Thursday, September 30, 2010

The One About Right, Left, and That Place In the Middle

 Well, we're gearing up for yet another election season and the fur has begun to fly. This side did that, the other side did that thing, and by God that new party is filled with racist troglodytes! It brings me to the question is this really the best we can do? 

We're failing here folks. Failing badly. And worst of all, we're not listening to any of the conversations. We're too busy asserting ourselves and then, by virtue of the assertion, we're too busy defending ourselves. Productive no?

I met a man from somewhere else not too long ago. As we sat around and chatted, the conversation turned to politics. He said something that's stuck with me "Americans never get anything done because they're too busy taking sides."

I though the comment was arrogant at the time. After-all, I'm an American and we get things done. We right wrongs, fight injustice, blah, blah, blah... but in a sense, he's right. We don't get things done, not lately... We just take sides.

It got me thinking about talking, listening, politics, and people. Do we really "hear" what the discussion is? Are we "hearing" what others want? Do we "hear" the solutions in the conversations?  Or do we just regurgitate the  sound bytes from the "side" we identify with??

I miss the thinkers in this life, I meet too few these days. I meet a lot of folks who have plenty of things to say, but nothing that they've put their own thought into the topic.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The One About What Wasn't Done

I'm a bad blogger, I'll admit it. I intend on writing many things, but sometimes life gets in the way and it just doesn't get done. That doesn't mean that I'm a bad blog reader though. Part of my morning ritual is to read the 30 or so blogs that show up in my reader. I love observation, I love peeking into other lives, I love words.

So this morning, I did the usual. Made the coffee, sat down in front of the glowing screen and started down the list. The list is always smaller on Saturdays, I get that. But today....

Himself and I shared coffee while we watched the morning news.  Of course this morning's news was a rerun of news that we all were glued to  nine years ago. We watched quietly, both of us remembering exactly where we were, what we were doing, and the tempest that carried us through the days that followed. We thought of those who were lost, those who lost loved ones, and those who pitched in and touched the lives of so many.

We moved on with our day. I turned my attention back to the screen in front of me, and noticed something odd. Not one of the posts in my reader included anything about what happened nine years ago. After years of bloggers contributing to projects about 9/11 victims, after years of bloggers telling their own 9/11 stories, there was not one damn thing in my reader that made this Saturday different from any other Saturday.

I am ashamed. 

I am ashamed that I admired some of these people.

I am ashamed that I contributed anything (however small) to their causes or careers.

I am ashamed that remembrance must be fashionable to be "done".

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

The One About Legalities and Sensitivities

So, apparently, there's a little church somewhere in the wilds of Florida, that has decided it would be a smashing idea to have a bonfire with copies of the Quran on the anniversary of September 11th. The pastor seems to believe that somehow, this makes a statement against radical Islam. I shall not discuss radical Christians or the fact that this act makes you exactly the same as the people you're making a "statement" against. That, of course, would be foolish.
What I will discuss, or mull over as it were, is the fact that this Pastor and his congregation have every right to roast marshmallows over any book they choose. Including, but not limited to, the Quran. It's not the most sensitive or intelligent thing to do, but it is their right to do so. Period.

What I'm struck by here, is not that people are all over this tiny little church but that people are screaming "insensitivity!" all around town. The same people by the way, who were screaming that it's a right to build a mosque at Ground Zero. Because sensitivity should never trump a constitutional right.... right?? Because after all, if you put sensitivity ahead of a persons right you must be anti something. After all, you're infringing on somebody's right . That's un-American after all.... right? You've got to be discriminating...right? 

So not right. Let me be perfectly clear here. I do not agree with the actions of this Florida church. I don't think anyone of any persuasion is going to listen to what you say after you kick them in the shin. That being said, I will defend their right to have a bonfire with whatever they want to. It is their right as Americans.

It's fascinating to me that rights only apply to the cause of the day. It's also fascinating to me that the very same people who wave the flag, and cloak themselves in the title of American will defend the right of one group to act insensitively and yet decry the insensitivity of another as they exercise their own right. 

Hypocrisy never healed a damn thing.

Monday, September 06, 2010

 The One About What You Are 

My four year old daughter is obsessed with pea soup. Specifically, my pea soup. For some odd reason, she asks for it constantly. She can name almost all of the ingredients and her face lights up at the mere suggestion of the steamy green stuff. Yesterday, she announced to Himself that "Mommy's a good chef" while she sang the praises of the blessed pea soup. I said thank you, we all laughed and we moved on with our day. But it stuck with me... at least the word "chef" did.

See, I'm not a chef. I'm a pretty good cook and I can adjust just about any recipe for may family's tastes, but I cannot walk to my pantry, whip out a few ingredients and "create" a meal. You will never find me with a jar of capers, a can of tuna and an original idea all at the same time. Just not who I am...

So it got me thinking. About labels, about the internet, about blogging, writing... about  CREATING. Making things, being original, originality in general, fact, fiction, wishes, actions, presentation, truth, lies, and the stuff in between...

(Yep, that's my brain. It's gets all different kinds of busy up in here)

Awhile ago, the great big blogging community had a great big kerfluffle about the term "writer", specifically, "real writers" and what exactly makes a "real writer". The definition of the word "writer" basically says that if you can form words, you're a writer. So every semi-literate person out there who puts pen to paper or fingers to keyboard is technically a writer, myself included. But is that fair? Especially out here in the vast web-o-sphere?

It appears that everyone would like to label themselves as something out here. Mommy blogger, Design Blogger, Daddy Blogger, Travel Blogger, Food Blogger, Political Blogger...etc. Almost all of them label themselves as "writers". But are they? Is the term valid if you're earning a living from it? Or is it about exposure? What about actual print? Is that more or less valid than the internet itself?

My definition of "writer" has always contained the term "create". Along with the word "original". If you've created something original in words, in my view, you're a writer. It seems that I'm the minority. Out of the 30 or so blogs that I read regularly, maybe 2 or 3 of them are actual writers. All of them purport to "be" writers, but few actually are. Few actually exhibit an original thought. It doesn't mean that they're not interesting, it just means that they're not "original".

But it's all in the marketing isn't it? Call yourself something and therefore, that must be what you are. Say it often enough and loud enough and someone, somewhere will believe it. Call yourself something, re-write some copy, and viola! You suddenly are what you wished you were all along.

But is that who you are???

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

The One About Black and White
Several weeks ago, Himself was outside with the Eggroll. Our neighborhood is ripe with little kids and there was a small group of them playing across the street. The Eggroll, being the social little kid that she is, wanted to play with the other kids and as she started across the street, one of the kids yelled "You can't come over here because you're black and white". 
I think time may have stopped for Himself. The Eggroll stated that she is in fact NOT black and white, she's Chinese. She returned to her father and shortly thereafter they both came into the house.

When he told me the story, I was a little put off, but not nearly as upset as he was. I told him that I was going to see the offending child's mother at a function, and if I had an opportunity, I would speak to her about it. The function came and went and although she was there and we spoke, the time to bring up something such as that just never arose. Himself was disappointed but not particularly upset.

Several days ago, I caught the Mom on the street. We chatted for a few minutes and since we were alone, I decided that the time was right for a difficult topic. As I relayed the story, I didn't flat out tell her that it was HER child that had uttered the phrase. I just said that one of the kids did it and that I thought she should be aware. She apologized profusely for the incident and I told her that it certainly didn't bother us, but it certainly might not be received well in other company. 

Situation resolved....

When I told Himself about the conversation, he was disappointed that I had not pointed out to her that it was her kid. He felt as though I let her off the hook. I told him that no matter how you word that one, no one is going be open and receptive when you accuse their kid of any kind of racism. It's calling them a racist by proxy...just not going to work....

And then, a half an hour later ...

"Oh Shit!" (he's watching the baseball game)

"Whassamatter? They give up another run?"

"No, no. Oh shit!"

"What is your issue?"

"The White Sox dammit!"


"The White Sox, Nyt... their slogan.."

"What about their slogan?"

"Their slogan is "it's black and white" and we've had so many conversations with those parents about who's a Sox fan and who's a Cub's fan..."

"Oh shit...indeed"
Situation not exactly resolved.....

Friday, August 20, 2010

The One About Keeping It Simple, Stupid

I think life is inherently simple. In other words, I think that there are basic things that work 99.99% of the time.

Tired? Then sleep.
Hungry? Then eat.
Confused? Ask a question.
Still confused? Ask some more questions.
Still confused? Do your research.
Angry? Say it out loud.
Hurt? Say that out loud too.
Falling behind? Work harder.
Dirty? Clean it.

I have a very simplistic view of my life... do unto others...

The other day, Himself and the Eggroll were hanging in the front of the house. The kids across the street were outside playing and as any four year old will tell you, it's way more fun to hang with other kids than it is to hang with your parents. As Himself and the Eggroll headed across the street, the youngest tow-headed little girl yelled "Eggroll, you can't come over here because you're black and white". 


Himself explained that the Eggroll is not black and white, but Chinese. The Eggroll chimed in with "I'm from China" and the two of them returned home forthwith. After relaying this incident to me, I soothed both of the offended parties and promised that I would speak to the Mom at the BTS luncheon that's happening in a few days.

Simple right? 

Not so much. See there's nothing in my simple bag of tricks for this one.  I know I have to say it, but I'll be damned if I know HOW to say it. How do I say this one without a) making someone sound like a racist or b) making myself sound like a petty fool or c) making people uncomfortable or d) all of the above??

Under the category of "do unto others" I have to say that I would want to know if my kid behaved this way, or said something like that. But I also know that my kid's behavior is a reflection of myself and Himself. And as a wife and a parent I will defend both of them to the death. I have to assume that it's that simple for other folks as well. 

That simple fact plus my simple fact leaves me with a complicated conversation, and a whole bunch of considering to do in the meantime. 


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The One About The Marriage Rule

"The only way anyone is leaving this marriage is in a body bag or a box"

He said this to me during an argument one time, and it stuck. For us, it speaks to the level of commitment we have to one another, and to our family. We are very different people, he and I, but we are committed to each other and in some very strange ways, we complete one another. I forget from time to time, how integrated we actually are.

I'm thinking of making it a bumper sticker... 

Monday, August 09, 2010

The One About Heirlooms and Albatrosses
Momma was a great collector of stuff, a saver of things, a shopaholic. Every item had meaning and value to her, whether she used it or not. She could pretty much tell you the history and story behind just about every item she possessed. We had a standing joke between us, I would mercilessly tease her about her accumulating exploits and tell her that she couldn't die until she got her "stuff" in order. She would tell me her accumulations were guaranteeing that she would live forever... She didn't and without notice or preparation, I became the Shepard Of Stuff.
I grew up learning about the "things" that surrounded me. So many items were tagged with the admonishment to "never get rid of this" or "this belonged to.." or whatever reason she believed gave importance to the selected item. I carry these admonishments with me to this day.
And therein lies the problem...
In no particular order I am the owner of:
2 full sets of fine china along with a smattering of odd pieces left over from generations before...
An entire set (and I mean every piece made) of Waterford Crystal along with an almost full set of Orrefors.
2 full sets of sterling silverware 
A 60's era dining room set that I've never really been crazy about but it was my grandmothers so I've toted it with me for the last 20 years...
A vast array of chachtkes , paintings and decorative items. Some "quality", some not so much...
Plus 20 years of my OWN accumulations and those of Himself..
My many cups runneth over...
Recently, Himself and I came to the decision that we are staying right where we are until circumstances change so much that we can't live here. We've been in this house almost seven years and with a little tweaking, it will fit us for many years to come. We've decided to swap some rooms, change some furniture and really make this place suit the way we live. We are not fancy people. Should you enter our home we want you to feel free to have a seat, have a drink, have a meal, tell us your stories, listen to ours, relax,  We want to be focused on you, your focus to be on us, our mutual focus to be on one another. It's about family, friends and fine times for us, not fancy stuff.
Achieving this means unloading much of the "stuff". The same "stuff" that I was told for years was important "stuff", heirloom "stuff", "stuff" that I should never get rid of. But I need to get rid of it. And I'm having a hell of a time doing it. Logically and rationally I know the "stuff" is weighing us down. It's weighing me down. I know that it would never be fair to saddle my husband or my child with the "stuff". But I feel a tremendous amount of guilt each and every time I even consider getting rid of the "stuff". And then there's the "what if I find out that I NEED this "stuff"?" portion of the program. It's making a kind of large project into a kind of huge project. 
And it's making me slightly more insane than I was to start with...

Friday, August 06, 2010

The One Where Falling Behind is Disguised as Keeping Up
Every parent is convinced that their child is special. And it's true, every child is special in their own way. 
An interesting discussion happened around these parts not too long ago.
Some of you may know that Himself teaches at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. In addition to a regular job, he takes great joy in teaching. It's something I'm convinced he'll be doing for the rest of his life. What he's discovering, however, is that students are rarely arriving fully prepared for undergraduate or graduate studies. Darn near every student is lacking in some basic skill (math comes first followed closely by writing skills) and many students ask for adjustments to either tests or assignments. And don't even get him started on critical thinking... It will be the end of all of us.

That being said, it got me thinking about what's happening to our kids. How do we think we can educate our children well if we're so busy accommodating every child's "special" circumstances? How do our children fare in classrooms where there is one teacher for every 30 or so students? Especially if any number of those students have a "need" that is above and beyond the ordinary? Since the law requires that all students be given an "appropriate" education how do we administer that fairly across the board? And are we short-changing our children with the "feel-good" style of parenting and teaching.
I see my own child, as young as she is, being given the answers to  questions if she so much as hesitates before answering. Is that because her hesitation holds up the rest of the class, or is it part of the feel good thing? I see backwards letters being accepted as correct, slurred or incorrect pronunciation being accepted as correct. (I was actually chided by a young speech teacher when I corrected my child for saying "mines" instead of "mine". Apparently I should have known that "mines" is the Black English form of "mine" and therefore perfectly acceptable).

I can't help but wonder if we lower the standard for the 5 kids in a classroom who we must "accommodate" are we not then lowering the standards for the other 25 kids? In our zeal to make sure that some keep up with the rest are we not holding the rest back?
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development ranks the U.S. 18th out of 36 nations examined. That means that 50% of the world educates their children better than we educate ours. How in the world can that be? Have we accommodated ourselves right out of the competition?

Right here, right now, it looks as though we have...

Saturday, June 05, 2010

The One About Stuff That Irks Me

At the risk of pissing off veterans everywhere, I'm going to share my thoughts on a recent PSA.... take a look...

I'm going to start off here by saying that I'm grateful to all our vets for their service. You all have seen and done things that I hope I never have to and you deserve many thanks for your service.

That being said, let's talk about your service shall we?? The gentleman in the above ad states;
"When I signed on with the National Guard, I did it to help protect America from our enemies, like in the Persian Gulf...Not to clean up an oil company's mess here in the Gulf of Mexico"

First of all my friend, you signed on to the National are not regular military. You are activated by your states governor first and then you may be called to federal service as a supplement to regular military. You are routinely called to service during an "official state of emergency"

The current oil spill in the gulf? State of emergency. To suggest that somehow it's not your job but you'll do what you're told is insulting to both those who make a career of military service and to the taxpayers who fund you.

Tornados, hurricanes, floods and the like certainly aren't the stuff of our "enemies" but the Guard is routinely activated to assist in those situations. I'm pretty sure that there's no security risk to a tornado ravaged town in East Podunk.

I get absolutely nuts when folks deem helping "beneath" them. And in this case you're not really "helping" out of the goodness of your heart are you? You're helping because you were ordered to and you're helping because you're being paid to do so. Let's be honest...

No "clean energy" initiative is going to go anywhere if you're going to rely on people's identifying with your sense of entitlement. The folks who don't identify with you won't even give you the time of day (that would be me) and those that do identify with your sense of entitlement will scurry away as soon as something shiny distracts them...

Just my two cents...

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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The One About Things Getting Out of Hand

Himself often refers to me as "Glitch". My train of thought can be a bit "different" from time to time...take yesterday for example.. and one of our usual phone conversations...

Himself: So how was your day?

Nyt: It was alright, I got the backyard all cleaned up and the furniture uncovered and cleaned

Himself: Why? You're allergic to everything out there..Let me guess, it turned into a project..

Nyt: Well, the rug had to be washed.

Himself: And that had what to do with it?

Nyt: Well, it meant that to wash it I had to sweep the patio.

Himself: And??

Nyt: Well it seemed silly not to pick up all the sticks around the patio as well.

Himself: Uh huh. And?

Nyt: Well then I ran across some dog poop next to a stick, so it seemed silly not to pick up all the poop..

Himself: And?

Nyt: Well, as I was doing poop patrol I noticed that the mulch had been carried all over the yard and it seemed silly to leave it there so I raked it all back in place

Himself: And the furniture??

Nyt: Happened when I sat down for a break and realized that my ass was cold sitting on the stoop. It seemed silly to uncover and wash just one chair...

Himself: Hives?

Nyt: Yep.

Himself: Hands swollen?

Nyt: Ummmm....

Himself: God help me....

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The One About Revolution and Responsibility

I'm a little bit in love with Jamie Oliver. I've admired his take on food since back in the day when he was the "Naked Chef". Now, I'm in love with the "Food Revolution". I've had many gripes about food and the way we eat in this country for a long time. I'm so pleased that the issue is moving to the forefront.

What has blown me away with this, is the lack of responsibility that parents accept when it comes to their children. A six year old that doesn't know how to use a knife and fork? Children that can't identify even half of the raw veggies shown to them. A tomato for a potato?? Really??

I had a meeting the other day for the Eggroll's IEP. I love her current speech teacher and we happened to wander into the topic of Food Revolution and parents expectations for "school" in general. Along with the idiocy that is the educational system. For instance, in my district, they do teach a section on food and nutrition, beginning in kindergarten. But the cafeteria fare is the standard carb rich chicken nuggets, pizza and mac and cheese. Way to walk the talk!

Seriously, if I hear one more parent tell me that "she/he only eats chicken nuggets" or hotdogs or whatever, I'm going postal. Or the ever popular "but that's what he/she likes"... I don't give a damn what he/she likes... it's my responsibility as a parent to grow the healthiest child I can. That means more fresh fruit than canned, more fresh vegetables than frozen and more lean protein than fatty goodness. Oh and did I mention the carbs?? Yeah..less of the garbage ones.

I would love to offer my kid absolutely everything she wants. But I can't. I'm her parent, not her playmate. And it's my responsibility to behave that way....

Monday, March 22, 2010

The One About Being Conservative

Folks that know me probably know that I'm basically a Republican. I say basically because Republican doesn't mean the same things that it used to. Right now in my little corner of the world Republican generally means conservative. But not necessarily conservative about the things that you might think. Over the past few days and weeks, there has been much chatter at kitchen tables all over town, and I've been privy to a few and I've learned a few things along the way.

We're closer than you think: Most of us are actually socially liberal. We'd like to help those that we can. As a matter of fact, most of us do. Whether it's time or money, most of us can be counted on to contribute to either organizations or individuals.

We are not greedy, we are fiscally responsible: The reason that many of us seem to fall into higher tax brackets is because we've been educated to be responsible with the money we earn and invest. We, as a group, are much more likely to reinvest in the economy, creating both jobs and liquidity. We are the people who create opportunities for less fortunate.

We are not all religious zealots: As a matter of fact, most of us don't give a whit about your religion, what goes on in your bedroom, or who you choose to make your life with. As a matter of fact, you might be surprised to find out that whether or not we "personally" agree with a topic such as abortion or gay marriage, almost all of us agree that it's none of our business. Many of us actually support gay marriage, and most of us agree that abortion is a personal decision.

We lament the loss of tradition: Seriously, one nation under God, and in God we trust is all about the tradition for us. We believe that it got us this far, there's no reason to think it won't take us farther.

We are not racists: Despite the current popular opinion, we're not racists. If anything we're anti-stereotype, not anti-race. It is the stereotype that draws our ire, not the race itself.

With everything that's gone on in Washington this week, I thought it might be important to understand that we are actually much closer together than we once thought. Although I remain vehemently anti-Obama, it's not for the reasons that some people might think...

Where do you stand???

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

The One Where I Try To Remember That Doubles are Lucky

It's been a "thing" in my family for as long as I can remember. I'm not sure how it works, it's some kind of crazy numerology thing, but it's always been true. Doubles are significant for me. Always have been, always will be. There are doubles in my birth date, in Momma's birth date, and if you added up the date of her death, it equaled the doubles in her birth date. Doubles in my daughters "gotcha" date, and if you add up her birth date, you get doubles again. Add up the date of my anniversary, you get doubles. I met Himself in a year of doubles... Despite the fact that it sounds crazy, there are too many occurrences to believe that it's random. It's the way the universe seems to work for me...
So today I hit yet another "double" in life. Today I turn 44. It looks old when I write it, it sounds old when I say it. Yet most days, I don't feel old at all. Most days, I just feel like a really smart (or smart-assed) 22 year-old. And those other days, where I just feel like the 99 year-old woman.

So, just for today, I'm going to try and remember that so many things that shape me as a person came to me in doubles. And that this year of doubles will be the best one yet...

PS: this post sat in draft overnight. Apparently my lucky doubles thing doesn't extend to technology.... le sigh

Monday, February 01, 2010

The One About Hospitals and Help

After less than a month away from the great Southwest, I'm back here again. After a phone call involving the words Flipper, hospital, and complete renal failure, I hopped a plane the same evening and, by midnight I was back in the desert. No one faces anything alone. It's how Momma did it, it's how I do it, it's how it's done.

I am a fierce advocate. I expect nothing less than full cooperation, I demand nothing less than the facts. It took me less than fifteen minutes to scare the crap out of an unsuspecting urologist. (he has since recovered and become a valuable team member) I am not a medical professional (though I'm asked if I am continually) but I am fluent in the language, I have a better than average knowledge of the human body and its workings and I am blessed to have friends that are medical professionals who are tops in their field. My challenge, at this point, is that my resources are 1800 miles away. I'm making evaluations of people, at least, without the personal recommendations of those that I trust. I haven't second guessed myself yet, but I fear that it's coming soon.

Back in the windy city, we deal with nothing but university hospitals. Here in the great southwest, our only choice right now is a community hospital. Although highly rated, my opinion of community hospitals is not rising. I am the advocate that will seek out cooperative staff, but I'm finding that the kind of quality I'm used to seeing in the big city requires a heck of a lot more seeking down here. And the mechanics of the hospital itself? Not so much. In 36 hours, I've endured lost or incomplete medical records (I literally fixed that in less than 5 minutes), staff that has no idea where anything is located (to the weekend ICU staff that I asked for help? Endoscopy is ONE HALL up from the ICU door) to areas that where not staffed AT ALL. As an aside, many thanks go out to Ronald the security guard, who not only found me, but found Flipper and the doctor. He spoke directly to the doc, let him know where I was and that I would like to speak to him after the procedure. And then gave me his extension number if I needed more help. Ronald my dear, you ROCK. I'm sending a letter to the House Manager, I hope it helps you out, it's the least I can do.

Speaking of folks who are awesome, I'm a little bit in love with the nurse on Flippers floor. A Russian immigrant and transplant from NYC, she is everything that nurses should be. We see her often, she never administers anything without telling us what it is, why you need it, and what it's supposed to do, and I've seen her run down doctors to help patients out. On top of that, she actually brings me test results so that I can know what's going on. Awesomeness! As always, nurses are under-rated, many folks forget that they are the ones on the front-line. Someone once told me, if you want to know whats going on, ask your nurse, skip the doc. It's totally true.

For the rest of the "family that isn't family" down here? You all are superb and I can't thank you enough. I will ask you to stop being so damn nice to me, it makes me cry. I can't do the crying now, I have business to attend to. Years ago, when Momma died, I learned all about "family". The conclusion? Family has nothing to do with the people who are actually related to you, it has to do with the people who "show-up". Each and every one of you has "showed up" and offered me more than I could ever wish for. I will be forever grateful.

This last part is about something that I rarely talk about, but I really should. And that is the man I married. I am grateful. Though whatever trials and tribulations have been thrown our way, he continues to work with me as one half of our "team". There is no obstacle that is too large, he accepts the "crazy" without question, and supports whatever adjustments have to be made. No one could ask for a better partner. Once again I will be forever grateful that this person has chosen to be with me. Of course, none of that will keep me from bitching about the little things....