Rants

No

black and white picture of a crying child

No, it’s such a simple word. It’s often one of the first words a child learns after Mama and Dada. “No” was the second word my daughter ever spoke. Ironically, it’s something I fear more and more children aren’t hearing.  A few years ago I had a family member scold me for telling their child no. I’m paraphrasing here but essentially I was told, “We never tell our children no. We offer suggestions, we redirect, we say things like how about if or wouldn’t you rather but we never directly say the word no.”  I was floored. This family member must have sensed my bewilderment because before I could ask why in the hell don’t you set boundaries I was told that telling children no stifles their creativity, harms their psyche and invalidates their opinions.  It takes away their curiosity and bunch of other bullshit I started tuning out because it was and is bullshit. I chalked this encounter up to this part of the family living in an anything goes hippie centric town and said well rational people surely don’t believe this drivel.

Fast forward to last week when a child at my work was running around acting like a loon and the mother kept screaming making good choices.  Are you freaking kidding me? Make good choices? This kid is two, still shits in his diaper and can’t remember what he ate for breakfast. How the hell do you expect him to put thought and reason into the situation and decide to make a good choice? Yes, I am all for instilling rational thought but children at that age are simply not capable of making good choices. And, what seems like a good choice for them (ice cream, running amock) is typically not what we the adults typically think of as a good choice (veggies, sitting quietly).

Sadly, this isn’t an isolated case. I’ve seen this same scenario play out dozens of times over the last couple of years.  And, I’m not the only person observing this craziness. The same day my incident happened, a cousin, who lives in another state, posted about a similar incident on Facebook. It’s everywhere. It must be some sort of parenting trend. But, honestly, what dumbass thought up this everything but no trick? It was probably some idiot with a string of letters behind their name and no real world experience with children.  And, can someone please tell me how offering all these “well, wouldn’t you rather” is better than saying No and offering a reason why you said no?  Isn’t the “wouldn’t you rather” a bit like gaslighting your child and making the child second guess themselves.  I mean if the whole exercise is built upon instilling the ability to use reasoning skills how the hell are they suppose to reason if you totally invalidate their idea. Give them some damn boundaries. Tell them no. Tell them why you are saying no. No, you can’t run from me in the parking lot some idiot will run you over and kill you.  No, you may not have cake for lunch it’s unhealthy and you’ll be starving five minutes later. And, just because these parents don’t say no doesn’t mean the world won’t. How are these children going to react when the world tells them no.  I can tell you how. The same way the child of a family member reacted. It was like I was speaking a foreign language. They don’t understand and they don’t believe it. They act like you haven’t even spoken.  No?  What is this word you speak? That word doesn’t apply to me. Oh, but it does sunshine.  It totally does.

Photo Credit: Free photo lifted from the internet of a kid “pitching a fit” as we say down here in the South.

Standard
Important Stuff, Uncategorized

Death of a Friendship

Friendships are a funny thing. I have never gotten the hang of the idea that some people are around just for a season. I find it hurts when the season is over and I have a hard time letting go. Sometimes I can see the friendship fading. It usually starts with a spat or series of bitchy incidents. But, most of the time I’m completely blind sighted by it or worse, I wake up one day and realize I haven’t talked to a person in many years and that neither of us has bothered to make the effort.  I have become weirdly resigned to that last bit – the friendship that slowly fades away. Or, at least I thought I had until last week when I found out a once very good friend had died suddenly at the age of 43.

My friend and I met at a time when we both needed each other.  I was a stay at home mom to a sick toddler and an infant. I had just moved to a new town where I knew very few people so I joined a bunco club. The first night I met R (no names here folks) she came in late in a swirl of energy and perfume and we bonded right away.  We had so much in common. We both had a similar upbringing. We both loved music. Our birthdays were within days of each other. We both married men who were our polar opposites on the same day and we both refused to act our age.  She too had small children, although older than mine. And, she was so restless. She wanted more but really “allowed” to do much of anything about it. We both needed someone we could talk to and have bitch sessions with.  Unfortunately, she also needed alcohol. R had a real problem. It landed her in rehab and in jail with a DWI the short few years we lived in the same town.  As always happens, my husband’s job transferred us, this time to Texas. R and I vowed to stay in touch as friends always do. I truly believed we would as I knew her situation and I knew she needed a nonjudgemental ear. Then it happened, the phone calls and text messages dwindled. She was allowed to get a job, there was drama with her marriage and then she disappeared and stopped writing back. I became engrossed in my new life in my new town and rarely bothered.  Then, in 2015 the news came she and her family were in a horrible car accident. The doctors didn’t expect her to live. Her husband didn’t. It was really bad still we only chatted a few times after the incident. Again, she disappeared, until last week when I saw on Facebook she had passed away.  Her now high school senior son found her dead in the bed one morning.  An autopsy will be done to discover the reason. I’m pretty sure I can guess but at this juncture, it doesn’t really matter.  The end result is the same.

Now, I’m beating myself up for not staying in touch. Yes, rationally I know I did try and it’s not all my fault.  After all, if someone refuses to answer you what are you supposed to do? Yet, I can’t help but wonder if maybe I and a few others had kept trying to break through to her maybe the drinking would stop or slow down. But, again, I know the answer. Addiction and depression are a bitch. And, even if you do have a network of people who love and care for you ultimately the addict has to do the hard work and has to want to get sober and well.

I feel like when a friend or relative dies it’s supposed to teach you something. I can’t help but wonder what her unexpected death is supposed to teach me? Try harder at friendships? Addiction is insidious?  I’m not sure. A million of those little proverbs are rolling around in my head right now and none of them feel right.  What I do know for sure is even though I haven’t spoken to her in nearly four years, I will miss her. I will miss her smile, her laugh, and her devil may care attitude. I will miss the knowledge that somewhere out in this world is this beautiful but struggling person who just wanted unconditional love.

Finally, because she and I are both Southerners and because I believe the ones we love are never really gone as long as they are remembered by someone, I’m going to share a piece of her with you. Below is my friend’s signature dish recipe. I’m making it later this week in her honor.

TOMATO-CREAM SAUCE FOR PASTA
INGREDIENTS:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 onion
¼ teaspoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil leaves
¼ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 (14.5 ounce) can Italian-style diced tomatoes, undrained
½ cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon butter
¾ teaspoon white sugar
Directions:
In a saucepan, saute onion and garlic in olive oil over medium heat. Make sure it doesn’t
burn. Add tomatoes, basil, sugar, oregano, salt, and pepper. Bring to boil and continue to
boil 5 minutes or until most of the liquid evaporates. Remove from heat; stir in heavy
cream and butter. Reduce heat and simmer 5 more minutes. Pour over favorite cooked
pasta and toss
SAUSAGE BREAD
INGREDIENTS:
1 loaf frozen yeast bread (thawed) – Rhodes bread found in frozen section of Walmart
1 package breakfast sausage
½ medium onion, chopped
shredded cheddar cheese (as much as you’d like)
shredded mozzarella cheese (as much as you’d like)
melted butter

Cook sausage with onions and drain. Roll out dough on a floured surface into a 15 x 8 inch triangle, then baste with melted butter.

Layer ingredients upon rolled dough, starting with cooked sausage, then cheeses. Bring both sides of bread together and pinch in middle to close.  Be sure ends of bread are tucked in as well. Turn bread over so that pinched side is the bottom and place on greased baking pan, then baste top with melted butter.

Bake @ 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until browned.

Note:  Since the Rhodes frozen bread comes in a package of three, I usually double the recipe, thawing two loaves and cooking two packages of sausage together.  We eat one and I freeze the other (uncooked) for another time.

Standard
Rants

Born Again Vegan

img_2431Not so long ago I found myself having a conversation with the token vegan at work.  We were having lunch. He had an apple and a popular brand of cookie that boasts being vegan, no dairy, no eggs, no soy, and non-GMO.  I was eating a salad topped with grilled chicken. He proceeded to lecture me about how I really need to go vegan, that it’s not just enough to be vegetarian. My attention span pretty much turned off when he started talking about how one growth cycle and done fruits and veggies are worse than those that have multiple growing cycles.  At that juncture, I decided it was time to fuck with this clown and proceeded to tell him I only ate ugly or stupid animals and that if the zombie apocalypse hit we’d eat him first.  But, as most conversations do, I actually started thinking about the whole organic, vegan, non GMO, no dairy, no gluten, only foods raised by Himalayan nuns movement.  It all boiled down to one answer – first world, usually bougie, white people problems.

Seriously, think about the last time you saw a Latina woman or Asian guy all up in someone’s face about “I can’t eat anything with dairy” or berate someone over a non- organic product. It is without fail almost 99.9% of the time some bougie white person bitching about these things.  The worst offenders are the born again Vegans. They are worse than ex smokers/drinkers. It’s worse than the most evangelical of all religions. They just want to covert you. My absolute favorite of all is the children that tell their parents I’m vegan. I just laugh.  If I had told my parents I was vegan at twelve years old they would have laughed at me and smacked me across the face like Cher did to Nicholas Cage in Moonstruck. Who are these parents feeding into this bullshit? Okay, so you’re vegan?  You better start mowing some grass or babysitting some kids to afford that fancy triple the price food you want. I’m convinced only kids in bougie families pull this shit because kids in non-bougie families know they have two options when it comes to food in the household – take it or leave it.

Of course, marketing people love this preoccupation with ingredients.  The picture attached to this post is of a can of sparkling water and coconut oil I happened to have in my pantry. Notice the labeling. Thank you, Captain Obvious, I’d never know sparkling water was a gluten-free food without your label or that pure coconut oil wasn’t vegan. I mean, it’s not like I didn’t know a fruit wasn’t vegan. Honestly, if your dumb ass really needs that label to determine if something is part of your self imposed dietary restriction maybe you don’t need to eat it.  Speaking of dietary restrictions have you ever noticed most poor people don’t concern themselves with all these fake dietary restrictions. If you go to the food bank and you have a nut allergy you will not get peanut butter.  They will give you something else that is shelf stable and high in protein like canned meat. The same thing goes for gluten free products if you have celiac.  But, truly hungry people eat what they can get. They don’t worry about if the food is organic or vegan. They worry about filling the empty spot in their bellies.  Again, here we go with the bougie, first world people problems.

Don’t even try to tell me these dietary restrictions are anything but a choice. For most people, these choices are a want to do it choice, rather than a have to do it choice. I have a friend who has Lyme disease who’s body literally cannot process meat. She is devastated because she always liked a good steak.  I know people who have found out the hard way they have celiac and now are gluten free. These are real and valid reasons for a dietary change but you never hear those people beating their chest about their dietary choices. But, get a born again vegan in the house and they beat their chest so hard you’d swear you have a drum line hiding somewhere you need to start looking around for a step show.  It’s like they feel like they deserve some participation metal or pat on the back for helping Mother Earth.  Hell, I’m helping the earth by eating meat. I read the other day where cows produce more pollution than cars.  Let me just eat another ribeye and help the planet. I just hope that cow was fed organic, non GMO feed raised by Himalayan nuns.

 

 

Standard
Irony, Musing

Work it out

exercise female fitness foot

My exercise of choice is walking.  I can walk 50 miles just don’t ask me to run one mile. And, don’t ask me to go over a 15 minute mile unless wild animals are after me.  When I walk I usually listen to a podcast or an audiobook but occasionally it’s just me and a playlist. I honestly don’t know why I bother with a playlist. My mind always wanders to the most random and absurd things and I end up not listening to my playlist, only my inner voice.  I do all my deep, philosophical thinking whilst walking, showering or driving long distances.  Today, as I enjoyed the lovely, warm spring day I was reminded of a scene in Back to the Future 3.  See what I mean about random and absurd?

Now, I know what you’re thinking.  It’s highly unlikely that Back to the Future 3 would feature anything relevant but stick with me while I set it up.  If you don’t remember or never saw the movie, Back to the Future 3 takes place during the old west.  The scene I’m talking about features several people sitting around in a saloon and someone says something about running and how one day people will run for fun. Everyone laughs at the idea and proceeds to ask why anyone would want to run for fun – like this is the most absurd thing in the universe. And quite frankly for the time, it is the most absurd thing in the universe.  Day to day life was exercise. From hauling water to chopping wood to wrangling animals, every facet of daily life involved physical labor. No one exercised for health. They exercised because they had to do it to get the job done.

So, as I speed walked down the tree lined trails in my town, I couldn’t help but chuckle at the absurdity of it all.  Here I was wearing clothing and shoes especially purchased for exercising, listening to a tiny box which doubles as a phone walking down a paved path almost big enough for a car all in the name of health.  I was struck by how much life has changed in a mere 100 years.  I’m always astounded how technology, better health care, and basic personal rights have completely changed our lives.  It always leads me to wonder what’s next.  I can’t even fathom what our future holds.  Truth be told, as a child, I totally believed we’d be using flying cars by now.  Boy, do I feel cheated.  Actually, with the way most people drive, I’m glad we aren’t using flying cars.  But seriously, I can’t even begin to imagine what’s next. The only thing that even remotely comes to mind is VR and 3-D printing but those are already in use. I wonder how these technologies will affect us in 20 years?  Dear reader, do you have any ideas? Thrill me with your creativity.

P.S. If we don’t have Jetson’s flying cars or Rosie robots by the time I’m 80 I’m going to riot.

P.P.S. This is a free, stock photo, not me. My thighs have never been that skinny.

Standard
Rants

Safe Space

img_2395Warning – if you are easily offended stop reading now cause I’ve got my soapbox out and we’re fixing to have a rant.  Okay, now that the disclaimer has been posted I’m going to continue. The other night I was at my kids’ school for an open house and noticed the two signs pictured to your left posted outside of a few classrooms.  I’ve heard the phrase “Safe Space” bantered around in conversation and in various forms of media. I sort of thought it was kind of a myth. I mean the whole idea of an actual safe space one can go to – are we talking about a safe room here?  Are we hiding from home invaders?  No, apparently it’s just a generic room. Next, I read the secondary sign. Okay, I think to myself, this classroom is a place where all are welcome.  My first thought was well that’s nice but then my brain kicked in and it pissed me off.

Why the hell are these signs necessary? Let’s address the signs individually. Safe Space?  Are you kidding me? No place is safe – ever. You can trip over your own two feet and bust your lip in said safe space. If no one is in the room to see your trip you’ll still have a physical injury – see not safe.  If there are people in the room does anyone actually think someone is not going to point and laugh? If this happens you’ll have an actual physical injury and a very minor emotional injury but again you are injured just the same, are you not?  Furthermore, what sort of failure are we setting kids up for by offering them this pretend safe space?  The real world does not have safe spaces.  When you can’t pay your rent and someone crashes into your car there is no safe space.  When the boss yells at you and you come home to find the cat puked in the dead center of the living room there is no safe space.  You are supposed to pull your shit together and take care of it. It’s not being mean or unreasonable; it’s called being a grownup human being.  A person can go have a moment alone but it’s not a genuinely safe space.

(Insert eye roll) You’re being obtuse on purpose.  You know that the safe space sign just means what the bottom sign says. It’s a place of no judgment.  No, I’m not being obtuse. and I will again call bullshit. There is absolutely no place under the sun without judgment.  Someone somewhere is always judging you.  Family, friends, peers, complete strangers are judging. It might be silent judging or judging you’ll never know about but it’s judging just the same.  Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against the IDEA of a judgment free zone.  I love it actually.  Our world would be a better place if we offered everyone a little bit of grace and forgiveness. But, that is a Utopia for perfect beings and we are SO imperfect. We can try to be inclusive and welcoming.  We can try to have an open mind about things and ways which are different from our own. It’s definitely a behavior to strive for.  I agree with teaching the kids acceptance of others but to post this sign and act like there can actually be a safe, judgement free place in this world.  Why don’t you just pee on their leg and tell them it’s raining?!  Also, just curious, does this judgment free zone extend to the bullies? Are we not supposed to judge the bullies? If so I call bullshit on that too. They need to be called out for being assholes.

Finally, what does this say for the classrooms that don’t have the sign?  Do the kids at this school think those classrooms are a free for all where they will get thrown under the bus at any moment?  I hope the kids don’t think that. I’d like to think no matter if the sign is displayed or not any teacher who catches a kid being judgemental ass will call them on it.  It’s called being a good human being. You can throw little catch phrases around like inclusive and judgment free safe space but at the end of the day it all boils down to this phrase: Don’t be a jerk.  If everyone practiced being good people and mindful others’ feelings our world would be a better place.

 

Standard
Irony, Uncategorized

Roots

For years I’ve wanted to do one of those DNA tests that tell you where you’re from. Like most people, I had a vague idea of my heritage but when it all came down to it I had no real idea.  My recent ancestors were poor and didn’t keep good records.  All I truly had was a handful of dates, larger than life stories and my mother’s eyes.  This past Christmas I received a 23 and Me kit.  I recently got back the results and these results have created more questions than answers. It confirmed there was a good deal of Irish and English blood flowing through my veins. It didn’t confirm the American Indian, which had always been part of the family lore.  But, it showed Scandinavian, German and Ashkenazi Jewish, which was a surprise but not the biggest.

The biggest surprise was my DNA relatives. Most of these DNA tests link you up with people who have similar DNA as yourself. These people range from parents, siblings and first cousins all the way to very distant cousins. None of the surnames of my supposed relatives matched the surnames I knew. I immediately began to panic and started calling all of my living relatives to get to the bottom of this matter. My maternal aunt and uncle assured me they didn’t know anything.  I just knew I was dealing with mixed up DNA or an outside kid. What if I was the outside kid? My mother was pretty and she loved men.  It could be possible.  Human interest stories are cropping up almost weekly about some guy that met his long lost twin through one of these DNA tests.  Hell, the DNA companies are starting to hire counselors for the express purpose of talking people down when they find out their Uncle is really their Daddy.

Just when I was starting to entertain all the possibilities an email showed up from one of my DNA matches.  Apparently, her dad was adopted sometime in the 1930s. Her father’s birth surname was the same as my paternal grandmother’s surname, meaning he was the child of my grandmother (unlikely since she would have been exceptionally young at that time) or one of her six brothers and sisters. The phone call to my father regarding this revelation was like something out of Abbot and Costell’s Who’s on First skit.

Me: Dad, do you know if anyone on Grandmother’s side ever gave a kid up for adoption?
Dad: No, no one in our family is adopted.
Me: No Dad, not was adopted ever gave a child up for adoption.
Dad: Nope, no one was ever adopted.  Well, there was that one uncle on Papa’s side.  He was adopted.
Me: No Dad this isn’t on that side of the family. It’s on your Mom’s side.
Dad: Oh, okay. Well, no one was adopted on that side.
Me: (Sighing and trying to retain my calm) No Dad, like given up. I mean it was the Depression. People were poor. They sometimes gave their kids away because they couldn’t afford to feed them.  And, there is always the out of wedlock thing. I mean it was the 1930s.
Dad: Well, our family didn’t do that.
Me: How do you know?! This was at least 10 years before you were born, probably more like 12.
Dad: No one ever mentioned it.
Me: (Filled with incredulity) Dad, it’s not exactly something people generally talk about. I just thought you might have overheard the adults talking.
Dad: Nope, no one in our family was ever adopted.

That is where I gave up. God bless him it was like talking to a brick wall.  And, God bless this long lost cousin’s family because I have nothing but a few random dates and names to help them in their search. I have to admit I have zero desire to be friends with these people. I have enough family scattered around the country as it is. I don’t need a new set of relatives to have to visit at least once a year. But, it’s sort of interesting to think what a vial of spit can tell about a person.  FYI if you ever do these tests it takes 85,000 years to collect all that spit. You may think you have a lot of spit but you don’t.  And, your mouth will feel so dry after coughing up all that spit you’ll think your throat is the Sahara.  You’ve been warned.

 

Standard
Recommendations

New Podcast Recs

img_2371Here I am again with the recommendations.  I’m currently obsessed with Root of Evil: The True Story of the Hodel Family and Broken Harts podcasts.  What is it with me and these unhappy topics?  The first podcast I recommended (See here) was about a child molester.  These two podcasts are about a brutal serial murderer and his family and a murder/suicide within a family.  Y’all, the only happy feeling you will take away from these podcasts is thank God it’s not me or my family.  But, these podcasts suck you in.  It’s so damn interesting.  Check it out.

Root of Evil tracks the whole screwed up Hodel family starting with the head crazy, Dr. George Hodel.  If you are wondering to yourself ‘who the hell is Dr. George Hodel.”  It is believed he is the man responsible for many L.A. homicides but most specifically the Black Dahlia Murder in 1947.  His son, former LAPD detective, Steve Hodel, has written books about his infamous father and the murder. Dr. Hodel had many lovers, wives and dealt in some shady stuff. He was not a nice guy.  The people interviewed for this podcast includes Dr. Hodel’s children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.  The podcast follows how the sins of this father have thrown an entire family into chaos for more than 70 years. It’s unbelievable and fantastical and much like a car wreck, you can’t look away.

Broken Harts literally starts with a car wreck.  Last year, the Hart Tribe, a family of 8, perished when their car went over 100 foot cliff in California. It was later discovered the crash was believed to be premeditated. The podcast starts at the crash and works backward to try to uncover the root cause of this seemingly Facebook perfect family.

You can find both of these podcasts wherever you get your podcast. I use Apple but they are also available through I heart radio and other places.  I will say Broken Harts has a lot of ads. That is my only complaint.  Now dear reader, I would love to hear your opinions.  Have you listened to these or currently listening? Do you have a rec for me?  Help me find my next obsession.

Photo Credit: This photo probably borders on copyright infringement. It’s a screenshot off my phone of my current place on this podcast.  I shall be hitting the play button as soon as I hit publish on this blog. I cannot think, compose and type while listening to others talk. I just can’t keep that many plates spinning at the same time.  Bravo to you if you can.

P.S. I don’t know what the hell happened with last week’s post. It looked great. I published it and the facebook link screwed up. So, I invite you to go back and check it out.  Here’s a link. I happen to think the story I told in it was hysterical even if it did happen to me.

Standard