poor minimum wage photographer had to drag out the widest angle lens in existence, not because of my chubby butt, but because I was standing safely out of reach of MALL SANTA, the creepy fucker! He never seemed to bother Patrick, but I saw right through that leering smile and that shitty fake beard!
Now that I am forty and a mommy, I can't help but wonder what the hell my parents were thinking, exposing us kids to such holiday freakishness. Well, not Patrick especially, but ME! It's tragic that I am still haunted by the ghosts of MALL SANTAS past, but it's true. It boggles my mind when I think back through the years to the hell they put me through....
- Big Redneck Bubba Santa- all he wants for Christmas is his two front teeth!
- Santorexic Claus- Sears couldn't always afford a jolly fat guy so they hired some puny, bony creep to haunt my dreams!
- Osanta Bin Laden-yes, he was plotting the downfall of America but at least his shitty beard was real!
- Swelter Claus- because nothing says Christmas like some over-dressed fat guy sitting under hot lights showering helpless little children with 'old-fat-man sweat!'
- Hanta Claus- Hey kid, want a deadly virus for Christmas?
I could go on and on, but I feeling that yuletide urge to purge. Just trust me when I tell you that there exists NO picture of me sitting on the lap of MALL SANTA, and there never will be. With my luck, I'd run into Saddam Husanta....nevermind. Of course, as a parent, I did have an aberrant nostalgic moment, but only ONCE! Jerry and I took Jenda to see Santa and it turned out that he was a financial advisor that I had fired because he was so incompetent. Of course Jenda became hysterical and frankly, so did I. I mean, AWKWARD! I call him Bankruptcy Claus. I never took her to see MALL SANTA again, and never will. MALL SANTA hysteria could be genetic, or of course, she could have just been really smart at an early age. I tend to think it's a little of both. Whatever the case, I will spend future Christmases making up for that horrible lapse in mommy judgment.
That's not to say that I won't enjoy Christmas and create family traditions throughout the coming years. We always watch The Grinch and the 24 hour marathon of 'A Christmas Story', and we prepare the requisite feast for three that would feed a small army. Well take pictures of our tree, and family pictures, but there will be no MALL SANTA in our future holidays. But for any friends or family reading this, if you are feeling some kind of misguided, goofy longing for a holiday of me, let me know. I'd be glad to pose with Kendall Jackson!
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
I would love to be able to say that I remember my wedding as though it was yesterday, but that wouldn’t be entirely true. It took me 32 years to catch a husband, so by the time it came down to the actual day, I was tired! Wedding planning will take a lot out of a bride, not to mention working overtime to help pay for everything. I do remember that the day started very early, replete with all of the mishaps and disasters that can only happen on the day one is married. However, it was an absolutely glorious South Florida day. The sky was a gorgeous blue, and it was blessedly cool outside (under 90 degrees.) I had dieted down to look svelte in my wedding dress, and had also stuffed myself into the most unforgiving corset ever created, so all things considered, I looked pretty good. At least I think I did. My maid of honor finally caught on after I had taken my 6th Xanax on a very empty but tight stomach, so much of it is a blur.
In spite of the ministrations of my amazing bridesmaids and all of the medication, my nerves were still buzzing like an angry hornet. Jerry, his groomsmen, and our priest were in the sacristy while my bridesmaids and I were in the choir room in the back. Fr. Ralph Evan, our priest, mentioned to Jerry that he wanted to give things a few more minutes, but he was going to check in on me and the girls. Jerry tried to stop him. “Fr. Ralph, you are a brave man. Or a stupid one.” Undeterred, Fr. Ralph came to check in on us.
It was sheer bad timing because one of my flower girls kept pulling the flowers out of her miniature bouquet. Since we aren’t allowed to drop petals in our church, she carried a small-scale replica of my bouquet that actually cost more than my big bouquet. I had asked her several times not to pull the flowers out of it until after we got through the pictures, at which point she could eat it, for all I cared. Still, at the precise moment that Fr. Ralph entered the room, she plucked out the largest flower from the middle of the arrangement and threw it in the floor. And I chose that moment to utter the WORST profanity you can say in the house of The Lord. For our purposes here, I’ll say ‘gosh darn’, and leave it at that. Eight years later, I can still feel the weight of Fr. Ralph’s stare, and I can still remember my bridal party backing away from me to get out of the way of the thunderbolt we all knew was coming. Fr. Evans returned to my groom to be and said, “Jerry, YOU are a brave man. Or a stupid one.”
Things finally got underway. My dad looked so handsome and proud in his tuxedo. Of course he was late to the wedding rehearsal, so he had not practiced walking me down the aisle. He chose the big moment to decide that we should do some triumphant bridal march. I suppose it was triumphant for him in that he was palming me off on Jerry at long last. Coupled with my nerves and the 6 Xanax, we bumped and lurched along like a couple of drunks until I stopped up short and hissed, just WALK Daddy. Apparently, I hiss louder than an angry copperhead, because I heard a ripple of laughter follow me to the altar.
After Jerry and I took communion, we were instructed to sit on two throne-like chairs while the rest of the congregation took communion. I saw a short cut to my throne, and by that time, the Xanax was really working it’s magic, so I turned and went to my throne. Unbeknownst to me, my very long train caught on one of the tall candelabras positioned at the altar. I though the collective gasp was meant for how beautiful my dress looked, but it turns out I nearly knocked the candles over. Fortunately, Jerry and Eileen, my maid of honor, were able to prevent yet another calamity. Once we were finally married, our guests headed to the reception for cocktails while the bridal party and family finished pictures. When our limousine driver showed up, he was very nasty, and Rocky Balboa, er, Daddy had to be physically restrained from beating him up. It was a very exciting morning!
Our reception was divine. Of course, I was being held into my dress with that vulcanized rubber torture device so I couldn’t eat very much food. But wine and champagne went down easily, hence the reason that I don’t quite remember everything that transpired. But I do remember finally leaving and having the chance to be alone with my husband in our hotel suite on the beach. And I must have held up pretty well during the day because Jerry was ready to get that dress off of me and get the honeymoon started. Sadly, there was the corset to contend with.
Have you ever opened a roll of biscuits or crescent rolls? You know how you apply pressure and then the whole things pops open “PWUPHTH” and everything spills out? It was like that when I took the corset off. Sort of an explosion. Jerry looked taken aback but I reminded him that it was legal now…no turning back! I sat down on the bed to get out of the crinolines and stockings, and that was it. I was so lit, I was out like a light.
I awoke several hours later with intense hunger pains. Jerry was sleeping, but I woke him up, saying FEED THE CAT! He told me to order room service and went back to sleep. I went all out with a bacon cheeseburger, French fries, a chocolate milkshake and diet coke, naturally. Let’s just say it didn’t sit too well after strenuous dieting and heavy medication, so we spent part of our wedding night at Walgreen’s, buying various stomach remedies.
I look back on all of this and laugh. Sometimes I laugh because I can’t believe that I lived through it. Other times, I laugh because I can’t believe Jerry actually went through with it. I was online looking up anniversary gifts by year, just to see what eight years will get you. I think Jerry is hoping for time off with good behavior. Anyway, the traditional gift is bronze. Nah. The modern gift is appliances. No way will Jerry buy me another appliance. I insisted on a Kitchen Aid mixer one year for Christmas, and Jerry got me one. Little did he know that I wanted it as an art form for my counter. No way was I really going to use it. I would ask for platinum and jewels, but knowing Jerry, he’d bring me L’oreal #120 Platinum Crystal (because I’m worth it!) Sure, blondes may have more fun, but I’m not complaining. I’ve had a great time.
So thinking back on all of this, I am also looking forward to our future, for whatever it holds, and for however long we have. I enjoy the idea of growing old together, and all the funny things that will happen to us along the way. And while I know that Jerry doesn’t always appreciate my lowbrow humor, and I can’t always understand his arch witticisms, we’re in it for the long haul. Til death us do part, and maybe not even then!
As I've said before, we’ve almost got each other trained!
Sunday, October 25, 2009
It’s great being the mother of a child in school. Aside from the free time that I now have during the day, Jerry and I now really take an active role in Jenda’s education. We do homework together and are teaching her how to read and how to spell, and of course correct word pronunciation. To a large degree we have been successful. She no longer pronounces drink as ‘drank’ and we have eradicated ‘liberry’ from her vocabulary, so I feel like our teaching is paying off. Of course, she has taught us a great deal as well, in fact, we learn something new every day.
After the whole ‘I lost a stick for bad behavior’ trauma, we learned that there are far more horrible things in the life of a kindergartner than losing a stick. Jenda hasn’t lost any more sticks, but she has shared with us what can happen to the kids in school if they really get out of line, literally and figuratively. She told us about one little boy who is just really strange.
There is one in every class. I remember in kindergarten, there was a child in my class, who I am going to call Jackwayne. He was like some perverse Shakespearean prince, in that his name (which I have disguised) was all one name, like Macbeth. At any rate, he was just repugnant. He used to eat crayons, and he also liked to scoop the Elmer’s glue paste out of the big plastic jar and eat it off his fingers. But the worst was the fact that he would pee and poo in his pants and then spend the rest of the day stinking so bad he could knock the buzzards off a shitpile from 50 paces. He said it didn’t bother him, but here I am, 35 years later, so scarred and traumatized that I still have to sit near windows, even on airplanes.
Back to Jenda and her trials and tribulations. She came home recently to announce that one child in her class was very bad. He lost ALL of his sticks and was still being bad, so he was sent to the Hall Adjusters. Being that she is only five, and sometimes has difficulty with big words, I thought she said Hall of Jesters. To me, that sounds like a happy place where teachers send the class clowns. If they’d had one of those at my school, I might have been a better student. Then she said, “No, Mommy. Hall of Justice!” That sounded rather scary to me, but I was hopeful that the ‘kiddie Supreme Court’ had enough women and liberals to keep Jenda from getting too many demerits. Then, finally, she yelled “HALL ADJUSTERS!”
Hall adjusters? What the…?! Who and what are they adjusting?
According to Jenda, ‘Hall Adjusters’ is a room with a toilet in it and apparently not much else. So I had to ask, what do they do in there, slap the poo out of the kids?
“I don’t know, Mommy. I’m not sure.”
In Jackwayne’s case, it would have been too easy. In Jenda’s case, I never want to find out.
When I was a child, there was corporal punishment in schools, and then again once you got home, after which you were sent to your room. With today’s children, being sent to your room is hardly a punishment since many kids today have better electronics in their rooms than I have in my whole house. Ostensibly, the bad seed is taken out of class and into a small room, much like solitary confinement without Nintendo, and made to sit on a toilet until their parents come to get them…. I’m just going on hearsay, but it sounds pretty crappy, pun intended.
‘Hall Adjusters’ doesn’t seem to be working out TOO well, since I hear every afternoon about this child hitting Jenda and beating up her and her friends. I was ready to go to the school and raise hell but as always, Jerry’s cooler head prevailed and he said he will go speak to her teacher about the matter. That’s great, but while he was out mowing the lawn, I took her out of swimming lessons and am enrolling her in Taekwondo. And I am going to teach her that if any kid messes with her, she needs to just zap that kid right in the buhdoobies. Trust me, that will be much more effective than any hall adjustment!
So everyday brings a lesson in behavior modification and penance. I’m still haunted by the memories of Jackwayne and Elmer’s Glue, but through memory modification by Kendall Jackson, I am doing better. My hope is that Jenda will continue to learn and grow and accept the fact that there are just some strange, ill-mannered people in this world and we just have to deal with that. I want to make sure that she is understanding of others, but I also want her to be able to look out for herself, because if I have to do it, they won’t need the Hall Adjusters. Some kid will need the Hall of Pediatric Reconstructive Surgery. I mean, it does take a village to raise a child. But in my village, we beat, uh, adjust each others’ kids.
With all of my early teaching, when she gets older and starts taking Advanced Literature, ‘Crime and Punishment’ will be an easy read. Why I bet she’ll just breeze right through Dostoyevsky.
Yeah, she’ll be a kick ass student!
Monday, October 19, 2009
Song of Solomon
It’s really convenient sometimes to have a child. In the case of those people who have something like 19 or 20 kids, it’s obviously the free child labor they’re getting while still claiming a tax write off. In my case, I can blame not watching the news on my daughter. I am behind on current events, and I can easily blame it on the fact that we only watch Noggin and HGTV because of Jenda. The problem with this is that I do still read the news on the internet and days like yesterday, I wish I didn’t.
I actually got the first glimpse of the story on Facebook. One of my friends posted a link to a CNN story about Keith Bardwell, a justice of the peace in Louisiana who denied a marriage license to an interracial couple. I swear at first I thought it was a joke. Then I realized it was
true! And I had to contain myself.
Unfortunately, I have since escaped.
The story begins with a young couple who meet, fall in love, and decide to get married. Isn’t that romantic? Beth Humphrey and Terence McKay wanted to have a wedding and someday start a family. So Beth called Bardwell’s office to ask about getting a marriage license. She was then asked if they she was part of an interracial couple. When she answered, truthfully, yes, she was told that Mr. Bardwell’s office would not issue a marriage license and they would have to go elsewhere.
I was at a loss for words, but only temporarily. See, when I read the part about the bride-to-be being asked if she was part of an interracial couple, my jaw hit the floor, so I couldn’t speak. However, I can still type, so here we are. Since I am still speechless, can someone please yell, ‘Civil Rights Violation!’, oh, and also ‘Noneofyourfreakingbusiness!’
Mr. Bardwell was very quick to point out that he is NOT a racist (cough, sputter, puke!) He said that he will marry blacks, but only to each other. He went on to say that he was just thinking of their children. As far as I have been able to research, they don’t have any children. I can only assume that he means any children they might have. I am still trying to figure out the logic in that statement. Maybe they can’t have children. Maybe they just want to adopt a baby from, say, China. I bet this idiot isn’t asking any other prospective married couples, “Are you abusive? Are you a pedophile? Are you a flaming racist idiot like me?” No one stopped John and Kate from having a busload of kids that they exploit for television ratings, but this yahoo is worried that these two seemingly normal, moral people might want to have children, who, yes, will be bi-racial? What is he afraid of, that one of them might someday become president? No fear, it’s happened already and it seems to be working out pretty well.
By definition, a Justice of the Peace, (or in Bardwell’s case, a piece of shit), is appointed or elected to maintain the peace and deal with administrative issues that might arise in their jurisdiction. I have researched several definitions of this and none of them mention the ability to deny people their basic civil rights. Does he give any thought at all to all of the white trash he has married over the years who then go on to raise future generations of hood-wearing, cross-burning yehaws who have little to offer society other than hate crime, date rape and AIDS jokes?
Bardwell also pointed out that this has always been his practice and no one has ever complained. That’s sad. However, I would assume that if you are African American living in a small town and an appointed official does this kind of thing, you might be afraid to speak up. If I thought he and his cronies might seek their revenge, I would probably be scared, too. But that fear, in his case, has been deemed as acceptance that what he is doing is okay. Many elected officials have come forward demanding his resignation. Surely someone, somewhere, has the authority to remove this loser from his post. He needs to go. He went on to say that he has “piles and piles of black friends. They come to [his] home, they use [his] bathroom.” I think the reality of that statement is that any black people who get near him and have to listen to his racist bullshit are suddenly afflicted with bleeding piles and have to run to the nearest bathroom. That makes more sense to me. I know he makes ME sick to my stomach!
While there is really nothing funny about this situation, I am amused that he considers himself a good Christian. Someone should send him a new Bible and highlight ‘The Song of Solomon.’ It makes for some great reading, and in fact, Jerry and I had verses of it read at our wedding. In case you’re wondering, it is the story of an interracial couple. And the Bible is God’s word. He wrote it. I don’t have to do anything but read it and try to live by it. (Of course, that’s just my choice. I’m not trying to convert anyone here.) Choice being what it is, if you don’t support interracial relationships, by all means, don’t become involved in one. If you believe that it’s okay to violate the civil rights of others, by all means, leave the United States and move to some banana republic where you can be ruled over by some despotic, sanctimonious little piss-pot, like Mr. Bardwell, but let the rest of us live, get married, and have children in peace.
Kick Keith Bardwell out of office. He’ll be just fine. I imagine he’ll open his own bridal boutique, complete with robes and pointy hoods for the wedding party, and instead of a unity candle for the ceremony, maybe a large burning cross for the altar.
Sadly, it wouldn’t surprise me.
Good luck to you, Beth and Terence, and to your unborn children. Help them to be tolerant. Raise them to be well loved, loving and accepting of others. And God help us all.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
While I am a Christian, I accept the fact that there are some cultures and religions who believe that we have ‘Spirit Guides.’ In my religion, I guess they could be called angels. In other religions, people feel that they have animal guides. If I were part of any of these religions, I would probably be a sloth. Anyway, I have long heard tales about how some mothers in the wild devour their young. Okay, so Mary didn’t eat Jesus, although she probably took communion…wait, now I am confused. The fact is that while I love and adore my daughter, there are times when I feel like I could channel my inner wild animal and eat her up. Take, for example, the time I took her with me to Kohl’s department store. There we were in the fitting room and I was pretending to be a size 8. Okay, a 14. Anyway, Jenda said, loudly, “Mommy, we can’t buy ice cream anymore.”
Why on earth not?
“’Cause you got chunky butt!”
Then, from the other fitting rooms, I heard ‘giggle, giggle, giggle!’
Then, I channeled my inner lioness and imagined myself, all fur and fangs, eating my own child. CHOMP, SMACK, BURP!
Many times since then I have imagined my inner lioness. I have chosen the lioness because she is the huntress, and being the female, the keeper of the pride. For all you unguided spirits, a group of lions is called a pride. So anyway, I have decided that my inner animal spirit guide is a lioness. Can’t you just see it now? Two baby lion cubs prancing around in the veldt behind their mother, who, frankly, has had enough crap from the kids.
“Look. Mommy shouldn’t have killed that wildebeest. She has chunky butt!”
Without a sound, with no warning, CHOMP, SMACK, BURP!
No more stupid butt jokes! It’s very effective. I love my inner lioness! Yum!
Of course there are times when, as a mother (maybe as a father, I’m not sure), you have to reexamine your spiritual side. In my case, it happened innocently enough. It always does. At any rate, I was laying on the couch after a hard day of hunting, gathering, and growling at the rest of the herd, uh, pride. I needed a break, so I let Jerry and Jenda have free reign of the jungle that we call the living room. Since I am still on an HGTV moratorium, I let the other lions decide what to watch. Big mistake on my part, as they found some show on Animal Planet about the various creatures who inhabit the various continents and their lives and animal habits. In truth, I was ignoring it until they got to Africa and the pride of lions. It’s all fun and games until someone decides it’s time to eat.
The people at Animal Planet filmed a pride of lions doing their thing. Basically, in the pride, the male, Mr. Lion, sits on his lazy ass roaring every once in a while, while the females, the lionesses, hunt, gather, raise the kids, kind of like how it is with some human families. (Mine.) So a herd of elephants go thundering by, and the lionesses stop gossiping about their husbands long enough to realize that one of the elephants isn’t lumbering quite so fast as the rest of the herd. And that’s when they seized their opportunity.
As the lionesses were taking down this poor, hapless elephant, I mentioned to Jerry that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea for Jenda to see this. It actually wasn’t a good idea for ME to see it, as it was rather disturbing. And that’s when Jenda piped up, “It’s nature, Mommy. That elephant is old and slow, and the lions have to eat!”
Oh, Jeebus, old and slow! There’s my cue to leave!! I appreciate the fact that Jenda is okay with nature and the food chain and cross pollination and other nature grodiness, but I just can’t take it. In that instant, my inner lioness changed into a domesticated feline card carrying vegan.
“Hey, lioness….we’re taking down a wildebeest. Want to join us for some raw meat?”
No, thanks. I’m having the jungle salad bar with a side of tall grass. I need the fiber.
At that point, I left the room, ignoring the sounds of the TV, Jerry, and Jenda. After it was over, Jenda came into the office to fill me in on what I had missed. “Mommy, they were all eating, and then they went and sat on this big rock, and all the lions had on pink lipstick. Jerry was going to tell her it was elephant blood. I just told her yes it was lipstick and they were a gay pride. At any rate, I am happy that Jenda understands the circle of life and can deal with it in a mature way. But I still remind her that mothers in the wild don’t put up with any nonsense and won’t hesitate to eat their own offspring if they act ugly in Walmart.
Why do you think a group of crows is called a murder?
Monday, September 28, 2009
MY BABY STARTED KINDERGARTEN!!!
I knew it was coming, and tried to prepare for it as best I could by living in denial until the last possible moment. The schools here in Forsyth county sent out a list of needed supplies that was about as long as ‘War and Peace’ so I knew that I would have to find the strength to get to the local Walmart and get her all of the things she needed. And let me tell you something. For the uninitiated (parents sending their kids to school for the first time) that is a terrifying experience. Those experienced parents buying school supplies at Walmart are savages. They kill their own.
So I had Jerry with me to fight our way through the throng of crazed parents buying everything from pie tins to tie pins. I had to fight with one crazed mommy for the last Disney Princess backpack. Suffice it to say that I won, and fortunately, her injuries were not life threatening. I know what you’re thinking, but it wasn’t me. I yelled to Jenda that it was the last one and she jumped into the fray. That’s my girl!
We got all of her supplies together in a U-Haul and drove them to the school for orientation. The school was mobbed, so we had to stop and ask for directions from one of the teachers in the hallway. She was most helpful. “Y’all just keep walking down this hall, past the liberry on the left, and then turnleft at the end of the hallway and her room is right there on the left.”
At the point that this teacher said ‘liberry’ my eyeballs popped out of my head and dangled there. Jerry handled it beautifully. He said, “Oh thank you. You’ve been a tremendous help. By the way, what do you teach?” Of course, she teaches math so my eyeballs went back into place and I was much relieved. So we went past the ‘liberry’, turned left, and sure enough there was the room. We met with the teacher and her assistant and they were very nice. They let us know that Jenda’s first week would only be two days. Half the class would go Tuesday and Wednesday, and Jenda and the rest of the class would go the next two days. Just to help them acclimate, which I thought was a good idea. They mentioned that they would be starting the children on computer training, at which point Jenda asked if she could bring her learning dvd-roms and proceeded to go launch the internet. The teacher said maybe they could find something else for her to do. Then, the teacher made her fatal mistake. She said that parents could come in the following Monday, the FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL, to observe for a little while.
So in we went. Obviously, the other parents have either been down this road before or just don’t care about their children. Jerry stood there snapping some pictures, and I stood there crying. Jenda was mortified, and her teacher kept waiting for us to leave, which I finally did when I heard the words ‘recess’ and ‘call security’. What can I say? This is all new for me. Jerry was so excited to have grown up time alone together with me. He asked, “Do you know what this means?”
Yes. We’re repainting the upstairs bathroom.
We managed to get through the first few days with no major calamities. That is, until Jenda lost a stick. It would seem that someone on staff worked for the CIA or was a math major at MIT or something, because they have this reward system that only a licensed code breaker could have designed and can figure out. So it works something like this. Each student starts the day with three sticks. If they behave all day, they keep the sticks and then earn stickers for certain multiples of sticks. You lost yet? Yeah, me, too. Once they have accumulated a certain number of stickers, they get to go to the prize box and pick out some little doo-dad. Well Jenda made it to Wednesday and then she lost a stick. Did you all feel that big jolt? It was the earth no longer spinning on its axis. It was the sun falling out of the sky. It was global meltdown. She cried all the way home. She cried all the way through homework. She sobbed all the way through dinner, which in my case was a handful of Xanax and a glass of Shiraz. We finally convinced her that the sun would in fact rise the next day and all would be well. Of course, it rained.
The good news is that she didn’t lose anymore sticks and was able to get a toy out of the prize box, and life has gone on pretty much as normal. She is doing well and seems to like school and I am dealing with the separation anxiety without the Xanax and the wine. I have been making Jerry do home improvement projects and I am now on an HGTV moratorium. So life is good, really good.
Until someone loses a stick!
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
It’s safe to say that I enjoy both the humor and bitter irony of life. I also laugh the loudest at myself, because there’s never a shortage of material. Being a wife and mother, hell, just being a human being means that I will always have enough humor and irony in my life to keep things interesting for the remainder of my life. With that said, sometimes the irony is too bitter to swallow. When irony chafes into a blister of ignorance, and then festers into a full blown case of hatred, I have to take a strong dose of self perception, followed by a strong measure of righteous indignation. I hate having to do that. They taste like shit.
My day started off innocently enough. I took Jenda to the park and, armed with a purse full of Capri Sun and the Sunday paper, I planted myself on a bench so I could peruse the news and watch Jenda play. The park has both a playground and a HUGE pile of dirt to climb on, so of course Jenda headed for Mt. Dirtmore, and I settled in to read the paper. And that’s when the bitter irony jumped up and bit me on the ass.
The article was ‘Man Fights Florida Over Gay Adoption.’ That sparked my interest because, let’s face it, there is a very vocal gay constituency in South Florida and DCF is really doing a terrible job. So why would Florida fight against gay adoption? There are so many children living in orphanages, or living in squalor with drug addicted parents. There are horrible stories in the news daily about children who are abused, molested, neglected, killed. Here is a man who has provided a foster home to two young boys since 2004. Why on earth would the state seek to break up the family that they have created after they have been together for five years?
According to the article, the brothers became eligible for adoption in 2006, and no state or local government entity made any move to displace the boys from the foster home. So why now? Why are we still living under some arcane law that decrees that gays and lesbians can’t be loving and attentive parents? I assume that some people feel that perhaps Mr. Gill will somehow try to ‘convert’ these youngsters. Maybe he’ll try to turn them gay.
Nonsense. If they are gay, they were born that way.
I have a cousin who was adopted by my aunt and uncle. They are both professional people, very well off financially, and very devout. They raised my cousin from the day he was born, sent him to good schools, took him to church, and loved him unconditionally as parents should love their children. And they didn’t change him. He is gay. They are not. He has made poor decisions and mistakes in his life as we all do. Being gay is not one of them. Another close friend of mine is a gay father raising two children. They both do well in school, attend church, and they adore their father. By all indications, they are straight. Their dad is not. Who is being converted to a different sexual orientation? It is a flawed argument.
There can be no denying that Martin Gill has changed these two brothers. They were living in squalor with a drug addicted mother who neglected them. Feeling unloved and unwanted, they were placed in foster care with Mr. Gill. And that did change them. They were given a nice home, they were clothed and fed. They received an education. They suddenly had a father. Being a parent, I can imagine Mr. Gill sitting up late nights caring for these boys during childhood illnesses, and comforting them and drying their tears after nightmares I’m sure they dreamt. They were wanted and loved. Sexual orientation be damned; that is being a good parent. To break up a home where they have forged a loving bond with the only real father they have ever known is heartbreaking and maddening. He’s not trying to convert anyone to the gay brotherhood. He doesn’t get a Kitchenaid mixer or toaster oven for every child he brings into the fold, so to speak. He is trying to be the best father he can be, and he is fighting to hold his family together. Good for him, and good for the two brothers that he loves as his own sons.
So I stand by my belief that sexual orientation does not change. My experience is that it is in our nature, not how we are nurtured. But as parents we do mold and shape young lives. In the case of Mr. Gill (which sounds like the title of an Edgar Allan Poe story) he has indeed changed their lives. He has given them a loving home. He has kept these brothers together to ensure that they will always have each other and keep that familial bond. I can only hope that lawmakers will come to their senses and put aside fear and prejudice to think of what is best for these two young men. Mr. Gill not only built a family with these two boys. He has given them a future. He has given them hope.
Those are the greatest gifts a parent can give a child.
I have been reading with interest the case of Caster Semenya. Some of you might not be familiar to you, so allow me to introduce you to her. She is an athlete, a runner from South Africa. She won Gold in the 800 meters last month in Berlin. But that is not where her story ends, rather, it is where it begins.
Judges were amazed at the speed with which Ms. Semenya won the race. They felt that something was amiss. So they required her to undergo various tests, one of which was a test to determine gender. It was discovered and announced to the globe that Ms. Semenya was intersexual, or, as it is sometimes known, a hermaphrodite. And of course the tacky jokes started.
“Caster….like castrated! She’s a dude!”
“Semen-ya! Yuk, yuk, she’s got semen, ya!”
Pathetic, folks. Really pathetic.
Intersexuality is a rare condition affecting less than one percent of live births. And while I have not writing a biology lesson here, suffice it say that on the outside, Ms. Semenya looks like a woman, but instead of ovaries, she has testes. If you don’t know what any of this means, shame on you! Take an anatomy class! At any rate, she identifies herself as a woman. She did not ask to be born with this condition, and happily, has refused to allow it to hold her back from living a
full and rewarding life.
I first heard about this condition as a child. I used to spend summers with my maternal grandmother, who we called Dug. Dug was a first generation German immigrant and a Southerner so you can imagine what those summers were like. Anyway, Dug was enjoying a little Mateus Rose one day and decided to tell me the story of her childhood pet, a cat named Hephzibah. Hephzibah is a biblical name meaning, ‘My delight is in her.’ Which I found strange because Dug said Hephzibah was a boy. At any rate, I knew this because Dug said that he still had his testicles but then gave birth one day to a litter of kittens! I thought this was the coolest, funniest thing ever so when I returned from my visit to Dug’s house, I laughingly greeted my
parents with the question, “What’s a morphodite?”
Daddy sent me outside to play while Mother called Dug, ostensibly to read her the riot act. After that, my mother sat me down to explain what hermaphrodite meant, and how it impacted people’s lives. I felt such sorrow at that moment, and knowing firsthand the spite of people towards those who are deemed different (I remember the ‘fat kid’ thing) I made a vow, with the earnestness of a child, never to laugh at people just because they are different from me. And while that didn’t completely stop me from being mean, I have never stooped to pick on anyone with a disability.
Because this condition is so rare, I would imagine that many who have it are ashamed or embarrassed. No one asks to be born with a disability, or any condition that leaves them vulnerable to the taunts of others. It was bad enough being the fat kid in school. Could you imagine, at such a young age, dealing with confusion about your gender identity? Or the cruelty of other children?
“She-male! Chick with a dick! She can do it with herself…haha!”
Trust me, when I became aware of this story, I heard them all. It made me physically ill. Now comes the news that The International Association of Athletics Federations wants to strip Ms. Semenya of her medal because of her condition and the fact that her intersexuality causes her to produce testosterone. She didn’t use steroids, she didn’t take hormones deliberately. This is just, for her, a fact of life. To take her medal away is such a slap in the face to any person who is differently-abled. To make her condition such fodder for public gossip and spite is wrong, and evil. Caster Semenya is living her life as she sees fit. She is refusing to allow her condition to hold her back. I admire that, and I believe she deserves to keep her medal. And for the people who find her condition amusing, who make fun of her because of her intersexuality, take your sick jokes and go screw yourselves.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
When you see the stars, and see a shooting star
You know that it is magic
Like a lollipop way up in sugar land, high in the sky
And always remember that love is more powerful than death
By Jenda Harp, September 6, 2009
Monday, August 24, 2009
So between catching up on the soaps and enjoying marathon sessions of Designed to Sell on HGTV, I have realized that all of the soap opera families name their kids really weird shit, like ‘Thorn’, and ‘Granite’, and as far as home staging, mine is more like ‘Designed from Hell’, but I still like to watch these shows. Sometimes, you just have to live vicariously through television. With that said, while I enjoy TV, I am flabbergasted at the depths to which advertisers have sunk to peddle their products.
It’s just a sad fact of TV watching that your show is going to be interrupted, frequently, by commercials. That leads to channel surfing by people like my husband and just dealing with it by lazy, er, patient people like me. So as I sat the other day waiting for whatever it was to come back on, I saw a commercial that gave me a worse case of the heebie-jeebies than that icky movie with that Leather Face guy and the chain saw. You might have seen this commercial. It’s an advertisement for Burger King’s new breakfast combo.
Picture it. The scene opens with a man in bed, just waking up as sunlight streams in the windows and birds sing outside. He yawns, stretches, rolls over and there is a GIANT, PLASTIC, BOBBLE-HEADED BURGER KING IN HIS BED!!! This is no lie! So this guy looks at this grotesque member of high-cholesterol kingliness, who proceeds to hand this hapless man a breakfast sandwich. The man takes a bite and then the two are laughing, having a manly breakfast moment. I have five words for this.
ARE YOU FREAKIN’ KIDDING ME?!
This is messed up on so many levels I hardly know where to begin. First, if there was some giant bobble-head in a crown in my bed with a sausage sandwich, I would start SCREAMING LIKE A BITCH!!! Then I would grab my rather heavy lamp off my nightstand and beat his bobbly ass to death. But then I started thinking more about the situation. Is the guy in the commercial a bachelor? If not, what happened to his spouse? How did His Highness get into the house? Why didn’t the guy react?
Sadly, I think this guy did have a wife or significant other who was probably very health conscious, or perhaps was a vegetarian. I say ‘was’ because she’s dead now. She had the good sense to freak out and not eat the breakfast sandwich and King Cholesterol killed her and turned her into a whopper combo meal. And then there’s the question of how the king got in. I assume that the house had no alarm system, because if it did, it was a monumental failure. Can you imagine calling your home alarm company?
“Hey y’all, WTF? I JUST WOKE UP WITH SOME GIANT-ASS BOBBLY-HEADED BURGER KING IN MY BED AND MY ALARM NEVER WENT OFF!”
“Thank you for calling ABC alarms. Your call is important to us and will be answered in the order in which it was received. Your estimated wait can be measured in terms of geologic time. This is a recording….”
And finally, something is really wrong with newly single sleeper guy. I’m talking fundamentally flawed here. He had the fight or flight response of eye crud. I asked my husband Jerry what he would do in this situation. I frequently ask Jerry for advice. In my world, WWJD means ‘What Would Jerry Do’ and when I find out, I usually do the opposite. Or I just suggest that he go ahead and do it since, in telling me what he would do, he obviously has a plan. Anyway, he pondered the situation and then said, “I would go all Tony Soprano on him and beat him to death.”
For once, we agreed. Sing with me, ‘This magic moment….’
While I realize that the economy is in shambles and consumer confidence and spending are down, I don’t think this marketing through fear is the right approach. This is not a commercial that makes me want to run out and buy the BK breakfast combo. It does, however, make me want to run out and buy a semi-automatic weapon. Did Burger King hire Machiavelli to come up with their new ad campaign?
“If it’s better to be feared than loved, then let’s scare the crap out of people to make them eat our food. No one wants to wake up next to a giant plastic burger mutant, so we’ll send the unmistakable message that if they don’t eat our food, we’re coming for them! BWUHAHAHA!”
The commercial ends with King Creepy putting his hand on sleeper guy’s knee, finally eliciting an alarmed reaction from him. Dude, why get upset now? He’s in your bed, he gave you food, and he probably killed your wife. He’s not leaving with just a handshake. The good old days of Have It Your Way are over. It’s the BK way or the highway. That’s when I had to go pluck out my own eyes and gargle with Drano. Well, no, but I vowed never to eat at Burger King ever again. That’s a pretty healthy outcome for me. But I’ll never look at Yul Brenner the same way again.
And I nailed all our windows shut.
Friday, July 17, 2009
I just finished reading a story about an off-duty police officer in Elkhart, IN who happened out for a jog on his day off. That’s not crazy. Law enforcement officers have to try to stay in shape. In this case, the officer’s morning constitutional took him by what the article referred to as “a crowded cemetery.” He noticed a parked pickup truck, next to which stood a naked man.
Thus far, I was reading in disbelief. There were just NO WORDS for a situation like this. I continued reading and it went to hell from there. The naked guy, Rudy Nudie, saw the jogger, jumped into his truck, still naked, and fled the scene. The cop jogged to his car, followed Rudy Nudie, and got his tag number, which he then tracked down back at police headquarters. The article went on to say that Rudy Nudie was called in for questioning, and, dressed for the occasion, he complied. Here’s where it gets really strange.
Mr. Nudie told the police officers that he had been out playing golf and his underwear got wet. He stopped by the cemetery on his way home to check on his in-laws, and since his skivvies were wet, he stripped down before getting out. Then, because he forgot his glasses, he just hopped out of the truck for a minute to look at the flowers on their graves.
Suddenly, I had words for this story. Words like ‘what’, and ‘the’ and ….
Let me lay this out for you and put to rest any questions that you might have as to the veracity of his tail, er, tale. He said he was out playing golf. Did he strip down and wade into the lake after a golf ball? That would explain how his underoos got wet but not the rest of his clothes. Then, he went to the cemetery to check on his in-laws. What the hell for? Was he afraid they were going to go somewhere? He forgot his glasses, which is easy enough to do, but then how the hell was he playing golf? How was he even sure that he made it to his in-laws final resting place and not someone else’s? He wanted to look at the flowers? Without glasses? Naked? Are you kidding me?
In addition to being some kind of freaky-ass, stream-wading, flower-sniffin’, butt-nekkid weirdo, he’s a terrible liar! Puh-leeze, those cops were probably laughing so hard they had Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts bits shooting out of their noses. This guy is a MOE-RON! He made it home from the cemetery and drove to the police station. He had plenty of time to come up with a better alibi that, while still demented and perverse, would have been slightly more believable.
“Yeah, Officer. I was out there naked at my in-laws graves because they left me out of their wills. I feel like THEY SHIT ALL OVER ME and I was returning the favor.”
Maybe that’s a bit harsh. How’s this one….
“I’m sorry Officer. I forgot my glasses and I thought I was home. That hard, cold statue sure reminded me of my wife, Mildred.”
Okay. The first one IS better, but either one is better than the crap he invented. For the rest of his life, no one will ever believe a word he says. I don’t care if he tells people that the sky is blue, grass is green, and fire is hot. His credibility might as well be in that crypt with his in-laws. Who knows, maybe that’s what he was looking for. The good news is that he will achieve a certain notoriety with this, some lasting fame that will cement his place in Elkhart history. Little children won’t give the Boogeyman a second thought. It’ll be Rudy Nudie haunting their dreams….
The Naked Man’ll getcha if you don’t watch out!’
Of course, I could be over analyzing this. He could just be a huge fan of Norman Mailer’s, “The Naked and the Dead.”
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
So I don’t give much thought to free stuff. I have Jenda to look after, and work to think about, and a household to run, and none of that is free. In the mornings, I drive on the interstate to get to work since I can get there quickly. In the evenings, I need to decompress from work so I drive down backroads so that I have time to process everything from the day and calm down enough to get home. Part of that homecoming takes me through a small town that really makes for a pleasant drive. That is, until I have to drive past the dumpy, nasty redneck biker bar. Usually, I embrace the entertainment value of rednecks, but this place is just too scary on too many levels, so I always speed up going past this joint and head safely home. The other night, I abandoned all reason and logic and did something really stupid. While this is not the first time, it was one of the craziest.
As I drove through Colfax like a bat out of Hell, I happened to glance over to my left because something strange caught my eye. In fact, it was so incongruent for a nasty biker bar with half of a race car protruding from the roof that I almost came to a complete stop. Looking back on the situation, I should have probably stopped and made a run for it, but I just wasn’t thinking clearly.
In the parking lot stood a beautiful maple console table, two nice reproduction Louis XVI armchairs, and a whole pile of other stuff. Next to this absurd accumulation of trash and treasure was a large cardboard sign which read, ‘FREE, TAKE IT, GRATIS.’
I was now at a crawl and considered stopping to grab the chairs and the table and who knows what else. It occurred to me that the place couldn’t be ALL bad since someone there had good taste in furniture and some familiarity with Latin. But I decided that the thing to do would be to go home and enlist Jerry’s help in loading the stuff into my car, and perhaps his car too if there was enough good stuff for the taking. I sped home, dashed into the house and told Jerry that we had to go pick up some great free furniture.
“Is one of your friends moving or something?”
No. Not exactly. You know that little bar in Colfax?
“The one with the car sticking out of the roof?” he asked with narrowed eyes.
Yes, well, there’s a bunch of furniture out front with a sign and I need your help and….
“Hell no! I would never go to that place. I don’t care if they’re giving away free Ethan Allen living room sets. And you don’t need to be hanging out up there either!”
Well damned if I’m not going back for the free furniture. I huffed upstairs, changed out of my work clothes into the first t-shirt and pair of shorts I could find. Armed with my sneakers and fierce determination, I grandly announced to Jerry that I would get the furniture without his help, thank-you-very-much!
“Sure thing. Oh, by the way, did you mean to wear your Barack Obama campaign t-shirt to the redneck biker bar or are you just really trying to stir things up?”
I burned rubber backing out of the garage, still haunted by the sound of Jerry’s laughter. It’s not every day that there’s nice, decent looking FREE furniture on the side of the road outside of a redneck biker bar for shit’s sake. I knew that Barack and I could handle it. Of course, all that changed when I got back to the bar.
I hadn’t driven past more than 45 minutes earlier. But now, the table, the chairs, and the sign were gone. Of course there was still something there covered with a filthy, ratty looking green tarp. With my luck, it was probably two day-shift hookers hiding out from the cops. Nonetheless, I decided to investigate. I pulled my little purple mommy Honda into the parking lot, went over, and started nosing around under the tarp. Actually, I would have been happier to see the hookers. The junk under the tarp was filthy and the smell under the tarp could’ve knocked the buzzards off a shitpile from 50 paces. So there I was, bent over with my big ass in the air when a deep voice behind me asked, “Whatter you doin’?”
Straightening up, I was confronted with the sight of an enormous man, at least six feet tall, with long grey hair and a flowing grey beard, covered with tattoos, wearing biker regalia and striding purposefully towards me.
Holy crap! It’s Harley Manson!
I immediately folded my arms across my chest to protect the president, of course. Then I began stammering and stuttering about not wanting to disturb anything, I was just looking, there was a sign….
“That’s John’s stuff,” barked Harley.
I began apologizing, assuming that John was one of the Harley Manson family.
“John’s back here. Come with me.”
The general direction of ‘with me’ was behind a privacy fence that ran along the side of the bar. There was only one opening in the fence which presumably led to where John and perhaps the rest of the family were waiting. It occurred to me that loading furniture into my car was not going to be a problem since I was probably going to be murdered and disposed of behind this seedy little bar!
I know it seems strange that I would just follow along behind Harley, since any idiot knows that you should scream bloody murder and run like hell in that kind of situation, but I’m not just any idiot. It also crossed my mind that his big-ass motorcycle would outrun the mommy Honda with no problem and just as I was making my escape down the highway, I’d look out the driver’s window and there he’d be, so I figured, what the hell? Why not?
Harley led me behind the fence and went to summon John. The back of the bar was just as horrible as the front. There was a small patio area and the back yard of the place was strewn with old vacuum cleaners and air-conditioning units. I stood as close to the fence opening as possible as Harley brought John over to meet me. I prayed for forgiveness and something quick and painless. Then Harley said, “John, this lady was lookin’ at your stuff. Is the stuff out front still for sale?”
WHAT?! Sale? You have got to be kidding me. The sign said FREE, not CRAP FOR SALE! Harley wandered off and left John to handle my indignant outburst, sell me some ratty furniture, and then kill me.
John was actually a rather affable sort. He was filthy, had no teeth, and was puffing away on some powerful Panama Red, ready to sell me some nasty furniture. And no, I do NOT use drugs, but I could tell that the smell of that little ciggie sure as hell wasn’t Marlboro. Now that Harley was gone, I wasn’t too fearful of this stoner hippie, but I was ready to make my escape. I remembered the book, The Secret, and knew that I had to think positive thoughts and visualize my freedom. It came in the form of an old rug hanging over the fence. Wow, what a groovy rug. Is this yours? I asked, positioning myself in the opening of the fence, and thus, closer to my car. John began telling me about this rug, for the low price of $20.00. Then he directed me to his van where he said he had one he’d sell me for $10.00. Just as I was going to make the break for my car, I noticed it on his dashboard…a copy of The Secret.
Flooded with relief that no one was going to kill me, I stood and chatted with John. Turns out he is selling all of his stuff to move to a hippie commune in California where it's legal to smoke cheeb. (There’s a shock!) He told me about some local bands in the area that he liked and we parted friends. I haven’t stopped back at the bar, and barring that Ethan Allen giveaway, I never will. I’ve learned my lesson. Lessons, actually…. Furniture is expensive, but friendship is free. And wherever John is, I hope he’s high as a kite and happy as a clam.
Saturday, July 4, 2009
So I have been pondering the meaning of independence. It means liberty, freedom. For Janis Joplin, it was just another word for nothing left to lose. For Aretha Franklin, it meant letting your mind go. Freedom was an admonishment to think. They’re both right, of course. All the hot dogs and fireworks (and narcotic cough syrup) aside, I love the inherent dichotomy of a concept like freedom. Today more than any other day, we repeat platitudes, such as ‘freedom isn’t free’ and my favorite, by Abe Lincoln, ‘Those who deny freedom to others deserve it not for themselves.’
This day embodies the genesis of our nation. It is a reminder to us as a body politic that our greatest freedoms and liberties are extremely costly. And sadly, this feeling of elation for the nation is fleeting. Our thoughts turn from ‘the land of the free and the home of the brave’ to ‘the Lancome free gift with purchase and the Braves vs. the Mets.’ We’re so filled with pride today, but then we have to get back to reality because we have to be back at work on Monday and the light bill is due and the kids will be starting back to school soon and Little Suzy starts soccer this week and on and on. So that nascent nationalism begins to recede, and the puffed up pride becomes a mere bloat, and we go on with the really important stuff. It’s rather like Christmas. We get into this joyous feeling of giving, and then the day after Christmas, we start bitching about how we’re going to pay for all this and why does Aunt Mildred always send me an outfit in a size two petite when she KNOWS I haven’t been that size since first grade! The joy of giving turns back into the day to day effort of living, and paycheck to paycheck at that.
There are those among us who do fight for freedom every day. Men and women across the country are fighting against Prop 8. Americans of Middle Eastern descent are fighting for fair elections in Iran, and a young woman named Neda has become the voice of a nation who yearns to be free. American men and women serve across the globe, not because they agree or disagree with the preferences of their fellow Americans but because they are willing to die to safeguard our ability to have those preferences, to speak freely, and to execute free will.
Regrettably, it often takes a calamitous event to re-engage our allegiance; a September 11, a terrorist act, or a war. There is nothing so heartbreaking, yet poignant, as a fellow American laying down his or her life to guarantee our rights, and those of our children, and their children. Imagine the cost to the parents and spouses and children that they leave behind. There is no conceivable amount that can convey the cost of that sacrifice, for no one person bears that cost. No one person suffers the loss. So independence is more a network, no, a brotherhood, of inter-dependence.
Freedom is expensive, and our most precious civil rights are extraordinarily costly. Inclusion and freedom aren’t cheap, and they certainly aren’t free. So while we’re gobbling up picnic fare and watching fireworks, drinking beer and singing the fervid songs that we too rarely trill, let’s hang onto this feeling. Freedom isn’t free. Let’s be worth the cost.
Friday, July 3, 2009
near a river long and a castle strong, where there lived a king and queen.
The young prince and princess loved to play, along the flowering hedge,
they sailed a toy boat in the wide deep moat as they stood at the water’s edge.
And the Bear and the Duck and the Ladybug would come to watch them play
so they’d sit very still on the grassy hill, ‘til dusk would end the day.
The Bear and the Duck and the Ladybug spent their days near the royal court.
And so it went on, ‘til the summer was gone and the days grew cool and short.
Thus the Bear and the Duck and the Ladybug watched the leaves turn brown,
And the wind in the eaves whistled fast through the leaves and blew them onto the ground.
But they missed the young prince and princess and longed to see them again,
Then one winter day, the two came to play, in spite of the fierce winter wind.
The Bear and the Duck and the Ladybug smiled as they played with their boat,
Then the queen’s lovely daughter fell into the water and sank in the cold deep moat!
Well the Bear and the Duck and the Ladybug knew that they must jump in!
They saved her from the moat (and they pulled out the boat) and they started for home again.
The prince and princess were grateful, and they told the King and Queen
And their joy knew no bounds with the friends they had found and the bravery they had seen.
The King declared a holiday, and the Queen made her decree
And the princes and lords, they all raised their swords, to honor the fearless three.
So the Bear and the Duck and the Ladybug were each given a home in the towers,
Where a gentle spring breeze blew soft through the trees and scented the castle with flowers.
As the days turned to years, grandchildren’s cheers still filled the meadow with laughter,
and the Bear and the Duck and the Ladybug still live happily ever after.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Being a full time Mommy and a full time employee outside of our home, I have very little time for anything like the news, or a quiet night with a glass of wine and some smooth jazz. Hubby and I also don’t travel much. Most of our time off is spent in the form of ‘staycations’ or trips south to visit the grandparents. We dream about exciting cruises or trips to Paris, but the fact of the matter is that raising a family in this economy leads you to a certain level of frugality. That being said, we still like to dream about where we might go, and I peruse sites that offer deep discounts and low air fares. It never hurts to dream, right?
So I finally got to see the news and read my Wall Street Journals that have been piling up, still in the plastic. And the sad fact of the matter is, I subscribe, because I work in the financial services industry, but I can’t understand the Journal. Like, with all the money they’re making, why do they have those Georges Seurat pointillist pictures? Wouldn’t it be cheaper to just take a picture, load it to a disc, and take it to WalMart? I don’t get it. Anyway, I recently read about how one low-cost carrier is going to turn your travel dreams into a nightmare.
Ryanair, a low fare airline based out of Ireland, is known for their very cheap flights from various hubs throughout Europe. Still, feeling the squeeze from the economy, and getting soaked by the dwindling number of people traveling, Ryanair has come up with a novel approach to staying liquid. They are proposing installing locks on the doors to the airplane lavatories and making you ‘pay as you go.’
I had to read and re-read the article several times. I have some burning questions. Will this be a credit card terminal or can you use cash? Will you also have to pay for toilet tissue, in which case you might want to hold on to your cash. And what currency will you use? I mean, let’s face it. People all over the world have to go to the bathroom. We don’t all carry Euros. It could get really crazy at 50,000 feet.
I like to think of the locked lavatory as ‘Swipe and Wipe.’ I assume the easiest method would be to use a credit card to gain entry into their nasty little lavatory. But I just don’t get it. Why would you do this to people…moreover, paying customers? Of course, they could be trying to ensure that no one on their cheap flights decides to sneak into the loo for membership into the ‘Mile High Club’ but they have sky marshals to help prevent that sort of thing, don’t they? They’re damn sure not paying anyone to be kind to your luggage!
The crazy thing is, I can ALMOST understand where Ryanair is coming from, because the economy, like airline toilet paper, is really tough. In fact, airline toilet tissue is like John Wayne. It’s rough, tough, and won’t take shit off of anyone. But I digress. I just can’t seem to wrap my mind about how this will work. I can imagine me flying over Dublin, fighting with one of the flight attendants. Imagine her lilting Irish brogue….
Look, I have enough change at the bottom of this purse to pay off my mortgage. Do you take quarters, dimes, and pennies?
“Sure and begorrah, I’m afraid we don’t Lassie. Would you be havin’ any euros?”
Uh, no. But I do have urine.
“Or would ya be havin’ a credit card?”
Yes. I have several. Like my bladder, they’re maxed out.
“Well, perhaps you can hold it?”
Nevermind. I think I just watered your wild Irish rose. I’ll go sit down. If I need to do anything more substantial, I’ll use my barf bag. Those ARE still free, right?
It should come as no surprise that this airline is receiving some of the lowest customer satisfaction ratings in the industry. Only the flight crew can get into the lavatory without having to pay, and they only take whatever currency you DON’T happen to have. There are no thrills or frills, but plenty of spills. Sure, their tickets are cheap, but it’s just not worth it.
Unless maybe you have a ‘PeePal’ account.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Speaking of miracles, I recently had a religious experience, which is strange because I am not the most religious person, or the most regular church-goer, and I’m sure I could be a nicer person (hahaha!) but the Lord works in mysterious ways, and who am I to argue? ‘When the Roll is Called Up Yonder I’ll Be There’, but I’ll be late because I’m going to stop off for a glass of Kendall Jackson first. Maybe two. Anyway….
I’m not sure where to start, but I suppose it’s all a result of my cynicism and natural tendency to skepticism. It’s my nature to question everything and be stubborn about it. I guess it dates back to that crazy woman in Hollywood, Fl, who claims that she saw the Virgin Mary in her grilled cheese sandwich. Remember her? She ran to all the major networks touting the spiritual properties of her 10 year old sandwich that she believed held the image of the Virgin. Nonsense, y’all. I saw that sandwich and it’s Marlene Dietrich. Trust me, those two do not resemble each other, and I know my old Hollywood stars. No dice.
The thing that made me REALLY question her motives is the fact that she told CNN that the sandwich was soaked with the power of the Holy Spirit. The only thing soaked was those idiots who paid 28 large to purchase the sandwich. And no one has ever heard from those people ever again. After the whole Jonestown thing, I guess they knew not to drink the kool-aid, but no one told them not to eat the grilled cheese.
So I’m at work the other day, being my usual ray-of-sunshine self and my friend Kay calls me to come to her desk ASAP! Of course I go thundering over there across the building like a wounded buffalo to see what the problem is and there sits Kay, staring up at the wall.
What’s wrong? I gasp.
“It’s Jesus, up on the wall, floatin’”.
Honey, how long have you been without Kendall Ja, I mean, sleep?
“No! Look at my computer screen and try this thing. How does it do that?”
I looked at the monitor and realized at once that someone had sent her one of those old-as-dirt emails with the optical illusions in it. You know, look at the lines against the pattern and try to tell if they’re bent or straight, candlestick or two faces, and on and on. The illusion in question was a photo negative with four dots down the middle. After staring at the four dots, you look up on the wall towards a source of light and you’ll see Jesus. Damn, if I stare at anything too long, who knows what I might see. So I told Kay my best explanation of this phenomenon.
"No. It’s Jesus, on the wall. I think this is a message from the Bible.”
Kay, baby, I’ve read the Bible, and I am absolutely sure there is no verse anywhere in the Bible that makes reference to the big kabuki floatin’ head o’Jesus. She would not be dissuaded, so I went back to my desk, vowing to go to church more, and drink more chardonnay. It’s okay, y’all, I think of it like communion wine. Really, like when Jerry found a cheeto that he said resembled Jesus. I ate it. You know, bread (or Cheetos) of Heaven.
Then we have some guy in the news, also from South Florida, who had chest pains and went to the ER for an x-ray. All well and good, until Mr. Man decided that he saw the image of Jesus in his x-ray. Now, mind you, the doctors and nurses really couldn’t see it, and the news people who reported the story said they couldn’t see it, but my natural curiosity made me take a look for myself. I found the pictures and knew immediately he was delusional, or heavily medicated, or both. You got somethin’, mister, but that’s not Jesus. I think it’s either TB or MRSA. That being the case, I guess he better look for Jesus, quick!
Don’t misunderstand my meaning here. I believe in God and I pray all the time. I just can’t abide the exploitation of religion and faith for financial gain. It’s rampant, folks.
So imagine my own surprise when I got a letter this week in the mail with God’s own prophecy for my life. The fact that I have read the Bible matters not to these scammers. So I got this letter, with dire instructions NOT TO OPEN the prophecy, but BURN IT UNOPENED unless I was willing to fill out the enclosed card and send a donation. Let’s face it, I’m not much one for following instructions, so naturally, with no intention of sending these fools anything, I opened the prophecy and sit there, jaw on the floor, in amazement.
First, I got a small paper prayer rug, only slightly larger than an index card. I was instructed to take this prayer rug, go to a quiet place in my house, and kneel on the rug while I feel the power of the Holy Spirit move through me. Hell’s bells, I have a five year old so there IS no quiet place in my house. And the only thing I would feel after lowering my fat, middle-aged body to the floor is the pain of every joint and muscle in my body going into a spasm as I try to hoist myself up off the floor with some piece of pseudo-religious foolishness stuck to my sweaty knee!
I got this nonsense one other time back when I was living in South Florida, from this same devious group. Only that time, there was no prophecy, just a postcard with a picture of Jesus (at least that’s what they told me). He was a light purple color, eyes closed. I was instructed to send money and then stare at the picture, whereupon I would see the closed eyes of Purple Jesus open and I would know all of the secrets of Heaven. What I have learned from the Bible is that the secrets of Heaven will revealed in God’s time, and in his way. I am also pretty sure that He will reveal His secrets and messages to me, not some flunky hiding behind religion to swindle me out of my hard earned money. I’m pretty sure salvation comes from merging of our hearts with God’s will. That’s how I see it, and I’ll stand by that.
Strangely enough, I remember when I was in college at a private Methodist Women’s college and we used to go to fraternity parties at the nearby Baptist co-ed college. Phi Delta Theta used to host an event called “The Old Couch Party” which involved all of us drinking heavily and then jumping off the roof of the fraternity house onto old couches that had been strategically arranged along the roofline all around the house. We would mix up some vile, 800 proof mixture in rubber garbage cans and we’d sip on it all night, the irony of all this being that this nasty, deadly concoction was called ‘Purple Jesus.’ In addition to all of the alcohol it boasted, it was full of grape juice, so we’d get drunk, jump off the roof, and scream “I don’t care if it rains or freezes, ‘long as I’ve got my Purple Jesus!” And then, we’d land with a resounding thud on the couch, and the only prayers were those of thanks the next day that we were still alive, and especially that the pounding in our heads would stop.
So here I am with my miniscule prayer rug, false prophets, and memories of Purple Jesus in a garbage can. I have searched through the Bible for ‘Floating Jesus’, ‘Big Honkin’ Purple Head of Jesus’, and ‘Jesus on an old couch’ and I have come up empty handed. And if I donated money to any of these idiots who hide behind false beliefs and predicate a testament of fear over faith, I would be even MORE empty handed. So be careful how you donate your money. And pray, because it works. Finally, party, because it’s fun, and it’s okay to celebrate.
And if you’re out and about, and you see Purple Jesus?
Run like Hell!
Saturday, May 16, 2009
So I am surrounded by new life, and mothers-to-be. We have some sparrows nesting in our geranium plant, so we have seven babies in my poor, parched flower pot that I can’t water unless I want some sort of Alfred Hitchcock type of retaliation. And I have several friends at work who are expecting, so it’s rather nice. I have an expectant mother friend at work who asked me for some advice, and since I am SUCH an expert, I was more than happy to oblige. And as my friend is one of those still skinny, utterly gorgeous pregnant women, I opted not to hold back. Anything.
“It’s been great. My husband is going to a boot camp for first time fathers, and I am trying to eat healthy and exercise.”
Bwuhahaha….fool! First, the only boot camp Daddy needs is to cook your meals, clean your house, rub your tired feet, and tell you how beautiful you are. And since you only weigh 90 pounds, you need to start having a three-way with Ben and Jerry. Trust me on this.
“Well”, says Tiff, “I want to be in great shape for labor. I really don’t want to have drugs or anything.”
You’re too late. You needed to get an epidural the day you found out you were pregnant. You wanna be in great shape? You ARE in great shape, damn you. But when those labor pains start, you’re going to get a work out punching the shit out of your husband and pretty much everyone else who gets within punching distance. And you will realize the complete and utter stupidity of pattern breathing and you will scream for painkillers like a seasoned crackhead. Trust me…..I’ve been there.
I went into labor in the wee small hours of Tuesday, March 16, 2004. I had a difficult pregnancy. I was 34, looked like a dome home, and had gestational diabetes to contend with. (Ben and Jerry and I had to end our affair.) Where other women got morning sickness, I got Mad Cow Disease. I was one of those unfortunate women who looked hugely pregnant the moment I conceived. (Come to think of it, I’m afraid I still do. Damn you, Ben and Jerry!) And Jerry, my husband! He was such a trooper, he went with me to ALL of my appointments. I figured that since we had experienced the entire pregnancy together, he should be miserable, too. As the day approached, I was the size of The Epcot Center. The night before I delivered, my great friend (and a SuperMom), Yasmin, told me to eat a spicy Italian meal, have a glass of red wine, and watch a funny movie. She promised it would send me into labor. (Or, after all that starch, a diabetic coma.)
I took her advice, watched Moonstruck, laughed my ass off, and then went to bed. For about an hour. Then labor kicked in. I love these stories of women who SWEAR they didn’t know they were pregnant, never knew they were in labor, what have you. LIARS! There is no, absolutely NO mistaking labor. None! It hurts like a sonofabitch, and it’ll make you lose your religion. Or find it. Or create your own where you commit violent acts against all and sundry and use lots of profanity.
So we arrived at the hospital after several false starts. Not false labor, just me forgetting stuff like my hairdryer, then my brush, then my shower shoes. Jerry finally told me no way were we going home a fourth time so I could get my Bach CDs. Not that they mattered at that point. I was singing a libretto of cuss words the whole way to the ER. We arrived, Jerry signed us in and I began screaming for my epidural. And now I know the secret. The head nurse got really tired of hearing my big mouth and told me that once I got to three centimeters, I could have an epidural. (If you don’t know what that means, don’t ask.) I willed myself there and began screaming. Actually, I’m not sure I made it. By that time, the hospital staff might have just wanted to shut me up.
I have to say that was the BEST sleep I’d had in months. Well, it was probably the best sleep I’d had in my life. Jerry, who quit smoking in support of pending parenthood, bravely took that opportunity to drive around the corner to a service station, where he downed a couple of beers and smoked a whole pack of cigarettes in the car. Then, he got himself a Publix deli sandwich the size of Rhode Island and came back to the room. The nurse told him that he might have to leave as the smell of food might make me ill, but I was farther over the rainbow than Judy Garland, so I went right back to sleep. Imagine my annoyance when I felt some sort of tapping on my foot. I tried a well aimed kick at the head of whoever was disturbing my rest, but I was paralyzed from the waist down. Lucky for Dr. Jurado, too, because the way he was rooting around in my nether-regions, he was either going to propose marriage or I was going to bring my knees together and crush his head like a walnut. I know now that the epidural is administered to protect everyone ELSE in the labor and delivery room.
He thumped my feet and told me that our baby, Jenda, was in distress and we needed to go into surgery. I rallied and said that I really wanted to continue to try pushing, to which he replied, “You’re not really trying, Chica.” I found out later that he had vacation starting two days later, so there was no way in hell he was going to hang out in the hospital delivering my recalcitrant newborn. So off we went, and I had an emergency caesarean.
After Jerry ran off after Jenda and left me with Nurse Ratched, who refused me water, ice chips, or a blindfold and cigarette, I decided the thing to do as I came down off of all the drugs they gave me was to make an ass of myself in the hopes that they would give me more drugs to shut me up. Nurse Numbskull was immune to my profanity and threats of violence (and why wouldn’t she be? I was paralyzed from the waist down!) Jerry finally came back with Nurse Nice, who wheeled me into my private room, where at last, I got kinder treatment and ice chips. Once we were all ensconced, Mommy, Daddy, and baby, in our cozy little room, the nurses left and I spent the evening gazing at the amazing and wondrous creature that we had created.
I was sick of the liquid diet, and sick of everyone asking me if I had passed gas, which was not something I was going to admit to until Jerry whispered to me that passing gas meant that I was healing properly and could have solid food again. So I blew a wall down and got a cheeseburger. Life was good!
Day two was hell, because by then, all the drugs had worn off and I realized that in spite of my flabby tummy, I really used my abdominal muscles. For EVERYTHING! We really do, folks. We use them to laugh, cry, sit up, cough, lift, lay back down, you name it. Of course the worst was yet to come. In the meantime, we enjoyed our cloistered existence, flowers being delivered, nurses at our beck and call, and just our little family. I enjoyed yelling at Jerry as he tried to change ‘the first diaper’ and I even enjoyed taking laps around the nurse’s station, slowly shuffling and panting like Hugh Hefner trying to remember his way around the Playboy Mansion. But alas, all good things come to an end. Hence, that abdominal muscle thing.
One day, our (usually) very sweet recovery room nurse came in and announced that according to my chart, I had yet to have a bowel movement. Knowing that that would entail using muscles I vowed never to use again, I said, SO WHAT?
“Ma’am, we need to ensure that everything is working and healing. If you don’t have a bowel movement, we can’t release you from the hospital.”
Are you one of those nurses who’s hooked on the prescription drugs? You must be. Jerry, I said, call U-Haul and get all our stuff moved in here. I am perfectly prepared to spend the rest of my life here, but I hate their cheesy artwork. Get our essentials from home and donate the rest. It’s fine, really.
Then our dear sweet nurse said, “Get your ass outta that bed and do what you have to do. We’re gonna need this room for the next patient and you have to be out by tomorrow. Got it?” Then she stormed out.
I was almost in tears. Jerry could see how upset I was, and he just wanted to help. So he made a suggestion as he helped me out of the bed.
“I’m going to help you into the bathroom. I’ll stand outside the door and if you need me to help you, I’ll be right here so I can come in and help, okay?”
I have to admit that this stopped me in my tracks. Thinking about what would need to happen in there, how could he help me? I mean, is this like some kind of crisis for anyone besides me? Is he going to ‘talk it off the ledge’, like Good Cop, Bad Cop?
Me, Bad Cop: Come down from there, you little shit!
Jerry, Good Cop: “Take your time, it’s okay. No one wants to hurt you. We all just want to go home.”
Me, Bad Cop: You piece of shit! Get down from there!
And so on, and so on. Until finally, the deed was done, I was doubled over and in tears, and Jerry was booking himself a one-way ticket under an assumed name to start a new life.
We finally made it out of the hospital, into our car, and onto the Florida Turnpike, Jerry driving like Grandma Mildred at 30 miles per hour, and me in the backseat hovering over Jenda, who slept peacefully in her car-seat the whole way home. I like to think that all those ‘one-finger salutes’ we got were well meant, and not a result of our blocking up an entire highway doing only 30 mph.
Fast forward to 2009 (literally, folks. It flies by!) and we’re getting ready to send our baby off to kindergarten this fall. It seems like just yesterday that we were up all night, learning the feeding schedule, teething, potty training, and just going through all of the new parent learning curve, or, as I call it, ‘Baby Mama Drama.’ It was tough, and when Jenda misbehaves, I whip out the old “I was cut in half so you could get out”. God help me when she gets older and that one won’t work anymore. I remember the aches and pains, the sleepless nights, and boobs so sore I promised them an all expenses paid trip to Paris (which still hasn’t materialized!) I am reminded of my own mother telling me that someday I would have a child just like me, and Jerry’s mother cursing, er, blessing him with the same admonishment. So we have a daughter who looks just like Jerry (and hopefully has HIS metabolism) and who has my sarcastic mouth. Some days it’s a real challenge, just like pregnancy and childbirth were. So here’s my best advice…. Enjoy every minute.
I’d do it again in a heartbeat!
Friday, May 15, 2009
I look forward to this time of year because my favorite day is fast approaching (favorite day followed closely by Macy’s One Day Sale!) Mother’s Day! I envision Jenda working her little fingers off at her daycare making a card for me, or some gift that I will keep forever. I imagine breakfast in bed, a dozen roses, beautiful music….okay, you’re right. I’ll put that dream next to the one I call LOTTO WINNER! But really, for me, it is a sacred and holy day. Jerry and I were talking about it the other day. I said that I feel that Mother’s Day should be honored on the liturgical calendar as a religious holiday.
Jerry didn’t quite agree.
I feel that, for mothers, it is akin to Christmas for our Lord Jesus.
“You should watch what you say. That could be considered blasphemy!”
While I realize that I don’t go to church as often as I should, I like to think I am a good person. I know that God loves me and wants me to be happy. (Hey, a good glass of Kendall Jackson and an Ella Fitzgerald CD are pretty strong evidence in support of this!) I also know that I am created in his image. Okay, fair enough. I think Jesus is pretty amazing, but we don’t call him Mama. The Lord created us in his image to handle that. Let me explain these stunning Biblical similarities.
‘The Lord giveth and The Lord taketh away.’ Okay Moms, how many times have you told your kids, “I brought you into this world and if you don’t straighten up, I will dang sure take you out!” Uh huh. You know who you are.
“I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it.”Uh huh. I have found petrified chicken mcnuggets as hard as rocks in my car that have been there since only the Lord knows when, and no amount of Febreeze will prevail against the smell.
David says of Saul’s men, “They sharpen their tongues like a serpent, the poison of asps is under their lips.” Yep. My mama used to say, “Don’t take that sharp tone with me, young lady, or you won’t believe what I’ll do to your little asp!” (Or words to that effect!)
Let’s take Mary and Joseph travelling to Bethlehem from Nazareth, which was about a 5 day trip. Joseph gallantly allowed Mary, hugely pregnant, to ride the donkey. (Uh huh, thanks!) The terrain was rough and people had to travel in groups for safety. They were unable to find room at the inn, so Mary gave birth in a stable and placed her newborn baby in a manger wrapped in swaddling clothes. (Hey, we moms do whatever it takes!)
This mother Mary (y’all know my first name is Mary, right?), well, Jerry gallantly drove the 8 or so miles to the hospital with me screaming some serious wrath the whole way. Rough terrain? I felt every pothole, pebble in the road, you name it! Then when we got there, groups travelled into my room to put their hands in my hoohah to see how things were progressing with the birth.
Unlike Holy Mary, there would be no manger for Jenda. I raised all kinda hell to get a private room. Of course Jesus’ mom couldn’t do this. I mean, c’mon… Her son is the savior. No sense going around making an ass of herself and hurting his prospects. It’s just another prime example of maternal sacrifice.
I also like the story of Jesus feeding the masses. I reminded Jerry of this gospel from Matthew by bringing up Jenda’s most recent birthday. Untold numbers of kids descended on our house and I had to make that sheet cake from Food Lion go a mighty long way. I think Jesus was proud! Then when cake and ice cream were finished, I repainted the kitchen while they tore through the house like the Biblical plague of locusts. Trust me, they destroyed all the crops and livestock, well, okay, just the house. Four and five-year-olds on sugar high loose in your house will make you say, “Okay Moses…really, they can go anytime! Hurry!”
I love the story of Jesus walking on water to his disciples.
As a mother, I have gotten up in the middle of the night for one reason or another and have walked barefoot across Lego Blocks. Folks, that’s a pain that gives you a really deep spiritual understanding. It has brought me closer to God because I can hear him saying, “Look, Jesus was young once and it happened to me. I didn’t take my own name in vain, don’t you do it, either!” Want to get closer to God? Walk barefoot on Legos. Trust me, you’ll find your religion. (God being the creator of all things, I bet he only had to tell Jesus ONCE to clean his room!)
Jerry tried to counter with the big one. “Jesus could raise the dead. Moms can’t do that!”
I can honestly say that I think even our Lord and Savior would have a rough time waking Jenda up for daycare after she has stayed up too late watching Dora videos and eating ice cream. Trust me, y’all, I mean no disrespect, but Lazarus has NOTHING on Jenda when it’s time to get up in the morning. Just one more reason the Lord created mothers.
For me, this proves that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit think mothers are pretty special. Look at all the similarities in the life of Jesus and what moms do everyday.
Yep, our special day is pretty groovy.
So if Jerry and Jenda get up early to make me breakfast in bed (nah, it’ll never happen. Getting up early, I mean!) and dirty up all the dishes in the house, that’s okay. Great, in fact. If they serenade me with a tune they make up just for me, that’s great, too. The Lord tells us to make a joyful noise, and I can’t imagine anything more joyful.
(LOTTO WINNER would be cool!)
Like I said, Jesus is amazing, and he does all these cool things (that water in to wine thing? I would love to learn that one!) Jesus works miracles everyday. Our children are miracles, too. And in their case, even our Lord needed a mother’s help in creating these miracles.
And that is a special and sacred thing.
Y'all, can I get an Amen?!