The Sunshine Blog Award

I like awards.  I know they are really just a way for us to recognize other blogs that we like so we can all network and increase traffic, but that’s okay by me.  I especially like this one because a) I’ve never received it before and b) it recognizes blogs with that special flair for sarcasm and dry humor, two of my very favorite things.

Thanks to Rachel over at Lala Musings for putting me on her list.  Once you read her writing, you will understand what an honor it is to get a mention from her.  Check her out, follow her, stalk her.  You will not be sorry.  She is honest, slightly bitter, and more than slightly sarcastic at times, and the reading is all the better for it. 

So here’s the award–

 

Here are the rules:

  • Thank the person who gave you the award and write a post about it.
  • Answer the questions.
  • Pass it along to worthy blogs (10 or 12 if you can.)

Now, the Q & A session:

  1. Favorite Color:   Blue.  Too easy.
  2. Favorite Animal:  Well, I love almost all animals, but I have to reach (far) back into my childhood and pick the humpback whale.  When I went whale-watching in Hawaii a few years ago, they dropped a microphone into the water, and we listened to whale song.  Really.  There have been very few moments of absolute, pure, life-changing joy in my life, but that was one of them. 
  3. Favorite Number:  Seven–mystical, magical, seven.
  4. Favorite Drink:  Coffee.  I need it.  I love it.  When I take that first sip in the morning, my mind always conjures up Renfield from Dracula screaming “The blood is the life! The blood is the life!”
  5. Facebook or Twitter:  Facebook–Twitter just seems a little too random or something–I can’t explain.  I guess there’s something to be said for being concise, but yeesh!
  6. Your Passion:  I don’t know.  How sad is that?  I could say my passion is my family, but that’s kind of corny.  I really, really love reading, and if anything qualifies, I think that does.
  7. Giving or receiving presents:   Giving.  I love giving things to people, not just at Christmas, either.  I don’t really care about getting gifts, because most of the time if I want something I just go and buy it.
  8. Favorite Day:  I’m sure this will sound strange, but it’s Monday.  Yep.  I love my routine, and I get back into my routine on Monday.  People go back to work and school, and The Grandmother goes bowling.  It’s so quiet around here and I can tidy up the house.  Monday’s aren’t so bad.
  9. Favorite Flower:  I love wildflowers–especially blue or purple, and not pink.  I like lilacs, sunflowers, and hollyhocks as well.  Really, all flowers are cool.

Now here are the blogs that I think are worthy of this award, even though they may not always be sarcastic like me, they do bring some sunshine into my life.  I hope you will read them and enjoy them as much as I do.  Thanks again to Rachel at Lala Musings!

  • nouns and violets:  A beautifully written blog by a beautiful person–seldom sarcastic but always funny, bright, and truthful.
  • Do Sweat the Small Stuff:  Everything is a big deal, and everything is worth reading.  Always one of my favorites–I am a devoted follower.
  • Poop on a Hot Tin Slide:  With a title like that, I don’t know what else to say.  She’s a mom dealing with OCD the only way she can–with humor, sarcasm, and LOTS of Purell.
  • If Only She Had Applied Herself:  I found this one because the title of the blog rang so true to my own life!  A hysterical look at every day life as a mom and wife.
  • Snarky in the Suburbs:  I don’t think she cares much about awards and the like, but her blog is in a league of its own.  She is a sarcasm goddess.  Read it.  You will laugh.
  • Highly Irritable:  A very recent find that I’ve been enjoying.  I’ve been going back through the archives and having lots of good laughs, but it is also VERY beautifully written–the latest post almost made me cry!
  • Misadventures in Motherhood:  Another very funny blog that I highly recommend.  If you have kids, her posts will have you nodding along and laughing ruefully.

And that’s it for now.  There are tons more I could recommend to you, but this will have to do for now.  Read them!  The UNIVERSE commands it!  Also, if you fail to read them, you will have horrible luck for the next fifteen years, your gravy will be lumpy, your butt will spread out, and your sheets will always have static cling. 

Enjoy!

 

It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like………Mental Illness

Whoever said this was the most wonderful time of the year was obviously smoking crack.

I mean, God help you if you have to go to the store for some normal, non-Christmas-related item.  You might be there to get milk, but Redneck Rita will cut you if she thinks you’re going to grab one of the 40 inch TV’s she stood in line to buy four of.

 

I don’t know how much attention you paid to the news the morning after Black Friday, but violence in various forms broke out across the country as people sought out the fantastic deals.  Lines stretched for hours, and people literally trampled other people to get in the doors when they opened.  They trampled other living, breathing human beings to buy a G.D. television set and Rock N Roll Elmo Doll!  Then someone wants to talk to me about Christmas spirit?  There is no such thing as Christmas spirit.  There’s buy me a present spirit, and I bought a nicer gift than you spirit, and this isn’t what I asked for spirit, and of course the I didn’t get what I wanted so now I’m disappointed spirit. 

In case you haven’t picked up on it, this is not my favorite time of year.  I’m a Halloween person.  St. Patrick’s day is okay.  Oh, and July 4th is fun–you get to blow stuff up.  I also like Earth Day and Arbor Day. 

But you can keep Christmas.  If there was some sort of pill I could take that would allow me to sleep until after New Years, I’d take it–kind of like Rip Van Winkle.  The main problem is, Christmas starts earlier and earlier each year, so eventually I’d only be awake for, say, six days in May.  Hallmark started playing Christmas movies–you know, the sickening, sappy, oh isn’t everything just wonderful and all of our problems are magically cured by wishing on the Christmas tree type of movie–the second week of November.  Bah.

 

To quote my green friend, “I don’t want to make waves here, but this whole Christmas season is stupid, stupid, STUPID!”  It’s the one time of year when it’s perfectly acceptable to be completely consumed by the love of material things.  I mean, more than usual.  Why do you decorate your house?  To show up your neighbors.  If you don’t buy your kids the expensive electronic stuff, then people think you suck as a parent, and your kids secretly think so too.  You actually tell people what to buy you!  Think about that!  What’s the point of giving a gift?  Don’t get me wrong, I’m just as guilty as anyone in this area, and I understand it.  You have no idea what to buy people, and why?  Because we already have more stuff than any person could conceivably need even if they lived until the end of time.  So we tell each other what to buy.  Merry Christmas.

Then there’s family.  Why go through the trouble of getting together with people who you never see, never talk to, and who secretly don’t like you anyway?  You get together, over-eat, then part ways for another year and talk about each other.  Ho ho ho!

I have absolutely no trouble whatsoever understanding why more people commit suicide during the holidays than any other time of the year.  I always think of Chris Farley (if you don’t know who that is, get a life.)  In the movie “Tommy Boy,”  his character finally freaks out because of stress and says, “Every time I drive down the road, I wanna jerk the wheel into a Goddamn bridge abutment!” 

 

Right.

The saddest part is that you can’t escape it.  Christmas movies, Christmas music, Christmas decorations–it’s everywhere you go.  It’s so inundating that I even catch myself humming Christmas music–me, the Grinch’s grandmother, humming Christmas music! 

I’m going to quit before I totally depress myself.  Maybe another cup of coffee will help.  Maybe I’ll go take a nap.

Wake me up after the New Year.

Et Tu, Daughter?

Betrayal is an ugly word, mostly because it describes an ugly action.  Some people consider betrayal the worst thing that can happen to a person. 

When it comes from your child, it’s even worse.

I don’t know when I lost my daughter.  I’m pretty sure she was mine for a while.  But is has happened.  Somewhere along the line she has turn-coated on me, and now she’s Daddy’s girl. 

It’s just a little bit hard.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m glad they are so close, and really, it’s not like I’ve done much for her.  You know, besides bringing her into the world.  Sure, dad is a necessary factor in the whole conception thing, but a man’s role is, as usual, fairly superfulous when compared to what the mother has to do.  He just spreads his seed–kind of like a dandelion–then goes about his merry way.  Then the mother has to actually grow the child, carry the child, and of course let’s not forget actually have the child.  But you know, I guess compared to, I don’t know, making armpit fart noises, that’s not much.

Like I said, I’m not bitter.  After enduring the most miserable pregnancy in the history of womankind, I was plunged head first into my first-ever hospital experience, with IV’s and needles and surgery and all kinds of fun things.  I had enormous quantities of amniotic fluid (true fact: the doctor actually said, “Well, I’ve had woman pregnant with twins whose bellies were almost as big as yours.” Thanks, doc.) and so I looked like some sort of freakish mutant, because the rest of me was shrinking because I couldn’t eat anything because my digestive tract was somewhere in the neighborhood of my neck!  Oh, and I’m not even going to talk about how my body has never and will never recover from being stretched in such an odd shape.

Then of course there’s the teensie little things I did after she was born, like trying feverishly for three months to get her to eat, and then those few little trips just to here and there, you know, like Minnesota and Maryland and Philadelphia and Virginia.  No biggie.  We sometimes had to go to a few appointments around here, too, but not more than once or twice a week for three or four years.  Hardly even worth mentioning. 

And let’s not forget that I’m the one who packs her lunch, gets her clothes, gets her ready, gets her meals for her.  But really, who can even keep track of little things that?

Not that I’m bitter.

Just like that, she’s not mine anymore.  She’s always been pretty close to her dad, but now she’s officially gone over to the dark side.  Yesterday, she wouldn’t even come downstairs with me when she got up for school–he had to go up and get her.  He can brush her teeth without having to hold her down on the floor.  I try to get her to sit with me, and she’ll just frown and then go sit with her daddy.  Sweet, isn’t it?

I wonder if this is related somehow to that whole mother/daughter almost-a-teenager tension thing.  My daughter may not be a typical girl, but then again, maybe she’s more typical than I think.

 

 

Also, I blame my husband for at least part of it.  As the years have passed, I have become the heavy–the one who always handles the discipline.  Dad’s the fun one, Mom’s the one who gets on you for stuff.

The one consolation I have is that I’m pretty sure the boy is mine.  I have carefully timed my bribery to win him over to my side, and it seems to be working.  I had to try pretty hard, since, again, I really haven’t done all that much for him, either.

Not that I’m bitter.

A (not so) Professional Book Review

Normally, I don’t have a lot of patience for book reviews, critic’s comments, or really anything where someone is telling me what I should or shouldn’t read.  I tend to have particular and, yes, peculiar tastes in my literature.  Some mainstream things I like just fine, and I love some things others would snub, and there are some alleged literary classics that make me ill.  For example, I would rather have my teeth removed with a pair of pliers by a plumber than read, say,  The Grapes of Wrath or The Red Badge of Courage.  I’ve read them, but once was enough.

However, I’m going to be slightly hypocritical just this once (yeah, right) and offer up my opinion to the universe about a book I just finished.  For just a few minutes, think of me like a New York times critic, only without the paycheck or the bullshit.  I am justified, though, because, believe it or not, I happen to personally know the author.  In fact, I graduated high school with him.  How cool is that?!  Check it out:

 

The book is A Welcome Walk into the Dark, by Ben E. Campbell.  In fact, it’s a collection of short stories set in the state of Ben’s birth–West Virginia.  (Incidentally, that is also the state of my birth.)

Let me start by warning you–if you are hoping for a book full of happily ever afters and rainbow ponies, you will be disappointed.  What you will find is a book full of wonderful short stories about Appalachia, and, more importantly, the people who live there.  I say “wonderful” not because they are cheerful, heart-warming stories, but because they are wonderfully written, honest, and full of depth.  You know how you hear people say that certain actors are “character actors?”  Well, Ben is a character writer.  He captures the beauty and isolation of our Mountain State, but he really captures the people.  Writing short stories is no small task.  It is an art in and of itself.  The author of a short story has to do essentially the same thing the author of a novel has to do, only in a tenth of the pages.  The detail, the plot, the characters, all have to live on the page just as effectively as any novel, and it’s a real challenge.  I consider it a lost art, and it’s a great indicator of talent that Ben can do it again and again.

Here’s my viewpoint of the book–Ben has a genuine love/hate relationship with his home state.  I appreciate this perspective, because I share it, and so I think I have a pretty good understanding of it.  It’s a beautiful place, like no other, and there are people here who are wonderful people–the type who would do anything to help their neighbors, who know the value of hard work, and who love their homes and their families.

But there’s another side–isn’t there always?

Ben takes the stereotypes and generalizations often thrown towards our state and dances them around the dance floor a dozen times over.  Here’s the most un-obliging thing about stereotypes: usually they are rooted in truth.  Another fact: usually the people most offended by stereotypes are the ones who they best apply to. 

So at first glance, you might say, “Wow, he’s really giving these people a hard time!” but he is revealing what lives behind the beating heart of Appalachia–as Stephen King says, “the skull that grins behind the smile.”  Yes, this is an area with a strong history of racism, bigotry, and violence.  Many of those things are still alive and well today.  Prescription drug abuse is almost epidemic in this state.  Ben doesn’t gloss over any of these issues, and the stories are better for it.

The main resonating chord for me can be summed up in one word–roots.  It’s tied in with that love/hate thing.  You love your home–it’s where your history is, and your family.  But here’s the thing about roots–when they go too deep, and the fire comes, all you can do is stand and burn.  Roots can hold you up, but they trap you, too.  This is a powerful theme in Ben’s work. 

A minor aside:  Ben and I didn’t always get along in high school.  Looking back, it’s not all that surprising.  When you put two people near each other with strong minds, unwavering opinions, and big mouths, friction is almost a foregone conclusion.  But do you know what?  The only real regret I have is that I wasn’t able to express myself with more maturity, because I actually enjoy a good debate, and I love being around intelligent, outspoken people, regardless of their opinions.  Sadly, for the most part, teenagers are jerks.  I fear my jerkiness may have been extra-concentrated.

For all of that, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to read Ben’s book and offer my opinion, which is the highest.  I recommend you read it, no matter what state you are from.  Ben writes without fear, and that is, to my particular taste, the greatest of all literary gifts. 

In closing, all I can say is this: Well done, Ben! We anxiously await the next!

 

Mommy Liar

“Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny–I’ve been jerkin’ your chain since you were born!” Sophia Petrillo

 

Generally speaking, the truth is better than a lie.  Lies complicate things, they ruin trust, and they hurt people.  Start with the truth, and you won’t have to worry.

Generally speaking.

We watched the movie “Liar, Liar” the other day, and my son commented, “What would it be like to never be able to lie?”  I just shrugged, but I know what went through my mind.

It would be very hard to parent, for one thing.

Before anyone says something stupid about how you should always tell the truth, stop.  Did you tell your kids to believe in Santa Clause?  How about the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy?  Well, you say, those are just harmless lies.  Fine.  But on that same note, there are some truths that do not necessarily need to be shared with children. 

My son is a very intelligent child with his feet solidly based in reality.  However, he’s very naive about certain things.  I know I can’t protect him from ever finding out about the big mean world, but why shove him into it face first?  When he asks questions about something he hears or sees, sometimes I feel like the truth is necessary, and sometimes I smoothly skate by the issue with a few well-chosen words.  My husband remarked once, “Should it worry me how quickly you can come up with that stuff?”  What can I say?  Sometimes my over-active imagination comes in handy.

Now that he’s getting older, I have to be careful.  I want to maintain trust, and still protect him.  It’s a fine line to walk.  There are some questions he hasn’t asked, and that’s ok for now.  We have a pretty open relationship, and I think sometimes he knows maybe I’m not giving him the whole story. 

A good word that comes to mind is “discretion.”  Contrary to what some people think of me, I do not speak everything that pops into my brain.  And a good thing, that, believe me.  Sometimes I hear people say things about how they are telling someone something because “it’s for their own good,” or they are “trying to do the right thing.”  But I wonder…..

The right thing for who, exactly?  I know this is the cliché version of “it’s okay to lie,” but really, what do you say when someone asks you how they look?  Or if you like their new hair cut?  Or their shoes?  The truth is, it doesn’t matter if you like any of those things, as long as they are happy with them, but it will still hurt if you say “Oh God, I think I’m going to be sick!” So you don’t.

My son is no different.  He recently picked out a pair of shoes that I don’t particularly care for, and he loves them.  So you know what?  I love them, too.  I wish he would get his hair cut, but I don’t say so.  There are lots of things about my own past that are true, but he really doesn’t need to know about them, does he? 

His life is pretty uncomplicated right now.  He has a fairly black and white view of things, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  He’s only eleven.  I figure life will give him plenty of reality before it’s all said and done.  My job is to keep him as safe and happy as possible, because I’m his mother. 

Also, I’m a damn good liar.

Friday Follower

A Daft Scots Lass

Check out A Daft Scots Lass–I’m featured over there today! Don’t you wish you could be this cool!  Thanks to the Daft Lass for featuring me!

(not so) Entitled

Every time I hear about how the economy is tanked, or how illegals are taking all of our jobs, or how all of our jobs are outsourced, or how nobody has any money, or how children are hungry…..well, anyway, just how generally bad things are all around, I get this little twitching in my eye.

I wonder if maybe we are all laying in the bed we made for ourselves. 

A high-ranking politician from Down South got into a little hot water not too long ago for defending his state’s use of immigrants in the fields, rather than giving those jobs to Americans.  His statement was pretty frank–he said Americans wouldn’t do the jobs, and that if they didn’t hire the immigrants, the job wouldn’t be done.  He said that American employees complained about the work, were habitually late, and quit without warning. 

Those statements didn’t make huge headlines like they might have, probably because as a whole, we tend to overlook those loudmouth Southerners.  We consider them close-minded and overbearing.  (I guess it’s a hold-over from that whole Civil War thing.) 

I, however, was completely vindicated.  I have been making similar comments for years. 

To me, a great portion of our population has what I have dubbed  “Entitlement Syndrome.”  We all think we are owed something.  For a long time, people of my generation had this notion that they could go to college, get that fancy degree, and then they would get a high-paying job.  We were entitled to it, by God!  Well, we all know how that turned out.  I think everyone should go to college, but that is no guarantee of work.  There is no guarantee of work. 

Another facet of ES is how everyone believes they are worth more than they actually are.  Just like those field workers Down South, most of us are more than a little picky.  Lots of places are hiring, but not really any place too many of us want to work.  I include myself in this, because I understand.  I know things cost too much, and health care should be both affordable and available to everyone, but to me those are issues that need to be addressed from the ground up.  People are not going to be able to get free health care until someone does something about the cost of health care.  Employees need top wages because crap costs so much–been to the grocery store lately?–but employers raise prices to cover insurance and wages.  Simple reform is not the answer.  We’re talking about revolutionary level action, and I wonder if any of us have the energy for that.

The issue that is nearest and dearest to my heart with the ES-ers is disability.  While this may or may not be an issue where you live, here in West by-God Virginia it is a major deal.  We have the highest rate of disability in the country.  If you don’t believe me, just try to find a handicapped parking spot at the grocery store.

 

I’m  bound to piss someone off, but I can’t even help myself.  This is an epidemic.  People move to this state to get on disability because they didn’t qualify in other states.  Why do people think they have to right to sit home and take money from working people?  Because they think they are entitled. 

The worst part of this is that there really are some people who need to receive disabiltiy.  Like always, the people who abuse it ruin it for everyone else.  I have great insight into this issue.  I know what a disabled person looks like.  The one that pops into my mind is totally dependent on someone to take care of her.  She can’t walk, feed herself, take herself to the bathroom, bathe herself, brush her own teeth, wipe her own ass, nothing.  That is disabled.  Being fat is not.  Why should I have to pay taxes to support someone who is obese, and worse still, who is raising another generation just like them?  I can’t find a place to park the ramp van because the handicapped parking is full of people who can walk up and down every ailse in the store, but can’t walk twenty yards through the parking lot.

Our joke around this house is how people get the disability cure.  They walk around with canes and braces, limping like a wounded Civil War soldier, then they get awarded their disability, and voila! They are healed.  The canes vanish, the limps clear up, and a fancy new truck appears in the driveway. 

And scholars say the age of miracles has passed.

Ironically, truly disabled people are the ones who are sadly in need of benefits.  If you an older disabled person, God help you, because the government sure isn’t.  My sister has a medical card, but at the age of 21, it stops paying for dental or eye care.  You know, once you hit 21, you don’t really need your teeth or vision anymore, I guess.  And oh yes, she gets a check–but it wouldn’t even cover rent, let alone the payment on a new truck. 

It’s a cycle.  Parents who live off of the taxpayer are very adept at raising their kids “in the system.”  In truth, why would you work if you didn’t have to?  Hell, they are the smart ones.

The sad truth is this: no one owes you a thing–not one damn thing.  Yes, my sister and my daughter are both disabled, but that’s really just our hard luck.  We will take what help we can get, but if that help is gone, we still have to do what we have to do.  I may have to work nights after Matt comes home, or he may have to get a second job.  We may never get paid more than what we do now, but we’re lucky to have the jobs we have.  About the only thing I think we are entitled to is our social security, which we generously loan to the government out of each pay check.  I don’t think I need to tell you which way that is going.

So, maybe we need to adjust our thinking.  Maybe, in this month of thankfulness, we should be thankful for all that we have, and all that we are able to do.  Maybe we should stop expecting someone to do something for us, and do for ourselves.  We need to improve our own situation–

We owe it to ourselves.

 

 

What If?

I have an over-active imagination.

I think part of the reason is probably because I’ve been reading Stephen King religiously since I was about thirteen years old.  Surely that type of constant exposure to the macabre does something to your brain. 

 

But if I’m going to be honest, I’ve always sort of had different phobia issues.  Here are a few things that I am afraid of:

  • Spiders
  • The dark
  • Flying (in airplanes–if I had wings, I’d be fine with it.)
  • Spiders
  • Bugs in general (but spiders in particular)
  • Grizzly bears
  • Clowns (see above)
  • Tight spaces
  • Oh, and did I mention spiders? And the dark?

But other than those obvious, concrete phobias, I have a lot of other (not so) concrete things that trouble me.  My mind is constantly chewing over possible disaster scenarios.  For example, if I am expecting my husband to be home at a certain time, and that time passes and he hasn’t called, my mind starts whispering little suggestions, first very quietly (maybe something happened), then just a little more insistent as time goes by (maybe he had a wreck), then I start to get more and more nervous, wondering why on earth he hasn’t called yet (maybe he ran completely over the hill and no one will see him) until things really begin to deteriorate (OH MY GOD I NEED TO LEAVE NOW AND GO SEE WHERE HE IS) then he pulls in, all of, say, ten minutes after the time I expected him. 

I don’t know why my brain does this.  You cannot even imagine the torture I went through when it was time to send my daughter to school.  You cannot imagine.  To be fair to myself, my daughter doesn’t talk–not at all–so I have no way of knowing what happens to her when she is away from me.  If someone hits her or pinches her or says mean things to her, I don’t know.  I won’t even tell you the nightmare scenarios that play on a continuous loop in what passes for my brain.  She is ten years old, and I still feel this way.  If someone from her school calls for any reason, as soon as I see that number on the caller ID, I snatch that phone up and just imagine what the voice is going to say.  “Hello, this is the principal.  I’m calling to let you know that your daughter just erupted in boils, and her nose is bleeding.  Oh, and her arm fell off.”  Something along those lines. 

The whole “what-if” thing really applies to everything.  The other day, I had to run a very quick errand very early in the morning, and The Grandmother wanted me to leave my sister in bed until I got back.  I started to–really, I did.  Then as I got ready to leave, the voice started.  I’m sure I don’t need to tell you what happened.  I got her up.  There was definitely some eye-rolling from The Grandmother, but I couldn’t help it.  All I could think was, what if the house catches on fire?  She’d just have to lay there in the bed while the house burned down.  Everyone else can operate her wheelchair, but no one else can get her up out of the bed.  She’s too heavy, and The Grandparents aren’t able anymore.  My son certainly isn’t.  I guess they could do some sort of Three-Stooges routine and drag her out of the bed or something, but then of course I imagined all of them stuck in there trying to get her out of the bed while the house burned like an inferno.

You can see why I’m more than just a little neurotic.

So what do you do?  If anyone teases me about these tendencies, I always tend to get a little snippy and say things like,  “Well, would it be better if I didn’t care at all?” But that’s just a defensive response.  They are probably right.  I am driving myself crazy.  But I don’t think I can change at this late date.  I could stop reading Stephen King…..or not.

I guess I’ll just take my chances with the dark (not the spiders, though.)

 

 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...