It all started the day I was born. My dad made it clear to me that I - along with my siblings - was one of the most important things to him, second only to my mom. He fully admitted that he hadn't been a good father to his first family, and I always saw the conscious efforts he made to be a better dad to us. Sure, he had his issues, just like everyone, but he tried. Until the day he died, he was always trying. I will never forget that.
I had two wonderful brothers. I have an amazing husband. I probably couldn't have asked for a better step-father, both in how he manages to step-parent in spite of being our peers (in age) and also in his wonderful relationship with my mother. All these men have wisely used their time in this world to improve things they saw as shortcomings or flaws, and to become better versions of the men they wanted to be. At the same time, they haven't sacrificed their innate self-identities in order to do so. This is what I consider a great person, regardless of gender.
So why does it matter that they're men? Why make that a point of interest? Well, I also consider myself a feminist. I am very much in favor of the advances women made in the 20th century for their equal rights. I don't believe that my genitals make me more fit for any job, besides the hypothetical ability to bear and nurse children. I don't believe that women are blubbering idiots incapable of making logical decisions just because of our menstrual cycles.
But my feminism extends to men. I don't think that their genitals make it necessary for them to be sole bread-winners, to be emotionally shut off, or to control women. As a feminist, I want men to also be allowed to be whatever they want to be.
I have recently been, because of random life circimstances, the primary financial earner in my tiny family. It's hard! Not just working; I'm actually working less hours than I did when my husband and I both had steady streams of income. It's the pressure. If I don't go to work, we might not have enough money for our basic necessities. I don't say this to complain. But it does make me wonder how men have managed to handle all this for so long.
For centuries, men couldn't just grow up and be whatever they wanted. They couldn't just choose when to leave home and get married. They had to make sure they owned a house (and more recently, at least one car), had a steady stream of income to support a wife and as many children as she could. If the wife died, he had to remarry quickly, just so there would be someone to care for the children; besides the fact that society would have frowned on him "mothering" his own children, he wouldn't have time or any training. Most men with maternal instincts have been bred out of existence because it wasn't evolutionarily viable.
Added to this pressure was the fact that it wasn't - and frequently still isn't - acceptable to complain. Or to feel like this was something you weren't allowed to hate. Showing emotion is not something we still find acceptable in our men. While it is probably a leftover from times when hand-to-hand combat was a regular occurence, it's the emotional equivalent of an appendix. There are definitely times when overt expression of emotion isn't ideal, but this is true for women all women.
So is it any surprise that men were resistant to the societal changes of the women's suffrage movement? Should we as women be offended that we were resented for trying to take away the only thing men had been socialized for centuries to do? Further, should we really be shocked that the pent-up emotions men carried with them frequently ended in physical and emotional abuse of their wives and children? Women spent a century trying to get the same power as men, but withouth relinquishing any of their own. Power over home life is still predominantly held by women. Power to show emotion is held by women. We have jobs, respect and power taken from men, and justly so. But we haven't allowed men to take up the slack. The worst part of this, in my opinion, is that we took these things, without understanding of their side, and we in turn blamed them for everything.
A life where you're expected to provide all physical needs of your family, you're never allowed to complain, and then inevitably you're blamed for something that wasn't your fault, but evolution's. I feel enormous empathy. And, again, a huge amount of gratefulness towards all the men in my life who have been good men and who continue to be. Thank you.
I am so fucking pissed right now. I just received my statement for my direct deposit from temple. contained within was a post-it from the payroll bitch (who has fucked things up before) stating that i wasnt paid for my work at religious school during October because i didn't sign my attendance sheet. I have never been told to do so, and I was paid in September, so I assumed I was doing everything I needed to do. Apparently not. So now I have to figure out how to pay rent this week while being $150 poorer. I already have 10 students less this year than last year at this time (mostly due to people whose families make over 50 grand a year saying they can't afford $80 a month for lessons) and all my "extra" money from performing for High Holy Days is already almost all gone. Silly me, wanting little luxuries like paying off all the utilities, getting new tires for my car, groceries, and rent. Why on earth would I want shelter, food and heat? I don't understand why the payroll chick couldn't just pick up the damn phone and call to ask if I was there. True, I have no idea what my job is there to do, I can't find anyone else who knows, and so I make it up. True, I mostly do nothing because most of the classes either show up 10 minutes late for their 15 minute time slot, or they forget entirely. But I do the best I know how to do, and I'm there every time I'm supposed to be there. I do what every educator does and put in tons of extra time in off-hours so that I can be prepared for my vague-is-too-specific-a-term job. I lose sleep because my normal sleep schedule is odd (3pm-11am) and religious school is at 9 am Sundays. I lose out on time spent with the few friends I'm blessed to still have, because I have to sleep earlier than usual, and then need all Sunday afternoon to recover, because I inevitably can't fall asleep early, anyway.
I have no idea where I'm going with all this, other than I'm pissed. So now I'm done.
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I've had a lot of times in my life when I have had close friends. But for some reason they have almost always dropped suddenly out of my life with no explanation. Every time it happens, I analyze the situation as best as I can from only my perspective and try to figure out what I did wrong and how to not let it happen again. But the patterns reemerges and again I'm left alone, wondering.
Actually, the last time was pretty obvious. The friend in question was my brother's ex, and even though I though she and I had gotten past that issue, apparently she hadn't. That's fine.
But this time I just can't figure it out. I look over everything I remember doing and I just don't see where I went wrong. Suddenly, she isn't there. One week we're texting pretty much all day, every day, and then nothing. It's been a month, and the only response to anything I've said was today, and it was only "thanks girl". I am at a complete loss. So I sit here and wonder why I even try having a friendship if it's just going to disappear without warning. The last time I was taken so completely off-guard was when my niece Sarah suddenly stopped talking to me after my dad - her grandfather - died. We had been so close, then nothing. Suddenly, she was gone from me and I never had an explanation. It still eats at me whenever I allow myself to think about her.
I know that people suddenly go through stuff that can make them not want to be friends with the same people. I just wish I would get a simple response like "I'm going through stuff and being close with you makes it worse because you make me think about it" or something like that. Instead, I get to sit around with abandonment issues that get worse every time this happens. Honestly, dealing with physical death is easier than this.
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But I'm getting fed up with the every day citizen who doesn't seem to understand this concept. People spout off their ideas and opinions all around me, but the moment I express my political views, suddenly they're not accepted as valid. I don't need other people to agree with anything I say; I just want them to accept that I have a worldview and would like to share it from time to time. It's become so opressive that I am too afraid to state my opinions in the company of all but a very small group of close friends and family. Yes, afraid. I keep my views to my self, with the caviat that if someone directly asks my opinion about a specific topic, I will not evade the question, but I will not answer it via facebook comments or in large groups.
It's not that I'm afraid of people disagreeing with me. I love to debate my side and to hear others' sides. It's another part of why I love my country. But I'm highly unlikely to change my worldview, just as I realize that it's highly unlikely that I wll sway another toward my side. We are all different, we will all likely remain different. Just like it's entertaining and informative to go to an art museum and look at huge varieties of what people deem "art", conversing about different worldviews can make us understand one another in a better, deeper way.
We're coming closer to another presidential election, and all I keep hearing is two sides: 1.) President Obama is the devil incarnate and is a horrible president and should be voted out of office; and 2.) The republican nominees are the devil incarnate and will be horrible presidents and should never be voted into office. I can remember hearing this exact same "diversity" of opinions as early as Dukakis vs. Bush in 1988. Every four years it's the same thing. Sometimes it breaks down slightly more specifically into the "Democrats are socialists, Republicans are bigots" arguments, but it's all the same. One side is evil, the other side is our savior. Though I rarely swear online anymore, I declare it all bullshit. Not the opinions, mind you, but the all-encompassing non-acceptance of everyone. According to Merriam-Webster, a bigot is any person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her opinions or prejudices. That makes us a nation of bigots. Bigots on the left, bigots on the right, bigots in the middle. Just as it is our diversity that makes us great, it is our bigotry that makes us weak.
I so desperatly want to stand up and point out certain people and say, "Look! This person is a Democrat! Isn't that wonderful? See this other person? A republican! That's wonderful, too! Here we have some Libertarians and some members of the Green Party. Over there we have the Constitution party, and even some people who aren't affiliated with any party at all. Look at all the selection! You can believe anything you want, and we're all cool with that!" It's like a politics buffet. But instead of everyone leaving well-fed on their political persuasion of choice, it's just a nation-wide food fight and I'm walking around with metaphorical mashed potatoes in my hair, trying to make it to the bathroom because it's all giving me indigestion.
I'm still not going to express my actual politics online. I don't want the potential personal consequences. Anyone who truly wants to know can ask me, and I won't be offended in the slightest if no one asks. I just really want it all to stop being so personal among all those who do choose to express themselves. It's just politics.
It's not important what his faith was, at least not to me. The fact is, he had faith. He believed changes would occur, so they did. Joe has that kind of faith. I don't. I tend to look at a situation from a realist's point of view, and since it's usually dire, I usually start to freak out. But Joe believes it will all work out. That's it. He believes in us, he believes that things will come through in the nick of time, and all for the best. "Things will work out in the end" tends to be his mantra. And I've started to believe him. Believe IN him, actually, the same way I believed in my dad. Sure, neither of them is perfect. They both have made mistakes. But it occurs to me that those mistakes, and the consequences, happened because they tried to physically make things happen, and forgot the belief part of the equation those times.
When movies and television shows talk about little girls they frequently talk about how they dream of their wedding day. The imaginary girls picture their dress, the flowers, the music, the location, the bouquet toss. I wasn't like that. I thought I would likely get married some day, and that would be cool. But mostly I imagined parenthood. I wanted to be a mommie, and for many reasons. I wanted to pass along the same excellent parenting my parents gave me. I wanted to have that connection that I had with my parents. I wanted to have little Nickeys to bring up to see the beauty of the world.
But mostly I wanted to be a parent because I saw how other people just really sucked at it. It all started when my chain-smoking-while-pregnant sister, Diane, gave birth to my niece, Sarah. Even at 10 years old I could see the mistakes Diane was making (besides the chain smoking). The most drastic mistake, though, was when Nate was born. Suddenly, Diane started ignoring Sarah in favor of Nate. She even admitted that she didn't like Sarah, even though she loved her; Sarah was about 3 at the time. I couldn't believe my ears when Diane told me this, and I privately vowed that I would be so much better to my kids when I had them. I tried to be the best Aunt Ni-ni I could be to Sarah, but I really wished she was my own kid, even as only a little kid myself. I knew that I could do better.
Time went on. I grew up and went to college. I got married and stopped going to college. I returned to school and then got divorced. I opened a business. And I met Joe. Instantly, even though he already had kids and was working through his own issues, I knew that this was the man I wanted to be the father of my children. Before we were together a year we had already picked a boy's name and a girl's name - Oliver Mitchell and Milana Joan. We would observe other kids and other parents and talk about how we would do things differently. We would raise our children to be accepting and loving of all people, no matter their gender, skin color, sexual preference or occupation. We would equally reprimand wrongs and encourage strengths. With the exception of Santa Clause and the Easter Bunny, we agreed on every facet of parenting. We even knew that we would likely homeschool our children, at least as long as it remained the best option for them. We had lengthy conversations about how we would deal with sex, drugs, sneaking out, coming out, etc. We covered as many topics as we could come up with, and were able to agree about how we would handle them. The solutions weren't the important issue, though. It was just important that we agreed, and that we knew we would always have each other's back, at least as far as the kid was concerned. Meanwhile, we had his daughter, Emily, every other weekend. As much as we could, we instilled our ideals into her, but only so far as her very controlling mother would let us (another story for another entry). Naive as it may be to say, we had it figured out. So when we were ready, we decided to stop trying to NOT have a kid. That was four years ago.
I've been doing some reading this morning on the benefits/risks of colloidal silver. Well-educated homeopaths highly recommend it, but reputable western medical organizations (such as the Mayo clinic) say the benefits are undocumented, and that the risks are high. The thing is, I've actually used it before, and it worked like a dream. So what to do? I generally prefer homeopathic remedies to medical treatments; neither is 100% effective, and both seem to carry risk. But here is my thought...
Anything we do on a regular, habitual basis is potentially dangerous. Illness aside, think of exercise. If we don't get any exercise we will become obese, develop joint and muscular problems, and high blood pressure and depression are very likely to follow. But if we exercise TOO MUCH (not that I ever run that danger...better safe than sorry, right?) many problems also occur. Joint and muscle strain are high risks of those who exercise to an excess, such as professional athletes. Who hasn't recently heard of a sports star with a torn ligament or loss of cartilage or testicular cancer. (...I don't think bicycles cause cancer...maybe...better safe than sorry...of course, I don't have testicles...) But I digress.
The same is true of medications. Anyone on blood pressure medication can tell you that it is highly unlikely that once high blood pressure treatment has begun, there is virtually no chance of ridding oneself of medication. It is more likely that the dosage will gradually increase with age. Liberal ingestion of antibiotics can, and frequently has, caused those antibiotics to cease working for a particular patient. Penicillin, the most frequent case of which I know, was used so liberally in the 1930's and 1940's that those who were frequently sick as children at that time are now dangerously allergic to penicillin. My father was one of those people.
So what does all this have to do with colloidal silver? Well, the medical research I was reading earlier mentioned risks and side effects. But those risks were only to those who ingest CS (I'm really tired of spelling "colloidal"...dammit, I had to do it again...grrr...). The most frequently mentioned issue is argyria: the skin and nails develop a bluish tinge, kind of "silvery". Ok, so once I stopped laughing at the idea of turning into the Tin Man, I read further and discovered that there have only been 11 cases of argyria reported to the FDA. (Is it just me, or does that seem more of an anomolie than a risk?) All those eleven people took daily doses of CS for upwards of 10 years; the silver content in their blood was astronomically high. (Seriously, they had pictures, and these people looked like friggin' corpses.) It would have been a better benefit to me if the Mayo clinic had done their study based on people who only occasionally take CS. Seriously, I highly doubt that I (or any person) will get 3,650 colds in my lifetime (10 years of daily use). And if you DO have a cold every day for 10 years, maybe there's something seriously wrong with you that homeopathic AND western medicine can't treat with supplements or drugs. An auto-immune disorder like Lupus or AIDS perhaps? (I've watched WAY too much "House")
Anyway, I don't think I have any real conclusions here, except to say that doing anything daily and ritualistically is probably bad for you. Except coffee. Coffee is nectar of the gods and we must consume it or suffer in eternal damnation. Or something like that...
So tonight on our way home, I dropped Joe off at home to let Lily out, and I went to Wal-Mart to buy more muffin mix. I only had a few items, so I chose the express lane with the fewest people in line, as most of us do when in similar situations. Unfortunately, the young woman in front of me (who was, incidentally, wearing more makeup than Edward Cullen in the recent "Twilight" movie...she probably would have lost that last pesky 5 pounds if she washed her face) decided to try and cash a payroll check. Despite her insistence that she does this "every month", the checker, and subsequently the customer service representative who was called in, it was apparently not kosher to do so, at least in this particular case. Just as she was insisting on bringing a more senior staff member to clarify the situation, my phone rang in my coat pocket. It was Joe.
"Hey, are you still at Wal-Mart?"
"Yes," I said.
"We need dog food."
"Oh, ok. Bye." I was actually relieved to be leaving my place in line. I didn't want to be the asshole who just up and left because I was pissed, and the need for dog food was just the diplomatic excuse for which I was looking.
I put my few items in a cart and went back to the dog food aisle, and picked out Lily's brand and type. It was a 32 lb bag, but I had no trouble putting it in the cart. Then I wheeled back to the checkout lines, this time choosing a "normal" lane. Unbeknownst to me, Methuselah's sister was the checker in my new-found lane, and she was still grasping the idea that more than one item could be put into a bag. By the time she got to my purchases, 20 minutes had gone by, and there had been only 2 customers in front of me.
Finally, I had paid and was on my way outside, to the fresh parking-lot air. The wind was blowing its arctic breeze, and I was going home! At the car, I put the groceries into the back seat, and then lifted the dog food bag to put it behind the passenger seat.
You know how dog food bags have that little strip that says "pull here" and when you do, the bag quickly opens? Did you know that the other end of the bag is sealed with some anti-adhesive glue? Well, I learned this very quickly, as I pulled the bag, pull-strip side up, to lift it into the car. I soon felt it quickly get magically lighter as all the dog food burst from the other end of the bag all over the parking lot.
I vaguely remember yelling, "SHIT!" and then staring at the now-empty bag still held in my freezing hands. Then I noticed a woman across the parking lot, just exiting her mini-van.
"Hey, you know if you take that bag in, they'll replace it."
"Really?!" I was relieved, because we really didn't have the money in the budget for yet another $30 bag of dog food. So I took the bag in to customer service, getting pitying glances from all passers-by.
After I told them my heart-wrenching story, they said it was no problem to just get another bag, bring it to customer service so they could approve it -- i.e., put a black-dot sticker on it -- and everything would be hunky-dory. I did just that, making sure to be extremely careful with the non-pull-strip end of the bag when I put it in the cart.
"Do you need help getting this into your car?" asked the kind customer service lady...girl...child, really.
"Oh, no. I'll be just fine."
Was I fine, ladies and gentlemen? WAS I?!?! Verily, I was not. I was just pulling up the dog food bag, non-pull-strip side up, this time, when it split again, and began to spill onto the now-growing pile of dog food by my rear passenger-side tire. Fortunately, I caught it just in time, and only a little was lost.
Just as I was yet again lifting the bag, a couple walked past and the man said, "Hey, you know if you take that in they'll probably replace it."
No shit, I thought. Out loud I said, "Oh, I know. This is the second time this has happened tonight!"
"They'll probably replace it anyway."
"Honestly, I've been here for an hour, and I just came for a couple of things. I can't go back in there or I might kill someone!"
He laughed, and said, "You could probably put some of that food that's on the ground into some Wal-Mart bags and take it home."
The idea had already occurred to me. "Yeah, I was just getting ready to do that."
"Would you like me to go get you some more from inside?"
Dear, God, no. That place is cursed! "Oh thanks!" Big smile. "But I'll be just fine. I have some bags in the car."
"Ok. Good luck!"
I began scooping the mess into a bag and dumped it into the open dog food bag now residing behind my passenger seat. After about the third bag-full, a woman across the parking lot sees my troubles, and says, "I don't know what happened, but whatever it was, I bet if you go inside they'll replace it!"
I was beginning to get quite hysterical by now. I can really understand how some people go crazy. "Thanks, but this is the second time this has happened, and I really just want to go home!"
"Oh, ok. Good luck!"
I filled the Wal-Mart bag a couple more times, and then gave up. I'm never buying the dog food again. Joe will just have to do it himself from now on.
So, on to the issue. Sunday morning Joe and I awoke to a lovely surprise in our basement. Five feet of standing water. Yes, hurricane Ike wreaked an ugly vengeance on the midwest over the weekend (NO idea what we Missourians did to piss Ike off so much) and there was an inordinate amount of rain. The thing is, this is the second time this has happened since we moved in to this house 4 months ago.
The first time was "only" 2.5 feet of water...a week after moving in. Since most of our valuable things were salvageable, we decided to not cause much of a stink. The landlord assured us repeatedly that this was the first time any water problems had been evident in the house, and he believed that putting a threshold on the door that went to the outside from the basement would fix the problem. (Did anyone else just re-read that sentence to make sure that it was grammatically correct? Damn prepositional phrases...) So we dried out the electronics and kept them upstairs. Everything that remained in the basement was elevated more than 2 feet from the floor (with exception of the washer and dryer), and we assumed everything would be hunky-dory.
How wrong we were. Sunday morning Joe went into the basement to get some clean socks from the dryer, and imagine his surprise when he discovered the washing machine floating beside the dryer. Everything was ruined, except for two plastic bins which managed to be balanced enough to float on top of Basement Lake: one with priceless family pictures and 8mm films, and the other with some Christmas ornaments.
Immediately, a call was put in to the landlord. No answer. No return phone call. Nothing. Not until 3 PM, with many subsequent phone calls, was there a return. And the only thing the landlord said was, "Tear up the lease. You can leave when you want to." Obviously, we wanted to leave immediately. Unfortunately, we had no where to go. We spent Monday looking for a house, and actaully found one $300 cheaper, 75% larger, and with a 100% better landlord...lady, actually. She's an adorable Chinese woman who insisted after knowing us only 10 minutes that we move in there (there were other applicants among whom she was making a decision as to the new tenant) and that I begin teaching her 2 daughters piano lessons.
Problem. We aren't exactly made of money, and coming up with first-last for a new place at this time of the month (not the womanly time of the month...the latter half of the month) is nigh on impossible. To make a very long and angst-ridden story short, today Joe threatened our current landlord with a call from our (not-yet-existent) lawyer should he not immediately return our deposit as well as $500 for unexpected moving expenses. And it seems now like he's budging. (As of this morning, he was refusing to give us even our deposit until after we moved out.) He must know that if we get a lawyer involved he's going to have to come up with a lot more than the requested amount, besides the bad publicity which would inevitably follow. Inevitable because I would be calling the local news and papers about the atrocious upkeep practices of a local entrepreneur; news people love it when rich people look like the assholes they truly are.
So, anyway, all that angst and worry has been why I've been absent from almost everyone online in the past week. I just couldn't talk about it. But now that it's really real, and we have a place to live, and a better landlord, and *fingers crossed* our money, I can finally deal with the fact that it has happened without feeling like I'm going to vomit.
Now we get to spend the next 10 days packing. Yay...
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