Christopher M. Panatier

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I didn’t know Christopher M. Panatier. I had never even heard his name until I heard it read along with 2,965 others. And though I know I heard it read, I don’t know that I really even took notice of it. 2,966 is a lot of names. It’s especially a lot of names when we’re talking about people who lost their lives.

Christopher Panatier was 36 on that day. Ten years younger than I am now. Many, many years younger, I’m sure, than anyone ever imagined they would lose him. Christopher was a foreign currency trader for Cantor Fitzgerald. I imagine he left for work that day in the towers thinking the worst thing he would deal with was traffic, or irritable clients, or a busy day. Instead, he – along with almost 3,000 others, lost his life in the one of the worst tragedies we have seen in this country.

Christopher was a husband, a father, a son. He married his high school sweetheart, Carolyn, and they had two children, Annie and Christopher. His children were only 6 and 4 when they lost him. Too young to lose their father. Especially to lose him that way. Too young to even understand how something like that could happen. But really, there is no age, no amount of knowledge or wisdom that could ever make sense of what happened that day.

Everyone who talks about Christopher seems to mention what an amazing, adventurous, and funny man he was. People were drawn to him.

So even though I didn’t know Christopher, I am remembering him along with the other innocent victims of the September 11th 2001 attacks. He was a good man, a good husband, a good father, and a good friend. Because of that, his legacy lives on.

He will be remembered not only for how he died, but for how he lived.

This post is a part of Project 2,966. Go there to see more tributes.

Sad, not Selfish

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You’d pretty much have to live under a rock to not have heard about Robin Williams’ suicide. And any time there is news of a suicide, I inevitably see comments on how selfish suicide is. I understand that sentiment – it’s a terrible thing for a family who is left behind. I’m ashamed to say that there was a time when I made the same comments. Then I met my old pal depression.

I have written about depression before – what it is like, what it does to your life, your friendships. And maybe only people who struggle with depression can understand, but saying that suicide is selfish just isn’t that simple. People don’t commit suicide for spite. They don’t think well, I’ll fix them, I’ll kill myself. Or at least rational, mentally healthy people don’t. If they did? Sure – that would be selfish. But for someone who is suffering from depressions (and suffering is truly the word for it), their minds don’t work that way.

You might think about suicide and your attitude would be “I could never do that to my family, they need me, it would be selfish” But the mind of a depressed person works differently. They think, “I can’t believe what I am doing to my family – I am a burden. They would be better off without me. I am doing this for them.” Because that is what depression does – it lies to you. It tells you that you don’t deserve to be happy, that you aren’t worth anyone’s time or kindness or love. It tells you that the world would be a better place without you. And because you are in its grips – you believe it.

Let’s stop saying that suicide is selfish. When someone dies from cancer, we don’t say how selfish they were for leaving their family like that. Because cancer is a disease. Well, guess what? Depression is a disease, too. And suicide is nothing but a tragedy.

If you are feeling like suicide is an option, please call 1-800-273-8255 (TALK) for the National Suicide Prevention Line http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

Saying Goodbye

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On the weekend of July 4th, we celebrated my amazing, life-loving, kickass grandma’s 95 birthday. We all knew it would be her last, which made it a bittersweet day for all of us. We took a few photos, but she simply hadn’t looked like herself for a while, and i decided that instead of traditional photos, I would take hand photos of her with her daughters and granddaughters, and  am so glad I did. Instead of seeing my once beautiful grandma looking sick and pained, we each have a beautiful keepsake to remember her by. Ten days after the party, she left this world, with the majority of her family being lucky enough to be at her side when he went. She left us with a smile on her face.

As we planned her funeral, I knew that I didn’t want the only words to be said by a clergyman who didn’t know her all that well. So I decided to write my own goodbye and share it at the services. It was hard to do, but my grandma was worth it. This is what I said:

 

When I was little, I had no idea that I was lucky. I thought everyone had what I had: a big, close, loving family, cousins who were more like siblings, and loads of grandparents. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized just how special my family was. And when it came to grandmas, I had the best of both worlds. One of my grandmas was the stereotypical milk and cookies grandma. And then there was Connie.

She was my life-of-the-party grandma.

That’s not an exaggeration – she was the kind of person people were drawn to. Her personality, her acceptance, her generosity, her beauty – everything about her guaranteed that she was SOMETHING to everyone who knew her. A mother figure, a defender, a supporter, a cook, a nurse, a fashion icon, a sounding board, and often – a poker buddy.

But she wasn’t soft – my gram. She was fair, she was honest, she was kind, she was loving, but just TRY to put one over on her, and prepare to face the wrath. Quite honestly – she was a badass.

She was a women ahead of her time. She was independent in a time when women were subservient. She was strong when they were meek. She was outspoken – oh boy, was she outspoken – when they were timid. She raised her daughters to be strong like her – strong of mind, strong of spirit, and strong of heart. They raised our generation to be the same. Now we’re raising our children in the example that she set for 95 years.

She was a study in contrasts. She’d give you the shirt off her back if you needed it. She’d also kick your butt if you needed it. She’d listen to you when you really needed someone to talk to. She’d also shut you up with a mere look (or wave of the hand) if you were being unfair, unkind, or simply annoying her. She’d defend you to the death, even if she knew you were wrong, but oh boy – if you WERE wrong – just wait until she got you alone.

She was a people person. Everyone who knew her loved her – she was irresistible that way. She could fry an egg like nobody’s business, mix a mean drink, dance circles around everyone in this room, and of course – take every last cent you had in a poker game.

If anyone ever lived – truly and fully LIVED their life, it was Corrine Adele.

And while we are all brokenhearted to see her go, she lives on in each of us.

She lives on in Myrna in her devotion to her family.

She lives on in Marlene in her generosity.

She lives on in Claudia in her determination.

She lives on in Cindy in her resourcefulness.

She lives on in Cheryl in her nurturing.

She lives on in Lauren in her sense of humor.

She lives on in Audra in her intelligence.

She lives on in Nicholas in his acceptance.

And me? She lives on in me in my great big mouth.

And I think we ALL might have gotten a little bit of her lead foot.

So, as long as we have each other, she’ll never truly be gone.

 

 

I’ll miss you, Grandma. You can’t hold my hand anymore, but you’ll hold my heart forever.

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That Time I Offended Everyone at the Ice Cream Shop

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My friend Hedge and I went to the theater last night, along with my 10 year old daughter and Hedge’s teenage son (one of the girl’s favorite people). The show was great and the company was a blast. There was a 3-minute, full-on, shaking, snorting case of the church giggles. It was unstoppable – we were literally SOBBING with laughter. The kids were not amused (actually, I think they were, but it’s a kid’s job to pretend to be annoyed, right? Kind of like you reprimand a toddler for swearing, while cracking up inside, right? RIGHT?)

Anyway, after the show, we headed home and on the way, we stopped at our favorite ice cream shop. It’s our favorite because 1) the prices are low, 2) the portions are huge, and most importantly, 3) they have Dole Whip (the most delicious treat in all the land). And since they had pineapple flavor last night (the most delicious flavor of the most delicious treat in all the land), there was no way we could drive by without stopping.

Hedge and her son didn’t want anything, so the girl and I got out of the car to order our enormous cones. As we passed the car next to us, the elderly couple inside smiled at us sweetly. When we headed back to the car, they smiled at us again. Everyone at this place is always nice – you always seem to strike up a conversation with the other people in line. Another reason I like it.

Anyway, the thing about Dole Whip is that it isn’t as structurally sound as regular ice cream, and as the girl was getting back into the car, hers flopped off her cone and into Hedge’s hands. After she cleaned up, I handed Hedge my cone and the girl and I headed back to the window to get a new one.

While I was waiting, I remembered that I wanted Hedge to try mine, since I had been raving about how good it was, and not that Hedge didn’t believe me but I rave about a lot of foods, so she probably figured it was normal foodthusiasm.

The windows of the car were up, so I couldn’t yell to her to try my down, so I started motioning. When I got her attention, I motioned for her to give it a taste.

We got the girl’s new cone and headed back to the car, only this time, the sweet couple next to us didn’t smile – they looked at us like we were deranged perverts. I couldn’t figure out why until I realized what my version of please-try-my-ice-cream-cone sign language looked like. Picture me holding my imaginary cone in a loose fist and mimicking licking it.

Yeah. I got it, then. Sorry, elderly couple!

Bite me, Anna

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I know we all love Frozen and blah, blah, blah. But let’s talk for a minute about the Frozen game called Frozen Free Fall. Have you played it? Well, basically it’s a jewel-match game (like Bejeweled, or her evil bitch sister Candy Crush), except it’s Frozen-themed. On each level, you have a Frozen character as your “companion,” which simply mean that they are at the top of the bored cheering you on. Sometimes you can choose you own and sometimes there is just one. And this stupid game is making me hate Anna. How could anyone possibly hate dear, sweet Anna you ask? I’ll show you:

On this particular level, you have a choice of selection Kristoff or Anna as your companion. It’s a hard level. You will lose repeatedly. But when Kristoff is your companion, here is his reactions to the loss:

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He’s shrugging, as if to say “Oh well, you win some & you lose some. Better luck next time.

 

But Anna? Could she at least be supportive? NO, this is her reaction:

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You can’t tell from the photo, but she actually shakes her head as if to say, “You are a huge disappointment.”

It turns out Anna is a bitch.

Taking a page out of her vaguebook

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Dear Passive Aggressive Facebook Friend,

I’m going to give you some advice and I hope you take it. You see that status you posted on facebook today? And that one from a few days ago? And a few days before that? And pretty much several times a week since you joined facebook? You know the ones – where you rant about people, or “call them out,” or basically insult them and finish it up with the occasional “just sayin?” yeah those. Here’s my advice:

Stop it.

I mean it – just stop. For several years now, I have watched you call people hurtful names. I’ve seen you jump to conclusions about things that you don’t know the first thing about. I’ve seen you post information about people that is none of your damned business. I’ve seen you expose people’s secrets. I’ve seen you judge and judge and judge. And you see – I know you. Your other friends know you. And what we know is that you are in no position to judge anyone. No one is really in a position to judge anyone, but you? You are REALLY not. The things that you are putting out there? You’re guilty of almost every single one. So you might want to think twice before you open your big mouth.

You try to portray yourself as an advocate for people who are bullied or mistreated, yet you bully and mistreat people every day –and you’d it publicly on a social network. You skew it in a way that makes you look like the hero, but everyone knows there is always two (or more) sides to every story, and many of us know yours. You’re no hero.

And don’t forget – heroes aren’t cowards. But posting the kind of things that you do on your vague way is cowardly. If you have a problem with someone – tell them. No – not publicly on facebook, but in private. If you perceive that someone is doing something wrong or hurting you – let them know. Give them a chance to explain, instead of putting it on facebook, where lots of people can read between the lines and know exactly who and what you are talking about. I imagine the people who are talking about often figure it out themselves, and then are put in the uncomfortable position of either letting you badmouth them (albeit “anonymously”) in front of their peers, or responding to your crazy rants (which, as we have witnessed, never ends well).

I suppose you do it this way to protect yourself – so if someone DOES respond to your insults you can claim innocence – “Oh, I wasn’t talking about YOU.” This is exactly why doing what you are doing is cowardly. I guess in a way writing this is the same thing. But I’m taking a page out of YOUR (vague)book. You’ve made it fair game. There’s an old adage that says, “If you wouldn’t say I to their face, then don’t say it behind their back.” I think this applies to the kind of vaguebook posts that you are so fond of.

So stop. Before you post another one, stop. Think about a few things: 1. Is it really that big of a deal that you need to rant on about it? 2. Is it really your business? 3. Have you checked your own closet for skeletons? Will posting it make you a hypocrite? And finally, 4. You might want to learn the difference between “you’re” and “your” before you start throwing out insults.

Who is REALLY getting a free ride? Hint: It’s not who they’re telling you it is.

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So, those of you who know me (or read this blog, or follow me on Facebook or twitter) know that I am a pretty political person. And my political leanings are quite liberal. And by “quite liberal,” I mean “No, really – QUITE LIBERAL.”

Needless to say, I do a lot of talking, complaining, campaigning, bitching, etc about what I perceive to be any sort of injustice, unfairness, and downright unkindness in this country. I do believe that we are all entitled to our own opinions, but I have a hard time accepting the opinion of others sometimes – like when that opinion is based on misinformation and downright brainwashing.

Yeah – I said it – brainwashing.

Let’s face it – no one wants to admit they are being oppressed or controlled. It’s like the way a battered spouse often keeps their abuse a secret – partly out of fear, and partly because admitting you are being beaten is (in your mind) admitting weakness, and heaven forbid we appear weak in this country. Just listen to how often you hear “Man up!” exposed as a response to anything that appears to be emotion or pain (both of which – in this patriarchal society are considered weakness. And in this country anything male is seen as strong and powerful, and anything female is seen as lesser and weak).

So instead of admitting that we – the ever declining, yet huge, middle class – are being fucked royally by the very small group of the rich, we instead make ourselves feel better by royally fucking (and blaming) the poor.

I saw someone post something on facebook the other day, which showed a photo of a child pulling another child on a wagon, and it had a caption about everyone needing to pull their weight and not getting a free ride, blah blah blah. As this originated from a conservative website, I inferred from it that they were yet again blaming the poor (those on public assistance to be more specific) for the problems with this country.

But the kind of people who create this stuff are never ones for facts, so let’s talk a little about said facts and maybe we’ll see who REALLY isn’t pulling their weight.

The food stamps program, for instance, costs the average American family, making about $50,000 a year $36 a year of direct costs. Add in other social safety net program such as Medicare & Medicaid, and it increases out load by $6 per year. I don’t know about you, but I’m OK with $42 (or even a good bit more) a year of my hard earned money going to help what the conservatives like to call freeloaders, but I prefer to think of PEOPLE. People – who without our help – might be living in the street and/or eating out of dumpsters. Do some of these people “take advantage of the system” (a favorite phrase among the brainwashed) – well, I suppose that depends on how you define taking advantage of the system. If you mean that they are capable of working, but choose not to, then yes – it happens. Of course, many of those people are only capable of getting minimum wage jobs, which can’t even come close to supporting them, much less their family.  So yes, these people may prefer to accept public assistance rather than work a job that may STILL leave them hungry and/or homeless. And let’s face it – none of these supposed freeloaders are living a life of luxury. They aren’t going on vacations and living in lavish houses. They are the victims of slumlords, and often deciding monthly which bill they can skip because they don’t get enough for all of them. They are often choosing between paying a utility and feeding their family. This isn’t the high life.

As for the idea that these folks are eating steak and lobster while we’re eating hamburger – sure, maybe some of them are. But not for long. Those food stamps don’t stretch that far and if they blow them all on high end food, the have to find a way to live until the next supplement comes along. This is their choice. I have talked about this before here (go ahead and read it – I’ll wait). You simply don’t know why they are buying what they buy. And if their nails are manicured, or they have cell phones – so what. We help people or don’t help people. We don’t get to dictate how they spend their money. That phone may have been a gift. That steak may be for a once a year birthday celebration. This nails may have been done by a friend. You don’t know. You SHOULDN’T know.

The belief that giving someone charity or assistance means that you get to control how they use that charity or assistance is unacceptable. The belief that poor people have an obligation to dress or eat or live their lives in a way that constantly announces to the world, “I’M POOR,” like some kind of scarlet letter needs to be eradicated. It’s demeaning and unkind.

But let’s talk about the kind of welfare that is REALLY putting a drain on society: Corporate Welfare. Corporate welfare – or subsidies and breaks we as taxpayer pay to large (very, very rich) companies costs that same average American family well over $6000 a year. Six thousand dollars a year of my hard earned money is going to help a handful of men and women who are already BILIONAIRES! Billionaires whose companies often don’t pay their workers a living wage, and need public assistance themselves (which increases the need for public assistance that these same billionaires are complaining about). Billionaires whose companies often discriminate against those based on race, sex, age, or sexual orientation. Often in the name of Christianity. Billionaires who pay a much lower tax rate than that same average American family. Billionaires whose companies often pay no (or next to no) taxes at all. Exxon alone get Exxon gets $600 million in annual federal tax breaks. Exxon, who makes over $100 million in profits PER DAY!

These are the facts. The very rich are lying to the middle class about the problems we have in this country. It’s like if you had a big pile of apples – say 100 apples. And a poor, hungry guy comes along and you give him an apple. Just then, a very rich guy starts yelling “THIEF!” and screaming about how that poor guy doesn’t deserve your hard earned apples. And while you’re distracted, he moves in and swipes 80 of those apples. Don’t believe that guy.