Thursday, January 22, 2015

A Four Minute Lifetime

Heh. This should be interesting.

I've been intrigued by this article published recently about how there appear to be a set of questions, that when asked to someone else, can make someone fall in love with you.

I decided to go through the questions on my Facebook page, and you can see some of the answers if you head on over there. One of them requires a person to tell the other (presumably a stranger, or at least someone you aren't currently romantically involved with) person as much as you can about your life story in four minutes.

Since the online platform isn't conducive to speaking directly to people (and lord knows I'm not making a video right now), I figured this was the best way to do it.

So. My life story. In four minutes.

I was born in Southern California in 1977, exactly 11 months after my parents were married, on my due date. I was named after Jaclyn Smith's character on Charlie's Angels. My brother arrived the following year. We had a dog named Starsky and a cat named Hutch because clearly my parents liked to watch a lot of TV. 

My room was painted Kelly green and my favorite toy was Kermit the Frog. I dressed him up like a baby and refused to play with dolls like a normal kid. I was reading at 2 years old and skipped first grade. They wanted me to advance faster but my parents refused because they wanted me to be normal (insert maniacal laughter here).

I got kicked out of Catholic school in the fourth grade and went to a school for gifted and talented kids after that. I was marginally less bored, but only got more awkward. I loathed junior high school until I found a group of friends that accepted me. I screwed that up, then mostly hated high school until I met the guy who would become my husband someday in driver's ed class in 10th grade.

We went to different colleges in different cities but managed to stay together and got married right after graduation. I finished law school even though I should have dropped out after he was diagnosed with cancer and I lost the first baby because my priorities had been irreversibly changed. I have a mountain (literally) of debt that I will probably carry to my grave as a result. My worst decision ever was staying in school.

My son was born three days after I graduated from law school and I'm out of time.

HEY! I got pretty far and probably told you some things you didn't know. And I type

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday - the RSVP edition

There's kind of a lot this week, you guys. I posted the weekly TTPMOT rant on my Facebook page this week, as I've done this point....years now, and had to add a disclaimer about how it's okay for people to vent and to let them without criticizing them, that venting is healthy as long as it isn't all you do. Really?

Yes, really. I had to add that little disclaimer because it seems that every week lately when I post that thread on the great book of face, someone has to tell me that it's stupid to vent or has to give someone crap for what they are whining about or has to tell everyone to think positive or has to try and one-up whatever everyone else is dealing with and claim that no one else has real problems because they have to deal with ______ (fill in the blank).

Jaysus, people. Everything is relative. What might be minuscule for you might be overwhelming for someone else.

Anyhow, on to the things pissing me off....other than that, obvs.

Taking Dignity Away
Last week a church here in Colorado made nationwide news, and not for a good reason. Vanessa Collier passed away and her family arranged to have her funeral at the church. As people began to file into the church for the service, the church abruptly said that they wouldn't be able to hold the services there and moved the funeral across the street to a funeral home.

The reason? Vanessa was a lesbian and her family intended to show a video photo montage that included images of her and her partner. The church had asked the family to remove the images and they refused, saying that they weren't about to edit her life.

This story makes me sick to my stomach. This woman was used to make a point in her death, and that's just wrong. I'm so sick of people using religion as a weapon against others, even in their death.

The Price of Friendship
In this week's edition of adults fucking things up for their kids, we have this story. A mother, pissed off that a father had rsvp'd to her child's party but didn't come, elected to send him an invoice. A bill. For non-attendance. They refused to pay and now the mother is actually threatening to take them to small claims court.

I so wish I was kidding.

There are so very many things wrong with this whole jacked up situation, but let me see if I can summarize my feelings on the matter.

First, no one owes you a damn thing. No one owes your kid a damn thing. If you're so hard up for birthday party funds that you are billing people who don't show, maybe you should re-evaluate your birthday party budget.

Second, people not rsvp'ing to parties is annoying, yes. Sometimes people say they are coming but end up not being able to make it for one reason or another. Shit happens.

Third, you've officially made it almost impossible for your kid to have normal friends because all the parents in a 50 mile radius of you will be leery as hell, and for good reason.

When did society become one so deep rooted in entitlement? For fucks sake.

Jury Selection Begins Today
Jury selection in the James Holmes trial begins today, and the whole thing is unnecessary. A plea deal has been on the table for a good long time now, one that the prosecutor refused. Holmes was willing to plead guilty and be sentenced to life in prison. His only stipulation was that the death penalty be taken off the table.

The prosecutor refused.

The state of Colorado is damn close to ending the use of the death penalty as it is. It is rarely ever used, and the cases where it has been applied aren't without ample controversy. It costs more to put a convict to death than to house them for the rest of their lives, as much as some people refuse to believe that truth.

Look, I used to freaking work for the District Attorney in Los Angeles. I'm all in favor of justice. What I'm not in favor of, though, are misplaced attempts to seek justice, especially when they appear politically motivated. 

Holmes will never be put to death by the state, that much I can guarantee you. He's willing to just take life. Instead, the DA is pursuing the death penalty in a case that is certain to cost the state millions and millions of dollars to prosecute. No conviction is guaranteed at trial, especially since he is claiming insanity. Jurors will be asked to serve for months. The entire situation will be rehashed in that court room over and over again, forcing all the families to relive the events of that day.

Instead, because of an ill-advised insistence that seeking the death penalty is the only acceptable means to justice, we'll be wasting a ton of money.

American Sniper
I haven't read the book. I haven't seen the movie.

I'm not here to opine on either.

I'm disappointed that the response to the movie has divided people even more in this country, that it seems to have bolstered this belief that certain ethnic groups, certain nationalities, certain religions are inherently evil somehow.

I wish, oh how I wish, that the movie hadn't just attempted to humanize one man, to simplify him in order to solidify his persona as a hero. He was far more complicated and some of those complications should disturb us.

More than that, I wish people were talking about military mental health right now, about the PTSD that killed him, about how little we seem to care about soldiers when they return home, about the fact that it is possible to both support soldiers and be opposed to the wars they fight and die in.

There is an opportunity to do good here. We should be doing that instead of arguing.

Monday, January 19, 2015

30 Days of Quotes about Life - Martin Luther King, Jr.

If ever you needed evidence of my inability to finish things, just look at one of my post series for evidence. The quote series is one of my personal favorites, though it seems to be hit or miss when it comes to my readers. Some of you love this stuff. Some of you can't stand it. 

I get that. Really, I do. 

I pick the quotes I pick for my own set of reasons, most of which totally depend on the place I'm at mentally on any given day.

The quote I am choosing today is one chosen for a fairly obvious reason. It's Martin Luther King, Jr. day. It only makes sense to focus on the wisdom of his words today.

I've done so in the past, choosing my personal favorite of his quotes the last time I wrote in this series. You can find that post here, where I discuss the following quote: “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” 

Today, I'll choose another. There are so many.

This one.

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” 

I've been thinking about this quote a lot lately, for a few reasons. On SNL this weekend, they did a skit about MLK and what he'd think about activism and protest, about his legacy and the progress we've made. If you haven't seen it yet, here it is. 

Comedy has a way of telling so many truths. 

I wonder what he'd think if he was here to see our society today. I can't help but think he'd be disappointed. 

Anyhow, on to this particular quote.

His words sting a bit because they hold so much truth in them, truths that have been revealed many times in the recent past.

This quote is one that captures so many of my personal motivations in life, why I do what I do, especially with this particular platform. I talk about the things that other people would often prefer I didn't. I discuss topics that many would rather ignore. I shine the light on the ugly truths. I point out injustices, urge people to see things from a different perspective than their own. Even when it's wildly unpopular. Even when my doing so carries consequences.

I do it because silence is dangerous. 

Silence is dangerous because of how powerful it is. 

If we stop standing up for what we believe is right and fair and true in this world, if we allow our voices to be silenced, if we stop advocating because it's too hard or will invite criticism or whatever our reasons are...who will then do it?

Having opinions and expressing them publicly opens people up to attacks and criticism, for sure. There are times that I really do struggle with pressing that publish button, but I almost always do it because I feel like I have to, like I am morally compelled to do it. 

In this current environment, one where those on the fringes attack anyone who disagrees, we need to remember that fairness and justice generally lie somewhere in the middle.

The voice of reason cannot be heard if it never speaks. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

just about perfect

I had a small epiphany today, as I was lying in bed nursing him, my last child. His bright blue eyes staring up at me, his latch interrupting every so often to coo at me and smile as the milk drips from the corner of his mouth.

Our love, our relationship is just about perfect right now.

It is.

I'm tired and worn out at times, touched out and exhausted. Thanks to his reflux, we both usually smell at least faintly like curdled milk. There are times that I want nothing more in the world to just be untouched and left alone to sleep or just exist in my own space for a moment. There are times that he wants nothing in the world more than for me to just hold him while he cries.

It's draining.

And yet, it's simple.

This is as easy as it is ever going to be between us. He cries and I can interpret what he needs. I can calm him with just my voice. He folds up just so in the crook of my neck and falls asleep.

It's just about perfect the way it is right now in this moment.

And I know that it won't stay that way.

I know because I've done this before. I've had these babies who consumed all my time and energy when they were this little, but then grew up and away from me. I've had the sweet little voices rage at me, been told they hated me.

There have been times, so many times that I wondered what I am doing wrong, that I've thought that I'm failing them terribly as a mother. There have been the late nights filled with worry, the moments in parked cars where I broke down in heaving sobs.

The parent child relationship doesn't get easier from here.

I know because my own relationship with my parents only grew more and more complicated as I grew older.

Eventually, with my father, things grew simple again, especially once he knew he was dying. For some people, but not all people, facing mortality has that effect. It makes you discard with all the trivialities, with all the impediments to the relationships you want to have. It makes it simple again. It did for us, and for that, I am grateful.

With my mother, that was never the case. Our interactions only ever grew exponentially more complicated until one day when she was just gone.

A part of my soul believes, and needs to believe, that she and I were this simple back then, that we were this connected, that our relationship was just about perfect once long ago.

At least I want to believe that.

Believing that soothes my soul.

I know that this time I have with him, my last, is borrowed. I know it is fleeting.

I know that time will pass faster than I wish for it to. I know that I will blink and he will be as tall as I am, reaching his arms out towards adolescence. I know this because I've blinked before.

I am fortunate to have the wisdom of my prior mothering journeys to calm the doubt, to allay my fears to some degree. I feel more at ease with the mechanics of it all because I've been here before. There are perks to being a veteran mother. I long ago learned to trust my instincts, and once you do that, mothering is less encumbered.

I can just soak in the moments instead, with him, my last baby.

Things won't stay this simple for long, I know this much is true. Right now, it's just about perfect, and I'm breathing it in deep for as long as I can.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday - the past is watching edition....

I has the sads today.

Sometimes it just happens.

I learned a while back that I have to let myself have these moments so they don't fester in the deep dark recesses of my brain.

I hate the middle of January, and I hate it right on through mid February. There are so many days on the calendar between now and then that hold memories of losses, of people gone, of the one I never met.

It's probably a good thing that this sequence of days falls this time of year, because I can just hibernate in my cave until it passes.

Anyway, it's Tuesday. Let's get angry.

Mental Illness
I hate mental illness. I really do. I hate all the things I struggle with, I hate why so many of them developed. I had one of those good, cleansing ugly cries in the shower today. Some of you might know what I am talking about.

You know...those moments where you know on some level that you wouldn't have all the wisdom you do, you wouldn't be who you are now if not for all the shitty things you've been through in the past. You know that, but then sometimes the enormity of it all catches up to you and you want to wish at least some of it away. You start negotiating with your past about which pieces of wisdom you'd voluntarily forgo having if it meant that you didn't have to remember this or that or the other thing.

So then after you cry it out in the shower, you confront the crappy reality that is this life and take a deep breath, then get out of the shower all pruned over and wrinkly and put on your eyeliner so that no one knows you've been ugly crying.


Posturing and Terrorism
There are so many things about the past few weeks in this arena that I could never hope to discuss them all, so I'm honestly not going to even try. I'm not CNN or BBC or Al Jazeera or any other news outlet. I hope that you all seek out news sources, I hope that you don't just rely on any one place for your information because reality is that you can't anymore. News agencies pick and choose, spin and slant what they tell us. It's hard to know what is real these days, discern between the truth and the smoke and mirrors.

Anyway, I have a few general points that I want to make, then we'll be moving on.

First, if we're going to protect speech, we need to protect all speech...even and especially the things we don't like. That means that you have to support your enemy's right to say what they want if you want your rights protected too. There are very few limits on the freedom of speech in this country, at least as far as the amendment is concerned...but that applies in so many fewer instances than most people understand. The major networks, the major internet pages, the social networks...they all (it seems anymore) engage in their own forms of censorship. It's not technically a first amendment issue if the government isn't involved. I oppose censorship...and I understand that while you might have the freedom to say what you wish, you cannot expect to insulate yourself from the effects of that speech.

Second, to piggyback on my first point, we need to stop with the sweeping generalizations and demonization of certain groups of people. I'm sick to death of hearing about the color of the skin of a terrorist or the religion they believe in. The media is perpetuating this us versus them mentality. Terror comes from all places in the world and has at least at one point or another been rooted in all major religions. The current climate is flirting dangerously with the sentiments of the past...imagined superiority, categorical perceived dangers and so on. Tread lightly, world. The past is watching.

Third, we need to stop with the goddamn unchecked emotional responses to everything. We need to replace this immediate outrage everyone seems hell bent on with a little bit of time and thought and reason and rationality.

Fourth, I believe that the US should have had a representative there in Paris...but those who are faulting the administration for our absence would have lashed out at the President if we had sent someone. The guy can't win. Period. He's literally damned if he does, damned if he doesn't. Seriously. At this point, Obama could pull a page out of the most conservative GOP handbook and run it play by play and they'd still be grabbing their pitchforks, condemning him on cable news.

All the other stuff
There are a few other things that I intended to include today, but I think I'll be devoting entire posts to them, hopefully this week. One of the subjects I'll be talking about is the issue of parent and child autonomy when it comes to medical decision making, from a legal and ethical standpoint.

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