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.

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

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Holidays, Musing, Rants

Feel The Love

three red heart balloons

Since it’s almost Valentine’s Day, let’s talk about love. When I was a small child, no older than four or five, I have a clear and vivid memory of standing in line at the pharmacy counter of our local drug store.  I looked to my right expecting to find candy bars and gum but instead, I found small boxes that had silhouetted couples walking hand in hand bearing the slogan “for feeling the love.”  Being the precocious and curious child I was, I asked my mother if we needed those little boxes to feel love. This was one of those rare and wondrous occasions when my smart-mouthed mother had very little response.  As fate would have it, right after I asked my question it was our turn at the cash register.  We moved past the strange love boxes and I was enchanted by other things.  But, I distinctly heard my mother tell the pharmacist, “You really need to put those things behind the counter and away from kids.”

As an adult, the thing that stands out most to me about that memory was not my very valid childlike question or my mother’s dumbfounded response but why we would need anything tangible to feel love.  I think that’s what I was really asking but I had no way to articulate that at the tender age of four or five.  I don’t think I could really wrap my brain around the idea that to feel love I needed to buy something from a store. I mean, didn’t I feel love for my mother and other family members without having to buy anything? Wasn’t it a feeling deep down and not a tangible thing?  As an adult that is easy to answer but as a little kid not so much.

I think that’s one of the reasons why I don’t like or really celebrate Valentine’s Day.  I think it’s silly to say one day out of the year we are going to profess our love.  If you think about it that way it’s a pretty shitty holiday. I mean who only wants to hear I love you or You’re appreciated only once a year?  I sure don’t and a damn $10 box of chocolates once a year is not going to make me like that idea.  A lot of people I know think I’m pretty curmudgeonly for this opinion.  That’s okay.  They are entitled to their opinions.  Personally, I’d much rather have flowers picked from the yard on a random day than a dozen roses delivered to my door on a prescribed day.  I would much rather have a fancy meal or fancy chocolate for no apparent reason than some set aside made-up holiday where everyone is getting something very similar to what I just received.  It doesn’t feel special on Valentines Day. It feels rehearsed and expected. I’d rather have unrehearsed and thoughtful.

This year on Valentines Day I will be carting kids to extracurriculars and eating leftovers. I know I am loved. I don’t need a card or a box with silhouetted couples walking hand and hand to feel that love.

Photo Credit: Free photo lifted off the internet but don’t you like how it’s a picture of balloons and my story was all about condoms?  Sometimes the Universe really smiles on us. 

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Motherhood/Parenting

Too Many Choices

img_2353In August of this year, I will officially have a high schooler. I find this fact very hard to wrap my head around.  Just yesterday I was worried this child would never potty train and would go off to college with a case of diapers under one arm and a case of cheap beer under the other.  Yet, here we are.  He is completely housebroken and in the final months of 8th grade.

As of a couple of weeks ago, I started getting emails about random parent meetings from our school district.  Meetings if you wanted your child to do dual credit college courses. Meetings if you wanted your child to go to the career center.  Tonight it’s a meeting to learn about the registration process, requirements to graduate in our state and district, and information on the various electives, sports, and AP classes. To say that I am overwhelmed is an understatement. When I say this to some friends they look at me like I am crazy.  Apparently, they have either done this before or this was how their high school experience looked.  I do not share their experience.  My grandmother dropped out of school after the 5th grade to help her dirt poor, sharecropping family.  My mother was the first in her family to graduate from high school; not of all of her brothers and sisters did so.  I was the first person in my family to go to college.  Additionally, I went to a very small high school. Our electives were classes like typing, home ec, and Spanish. I had so little choice I wasn’t worried. I just picked whatever fit my schedule and I thought I could pull off a decent grade.  Our State’s requirements to graduate were not that strict. I don’t recall having to have a minimum of two years of foreign language and one year of fine art. Yet now I look at this form my child’s school wants back in a few days and I’m completely baffled.  Electives like Teen Leadership and Intro to Architectural Design sound like college classes, not high school.  The school wants to know what path my kid will be on arts, business, STEM, public service or multidisciplinary.  This kid’s greatest ambition is to beat his current video game.  He doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows up.  I’m in a downright breathe into a paper bag panic and this kid doesn’t have two fucks to give.

The questions that keep running through my mind is how did this process get so complicated?  Is there such a thing as too many choices?  Is it because my kid goes to a school of thousands of kids and I went to one with just a few hundred?  Is it because it really was 25 years ago and that’s just how things have progressed?  Is it because of our district?  I don’t have any answers because I have no frame of reference for other districts.  As my oldest child, he is my test dummy and this really is our first rodeo.  Then I start to worry about the classes my kid picks.  What if my kid picks the wrong classes could that delay graduation or hurt his chances of getting into a good post-secondary education opportunity? What are the consequences? This is definitely one of those parenting situations where the drama doesn’t go away it just becomes different. Even though potty training was a nightmare, I think I would gladly take a week of nightly pee the bed sheets over trying to make heads or tails of high school registration.

P.S. – At the end of the day I know I’m probably overreacting. Like all parents, I just want to do the very best I can for my kid. I don’t want to let him down or know I didn’t help put him on the path for success. And, I don’t want him living in our spare room until he’s 30.

P.P.S – Yes, that really is a picture of the actual form for my kid’s high school. Those are just some of the electives offered at his school.

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Important Stuff, Motherhood/Parenting, Rants

Just

As some of you know I got a part time job a few months ago.  It’s fun, has great hours and has got me back into the workforce. I’m not paying any bills with my paycheck. It’s more like a vacation fund. But, as someone who had their first regular job at 13 until 30, it fills a void. I missed that validation of a paycheck and stating a profession when asked by strangers.  Whether we want to or not, we tie some of our identity to our jobs. And, I will admit, I felt somehow less of a person when I said I was a stay at home mom. Even though I knew it was a very valid job I looked at other women with jobs outside the home and felt less; like I was a sell out because I didn’t bring in a paycheck. That feeling ended today.

A few hours ago, while at my job,  I listened to a client talk about something that happened to her last night.  She was at a parent meeting at a local school.  She and her husband were chatting with an acquaintance. This acquaintance asked my client, “What do you do again?” She replied, “I’m a stay at home mom.”  She said the acquaintance looked confused and asked, “How many kids do you still have at home?”  She said her youngest is now in the 7th grade.  Then, some guy sitting behind them, a complete stranger who wasn’t even involved in the conversation, piped in with, “Then you’re not a stay at home mom. You just stay at home.”  At that point, a bell rang and the parent meeting was called to order so my client couldn’t say anything in response.   My client described the waves of emotions that hit her after this douchey perfect stranger’s response. She said she felt shocked like she’d been slapped and then ashamed because this jerk basically invalidated her existence which she has tied to her job of homemaker.

Just hearing her recount this story, I became enraged on her behalf. How dare he? He had no right. Then, I realized isn’t this what I’ve been mentally doing for years and what many stay at home mom’s do in general. How many times have I been asked, ‘what do you do’ and I respond with ‘I’m just a stay at home mom.” The key word here being ‘just’.  I’m not ‘just’ anything and neither is my client.  Somehow our society has gotten it into their collective heads that stay at home mothers or homemakers sit around on their ass eating bonbons and aren’t productive members of society.  It wasn’t so long ago that most women were homemakers and those that worked outside the home were an oddity.  Homemaker was a valid career.  And, despite not earning a paycheck, these women ran half the world. They kept the house clean, the laundry done, the items bought and the food prepared. They played taxi and tutor and basically took care of all the family’s needs while the men brought home the paycheck and little else.  How did we as a collective get to a place where those jobs are less valid than the majority of the other jobs out there?

I wish my client had known that asshole’s profession.  I wish she could have said a sneer, “Oh you’re just a insert generic job title here.”  I would have loved to have seen his face fall when he realized that his job isn’t that significant in the grand scheme of things. I would be willing to bet my minuscule paycheck that he’s not out there saving lives, securing world peace or even shaping young minds.  I hope to hell he’s not shaping young minds. He’s probably got some whatever job that pays a decent wage and could be done any number of people with a few working brain cells.  Deep down he probably hates his job and has his own issues.  I feel sorry for the people that live with him.  Can you imagine what this guy is like if he’s willing to say such a shitty thing to a perfect stranger? Bottom line is that guy is ‘just’ an asshole and my client is so much more than ‘just’.

 

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