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I have a 5 year old little boy and it has been a hard few weeks to be his mother.

It was hard to turn on the news.  Hard to listen to the names and see the faces of those murdered. Hard to hear about a child being taken at gunpoint and held underground for a week.  Hard to contain maternal hatred for men who would perpetrate such horrors. Hard to contain tears of gratitude and grief for those who stood between a gunman and children to die more valiantly than most of us could ever hope to live, much less die.

It was hard to process the mixed feelings of relief and shame at that relief because the only thing that was different about me and someone else was their unimaginable loss and grief and my luck and chance not to have lived where they did.

Then a murder/kidnapping on a school bus 20 minutes from my parents’ house where I grew up – 10 miles from the bus route my daughter rode for years – reminded me that proximity was a risky defense on which to base my relief.

And, to be perfectly honest, in an attempt to shield myself I pulled away from these stories to a certain degree.  I read about them daily, I offered my prayers and held out hope, but I stayed away from commenting, watching and participating in the hourly drama of it, because the more I watched, the more certain I became of one fact.

There is no real safety for my children.  And that haunts me.

I grew up in a world where mothers don’t die in childbirth and, except in the direst of cases, babies live.  Polio, smallpox, dysentery and other child killers have all but been eradicated due to the advances of medicine.  I walked through an old graveyard months ago looking at all the tiny gravestones from 150 years ago (one family I remember had more than 5) and gave thanks that I live in an age where my children will most likely all live to adulthood – something that didn’t happen for either of my grandmothers, nor any of my great-grandmothers. In that I am so very blessed.  Even with the health risks of Downs, Sawyer has every expectation through science, education and the advancement of compassion to live a high quality life where 100 years ago doctors would have recommended I never see him and that he be thrown into an asylum to rot –something completely unfathomable to me, as his smiling face is my greatest joy every day.

But I have other things to fear – not viruses and disease – something worse: my fellow human beings.

The things I used to lay awake worrying about in the night – that Ezra may one day put himself danger because he doesn’t listen when he should and do something dangerous like run out in front of a car, that Sawyer will one day be taken advantage of and mistreated because of perceived disabilities – have been replaced by more violent actions from the insane adults around them.

When my daughter was growing up my big boogeyman fear was that she may be lured into a van with candy or a puppy and raped and murdered.  I taught her about strangers, was vigilant and kept my fingers crossed, relying a good deal on the knowledge that – statistically speaking – she was probably safe and doing my best to keep the odds of such dangers as low as possible. I tried to raise her to be aware of her surroundings and stay out of high danger situations. She is 20 years old now; so far, so good.

I still have that boogeyman to worry about with my young sons to some extent (I cannot forget about the Sanduskys of the world), but now I have a new one to hate and fear.  One whose insanity cannot be explained away so simply and straightforwardly as a child predator taking one child at a time for their own sick gratification.

Now we have these mass child murdering motherfuckers to worry about.  Ones whose insanity is sneaky and devious and seemingly has no recognizable profile as of yet.  Ones that you cannot warn your children about because if your child is in the presence of this kind of madman, it is probably too late.

How am I supposed to teach my little boy to be vigilant and protect himself when his entire world view is based on the knowledge that he is precious, loved and cherished and that adults are his protectors? Do I shatter that innocence?  Would that be more dangerous?

These crazies operate so far outside of our society’s moral contract that the rest of us cannot fathom their levels of insanity. And quite frankly, I don’t care to.  As compassionate as I can be, these monsters engender no compassion or forgiveness from me – no matter their circumstances, problems or mental diseases.  May they rot in the bowels of Hell for all eternity.

The mindset of one who would intentionally target children is so horrifying and terrible that it is impossible to protect against it. I listen to the arguments from banning all weapons to putting armed guards in schools and know that neither would work.  Neither would stop someone who wants to kill children. There is no sure safety against that.

There is one thing that we all agree on, no matter where your political, religious, racial, ethical, sexual  or any other dividing line in society may be; whether you have children or suffer from a phobia of them; we ALL operate under then indisputable knowledge that children are precious.

We recognize and believe that children who are the least among us in years are in fact the future of the entire world. Just the amount of energy and imagination embodied in one child is so precious to  us as adults who have grown up and lost their wonder that, without children, we would be utterly lost in a cynical world unsavable and unredeemable.

Our children are that redemption.

They are our lights, our beacons, our reasons, our future.

I am terrified for all of them – quite selfishly, mine in particular – and thus the future of humanity.

We need wonder. 

This morning while most of us were sleeping (and some of us were hovering over our 10 month old who had spiked a fever of 103.2 out of the blue) Curiosity landed on Mars.

I had heard this was happening a few hours before on CNN.  But that was a 3 minute mention right before CNN turned back to covering the latest shooting for the next 3 hours and I changed the channel quickly to HBO to be entertained and irritated by the Newsroom for the 5th time in a row.

I came into work this morning and, after touching base with my boss whose vacation had been frustrated by me having to interrupt him several times last week, caught up on my Facebook and news. 

I read the story about Curiosity and thought how cool it was that we have an SUV tooling around Mars right this very second. 

Then I checked my Facebook and read status updates saying that, while cool and all, the $2.6 billion spent to get Curiosity to Mars was basically a waste of money.   

And once again I was frustrated with humanity.  But this has been true for the last week.

Really, folks?!  The money is spent.  Why can’t we just be amazed by it.?? I wanted to put in all caps on their statues. 

Someone said that “in better times I’d be all for it.”

Well, Mr. Killjoy, please tell me when would be a better time?

When we have stopped insane people from shooting up high schools and colleges and theaters and Sikh temples…not to mention politicians and 8 year olds outside a Walgreens in AZ?

When we have tracked down and killed all of Al Qaeda and their ilk?

When Syria is peaceful and the government isn’t torturing children so their parents won’t fight… because they are afraid that if the fundamentalist rebels win the country will roughly regress about two centuries in civil rights? (yes, you have to love the irony there)

When a woman caught in a tug of war between two men in Afghanistan isn’t publically shot to death because both of them want her and so they have her killed as if she was a toy they broke so neither one of them could have her?

When Israel, Palestine and the rest of the sandbox of the Middle East learn to coexist?

When Iraq gives up nuclear ambitions and Russia stops imprisoning journalists?

When, pray tell, is it a good time to travel to another planet?

Because if we wait until all the above is realized it will NEVER happen. If we waited until half that was realized, it would still never happen. 

Hell, if we spent that $2.6B on the homeless or put it towards the national debt it would barely make a dent.  

We just spent the entirety of last week with the Christian and gay communities in this country getting prideful, nasty and judgmental over chicken sandwiches!

We needed this.  We needed a Moonwalk Moment. 

But there was no pride of achievement here.  This was a footnote to most of us.  CNN should have been hyping this for a week.  NASA should have had Curiosity land in primetime and we should be watching this with our kids and marveling over it.  My 4 year old should have seen it. 

Someone should have written something amazing to be the equivalent of “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

But as it is I did not even know it was happening until a couple of hours before and in the middle of the night. 

However, I do know that the Sikh temple shooter had a 9/11 tattoo and was “possibly” a white supremacist. 

I know Dan Cathy and a shitload of other Christians think we are “inviting God’s judgment” by even thinking about accepting gay marriage. And these people are so very proud of themselves for going and making him a shitload of money last Wednesday.  I know because my Facebook page was full of pictures of all the lines at all the Chick-Fil-As in my hometown. 

I know a whole lot about a whole lot of really bad things I wish never happened… like someone breaking into a woman’s house, carving “dyke” into her arms and stomach and setting her house on firelike underage kids posting pictures of themselves raping a passed out girl at a high school party and the rape victim almost went to jail when she tweeted their names… and, God help me, I know about Jerry Sandusky. 

I also know a whole lot about a whole lot of things so inconsequential and petty that I should never have heard of them… e.g. Kristen Stewart’s affair with her director, Steven Tyler has quit American Idol (a show I have never watched even once), that Elton John is dissing Madonna and that years after her death there are still picture books of Marilyn Monroe coming out, though most of us have never even seen Seven Year Itch

I know that there is a presidential election coming up and you have to pick a side: the Private Sector or the Government because apparently it is impossible to think that both are important to our way of life.  You have to demonize one and love the other.  You cannot be a reasonable person and think that Capitalism and Government are in an inextricably linked symbiotic relationship of equal importance.  And God help you if you are a moderate in today’s political climate.  You will just quit.  Ask Olympia Snow or Steve LaTourette

We have divided ourselves into groups.  And to a certain extent that is fine.  It is a part of the human condition to identify with a group.  We have always done it going back to the beginning of our history. 

The problem is that we are now living in the best time humans have ever experienced.  So now we have plenty of time to judge other groups.  We no longer have to band together to survive and mind our own group’s business.  We band together because we want to.  And what we really want to do in our group is judge other groups and list all the reasons why we would NEVER be a part of THAT group.  THAT group believes X and we believe Y and so we have to MAKE them stop believing X and FORCE them to believe Y.  It is, after all, what God would want us to do, right?

We ESPECIALLY like it if the other group is having some sort of sex our group forbids.  We LOVE to get our noses into other people’s beds and judge what they do there.  It is scandalous.  It is titillating. 

So, please, please, please, as a nation and a people, we need to be brought back together.  We need to be united in accomplishment and pride.  Not AGAINST something or someone but FOR something we can all believe in.

Landing an SUV on Mars could have been that thing.  But it wasn’t. 

And, really, how can we come up with something more amazing than that?

Going outside our solar system??  Yeah.  That would be awesome, right?  Everyone would think that was cool!  Wait.  We already did that.  I bet you didn’t even know it. 

So much for wonder.  We can all go back to bickering amgonst our little groups now.

Have you ever met anyone who is just a rotten person?

I am not talking about a child molester or ax murderer, mind you. That’s evil and there is a difference.

I am talking about a regular, every day, run-of-the-mill person – who also just happens to have a character flaw rendering them either a bitch or an asshole, as if it were truly no fault of their own.  They cannot help being negative, soul-sucking people lacking in basic human traits of empathy and compassion as they were apparently just born (or raised) that way and simply cannot help it.

This is the kind of person whose personal agenda is more important than the welfare of those they say they love – to the point they will justify and rationalize any actions, no matter how despicable, to callously (and, I suspect, self-satisfyingly) have their way.

Love, decency, kindness and respect are not things these people understand.

They operate on the idea that life is first and foremost about being right, even when “right” requires a good deal of “spinning of the facts” to make them “right.”

They are spiteful and vindictive people who are most satisfied making rules, passing judgment and handing out punishments…regardless of whether or not they have the actual or moral authority to do so.

You have heard of the kind, right?  Hell, I’d bet your know a couple.

They are the ones who are quick to blame the victim.

[A woman is raped outside a bar?  Well, sure, it is awful and no man has the right… but if she’d been a good girl and not some slut alone at a bar, it never would have happened, now would it?]

They are the ones who are apparently on the inside track with God, too.

[A tornado hit your house?  Awful.  Of course, if you were in God’s good graces and went to (the right) church and were not such a pathetic sinner, He might have spared your house. You need to be more Christ-like (like me) and things like that wouldn’t happen to you.]

Hmmm, sounds a lot like Pat Robertson, doesn’t it? Funny how those apparently most able (or presumptuous) to speak for God seem to have very few qualities that could be described as “godly,” isn’t it?

I can readily admit that there are people who I do not like (obviously). I can even admit there are a few who just don’t like me.  We all know that there are some people you just cannot get along with and have to do your best to tolerate.

Maybe it is your boss’ secretary who always seems to have eaten something sour and has a nasty attitude – never passes on your work promptly or messages accurately – yet you are stuck dealing with her on a regular (and unpleasant) basis.

Maybe it is your actual boss you have to put up with the same way you have to deal with your 4-year-old’s temper tantrums (but is not near as cute or loveable as your 4 year old – and you cannot put them in time out).  [To be clear, my boss is great and in NO way am I describing him, I promise]

Maybe you are lucky and it is just the dour, snitty person at the DMV you only have to deal with once a year.

Maybe you and someone in your family have a tenuous relationship making family gatherings terse and difficult.

Or maybe your ex-sister-in-law is a holier-than-thou, self-righteous, know-it-all whose vindictiveness and spiteful nature cannot even be tempered by her supposed love for her own children.

Or, you know, whatever your particular set of circumstances happen to be.

So, let me give you (and myself) a bit of free advice for dealing with such people.

1. Don’t take it personally – especially if they do. Realize that those that don’t like you are going to be out there and, at least with some of them, there may be nothing you can do about it.   So someone doesn’t like you.  Big deal.  Fuck em.  Go hang out with the people who do like you and have a blast. Besides, unless you are one of the people I am describing, you probably have a lot more people who love and like you than don’t.

2. Maintain your self-respect. Lowering yourself to the level some of these people will stoop to will not help.  Defend yourself vigorously, of course, especially if you are being wronged or taken advantage of; don’t be shy about that.  But always keep in mind, jumping into a pig sty and rolling around with the pig will leave you just as nasty, smelly and disgusting as the pig.  What’s worse, though, is that the pig won’t know any better.  But you will.

3.  Just do what is right and let go of the outcome. While watching those who have wronged you to finally get their comeuppance can be gratifying, you should get your pleasure in life from the wonderful and positive things that abound rather than waiting for the downfall of others. Life is too short for that shit. Then, when God or karma does get to them, it will be like a little surprise gift – unexpected and, therefore, even more enjoyable.

And, finally, as a further public service, I will give you some words.  If you are unsure whether someone qualifies as a soul-sucking bitch, try this simple little test.  If you can honestly use (more than) 3 of these terms to describe the person, you probably should do everything possible to excise them from your life. At the very least keep your distance.  There is no proof that it could rub off on you – but no sense risking it, right?

Vindictive, spiteful, vengeful, negative, judgmental, self-righteous, sanctimonious, pious, hypocritical, hypercritical, pharisaic, smug, hateful, self-serving, self-satisfied, snide, superficial, artificial, duplicitous, moralistic, arrogant, contemptuous, haughty, disdainful, divisive, proud, rude, hoity-toity, heartless, obtuse, insensitive, foolish, shallow, neurotic….

I am having a problem keeping my emotions in check.  I am angry, disappointed and downright disgusted.  I am frustrated and feel completely powerless to do anything about it. 

I may also have PMS, but that is beside the point.

One day though, I will not hold my tongue. “I told you so” will roll off it like velvet.  And the person on the receiving end will deserve it.  Because every single one of us, whether we want to or not, has to buck up, put on our big girl panties and deal with life.  Not just go from one shitty situation to the next, but to actually LIVE a responsible and productive life.  You can fight it.  You can postpone it.  You can bitch and cry and whine and wish it were different.  You can find people who tell you what you want to hear.  And you can excise those who tell you the truth (aka, NOT what you want to hear) from your life.  But the truth is the truth, even if it is ugly and awful.  And you will grow up to know this. 

I am trying to spare you the regret that is coming.

One day you will have to face the fact that the friend you told to Fuck off when they tried to reason with you was right.  You should have listened.  Had you listened then, you may have been in a shitty position where you felt miserable and alone but you would have had that friend.   But here you are.  In full realization that you were fucking up and you will know with all certainty that if you call that friend now it will be her turn to tell you to fuck off.  And you will deserve it.  And it will make it all the worse.  And you will have to live with that every single day until you learn to forgive yourself.  And that will take a long time.  You will regret it more than you can imagine. 

Oh, you will hate him for it, but it won’t matter.  He will be gone, too. The only difference between losing him now and losing him later would have been keeping a friendship.  Right now, while you are in love, you cannot see that.  Your stubbornness blinds you from it.  You think it is your love for him making it all worthwhile.  But it isn’t.  It is your own stubbornness and fear.    

But you will see it one day.  And you will hate yourself for it.

There is no way to describe the level of frustration involved in being made to sit back and watch someone do something that BOTH of you know is not good for them and then just have to take and swallow it when it becomes more than obvious that they just don’t give a shit. 

Or, actually, the person who they are giving up possibility for is simply not worth a shit. 

Do you know how I know when person is not worth a shit?

It is not because I know them. I may have only met them once. I know that may sound judgmental, but I do know for a fact that you can and should judge people to a certain extent.  There are some things that are beyond rationalizing.

I know how a bad apple ruins the whole bunch.

I know how you try beyond measure to teach your children that they are better off if they do not associate with people who are not worthy of their companionship.

I understand how the easiest way to become a certain kind of person is to hang out with that kind of person.

You want to be a success?  Surround yourself with successful people.  Observe them.  Emulate them.  Study them.  And one day you will be like them. 

Well, unfortunately, it is true when the people you surround yourself with are losers.  That is the quickest way to become a loser yourself.

Or maybe it is just to fall in love with one. 

I should know.  I have done it enough.  I have even married a couple of them. 

And you want to know the one thing I have managed to learn from dating and being married to losers over the last 20 years?

I know how to spot one a mile away. 

The first clue is that nothing ever goes right for a loser.  But they ALWAYS have a really good explanation as to why things are always so stacked against them. 

He really and truly does love you. He just needs to borrow a couple of hundred to cover the rent this month and he’s just not ready to move in yet.  And you need to watch where you go and who you hang out with.  Your friends don’t like him because they are jealous of our wonderful relationship and don’t get how good we are together. But he insists you give him your passwords.  You would give it to him if you have nothing to hide, right? He just loves you and is scared of losing you.  That’s why he doesn’t like your friends. 

It is not his fault he drank his last marriage into divorce court.  She was a bitch.  You are totally different. So things will be different this time.  Weird how he spends most nights a week passed out on the living room floor, though. 

He only cheated on his last girlfriend because she did not understand his needs.  I am different.  I get him.  Until he turns out to be another fucking Anthony Weiner having phone sex in your bed with some weirdo from the internet on your son’s first birthday.

He will take care of me and I will be able to support him in his career.  He doesn’t understand my kid because he just doesn’t have any yet. They will love each other one day. He smokes weed to relieve the stress of his sensitive nature.  And the coke is not a problem, it is just on occasion for fun.  Until he sells his mother’s farm and puts it all up his nose. 

It is not his fault he was arrested for dating an underage girl.  She lied to him.  How was he supposed to know?

It was not his fault that he had his kids taken away.  His wife was a drug addict.  What was he supposed to do? 

It is not his fault that he doesn’t have a job.  He can’t because he is on probation right now, but as soon as he gets off he’s got something awesome lined up.  Promise. 

But, he is a really nice guy and you just aren’t giving him a chance. 

You know what a really nice guy who gives a shit does?  He puts you first.  He even breaks it off if he knows he is holding you back. 

A bastard holds onto you for his own selfish reasons. 

He is clingy.  He is manipulative.  He can rationalize everything away.  And then he brings you breakfast in bed and make it all better.  He makes you think he is the only one who “gets you.” 

He is a liar, even if he himself doesn’t know it. 

I have had breakfast brought to me in bed.  I once even had a guy who knew I was fixing to call the whole thing off surprise me with a trip to Gatlinburg.  The hotel room overlooked the river and had a fireplace.  It actually worked and, not only did I NOT break it off, I told my best friend she was jealous.  I am surprised she still speaks to me.  But I thank God for her now. Him?  Don’t have a clue where he is now.  Giving some other girl grief, I am sure… and his life sucks, it is just not his fault.  I guarantee it.

Another one took me on an impromptu trip to New Orleans because I had never been.  It didn’t matter to him that I had left my daughter with a friend for what was supposed to be one night out.  He was actually offended and mad with my friend when she was upset.  His “gift” was being seen as negative because I had a kid.  And my friend? Well, she was just a bitch who didn’t like him and was jealous of a spur-of-the-moment NOLA trip for me.  And what about my daughter who I was supposed to spend the next day with?  Why was I whining about her?  Like I’d miss her – I had plenty of time to spend with her.  Jesus.  Quit being a fucking kill-joy and have some fun.  Damn, you just aren’t even satisfied with anything ever, are you??

I have found that it takes around 2 years to get fed up and rid of bastards completely.  And they always beg you back.  And you are always tempted. Sometimes you actually go back.  Because he has some redeeming quality – he’s a nice guy, or he forgave you a transgression, or he is good in bed, or he looks like theguy who you had a crush on but who never knew you existed, or he is talented, or he is interesting, or he is teaching you to play the guitar… or any one of a million other excuses you can find for him.

But one redeeming quality is not enough.  Neither are 5.  Because there comes a time when all the red flags will add up to something you cannot deal with anymore and you will get out. 

What really sucks is that there are guys out there who ARE worth it.  Hell, YOU are worth it.  And while you are rationalizing this fucking loser to your mom and your grandmother and your friends… you are wasting your time with someone who will not only bring you down to his level, he will undermine your self-esteem. 

Because one day you will realize he wasn’t even near the right one for you. And your mother will say “I told you so” and you will be angry and resentful and hate her for it just a little bit.  You will also keep your mouth shut and take it because you know she is right. 

And you will hate yourself for loving him and losing friends and putting your life on hold.  That is the real damage a loser does.  The regret will fester.  You will miss that friend.  You will realize that guys come and go and friends tell you the truth.  And you will not be able to undo the damage completely, even if you are able to repair your friendship.  You will not trust yourself and you will wish beyond hope that you had listened and could get the time back.  But he will have moved on to someone else and the only thing you can do is blame yourself.  After a while, and if you do it enough, you will think regret and self-loathing are normal and you are a fuck up.  When it was him all along. 

Do not do this to yourself.  No man is worth it.  Trust me. 

And don’t you dare roll your eyes and say I don’ t know what I am talking about.  I have more experience with dating, men, relationships and regret in my pinky than you have in your entire body.  How does it not make you clueless (if not downright idiotic) if you choose to dismiss my knowledge in favor of your own limited experiences? 

And if, after all this, you still don’t want to trust me, ask yourself this:

Why in the world would I lie to you? Who, between he and I, do you know only wants the best for you?

You and I both know the answer to that. You may think he does.  You may hope he does. 

But you KNOW I do. 

So, really, what is all this about?

There are all kinds of ways we suffer from intrusion. “To put or force in inappropriately or rudely, especially without invitation, fitness, or permission.” You can have your pleasant thoughts intruded upon by worries; you can have your personal space intruded on by someone getting too close (a personal pet peeve of mine); someone can intrude on your privacy; you can intrude with unsolicited advice; and someone can intrude on your property. Read More

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”

This thought came to my mind this morning not long after I woke up.  And I have a question: am I the only one who has heard or thought that and then immediately rolled my eyes and thought, “Good God, give me a break with this sanctimonious crap”?

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For the last week or so I have been hearing people scolding those celebrating the death of Bin Laden; people pissed because Bush is getting credit; people vehemently pointing out that Obama did not pull the trigger and is therefore gets no credit; and people accusing the government of lying and making the whole thing up.   

None of this was on the news or partisan talk shows.  It was from friends and co-workers I interact with everyday.  Yesterday I was pissed and aggravated.  Today I am just resigned to wonder why we even bother. 

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