Monthly Archives: March 2013

Last I checked, Steak IS food

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I was on facebook the other day, and I saw something that really bothered me. A friend of mine posted a photo of a grocery receipt, along with a disapproving comment. The receipt included a list of “luxury foods,” such as lobster and steak. And it was paid for by food stamps.

Go ahead – get it out of your system. I understand. I mean, I am guilty. I am guilty of – many years ago – thinking not-so-nice thoughts about the two women in front of me with at the checkout line, wearing nice clothes and buying high-end groceries with food stamps.

It’s easy to immediately think, “Why do they get to eat that stuff and I don’t? I work for my money!” And that’s pretty much what I did. I judged their jewelry, their manicures, and the contents of their grocery cart. And I’m ashamed to admit that it took me a long time to realize how wrong I was.

The sad thing about this attitude it that it’s just so easy to have it. We’re all struggling. We all have problems. And when we have problems, sometimes it just feels good to have someone to blame – to take our frustrations out on. And often times, it’s easier to blame people who seemingly have what we do not than to blame the true cause. Because the true cause is often the hand that feeds us – the people who make our laws, the people who hold our money, the people who sign our paycheck, the people who make the products we need (or think we need) to survive. We’re a country of the rich and powerful holding the poor and meek hostage. And we hostages are all in the throes of Stockholm Syndrome.

But once I opened my eyes, I realized how wrong I was to judge those women, just as my friend was wrong to judge. The feelings that drove me to feel the way I did were based on envy, on frustration, on misinformation.  The people truly responsible count on these feelings to keep us believing in the myth of the “Welfare Queen.”

But you know what? Regardless of whether they are paying with a credit card, or their paycheck from Kmart, or their trust fund, it simply is no one else’s business what they spend it on. Is it a wise decision to spend a good portion of their assistance on a small number of luxury items? Perhaps not. But I am pretty sure that every single one of us has splurged on something when we couldn‘t really afford to: A dinner out when we have just had an exhausting day and can’t muster the energy to cook dinner for our family. A book or movie when we just needed to escape from our hectic lives for a little while. A new purse or shoes when we just needed a pick-me-up. A little surprise for the kids, when we’re feeling guilty about how our busy lives keep us from doing everything we want with them. We have all done it. If you truly haven’t – good for you. You should teach a class or something. but the rest of us aren’t immune. Who knows why the person that receipt belonged to was buying fancy food. Maybe someone in the family just got a clean bill or health from their oncologist. Maybe a son or daughter is coming home on leave from the military. Maybe they just want to – for one damned night – to feel like they aren’t living in a bottomless pit of debt and despair.

Maybe it’s not a wise decision. Maybe they’ll find themselves struggling at the end of the month to make ends meet. That’s a problem, but it’s their problem – their choice to make. They will suffered the consequences with our without our disapproving looks.

Why do we – as a society – feel that we should be able to tell them what they can buy?  Oh, you’re poor, so you’re only allowed to eat pork & beans or ramen noodles. And these people can’t win. If they eat crap, we bitch that they aren’t healthy. If they eat well, we bitch that they aren’t responsible with their money.

So before we jump all over them for being “welfare queens,” for eating better food, wearing better clothes, having a better phones, let’s remember that each of their spending decisions have consequences. Consequences that they have to live with – not us.

We can’t claim that they choose that life, when often, the other “choices” are not choices at all. “Get a job” is a favorite war cry of the political right-leaning. But if the only option of a job is one that can’t possibly provide for a family, then it’s not a viable – or even reasonable – choice.

I know people who will criticize me for being a working mom & spending so much time away from my children. But if I were to quit my job, giving up my salary and benefits, my other choice might have to be public assistance. And then I’d be criticized for mooching off the government, even thought I was home “raising” my kids. We/They just can’t win.

How about instead of attacking the people in the system, we start looking with a critical eye at the system itself. Give people a better than choice than rock vs. hard place. Give people a chance to earn enough that they don’t need the system anymore, by raising minimum wage to something that isn’t shockingly below the poverty line.

And in the meantime, while we’re waiting for the changes to happen, let’s give people the benefit of the doubt, rather than the harsh judgment. Let’s embrace kindness rather than judgment, acceptance rather than divisiveness. Nothing will change until we do. Poverty spreads like a wildfire – quickly and without warning. Few of us in the middle and lower class are safe. Many of us are only a paycheck or two away from public assistance or even homelessness. None of us would enjoy being judged the way we are judging others.

I Cannot Believe We Have to Talk About This AGAIN

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I’ve written about rape before. Here  and here and a few other times, too. And every time I write about it, I find myself thinking, “What year is it? We STILL haven’t figured this out?”

Because seriously? We have to talk about rape some more? I’m not sure why this is such a difficult topic for people to grasp. I mean – kill someone? It’s pretty much accepted that you are an asshole. Hurt a child? Ditto. But rape? Let’s not jump to conclusions! That seems to be the prevailing attitude regarding rape these days.  Somehow a rapist seems to bring out the sympathy in people. And that sympathy interferes with justice, and more importantly, with the effect that lack of justice is apparently having on our society.

Dear America: YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG!

It amazes me how much time we spend talking about the victims of rape: whether  they were drunk, what they were wearing, how they were acting, etc. Then we tell girls, “Don’t do this, Don’t do that, Don’t put yourself in that situation.” Sure – that’s good advice, but it seems to me that we should be spending more time talking about the perpetrators of rape. About how they didn’t do it because of the girl’s clothing, or her level of intoxication. They did it because they are broken. We need to start talking to the boys as much as (or more than) the girls, or society will continue to be broken.

We all see news from around the world and exclaim disgust at the stories out of other countries – stories about honor killings, about fathers, killing their daughters, husbands killing their wives, because they were raped. It’s easy to be disgusted by it, sure. But what we don’t realize is that THIS country isn’t all that far off. No – rape victims are killed, generally, but they are mocked. They are blamed. They are torn down day after day after day. They receive death threats. DEATH THREATS, simply because they had the nerve to be the victim of a crime and want justice. Their lives are ruined – as if being raped wasn’t enough trauma to deal with, these women – these girls – these CHILDREN – are told it was their fault. They are the ones put on trial. And then they are the ones forced into hiding.

They fear for their lives – they can’t leave their homes.  All the while, the community at large – and even worse,  the media – express sympathy for the rapists. Their lost opportunities, their lives wasted. The whole thing is presented as “tragic events,” as if it were something that just happened, rather than what it really is: A violent, brutal, heartless CRIME.

As long as we allow this behavior on the part of the rapists, the relatives, the friends, the fans, the media, the goddamned politicians – nothing will change. As long as we have grown men – men (and sadly, women) responsible for running this country talking about how rape pregnancies are a gift from god, or saying that women have magical, rape fighting vaginas, or claiming that abortions cause cancer, as long as we have lawmakers voting against laws that attempt to protect women from violence, only because they offer equal protection to those who are not white, those who are not heterosexual – nothing will change.

As long as this rape culture continues, we, as a society, are telling potential rapists that it is not their fault. That makes it our fault, too.

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More Random Crap. And a Spanish Lesson.

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I suck at meetings. Not work meetings –I’m good at those, but kid-related meetings: PTA meetings, cheer meetings, band booster meetings, etc.  I usually avoid these things whenever I can, because 1) People tend to say stupid things at these meetings, 2) I have lots of opinions about the stupid things people say, and 3) I have impulse control issues. If I am forced to attend one of these types of meetings, I try to make sure I have my a couple of things with me: My phone, so I can text Hedge all my snarky comments, which helps keep them from escaping my face, and a notebook & pen, so I can look like I am studiously taking notes, when I am, in fact, drawing pornographic pictures of the parties involved.

Last week, I had a mandatory band meeting about the boy’s upcoming trip, and needless to say, I had a LOT of (badly drawn) porn when it was over. In my defense, one of the guilty parties actually said these words: “There isn’t much to do at Epcot.” Between that, the rest of the misinformation being thrown around, and the passive-aggressive packing orders tips, I’m sure you would have done the same.

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Three words: Stupid Candy Crush! Why, oh WHY did I let myself get sucked into this game?  It brings out the toddler in me, too. I get pissed off when I can’t pass a level (those chocolate levels – my GOD), and I inevitably I regress to toddler logic. It usually starts with “It’s not faaaaaaaiiiiir.” And when that gets me nowhere, I go with the always helpful, “This is STUPID!” Then I swear I’m done with it, and I will never play again. And then a few hours later, I’m Level 86’s bitch again.

And speaking of Candy Crush, I recently said something about it to my family & my husband asked “What’s Candy Crush?” to which my son replied, “Some game everybody’s mother is addicted to.” Sigh. He’s not even wrong.

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Hedge and I are considering going to see REO Speedwagon & Styx. Unfortunately, they are bringing Ted Nugent with them. We will probably bring some candy bars to eat during our protest during his set. Because we far prefer nougat to Nugent.

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Also – the freaking raven was back the other day. I’m getting nervous.

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Let’s end with this delightful exchange:

My 4 year old cousin to his brand new sister: “Hey, Mr. Dick!”

His mom: “What did you call her?”

4 yr old: “Mr. Dick. It’s the Spanish word for cutie pie.”

His mom: “Um…OK. But maybe we should just stick to cutie pie.”

Stay away from the eagles

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Let’s talk about the eagles. No, not those Eagles. Or those Eagles – I never want to talk about them. No – I’m talking about the pair of bald eagles that have nested in the city of Pittsburgh. One of the local news channels heard about them and set out to get photos. I can’t blame them – bald eagles are pretty awesome. Bald eagles nesting within city limits? Badass awesome. So, anyway, the news channel gets a good shot of the eagles, and then links to the story on facebook. The story went something like this: “bald eagles nesting….blah blah majestic…blah blah…endangered…blah blah…on the South Side…” Wait, what? Did you just tell all of the internet where a pair of endangered, majestic eagles can be found? Because if I would have written the story, it would have been more like this: “A pair of bald eagles have nested in the city, but we won’t be telling you where, because only about 10% of you (at best) are able to be trusted with this information. The rest of you are idiots and/or assholes and have no business knowing where these eagles are, lest you endanger them any more than they already are. Got it? Actually? You know what? Never mind. There are no eagles. I was wrong – they were turkey vultures. Nothing to see here. Move along.”

But they did tell, and then people started going on Eagle Watch. So, now as a follow-up, another news channel has posted a story, which includes some rules from the Game Commission, letting people how to behave around bald eagles. Most of these rules involve STAYING THE HELL AWAY FROM THE EAGLES. Actually, between you and me, they strongly encourage being responsible, keeping your distance from the eagles, refraining from making noises, sudden movements, and  – if possible – not even being seen by the birds. But, as previously mentioned, 90% of us are idiots/assholes, and must be told in 8 different ways to not be idiots and assholes. One of these ways included the following: “Don’t tell everyone about a new eagle nest. It will attract people to nesting areas who will not use proper etiquette and other unnecessary attention to a nest.” Which was absolutely priceless right next to a detailed satellite map, showing everyone where they can find the eagles.

Random Crap

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The dog is bad. After Rocky died, Charley got depressed. And we knew that was something that could happen. But time passed and he seemed to stay depressed, bordering on lethargic. Very un-puppy-like (he had just turned two). We had been taking him to the vet for some weird, seemingly random symptoms, to no avail. But then we got tired of not knowing what was going on and turned to trusted (ha!) Dr. Google. Turns out his weird symptoms and the lethargy were due to an underactive thyroid. He’s on medication now and is doing great. All of his problems disappeared right away. Most notably, the lethargy. And it turns out that he is a big asshole. It’s great that he has energy and is more lovable. But I could do without the shoe-eating, garbage-picking, and most especially the trying to take the food right out of my mouth as I am eating. Stupid functional thyroid.

Oh – and now he has an ear infection. Have you ever had to give dog eardrops? How about a 100 pound beastly bad dog? It’s a good time. It goes like this:

  1. We call him
  2. He uses his dog superpower psychic brain and determines we’re calling him for nefarious reasons
  3. He runs
  4. We chase him
  5. I grab his collar as he runs past
  6. He knocks me off my feet, & drags me around the house
  7. I eventually maneuver myself on top of him and pin him down
  8. Mr b gets the eardrops ready
  9. He does the dog version of the Curly Shuffle while I am laying on top of him
  10. All three of us go in circles through the process getting of eight (EIGHT!) drops in his ear
  11. We feel bad & offer him conciliatory tater tots
  12. He tells us fuck our tots
  13. He waits until the moment is right & steals our sandwiches

 

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I am lucky enough that I work in a building with a parking garage AND valets (which Awesome Company pays for. I love Awesome Company). Anyway – the valets are generally nice guys. Sometimes a liitle slow, but for the most part efficient & friendly. The one thing that bugs me though, is when one particular guy takes my car & I get back in the car at the end of the day and they have turned off my radio or turned the volume all the way down.  Come on! He’ll only be in the car for 40 seconds, and my music isn’t blaring. This tells me that he is doing this as some sort of statement about my music. Which pisses me off, because I don’t like his stupid sideways hat, but I don’t straighten it for him every morning.

 

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Yesterday morning, I was sitting in my quiet house working and I heard this tapping noise. It sounded like someone was knocking on the outside walls of the house. Even Charley heard it and came in barking like a fool. I was looking out all the windows, trying to figure out what the heck it was, when it finally stopped when a big crow flew off the roof. There was a gig, creepy crow perched on the edge of my roof, tapping on my wall.  Is a crow the same thing as a raven? As in “Quoth the raven, nevermore?’  Because if so, I am just waiting for the heartbeat to start up in the basement.

 

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Conversation with a teen:

Me (after he comes out of his room to leave for school wearing shorts): “What on Earth makes you think you’re wearing shorts today?”

Him: “It’s going to be 36 degrees today!”

Me: “EXACTLY! No shorts!”

Him: “Come ON!”

 

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I was watching some morning news type show last week and they were talking to a woman from Cosmo magazine. She was going on about how great Cosmo is for working women – that they have tons of great career advice. Uh…yeah… I think I’ll pass on career advice from the publication that once suggested that to meet men, I wear a short skirt & bend over.