Zero Tolerance for Zero Tolerance

Some things sound great in theory, but lose much of their luster when implemented in real life. Political correctness and liquid-diets fall into this category. So does zero tolerance, a policy that is currently in force at many public and private schools across the nation.

According to Wikipedia (admittedly a lame source, but they got this right enough), zero tolerance is defined as: “A zero-tolerance policy in schools is a policy of punishing any infraction of a rule, regardless of accidental mistakes, ignorance, or extenuating circumstances. In schools, common zero-tolerance policies concern possession or use of drugs or weapons. Students, and sometimes staff, parents, and other visitors, who possess a banned item for any reason are always punished. These policies are promoted as preventing drug abuse and violence in schools.”

In addition to weapons and drugs/alcohol, some schools include sexual behavior in their zero tolerance policies. Again, in theory, this is a fine idea.

In several school districts near me, teachers are not permitted to hug students. This applies to all grade levels, so if a four-year-old falls on the playground and skins his knee, his teacher is supposed to escort him to the nurse’s office and is allowed to offer the child only verbal assurances. If she hugs him, she could lose her job and the reason that would be listed on her employment file for the dismissal would be, “violation of the district’s zero-tolerance policy for sexual behavior.”

Seriously?

I remember school administrators threatening kids that their misdeeds would show up on their ‘permanent record,’ but this is a new and utterly twisted twist on that old standby. In any case, I doubt that the presence of a sexual behavior policy would deter pedophile teachers from abusing their students. Laws are already in place to clarify that it is not alright for adults to have sexual relationships with minors, so if the threat of prison doesn’t dissuade them, I can’t imagine that a few lines in their employment contracts would do it.

Examples of zero tolerance gone bad have made the news on numerous occasions. Kids have been expelled (expelled, not suspended, which would be ridiculous enough) for possession of Sucrets or Midol. Expulsions have resulted due to children wearing Halloween costumes that had accessories such as paper swords and foam spiked-knuckles. A woman I know told me that she got a call from her six-year-old son’s teacher to inform her that she needed to talk to the boy about his habit of touching his classmates on the hand or shoulder when he talked to them. Apparently, this behavior was dangerously close to violating the school’s zero tolerance sexual behavior standards, and the teacher told my friend that if she couldn’t rein her son’s behavior in, she would have no choice but to report it to the school’s administrators.

Unfreakingbelievable.

I fully understand that the world is not as safe as it once was and that today’s kids aren’t, as a group, as innocent as their parents and grandparents were at their age. Even taking that into consideration though, zero tolerance policies are overkill at best and college/career-killers at worst.

How about some common sense?

Inappropriate contact with a student should certainly get a teacher fired. And arrested. And jailed. But hugging a pre-schooler with a bloodied knee isn’t inappropriate—it’s kind and decent and perfectly normal. I think we all recognize inappropriate when we see it.

A kid with crack or a baggie full of weed needs to be disciplined, but a teenage girl with PMS shouldn’t be punished for popping a couple of Midol. In fact, anyone familiar with hormonal teenage girls would probably agree that swallowing a few safe, legal, over-the-counter pills to alleviate the cramps and overall bitchiness that double-team her once a month might be the nicest thing the girl could do for her teachers and classmates. Please, sweetheart, take the Midol. ;O)

As far as weaponry in schools, it seems pretty clear that a tinfoil-covered cardboard saber is a far cry from a genuine 9mm pistol. I can even understand if a school wanted to maintain a dress code that forbade play weapons—even as part of costumes—but to expel a child for disobeying the rule is clearly extreme. How about if the teacher takes the pointy foam gloves and returns them to the child’s parent at the end of the day? Fair enough?

Kids need rules and schools should be safe zones where children are free to focus on learning. I’m sure that the group of folks who first thought up the idea of zero tolerance had good intentions and wanted nothing more than to provide school administrators a way to maintain positive, healthy environments for both students and faculty, but it’s time to face the facts. Zero tolerance is not the way to go.



Yes? No? Maybe?

A friend calls and invites you to a last-minute party. What do you say? What if you had just changed into comfy clothes and were ready to park your hiney on the couch for the evening? What if your friend sounded sad, worried, or upset?

Your boss asks you to spearhead a big project at work. How do you react? Do you jump at the opportunity or do you resent the thought that with all you already do, even more is now going to be expected?

After decades of spending your summer vacations at the same cozy beach house that your family reserves every year, your spouse mentions that it might be fun to go to Europe this year instead. How do you react? Are you excited about the adventure or would you feel cheated out of the trip that you’d been looking forward to for months?

Most of us have a default mode that guides our daily choices. Some instinctively say yes, while others are inclined to reject activities that are new or unplanned. Which best describes you?

Neither is ‘right’ or ‘wrong,’ and both have distinct advantages and disadvantages. The yes-sayers probably have more interesting and exciting lives than the no-sayers, but they are also more inclined to get overloaded and may have less stability than their more predictable peers.

Which are you—a yes-sayer or a no-sayer? And what would happen if you decided to be the other—just for a month?

WaX On. WaX Off.

WaX On. WaX Off. Yes, this is a pitiful title and a cheap way to qualify for an A-Z Blogging Challenge X-post, so let me just say right up front that I agree with you. Pitiful.

Anyway.

Is it just me or do you automatically think ‘Karate Kid’ when you see Ralph Macchio? It’s been a gazillion years since little Ralphie got pushed around and then kicked some bully ass as Daniel Larusso, but to me, he’ll always be Mr. Miyagi’s underdog protégé.

It’s not like the man (Scrawny Daniel Larusso is a man now? How the hell did that happen?) hasn’t worked in the years between then and now—his IMDb profile proves that he’s been a pretty busy guy—but somehow that breakout role is who he is. Forever.

When this season’s contestants for Dancing with the Stars were announced, I got a kick out of seeing Macchio on the list. I pictured a rather runty guy in a gi, standing on his one good leg, ready to strike. I’ve watched him dance week after week and he’s clearly a grown up. He’s married. He has two teenage kids.

Daniel Larusso has had sex. That’s just wrong.

Celebrities get pigeonholed all the time. As unknowns, they undoubtedly dream of landing the role that puts their faces on the front of People magazine, but once they do, they might spend the rest of their careers fighting to shake that initial image. They aren’t the only ones, of course. It happens to the rest of us, too.

When I was very young, my family called me by both my first and middle names—Beth Holly. By the time that I was in school, I was just Beth. At one point, I tried to go by Elizabeth, but it just wouldn’t stick. These days, the only people who call me Elizabeth are clients and telemarketers, and in Indiana, where a good chunk of my mother’s family lives, I’m somehow still Beth Holly. And it’s not just the name. I guarantee that until the last of my elderly aunts passed away a year ago, whenever my husband and I visited, she looked at me and saw a five-year-old kid with wild curls, prancing around in a sailor dress.

This might explain why so many people get into tussles with family members when they gather for holiday celebrations. Though they’ve established households of their own, work to pay their own way, and have created entire lives separate from the ones they had as children, when back in their childhood homes with parents and siblings in attendance, everyone magically reverts into their old roles. The problem is, those identities no longer fit, so everyone gets a little uncomfortable.

Some celebrities and regular folks do manage to successfully shed their perceived personas. John Travolta no longer carries Vinnie Barbarino with him and Demi Moore has come a long way from her days as a Brat Packer. Others will always be known (and often, loved) for the role that once defined them. I say Henry Winkler and 90% of you will picture him in a black leather jacket, thumping the jukebox at Arnold’s or giving the famous Fonzie thumbs up.

Ralph Macchio is a lot of things, I’m sure. My guess is that while he owes a debt of gratitude to Daniel Larusso, a part of him would like to land that little twerp flat on the mat.

Whine-Free Zone

My kids and grandkids will tell you that I have a low tolerance for whining. Ask me for something and I’ll probably give it to you; whine and you can color it oh-so gone.

As much as I’m not fond of listening to whiny children, adults who use that tone rank even lower on my list. Want to complain? I’m here to listen. Rant? Okay. Hit a wall with your fist? Um, I’m backing up a little, but alright. Whine? Please, for the love of Pete, shut up.

What is it about that shrill, extended sound of a whiner that sends a shiver up my spine? I’d rather be yelled at than whined to. Give me hot pepper sauce to drink. Cover me in honey and sit me on a hill of red ants, but please, I beg you, don’t trap me in a room with a whining grown-up.

Gilbert Gottfried and Roseanne may actually be funny, but I can’t get past their waaaaaaah-like voices to really find out. I interviewed with a potential client recently who had a big fat pocketbook and a nasally drone of a voice. She was ready to go. I took a pass. Whining. Gets. On. My. Last. Nerve.

I’m a believer in karma; I think we ultimately get exactly what we’ve got coming to us. If I’m a horrible person and there’s a hell, when I die I’m pretty sure I’ll be subjected to an eternity of whining—in surround sound. And that thought alone is enough to keep me on the straight and narrow.

Daily Dose of Venom

One quick bite by the aggressive Black Mamba snake and you’ve got a 50/50 chance of dying. Those suckers are nasty. And while you’ll probably live if bitten by a Black Widow spider, I doubt that it’d be a great deal of fun. It’s undoubtedly wise to stay away from jellyfish, scorpions, and Poison Dart Frogs if you can, and fortunately, most of us can easily design our lives to avoid these toxic creatures.

But what about venomous people? Can you keep your distance from them?

In all likelihood, you know a person or two who have toxic personalities. I’m guessing that when you read the above question about venomous people, someone specific came to mind. So how do you handle your interactions?

Sometimes, it’s pretty easy. If someone in your life is constantly negative and vindictive, you kick ‘em to the curb. Simple. When it’s your boss who dishes the daily dose of poison, you start looking for another job. But what if that person is your next door neighbor, your sibling, your parent, or your child? Then what?

You can’t always sell your house and you probably don’t want to, even if the folks in the next house down seem determined to pick a fight. I guess you could hole up inside as an avoidance technique, but if you’re shelling out a monthly payment for housing and are lucky enough to have a barbeque-worthy back yard, you certainly want to use it.

It’s even trickier when the difficult person is part of your family. In an ideal Normal-Rockwell-world, we’d all be brimming with love and respect for one another, and we’d feel blessed and grateful as we scoot our chairs close to the table to share a meal. The biggest arguments would involve tussles over who gets the wishbone from the Thanksgiving turkey and the kids would all have freckles. Okay, wait. I got a little swept away. Freckles don’t matter. They are nice though, don’t you think? ;O)

In a conversation I was having the other day, someone noted that toxic people never seem willing to simply grow apart and drift away, as people sometimes do. Venomous people feed on drama and they take pleasure in causing pain, so they either stay close and wreak havoc or stomp away in a furious frenzy. In either case, they inject their poison into those around them.

I don't have the answer, other than refusing to engage in someone's drama, so my question remains. How do you deal with the venomous people in your life?

Unplugged and Unavailable

When I was a kid, my friends and I usually headed outside after breakfast and didn’t return until either our growling bellies or our mothers beckoned us back in. If our parents needed us before mealtime, they normally just opened up the back door and hollered out.

Not too long ago, a friend mentioned that one morning when she was driving her kids to school, she got to the end of their block and realized that she had left her cell phone on the kitchen table. She turned the car around and retrieved the phone and then stood there for a minute, phone in hand, and thought how ridiculous it was that she had become so attached to that electronic leash that without it, her instinct to retrieve it was immediate and automatic. For a drive of less than a mile—round trip.

The world has definitely changed over the past fistful of decades. The mere fact that children are now commonly driven to school when the destination is just blocks down the road is silly enough, but the disconnection that results from our need to be constantly connected is even odder.

I have nice enough neighbors, but I wouldn’t think to correct their children or walk right into their homes without knocking. Both of those actions were perfectly normal in the neighborhood and time of my youth. If we were out of the earshot of our own parents, we were at the mercy of our friends’ folks. If they heard or saw behavior that they didn’t like, they said so and then proceeded to pass the info on to our own parents, who didn’t look at it as an intrusion, but rather an extension of caring guidance.

My mom’s friends—a group of neighborhood women who were my honorary aunties—popped in uninvited, but welcome, on an almost-daily basis. They didn’t ring the bell and wait to be greeted; they walked in, announced themselves, and then headed to the coffee pot to pour themselves a cup. My mother did the same at their houses.

Those women saw each other through some tough times. They celebrated together, cried together, and banded together to form a unit tighter than any family I’ve seen, then or now.

They hugged, they didn’t ((((hug)))).

We have a lot of things that we didn’t have then, and our lives are easier in many ways than those of our parents. But they’re harder, too. We facebook as much as we face-time. Sometimes more. We are rarely, if ever, unplugged and unavailable. And in most neighborhoods, everyone is so busy working that they might not have time to develop the kinds of friendships where it’s okay for people to let themselves in to other people’s houses and boss their children around.

And that’s kind of a shame.

Trust Issues

I spend a lot of my time with little kids and I can say with certainty that the single biggest difference between them and us—besides the fact that the kids don’t always smell that great—is that children instinctively trust. They have an innate sense that the world is a good place and that the people in it have their best interests at heart.

The cool thing is that even when they’ve been given reason to be wary, very small children continue to trust. Now you might look at that as a negative—the fact that they haven’t yet learned to back away from danger—but I don’t see it that way at all. I see innocent assurance as quite possibly their most admirable and enviable trait.

Babies and toddlers smile when they make eye contact with strangers. You can almost see what they’re thinking as clearly as if electronic banners were scrolling across their foreheads. “You look nice! I like you! And you’re right, I am cute!”

What smart little people.

It doesn’t take long, though, before those same babies learn to reserve their joy and trust. They may or may not have been privy to some of life’s harsh realities—that not everyone is friendly and not every situation is safe; fear instills itself either way.

Obviously, a certain degree of caution is wise, for without it, we might all walk blindly onto busy streets or reveal our insecurities to unscrupulous types. When walls of protection go up, however, the cost can be considerable.

I know a number of single people who desperately want to be part of a couple. Some haven’t found a mate because they have impossible standards. They expect perfection and will accept nothing less. Others, like it says in the song made popular decades ago in the movie Urban Cowboy, look for love in all the wrong places. But the most common reason people who want to be paired remain single is their own inability to trust—and that is a huge obstacle on the road to lasting love.

Here’s the thing: if we are honest, I believe that we all want pretty much the same things. Men sometimes say that they don’t understand women, and women swear that they don’t have a clue what goes on in a man’s head, but I think that’s all bunk.

He’s not from Mars and she’s not from Venus. We are, essentially, exactly the same.

Under the ugly shirt that he thinks makes him look cool and behind the make-up that she wears to maintain the illusion of eternal youth, are two people with the very same deep desires. Both want, I believe, nothing more than to find someone with whom they can be completely vulnerable.

It’s as simple as that.

We each want to know, deep in our gut, that we are safe with someone—not just our bodies, but our minds and our hearts and our souls. Safe. Loved. Accepted. Nurtured.

That’s all.

Here’s the hard part. In order to have that, we have to be willing to do two things. First, we have to be willing to give it in return, and not on some surface level. We have to be all in. And second—and this is where many people back out—we have to be willing to open ourselves up to the possibility of pain and rejection. It’s a decision, no doubt, and many lifelong relationships survive on far less, but if we want the real deal—the thing that we crave most—then we have to make that leap.

Give less and you are guaranteed to have less. Give everything and you may just get all you’ve ever wished for.

So yes, I believe that the innocent assurance of young children is their biggest gift. It is also the lesson that they can teach us, if we are willing to learn. If we were all as brave as babies, we’d most assuredly live fully and abundantly, accepting of ourselves and able to trust that the world is a good place, and that deep, abiding love is ours for the asking.


Sinking Ship

It was bound to happen. Cool is fleeting, at best. Well, unless you’re William Shatner or Betty White, for whom coolness knows no expiration date, but those are two very isolated examples of abnormal, dorkiness-immune human specimens. The rest of us tend to peak by about thirty—sometimes sooner—and then we slowly do exactly what we feared most in high school: we morph into our parents.

My own coolness depletion reached the level of impossible-to-ignore a few years ago, and announced itself, innocently enough, with a swimsuit. I’d tried on half a dozen and fought back tears as I discarded each into a heap. I blamed the store’s fluorescent lighting. I cursed the tiny floral patterned fabrics and I struggled to position the high leg openings so as not to reveal the ridge of pudge that had recently developed directly above them. Finally, I gave up and returned the whole lot to the dressing room attendant, a woman of about sixty.

She smiled at me. “Any of these work?” she asked. I shook my head.

“Oh, I’m sure we have something you’ll like,” she continued, and led me to a rack of suits just steps away. I tilted my head suspiciously at the row of dark-colored tanks, but pushed a few hangers around to appease the cheerful saleswoman, who reminded me a bit of my grandmother.

She chose one and held it up for my approval. It was, I had to admit, pretty cute—simple cut, deep blue, with a puckered neckline accented by a small ribbon. I agreed to try it on.

The suit was perfect. The trim-work drew the eye upward, away from my ‘trouble spots,’ which encompass roughly the area from my belly to my kneecaps, and the leg openings were boy-cut, so no tugging and readjusting would be needed. It felt good. It felt right. I slapped down my credit card, happy to have found a suit that was both super-stylish and well-fitting.

Later—weeks later, after I’d spent many hours splashing happily and feeling pretty dandy in my snazzy new suit—I pulled out a box of old photos and started sorting them into piles. There, in a Polaroid shot of my family standing on the patio of my childhood home, was my mother, smiling brightly into the camera. She was probably in her mid-forties, a little thick around the middle and flanked by silly-faced, wet children. Her suit, a boy-legged tank with a puckered neckline and small bow, flattered her middle-aged body, and you could tell by her happy face that she felt pretty snazzy in that suit.

Shit.




Reflections

There was a moment, a perfect moment, some years ago right after our son got married. We were seated at a big table in a crowded restaurant, having brunch--my husband and I, our son and new daughter-in-law, her parents, our daughters, their husbands, and their new babies. It was noisy, not the least bit quiet. But in the midst of all of it, I remember sitting back a little in my chair and looking around at all that we were blessed with, and the noise actually faded away until there was none. It was one of those moments that good directors can somehow create in movie scenes, but you rarely experience in real life.

I normally advocate living in the moment, but taking a little time now and then for reflection can be wonderful, too. I see no point in looking back at the mistakes we’ve made or the harsh words said, but when a memory evokes a smile, who can resist?

Care to share?

A special vacation? A gleeful moment of discovery? A touch? What makes you feel wonderful, when you reflect back?


Quest for Quiet (A Quickie)

It’s human nature—we always want what we don’t have. My hair is corkscrew-curly and I’ve forever envied my silky-haired girlfriends. Those same women pay a small fortune at the salon to leave with a headful of ringlets. Go figure.

My life is noisy. Good noise, for the most part, but noisy nonetheless. So I crave quiet. Sweet, sweet silence. It’s a rare and beautiful treat. I suppose the day will come when I will miss the din that is common in my life today, but right now, I think I’d like a small stretch of uninterrupted noiselessness.

A month would be great, but I’d settle for a week. Who am I kidding? I’d do a happy dance for 24 straight no-one-calls-me, no-one-asks-me-for-anything, no-one-remembers-my-name hours.

It could happen.

Shut up! It could.





Pierre Pradervand: The Gentle Art of Blessing

Last year, a lifelong friend gave me a book. She said that she had just read it, loved it, and that the whole time she was reading, she kept thinking of me. “It sounds just like you,” she said.

She went on to say that as she read the words, she could hear me saying them. She said that the author’s message is exactly—almost word for word—the stuff that I’ve been saying since we were kids. “Just read it,” she insisted. “You’ll know what I mean.”

I read it. I loved it. And my friend was right. It does sound like me.

The book is The Gentle Art of Blessing, by Pierre Pradervand. If I had a bunch of spare money sitting around, I would buy a copy for each of you. I would buy cases of them and pass them out to strangers. The message is simple, but utterly life-changing. I can’t remember the last time that I read a book that spoke to me like this one does. Maybe never before.

In a nutshell, it is this: You can change the world—your world and the world at large—by simply offering genuine, heartfelt blessings to everyone.

I remember as a kid, being looked at as if I was not quite right when I said the stuff that Pradervand says in his book. My mom understood what I was saying and believed it, as did my book-giving friend and a handful of others, but for the most part, when I’d get all excited about the very ideas that this book espouses, I’d usually get either a blank stare, a raised eyebrow, or that look that says, “Wow. She’s really a case.”

I didn’t care. That’s a trait that has served me well—not caring what people think about me. It’s especially useful when you are somewhat of an oddball, but it would probably be nice for normal folks, too. ;O)

I do what the book recommends, always have. I offer blessings. Habitually, regularly, automatically. And I know that this practice has enriched my life.

Blessing, the way that it is explained here (and how I see it, too) is simply a heartfelt expression of love toward others. There aren’t specific words to say—in fact, I believe that repeating a ‘canned’ series of words takes away from the experience and the result because it tends to become simply mindless repetition, without the sincere and spiritual connection that makes it something beautiful and life-altering. Blessing isn’t even something that anyone else is aware you are doing. It is simply offering a sincere wish for love, goodness, light, health, happiness, abundance, peace, strength, calm, and all things good for someone. It is a moment of connection between the blesser and the blessee that flows freely and brings with it a bit of the light that that I believe is within each of us. I call that light God, but the name hardly matters.

Are you giving me that look yet? ;O)

I have been offering silent blessings for as long as I can remember. Sometimes they are for people I know, sometimes not. When I see an ambulance with its lights and sirens on, I send a blessing for the one ill or injured, as well as for those who are scared and stressed over their loved one. When I see someone who looks exhausted, overwhelmed, or lonely, I bless them. When I click on your blog and read something that you’ve posted, I bless you. If I am aware of a specific challenge you are facing, I bless you in regards to it. If not, I bless you with the things I mentioned above: love, goodness, light, health, happiness, abundance, peace, strength, calm, and all things good.

There is a paragraph in the book that I want to share with you:

Each blessing you send into the universe is like a star which lights up, somewhere. It might sound amazing, but each felt, authentic blessing is an act of life which reverberates to the ultimate reaches of the universe and echoes to the end of time.

That is exactly what I believe.

The words in this book explain my spiritual beliefs better than anything I have ever encountered before. I’ve been asked by a number of people to explain exactly what I believe. I have said that I am not a Christian (and took some crap for it). But I am not exactly a Buddhist, Jew, Pagan, Hindu, Taoist, or a Hare Krishna, either. I am definitely not an Atheist. I don’t know that I have a word for what I believe, but this book sums it up pretty well.




*I feel that I should disclose that I wrote this last year, a few weeks after I'd been given the book, and posted it as a note on fb. It might be cheating to use a repost for the A-Z Blogging Challenge, but this worked well for "P" and I really do love the book and wanted to share it.

Bloggity-Blog Award

Oodles of thanks to Amy for giving me this awesome award. I’m delighted! I'm happily passing it along to a few must-read bloggers. :O)








The rules are as follows:
  1. Thank and link back to the person giving you the award. Thanks, Amy!
  2. Share 7 things about yourself.
  3. Award 10-15 blogs you think deserve this award.
  4. Contact these bloggers and let them know about the award.


7 Things About Me:

  1. I’m a night person living a day person’s life.
  2. I honestly believe that I am going to win the lottery one of these days.
  3. I’ve lived most of my life in the city, but inside, I’m a country girl.
  4. I’m the person everyone feels comfortable to tell their secrets to.
  5. I won’t lie. I don’t stick my nose where it doesn’t belong, but if you ask me a question, you will get an honest answer. I might tell you it’s none of your business, but only if that’s the truth. ;O)
  6. I wonder how much of my hair is gray, but I’m not sure if I really want to know.
  7. I’ll be turning 50 at the end of this year and while that would have sounded old to me not that long ago, I wouldn’t go back for anything. Life is good.

Bloggers Worthy of Recognition

Sanity, Interrupted
Jean has been Shopping
Inciting a Riot
Random Rays of Sunshine
Secrets About Secrets
Derek’s Dungeon
Solitary Mama
Writer’s Notebook
Sun Singer’s Travels
Rowdy Creator


BTW: To get the badge, right click and copy & paste to your computer.

********

Old Mother Hubbard: An Economic Reality

Old Mother Hubbard
Went to the cupboard
To get her poor doggie a bone,
When she got there
The cupboard was bare
So the poor little doggie had none.

********
Bare cupboards are becoming commonplace and old ladies from sea to shining sea are sometimes forced to choose between buying food or the drugs that keep them going. Lunch or Lipitor? What’s it gonna be, Grandma?

How can we let this happen?

We have money. Plenty of it. The economy may be going through a rough patch, but if we look at our total assets, as a nation, and compare that to our total need, I’m guessing that we’d have a healthy enough bottom line. The problems lie in distribution and priorities.

I live in a working class neighborhood. My neighbors punch in, punch out, and grab up overtime whenever it’s available. Yet even here, there is a wide range of comfort from house to house, from one part of town to another. Increase the area to include the whole of Chicagoland, and the gap between rich and poor widens. Continue to the state, then the Midwest, and finally the nation, and the pattern continues. The poorest of our poor have literally nothing, while our wealthiest citizens scrape more off their plates and into the trash than others have to feed their entire families.

I can see the little hairs on the back of your neck standing up. Socialist! Communist! Crazy hippie!

It’s okay. I can take it.

I’d rather be called a Socialist or a Communist or a crazy hippie than to act like it’s okay that money is shelled out every day to pay for surgeries so that Chip can have a chiseled chin and Buffy a set of perky breasts while two towns over, parents wring their hands over being able to pay for their kids’ check-ups and immunizations. I’d rather be called unpatriotic than to sit quietly while we think more about whether or not some movie star is about to tie the knot than we do about whether our next door neighbor can afford to fill his cart at the grocery store.

We look up to philandering athletes...and try not to look at the man curled up on the sidewalk, a sheet of cardboard his only shelter against the wind. We plop down twelve bucks to see a movie that tugs at our heartstrings and then ignore the real-life heart-wrenching scenarios that play out every day in towns across our country. We talk about caring until we think it might cut into our fun, and then we cut out.

In certain neighborhoods, classrooms are equipped with laptop computers. In others, kids can’t attend school because they don’t have shoes, or even a pencil. One stinking pencil.

So the cycle continues.

Unless we stop it. Socialist? Communist? Crazy hippie? Maybe. The woman choosing between lunch and Lipitor might not be my grandmother, or yours. But she’s a human being, and she deserves better. And we—those of us with full bellies and warm houses—need to speak up, step up, get our priorities in order and our asses in gear.

"A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members." ~ Mahatma Gandhi


Do You NaNoWriMo?

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Have you ever participated in the write by the seat of your pants, go-go-go November write-a-thon? It’s an interesting undertaking, one I’ve attempted twice and succeeded at once.

The first time I did NaNo was 2009. I was pumped and ready, fully determined to let nothing get in the way of me getting 50,000 coherent (or at least semi-coherent) words down. Breaking it down into daily goals, writers shoot for about 1,700 words each day by the time the clock strikes twelve. I stayed mostly on target throughout the month, ahead of schedule sometimes, needing to catch up only once or twice. I finished with a day and a half to spare.

I consumed an entire Sam’s Club sized bag (56 ounces, I believe) of Swedish Fish at the computer that month. I was sugared up, bleary-eyed, and exhausted. It totally rocked.

Last year, I thought I’d give it another go, but just as I got started, a good friend and fellow writer had a bit of an emergency. She’d recently completed her first novel and had queried a handful of agents. She really didn’t expect any of them to actually want to read the thing, so when one of them did, she panicked. She wanted her almost 70,000 word baby to have one more going over, and I agreed to do the final pre-agent-viewing edit for her.

My NaNoWriMo time was over. It was absolutely the right decision, though. A no-brainer. You should have seen the look on her face when she told me about the call. Joy/fear/hope/nausea/pride/panic. It was beautiful.

She said a little prayer and sent the book off. It’s to find a publisher, but she believes that it will, and I believe that she’s right.

This November 1st, bright and early, I’ll be at my computer with a mug of hot coffee and a fresh bag of Swedish Fish. Where will you be?


Medical Marijuana

Marijuana. Cannabis. Pot. Weed. Reefer. Smoke. Ganja. Herb. Hemp. Mary Jane. Indo. Joy smoke. Wacky tobacky. Bammy. Maui Wauwie. Dope.

Whether you’ve never touched the stuff, smoked it once back in college (but didn’t inhale), spent most of your formative years in a smoky haze, or currently have one hand on your mouse and the other deep in a party-size bag of Doritos, marijuana is a part of our culture. The idea of legalizing it for recreational purpose is certainly controversial, and though I would support its legalization, I understand the arguments against it. What I don’t get is why people get their panties in a bunch when it comes to allowing doctors to prescribe marijuana for medical purposes.

We are a drug-happy society. Watch television for a few hours and you are sure to be subjected to at least one commercial encouraging you to ask your doctor to write you a scrip for something to lower your cholesterol, calm your nerves, help you to get it up, or keep you from getting knocked up. We are, as a people, clearly not anti-drug.

So what’s the holdup, when it comes to green-flagging the happy green plant? The reason can’t be, as I’ve heard a few opponents say, that medical marijuana will attract too many people who will use it for pleasure, rather than genuine medical need. That it will be abused. That can’t be it, because if the potential for abuse was enough to keep a drug off the market, there’d be a whole line-list of stuff that would need to be removed. Immediately.

My friends are a pretty mild bunch. Yet without thinking too hard, I could name more people than I have fingers and toes to count who are currently on a drug—prescribed legally by their doctors—that is being used to take the edge off of real life.

Kinda like pot.

So if it’s not really a concern for the potential of abuse that keeps MM out of Walgreens, what is it? There are stronger drugs prescribed every day. Drugs with potentially horrifying side effects. Drugs that cause other conditions that might just require additional drug treatment.

Wait! That’s it!

Pot is pretty simple stuff. Grow it, harvest it, dry it, package it. Voila! How can Abbott or Pfizer or Eli Lilly or Bristol-Meyers Squibb or Merck & Co. make a killing on that?

They can’t. And I’m guessing that they don’t like that one bit. Our elected officials, the very ones who make the call about whether or not to legalize marijuana—for medical or other purposes—count on contributions from big, rich companies in order to secure their Washington offices, great medical benefits, posh pensions, and other under-disclosed perks.

Aha.

The Long, Long List

A few days back (well, a few letters back, as it were) I read a cool post by Sylvie Branch. Right then, I knew I had my topic for “L”—thank you, Sylvie!

The idea is to make a list of 100 things that you love. The instructions were just that simple—no additional rules or guidelines were offered—and I think the vagueness was intentional. To each list-maker her own.

I grabbed a notebook and got started. Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy, I thought. One hundred things? Piece of cake. I love lots of stuff. Like cake. See? There’s one already.

Mine are in no particular order.
  1. Cake. Chocolate is good; even better with cherries and fresh whipped cream.
  2. Tree houses—I’d love to have my office in one.
  3. Sweatshirt weather.
  4. The Keurig coffee maker.
  5. Godiva extra-dark truffles.
  6. The Bowflex—good thing too, since two of my first five beloved things were edible and fattening.
  7. Cushy socks. I tend to buy cheap ones, but I really love nice, fat socks.
  8. Swimming pools—oh how I love a big vat of chlorinated water.
  9. Red barns. They just make me happy.
  10. Indiana—north to south, west to east. I’ve never lived there, but it feels like home to me.
  11. The blanket that my mom crocheted for me when I was about nine or ten.
  12. Capri length leggings. Yes, I am aware of their dorkiness factor.
  13. Dandelions. You say weed, I say flower.
  14. Old houses—really old houses. God save us from brand-spanking-new subdivisions with rows of matching homes.
  15. Wrinkly faces of the very young and very old.
  16. Toned arms on women.
  17. Sally Hansen Hard as Nails clear polish. With this stuff, my nails grow. Without it, they chip and crack and get all stubby.
  18. Black & white cows. I have a thing for them.
  19. Aveda hair stuff. Be Curly Style-Prep for when I wear my hair natural, Smooth Infusion Style-Prep for when I blow it smooth. Happy hair.
  20. Robins.
  21. Betty White. Yeah, I know, technically not a thing, but I ♥
    Betty.
  22. Guys with beards. Well, some guys with beards.
  23. Glowing sun-kissed looking suntans.
  24. Winter nights.
  25. Mossy oak trees.
  26. Maple trees.
  27. Willow trees.
  28. “Sustainable Earth” notebooks from Staples.
  29. Jetstream Uni-Ball pens. Happy writing.
  30. Freckles. The more, the merrier.
  31. Brand new tennies.
  32. Rocking chairs. If I could have only one piece of furniture beyond a bed, I’d choose a nice sturdy wooden rocker.
  33. Kid-art.
  34. Wooded paths.
  35. Tree lined lanes.
  36. Hot buttered popcorn.
  37. Tin ceilings.
  38. Ellen Tracy cologne.
  39. My Crackberry.
  40. The Chicago Bears. Win or lose, I love ‘em.
  41. Bread pudding. Tastes like heaven, smells like home.
  42. Park swings.
  43. Porch swings.
  44. Feather pillows.
  45. Roosters.
  46. Blizzards.
  47. Wicked thunderstorms.
  48. Ratty old Levis—holey knees earn them bonus points.
  49. Books. Lots and lots of books.
  50. Fresh strawberry pie.
  51. Blueberry pie—warm, with a generous scoop of good vanilla ice cream.
  52. Bubble baths.
  53. Hot showers.
  54. Backrubs.
  55. Burt’s Bees lip balm.
  56. Autumn leaves.
  57. Hippie shirts.
  58. My laptop.
  59. My iPod.
  60. Chocolate covered graham crackers.
  61. Clear, starry nights.
  62. Fireworks.
  63. Squirrels.
  64. White picket fences.
  65. Walkway flower borders.
  66. Chobani Greek yogurt.
  67. Don Williams’ music.
  68. My well-broken-in cowboy boots.
  69. Corny movies.
  70. Movies featuring groups of perfectly imperfect friends.
  71. Make-up.
  72. Air-conditioning.
  73. Funky shoes.
  74. Free stuff.
  75. Patchouli incense.
  76. Double-decker ice cream cones.
  77. Double-decker buses.
  78. Sunglasses.
  79. My big fat coffee mug—the really colorful one.
  80. Highway-less road trips.
  81. Mom & Pop stores.
  82. Caricatures.
  83. Warm gingerbread cake.
  84. Beds with tons of pillows.
  85. Silence.
  86. Geminesse—the cologne I wore ages ago. Every now and then, a bottle of the discontinued stuff goes for sale on eBay for less than the usual small fortune, and I snag it up. It’s what I smelled like when my husband and I were dating.
  87. Sheer curtains blowing lightly in the breeze from an open window.
  88. Window seats—the house kind, not the airplane kind.
  89. Afternoon naps.
  90. Onion rings.
  91. BBQ ribs—thick, sweet sauce and cooked carefully so that there aren’t any of those gross, burnt parts.
  92. Floating pool chairs.
  93. Gorillas.
  94. Gooey cheeseburgers. Culver’s does 'em right.
  95. Lemonade stands.
  96. No-alarm-clock mornings.
  97. Ponds and really small lakes.
  98. Pottery wheels.
  99. Oversized, super-soft cardigans.
  100. The Kindle.

Whew! That wasn’t as easy as I’d expected. I stalled out a few times and then added bunches in quick bursts. By the time my list was nearing completion, I was on a roll and could have gone on and on.

So, what would be on your list?

Kith and Kin

Today would have been my mom’s 91st birthday. Even as a child, I knew that she would never live to be an old woman, but that doesn’t stop me from imagining what it would be like to have her here with me, if only for one more day.

My mom, like many mothers, I think, was the person who kept my family bonded, and after she was gone, things were never quite the same. I’m the youngest of five and I often describe myself as the baby black sheep. It’s not that there is any real animosity between me and my siblings; it’s just that I see the world differently than they do in pretty much every way, so what we have in common is mostly DNA and history.

Like me, my mom was a bit of a square peg; the roots of my dorkaliciousness run deep and true. She didn’t give a fig what anyone thought of her, a trait that I am grateful to have inherited and one that has contributed heavily to my ability to be a happy person. I was born knowing that if you live your life trying to please people, two things are certain: not everyone will be pleased with you and you will be displeased with yourself. I’m content to answer to only one human, and that’s the one I face each morning and evening in the mirror. She can be tough enough.

My mom was born in 1920, back when a girl’s role was pretty clearly defined. She did the marriage and babies and Sunday pot roasts thing, and she did them very well. But somehow, unlike many of her peers, she never let go of the girl she was before the world told her who she should be, and that is, after her ability to love richly and deeply, the thing I admired most about her.

My mom was a word nerd. She told amazing stories that swept us away into magical worlds. She was an adventurer—a trait that skipped me—and she had a wanderlust that while never fully indulged, filled her with the hope of possibility. She was a dreamer.

I love dreamers.

When my friends’ mothers were flipping through fashion magazines, my mom was outside with us, playing hopscotch or freeze tag or shimmying up a tree. She was likely the only forty-something-year-old woman in the neighborhood with frequently skinned knees. While they were putting on dainty gardening gloves and tending to their flower borders, she was rolling up her sleeves and painting fantastic murals on our bedroom walls. She built furniture, rode my brother’s mini-bike, and sometimes challenged neighborhood teens and local cops to outrun her beloved Camaro. They rarely did.

On warm spring days, my mom sometimes showed up at my school and signed me out. We’d picnic in the park and then lie back on the grass and watch the clouds. My dad hated that she did this. She did it anyway.

When it rained, we were allowed to roller skate in our dining room and once in a while, we ate fresh strawberry pie for dinner. My father didn’t really approve of any of that, either, but after decades of trying, he finally came to terms with the fact that he wasn’t going to change her. For a smart man, he was sometimes a slow learner.

Each December, she transformed our house into a Christmas wonderland—a formal tree for the living room, one with kid-made ornaments for the dining room, and small trees in each bedroom for us to decorate as we pleased. Everything she did, she did big.

My mother was a woman of great faith. She was passionate and vibrant and full of devilish shenanigans. She bubbled with childlike exuberance. She was kind. She was real. And lucky me, she was mine.

I adored her. My friends adored her. Everyone adored her.

I miss her still.

***

My mom with two of her siblings. She's the tall one, looking none too thrilled to have her picture taken. She never did learn to enjoy being photographed.

With my dad.

Again, with Dad.

With me, at about a year and a half old. I'd like to tell you that my thighs look better now, but I abide by a strict truthfulness policy.

Jackwagon!

"Maybe we should chug on over to mamby-pamby land where maybe we can find some self-confidence for you, you jack wagon!"

C’mon, admit it. You love this as much as I do. I’ve seen this commercial dozens of times and I’m still not tired of it. It doesn’t make we want to switch insurance companies, but it’s terrific.





I love a good commercial, and I’m not alone. About half of the people who watch the Super Bowl say they tune in for the ads, not the game. And for football fans like me, watching the big game means going for hours with no good opportunity for a bathroom break. Miss a big play or miss a great ad? Who can choose? Thank goodness for DVR and Comcast’s rewind and replay feature—the ridiculous check I write them every month pays off one evening a year.

What are your favorite commercials? Does a great ad ever make you run out to buy whatever they’re selling?

Geico and Allstate both have great ad campaigns. Gotta love the Allstate Mayhem Guy:




Not sure which I like more, but both are really entertaining. Bottom line, though? I have State Farm, and their commercials really suck.


Inconspicuous Online?

I’ve been a part of several online communities—some general and some specifically for writers—for a number of years. For many of these sites, the word ‘community’ is not an exaggeration. They are neighborhoods—not quite as warm and fuzzy as the one Mister Rogers strolled around in, but friendly enough.

In online neighborhoods, as in all neighborhoods, genuine friendships form between like-minded people. Happy news is shared and celebrated, and when one grieves, others offer willing ears and shoulders. It’s very nice.

The flip side of that, of course, is the same as in any small town—everybody knows everyone’s business. Most of the time, this transparency isn’t really that big a deal. After all, most of us lead pretty ordinary lives. Every now and then, though, there’s a little shake-up.

Over the past five or six years, I’ve seen quite a few personal dramas unfold. Often, I think the person at the heart of the scenario is somewhat unaware that they are conducting a rather public display. I’ve done it myself.

My life is pretty Beaver-Cleaverish, but there was one event a few years ago that left me reeling. As much as most of my commentary on the subject was strictly held in private conversations with a select few of my nearest and dearest, I occasionally posted a public comment that revealed something was amuck. Not detailed, but enough for my neighbors to know that not everything was purdy for this wordy nerdy.

Some folks put it all right out there. TMI? Frequently.

I think the drama addicts do this purposefully, but for the rest, it happens gradually, tidbits of daily information that may not say much individually, but when followed, form a storyline that could rival those of the daytime soaps. There’s a false sense of anonymity that comes with sitting in front of a computer screen as opposed to a live person.

People post that they cheat on their taxes. Some talk openly about their use of illegal drugs. There is quite a bit of flirting—most of it harmless, but it can and does get out of hand sometimes. I’ve seen friends write things on public forums that they would never say in front of their friends, their bosses, or their family members.

Yet when they write that stuff, they’ve done exactly that.

Inconspicuous? Hardly.




Habituation: Can You Think Yourself Skinny?


What if losing weight didn’t require deprivation and endless hours on the treadmill? What if you could control your weight by simply using the power of your mind?

No joke. What if?














Got your attention? Yeah, it got mine, too.



Okay, Part Two:

We're definitely on to something here, right?



There's one more:

Absolutely worth a try.



Interesting, right? I loved this: “The secret to eating what you love is to love what you eat.”

What they say makes sense to me. That first bite of chocolate really does taste better than any that come after it. That first bite of anything, really.

Other than the possibility of looking a little crazy (and I don’t know about you, but I’m used to that), capitalizing on habituation to assist in achieving your weight loss goal is without risk. So why not?

I'm going to give it a try.


Genetic Link

When they were growing up, my kids liked to ask people, “What are the two scariest words in the English language?” After the person shrugged, one of the kids would point to my husband and I and say “genetic link,” and then they’d cackle themselves silly.

Well, the joke’s on them. They were right.

Our son looks like a non-graying version of his dad, with a small gap between his two front teeth as a testament to the fact that he’s my kid, too. He’s also inherited my tendency to find humor in the most inappropriate things and at the most inappropriate times. There’s no sugar-coating it—the boy is a smart-ass.

Our daughter has all of my good qualities, as well as a nice little sampling of my less pleasant ones. She’s bright, funny, creative, and has the heart of a hippie. She looks a whole lot like my mom. She’s also a worrywart. Big time.

When she still lived at home, she perfected the eye-roll—usually aimed at me and often in response to my tendency to say no when her friends’ parents said yes. My kids were the last of their peers to cross the busy street near our house to go to McDonald’s and they had the earliest curfew amongst their crowd. They were finally allowed to go to the mall without an adult not long before they were able to drive themselves there. We expected them to call when they got to where they were going and we made a point to know their friends. This stuff drove them nuts.

I was a worrywart, a trait I inherited from my mom (and something I swore I’d never be). I was never one of those people who thought that bad things happened only to other people. Instead, I felt a deep ache at the idea of my babies out there, at the mercy of God-knows-what.

My babies are now married and have children of their own. Our son’s son is a really great kid. He’s whip-smart, has these soulful eyes that draw you right in, and has a really wicked sense of humor for an almost-five-year-old. There’s no sugar-coating it—the boy is a smart-ass.

Our daughter has two kids—a girl of five (“I’m five and a half, Grammy!”) and a little guy who will turn two this summer. Both are bright and beautiful, both are funny and sweet. And just the other day, as our daughter’s daughter turned to go up the stairs at their house to pick up her room, at her mother’s instruction, I saw it. The eye-roll.

And I smiled.


F is for Free!

When I walk into a store and see a shopping cart full of marked-down items, I just have to peek through it. Don’t you?

Often, there’s nothing worth buying, but once in a while…paydirt, baby! Stuff I’d buy anyway, half-off. Stuff I’ve wanted to try, super-cheap. Who doesn’t love a bargain, after all? Right?

My hubby jokes that my motto is, “If it’s free, it’s for me!” and he may be right. But compared to my niece, I’m an amateur. She just recently got into ‘extreme couponing,’ and honestly, it’s pretty amazing. This ain’t your momma’s coupon cutting, that’s for sure.

Years ago, I saw a woman on one of those daytime shows, explaining how she kept her family’s budget nice and trim. She was beyond cheap, and not in a good way. She refused to spend a buck on a jump rope for her daughter—instead, she braided plastic bread bags into a long rope and handed it to the girl, expecting her eight-year-old to be as pumped about the free toy as mommy was. Her kids got no new toys, no new clothes, no new anything. Ever.

The lady set aside all of the money she saved on the kids and spent it on…herself. She shared that little tidbit with obvious pride. She talked about all of the antiques she had bought, the little getaways with her husband, and other mommy-rewards that she was able to afford by skimping on the kids.

Her explanation? Simple. She said that since she spent the time gathering, cutting and organizing the coupons, and since she was the one running to eight different stores to get the best deals, she should reap the rewards. My guess is that since her kids were too young to be left home alone, they were trekking through those eight stores each week too, but whatever. Her kids, her call.

Today’s bargain hunters don’t have to spend nearly that much time. My niece starts out on one of the many coupon sites and prints those that interest her. She even buys packets of coupons on e-Bay. She shops at her usual stores, buying items when they are one sale and using the coupons to increase the discount, trying to go on double-coupon days whenever possible.

Her cupboards are packed to capacity with all sorts of goodies, all bought for next to nothing. Some were full-out free. Her freezer is full and the fridge is brimming. She gets so much stuff (“It’s free,” she says. “I’m not turning it down.”) that she’s a regular donor at the shelter near her house.

I asked her to provide a few links, in case you are interested in cheapies and freebies. Here were her top picks:

Coupon Mom
Coupons.com
Smart Source

*******


E is for Estrogen

Until I hit 45, the most thought I ever gave hormones was when my kids were teenagers and were ruled (‘possessed’ might be a better word) by the little buggers. When hormones are doing well, life is swell. When hormones are mucked, life is, well, something that rhymes with mucked.

At 44, my life was chugging along nicely. The kids were all grown and married, and we had two perfectly gorgeous infant grandchildren. I had a nice, stable list of clients that kept me supplied with a steady stream of freelance work. My hubby and I stole away for extended weekends on a regular basis. It was a pretty sweet scenario.

Then estrogen, who had been my buddy for more than thirty years, decided to leave me. I was shocked. I thought things were going really well between the two of us, but clearly, estrogen wasn’t as happy in the relationship as I was. I swear I never saw it coming.

Things changed. Tears flowed, often for no apparent reason. A good coffee commercial could trigger waterworks. Anxiety replaced optimism. Cheerfulness was overpowered by despair.

I all but turned off our furnace—and we live in the Midwest, where Jack Frost does some his best work. My poor husband almost froze to death. There were moments when I thought I might spontaneously combust.

I’ve always been the hardy sort. Colds, flu, whatever came my way always left quickly, its head hung low after taking a beating from my superstar immune system. But this was no illness, no wicked little virus that I could stomp into oblivion.

This was war. And like most wars, the damn battle went on for years.

It’s better now—estrogen moved on and I have, too. And to be honest, we’re far better apart than we ever were together.

D is for Deployed


It seems that we are always at war. Depending on how you look at it, we are defending, preserving, restoring, or imposing—but no matter the perspective, one thing remains the same. We are warring.

“Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity.” ~ George Carlin.

What will it take, I wonder, for human beings to live peacefully with one another? Is it possible? Yes, I know that in theory, it could happen, but how about in reality? Is it possible?

I’m pretty much a pacifist. I see no use in engaging in a war. Not just because I am philosophically opposed—which I am—but because the practice simply doesn’t bring peace. Never has, never will. You simply can’t bomb the shit out of a place and then shake the hands of those left standing. Not in your family, not in your neighborhood, and not half-way across the world.

What the hell would make someone think that would work?

Right this minute, lots of people are waiting in lines. Some are being trained. Others are being inoculated in accordance with their travel papers. Some are boarding planes, headed for places where they’ve never been, to embark on a chapter of their lives that will leave them forever changed. Some are in boxes, lined up to come home.

“I am not only a pacifist but a militant pacifist. I am willing to fight for peace. Nothing will end war unless the people themselves refuse to go to war.” ~ Albert Einstein

C is for Covet


The word ‘covet’ has such a nasty reputation. Maybe I should say ‘want’ or ‘crave’ or ‘hanker’ instead. Seems nicer. So this little “C” blog is all about the stuff. C’mon. Who doesn’t like stuff? ;O)

























B is for Barn


I’m a city-dweller. Well, a suburbanite, to be exact, but I’m closer to being a city girl than a country bumpkin. I like having a mini-mart two minutes away. I like being able to get a pizza—or pretty much anything else I might crave—delivered to my door in less than an hour with one phone call. I like convenient.

But I’m ready to trade up.

I want to look out my window and see trees, fields, and maybe a cow or two. I’m ready to chuck the conveniences that city life offers and live in a place where the nearest place to buy a loaf of bread is three miles down the road.




Red barn. Black & white cow. Room to roam.

Yes, please.




A is for Aaarrggggh!

Last year, I was gonna do the A-Z Blogging Challenge (click on the badge over in the right column if you'd like to join in), but didn’t. “Next year, for sure,” I thought.

It starts on April 1st and runs through the month. The rules are simple enough—you post a blog every Monday through Saturday in the month of April, each with a topic in alphabetical order. There was plenty of notice; after all, April still arrives right after March, just like it always has. Easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy, right?

Yeah.

Anyway, here it is, April 4th, and I should be on “C” by now. So I’m playing catch-up. Bloggie A, B, and C will probably not dazzle anyone, but they’ll be up, and that counts. To be honest, D-Z might suck too, but for now, I’m gonna pretend that that some high-quality stuff is just around the corner.

Humor me, okay?


Eat Pray Love? How about Eat Work Die?

I work. I work a lot. Too much, to be sure. When I’m not working at my full-time job, I’m likely working at the one that will replace the full-time one in three years, two months, and two weeks (not that I’m counting).

Despite the number of paying hours I log each week, though, I do find time for other stuff. One of the reasons that I am able to do this is because I’m self-employed. I decide.

My poor hubby is not so lucky.

He works. He works a lot. But unlike me, someone else signs his checks, and while that affords him certain luxuries (paid sick time, paid vacation time, a 401K, and an unemployment check if it all falls apart), those perks come with a price tag. A big one.

Like all of us, the hubs is expected to keep up on the latest developments in his field. He does that. His employer sends him for training as necessary, and between those hands-on classes, he is enrolled in an ongoing series of online classes. All of that is dandy. He does it without (um, kinda) complaint.

Yesterday, though, they finally asked too much of him. In addition to the 50+ weekly hours that he spends physically at work, and in addition to the online classes that are taken on his own time, it is now recommended that he and his coworkers develop an online presence for the purpose of promoting the manufacturer’s product line as well as the individual dealership where he works. On their own time.

Not gonna happen.

My hubby uses the computer at work and does it well. At home, he browses farms for sale on the site at the top of his bookmarks and looks online for good prices on all of the stuff he needs to support his many hobbies. That’s about it.

He doesn’t tweet. He thinks facebook is a joke and prefers face time as a means of connecting. He has no interest in having a profile page on MySpace. Okay, maybe that last one was a bad example—nobody has an interest in having a profile page on MySpace anymore—but you get the idea.

The notion that employees should make it their goal to shoot and post a product endorsement video that goes viral on YouTube came from the manufacturer, not from his direct employer, who, in all fairness, probably doesn’t expect anyone on the payroll to actually dedicate themselves solely to being a walking ad campaign. Not that they’d argue if someone tried.

I work. I work a lot. But at least the only idiot I have pushing me to work myself into an early grave takes a good look at my face every morning in the bathroom mirror and is smart enough to know when to say when.