Opinon

History Repeats

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“All of this has happened before, and it will all happen again.”
J.M. Barrie, Peter Pan

The above Peter Pan quote keeps playing on a loop in my head here lately.  It’s sort of like a mantra to remind myself not to panic or worry because if you listen to anything resembling news or social media there is plenty to panic and worry about right now.  A month ago, it was the impending doom of WWIII, which didn’t come to fruition.  There’s the 2020 Presidential election.  That’s a bit more troubling and very real.  It looks like once again most of us are going to hold our nose and press the button to vote against someone rather than voting for someone.  I’ve been able to vote for President since 1992 and I have never been lit up by a candidate. And, while most of these jokers make it look like it would be the end of the world if they got elected, would it be? We still have two more branches of government to keep the Executive branch in check, right? We’ve seen other Presidents sign executive orders and bills into law that a goodly portion of the population though insane only to have the next President overturn those policies. Or, maybe it’s just wishful thinking on my part to think it wouldn’t matter too much.

Now, let’s discuss the Coronavirus. People have absolutely lost their damn minds, at least they have in my town.  I haven’t seen shortages in stores like this since I lived in a hurricane zone. Every store is completely out of some specific products. And, I’m not talking bread and milk here people.  I went to Costco this weekend to pick up a few things we normally buy there and they were out of black beans and Charmin toilet paper not to mention things like Clorox wipes and Lysol.  Next, I went to Walmart to pick up the things Costco didn’t have. Guess what? Walmart’s cold medication and pain relief aisle looked like a war zone. Seriously the only thing left was some seasickness medication and the low dose aspirin. I still have a cough from the nasty flu but not the flu I’ve been nursing for over a month.  Well, I guess I’m shit out of luck for my Robitussin. I know my little town is not the only place dealing with shortages.  I read on Apple News where there isn’t a bit of toilet paper to be had at Seattle area Costco stores. And, would you believe the shelves are FULL and I mean chock full of soap but there isn’t a drop of hand sanitizing gel to be found in my town. Ridiculousness.  Don’t be gross. Wash your hands. Cover your cough and sneeze. If you have a fever, stay at home. There I fixed it. You’re welcome.  The news and social media have done nothing but incite this foolishness.  Everyone needs to calm down. Pretty much everyone has two weeks’ worth of some food in their house.  It may be rice three meals a day for two weeks but there is food in the house. Don’t pander to the panic.

Lastly, nearly 22 years ago, a tornado ripped through the city and suburbs of Nashville, TN, my hometown.  It was horrible.  I personally saw it up close about quarter-mile from the building where I worked.  I spent half the night in the loading docks of the then-new Bridgestone arena. It was surreal and devastating to the area. This past Monday night, another tornado ripped through Nashville, it’s suburbs and kept right on up I-40 to the college town of Cookeville. This tornado pretty much tracked the same path as the one in 1998.  Once again certain areas are devastated.  Many friends and family have been impacted – some directly and some indirectly.  If you are the praying type, please pray for Middle Tennessee.  Also, consider donating to relief efforts for the area.  It happened before and it definitely happened again.

Photo Credit:  Me, at my local Kroger Grocery Store. Not sponsored but I’d be happy to be sponsored, so Kroger hit me up. Don’t y’all love how the name brand wipes are still around but the cheaper store brand wipes are gone. This tells me people care but not enough to waste money on the high dollar stuff.

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Opinon

Mom Rant

photography of disneyland You’d have to be living under a rock or completely off social media (both equally unlikely) to have not heard about the crazy curse word laden rant some mom posted on Twitter after having a less than magical time with her 3 year at Walt Disney World in Florida. Just in case you missed it here’s a link.

Now that you are familiar with the situation, let’s chat.  First of all, this is clearly a person of the same ilk and manners as the crazy woman that punched a ride attendant over a Fast Pass (see story here). Second, she sounds like a child herself pitching a fit because she isn’t getting her way.  I love how she states you have no idea what it’s like to stand in line with a cranky toddler.  Does she think she’s the only person who can hear her rugrat screaming?  I’m pretty sure she’s not the Lone Ranger on that front.  And, isn’t every person there having to stand in long ass lines be that person a cranky three year old or 80 year old grandma in her mobility scooter?

Millennials are often maligned as being the harbingers of the apocalypse or something along those lines.  I for one am generally not a fan of the group as I see them as being raised to believe their hype and somewhat entitled. Yes, I blame their parents. But, the running around Disney without a child in tow was not invented by Millennials. People have been going there for Honeymoons since the park opened. I have friends who did that in the mid 1990s.  My first trip was in the late 1990s before kids and I’m a solid Gen X.  Now that I am in my 40s and have more disposable income, my girlfriends and I are contemplating girls trips or even solo trips. Like the Millennial scum this Mother rants about, we want to enjoy the rides and food without a kid(s) dictating what we eat and what we ride next.  Walt Disney himself said Disneyland (and subsequently Disney World) was for all people both young and young at heart.  Age has no bearing on the happiness Disney parks can bring.

I wish I could meet this potty mouthed Debbie Downer in person.  I would love to smack her upside the head with my Mickey ears whilst eating a Dole Whip and singing It’s A Small World.  Maybe instill a little good old fashioned shame and sense into her for acting as entitled as the group she so maligns. Silly woman, Disney is for everyone.

 

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Opinon, Uncategorized

Staying Together

ringsToday my hubs and I are celebrating 21 years of marriage. Yes, we were embryos when we got married. Actually, he was 25 and I was 22. No, we weren’t forced to get married.  We had a bit of societal pressure as we had been dating three years and most of our group was pairing off but very little to speak of. No one had started calling me an old maid yet or asking if my biological clock was ticking.  No one was telling my hubs to make me an honest woman.  We both just felt like it was the right time.  Both of us are old souls. We graduated college and each had already buried a parent. We felt like ‘real’ adults so why not. It was the next logical step.

Ironically, not so long ago a younger friend and I were talking about marriage.  Although she and her mate have been together off and on for years, they are new to marriage.  They had their first knock down drag out which had her questioning everything. She marveled that people can be married for so long when she felt like things were already hitting a rough patch.  I wanted to give her some advice, something profound that would let her know every relationship has its ups and downs. But, you wanta hear something funny? I had nothing, not one single, solitary thing I could give her.  I told her it was an absolute miracle my hubs and I are still married. Had I married anyone else we would have probably been divorced ages ago. I told her our 21 years were a complete fluke. Oh sure, we got married because we loved each other but that love you have when you first get married morphs, changes and evolves over time.  Then you add in the stress of real life – kids, job, bills, sick parents or a relocation.  It really drags you and your relationship down.  It’s hard to stay connected.  And, while date nights and love notes in lunches are fine and dandy, you can’t convince me they are the difference between divorce court and happily ever after.

Miracle aside, I told my friend the only real quantifiable reason other than love is sheer stubbornness – a refusal to quit.  I’m a pill to deal with.  I’m impulsive, hyper and at the same time super type A.  My hubs can be a brooding jerk.  I know for a fact there have been times when both of us were ready to throw up our hands and walk away.  It would have been so easy.  But, both of us are stubborn.  We are the never say die type.  This is not to say one of us won’t file for divorce tomorrow or 5 years from now but so far our stubbornness has kept us from throwing in the towel.

Finally, I think it’s a feeling of comfort you settle into after so many years.  Again, I know it could all go to hell tomorrow and one of us could leave the other for a younger model.  But, there’s something to be said for knowing someone half your life.  At that juncture, you have seen and done nearly everything. There’s the comfort in knowing, ‘We can handle this. We’ve tackled worse.’  You realize there’s no one you’d rather have at your side dealing with all the ups and downs of life than the other person.

I obviously didn’t write this as a pat on our backs or as a ‘look at our wonderful relationship’ thing.  Marriage is weird.  It can but fun but it can also be hard and gritty.  It’s certainly not for everyone. I still can’t believe the hubs and I have been together as long as we have.  I never thought I would get married at all with let alone this long, yet here we are.  I know we proved a few friends and family members wrong.  I’m glad we did.  I hope me and the hubs are married another 21 years.  I think it will take a little love, a little luck, a whole lot of stubbornness.

P.S. – I am not the kind of person who gushes about my spouse on the interwebs. I feel like if you have to gush all the time you’re probably at each other’s throats behind the scenes.  It’s best to keep the gushing private.  Today, I made an exception.  My hubs also made an exception.  He never reads my blog – like ever.  I made him read this one.

P.P.S. – That photo is really from our wedding. Yes, we had the obligatory ring picture.  It was not my idea; it was the photographer’s. I hate it.

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Motherhood/Parenting, Musing, Opinon

Teacher Appreciation

pexels-photo-908301.jpegThis week is National Teacher Appreciation Week.  Teaching is one of the most thankless jobs there is (besides raising kids) and let face it they do a smidge of the raising too.  And, there are those kids that you have to wonder if they get any home training at all or if that burden is heaped on the teacher as well.  I’m glad we have a week set aside to recognize these everyday heroes of our community.  But, what I want to know is why this particular week?

I can tell you one thing. The people in charge of picking that week must have a screw loose. In some areas of the country, we are less than two weeks away from the last day of school. In others, there’s only a month to six weeks at best. And, I don’t know about you but I like giving end of the year gifts; it’s congratulations you made it and a thank you all rolled into one.  I’ve been known to give our teachers gift cards to the local frou-frou liquor store. I figure if they don’t drink they can get some nice cheese or coffee.  And, Teacher Appreciation Week always takes place right around Mother’s Day so you’re cash-strapped and frazzled as it is.  Furthermore, our state has round two of state testing next week. I would be willing to bet my last dollar those teachers would prefer you skip all the tchotchkes and tell them that stupid test has been canceled. Or, maybe the lawmakers can stop tying their pay and raises to those stupid tests.  Now that would really be a way to show appreciation.

As if all that wasn’t enough, in the past few years I have been getting these emails from PTA types asking for each child to bring in money or items for teacher treats.  This year we got hit up for both the money and an item. Apparently, much like Red Ribbon Week, the PTA/Room Parents want to have a theme for the week and tie the prizes to the theme.  For example, Monday was show your teacher how sweet they are with a sweet treat.  Can you imagine getting 22 bags of candy and cookies?  You know those teachers are giving half of that to their neighbors or spouse to take to their jobs or just plain throwing it away.  They aren’t keeping all that crap.  Today was you color my world so bring in art supplies.  Yes, I know the classroom supply cabinet has been empty since the last week in January but ask for supplies then instead of right here at the bitter end.

Of course, no one is required to bring in anything. That is always made abundantly clear in the emails.  But let’s be real, much like Jennifer Anniston’s pieces of flair in the movie, Office Space, if we don’t bring in something everyone will make a mental note that you and your child were the slack asses that couldn’t even manage a package of glue sticks. Of course, when the email came out I promptly sent in my two bucks per child and logged on to Sign Up Genius but you can bet I picked the most basic slack ass thing I could sign up for.  No, I didn’t do that because I don’t think our teachers don’t deserve to be raised up.  I absolutely know they do.  I did that because I hate those stupid contrived thoughtful things. Those teachers know we were peer pressured into those gifts. And, as stated before, do they really want or need 22 bags of candy?  Plus, I still plan to do end of year gifts.  Remember my kids might be the reason those teachers drink so they will totally deserve those liquor store gift cards and I bet they will like that liquor store gift card a lot better than 22 glue sticks.

 

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Books, Opinon

The Hate U Give

IMG_0889.jpgIt’s been a while since I did a book review so…  I just finished The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Even though I love young adult literature, I hadn’t heard of this book until I read about it being banned at our old school district.  I don’t believe books should be banned. There is knowledge to be had from the written word even if that knowledge is to shake your head and say, “Damn, that writer is an idiot and this book was trash.” This book is not trash and should be read.

The story revolves around a 16-year-old girl named Starr. She lives in a predominately black community, many would call it the hood.  While going home from a party, Starr and a male friend (both black) are pulled over by a white police officer. The male friend is shot by the police officer. The book details the aftermath of the event, what it means for Starr personally and the community where she lives, and how the homicide is dealt with in the local judicial system.

As you can imagine from my description, this is not a happy, beach read. It’s real, gritty and sometimes hard to take but necessary. Incidentally, I listened to this book rather than reading actual pages and I think listening to it made it that much more real. Even though we are different races, I understood what Starr meant when she spoke of her neighborhood and the people in it.  I could see the run-down neighborhood my grandmother lived in, where I lived until age 6.  In the characters, I saw people I knew from my time there, adults and children from my distant memories. I know of the struggles some of those people have, especially with the police and other authority figures, the preconceived notions on both sides, and how those preconceived notions are tearing those neighborhoods apart.  Much like To Kill A Mockingbird did back in the 60s, this book brings to light some hard truths about race and perception. And like good art/literature should, it provides an opportunity to think about the situation and see it from a different point of view, perhaps even start a conversation.

Photo Credit: The photo above is a screenshot of my Goodreads page. Yes, I gave it 5 stars. I rarely give books 5 stars.

 

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Motherhood/Parenting, Opinon

This is only a test

pexels-photo-459793.jpegIf you have school-age children or work at a school, you know that Spring not only means Spring Break and snotty allergy noses but also standardized tests. No, not the ACT/SAT we all endured in high school but the pick your acronym de jour (LEAP, STAAR, TCAP, PASS, etc.) state standardized tests. The kids begin testing in third or fourth grade as a benchmark and then go right on up through high school depending on your state. The state where we currently reside started their testing today. Of course, both the parents and children have been inundated with practice tests, reminders to ensure our children are well rested and fed and to encourage each other.  While I understand the need for tests, I do not understand the need for this level of testing.

Before we go any further let me state this isn’t a slam on teachers.  I love teachers. I have a few teachers in my family and count many as friends.  I see how hard these people work.  I see how much they take away from themselves and their own families to help the kids in their classes.  These teachers are required to teach the test to our kids just like our kids are required to take the test.  With that being said, I find it very ironic that every teacher I know with the exception of one hates all of this required testing.  And, do you want to know the funniest part?  The only person I know that sees any merit to the testing is a retired private school teacher that never had to administer these tests.  I’m not even sorry when I say her opinion does not count in this matter.

In this day and age parents have plenty of options when it comes to schooling our children. Public, private, prep, parochial, stem, homeschool, hybrid, the choices are as endless as the learning styles of our children. I know that if I send my kids to anything other than a public school they wouldn’t have to take the state standardized test. I also know there is an opt-out in my state but that option is fraught with drama.  I know I’m not alone when I say I worry I’m making the wrong decision about the type of education my kids receiving. Yet, I don’t feel like any of the other options are any better.  I see positives and negatives in all of the options.  So, they are taking the test. In the meantime, what are you telling your kids this week or during the week of your state exams? Are you giving them the pep talk?  I’ll admit it, I’m not.  Yes, I heard your gasp.  I gave them my own kind of pep talk.  I told them what I tell every time they have a test.  I told them to take their time, check your answers twice, and above all try your best. I tell them the grade they get on this test doesn’t define how smart they are or who they are.  Yes, the grade will follow you just like any other grade. But, grades are not the end all be all.  I remind them that some of the most brilliant minds of our time couldn’t be hemmed in by a school. No, I’m not encouraging my kids to drop out to make Youtube videos. I’m encouraging them to work hard, try their best, and figure out a workaround when their best isn’t good enough.  Hopefully, that advice and the actual information (not test-taking skills) they pick up in school will help them transition into a fulfilling and financially supportive career.

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Opinon

Mental

pexels-photo-262075.jpegIt’s been two weeks since the Parkland, FL shooting incident.  I know I’m not alone when I say it’s still weighing heavy on my mind.  Between reports in the news to teacher friends bringing up safety procedures to other friends talking about drills at their children’s school, it’s clearly still on everyone’s minds.  The thing I keep coming back to is not how it happened but why. How does a person get so angry/depressed/deranged that they think hurting others is a way to ease whatever is gnawing away at them?  After two weeks of turning that thought over in my head coupled with a recent news report about the shooter, it hit me. It’s all comes down to mental illness.

I can almost see the puzzled look on your face. I realize this isn’t what most of you were thinking.  Yet, when you break down the whole horrible act to the root cause, the very reason for the crime, it isn’t the location, or target or weapon. It all boils down to the assailant’s mental state.  A person who perpetrates a crime against innocents obviously has a screw loose. Yet, we as a collective tend to sweep mental illness under the rug. Pay no attention to the crazy person on the corner. Pay no attention to the kid at school who has no friends, no interests, poor grades and a YouTube channel proclaiming their desire to kill.

Why do we automatically dismiss mental illness?  If someone tells us they have high blood pressure or diabetes or even severe allergies we don’t blink. We automatically assume what they are telling us is true even though we can’t see what the disease or disorder is doing to their bodies. Yet, when we hear someone is depressed, bipolar, or schizophrenic our first thought is ‘they just need to suck it up and get their shit straight’?Additionally, why do we put so much stigma on seeking help for mental illness? You don’t see anyone shaming someone for developing brain cancer. Yet, tell someone you are seeing a psychiatrist or psychologist for anything and suddenly there’s an elephant in the room. Just yesterday news reports stated the shooter had been receiving mental health treatment but when he turned 18 he refused further treatment because he wanted to mainstream.  He wanted to be in a ‘regular’ school.

Of all the organs in the magnificent machine that is our body, the brain is quite possibly the most interesting and mysterious one. Is it because the brain is so mysterious that we are so quick to dismiss mental illness?  Or, do we dismiss it because we have yet to and may never know what causes mental illness?  Maybe it’s because the treatment of mental illness is very much trial and error with very little actual cure, only treatment. Some could argue the reason mental health isn’t addressed as much as it should is the lack of long-term institutional facilities and mental health services covered by healthcare plans. I don’t have any answers, but I am wildly curious. I hope in my lifetime we as collective really address mental illness. Hopefully, it will no longer be a stigma but a disorder to be managed not unlike any other unseen disease or disorder.

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Important Stuff, Opinon

Time’s Up

NOTE – This is a polarizing topic.  Before you click that unlike/unfollow button hear me out and let’s start a dialog.  It is only through understanding that we achieve enlightenment. The next post won’t be so controversial.

I recently saw an episode of Ellen featuring Tom Hanks and Merle Streep promoting their new movie, The Post.  This interview aired shortly after the Golden Globes Awards so the conversation centered around Orpah for President and the Time’s Up movement.  I encourage you to watch the video linked here and then come back and read the rest of this post. And, we’re back.  Did you see poor Tom Hanks’ face?  He looked like he wanted that couch to open up and grab him. This man, who has done nothing wrong, (that we know of) looked so guilty and embarrassed I half expected him to apologize for being male.  It was in that moment that I realized I hate the Time’s Up and Me Too movements and I am genuinely scared about its future ramifications

Before I go any further let me make one thing clear, no person regardless of gender should have to endure sexual harassment and/or sexual assault at any time and in any situation.  Like most every woman, I have a few Me Too stories, some I have shared with others and some I will never speak of.  When faced with those incidents I didn’t always handle the situation properly.  I didn’t always go to the authorities or a superior. Sometimes I took care of the situation (a.k.a. punched the guy and left). Other times, I just let it slide, or blamed myself. I realize now that was not the right thing to do. The ladies who came forward in the Harvey Weinstein case and in the Larry Nassar case did the right thing.  The gross misuse of power not to mention the act itself, especially in team doctor Larry Nassar’s case, is unspeakable.

Which leads me to my next point, what about all the other cases that have come forward in the last couple of weeks?  What about the ladies yelling about James Franco and Aziz Ansar or the 51 other men the New York Times reported that have been accused of sexual misconduct since the Weinstein scandal broke? Are all these men guilty?  Some are, without a doubt, they’ve admitted to their evil deeds.  But are all of them guilty?  I doubt it.  Take the Aziz Ansar case, he acted like an ill-mannered douche bag but his date was consenting and when things got beyond her comfort level she should have left. In fact, that’s what she eventually did.  His date should have trusted her gut and left sooner.  Now thanks to both of their behavior and his date’s letter to an online magazine, he has a black stain on his name.  All one has to do is yell sexual assault and someone’s life is ruined.  What is this, Massachusetts in the late 1600s or 2018?

What about all the women whose lives have been ruined by these entitled assholes that think with their little head instead of their big one, don’t they deserve justice? Absolutely, the guilty deserve punishment but who determines guilt?  Much like the witch trials of 1692, all it takes these days is the suggestion wrongdoing and one is branded forever. The knee-jerk, guilty until proven innocent line of thinking makes me fearful for future generations, more specifically my 13 year old son. What happens when he and some other kid share a consensual kiss or more and afterward the other kid decides they didn’t want the attention?  Are we going to have to walk around with consent forms on our persons before any contact? “Hey I like you and would like to kiss you but before we pucker up can you sign this form stating you won’t go to the authorities, talk crap about me on the internet or otherwise besmirch my reputation?”

But, women have had to deal with being shamed for sexual assault for centuries, isn’t it time for men to prove their innocence?  While I understand this line of thinking, it’s just as horrible for a woman to have to deal with the automatic assumption that her assault was somehow ‘asked for or didn’t truly happen’ as it is for a man to have to deal with the automatic assumption that he’s an assaulter.  If we as a society are truly striving for equality why do we continue to play favorites?  Why do we feel to level the playing field we have to tear one thing down to build up another?  We absolutely have to stop this reparations line of thinking.  We as a society have to stop perpetuating the idea that one gender (or race or whatever) is any better than the other.  No one is better.  Every person is in charge of their own decisions and how they choose to behave.

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Opinon, Politics

Our Tribe

If you’ve turned on any screen today, you’ll know we are in a government shut down and that both sides have started pointing fingers and yelling.  I’m not going to talk about that.  What I do want to talk about is how this should come to no surprise to anyone.  “What do you mean no surprise?”  Well, first of all, this has happened before both in the Clinton and Obama administrations.  So yeah, it will probably happen again.  But the second and probably the bigger reason is it was only a matter of time.  Since Joel Gareau’s 1981 book entitled Nine Nations of North America and more recently The American Nations by Colin Woodard the theory has been put forth that we are just a collection of tribes or nations, and they aren’t wrong.

In fact, that’s exactly how the United States started out. Our states were tiny nations under a main governing body much like the EU structure of today.  In fact, that was one of our biggest hurdles during our country’s infancy. Should we have a strong federal government or should we have strong individual state governments?  We all know how that played out.  One only has to look around to see the long arm of the Feds, but I digress.  Those nation states were settled and populated by people with many different cultural backgrounds and religions, some completely different and opposite of the other.

Now fast forward 200 years, those core beliefs have continued to be passed down but our numbers and land we claim as our own have grown exponentially. What started out around 3 million in the 1790s has grown to 300 million.  And though we as a people are very mobile, we also tend to stick to areas that feel the most like home and share our overall belief system.  With so much many different moving parts to our government and all the diversity of its people, how can one central government meet the needs of such a diverse group? What is the phrase? ‘You can’t be all things to all people.’

And, let’s not forget the whole tribe thing.  Don’t tribes often disagree and fight with one another?  Do the Twelve Tribes of Isreal come to mind?  Those poor people have been fighting on over the same patch of dirt for thousands of years.  Hell, they don’t even remember why they are mad at each other.

So yeah, it’s no surprise. The question that keeps ping ponging around in my brain and will probably land me on some government watch list is how will this all play out? Different tribes are drawing lines in the sand regarding various issues. The ‘us versus them’ mentality is as high as I have ever seen – granted I did not live through the civil rights movement and that was a heavy time – but this seems like it’s shaping up to be just as big.  Can our country handle all the tribes with their different demands?  I don’t know.

 

 

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