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Angry War/Grammar Rant


This post is rated NC-17 for strong language.

 

I’ve been more ignorant of the news recently, choosing to listen to audiobooks on my drive than NPR (the only news source I can stomach besides Daily Show and Colbert Report).   Mostly this started because I discovered just how much a treasure trove my local libraries are.  But as ISIS (and whatever else the American Devil is calling them) becomes more and more active and word spreads of terrorist cells and attacks on American soil, I find that I am less inclined to shut off my book (currently Dexter’s Final Cut => yes, I would rather listen to a book about a serial killer than listen to the violence in the news) and catch up on recent events.

Before you start crying “isolationism won’t make it go away,” know that I am perfectly aware of this fact.  Even without basic history to demonstrate this, I’m married to the Army.  Can’t really pretend things don’t exist when they’re knocking at your door with a reminder that soldiers don’t exist for peacetime.   It’s getting serious again so something has to be done and the rumors are already flying about who is up to bat first.  Isolationism isn’t my goal at all.  The problem is that if I’m this angry all the time, my health is going to suffer.  You know, ulcers, headaches, insomnia.  And the jail time for all those murders isn’t going to help anything.  It’s just hard not to be angry when you hear all that craziness.  Especially spouting from the mouths of normally rational people.

“It may be time to take the proactive approach and start rounding them up and putting them in camps or deporting them. Otherwise, they will be doing it to us Christians and Jews.” – Facebook

” These terrorists want to kill us, plain and simple.  We have to kill them first.  It’s better on their soil than ours.” – NPR interview of retired cop.

I suppose what sets me off first, besides the ignorance of such statements, is the obvious errors in grammar.  You see, they both use anonymous, 2nd and 3rd person pronouns.  They, them, their, we, us, ours.  But that’s not what is meant, of course.  When they say we, what they mean is “someone-not-me.”  I recommend to anyone spewing blanket statements of this sort to make slight changes to their pronouns and see if the message still holds.  “I must start rounding Troy up and putting him in a camp before he does it to me.  Because, well, Troy’s a nice guy and a killer bass player, and he was in the Army a while and deployed with my husband.  But he’s a Muslim and I just can’t trust him.”  Doesn’t sound right once I replace the impersonal pronoun and it becomes my responsibility.  Now, you may not personally know a Muslim, so imagination may be your fist step in this process.  I wish I could compare this sort of “proactive” response to the “camps” set up for the Jews (and sundry) in Germany or the Japanese in America, since that would be instantly understood by everyone.  But that isn’t exactly right because those atrocities have a slightly different flavor to them and someone could bring up a valid counter-argument.  The Jews weren’t terrorists and the Japanese weren’t “relocated” because of their religion.  Fair point.  So how about the Protestant burnings of England during the Reformation?  They were also terrorists, a threat to the State trying to bring down the Apocalypse upon the Empire.  Maybe the Hugoenots are more your style?  Or the Catholics?  Do you remember the outcry against JFK because he was a Catholic and his presidency would open the door for the Pope to take over?

There is a lot of pressure out there to sacrifice our freedoms to gain greater safety, but I cannot, will not give up the freedom of religion.  The minute we start rounding up (hear how dehumanizing that phrase is?) Americans based on their religious beliefs and not their actual criminal activity, we lose in every way.  I shouldn’t have to explain this.  Religious freedom means for all, not just those beliefs you like.  If you don’t care for Islam for religious reasons, it isn’t your government’s job to do something.  Get your Bible/Torah/Watch Tower, etc, and start evangelizing.  It is their right to believe and your right to attempt conversion.  It is not your right to imprison someone because an extremist thousands of miles away is committing a murderous rampage, even if that extremist is in this country.  That is all I’m going to say about that.

That second statement needs some changes, too.  “I have to kill them first” works better for me.  But that’s not how it works, is it?  No, when people say “we” in this case, they don’t intend to rush off to the recruiter the next day to join the good fight.  Their “we” actually means “you.”  As in, “You need to send  soldiers into an knuckle-dragging game of hunt-and-peck against an enemy that doesn’t play by conventional rules of war, and can’t even be classified as one coherent enemy, while I sit at home, stroking my hunting rifle and telling my buddies about how if I was only twenty years younger, I’d give those terrorists what-for.”  Sorry for the redneck stereotyping here.  I did say I was angry.

They never mean “I’m going to leave my family for a pointless war we don’t know how to fight.”  “I’m going to risk my life, my health, my sanity, while guys in fancy suits bicker over who has the most patriotic lapel pin.”  “I’m going to come home after a frustrating struggle with no guarantee that I’ll have a job or retirement benefits because some people need to make sure their kids have sufficient trust funds.”  “I have to pray that I don’t suffer injury because there’s no telling whether I’ll have health benefits to cover my medical costs when I’m no longer fit for service because the people getting those benefits are too worried about the long-term side effects of sitting on their *sses and b*tching about how the other side are a bunch of chai-drinking nancies who are too scared of war to send my friends and family to die for their personal jet and thousand-dollar shoes.”

In case you were wondering, YES, I AM PRETTY F*CKING ANGRY.  While those f*ckers are out there saying we should do something, it’s us or them, why don’t they just send in the troops already, I hear something completely different.  Their impersonal pronouns don’t exist for me.  The troops aren’t just vague camo-dressed extras in the back of the glorious war movie.  They’re my friends, my family, closer to me in many ways than my blood-relatives can ever be.  If I was still in, I would still make an uproar, I’m sure, but at least I’d be there with them.  I’d know they were okay, I’d share the daily frustrations and irritations and that vague worry that maybe today the IDF won’t land harmlessly in some open desert space.  But I’m out and those f*cking civilians are demanding that my husband fixes this sh*t-storm when I know perfectly well that he’ll just be another anonymous cog in the war machine waiting to be forgotten just as soon as they get war-weary.

War-weary.  That’s a funny term.  Americans wanted out of Iraq and Afghanistan because they were war-weary.  They didn’t want to do anything in Syria because they were war-weary.  They want to pay ransoms to terrorists because they’re war-weary.  (Note my heavy-handed use of 3rd-person pronouns.  Pisses you off when people generalize, doesn’t it?)  Less than a percent of the US population is in the military and yet everyone is war-weary.  Tired of hearing about it in the news, tired of their hard-earned tax dollars being spent on it, tired because it just doesn’t seem to matter to their everyday lives.  I think the term everyone is looking for is war-bored.  You can’t get weary of something you don’t experience, don’t see the effects of each day.  You can’t get weary when it isn’t you ripped from your family or your spouse is left alone with a new baby.  Or when you deploy just as you start reconnecting with your 8-year-old daughter who hasn’t forgiven you for the last deployment when she was 5.  When you have sat day after day, breathing toxins from burn pits, checking your boots every day for vermin, eating and sleeping and working out because you don’t have a mission and your job is to be there and then go home and shut up until the next time.  When you have sat impotent while your friends went without you and you have wondered if the randomness of this conflict will take out someone you know this time, if maybe that safety you felt when you were there was just complacency and you were only lucky, after all.  Come to me then and tell me of your deep-boned weariness.  Maybe I’ll believe you.

I don’t know what to do about ISIS.  I’m not a war strategist.  I’m not even good at chess.  I don’t think sending in ground troops is going to be effective at this juncture, but I’m not in a position, nor do I have the full scope of the situation, to make that decision.  I just have to hope that the powers-that-be will actually take the time to develop a strategy before they start chucking soldiers/marines/sailors/airmen at this problem.  It is horrific what is happening out there, yes.  But this is not the time for simple solutions like “kill them before they kill us.”  War is not, can never be a simple solution.

What I ask is that you, my individual readers out there, think before you make grandiose statements about this problem.  If you follow my guidelines and become a liar with a simple adjustment to 1st-person pronouns, maybe you should rethink posting it on the Facebook.  If the boots on the ground aren’t going to be your boots, then shut the f*ck up.

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15AM00000082011 · 08:44

Preventing Sexual Assault: A Predator’s Guide


There are many disturbing statistics concerning sexual assault. According to the CNU S.A.V.E website, 84% of rape victims on college campuses knew their attacker. Clearly, students are not limited to the role of victim. They can just as easily be cast as the attacker. So, perhaps it would be prudent to teach students how to avoid becoming the attacker, as it is unlikely that a student’s goals for the year include standing before a disciplinary board and explaining his/her side of the story. We were all drinking. I didn’t know. I didn’t realize. I didn’t mean to. It is time to educate the aggressors, but only those parties that are interested in a consensual sexual encounter. Any parties interested in a non-consensual encounter should seek professional help.

The most well-known mantra and only guidance given to aggressors is “No means no.” That means that even if your partner has been flirting all night and giving you all the indicators that intimacy is welcome, “no” should not be misconstrued as “playing hard to get” or any similar kind of reverse psychology. If you are making your intentions clear and your partner appears to be of the teasing variety, it is advisable to abandon the endeavor entirely. That being said, when alcohol or other impairing drugs are involved, “yes” still means “no.” Even if you have both been drinking (and you have been dating for a long time and earlier in the night, before the drinking started, there were hints given that this could be the night), once alcohol is consumed neither of you can legally give consent. The reason for this is fairly obvious when one takes into account all the bad decisions people make after drinking. Karaoke, for instance. Tattoos in questionable locations. Texting exes. Eating Taco Bell. Falling asleep while wearing shoes and being in close proximity of permanent markers. Deciding to drive home because you aren’t that drunk and it’s only a couple of miles from campus. Decisions you make under the influence can get yourself and others killed. It really isn’t the best mindset in which to take your relationship to the next level, even if it is just a one-night-stand situation. You don’t want to find out that your “consensual” partner woke up the next day and realized you were the Taco Bell decision. Protect yourself from that situation. Don’t have sex with drunk people.

This advice is purely to prevent those instances of grave misunderstandings, when things got out of control or you were both being stupid or you didn’t realize your partner was that incapacitated. However, there are other incidents that occur for far more sinister reasons, mostly having to do with arrogance and power. They are the reasons victims are given so much advice about safeguarding themselves. For the aggressors, here are some tips for avoiding pepper spray, slapped faces, and kneed groins. Provocative clothes are not an invitation. They are clothes, nothing more. If you feel this is unfair, perhaps that it is false advertising, you are invited to walk around in skimpy clothes all you like. Then, when you are molested by undesirable suitors who insist that your ensemble dictates your sexual proclivity, you may perhaps understand how it feels to be approached with that sort of logical fallacy. No one is “asking for it” with their fashion choices.

Further situations that are not invitations include a potential partner being passed out. There is no reasonable argument for having sex with someone just because they can’t stop you. You cannot give consent for another person. Consenting for someone else implies that you own that person and slavery has been illegal for a long time. Again, if you feel it is your right to take advantage of someone because they have unwisely made themselves vulnerable, then you are encouraged to drink until you pass out so that you can experience being assaulted in your sleep. Just keep in mind that your partner will not be some kind of fantasy liaison with a porn star, as you are likely not the fantasy partner for your victim.

Phrases along the lines of “s/he was asking for it,” “I couldn’t help myself,” or “if s/he didn’t want it, then s/he shouldn’t have flirted so much” are invalid excuses. If you feel that sex is one of your self-evident rights as an American, you are within your bounds to abuse yourself. The Founding Fathers did not write a Nookie Amendment. Your rights only extend so far as they don’t impede on the rights of others. Your need for sexual gratification is trumped by your potential partner’s need for personal sovereignty. Moreover, sexual assault is a crime and can lead to jail time, where it is likely you will meet others who feel that they have every right to have sex with you and care not at all for your consent in the matter. For the sake of your own sovereignty, it is best to practice self-discipline.

Understand that the campus is not divided into aggressors and victims. Everyone has the capability to be a victim or an aggressor. Making yourself immune to victimization is incredibly challenging because there is no way to prepare for every aggressive eventuality. Carrying pepper spray and going to parties with friends is no guarantee of safety, especially if the aggressor is someone you know. Avoiding becoming an unwanted aggressor is merely a matter of situational awareness and consideration for the sanctity of fellow human beings. Be cautious. Be selective. Beware of drunk people. Don’t let unbelievably poor judgment ruin the lives of two people.

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15AM00000022011 · 02:46

The Not-Angry Rant about Football


Well, it’s football season and already the news is rife with scandals, none of which are the subject of this rant. If you want to hear about the violent actions of men who are paid unimaginable sums of money to be violent, please look elsewhere. I’m more interested in the recent debates concerning college football, specifically whether college athletes should be paid.

Now, I have looked at the subject in an unbiased manner, ignoring my deep loathing for professional sports since that particular emotion need not apply to this situation. The deal is, as far as I understand it, students are bringing in money for their colleges through ticket sales and merchandise yet they are receiving none of the benefits of said profit. And I mean a lot of money, especially down south where college football is king. Students want a cut. Schools don’t want to give it. The debate gets pretty involved and, as with all debates connected to football, the sides are extremely polarized.

I think they are missing a major factor in this debate. Let’s look at professional football like it is a real job for a moment. There is no way to become a professional football player except through college football. Well, okay, there are many jobs out there that require higher education in order to be a competitive applicant. If you want to become a teacher, you major in education. If you want to become a professional musician, you major in music performance. If you want to be a pro-football player, you major in, um, business? Oh, that’s right. Football is an extra-curricular activity, not a major. There are no classes on game strategies, optimal exercise programs, and how to manage the millions of dollars you’re going to make so that your aren’t bankrupt two months after retiring at the ripe old age of 35.

I am not suggesting colleges start creating degree programs for sports. What I am suggesting is that college should be for higher education and job training, not for pursuing a hobby that may or may not land you a career. What football needs is a minor league, and I don’t mean arena football or anything similar. I mean, there should be a way for athletes to become pros without going through the college system. Because, frankly, they don’t need a four-year institution to teach them how to play football. They know how to play, they just need experience and training. Athletes who are serious about their sport should be allowed to focus on it and be paid for their work. They shouldn’t have to pay $40,000 for classes they don’t want to take if the real focus is practice and games. To put this in perspective, let’s compare football to a similar career choice: Ballet. Both are physical, take a great deal of time and training, and have only short durations for careers. You can go to ballet academies or major in ballet at many four-year colleges. But football has neither academies nor majors. Yet athletes get scholarships to attend college in order to play football, on the condition that they pass their classes.

There are many athletes out there who want to go to college for educational purposes because they acknowledge the unlikeliness of a professional career. However, there are also athletes who have no inclinations in that regard. They want to play. They could care less about school and only attend because it is the only way they can play. Players get drafted based on their skills, not on how they did on finals. No scout is out there asking if a player is good at writing essays if he just returned a 90-yard touchdown. I’m not saying that higher education isn’t useful to athletes, because it can be useful to those who seek it. I am saying that it isn’t necessary and forcing kids to shell out tuition money and attend classes they have no interest in has created an unsavory educational environment. In many of those big-name schools football over-shadows academic achievement so that students are passed in order to keep that talent on the field. That’s not fair to those kids and it’s not fair to everyone else who did the work. And what about athletes who want to play but can’t afford tuition? There are only so many scholarships. Is it really right for the already bloated college system to demand more money just so a kid can participate in an extra-curricular activity and hate his way through classes?

No. No more scholarships for non-degree programs. No more making money hand-over-fist off students. No more lost talent because of scholastic failings. Unless you want to start making everyone play sports in order to graduate. Then we’d all be in the same boat, eh?

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15AM00000022011 · 02:43

Premature Pumpkin Nation


To everything, there is a season. A time for sowing and reaping, for flowers and snow, for beaches and fire pits. I’m beginning to wonder, though, who is dictating the seasons these days. Whoever it is has some pretty interesting priorities.

Take Halloween. I love Halloween and given a choice, I would celebrate all year with ghoulish treats and ridiculous costumes. However, I know that in actuality I would tire of plastic vampire fangs and stripper-quality Bride of Frankenstein heels within a week. What makes holidays and seasons special is the limited time you spend with them. The novelty can only last so long before you start wishing for fewer zombies and more reindeer.

This basic reality seems to have escaped producers out there, who appear to be of the opinion that more is better ad nauseam. According to candy companies, I should have been devouring on ghost-shaped chocolates back in August, presumably to make sure I’m properly fattened for the traditional mid-winter sacrifice to ensure that the sun rises on January 1st. Companion to Halloween, Pumpkin Season is already laying claim to coffees and confections a whole month before pumpkins are normally harvested. And don’t even say “Black Friday” to me! It’s a despicable display of consumer greed and big business chicanery that we fall for every year, lambs obediently led to financial slaughter. Do you think they’ll finally make that one day of x-games level elbowing stretch to a week this year?

Then there is Christmas, which starts earlier than Halloween, barely holding back long enough to let the Back-to-School rush cool down. I have long had a touchy relationship with “the most wonderful time of the year,” primarily because of Christmas songs. As an Army musician, we logically started preparing for holiday concerts in October, and after doing two or three parades in freezing weather, Frosty the Snowman became a sickening dirge in my soul. Since getting out, I have cringed through the piping of Jingle Bells before Halloween, have sickened at the crass commercialism, and dreaded the ever-increasing expectations for the latest toy for the nieces and nephews to tire of before the colorful wrapping paper hits the floor. I have to tell myself that the season of joy and goodwill toward men is only for children, because the adults are demonstrating none of these things. The adults are too busy bickering over what the holiday is about, how it should be celebrated, and who is allowed to celebrate it.

If this is upsetting to you, good. It should be. We have allowed Starbucks and Walmart to define our needs. Yes, needs. We do not equate the holidays as a time to splurge a bit on “wants” for others. We need to fill the stockings. We need to cover the lawn in giant, inflatable Charlie Brown Halloween tableaus. We need to drink clove-heavy “pumpkin” coffee for four months. It’s for a limited time only! We only have a third of the year to enjoy cloves and nutmeg and cinnamon! BUY ALL THE THINGS!!!

Well, I love pumpkin season. I love pumpkin coffee, cupcakes, and donuts. I am well-known for my pumpkin muffins, which I roast my own pumpkin for. But I am tired of it being shoved down my throat for more profit. This season, I will not be affirming their marketing practices. I will not pretend that it’s sweater weather when it’s 80° outside. I will not force fall on my senses. I will enjoy the lasting vestiges of summer until the season has passed. Then I will glory in the changing colors and the crisp air with a pumpkin coffee.

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15AM00000022011 · 02:41

Insecurities


I got a bit of backlash for claiming I’m not that pretty (https://ithilen.wordpress.com/2014/08/27/ironic-whistling/).  So I thought I would clarify.

You don’t see it because you aren’t looking.  Everyone has self-image issues.  When I look in the mirror, I am looking at the same face I see every day and it isn’t often that I dwell on the positive.  I see the scars from compulsive picking and the zits and the jaw line that’s a little too round and the atrocious teeth.  I see eyebrows that need tweezing and skin that needs smoothing.  But it’s my face and I accept that I have a pretty good set up, all things considered.

I also had a childhood where I was called ugly, where my flaws were pointed out, where I couldn’t live up to the ideal.  Didn’t we all get that?  So even though I’m a grown woman with a decent figure and pleasant features, I don’t measure up.  I could be taller, trimmer, could dress better and make an effort with my hair.  I could wear make up every day like every other woman on the planet (it seems).  But at the end of the day, or rather, at the beginning of the day, I’m tired and don’t feel like making an effort.  I may feel guilty about that sometimes (don’t ask me why) and I may dread leaving college for places where jeans and a t-shirt don’t cut it.  So when some stranger pays me a compliment, my immediate thought is that he must be joking.  Girls who dress up in frilly sun dresses and wear make up and high heels get whistled at.  I, in my flip-flops and jeans, lugging my back pack, am not on display.  It just catches me off guard and sets off all the insecurities that we all deal with all the time, even when we have wonderful people who point out the truth of our individual beauty.

Thank you for saying I’m pretty.  It means a lot more coming from friends and family than it does from some lurker on the street.

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15AM000000122011 · 00:53

Baby Steps


Today was a baby steps day.

Last night, I had a friend hang out for a couple hours while Buddy was at rehearsal.  It’s her last week in town, so it was really important to both of us to get together.  She is my only close school friend, but she graduated last spring and it’s time for her to move on to the adult world.  She’s the only school friend with whom I’m comfortable discussing all the dumb people and other frustrations.  I don’t have to introduce her to my favorite authors because she’s already a fan.  We didn’t hang out too much outside of school, but that’s why she’s a school friend.  Last semester was the first time we didn’t have classes together and lunch at the same.  It made me sad.  I don’t make friends easily so I had a very quiet semester.  So she stopped by and we drank some Spumante Rosso while I put tray after tray of cookies in the oven.

The wine went straight to my head, riding high on those delicious bubbles.  Buddy and I had a late dinner after she left and I put off cleaning up and homework until my brain was unfogged.  By the time I was clear-headed again, it was nearly midnight.  Still, I watched several episodes of the Simpsons before going to bed…and realizing that I still had a mountain of laundry that had grown beyond the capacity of the laundry basket and had avalanched onto the bed with which I so wanted to be in a serious relationship.  After hastily folding most of my clothes, I propped myself in bed to attempt getting through my reading for today.  It was about 2:00 am when I finally caved.

I snoozed my alarm until around 6:20.  It starts going off at 6:00 because that’s when we feed the cats.  By 6:20, Ninja was braving the motion-detecting air sprayer (the “alarm”) to scratch at the door, so I crawled out of bed to be a good mommy.  That was the first and most pivotal baby step of the morning.  I have made the morning feeding of the kitties my responsibility, so it is not an option for me to hope that Buddy will do it.  That first effort to leave the warmth of the bed is the Everest of my day.  Once achieving that victory, I have a 90% chance of finishing my morning routine, barring migraines or other illness.

Kitties fed, I returned to the bedroom, a large part of me dead set on getting back into bed.  My legs are sore.  I’m really tired.  My eyes are itchy.  It’s gonna be a long damn day.

Well, at least get into your work out clothes.  You’re already up.  It will actually take you more effort to get back into bed and back to sleep (that’s the type of whopping lie I will only believe when I’m really tired).  Besides, you like your work out clothes.  They are really cute and so comfy.  No one says you have to actually go for a walk.  Just, you know, get a little more comfortable.

Fine.  But I make no promises.

Now, maybe you could see your way to grabbing your water bottle and going to the kitchen.  You can refill your water bottle.  You like water.

Yeah, so?  What’s it to you?

Oh, nothing.  Just wanted to point out the nice cold water in the kitchen.

Mmmm, water.  Drool.

And now that you’re in the kitchen, I mean, you can see the front door, right?  It’s just a matter of putting on your watch and sunglasses.  And now your shoes.

Fine, Ms. Bossypants.  But you can’t make me enthusiastic, got it?  I’m gonna take an easier pace because my legs are sore and I just don’t feel like pushing myself today.  Is that okay with you?  Huh?

Oh, no, you’ll get no objections from me.  Just pretend I’m not even here.

I will!

Because, of course, I’m not here.  Just a figment of your imagination.

Damn straight!  And don’t you forget it. I’m the master of my own decisions!

Crap.  How did I get outside?  Now I have to walk because a neighbor saw me.  You win this round, nagging conscience!

 

I did take a much slower pace, but it was fast enough to warm up sore muscles and keep my breathing up.  It was really warm out, too, so I’m glad I slowed down some.  And I saw a wild turkey.

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15AM000000122011 · 00:55

Ironic Whistling


I got whistled at today.

A truck stopped to let me cross the street.  And then I was whistled at.

My initial response was incredulity.  I looked around and the passenger in the truck, a scruffy-looking fellow, smiled and waved as they drove away.

My second response was to regret that my hand was too full of books to flip them off.

My third response was, well, I got whistled at.  When you know deep down that you aren’t pretty, even as a forward-thinking, modern woman, you can’t help but grin hugely to yourself when you get some harmless attention from a complete stranger.

Even now, I’m certain that he couldn’t have possibly have seen me that well in the bright sunshine.  Or he was whistling ironically.

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15PM000000102011 · 22:46

Parenting Don’ts


Today, I took an easier pace on my walk and pushed myself harder on my push-ups.

Today, I sent a box to my brother in an attempt to be helpful from 1400 miles away.

Today, I finished book 51 of my summer reading challenge.

Today, I rode a horse for the first time since I was ten.

Today, I stood behind a woman in FedEx who taught me a little something about parenting.

I am not a parent, except in the special way pet owners are to their pets.  I used to work in a church nursery, which gave me a broad spectrum view of both parents and kids.  That was an excellent learning environment because it showed me just how unique each parent-child relationship is.  It also demonstrated how very difficult it is to be perceived as a good parent in public.

Let the kids run wild and you clearly aren’t teaching them discipline and respect.  Yell at them or (God forbid) spank them in public and you’re some kind of monster.  There’s always someone looking over your shoulder and judging you.

I do it, too.  A lot.  And whenever I observe parenting I disapprove of, I always say to myself, “I’ll never do that with my kids,” or something similar.  I also have grandiose plans for what I am going to raise my kids.

For instance, there were two little girls running amok in FedEx, a 3 and a 5-year-old, I think.  They were freaking adorable and they weren’t doing much but leaping out at each other between the aisles and squealing.  Their mom was talking on her phone the entire time she was in the store.  Not keeping an eye on her daughters, not giving her full attention to the clerk.  When she reeled in the girls when she got to the desk, she ended up juggling her phone and the papers she was shipping while the girls clung to her legs and got in the way.

I made faces at them and then started shadow boxing with Buddy, because that’s what I do when I’m bored.  At one point, the younger girl knocked her face against the counter and started crying.  First, the mom asked the older sister what happened.  Then, presumably because the girl didn’t appear to be hurt (no blood or anything), she had the older girl take her sister (still crying) to sit by the door.

Still on the phone, she finished with her transaction.  Still on the phone, she took her daughters out into the dark parking lot to her SUV.  Still on the phone, she drove away.  I told myself I would never be that attached to a phone call.

Then it occurred to me that I rarely use my phone to make calls, so phone calls were not a real threat to my parenting technique.

Don’t worry.  When I really think about it, I know that reality makes a mess of all high-minded parenting ambitions.  The best laid plans are easily mislaid by toddlers.

I will say this, though.  If your little girls are in the back of your vehicle, GET OFF YOUR GORAM PHONE.  You know what, even if you don’t have kids, maybe don’t block half of your vision and half of your brain for a conversation that really can wait.  You may not be chauffeuring a couple of rugrats around, but the person your carelessly run off the road might be.

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15PM000000112011 · 23:08

Self-less Selfishness


I spend a lot of time worrying about other people.

But it isn’t because I’m a selfless person at all.  It’s because I am completely self-centered.

I worry about how I would be affected by the loss of a person I care about.

I try to think of ways that I can help them so that they will feel gratitude toward me.

I have to fight against myself all the time because I want to buy people stuff that I think they will like.  They won’t like it.  I just need them to like it because I do.

I need praise and gratitude.  I need thanks for every tiny, insignificant thing I do for someone else.

I am a narcissist.

However, with careful deliberation, I can steer my self-adoration into actual good deeds for others.  When I shut down that inner whine that insists I don’t get enough credit and wonders why I bother at all, I can remember that good deeds for praise are empty gestures.

I am sorry that I can be so easily swayed by my ego to sneer at people I love simply because they don’t acknowledge a paltry gift I sent.

On a slightly related subject, I am also paranoid.  If I send someone a gift and they don’t acknowledge receipt of that gift, I begin to fear that it was lost or damaged or stolen.

Knowing my penchant for narcissism and paranoia, I have developed a system by which I find out if a gift was received without directly asking the recipient.

Examples:

How was your day?

Do anything special for your birthday?

Did Mom/Dad/Bro/Sis get that thing I sent?  (Spying)

Did you hear that there have been a rash of gift card thefts in the mail?  (Fishing)

 

Yeah, I worry about a lot of people.  Bit I also worry about me because I have to remind myself that I should worry for their sake and not just my own.

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15AM000000122011 · 00:01

Does This Really Need a Title?


Well, so far the incentive is working.  My walk went well, though it was really warm this morning.

I did four sets of muscular strengthening.  I’m still doing push-ups on my knees.  I did one regular push-up.  That was…humorous.  As in slow, laborious, and fortunately not witnessed by another human being.

I struggled through my work out, even the abs.  It was a little depressing, but it could be worse.  I could complete the work out and I did have to work for it.

There is a delicate balance in designing a work out program.  Variety is good because it keeps you interested and makes sure you overlapping muscle groups.  However, too much variety can just be overwhelming.  Difficulty is also tricky to figure out.  Too easy and you get no improvement.  Too hard and you could injure yourself.

I like to group my exercises into four categories: upper body, upper abs, lower body, and back.  Right now, I’m only using one exercise per group.

Another aspect you must plan for is how to increase difficulty.  You can up the time and reps.  I prefer timing my exercises.  When my goal is a number of reps, my brain turns my muscles off when I reach that number.  With a time limit, I just have to keep going until the timer goes off.

I’m up to 30 secs.  I think before I up the time again, I’m going to add an exercise to each group.

I am not an expert.  This is a super boring post.  Sorry.  I took a nap after my work out and I haven’t recovered.

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15PM000000102011 · 22:56