Flashback Friday-My Grandma

Yo. another edition of Flashback Friday, brought to you by Cablegirl over at 42. She has a list of participants, and they are all great. Read ’em, join us.

I have this grandma; she turned 81 years old in April, and has to be one of the single most important and loved people in my life. Don’t get me wrong: she is getting up there in years, can’t hear worth beans but refuses to acknowledge that she can’t hear, so gets annoyed when we talk loudly to her. She tells the same story over and over, and every time we just have to grit our teeth and smile and nod. She is, in a word, old, with all of the accompanying annoyances and frustrations that come with dealing with the downslide of a loved one. Yet: I love her. This woman that I see now is still grandma, and I love most everything about her, but these are the things that hold her close in my heart.
1. For every special occasion, from Easters to Baptisms to Job’s Daughter events to weddings, Grandma made us each a dress. There are four of us girls, so that is a shitload of sewing, but Grandma did it gladly and sung while she was doing so. One year for Easter, she made us all matching dresses, with the same flower pattern in different colors, and also different styles according to age. Mine was purple, and I loved it so much; I think I was maybe 5 or so, but I can still remember the dress in great detail, and more importantly, I remember how wearing it made me feel-pretty, for perhaps the first time in my life. She also made my two older sister’s wedding dresses, and our bridesmaid dresses; they rivaled anything I can remember seeing in a store.

2. She always had enough room on her lap for as many of us who wanted to sit there. She had five children, and all five of them had kids the same year, so when were at Grandma’s house, the five of us would vie for attention, and she always had enough. There are some photos of the five of us cousins at a family reunion, and all five of us are sprawled all over Grandma like puppies.

3. Her house was always a safe place to go. Things were, um, less than okay at our house, and when things got too bad, which was often, we would get sent to her house. For a few years we lived right next to her, just a field away, and we spent far more time with her than we did at home. When our house burned down when I was in Junior High, her house and her arms were the comfort we all needed. When my dog got shot by some asshole hillbilly no-teeth mother fucker, it was grandma who told me, and also grandma who got me a new puppy. When my mom and stepdad decided they needed to up and move when I was partway through 9th grade and my older sister was a SENIOR, it was her house we stayed at. Me, until the semester ended, my sister all through her senior year.

4. She has had to deal with her own prejudices, and has done it beautifully. She hated people of other races (though she wasn’t vocal about it, it was still made known), but then one cousin married and black woman and had THE most delicious babies (7 of them, too!), so Grandma had to get right the hell over that one. She loved the cousin and loved his babies, and fell in love with Mama too; even after the divorce, Grandma has kept in touch with mama. So when another cousin married a lovely Japanese girl, grandma welcomed her with open arms. She is also a VERY Fundamental Christian, and was told her whole life that homosexuality was an abomination; until Cousin came out. And she is now his most vocal supporter, having him and his partner sit right up front with her at church whenever they come to visit. She is the first person I remember teaching me not by words, but by example, that anyone can overcome hatred and fear, because underneath it all, we are all just people.

5. When I got divorced the first time and went running back home with my tail between my legs, with an 8 month old in tow and another one quietly baking in the old oven, my own mother wouldn’t take me in (“You made your bed…”) but grandma did. She held me while I cried with the pain of being 21 years old and not knowing quite how it all happened. We lived with her for the next three years, and she helped me get back on my feet and helped me raise my kids. My mom eventually did come around, but I will always remember that Grandma asked no questions and made no judgements, and just loved me.

I don’t see my grandma nearly as often as I would like to, or as often as I should. She lives a couple of hours away, and it sometimes seems like too much effort to get all of the kids gathered up and go see her. There is the expense, too, as we have to stay elsewhere because he home isn’t large enough. I send cards and pictures, and I talk to her occasionally, but I also get impatient with her a lot of the times, and I hate that. However, in writing this post, because she has been on my mind, I remember that we just have this day…and I just asked for a day off at the end of the month so that I can have a three-day-weekend to go see her. It is great to be able to write this about her, but she also needs to hear from my mouth how much I love her, and how much she has helped me.

Grandma and a very few of her Great-Grandkids

Grandma and My Kids


Let the Negotiations Begin

I had a visit on Tuesday night from some people from my church. You all know I am a believer, but also that my idea of The Big Guy does not necessarily take the same form as the Almighty God taught in church, so we don’t need to get into a major theological discussion about whether or not He exists. I choose to believe, you don’t, all is well. No, I thought maybe we could get into some actual CHURCH bashing, because I don’t know, it just doesn’t seem like a lot of churches actually have anything to do with, you know, God.

Anyway. I had this visit, and all day I was thinking about it, stewing about it, worrying. Because I might talk tough here on the old blog, and amongst my friends, but deep inside, I cringe from most kinds of confrontations (unless they have to do with my kids; I am good at that). I am brave and strong when thinking about the different possibilities regarding how any particular incident will go, but then when I am faced with any type of “authority” figure, I find myself immediately reverting back to that scuffling, lurking, subservient person that they expect me to be. I have gotten very good at blowing them off by saying all of the things I know they WANT me to say, but I just can’t come right and say, “This is what is going on.” Which is why I was worried about the prospect of a visit.

But something happened-and since I AM a believer, I choose to say that it was God-and I felt suddenly very powerful. It was, for me, exceedingly strange; we were talking and they asked me how I was doing and suddenly it ALL came spilling out. That I am, in fact, not doing well at all. That the reason I don’t go to church is that I am so tired of having every lesson, every class, every freaking song, point out to me all that is lacking in my life. I am a single woman-not by choice. My ex-husband and now Steve did and have done some really, really awful things (the ex did things far worse than Steve, though, and Steve’s biggest issues really don’t have anything to do with me, but I am of course affected by them), yet I am the one who is left with the stigma of being a single parent. I am tired of the belief-verbalized or not-that we are not a family because there is no father/husband. I told them that they have no idea what it is like to go to a church event and have no one talk to me. Of going to a Scout event and having one person sit with me, a MAN who is married and technically isn’t even supposed to talk to me, much less sit down with my kids and I, and feeling grateful that he had enough guts to buck the system. Much, much more was said, too much to go into detail here, but suffice it to say that by the end of the evening, I had both of these grown men crying. That makes me happy, because it means that for a brief moment in time, they both listened. They heard, and they felt, if only for a few minutes, exactly what my life is like. I am not egotistical enough to believe that anything is going to change, but I also hope that by my speaking up, they might choose to hear more often.

They offered to help me, though, which had my back up almost immediately. Not because I don’t need help, mind you, but because any offer of help comes with conditions. I said this, too. I said “No, as much as I need help, I don’t want your help, because it requires a commitment form me that I am not willing or able to fulfill.” I talked about my belief that we are supposed to help everyone without expectation of gain of any kind, and we are supposed to help without taking into account where, or IF, someone goes to church. They both nodded their heads, said you are right, etc…but of course did not offer again.

However: when I got home from work last night, there was a message from one of them asking if I would please call, he had a couple of things to work out with me. The tone of his voice piqued my curiosity, so of course I called back, and that is when the negotiations started. The offer he put on the table to start was that they would provide groceries for a few months, as well as some counseling (hm, clearly he thinks I am just a typical hysterical woman who is losing her mind, right?), in exchange for my presence at church, with my kids, three times a month. I countered with groceries for one month and attendance at my leisure, with or without kids. I mean, Sam is already very active in Scouts, Hannah is in the YW and is also participating in a huge event in August, and Eli has gone hiking, trekking, etc…with them all as well, so it isn’t as if I am keeping THEM from participating. At the end of the conversation, we were both satisfied: groceries and counseling for an indefinite time period, in exchange for one church attendance a month, with kids. I was firm about not going on Mother’s or Father’s Day, though. No way.

In some ways, I think I should feel a little bit guilty. I mean, this isn’t a business deal, right? So should I feel guilty for somehow taking advantage of them by accepting their help and knowing that the one weekend a month (kind of like the Army Reserves) is not going to be enough to suddenly make me want to leap into the aisles and start shouting Hallelujah! (though, okay, this is SO not that kind of a church.)? Somehow, I know that I should, but I somehow don’t. It’s like feeling guilty, once removed. I am not an avaricious person by nature, am not particularly out for whatever I can get. I think what I am is practical. Yes, I need some help right now. And God knows I need counseling (which was really the deal-clincher for me), and he also knows I can’t afford it. And I guess I also-whether it is fair or not-think that maybe, after all that they put me through during the divorce and the advent of Owen (illegitimate bastard that he was. What.The.Fuck.Ever.), they owe me. Is that wrong? Yes, I am sure it is.

But I am going to take it, because I know that the God I believe in has nothing to do with whether or not I go to church, and my best friend (in my mind only, but still) Anne Lamott says something like “God loves you exactly the way you are and He loves you too much to let you stay like this. ” This is a way for me to get the help I need, because I am really not coping at well with things, and I have to find a way to fix myself. I have to find a way to deal with the shit that is my life, so that I can find me again, that woman who I used to love and cherish and be so proud of. Too much has happened and she is buried, but still, under the rubble, there is a small pocket of air and a little w
ater and light; I just have to have help digging her the rest of the way out.

Windy Wednesday-or "I can't think of a title"

It is June 11th. The 11th! And here where I live, it is 38 degrees and snowing lightly, with 50 MPH winds on and off. No fucking wonder I can’t get my shit together; I am still in winter mode, and the weather has gone beyond depressing clear on into if I don’t have some warmth and sun soon, I am going to seriously hurt someone. I like the cold and snow when it is, you know, winter, not when it is the beginning of June.

So I haven’t been around for a variety of reasons, partly due to work and partly because I really haven’t had anything of note to write about. Or rather, I haven’t had the mental energy to write about anything besides fluff. Actually, I still don’t. I just know that the mere act of writing often helps me process things, clear my head, move forward, and when I don’t write (here, in my journal, a letter, something) then I start to stagnate and feel really, really stuck. Which makes it really easy for me to isolate and brood, which is NOT a good place for me to be, especially lately.

Over the weekend, Owen climbed out the window in the boys’ bedroom. In an instant, he had flung one leg over, and before any one of us could get there (me from the living room, the big boys from the backyard, which was where O. was trying to get to), had fallen out. It is about a five foot drop, and just underneath the window there is an old tree stump; he missed it entirely, and I still shake to think what would have happened had he hit his little noggin on it. Thankfully, all he got was a little bump on his head and a scratched up and bloody leg, but it still left me shattered. I watched him all after noon and evening to make sure he was okay, especially after he was in bed; I just had to watch, and wait, and be sure. I am not one to be eaten up with guilt, it isn’t that; I was not being negligent nor careless, it just happened so FAST, and I think that is what scares me so much of the time-that in an instant, our lives can change, and there is nothing I can do about it. No matter how vigilant I am, no matter how much I try to protect my kids from harm, there are no guarantees.

On Monday, Steve’s 11 year old nephew was hit by a car while riding his motorcycle (and PLEASE, you guys, this is Idaho. He lives on a farm, and 11 year old kids and younger ride cycles ALL OF THE TIME. He was not on the highway except to cross it, he was wearing a helmet, etc…)As near as anyone can tell, this was just an accident. No fault, or if blame is to be laid anywhere it was probably The Boy’s fault, but really, just an accident. An accident that has The Boy in the hospital with a punctured lung, a jaw that is wired shut, broken ribs, they removed his spleen, and oh, the possibility-even likelihood-that he will lose his leg from the knee down. And this is the GOOD news; when they first life flighted him, the fear was major head injuries, and since his lung and spleen needed operated on immediately, the leg was totally NOT a priority; it was a given at that point that he would lose the whole leg, if he lived. Another instance of no guarantees.

I don’t know what my point about this really is, except that all we have is this day. I know how trite that sounds, really I do. And I know on some level I am always aware of this; I mean, in AA, it is ALL ABOUT one day at a time, and I just forget sometimes how important that is. I don’t mean in the sense of being on edge and worrying all of the time that something might happen to one of my kids, or me, but in the sense of trying to live every day. I can’t and won’t live my life or make my KIDS live their lives full of fear. I take pretty damn good care of my kids, and am pretty vigilant about their safety so far as I can control (you can BET I moved the furniture around so that Owen can’t reach any windows, now that we know he can get out!), but I need to remember that no matter how careful I am, there are no guarantees.

I am still depressed and crazy and emotional, and it still seems like I am spiraling out of control, which is more than scary for me. But this is one more thing I can do to help myself get better-to remember that I have today, and do what I can do today to feel better. For today, this has to be enough.

Flashback Friday: Calf Feeding


Yep, you got it, that time again. Go check out 42 for more Flashback Friday posts; if you want to join in the fun, follow the directions.

About seven years ago, my then-husband for some reason decided that we needed to move to bum-fucked Egypt so he could fulfill his heart’s desire and get back to his roots and work on a dairy. Which I thought was odd given the fact that he had never been a “country boy,” had never been exposed to the day-to-day life of working in the dairy industry, but being the dutiful, obedient wife I was at the time, I said, “Sure! What a great idea! Let’s go!” So we moved out to this place that was (is) about 45 miles from anywhere, and he started working at this dairy. It was only about a year or so before he decided that it was, in fact, work, and “accidentally” got injured at work (which was more than half his fault, because he wanted an excise to sit on his ass and get fat and take pain pills), so in order to keep our employee housing, I had to go to work at the dairy. First, I was a milker. Yep, I was one of those people who shuffled the cows into the sheds and hooked up the little milking machines, surrounded by the smell of iodine and shit and milk (and the smell does NOT go away. To this day, I can tell who is a milker by the smell, no matter how clean they are!). But within a few weeks, I was “promoted” to the job of calf feeder.

And it was basically exactly what it sounds like: I fed calves. Although there was much more to the job than that. I would get up at the butt-crack of dawn and head over to the dairy, where I started the day out by mixing the milk; basically formula for baby cows, mixed up in a 50 gallon tank. There was a big black hose coming out the end of the tank, and to actually mix the formula, I had to fill the tank with boiling hot water, add the mix, and put the hose IN the tank and turn it on high in order to agitate the mixture. This was easy to do, but also a very precise operation; if you turned the tank on TOO high, the hose would totally take off and spin all over the place, popping out of the tank and spraying boiling formula everywhere. If you didn’t turn it on high enough, the stuff wouldn’t mix right and it would get all clogged up with lumps.

So; off to feed. Parts of it were actually very neat; the little babies would hear the motor of the four-wheeler and start coming up to the bars of their cubicle and bellow like they were starving to death. I would fill the bottles and put them in the holders and they would just go nuts. The newer ones needed to be taught how to suck, and also how to find the bottle once you put it in the holder, which was very time consuming; it was always a relief when they got about a week old and I could just plop the bottle in the holder and move on to the next one. We had them all grouped by age, though, so by time I got to where the oldest ones were, I could go down the row and put the bottles in, then turn right around and take the empty ones away.

I was also supposed to be a “doctor” for the babies, though, which was hard. I had only a few days of training, a very brief overview of what medicines did what, is I was really spending a lot of time just guessing. I am actually quite surprised that I didn’t kill more, because I would look at one who was sick, think, hm, I haven’t used THIS med before, let’s see what happens. I learned how to give shots, make them swallow liquid meds, even insert IV’s, which was kind of cool. When it started getting hot, some of the little ones who didn’t feed well yet and certainly couldn’t drink out of a bucket had a tendency to get dehydrated, so I would have to give them IV fluids and electrolytes; it is amazing how quickly they got better. I would go in to the cubicle and start running a line into some calf who was prostrate with heat, and before I was done, the little bugger would be trying to get up and fighting me every step of the way.

Some of it was fun; I learned how to drive a forklift with a 1 ton bale of straw on it, to lay fresh straw in the pens. I learned that chewing tobacco can pretty much clear up any kind of intestinal problem, and I learned how to jab a knife into the stomach of a bloated baby to let the pressure out (though believe me, sometimes that can be really, really disgusting). A lot of it was NOT fun. In the summer, when it is 110 degrees, the babies tend to get sick because of the flies, and even though we had a Bug Guy who came and sprayed weekly, there was no getting around it. I dreaded having to get into the pens with the newborns, because immediately I would be covered with flies; gross. Also, If the Maternity Guys didn’t get the umbilical cords clipped and disinfected properly, flies would get in there and multiply; few things are more disgusting than checking a cord site and finding it full of maggots; too often, those babies would die. I had to early on harden my heart, too, because even though the owner of the dairy was very conscientious and ran a tight, healthy, clean place, it was still a business, and the animals just another commodity. You do what you can, you save the ones you can and try to keep the rest healthy, and when they die (as some inevitably did), you drag the carcass out to the pit and wait for the guy from the mink farm (they fed them to the mink) to show up once a week and pick them up.

I don’t think I would choose to do that again; I didn’t really CHOOSE to do it that time, either, come to think of it. But I also learned a lot, I liked many parts of it, and I love to be outside and actually WORKING, which was definitely a benefit of it. I am not a big person, so it was something special for me to get strong enough to throw a 60 lb. newborn calf over my shoulder and carry it to the pen, or sling bags of grain around and be able
to keep up with the guys. I liked the fact that I was basically on my own, with nobody looking over my shoulders. At that point in my life, I was really struggling with my marriage (the beginning of the end came when I was working there), so it was really healthy for me to be out there and have no one to talk to, no way to distract myself in order to avoid having to contemplate the state of things or face the inevitable future. So in addition to providing a home for my family, the job offered me a chance to try to figure out what I wanted and needed, independent of what was expected of me.

I can’t say as I miss the job, but it was a good thing for me while it lasted. Also, I very rarely have to take any of my pets to the vet, because I know now how to give them their shots, make them swallow a cigarette (kills worms WAY better than the medicine does!), and stitch up a cut with dental floss and a needle.

I Stole This Meme

I stole this meme from TheDeppEffect; in fact, I am even going to use her description of it, which was “interlude music:” I find it very apt given my current frame of mind. My Peace Post yesterday kind of took it out of me, and there have been some internal transitions going on as well, so this? This is about perfect. And if it works for you, feel free to use it as well. Since I stole it, it sure is easy to give away!

My Ex…. mother-in-law is crazy. Not in the sense of “I never liked her because she was interfering” type crazy but, you know, certifiable. Her son and I have been divorced nearly 15 years, and in that time period, I think she has had her phone number changed at least that many times, if not more. Because if she gets more than a couple of wrong numbers or hangups within a few weeks, she is sure someone is stalking her. Ditto with the same car passing by her house more than once. If it is one she doesn’t recognize, she calls the police. She also has a very odd list of things that the kids are not allowed to eat or drink: red Koolaid has always been out (RED DYE), but red jello and all the diet soda they can drink are IN. Sunscreen gives you cancer so the kids are only allowed out in the pool when the sun is down.

Maybe I Should…. stop worrying so goddamned much about what I SHOULD be doing, and just doing what is good and healthy for me.

People Would Say… that I need some serious mental help. But they are MY delusions, and I am enjoying them very, very much. When they stop being entertaining and fun? THEN it is time to get help. Or if I, you know, suddenly drop everything and sell all of my household furnishings in order to get a tattoo and fly to the next state over, I might have stepped over the line from harmless sexual fantasy to, you know, certifiable. Like my ex-mother in law.

I Don’t Understand…. why people call their spouse/partner/whatever “Baby Daddy” or “Baby Mama.” it just doesn’t make any sense to me, because it seems so…so…demeaning. I really like a couple of people who use that expression, so this isn’t about some deep-seated personal resentment or anything like that. I just don’t get it.

When I Wake Up In the Morning…. I immediately put my glasses on. Because I can’t see much without them, and when I can’t SEE, I can neither hear nor think.

I Lost….my wallet one time when I was in high school. Set it on a counter in a gas station, and by time I walked out to the car and noticed it-we are talking about a matter of minutes here-and went back in, it was gone. I thought my step-dad was going to have a heart attack or stroke because he was SO ANGRY with me; in fact, I recall thinking that if he did, in fact, than it would be money well lost. No dice.

Life is full of…. enough ups and downs to rival a roller coaster, complete with heart stopping views of the world from the top, and plummeting, stomach shaking dives downward. All in all, quite the ride.

My Past Is…. checkered at best, but perhaps better left unspoken.

I Get Annoyed When… people in charge of putting up signs outside stores can’t spell. I have posted this one before, but my all-time favorite fuck-up is “Two pinds of brokli.” Please. I actually won’t frequent a store whose sign is miss-spelled, it bothers me that much.

Parties Are… like a slow, painful death for me. I am way too shy and self conscious and I always end up doing something really stupid like stumbling up the stairs (sober, even!) or spilling food on my shirt.

I Wish…. that I didn’t feel like I had to take responsibility for everyone else. I would like to be nurtured every once in awhile, thank you very much. I also wish my niece wasn’t mad at me for telling her that I wouldn’t tell someone to stop calling her husband a jackass. Honey, it just isn’t that big a deal!

Dogs… make big piles of shit in my yard (which is why I have the kids mow, actually), eat way too much food, and make me smile. A lot.

Cats… I really like them, but I can’t eat a whole one by myself (stole that line of a t-shirt but it makes me laugh every time I say or think it).

Tomorrow…. I hope that my $50 Boomertowne Visa gets here, because since it is “found” money (as in, not budgeted in for something), I would really, really like to go get a new bra. Or two. TMI, I am sure, but the only bras I have that even come close to fitting are my old nursing bras, which haven’t been in use for over a year (at least not for their intended purpose, as Owen quit nursing at 15 months). And frankly, they aren’t all that sexy. Not that anyone is seeing them, but STILL.

I Have a Low Tolerance for…. ignorance. And long lines at the grocery store. I always think that if people knew how important I really am, they would just move aside and let me throug
h. Hasn’t happened yet. Also, for people who don’t bathe. Please; I will buy you a bar of soap and some deodorant; they are cheap at the dollar store.

If I Had a Million Dollars… I would just sit down and cry.

I’m Totally Terrified…. of my ex-husband trying to take Sam. Or of even seeing him. I am terrified that I am really, really screwing up my kids. Terrified of getting seriously ill and having no insurance. Of…too many things to list.

*****OMG. I JUST learned about a kind of party that I think I would like. If I wasn’t too embarrassed to walk in the door, anyway. She described it as being sort of like a Tupperware party, only with, you know, adult toys. I am wondering a couple of things, though: 1. Can you, um, return the merchandise if it doesn’t live up to your expectations? 2. Are there trial items, like Bath and Body Works has? 3. Would it be possible to hand out masks outside the door so those so inclined could me incognito?****

Dona Nobis Pacem

In case my button doesn’t work, join the revolution of words by checking out Mimi Writes; she has all the info you need to get going on this. This is a today-only deal, so don’t miss out. This is important, and I firmly believe that we can make a difference.

I have wavered on and off all morning about whether or not I was going to participate in this; I have read some of the other (many) posts on the subject of peace, and am so in awe and also so, so humbled. I am a victim of that typically American idea that what could I possibly say that makes a difference? I am not globally aware of things, by choice. I have strong political leanings, and think that George W. Bush (my personal nemesis) really set the wheels in motion for the complete downfall of us as a nation. I also think that the current war has caused so many issues, on so many levels, that at this point the best and most necessary thing we can do is to get our people the hell out. That said, I will be the first to say that what happens in other places concerns and saddens and scares me, and I know it is real; I just don’t have the energy to get too worked up about it for the simple matter that what is happening here, in our country, in our states and cities and in our-MY-towns is far more important. For ME, on both a personal level and in terms of what I can do. And the greatest thing that I have seen so far about this particular blog blast is this: that there are enough of us who care, who feel passionately about one particular place or issue, to have every country, every person, covered. Isn’t that amazing, that we can all be so different, so varying in our opinions and beliefs and thoughts, yet still all band together to try to make the world-our world-a better place?

Webster’s has several different definitions for the word peace, so I picked the one that most applies to this post, and the way I think/feel/believe:
“4 a: a state or period of mutual concord between governments b: a pact or agreement to end hostilities between those who have been at war or in a state of enmity”

And I won’t post about war, but about hostilities between those who are in a state of enmity. Here where live, we have two dominant races-Hispanics and Whites. It is no surprise that racial tension is still alive and well in our country, is it? Nope. We also have several different religions vying for dominance; again, no surprise there. And they are all intertwined, of course, because they are past of how we identify ourselves as a people. But let’s just take that away for a moment, and what we have are, quite simply, people.
I tend to have a Utopian view of the world, and how it should be. I mourn the loss of community on a daily basis, meaning a connection to other people regardless of differences, and I think that this is the beginning of peace-fostering a sense of community, getting back to a place where we stop being out for ourselves and start caring about what happens to our neighbor. We are all walking wounded in one way or another, and I think the key is looking beyond the facade and seeing who lies behind the dress, the color, the car, the house. Strip us all bare and we are all the same: just a bunch of people who work harder and harder to make it in this world, with fewer and fewer resources. And I am not talking money, though that applies as well. I am talking about women who mourn alone, men who struggle daily to figure out how they are suppose to be men in the accepted sense of the word, children who are hungry and alone. I am talking about the people who are told they are not allowed to love someone because of their race, their sexual orientation, their social status. I am talking about those people who live in terrible marriages, feel suicidal, wonder how they are going to muster up the energy to get out of bed for one more day. If we are not those people, then who are we?

I am as guilty as the rest, and am in no way absolving myself of personal responsibility, but I am vowing to do things differently. I am making a commitment to let go of my own envy and anger at how other people are living, and to look at whether or not they really ARE living, or simply existing. I make a commitment to care more about the neighbor boy who is the interpreter for his entire family, and allow him to come over and see my puppies and let him be, simply, just a little boy. I choose to stop those little things I do to create more problems, and instead focus on the small things I can do to make it better.
And what can I do? For me, and for my kids, and for the people around me and in my life, I can do this: I can let go of fear and anger, and just love. I have carried my own feelings of enmity toward a lot of people, and the reasons for it are even sometimes justified; however, whether they are justified or not, they are wrong. They are wrong for me, they are wrong for my family: they are wrong for a person who believes in love as much as I do. I call myself a Christian, but I am guilty of loving only those who are most like me instead of loving everyone the way I am supposed to. Loving people to me means loving that which makes them part of humanity-it doesn’t mean laying down and letting them shit on you, and in the past that is where it has gotten dicey for me. I have in the past equated love with sex, security, I have relied on it to boost my ego or make me feel like I am the shit, and I have used it as a weapon to hurt people. I have used guilt and manipulation in the guise of love to damage people, to make them hurt the way I have been hurt. I have made the choice to choose anger and hatred as a way to keep going through my days-it is almost as good a motivator as fear-and today, I am choosing to work harder at forgiving.
Carl Sandburg said this:
The single clenched fist lifted and ready,
Or the open hand held out and waiting.
For we meet by one or the other.
Today I am choosing to open my hands and unclench my fists. Too much of my life has been ruled with the fists, and I can’t take another beating. And neither can you, or the woman across the street, or the people in Third World Countries. We have been beaten enough, as a nation and as a world, and the only way we can recover is to open our hands.
I believe that I can make a difference. I can show my children that we do matter, as individuals and as a community. I believe that if I start here, with me, my children will feel safe to do the same thing. I believe that each one of us carries with her the ability to choose peace over strife, and I also believe that together, we form something stronger than we can imagine now.
I believe.

Avoidance Works

This is what is on my agenda today (after work, of course, because I would never do personal things while at work. Please.): Taking the kids to, yep, McDonald’s and to buy Eli a pair of shoes. His are, I think I mentioned earlier, falling apart, and he also has a terrible case of athlete’s foot that just isn’t getting better. This is in part his fault, because he wears his shoes with no socks AND he swims in them regularly and then walks around in them all day. Eeew. This little trip serves a dual purpose: to “celebrate” the better financial situation, and also to avoid the people from the church who want to come visit. “They” called me and left a voice mail at nearly 10:00 last night ( I was, thankfully, on the phone when they called), asking if they could come visit today. At 5:30. Even if I wanted to have them visit, which I don’t, that would not be enough notice for me.

Here is the thing. I believe wholeheartedly in God; I actually even consider myself a Christian, though I tend to be, shall we say, just slightly to the left (okay, way the fuck off in left field, as ***gasp*** I don’t think homosexuality is a sin, I support gay marriage, and believe in pro-choice. To name a few.) politically. What I DON’T believe is the whole religious dogma that is espoused by many churches, but this one in particular. Here are a few examples: since I am a single woman, I am not “allowed” to have missionaries into my home, even if the kids are present, without also having a male over 18 present. Because I might corrupt or seduce these poor innocent boys. Yet it is perfectly appropriate for three adult males to come into MY home, with or without kids present; how is that at all appropriate? Might that be, perhaps, a safety issue for me in addition to a propriety issue? I mean, really; I don’t want to sully my reputation by being seen entertaining three MEN in my home! And what is to stop these men from overpowering me and corrupting and abusing ME? I hate the double standard that comes from people with testicles, especially CHURCH people with testicles. Also, there is the simple fact that I cannot hold a position in the church due to my status as a divorcee, AND the fact that I had a child out of wedlock. Because again, I might corrupt someone, in this case the innocent young children. Puhleeze. The fact that my ex-husband was a chronic and confessed philanderer (okay, in layman’s terms, he fucked a whole boatload of people who he was not married to. Because, you know, he was married to me) had absolutely no bearing on HIS status in the church. In fact, I got told that it was my fault for not being “loving” enough, and he got extra prayer and support. So yeah, I have some issues with organized religion. Which is why I am going to pointedly NOT be home tonight; the fact that I neither confirmed nor denied that I would be available does not preclude them from driving by to see if my lights are on and stopping anyway. Go figure.

So going out is on my agenda for this evening, and this is what I have already done today: got up at 5:30 because Owen has figured out how to climb out of his bed and come visit. This is progress in that he made it clear until 5:30 to do so this morning; over the weekend? 3:30 on Saturday and Sunday morning both. NOT fun, at least for me. He thought it was just a great time to be up and around. My alarm goes off at 6:00, so it wasn’t worth staying in bed that extra 30 minutes. Therefore, I was able to get a load of laundry washed and in the dryer, and another one washed. Finished loading the dishes left from last night’s chili verde. Left The List of chores for the older three kids to get done. Acted like a real bitch to Steve when he came over to get the leftovers, for no real reason other than I was tired and grouchy so took it out on him. Which meant that I had to call and apologize, which I really, really hate to do. I really like to walk around and think I am the shit and that I am never wrong or behave like a childish two year old, but the reality is that sometimes Owen is better behaved than I am. I have read the things in my reader, done a crapload of actual work, and now…wait for it…

…I just added something else to my blog roll. Someone else. You all know how I feel about dad blogs, and basically about men in general, so this is really a special occurrence that brings the men on my roll up to, yep, THREE. I do read other blogs by men, don’t get me wrong, but the three I now have listed are ones I read and comment on regularly, and thoroughly enjoy. You all know BusyDad, and for those of you who don’t know XBox4NappyRash, he is a man who wants to be a dad so badly but he and his wife have not had any success yet; go read him if you get a chance, because he is an excellent writer. Last, and newest, is one called LiteralDan; he is funny, he is thoughtful, and he is real. I followed a link from someone else’s blog to find him, because I liked a comment he made, and wanted to read more. I was well pleased, and I think those of you who don’t know him yet ought to go check him out.

***And by the way, I do fully expect (hope, right) to get accolades for letting my anger and bitterness toward the male gender long enough to keep an open mind. Not ALL guys are illiterate, ignorant infidels, right?***