02 December 2016

The Season

December is the month of exposure.  I have just decided this today.  It is the season of unselfish giving, but it is also the season of painful vulnerability.

Here in the Midwest, it's getting cold.  We've had a very mild fall/early winter, but December now (the two whole days we've been in it) has been a bit more raw, gray, and bare.  Really, just like a December should be.

So...exposed in that sense of the word. 'Tis the season of not-enough layers to stop a biting, gnashing winter wind.  Exposed in the sense that any bare skin from now until March is subject to the brutality of the elements.

And...because it's Christmas, it's the month of spending.  Of generosity.  Which is usually a good, great thing.  'Tis the spirit of giving, right?  But, on the other side of the coin, we are also exposed to that darker side of the giving season...in which we give too much, take too much...and we suffer the excesses of that indulgence.  We eat too much, we spend too much money, we drink too much...exposed to the consequences we inevitably know will follow.  Hangovers, weight gains, high credit cards bills.  Etc.

Then, here in my little corner of the world, there have been two tragedies that, while not affecting me directly, have still left me exposed.   And there is no month like December for amplifying tragedy.  Both of these tragedies have torn away loved ones, leaving those behind without husbands or wives or sons or daughters.  I think those losses are felt much more acutely in December...where Christmas, a holiday that emphasizes family and togetherness, only serves to sharpen the loss of those who experience it.  I still have a very close relationship with my parents, and both of my in-laws are still alive.  And I have had forty-some Christmases with my parents, twenty-some with my in-laws...and so my Christmases have been the stuff of Hallmark cards for decades.  For others, this is their first Christmas without a loved one...and for those people here? for whom the tragedy struck just this week? they will still be in tiny, jagged pieces when the holidays come around in a couple of weeks.  For December also seems to be the time when an emotional exposure is also more likely.  We seem to feel everything much more markedly. Our hearts and souls are exposed down right to the nerve and cold and wind.

And so, when Elvis Presley sings of a Blue Christmas...I totally feel him.

25 November 2016

The Hills Are Alive...

If you take out the cute pixie cut, the nun-in-training apron (and austere navy blue dress), and the alpine background...you're looking at me today.  On Black Friday.

Oh, maybe seven or eight years ago, I got the itch.  So I went BFS (Black Friday Shopping) with my mother-in-law. I remember going to a Target that had a Starbucks...so I had coffee while I pushed the red cart around the store.  And that's all I remember.

Probably better that way, really.  Did I commit any crimes? Don't know.  Did I hurt myself or anyone else? Don't know.  Probably better that way.

My main goals on Black Friday are to get through all the laundry and not leave my house before noon.  So far I'm good...I did a quick spot of groceries at 3:30 and I need to fold some things out of the dryer.

I gotta tell you...it feels pretty damned good to have low expectations for Black Friday.

24 November 2016

Giving The Thanks!

The streak lasted all of, what, three days?  I had only three days' worth of vitriol towards our incoming government?

So much for the prodigal daughter returning home.  More like the tired, middle-aged, soccer mom.

Anyway, I resolve to do better in the future.

Today is Thanksgiving.  And I am sitting here trying to think of a way to explain what it really is, or what it really means to me.  I suppose I ought to say it's about family and food...but that does not excite me right now.  I am not enthusiastic about either of those things this year.

I think, this year, Thanksgiving is all about the stop in time.  The break, for a moment, from the everyday schedule and routine.  And not that I'll be able to relax, actually, because I need to productive these next few days.  Because, here's the circus I perform in these days:

1. Adjunct teaching two days a week at College A (freshman composition), term ends the first full week in December.

2. Classwork due December 4 for four credits' worth of Continuing Education-type classes for my teaching license renewal.

3. Member of the Choir Booster Parent Executive Board, and the biggest fundraiser of the season is also the second week in December.  We've hired a caterer, but yours truly is the Catering and Serving Liaison.

4. AND...I started a new job this week at College B, also an adjunct instructor, in the Culinary Arts department.  Two classes, about ten hours a week.

5. Oh, yeah.  And it's still National Novel Writing Month, so I'm still working on that project.  Almost done, though.

I will try my damnedest to stop and enjoy the present, be with my families, enjoy the meals...but my stress level will skyrocket next week if I am unable to do some work over the holiday break.

However, I am thankful that I have jobs, I am respected enough to receive awesome responsibilities and this kind of busy is a good thing.

But, you dear readers, feast and cavort and drink to your hearts' content today!  Hurrah!

11 November 2016

Hey, Education, I'm Trying To Parent Here!

Turns out I have a lot to say these days.  Third day in a row.

About two weeks ago, we bit the proverbial bullet and purchased iPhones for our two older children.  They are in high school, very active, and they'd previously been on a cheapo Walmart Trac-fone type plan.  And, the adage is true: you do get what you pay for, and in the end, Total Wireless's service was just not working out well for us. At all.  So, the niblets are now on our plan and new phones it is.  My daughter has been asking...nay, pleading, groveling, even for an iPhone.  You can imagine her exhilaration.

Well, like a freaking genie, wish granted.  Under very strict stipulations, mind.  The phones get turned it, we can check them at any time, they can be taken away *snap* just like that.  Okay.  Understood.  My daughter has her phone for all of two days before she has a major meltdown, disrespect and all, and *snap* just like that, the phone is gone for a week.  She's very very very sad, naturally.  However, after a very morose Day One With No Phone, she starts behaving nicely and treating her family members with, you know, RESPECT.

Good, we think.  She gets it.  Then, she comes to us yesterday.  Pleading, begging, groveling, even...with the sob story that there is a video assignment for Health class and could she please please please have the phone, just for the day, to be able to record this video?  It was quite the persuasive effort and we eventually relented and let her have it - for the day only.  To her credit, when she got home from school, she put the phone right back where it belonged.  She was even conciliatory with the fact that we tacked on another day to the end of her sentence. 

My husband grumbled, though, under his breath, about how ridiculous it was that the school just assumed everyone would have access to phones for schoolwork.  That teachers depended on it.  I saw the man's point.  This morning, I checked for her phone for messages, and there were two texts from the Spanish teacher.  The notes and exercises for today's quiz.

*Insert angry as hell emoji here*

This is aggravating, and what's worse, I don't know how to go about fixing what I see is becoming a problem with education.  I get it, most kids do have phones and it really is a good way for teachers to connect and communicate with students, because Gods know they don't bring the damn notes home anymore.  But the underlying assumption is that all kids have cell phones, and they have them all the time.  And when a parent tries to discipline and take these precious belongings away - the child suffers academically.

Well, guess what, school?  I'm trying to teach my daughter a painful lesson here...and it was working until I started feeling a smidge guilty about interfering with her ability to be informed about classwork.  However, that feeling has since evaporated, to be replaced by one of irritation: technology is interfering with my parenting! And I won't have it. 

Spanish grade be damned.  Let the curse of the Madre Mal fall on my head.

10 November 2016

I Worry For You, President-Elect Trump

Dear Sir,

Honestly, I won't watch your inauguration in a couple of months.  I can't bear to look at you, truth be told.  For all your millions of billions of dollars, you don't represent my ideal of a classy, sophisticated leader of the highest office of our land.

That being said, I also have not participated in the slander and libel against you that many others in this country have.  I have not called you names, I have not protested your presidency, I have not posted links to questionable articles on Facebook that discuss how this country's now on a highway to Hell.  I assume that many other disappointed Americans like myself are asking the question of What now? How do we move forward?

You want to make America great again, and that sounds terrific.  But I want to know: great for who?  And what do you mean by great?  We all define that word differently.

So I read your plan for your first 100 days in office.  Trying to keep an open mind all the while, and I have some comments for you.

1. I realize how little I know about what the government does or has done.  I have no idea what the Offshoring Act or the American Energy & Infrastructure Act is...but it's probably time to find out, because you want to change those things.  And I need to know what that means.

2. Your very first idea in your list of concerns is "cleaning up Washington and special interest collusion in DC".  And right there, for the first time, I hear that little exultant voice in my head cry out "Yes! Please! Finally!"  Start with my long-standing state's senator who has obstructed the Supreme Court Justice selection process.  You want to impose term limits for Congressmen/women and Senators...and to that I say - YES!  Is it possible you have well-thought out plans that draws in someone like me, who has had a hard time stomaching everything you have been about this entire election?

3. There are a few items that distress me.  You propose to "cancel payments to UN climate change programs", using the money instead to "fix America's water and environmental infrastructure." That sounds okay to me, but please do not fall victim to that age-old Republican line of thinking that climate change, global warming IS NOT happening and if it is, it certainly is NOT man-created.  Keep an open mind on these things.

4. I voted against you, primarily because you will propose Supreme Court Justice nominees that will attempt to repeal amendments like Roe v. Wade.  And with three or so SCJs moving into their eighties, the likelihood that you may get to nominate more conservative justices over the next four years alarms me.  Enforce and uphold what is already there, please.

5. I read through your 100 day plan.  I can't tell you all the ramifications of the actions you propose, and that is because I'm the ignorant one in this case.  I hope to not be, though, in the future.  I do know that your one big priority (and that of the other Republicans) is to repeal Obamacare, a plan that my retired parents depend upon.  Do not let them down when you decide to replace it with a "Health Savings Account" plan.

6. And here is what distresses me, above everything else I read: Your fellow brother-in-arms and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has already gone on the record as saying the term-limits thing is not a priority for him nor the Senate.  In fact, he states that he believes there are already term limits now - it's called elections.  And when you rile people up about reforming Washington and "draining the swamp", this is the number one issue on their minds.  Getting the old guard out of the city.  It looks as though you've got a great battle ahead of you on that one.  I suspect it will fall by the wayside.  That is my lack of faith in the American political system speaking.

Mr. Trump, I think you are up against forces you cannot control, for all your bravado and tough talk.  You cannot just "bomb the shit out of them", as it were...even if the American people want that more than anything.  My question, really, then is: Will you rise above this?  Or will you become mired down in the good old boys' club mentality that has caused the political corruption and distrust in America?

Time will tell, indeed.

09 November 2016

Oh, Yes...I Think It Might Be Time

I woke up this morning.

The sun was shining.  The birds were doing their bird-things.  The Earth had revolved.

It had, in fact, not ended...as I thought might happen after last night's election.

And, ultimately, the dishwasher still needed loading, laundry needed to be folded, and the family still needed to be fed.

My Facebook feed today was bursting with all kinds of vitriol...from those praising Trump to bashing Hillary to claiming God has a plan.  And I finally turned away from my computer, went into my kitchen, and made chicken noodle soup from scratch.

And I had a vodka soda and Oreos.

And I worked on my novel (because it is, after all, National Novel Writing Month).

Yep.  That's how I got through today.

And when the soup is made and the laundry is folded and the trash is taken out, and I have a moment of brain-quietness, the shock of last night's political upset creeps back in and I wonder...

How the hell did this happen?

And that's the question that prompted me to resurrect this blog.  It has been dormant for over four years. 

But now, I got lots to say.  Lots.  And not just about politics.  About everything.  Let the rambling begin.

Welcome back to me.