Musing, Uncategorized

Exaggeration

downloadHow many times have you exaggerated while telling a story?  Even if you personally haven’t we’ve all heard the old “the fish was this big” stories. Most of us smile and nod because we know that fish was not that big but it’s good for the story and to that end it’s fine and good. But, there is one thing I cannot stand, using exaggeration to guilt me or otherwise play on my sympathies. Twice in the past 7 or so days I have heard stories that made me want to give two people writeoffs with one of Delores Umbridge’s I must not tell lies quills. If you’re a Harry Potter fan you’ll know what I mean. If not, look it up.  It’s great punishment and frankly, these two liars need it.

The first offender is Greta Thunberg.  I have no real problem with her protests or her being a climate activist. If that is how she wants to spend her time, more power to her as long as she’s truly educating herself before she shoots off her mouth in protest.  In fact, I think more kids need to be aware of politics and social issues and less with selfies and Snapchat. Gone are the days of 6 p.m. national and world news on every tv, reading the newspaper, and expecting everyone to know current events but I digress.  The problem I have with Greta is a line from her September 23rd speech to the UN.  She said, “You have stolen my dreams and my childhood with your empty words.”  Really?  I’m pretty sure the 5 year old bobbin winders and errand runners of the Industrial Revolution would disagree with her.  For that matter, my own Grandmother would disagree with her.  Born in rural Alabama in 1925, my Grandmother was the last of 8 children. She dropped out of school after the 5th grade to help work her parents’ sharecropper land. I’m pretty sure picking cotton from sun up to sun down is a childhood stolen not climate change.  Does Greta Thunberg have anything important to say? Possibly. Actually, probably but I would rather hear from a scientist instead of an overexaggerating child. I can’t take her seriously after that ridiculous line.

The next offender is Donald Trump. Yes, I know I can probably just stop right there. But, a few days ago I saw where he tweeted that this impeachment thing was “The greatest witch hunt in the history of our country.”  I was literally screaming at my phone. Hey dumbass, I’m pretty sure those so called witches they burned in Salem in the 1600s would have a little something to say about that. I mean they were actually burned at the stake while he is just enduring some inflammatory speech.  Boo Fucking Hoo!  They said mean words about me. Get over it.  Even if impeachment happens, so what?  He’s acting like this is the worst thing ever.  Pretty sure death is worse. Again, this sort of behavior makes it hard to take anything he says seriously. (Whispers – Not like I ever did in the first place.)

So, dear reader, if any of you know where I can get one of those I must not tell lies quills I would be most grateful.

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Musing, Uncategorized

Summer Vacation

img_0394Tap, Tap, Tap.  Is there anybody still out there?  So yeah, I went on vacation and didn’t announce it.  Real life got really busy and before I knew it I was chunking random things into a suitcase at 11:30 at night when I had to leave at 6 the next morning.  My family and I did the great American road trip. We drove halfway across the country (nearly 1,400 miles each way) to our nation’s capital, Washington D.C. It was two days there and two days back, although, not as brutal as I feared it would be. We took in all the big sights – the Mall, the Monuments, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Capital Building, the National Archives, the White House and multiple Smithsonian Museums.  It had been almost 20 years since my husband and I have visited and my kids had never gone. And, since they are now 12 and 14, it was a good time age wise to plan this trip.

I find the people and the sights you see within certain regions simply fascinating.  We stopped in the mountains, hiked down the embankment in flip flops (not our smartest idea) and played in a mountain stream.  We saw a florescent yellow Lexus with giant tires being pulled by a U-haul in another state. We met country folks, mountain people, and city dwellers but never once did we meet anyone rude.  We did pass through some areas where we never once saw anything but white people and for some reason that worried me. (Whispers – If y’all didn’t know I’m white.) We live in a suburb of a very large city with no real minority.  Sure, there is a little self-segregation, but for the most part it’s very multicultural.  It was weird being in a place where there’s only one kind of people.  It can be unnerving and in some cases uncomfortable, especially when you aren’t used to it.  Speaking of which, enjoy this off the wall story about our hotel stay.

We originally booked a room in Alexandria, VA right across the street from a Metro station. What we didn’t know we got there was that the Metro station was closed for an overhaul until September and the two beds in the room were full size beds with a queen fold out bed.  It’s just downright creepy for a teen boy and preteen girl to sleep in the same bed and since my hubs and I don’t like to touch when we sleep this was not going to fly for a week.  So, my hubs and I started frantically searching for anything that had two beds and a fold out couch that didn’t involve a full sized bed. Fun fact, apparently that is standard in D.C. because it wasn’t until we looked in the surrounding areas did we find a set up that would work.  The hubs finds a new hotel and books it and the next day we go to check in.  We were a little stumped that there was no food or grocery nearby only a metro station, a church and a bunch of car dealerships and a gas station but still we said, “whatever it will be great”.  The lady at the front desk was so helpful in providing a list of nearby stores and restaurants so off we go to pick up dinner.  The nearest grocery, about 5 miles away is smack in the middle of the hood and four exceptionally white people in a generic small SUV with a Mickey Mouse sticker on the back window sticks out like a sore thumb.  The next morning we arrive at the continental breakfast in the lobby and again, no white people.  I whisper to my husband, “Remember when we were driving through that super rural part of the country and we couldn’t find any people of color?  Yeah, well apparently we found the opposite end of the spectrum.”  For the rest of the week if we were at the hotel or the surrounding grocery store, Target store or restaurant we got lots of stares.  Our daily walk to and from the Metro station garnered looks as well. We don’t look weird. We’re as average as they come but you would have thought we all had a multi-colored mohawk and a third eye.  About halfway through the week, I started wondering what they thought.  Did everyone think were crazy? Did they think we were lost? Did they resent us being there?  No one was ever mean or unkind. Despite the stares, everyone was pleasant but why the stares. The only thing I can think of is we were different from their norm. And, let’s face it, different can be strange, uncomfortable even. The funny thing is my kids never blinked about the whole situation.  They were oblivious to the stares and odd looks.  They didn’t notice the sketchy strip mall and the grocery on the edge of the hood.  Some of that could be their age but I think a lot of it is they are growing up in a world where we are striving for more equality and multicultural experience. As they get older I hope they have fond memories of our trip, even the daily trip by the collection of malt liquor bottles by the Metro station and the baffling case of Bible tracts at every stop for 300 miles.

Photo Credit:  Yours truly.  It’s the crazy lifted yellow Lexus I spoke about.  Who would paint a nice car that color?

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Musing, Uncategorized

Them vs Us

generation x red grunge stampThe other day my hubs and I were talking about how the Us vs Them fight between the Baby Boomers and the Millennials and how our generation, Generation X, is still the forgotten and ignored generation.  My hubs said something along the lines of only a few more years and the Boomers will finally all be retired and the world will finally have to pay attention to us. I can’t remember if I said it out loud or only to myself but I do remember thinking, ‘no way, we’ll always be ignored’.  Much like the often ignored middle child, we (Generation X) have always just sucked it up and quietly did our thing knowing the only way any of us would get any attention is if something bad happened – think Kurt Cobain’s suicide or more recently Luke Perry’s stroke.

I’ve often wondered how it is that these two generations got pitted against one another. The lions share of the Boomers, those born right after WWII, are not the parents of millennials so why the animosity?  I think I’ve finally figured it out.  They are too much alike. They had the American dream handed to them since birth.  They’ve been told time after time how wonderful and special they are and they’ve bought their own hype.  Additionally, any time they are asked to pay the piper or got called out for their bad behavior they throw a temper tantrum.

Born into a thriving economy when our country was at it’s most prosperous, Boomers were the first generation who got to truly enjoy childhood without being expected to get a job to help the family.  Boomers were encouraged to follow their hearts and live their dreams. The opportunities this generation received for doing nothing but being born at the right time is astounding not to mention they bore witness to things like a national interstate system and the space program.  And, I haven’t even brought up the pop culture contributions of their age. I’m not ashamed to say I’m jealous as hell. Sure, there were some tough times, the Vietnam War was awful and shouldn’t have happened. The civil rights movement and the women’s movement were hard but in the end, doors were opened and minds were changed.  By the time the Boomers were considered adults, they were doing better than any other generation before them. These cats got to enjoy the excess of the late 1970s and 1980s with full gusto.  Between free love, widespread venereal disease, and loads of drugs and alcohol, it’s honestly a wonder any of them are still alive. Now that they are all hitting their golden years, they are changing the face of elder care.  Millennials have enjoyed many of the same advantages – beloved by their parents, given immense opportunities, told they could do anything and be anything, born into a time with huge technological and cultural advances.  The similarities between the two groups are astounding. The size of their generation is also something of note as they are almost equal.

But, what about Generation X?  Where do we stand?  What are we doing? We’re doing what we’ve always done.  We’re making do with the crumbs.  Just like in our latch key days, we’re plodding along, working steady and grumbling about how no one notices we’re here.  Our needs are being met on a basic level but no one is bending over backward to appeal to us.  We’re raising kids and taking care of older parents.  We’re still sullen and angsty even if we don’t wear our skater grunge punk clothes and a million black jelly bracelets on our arms.  Most of all, we wonder how either of the Us vs Them groups is going to screw us over next.  Although I have to admit if I had to pick a side I would most like to emulate, I’d pick the Boomers in a hot minute. They had the best music.

P.S. For the record, Generation X is classified as people born between 1965 and 1979.  

Photo Credit: I did a search for Gen X images and I saw this like 8 times. I have no idea who it belongs to but thanks.  No copyright infringement indented. I’m broke and I do this for free so don’t sue me. 

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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.

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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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Holidays, Musing, Uncategorized

Christmas Zen

silhouette of man at daytime

About this time every year, I totally lose track of everything – and I do mean everything.  I forget the day, the date, what I purchased for everyone, where I hid the stocking stuffers, what I’ve committed to bringing to the potluck dinner, and the list goes on and on. At this juncture, the meticulous lists I make to keep myself organized have long since been forgotten.  If I am with it and taking meds for my ADHD they too have been forgotten. Quite simply, I’m hanging on to the knot at the end of the rope with my fingernails.  The funny thing is any other time this type of chaos would usually put me into a panic attack of epic proportions but not this year.

I’d like to say the reason for this new found zen is some sort of meditation, yoga or pills but it’s not. I wouldn’t even say that my give a damn is busted. When it comes right down to it, I guess I just don’t care. Before you ask, no I am not depressed even though with each passing year I feel more and more like Charlie Brown. I think this feeling of zen is more a feeling that the stress doesn’t matter. It’s a feeling of there is nothing going on in my world that demands I worry about it that much. Life will work itself out.  It could also be that things seem to be going halfway right.  Ironically, that right there is what bothers me the most.  I know when the universe gives you the gift of zen it’s about to hit you right in the face with a big ole shit sandwich. That’s just the way life works.

Despite my zen, there is plenty of things to be annoyed about. For example, why does my youngest still want me to move that damn elf around even though I have a house of nonbelievers?  Why are so many people talking about how 30+ year old cartoons and songs are suddenly offensive yet homelessness and families without the ability to have a traditional holiday celebration are barely on those same people’s radar. And, why for the love of God aren’t people behaving themselves at school concerts.  You are not here to see Metalica.  Stop whooping and hollering like you are at a rock concert or rodeo.  No one needs to hear screams followed by, “WOOO HOOO GREAT JOB POOKIE.”  Pookie may have done a great job but all those other kids parents and family want to watch their kid in peace.  Holler at your own house, not at the school auditorium.  Damn people were you raised by wolves?

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Uncategorized

Hold your nose and pull the lever

vote

Y’all, I said I wasn’t going to do this. I said I wasn’t going to get political. I didn’t want to do it. I’ve had it up to my eyeballs and then some with the tv and radio ads, the robocalls, and the obnoxius Facebook, Instagram and Twitter blatherings.  For all those reasons I had no intention of writing this blog today but Oprah made me do it.  (Insert needle scratch sound effect here.) Well, I’m going to assume it was Oprah. (Yeah, yeah I know ALL about assume.) The quote my friend posted on Facebook was attributed to Oprah, so I’m gonna go with it.  The quote is this:

“For anybody here who has an ancestor who didn’t have the right to vote, and you are choosing not to vote — wherever you are in this state, in this country — you are dishonoring your family.”

That’s some powerful stuff. For a hot minute, I was blown away by how simple and yet profound and important her words were until it hit me. She’s talking about everyone. Think about it, if you have females in your family and everyone does, your ancestor was denied the right to vote.  If you had immigrants or minorities of any sort, your ancestor was denied the right to vote.  If you had poor white men in your lineage that didn’t own land or a business, your ancestor was denied the right to vote.  Yep, that’s pretty much everyone.  Whether this was what Oprah was going for or not, what this quote said to me was is we are all equal and we are all equally duty bound as Americans citizens to vote. We all have a voice. Use it. And, now, this is my quote, stop patting yourself on the back for voting. This is something you should have been doing already. You shouldn’t be getting a prize for participation. Furthermore, sometimes your candidate doesn’t win and it sucks.  Don’t be a sore loser. Don’t act a fool for the camera or loot because your candidate lost. Keep trying.

Now, I don’t know about you but since I’m sick of all the politics I’m going to go watch something on my DVR. I will find out who won or lost tomorrow.

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