Monthly Archives: November 2009

Veteran’s Day (I know, I’m way late here)

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So I’m a little late with this, but I have to tell you about my experience at our local Veteran’s Day ceremonies. I say ceremonies because our town is made of several small communities and five of them have memorials, so every year on Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day, a group of folks, including veterans from the American Legion, VFW, Biker Vets (I don’t know what they’re called but that’s what they are), Rifle Squad (or whatever they’re called – I suck at this), ladies Auxiliary groups, and boy and girl scouts make rounds to each of the memorials for a ceremony. Since the boy is a scout, we always go.

Four of the memorials are smaller, and the ceremonies go pretty quickly, but the “main” one in town is generally a little larger. Usually I enjoy the ceremonies – the laying of the flags, reading of the names, and the 21-gun salute are touching. Taps makes me cry every time. But it can be a little boring after you hear the same prayers, the same speech, the same poem at each and every ceremony. But you suck it up and pay your respects. This year, however, it was a little irritating.

The lady who read the poem started off by giving a little speech about honoring veterans. It was mostly nice until she started bitching – I mean raised voice bitching – about the low turnout. She went on and on about how years ago more people turned out and now it’s sickening that people don’t. I have a couple of problems with this. First off – years ago, it was a big deal – I mean – there were bigger ceremonies – they were publicized. Now, unless you’re in the groups that are a part of it, you don’t even know about them. And if you don’t know, you can’t come. Two – with Veteran’s Day especially – people work. I am lucky enough to be off that day, but I know plenty of people who couldn’t come if they wanted to because they are working. And finally – hello? Preaching to the choir! We’re here. Don’t bitch and yell at us about apathy because each and every one of us dragged our asses (and often our kids’ asses) out of bed at the buttcrack of dawn, got dressed and ready, and stood outside in the cold listening to the same speeches over and over again. Don’t bitch at us! Write a letter to the editor or something, but please – shut up.

But the thing that really pissed me off this year was the main speaker at the “big” ceremony. We got done with the 3rd one and it was early, so I figured we had plenty of time to attend the 4th one (the “big” one) and still make our plans for the day. It was only about 10:00 when we headed out on the less than 5 minute drive to the next memorial. It got started about 10:30, and went through the same speeches, prayers and poem, and then they had a speaker. And I wanted to punch him in the face.

He started off talking about honoring veterans. It was nice. And then…oh, and then he got political and religious. He started going on and on about what a terrible country we have become and how all the veterans who gave their lives were rolling over in their graves over what was going on in this country. That they would be so disappointed in our leaders, and so on and so on and holy fucking shit, he is still going on. Rush Limbaugh couldn’t have done a better job at being an asshole.

I was absolutely offended. And not because his politics clearly differed greatly from mine – I would have been pissed if he agreed with everything I believe, too. I was pissed because this was supposed to be about honoring veterans. This was not mean to be a political rally. And it’s offensive that you should assume that everyone in the audience agrees with your views. It’s a slap in the face to the men and women who have served and/or given their lives for this country to use their day to do this. I have known a lot of veterans in my lifetime, and at least half of them would have vehemently disagreed with his political views. And it is incredibly ignorant to claim that they are or would be disappointed in this country currently. I’m getting awfully sick of the assumption that Conservative=Patriotic and Liberal=Country-hating, veteran-mocker.

His speech went on and one and on. At this point, it was at least 30 minutes – 25 of which had nothing to do with Veteran’s Day and everything to do with watching Fox news too fucking much. And just as we thought it was going to end ( he kept saying, “in conclusion” and then going on and on some more), he decided to shift from what a commie pinko country we have become and focus on what godless heathens we are. He talked and yelled and railed on about the loss of God in public schools, the lack of mandatory prayer, the abandonment of Jesus.

Again, this was a huge slap in the face to the many, many men and women who have fought sacrificed for our freedom – for his freedom who are and were Jews and Muslims and Buddhists and atheists. Does their sacrifice mean less because they didn’t die praying to the same god? Or any god?

I walked way at this point. I know it wasn’t the most respectful thing to do, but I couldn’t take any more. I was so offended I was actually in tears. I was just waiting for the god hates fags chorus to kick in and I didn’t want to be there to hear it. By the time he was done, he had spent 45 or 50 minutes raining his fire and brimstone down on us and maybe five to ten minutes had anything to do with the actual purpose of the day.

When he finally did finish spewing his nonsense, both he and the man who took the podium after him offered information on his youth group, inviting people to join. Yeah, I’ll get right on that, hater.

So, a little late – I want to say that I have a huge amount of respect and awe for the people who have served this country. I am not nearly as brave. I am not nearly as noble. They may not all be perfect, but they are willing to defend me and this country and for that, I honor them. They make little money. They don’t get nearly enough respect. They spend time away from their families and homes. They lose hope and limbs and precious, precious time. And for those who gave their lives – there is nothing I could do that could equal that sacrifice. Even when I don’t support the war, I always, ALWAYS, support the soldiers. I don’t care who they pray to, or if they pray at all. I don’t care who they voted for. And I hope that next time, the town finds a speaker who doesn’t care either.

Superhero

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My mom is like a superhero. Only instead of strength or speed or ability to fly, she has other powers. Like the ability to insult me without speaking a word. Or her super X-Ray vision that helps her to spot a single errant sesame seed, tipping her off to the recent presence of fast food. But one of my favorite of her powers is her ability to make everything and anything sound like an accusation.

I take the kids to her house every morning when I leave for work (or lately, the girl, since the boy has jazz band practice in the wee hours). I have been doing this for years. For 11 years, I’ve been dropping them off at the same time, every day, close to 5 days a week. Eleven years. Same 15-minute range of time. And yet Every! Single! Day! she ends up calling the house just when things are at their most hectic – I’m carrying bags to the car, trying to get The Girl’s shoes on, locating backpacks, signing papers, yelling out instructions to mr b and The Boy, packing snacks, and trying to get out the door. And just as I am in full stress mode, hands full, holding a kid…the fucking phone starts ringing!
“Aren’t you bringing the kids down?”

Yes mother yes I am. The same as I did yesterday and the day before, and Friday and the entire week before that, and the past ELEVEN FUCKING YEARS!!!!!! I AM COMING!!!

Sweet Chocolate Jesus, why does she have to call every single day?? She knows I am coming. And she says it in an accusing voice, as if I am late or somehow failing. All it serves to do if add more stress to my morning.

She doesn’t limit the use of her super powers to the morning only, though. She’s got another delightful use for it that I hatefully mockingly affectionately call, “Where were you?”

“Where were you?” is one that goes WAY back. See, my mom is very suspicious and defensive by nature. And that combination makes for some awfully fun phone conversations. It started when I was in college and she would call me when I wasn’t in my room. I’d call her back later and get “Where were you?” It didn’t matter what day or time it was – I could have been in class, at dinner, up the hall in a friend’s room – whatever. But if I wasn’t there to answer her call, she took it personally. If the call had come during the day, I said I was in class (because even if I were in the dining hall, I wasn’t going to tell her that, since that would open up the door for her to sing her favorite song, “You Know, You Should Really Try To Get Out And Exercise And The Weathers Getting Warmer So It’s Easier And You Want To Wear Cute Summer Clothes Don’t You And Really, I Am Not Doing This Because Of Your Weight I Just Really Want You To Be Healthy So Why Don’t You Go Walking And You Should Eat More Vegetables And I Only Want What’s Best For You.” God, I hate that song. If the call came during the evening (or early morning) hours – it was a whole new ballgame. And since “drinking,” “getting high,””skipping class” and “fucking” were not acceptable answers I generally when with, “At the library, Mom!” Needless to say, she was quite confused when my grades came in looking very un-library-like.

This continued on all through getting my shit together and graduating and getting on with my life, and then the defensive side joined in with the suspicious. Once I met mr b, I immediately got close to his family and started spending time with them. For one thing, they lived close by – it was easy and convenient to get together with them. For another, I liked them. So she’d call and I wouldn’t be home. Later I’d tell her I had been at SIL’s house, and I’d get, “Oh. You always have time for them.” Isn’t she sweet?

Truly, it wouldn’t matter if I had been with her the last 364 days, because that one day with “them” would piss her off regardless.

Over the years, I dealt with it in various way, including making excuses for why I was there, lying and saying I was elsewhere, and eventually, saying fuck it and not giving a shit what she said or thought. Eventually she learned to (mostly) accept it and truthfully, I couldn’t give a rat’s ass either way.

But she can’t quite let go of the “Where were you?” game. She like the Bret Favre of “Where were you?” And the prevalence of cell phones makes it even easier to spread her particular brand of joy. Because if she doesn’t reach me on the home phone, she will call my cell. This happened last night:

Her: I called you at home, but no one answered!

Me: That’s because we aren’t home.

Her: Where are you?

Me: Sigh.

(Oh – and also she can’t hear, so these conversations usually devolve into, “We’re at scouts.” “Where?” “Scouts.” “Stouts?” “No, SCOUTS!” “What? You’re out?” “Jesus CHRIST woman – we’re at SCOUTS! SCOUTS!!!!”)

It’s hard to convey it in writing – in writing it sounds like she is simply asking where I am, which is no big deal. But it’s the tone that makes it so special. The accusing, suspicious, put-upon tone. Like I am somehow failing her by not being home. As if I am out for the specific purpose of not being there when the queen beckons. God, it tires me out.

The irony of it is that my mom is the least homebody-ish person in all the land. From the time I was pretty young, she was always on the go. I would try to call her from school to let her know I had to stay for practice or see if I could go somewhere with friends and she wouldn’t be home. And in the pre-cell phone days, this was pretty damned inconvenient. Eventually I got tired of missing out on stuff and learned to go over her head call my gram – HER mother (who was and is a total badass) and she would give me the OK and then defend me if and when my mom tried to give me any shit about it.

I don’t want to make her sound neglectful, because she wasn’t – she was around when I needed her – she cooked and cleaned and came to all my activities and events without being overbearing (in that aspect of my life anyway), but she had her own life and she lived it. I spent a lot of time alone, but never minded it – I liked it. Except for when I needed to reach her and couldn’t. So it KILLS ME when she gets all indignant because she called me and I wasn’t home.

She can’t even help herself, though. It’s her superpower, after all.

Tweedle Drunk

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I’m a bit crabby today. The past few days have been those kind of high stress parenting days. The ones where the kids drive you absolutely nuts with their fighting and bitching and nonsense and bullshit. And if your kids don’t fight and bitch and aren’t full of all kinds of nonsense and bullshit, I don’t want to hear about it. I won’t believe you anyway. Besides – your kids are probably cute, right? Well, we all think our kids are cute, me included. And when they are babies, we look at them and think, Man, I’m so happy I have a cute kid. But I have learned something – don’t be happy you have a cute kid. Because the cuteness of the child is directly proportional to the evil. That’s why god made them cute – so you LET THEM LIVE when they are puling all the fighting and bitching and nonsense and bullshit.

I’ve been home with a semi-sick child the past two days and it’s been delightful. Really. She’s at that point of being just sick enough to have to stay home from school, but not sick enough that she doesn’t want to whine at me all day, tear up my house, make demands and boss. And then the boy comes home and she pokes him and then he pokes her and then I want to poke the both of them.

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Some of the stress is internal – it comes from the whole working from home guilt. I am lucky enough to be able to work from home when necessary, but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel like a heel when I have to. Part of that is me, but part comes from the childless contingent. We have all seen the fallout of the working vs stay at home mommy wars, but I am telling you – the parents vs childless in the workplace wars are just as brutal.

I work with a few people who get an attitude about people who take off/work from home/whatever because of their kids. Meanwhile, I have a ton of days to take if I need them. I get my work done from home. I never do anything that isn’t approved by the higher ups. And yet, there’s still that…I don’t know…air of disapproval. One person in particular has actually said things to me about other parents. Of course this person isn’t talking about me though. I’m not like them. Fuck that. I am like them. I’m a parent who has a career. someone who has to make difficult choices about work and family. Insult them and you are insulting me, no matter what you might say. FUCK THAT.

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I was talking to some coworkers about people sending their kids to school sick. While I understand the outrage over it, I can also sympathize with the parents. I am lucky enough to have vacation time. I am lucky enough to be able to work from home. But there are a lot of parents out there (especially in these times) who don’t have any options – who won’t get paid or will lose their jobs if they don’t show up. I don’t want a sick kid going into school, but I can’t crucify the parents, either. I’m sure some of them are just assholes (@RockingPony gave a good example of this today on twitter), but I know some are between a big fucking rock and a very hard place and I sympathize with them. Hell – even though I do have options, I am feeling the pressure after 2 days of working from home. I have the familiar dilemma of whether she’s well enough to go to school or if I am taking advantage of my lenient workplace if I stay home with her another day. It sucks.

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And speaking of the childless, I had a friend tell me today about a coworker who is one of those know-it-all types about kids. I hate those. Apparently this woman is one of the “My child will never” types. Fine, let her enjoy her little “MY child will never. . .” fantasy. Because those of us in the know are well aware that that one goes right out the window along at least once or twice. Like “MY child won’t be eating McDonald’s (Yes. Yes she will. Because there will come a time when you just don’t care what they eat as long as there’s something in their mouth and you can’t hear the screaming)”, “MY child isn’t going to watching TV (When the choice is TV or killing them because they won’t leave you alone for ONE FUCKING SECOND, much less long enough t have sex ever again? TV it is)”, “MY child will eat whatever I put in front of her (HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!)”, “I’LL never use a video as a babysitter (you will if you ever want to take a shit in piece again)” and “MY child will never sleep in my bed (Go to sleep. Go To Sleep. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, CHILD, IF I DON’T SLEEP SOON I’M GOING TO DIE. FINE, COME IN HERE AND JUST SHUT UP AND GO TO SLEEP!)”

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The past week hasn’t been entirely bad, though. We marched in the Halloween parade:

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We went trick or treating with the little bride:

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We celebrated the girl’s sixth birthday several times, including one magnificent cake thanks to my SIL Weenie:

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And we went to the Annual Scabs the Clown Drunken Halloween Extravaganza (wearing our fed-up response to the skanky costume trend):

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Just call us Tweedle Drunk and Tweedle Drunker

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