Sunday, December 30, 2012

The year in review...

Recapping 2012...  Where to begin?  Oh, I know.  How 'bout this?  2012 was even suckier than 2011.  And I reeaaally thought 2011 was our suckiest year ever.  Then, along came 2012 to prove to me that I was incorrect in that assessment.  Like a little smartypants, 2012 had to show me I don't know as much as I think I do.  2012 was a year full of surprises, such as: 
  • I'm surprised I'm still married (I suppose the hub is, too- so I'm not dissing the man behind his back.  If we weren't Christians, I'm fairly certain we wouldn't be.  Yes, it's gotten that rough.  Seriously, how do non-believers stand each other when times get tough?  What do they fall back on?). 
  • I'm surprised we still have a roof over our heads.  Business continues to be poor.  The hub has no job at all right now, in fact- and once again, we have no idea what's going to happen, which is just fanflippingtastic. 
  • I'm surprised I'm not in a rubber room somewhere singing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star to an imaginary friend, which is not a testament to my strength, but to God's. 
  • I'm still fat.  That one?  Not so much a surprise.
Boom.  Done.  My End of Year Recap in under 30 seconds.  Hope you liked it. 

Of course, I still see the good.  There was some good.  There is always something to be thankful for, right?  My kids are all alive, healthy and doing well.  We've had setbacks, but we're still here.  I have precious friends and family who have been there for us through all the stress.  And I know that, as bad as the past two years have been, it could always be worse.  So, thank God it wasn't!  Focus on the GOOD, amen?

How was your year?  I hope it was better than mine.  And I say that with absolute sincerity.  Because, did I mention?  My year?  Not so much with the good.  Honestly, I'm not sure this old girl can handle another year as rough as the last two.  Please, God, let 2013 be a good year; a year of health, happiness, safety, blessings and profitable jobs.

Maybe I shouldn't even be doing a post like this right now- one that requires reflection and contemplation- considering the mood I've been in.  I don't especially like people right now.  Just call me... Miss Ann Thrope. ...Or Eeyore. Take your pick. I'm giving up on humanity.

So consider yourself warned. Here it comes.

I've been in a funk, I guess you could say, although I really hate that expression.  Funk.  What does that even mean?  It makes me think of Sly and the Family Stone, or something (That band always looked like they were having So. Much.  Fun, y' know?  I'm sure there were considerable chemical enhancements going on.  But...  I digress).

Ehhnywaay. I've just been in a really dark, dreary slump since before the holidays and I can't seem to shake it.  I keep trying, but...  Meh. 

I felt a Scrooge-y mood coming on while being sick for so long.  That gets a little depressing after a while, especially around the holidays when you have much to do with a deadline looming and know you're not going to get it done.  I got better for a few days, then got sick again.  And I'm still sick.  I'm exhausted.  This year's batch of crud really seems to be hitting hard.  Lots of people are in the same boat, I know.  And I feel for ya.  My kids all seem to finally be past it.  Thank God for that.  Please, let it stay that way. My turn next!

Then Scrooge became mixed with... Oh, I don't know...  Sylvia Plath, maybe?  The shootings in CT...  God help us.  Was there anything worse than that?  That brought everyone down.  Obviously.  And then the crap storm that followed.  Good Lord.  What a downer. 

I don't know why I still get shocked over how easily (and quickly) supposedly sane, rational human beings can become, um... not sane and rational, but I do.  Sometimes it seems that all of mankind is striving to devolve into chimpanzees, flinging poop at each other.  And that makes me sad.  And scared.  

And so... I find myself often wishing I could just go back to bed.  And that's not good.

Remember how after 9/11, people kind of came together for a little while?  How that tragedy sort of unified everyone?  It didn't matter who believed what...  Everyone was on the same side.  For a few minutes.  People understood that the crisis involved all of us and it was bigger than any one person's opinion and that was good for us (not the tragedy, obvs- but the reminder that we, as Americans, can choose to unite when needed). 

Those days are gone, aren't they?  They're not coming back.  The crises we currently face as a society are many.  And serious.  But no one has that rally together, can-do spirit anymore.  It's a 'scr*w you' spirit, if anything.  There's no desire to find common ground; not in our government, and not with individuals. 

It rarely occurs to anyone now to think, "You know...  Maybe I don't have all the answers.  This particular moment may not be the appropriate time for me to shout my political opinions in your face.  Maybe this one flippin' moment isn't all about me and I should shut up for a second and listen." 

No... No one listens. No one compromises. No one respectfully disagrees or believes in "live and let live" anymore.  Now we only focus on the things that divide.  No, it's worse than that-- we try to divide.  We look for the scab to pick.  We incite.  We instigate.  We blame.  We put our fingers in our ears to block out every voice but our own and we blame.  We blame.  We blame. 

Society is unraveling and everyone just wants to yank on the threads.

Am I being a drama queen?  I honestly feel like the country's headed for Hell in a hand basket, although I've never been sure of what, exactly, a hand basket is (Is it just a basket with handles?).  Is that overly dramatic, or just an accurate observation? 

Well, well...  This was a little tangent I hadn't planned to explore.  But since it's out there, I'm going to go with it, because there's been a lot of stuff rattling around up here that needs to find its way out.

I guess I can actually tie this topic back into the idea of the New Year, and an annual recap...  Since the current level of political, social, religious, and cultural discord in our country is leading me into a new attitude.  I feel a change taking place in my heart and mind. 

I've recently learned (am learning) that anyone who doesn't want to know what I think is not really my friend and is not worth my time.  Sounds like a no-brainer, doesn't it?  But this 46 year old has spent years behaving like an awkward, nerdy 10 year old who convinces herself that the cool kids laughing at her are laughing with her and really are her friends. 

I touched on this a little in my last post, too- so I don't want to be a broken record, here...  But, I often feel it's me- and only me- who is left feeling like I should apologize after a disagreement for how I think or feel- no, for who I am- just to "keep the peace," even if I'm the one who was hurt or offended.  Do you ever feel that way? 

I'm done with that. 

2013 is going to bring out a new Michelle.  A more confident, happier Michelle, I hope.  I refuse to apologize for who I am anymore.  For what I do or say (if it's wrong)?  Yes, definitely.  But I'm sick of walking on eggshells to keep some people appeased and tiptoeing around the feelings of people who care nothing about mine.  I'm soooo sick of carefully trying to craft Every. Single. Flipping. Word I say, like I'm writing a legal document, for Pete's sake, so as not to offend someone who is bound and determined to be offended.  You know people like this, too, right?  Those who look for arguments?  Who pick out one or two words among the many you've spoken to zero in on and gripe?  They want to be offended, so they can complain about being offended, while not giving a rat's a** about offending you

So, my New 2013 Motto:  If you don't like me?  Okay.  Someone else will.  And doggone it...  I like me (said in my very best Stuart Smalley voice).

Does that mean the new, improved 2013 Michelle is going to be a Gigantic Horse's Butt?  No.  Well, no more than usual, anyway.  I'm not saying I will dig in my heels, try to be more offensive and refuse to apologize for it.  That would make me as self-centered, hypocritical and inconsiderate as some of my so-called "tolerant, open-minded" friends.

So, maybe the main change for the new year will not be so much in my own external behavior, but in learning to redefine the word Friend; learning to value myself enough to free myself from the people who have not earned that title.

I'm very aware there are times when I don't choose my words and deeds carefully enough and need to apologize (we all do that, peeps), so that won't change.  I try to be respectful to any friend- No, to anyone, really- who thinks differently than I do (within reason, of course. I wouldn't be respectful if you were proposing we go down to the crick and drown a bag of kittens, for example), and I certainly don't plan on changing that.  I like the fact that, while my opinions and beliefs are strongly held and deeply felt, I'm still able to sit and listen to yours without turning into a rabid dog going for your throat.  And I'd be oh-so-happy if others would extend the same courtesy to me. That's what a friendship is.  A give and take.  An open exchange.  A two-way street, and all that happy crap. 

I'm willing to consider the different angles of an issue.  I may not change my opinion, but I'll at least put everything on the table and have a look.  Some things are black and white, but many things are not.  And when we become entrenched and unyielding in those things that are not, we lose the ability to see the solution.  We lose Reason.  Not to mention?  We make total arses of ourselves and lose credibility, along with the respect of others. 

I do try to understand where others are coming from, and how they got there, even if I can't agree with their views or ideas. I hope to learn from them. I want to learn from them. That's what makes us grow and be better people, right? But frankly?  Some of my more Liberal-leaning friends acquaintances (no, my friends are not this obtuse, so we'll say acquaintances) don't really give a crap to learn anything from me. They don't feel they need to, after all. Because they're right and I'm wrong and I just need to benefit from their pithy, Anderson Cooper-y wisdom. It's clear that some of them think their Liberal views give them an intellectual and moral superiority. And I don't especially like being castigated or talked down to, thank you very much, like I'm just some big ol' dufus, especially by those who are too unintelligent to craft an argument without resorting to name-calling (BIGOT! CLOSED-MINDED! STUPID! CRAZY! JACKA**!) to make their point  (way to go, btw, on that whole anti-bullying thing, there, guys.  Dan Savage's anti-bullying campaign, for example, where he goes into high schools and rips pages from Bibles, calls the Bible "BS" and calls Christian kids pansy-as*ed really helps to drive home the message that tolerance is right and bullying is wrong). 

And by the way, as long as I'm rambling about the name-calling...  You know, being devout or steadfast in one's beliefs is not the same thing as being "closed-minded."  Closed-minded means: "Having a mind firmly unreceptive to new ideas or arguments."  (I believe, in fact, there is a pic of Dan Savage next to the dictionary entry).  I can be resolute in my own beliefs while still being receptive and willing to listen to and tolerate yours.  Can you?  When you accuse me of being closed-minded because my beliefs don't line up with yours, yet you won't take time to learn why and how I feel as I do...  It is you, dear one, who is the closed-minded one.

Anyhoozy...  I'm just finally realizing that if you don't want to hear what I think, how I feel, how I view the world...  If you can't listen to a few mentions of God, faith or prayer without cringing, mocking and rolling your eyes (while giving me the "Wow, I didn't realize you're such a moron" look)...  If the phrases "family values," "right to bear arms," etc., make you ready to pounce before you even bother to ask me what those ideas mean to me...  If I'm supposed to tolerate and accept your views with an open mind, while you refuse to tolerate or even listen, respectfully to mine...  Well, then...  You don't truly have an interest in KNOWING ME, do you?  Which means... (and this is where my awesome deductive reasoning skills come into play) you are NOT my friend. 

For the record, I disagree with my Conservative friends, too, sometimes- and they with me. I'm not trying to single out one crowd over the other, just calling it like I see it. I find there's a more willing, open exchange of ideas with them; more room to disagree than with Liberals. They don't seem as determined to impose their beliefs upon me when we differ, or as eager to "correct" my supposed errant way of thinking.

In all honesty, I will probably continue to go the extra mile with difficult people and offer them the respect I wish they'd show me, but I will no longer apologize for who I am.  I can't count the number of times the words "I'm sorry" have come out of my mouth when they shouldn't have; when I'd done or said nothing wrong.

I am a Conservative.  Conservative is not synonymous with Idiot, Bigot, Hate-Monger, or Racist.  I am none of those things. 

I am a Christian.  Being a person of faith does not mean I am irrational, unreasonable, childish, backwards or stupid.  "Christian" does not just describe my belief system.  It's not a religion, as I'm not a particularly religious person.  Christian is who I am.  It's part of me.  The biggest part.  It colors every other thing I think and do.  And I like that about myself.  It is not wrong and it will not change.  If you don't like those things, then you don't like ME.

I hope I've made this clear and don't really need to say it, but, obviously, this little discourse does not apply to all of my Liberal friends.  Some of you are very open-minded and willing to consider and rationally discuss different sides of an issue, and I appreciate that quality so much.  Some of you are very kind and respectful to others whose beliefs and views differ from yours.  Thank you for that!  And yay, you.  That's part of what makes me love you!  In fact, I'd say that all of the people I truly consider my friends are that way.  So if my Happy New Year Dissertation doesn't apply to you?  Please don't get all bent out of shape and try to pick a fight or leave a nasty comment...  Or jump me in the parking lot.  I'm not up for it.  If I felt like fighting, I'd go chat with the hub (jk... kinda).

Oy.  This was an interesting little rabbit hole.  But there you have it.  The Michelle of 2013 is just as verbose and prone to veering all over the place as the Michelle of 2012.  I guess some of that's been back building for a while.  So, you see?  I told ya.  I'm in an ugly mood, and maybe should have waited for it to pass before posting.  But I don't think these feelings are going to fade anytime soon.

I'd better wrap it up, before I lose every friend I've ever had.  I sincerely do hope all of you have a happy New Year.  May 2013 be YOUR year!  And MINE! 

Despite my cruddy mood at present, my New Year's wish for you, friends, is this...
  • May the Lord bless you and keep you, and make his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you and give you peace. (Nu. 6:24-26)
  • May the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:7)
  • God bless us, every one! (Tiny Tim)
  • And may the odds be ever in your favor! (Hunger Games)
Happy New Year, Everybody!  Goodbye, 2012!

Friday, December 14, 2012

What are you worth?

Well, well, well… 

I, Michelle, Blogger Extraordinaire, awesomely awesome creative creator of the Bringing Blogging Back Campaign; the one who was going to single-handedly resurrect The Art of Writing About Absolutely Nothing, have done a darn fine job of keeping up with my own blog lately, haven’t I?

I have a good excuse.  Or excuses.  As some of you know, we had a brand new business open, and then go under, all in the span of 2 weeks.  That was fun.  And a little bit stressful.   When we fail around here, we fail BIG.  We don't go at it half-a**ed. 

Actually, we got the ol' 'flat head and phillips treatment' by Darrell’s business 'partner,' so the business didn’t just end abruptly.  It ended horrendously.  But, we’ll save those unpleasant details for another day.  The subject is still a little tender.  I don't wanna talk about it. 

Shortly after that, we had a death in the family.  Darrell’s uncle passed away last month and Darrell spent the last couple weeks of his uncle’s life taking care of him, pretty much 24/7.  He was an emotional basket case at the time, but is beginning to feel better now.

 And?  I got sick shortly before the time Darrell started staying at the hospital around the clock and have remained that way for the past 4 or 5 weeks, along with the kids, who have taken turns being sick off and on. 
So… do I get a pass for my blogging slackitude?
That last part is what this post is really about.  Not my slackitude.  The part about being sick, I mean.  …Well, not really.  It's not about being sick.  It’s about something I realized yesterday as a result of being sick.  Something big.

I went to the doctor yesterday, hoping to score some tasty antibiotics… or an assisted suicide, because I was ready to die.  I was desperate enough to enthusiastically welcome either one.  Seriously, I felt so, so crappy.  I’d known for about 2 weeks that I’d reached that level of Sick that wasn’t going to clear up on its own, yet I kept putting off making an appointment with the doctor.   First, we didn’t have the money.  Then, we got some money, but I knew there were ‘better’ ways to spend it.  Like on food, and stuff.  Toilet paper.  Slim Jims.  You know.
In the meantime, my throat, ear and chest hurt somethin’ awful, as we say here in Cowcrap County.  Basically, my chest has been congested to the point that I can’t breathe when I lay down.  It feels like Honey Boo Boo’s mom is sitting on my chest (which is a fun sensation for a claustrophobic!  Hello, panic attack!).  So, I keep sitting up throughout the night, gasping for air...  which also means I haven’t been sleeping.  TAdd to that fevers, chills and coughing fits and you got yourself a party.  Those coughing fits have been pretty intense and obnoxious little sleep interrupters, too.  So, I’m literally sick and tired- ha.
And?  A few of the kids and I have pink eye, too, which is a guaranteed good time and a surefire way to feel super sexy.  I'm considering changing my name to Job Jr. if I can be guaranteed that people will know it rhymes with lobe and not lob.

Since we are not insured, and this is The Most Wonderful Ridiculously Expensive Time of the Year, and an office visit costs roughly $56,080.03, I kept thinking hoping praying that I could hold on a little longer and maaaaybe it would clear up by itself.  I kept reminding myself of all the important things we needed the money for, or how many Christmas gifts I could buy for the kids with it.  So, I procrastinated until I literally felt like I needed to be in a hospital. 

Yes, literally. 
Anyhoodie…  The doctor gave me an injection in the office, to get a jump on the respiratory infection I have because I let it get so bad, and prescribed an additional week of oral antibiotics to make sure it cleared up completely, and I got a script for the super good cough syrup that actually works (with codeine or something in it, I think), then he sent me on my not-so-merry way. 
As I stood at the checkout counter, writing my check (for $148 and change- not $56,080.03), I felt horribly guilty.  Yeah...  Guilty.  Overwhelmingly so, like I'd committed a crime.  I felt bad that I couldn't just "tough it out" and get better by myself; that I wasn't a stronger, better person; that I was wasting so much money.  I felt so, so bad to be spending that chunk of my family’s money on the doctor instead of something important. 

Seriously, guys.  I was trying to blink tears out of my eyes as I wrote that check.  Not that anyone would have noticed the tears, thanks to the pink eye.
Then I realized…
I wasn’t spending it on the doctor.  I was spending it on ME.  I was spending it on my health and well-being.  Why was that not important?
And so…  I had an epiphany.  A little voice in my head said, “Have you ever noticed that you always apologize to your husband whenever you schedule a doctor's appointment for yourself?  Every single time.  You say, "I'm sorry, but I'm gonna have to go to the doctor.  I can't take it anymore," as if it's an act of selfishness or a character defect to be sick.  You know something else?  You believe Christmas gifts for others, or a big ham for Christmas dinner, or even a bag of dog food ranks higher on the list of needs than your own health.  Your problem is not that you don't believe the doctor's visit is worth $148.00.  It's that you don’t believe your health is worth $148.00.  You don’t believe YOU are worth $148.00.” 
Well, cripes.  The little voice is right.  Man, I can't stand that chick sometimes. 
I realized I do this kind of thing a lot (I think we all, as women- and mothers- tend to put others ahead of ourselves, but…).   I am always feeling that I don’t deserve the same things everyone else does.  I often feel guilty for getting or even wanting the same things I believe others deserve.  

…Why is that? 
It’s that way whether it’s my health, or new clothes, or even how I allow others to treat me.  I can think of one or two relationships in my life right now that are… just... Not. Right.  I allow people to treat me in a way that I would never want my children to tolerate being treated.  And I just keep taking it.  Over and over.   
Some of these feelings of insecurity and unworthiness are common, I know, with adoptees.  But, jeez- I’m 46 years old.  That’s old enough to wear big girl panties and deal.  Isn’t it?  Am I destined to feel undeserving and crappy about myself for the rest of my flippin’ life because of something that happened in my infancy?  I'm stilll not sure I buy into that.  It's gotta be something else.  ...Doesn't it?
I’ve noticed the people in my life who tend to walk on me are also the types who are very self-assured and confident.  Or, at least, that’s how they seem.  These are the types who expect respect from others and they get it.  They always believe they are right.  They rarely apologize for being wrong (I feel I’m wrong all the time, for Pete’s sake.  I feel guilty when I know I haven’t done anything wrong.  Sometimes, it feels that apologizing is all I do.).  These people expect to get their way because they believe they deserve it.  They drive me nuts with their arrogance, and yet...  I'm envious of them.  I want what they have; whatever IT is that makes them value themselves so highly.  Not that I'd want to be a self-centered jerk to others.  I don't want to be selfish; I just want to stop feeling guilty every time I want or need something, especially from other people.  I want to stop worrying that I'm putting someone out to ask for something. 

I just want to feel like I'm as worthy as the next guy.  I know, intellectually, that I am.  But I want to KNOW, with every part of me, that I am; to feel that level of confidence.

So...  How do I do that?

Anyone?  Anyone? ...Bueller?
I do know this:  I decided in that doctor’s office yesterday that I will never, ever, ever allow myself to get that sick again before making an appointment and taking care of myself.  

No one, and no thing will ever again convince me that I should tolerate being sick as long as I can.
That doesn't solve the problem, but maybe it’s a step in the right direction, at least.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Not my finest hour...

I did something, you guys.  Something bad. 

Do you remember the post where I ranted about a relative who puts weird pics of himself on facebook all the time?

If that relative were in a Bond film, his character's name would be Creepy Galore, but let's call him Jason in this post, since that's a bit more respectful.  'Jason' is also nowhere close to his actual name, so his anonymity and my butt are both covered. 

Please understand me- when I say he's creepy, I mean the serious, disturbing kind of creepy, not the cute, haha-that-guy's-so-weird-but-it's-funny, kind of creepy.  Christina can vouch for me (Right, Chris?) -she's seen a few pictures.  In addition to all the I'm-too-sexy photos he posts of himself (and they really are always of himself...  Taken by him, of him- he's never standing with a group of friends.  Or a single friend), he's always going off on these really strange rants on fb that make absolutely no sense.  He also will post stuff on his wall, then comment on his own status 10-15 times, even though no one else has commented.  And if you do dare to leave a comment that even remotely disagrees with or challenges his wacky views, God help you.  He'll become offended and unload on you. 

And... well, that's probably all the more detail I should provide.  I will say he's never broken any laws that I know of, and I have no concrete proof that he is anything other than misguided and kooky, but I don't trust or like this man very much at all.  We'll just say that my dislike for this him has only grown stronger with each year I've known him, and leave it with that.

So, there's the back story, okay?  Everything you need to know about him, before I...  No, wait.  Here's one more little detail:  He's slow.  As in, mentally.  Not eating-the-paste slow, just slow enough that you would see something's a little off.  I know there are better terms than slow, but let's not turn this into a discussion of pc terminology right now.  I don't know what the proper term is for his specific disability or condition, so we're going to settle for 'slow,' okay?  He's slow enough that it causes you to wonder...  Is all the weird crap because he just doesn't know any better and is unable to determine what is socially/morally appropriate, or is it because he's truly disturbed and bordering on crazy?  Is it a combo of both?  I dunno.  But the dude is off.

So...  I was saying I did something.  Let's get to it.  About a month ago, something happened that upset Jason quite a bit.  Initially, he had an understandable reason for being upset, due to a misunderstanding; a case of mistaken identity, really.  He felt picked on, but he was mistaken about who was doing the picking and who the intended "pickee" was supposed to be.  The basic gist of the thing is this: Someone in the family was playing what they thought was a harmless, funny joke on my kid, and Jason was pulled into it.  The problem?  He didn't realize he was part of a joke.  He took the situation seriously (and I want to make clear that the joke wasn't meant to be a mean one- there were no cruel intentions, only stupid, short-sighted ones.  Unfortunately, the jokester didn't realize that involving a person with Jason's intellectual shortcomings in any joke sort of automatically makes it mean.  It was a misguided attempt to be funny, involving the wrong guy, and it turned into this big, overblown, ridiculous Thing that was, unfortunately dumped in my kid's lap). 

Since Jason did not understand that he was part of a "joke," he became upset and said some weird, jerky, hostile-ish things (in a facebook message) to my kid.  I stepped in (feeling nervous that my child was even on Jason's radar) and tried to clear up the misunderstanding and stick up for my child a little- who really was an innocent bystander in the whole thing, with no idea what Jason was even ranting about at first, and was therefore pretty freaked out by his message.  Since Jason is in his twenties and my kid is barely into his teens, I felt it was appropriate to step in on his behalf.  I told Jason the whole thing was a joke played on both him and my kid and tried to explain all the details of the whole mess as clearly as I could.  But Jason continued to rant weird and insulting nonsense.  So much so, that when I first read his responses to my explanation (alone in the dark in the middle of the night), they felt mildly threatening to me.  His word choices seemed a little too aggressive and more ominous than the situation called for. 

So I became afraid.

I do not especially like feeling afraid, in case you couldn't just deduce that on your own.  Or threatened.  Even mildly.

Feeling afraid kinda makes me mad.

And, although you probably can't imagine this, I'm not as much fun when I'm mad.

So what did I do, alone there in the dark, with my angry, fear-filled fingers flexing over my keyboard?  Did I push the fear aside to give reason and intellect a chance to guide my thoughts and words?  Did I try to determine whether or not Jason had the rational capacity to understand the "clear" explanation I tried to provide?  Did I remind myself that he's probably had a lifetime of being picked on, due to his intellectual abilities and is possibly a little defensive?  Did I pray about it and ask for guidance before I acted?

Did I at least pause for just a second? 

No.  Not quite.

I let that fear enter in and fill me completely.  I began seeing visions of creepy adults lurking outside waiting for my kid and me.  Jason's face became the face of Heath Ledger as the Joker in my mind (which is not too far out in left field, since Jason has posted sinister, Joker-ish looking photos of himself).

In my distorted little vision of the future, Jason's threats were real; he intended to harm us.  Now, keep in mind- he did not actually threaten me.  Or my kid.  In any way.  My late-night perceptions were colored by every single negative thought I've ever had about Jason.  The threat was only a perceived one- in the head of a lunatic fat chick.  Hey, that rhymes.  Luna-TIC, fat CHICK.  Catchy.   

Anyhoosie...  Fear was having so much fun skipping around in my head that he invited his friend, Impulse, to join him and together, they did a little dance upon my fingers as they hovered over my keyboard.  They tapped out quite the b**chy little response to Jason.  Yessiree, they did.

Because I was afraid, I allowed myself to say almost everything I've ever thought about Jason... to Jason.  Well, except for the weirdo pictures...  I didn't mention the pictures.  But I told him how creepy, paranoid and crazy I think he is.  Over and over, in fact.  I told him how deeply I believe he needs help and I hope he gets it (but, you know... not in the kind, "I'm concerned about you" way, but the sarcastic, high and mighty, "you're a loser" way).  I told him it would be best if he didn't speak to my kid again and I'd also be just fine if he never spoke to me again, either... 

The lovely, sentiments I expressed may have been truthful (in my own mind, anyway), and in that moment, they were deeply, sincerely felt.  But?  They were wildly, grossly, horribly incommensurate to his original comments to me.  Something akin to throwing the baby out with the bath water, then running over the baby with the car afterwards, just for good measure. 

I ripped into a person who is probably only a hop, skip and jump above being legally declared retarded.  I ripped and I ripped... And then I ripped some more.  People go to Hell for such things, do they not?

My kid read my message to Jason (after it was sent) (and he read it because the whole conversation took place on his fb wall, not because I was so proud of it I wanted to share it) and he said, "Wow, Mom...  That's...  Just...  You were sooo mean to him.  Why did you say that?  His message was weird, but yours was...  You just...  You waaaay overreacted, Mom.  You took it way too far."

Well, great.  Nothing like making your kid proud, huh?  He looked at me like I was the playground bully who pushed the nerdy fat kid off the swings and into the mud.

Then?  To make it soooo much worse?  I didn't even have the grapes to speak to Jason on the phone to attempt patching things up.  My husband did that. 

So, what do you think, guys?  Am I a horrible, Hell-bound heathen?  Am I a gutless wonder/pansy/candya** for not talking to him directly after throwing such a fit?  I mean, he is family (on the hub's side- not mine, but still...).  Should I have apologized? 

Yeah.  I should have apologized.

I don't believe I was wrong to be upset by what Jason said to my son or to me.  I don't feel guilty for having suspicions and "concerns" about Jason.  I know I'm not wrong to feel apprehensive and distrustful- maybe even a little afraid, especially as he relates to my kids.  Cuz the dude is just. not. right.  I think I have valid reasons not to like him.

So... Why do I feel so awful? 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Facebook Status

For those of you who know me on Facebook, this post is a repeat.  You may want to skip it altogether...  Unless you'd like to start a juicy discussion in the comments!  ???  I'm so blessed to have an interesting mix of political and religious viewpoints among my blogging friends, so I'd love to hear your opinions about Richard Mourdock's recent comments regarding rape and pregnancy.  Here are mine (and this is the repetitive part; a copy of my most recent fb status): 
I'm struggling to understand all the fuss and fury over Richard Mourdock's comments. When you really look at what he said, and not what the Liberals are twisting his words to mean, how is it all that bad? How is it "demeaning to women?" I can see why his comments would ruffle the feathers of non-Believers who do not choose to acknowledge God's purpose in ANYTHING. I can see why it would offend the pro-abortionists who do not place value on ANY unborn child's life... But how does it demean a woman to say God created her child with a purpose?

I DO believe my birth was part of God's plan, and I'm not sorry for that. Am I happy my birth mother was raped so that I could be here? Of course not. Is God? Absolutely NOT! But... I DO believe I was "intended" by God to be here, and 'deserve' to be here just as surely as any 'planned' or 'wanted' child, conceived in a loving relationship. Thank God my birth mother thought so, too. She did not
(and emotionally could not) choose to parent me, and no one would fault her for that. But, instead of punishing me for the crime committed against her, she lovingly chose adoption. Should I have been aborted because some disgusting excuse of a human being committed a crime against her?

The sad thing is knowing that some of you are answering 'Yes.'

Despite the circumstances of my conception, I know God has a plan and purpose for my life (and I see that purpose every time I look into the beautiful faces of my own children). Isn't that all Mourdock is saying? God has a plan in all things, for all people? And that sentiment is somehow demeaning to women? He never said rape is God's plan for women. In fact, he said the opposite.
I believe in a God who exchanges beauty for ashes, and turns tragedies into blessings. If you don't, fine. But to viciously attack this man's assertion is to conversely suggest that God does NOT intend for babies conceived in rape to exist; that they are even more disposable, and THAT is demeaning to ME.

Thoughts, anyone?

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


For starters...  I've messed with my blog background again, as you can plainly see.  I know some of you hate that ("Why can't she just pick one and be done with it already?").  I'm sorry.  I didn't like how dark and ominous it looked.  It was depressing me.  I like it lighter...  For now.  Next week?  We'll see.  ADD girls get to change their blogs as often as they like.  Someday I will write all these rules down for you.

Speaking of rules...  We're making a new one.  I have a problem that we need to address and correct today.  I've kept quiet about this as long as I can.  Something horrible is happening.

It's Impordant. No, I didn't misspell the word. That's my problem. Impordant. People are saying it like that. Like there's a D in it. There's no D, guys.  The word is 'imporTant,' with a T.   There's no flipping D.

I've tried to be a good sport about it. I've listened to it for a long time without saying a word.  But I've reached my limit.

At first, I thought it had to do with the region in which I live.  I'm right here where Hicks and Rednecks begin to co-mingle and breed with Southerners (God help me), which creates an interesting potpourri of mispronunciations and a veritable Vortex of Grammatical Doom.  I've told you many times, here in Cowcrap County, English is almost a second language.  It's usually fun. You don't gotta talk good 'round here and ain't nobody gon' give a crap. See? Try it. You can call yourself bilingual!

Yeah, it's fun...  For a while.  Until someone ruins it with impordant...  Although, they- these evildoers- usually say it like this: "ImPORdunt." 

Today, this word is being added to my list of Things That Are Driving Me Crazy.  The list includes, but is not limited to:
  • The way Canadians say about and house (No offense to my Canadian friends.  I love you.  You just talk weird.)
  • The diatribes of certain Liberal Dems
  • The phrase "I could care less," when you actually mean you couldn't care less
  • The Hub
  • The words irregardlessnucular, birfday, and now, impordant 

Actually, it will probably rise to the top of that list because it's quite possibly going to usher in the cardiac event which ultimately leads to my demise, so I can honestly say it's killing me.

YES, it is that big of a deal.  It's killing me, people.  Well, that and the candy I had for breakfast.  But, you get my point.

Along with the thought of (He Who Shall Not Be Named) spending another four years in the White House, this is the only other thing making me wonder if I'd like to try being euthanized.  Well, that's not true.  There are other things.  My tendency toward gross exaggeration, for example.  Nevertheless, I may ask a loyal volunteer to go all Colonel Mustard on me with a lead pipe in the conservatory.  Or my kitchen... The shed out back... Whatever. Just put me out of my misery.

To recap:  There is no D in imporTant.  And we're all agreeing to make any necessary adjustments to our diction.  Today.  It's our new rule- we say Important with a big, ol' T.  We did agree on that...  Right, guys?  I could have sworn we did. 

Henceforth, I shall accept the following pronunciations:
  • Important (obvs)
  • Import'nt (I think my own redneck-infused pronunciation sounds like this, so it gets an auto-pass.)
  • Importunt
  • Importent (...although, if you are misspelling important as importent, someone should beat you with a bag of oranges.)
  • Even Importint
I cannot accept Importont.  That's just nuts.

At least with these, the consonants are being spoken correctly, and vowels are left to be enunciated as region and culture dictate.  But we must maintain the consonants, people.  If we monkey around with consonants, anarchy ensues...  All hell breaks loose...  The fabric of our civilization unravels, and we all die.  Do you want that? 

Do you?

We are agreed, then.  We are done with imporDant.  We are saying important, with a T, from now until Jesus returns.

So it is written, so it shall be done.  Amen.  And thank you.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

There once was a man...

...who said, "No more animals.  Period."  He said this quite a few times.  For a number of years.  Every time the dog puked or peed in the house?  "No more animals.  Period."  When it was time to pay for a trip to the vet?  "No more animals.  Period."  When the dog was given too much popcorn and had horribly toxic, nose-burning gas?  "Absolutely no. More. Animals... Period!"

The man used his 'Tyrannical Ruler' voice each time he said, "No more animals.  Period."  His tone was very deep and grumpy and deadly serious.  And his expression?  Well, his expression said, "Thou shalt not argue with me on this."

His whole family knew what this meant.  The man's mind would not, could not be changed.  The official edict had been sealed with the ring of the king and handed down to the peasants, if you will.  There would be no new pets brought into their household during the man's lifetime.  Not one.  Not ever. 

Not a puppy.  Not a kitty.  Not a hamster.  Not even a fishy.  Ever, ever again.

This decree made the man's family oh, so, very sad.  The idea of never, ever seeing a little boy running around with a puppy nipping at his heels, or snuggling up with a sweet little ball of fur was almost more than the man's family could comprehend. 

"It just can't be," they all said. 

"Oh, YES it most certainly CAN," said the man.




And then...


They got a dog. 

The end.



Kidding.  That's not really the end.  I'm sure you're dying for details on the puppy and how I managed to change the old man's mind. 

Because that's what you spend your day doing, right?  Dying for details about my life? 

Or maybe you're optimistically wondering if our financial situation has improved, since we're taking on the responsibility of a new pet...  ???  That would be a smart and fair question. 

Because it would be ridiculously irresponsible to add another mouth to feed if we're still struggling financially, wouldn't it? 

Yes, yes it would.  And we are.  Still struggling, I mean.  We're idiots.  We didn't pay for this dog, but we will end up paying for her in the long run, of course, and we certainly didn't need to take on an additional financial responsibility right now. 

... But look:

Wook at dat widdle face.

Here's what happened: Mike's girlfriend had a litter of puppies 5 weeks ago. 

...No, that can't be right.  It was her dog, actually.  Mike's girlfriend's dog had a litter of puppies 5 weeks ago.  The gf's dog is an English Bulldog who was seduced by a neighborhood Boxer; a real Rico Suave type, I imagine.  Their night of passion- one fleeting indiscretion- resulted in an unplanned pregnancy. 

Mike got a puppy for free out of the deal and brought said puppy over to show the kids.  This is little baby Marley:
And that, ^, is all it took. 
You can't look at that face and not want a puppy.  One look at that face and the kids went all gloopy-schmoopy over her.  Marley looks so terribly exhausted and suicidal all the time that you are compelled to scoop her up and try to make her happy.   She plays with your maternal instincts, I guess, even if you are an old man/tyrannical ruler.
But...  Sadly, Marley was already taken.  We'd just have to make ourselves happy with liberal visitation rights, which we were willing to do.  And then it was mentioned, so very, very innocently, that Marley had one sister who was still available...  Would we like to see her?
"Sure," we all said, "Just for fun (snort).  Bring her over to play and then take her back home." 
Michael (my good, sweet son) offered to buy the puppy himself, as a gift for his siblings.  "What could dad say about it if it's not costing him anything?"  He asked.  MWAAAHAHAHAAA!  What a knee-slapper!  I don't know what I think is funnier- the idea that the dog isn't costing us anything, or the thought that Dad couldn't argue about it. Sometimes kids don't know their parents at all, it seems.  Dad could say plenty.  And he did.  But in the end, we had this on our side: 
Her name is Daisy.  Try to resist her charms.  I dare you.
The naming process we had to go through is almost another story in itself.  What an ordeal that was.  The kids and I (the old man wanted no part of it) narrowed the choices down from about 7 or 8 to the final 2.  Daisy was among the top 4, but did not make the final two.  Those two were "Primrose" (as in Everdeen...  It's a Hunger Games thing), and "Violet."  There were two votes for Prim and two for Violet.  I was to cast the tie-breaking vote.  I would be disappointing two kids no matter what I chose, so I... 
asked the old man to decide. 
He said, "I don't like either one of those names."
Daisy it is.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Bringing Blogging Back

You know what I've decided?  I've decided that I, Michelle, Blogger Extraordinaire, am going to put those little electric paddle shocker thingies upon the lifeless chest of this blog and crank them up to... whatever level doctors crank them up to (is it, like, 4?  A level 4?  Or 500?  I don't know)... to zap...  to jump start... 

Dang.  That metaphor sounded so good in my head.  I want to bring my blog back from the dead, is what I'm trying to say.  And not just my blog, all of our blogs.  Remember how fun it used to be, guys?  Back in the days before Facebook and Twitter took over our lives?  I would read your blog and you'd read mine and we'd all leave comments and the sun was shining and birds were singing and everyone was so, so happy.  Remember that? 

And then Dark Overlord Zuckerberg came along with his fancy-pants, social networking site and we all fell under his spell.  It was as easy as distracting Michelle, Blogger Extraordinaire, with a shiny object. 

"Oh, this is better," we thought, "We can see what everyone is doing all the time.  It'll be quicker and easier to keep up with each other, blah blah blah..."  And we were sucked in.  And the overlord made 70 trazillion dollars. 

But it wasn't better.  No, it was not.  FB and Twitter took away our abilities to communicate in complete, grammatically correct thoughts.  Remember grammar, guys?  Wasn't it nice? 

Instead of taking a small thought or incident and turning it into a carefully crafted story about our lives- full of the touching, humorous, quirky, heartbreaking and mundane details that make our families and ourselves unique and interesting- we now take big thoughts and happenings and condense them down into little blurbs here and there.  It's too hard to fit touching, humorous, quirky and heartbreaking into a little blurb, and so...  The mundane took over.  We traded the art of storytelling for speed and convenience. 

And now what?   We have our speed and convenience, yes.  We also have 231 'friends' from all the various factions of our lives plunked into one space and we don't even want to talk to most of them.  So we censor ourselves more now than we did in our blogs, don't you think?  At least in some ways?  On FB, we may have felt more comfortable to reveal our kids' 'real' names, the faces of our families (and, for some of us, our drunken, half-naked exploits), or our exact locations but still...  With our blogs, we felt freer to speak even though our posts were thrown out into this vast neighborhood of strangers.  At least I did.  There are things I'd say to you guys that I'd never say if I knew my next door neighbor was reading (because I don't like her).  I know that's goofy logic, but so be it.  FB makes me feel... stifled.  Yes, stifled.  It stifles the creative genius that I know is buried somewhere deep in my soul, just waiting for Mark Zuckerberg to go broke so it can burst forth.

We're so busy we barely find time to update our FB statuses and we wonder how we ever found the time to blog in the first place.  We didn't have the time.  We made the time.  Because it was fun.  And it was worth it.  Think about this...  Has Facebook or Twitter really helped you gain more time in your day?  Do you spend any less time on the computer now than you did when you blogged/read blogs regularly?  Didn't one just replace the other?  So, then, if you have time for FB, you DO have time to blog.  Right?  And read blogs.  Especially mine.  Since, as you've always known, I am what matters most to me. ;P

Okay, then.  It's agreed.  We're all going to participate in my I'm Bringing Blogging Back campaign, right?  If you agree, this is what I want you to do:
  1. Make the commitment: Agree to update your own blog at least once a month (You can do it!  I have faith in you!) and choose at least one blog to read, or return to reading, once a month (You do not have to state which blog you're choosing, but come on...  it will be mine, obviously.  Technically, however, you're allowed to read someone else's... I guess). 
  2. Spread the word: Write a post telling your readers about the "I'm Bringing Blogging Back" campaign and ask them to join you. Give them these 'rules' and ask that they share them on their own blogs (this is starting to sound like an Amway kind of thing or chain letter, but it's not. I promise. I won't ask anyone to send me a dollar, or buy crap). You can link to this post if you'd like, or just tell them in your own words.
  3. Let me know: Leave me a comment saying, "Yes, Michelle, I'm with you!  I'm Bringing Blogging Back," and link to your post about it.  Actually, I don't give two flips how you say it-  you can just leave a comment saying "OK, I posted about it," or even just "I'm in," "Me, too," or whatever.  The important thing is leave a comment letting me know you're in and link to your post.  If you don't have your own blog, but will commit to being a faithful reader, just leave a comment saying so (Anyone who comments on this post will be added to my blog roll, if you're not there already...  Unless you don't want to be listed).
  4. Buy the official "I'm Bringing Blogging Back" t-shirt for only $34.95 at... HA!  No, I'm totally kidding.
I know some of you haven't allowed your blogs to flop on the ground like a dead fish, gasping and quietly dying... and good for you! You've done better than most of us. So you don't need to write more, but you need more readers!  Yes? 

And the rest of you? Tsk, tsk, tsk... I'm wagging my finger. At you.  And that's a bad thing.  You should feel chastised and slightly ashamed right now.  You know you miss blogging.  Admit it.  You do.  Your blog is whispering your name right now.  Hear it? "Hey, (insert your name here), I miss you.  Please, please come back to me."

So... What say you?  We can do this.  Together, we can revive the (almost) lost art of blogging.  I have a great feeling about it.  It's at least gotta go better than my failed campaign last year to bring sexy back.  That one had a few key problems right from the get go, which I really should have foreseen.  Flabby arm fat, for example.  Yeah, that's not so good for the sexiness.  Chin hairs...  Sagging jumblies...  That campaign was not as well thought out as this campaign.  But Michelle Bachmann was my campaign manager, so... You know.

Come on, you guys! Who's with me?  Don't leave me hangin.'

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Glamorous Life: Portrait of a Cashier

I told you I got a job, right?  Yeah, I did.  As a cashier, remember?  I'm back home with the kids now (yes, already), but the fact I had a job for a few months is the important point for right now.  We can talk about how and why I'm no longer working later.  There is definitely a-whole-nother story there.  But for now?  I have stories to share from my days spent living the Mal-Wart dream. 

I've gained a veritable treasure trove of wisdom, you know.  I mean, more wisdom than I already had.  Like, jeez, so much wisdom.  And I'm not kidding about that 'living the dream' thing, either.  What little girl doesn't hope she'll one day become a Mal-Wart cashier?  Who doesn't indulge a few fantasies about lifting 40 lb. bags of dog food into a shopping cart (while every single body part is screaming in mind-numbing pain) for thankless strangers who treat you like you're not even a human being?

This surplus of wisdom has put me in a generous mood.   So here are a few, basic nuggets of my hard-earned Mal-Wart wisdom I'd like to share with you:

1.  People are absolutely terrible.  I mean, just... so...  horribly, rottenly, disgustingly terrible.  Obviously, not you.  Others...  They are rude, hateful, selfish, arrogant, stupid, angry, dramatic, self-involved, dishonest, temperamental, smelly, sleazy, obnoxious, gross and quite literally deranged.  Oh, and rude.  And they're willing to go completely psychotic over a 55 cent coupon.  That is the amount of money that turns friendly, civilized people into rabid, wild dogs.  Dead serious.

You may have already known all this.  But I honestly did not.  I'm naive and sheltered, I guess.

Within my first two weeks at work, I had one man call me fat and another imply that I'm stupid.  And those are only two "big" incidents out of many, many others.  I can't even begin to cover all the minor, "every-day" types of rudeness, but I'll happily blather on about mention a few:

*The 4 yr old from Future Serial Killers of America who flipped me off, as well as all the other bratty, little demon-children who loudly demanded I hand over their lollipops, Barbies and action figures, while their parents laughed it off.  Sorry, but I'm going to get all uppity and superior for a sec to say that my kids would never, ever, ever speak to a cashier, or anyone else, the way so many children were allowed to speak to me...

*The bazillion people who go through the 20 Items Or Less line with at least one full cart of stuff while sheepishly grinning at you as they say, "I might have a few more than 20..."  (happens constantly, guys), then they cluck their tongues in frustration when you're not getting it sacked and loaded quickly enough, because you only have room for, um... 20 items or less, while the people waiting behind them are clucking their tongues at you for allowing this to happen... 

*The shaking, paranoid meth addicts who are apparently being told by the voices in their heads that you may, in fact, be an undercover FBI agent and should be treated with suspicion and derision.  Seriously, they act as if the question "Would you like your Sprite left out?" is actually some kind of trap that might require the presence of an attorney before they can answer ("Would I what?  Uh...  No, I don't want anything left out.  Wait, what?  Yeah, yeah, leave it out... Um... Wait. Leave it out where?  ...Uhhhh, what?")...

*The little old ladies who believe you should and most definitely will burn in hell if you smash their bananas...

*Cell phone users (Every single cashier on Earth hates your guts.  Your life can't possibly be that important that you can't put that %#$* phone down for two seconds and answer me when I ask you a question.  When I rudely interrupt your conversation to ask you something selfish, like "Do you have any coupons or ad matches?" it is because I'm trying to provide you with good service, you self-important little puke)...

*The liar-liar-pants-on-fire ad matchers (Oy.  Ad Matchers and Coupon People, how I hate thee) who swear that Price Cutter is selling cases of Pepsi for 39 cents and want me to match it...

*The 'green' people with their flippin' impossible-to-keep-open, reusable grocery bags.  You may not always be rude, but you sure are a pain in the butt (God bless you for your dedication to the environment.  May you be eaten by one of the baby seals you so desperately want to save)...

*And fat people who ride scooters. They're not necessarily mean or difficult customers.  I just have a problem with people who take a scooter just because they're too fat to schlep their own arse around the store.  If you're that fat, you need the exercise.  (Is that mean and judgmental of me?  It felt a tiny bit wrong when I said it, but kinda good at the same time)... 

Hey, speaking of fat, do you want to hear the fat story?  I mean, since this is already turning into one of my long, rambly sagas anyway?

It all started one balmy July evening...

Kidding.  Actually, it probably was in July, but who cares?  A drunk man came through my line and got a little grouchy about the cost of his stuff (...And may I please interrupt my own story again for just a sec to point out that cashiers do not set the prices?  You would think that's common knowledge, but apparently it's not.  Getting angry with a cashier over the price of something is pointless and just makes you look silly.  Killing the messenger, and all that...  Did you get angry with the ultrasound tech over the sex of your unborn baby, too?  How about your mail carrier over the balance due on your Visa bill?).

Anyway, after griping for a minute, the drunk guy said something like, "See, this is why I can't afford enough food to get as fat as you people!"  Except he said it more like, "... AS FAT AS YOU PEOPLE!!!!"  (I think he might have added the word "people" onto the end to soften it a little, instead of just leaving it at "as fat as YOU..."  Wouldn't want to be too mean.)

I couldn't have cared less about the fact he called me fat.  So what, you know?  I am fat.  You're really not gonna shock me much by speaking it aloud.  I passed a mirror that morning and had already noticed that, yep, I was still fat.

I was shocked and upset more by the fact that this guy wanted to be mean.  I don't get that (says the lady who just crushed the heart of an obese, scooter-riding reader).  It was a little scary that someone would just want to be crappy for no good reason. 

Remember, I was still a rube at that point-- a tender lass, unfamiliar with the dark underbelly of life that is Mal-Wart; not the weathered old sage I am now.

Anyway, I gave him my Mal-Wart smile... the pleasant smile I quickly perfected that conveys total peace and contentment with my job, coupled with a burning desire to cater to you, while simultaneously hiding the fact I think you're a roddy jackass.

My lack of a negative reaction to his comment seemed to really tick him off.  His face took on a creepy, Donald Sutherland kind of thing, where he was technically smiling, but it was scary-smiling... You know how Donald Sutherland can smile at someone and speak in a very soft, soothing voice, while he glares maniacally and threatens to kill them?  Okay, yeah.  Like that.  This guy was looking for drama- he wanted my feelings to be hurt- and it angered him that I wasn't going to let him have his victory.  He said, "Oh now, see there?  You're a niiiiice person... (again with the Donald Sutherland smile)... See?  I know you don't like what I'm saying to ya, but you're still smilin.'" 

I handed him his receipt and said, "Thank you, Sir.  You have a great evening!"  He stood there, glaring and smiling for a second, then angrily rolled his eyes, and said (in a juvenile, sing-songy tone that was supposed to mock mine), "You have a great evening, too!"

Then he stomped away.  Out of my life forever.  The woman with him kept giving me a look that said she was embarrassed by his behavior and felt bad for me.  I just felt bad for her.  After all, I was getting away from him.  She wasn't.

The guy who called me stupid (kinda) was not as dramatic, but more hurtful.  I have a huge hang-up anyway about being treated like an idiot.  Of course, none of us likes it.  But it's one of my major pet peeves.

The guy was perfectly nice.  We were having a pleasant, normal conversation, I thought.  I guess the problem, as far as he was concerned, was that I responded with "yep" instead of "yes" to a few questions he'd asked (remember, our story is set in Oklahoma.  Redneck Central.  'Yep' is not unusual here.  Clean hair... Lack of body odor...  Class...  Shoes...  Proper grammar... Bras...  A full set of healthy teeth...  These things are unusual here.  'Yep' is not.  Neither is the number of people trying to buy a can of Red Bull with a food stamp card, or putting back diapers or meat to afford tobacco and beer, but that's a rant for another day).  At first, he just imitated me in a seemingly joking way.  I'd say, "Yep," and he'd go, "Yuuupp."  I thought he was just playing with me and I laughed along.  It didn't seem hateful at all.  Then, towards the end of the transaction (just as with the guy in the fat story above, these really mean types are also gutless and choose to wait until it's almost time to walk away before dropping their little bombs of hate) he suddenly takes on this Obama- style, 'I'm-so-far-above-you' arrogance and says, "You know, the fact that you work at Mal-Wart already tells me you probably didn't go to college, but that 'Yuuuupp' really proves it."

... Absolute shock. 
... Lots of eye-blinking. 

(Is he saying I'm stupid?  I think he's saying I'm stupid...)

... Must. Say. Something.
... Silence.

What I wanted to say?  Ohhhh, something along the lines of: "Whaaaat the frickety-frack did you just say to me, you stuck-in-the-60's, long, greasy, gray pony-tail-wearin' dufus?  Your college education sure didn't help you when it came time to dress yourself this morning, you Hawaiian-shirted, sandals with socks, pompous, horse's arse!"

What I did say? 

... Nothin.'

I put my head down to hide my embarrassment, hurt feelings, and dopey, shocked expression on my face.  I took an extra second to get his change from the drawer.  Then I said, "Thank you, Sir.  You have a great day."

A similar incident happened weeks later when an old lady, who was waiting next in line behind someone she apparently knew, was telling the man I was waiting on how he should really be paying closer attention to the prices as I rang up his items "...because these people (meaning me) will rob you blind if you don't watch every single item.  They don't care.  They're not trained to know anything...  They don't know what they're doing..." She continued her derogatory rant for a few minutes as if the person she was speaking about wasn't even there.  I've never wanted to wrestle an old person to the ground so badly in my life.  I seriously considered smashing the old bat's bananas. 

Yeah, those two got to me.  They shouldn't have.  I know that.  But they did.  Which brings me to another wisdom nugget:

2. Your cashier deserves your respect.  If for no other reason than the fact that she put up with every other customer before you without killing any of them (that you know of ;) )...  That fact alone shows great strength of character on her part.

She deserves to be treated as a person.  Do you do that?  Do you make eye contact with her?  Many, many people do not.  Waaay more don't than do.  I'm sure you think you do, but think about it... Do you really?  Do you bother to speak to her?  Yes, you're in a hurry and you've had a hard day...  I guarantee she has, too.  You just want to get out of there?  Yeah.  The feeling's mutual, hon.

Here's the REAL wisdom nugget I learned about cashiers.  They. Work. Hard.  I sought the job because I thought it would be a fairly easy way to make some extra money.  All I'd have to do is stand still and work a cash register.  Mwaaahahaha...  I could not have been more wrong.  The work is physically hard (and that is not just the opinion of an old, fat chick with a chronic pain problem- the young ones were talking about their aching heads, backs and feet, too)-- there's a lot of walking all over the store at times, and lifting, bending, loading, etc... often while perfectly able-bodied, stronger, bigger customers impatiently stand there and watch them do it (because, after all, it is their job).  I can't tell you how many men stood there watching me struggle with large bags of dog food or cases of beer.  My own husband would be embarrassed to let a woman struggle to lift or carry something while he just stood by and watched.  He wouldn't let it happen.  You can call that old-fashioned, or even chauvinistic, but I prefer to think of it as good manners and common courtesy.  And his mama raised him right.

Another nugget?  For some reason, the whole Golden Rule thing (treat others as you'd like to be treated) does not seem to extend to those in service jobs, like cashiers, food servers, etc.  I don't know why.  They deserve kindness just as much as anyone else, if not more, since they're serving us (DUH!), yet we tend to behave as if we're Paris-flippin'-Hilton, ordering Ramon the pool boy to get us a fresh towel (Egyptian cotton, of course). 

A little tip...  A person who provides a service is not quite the same thing as a person who is your personal servant. 

Not only is the work physically tiring, but it's usually emotionally and mentally exhausting as well.  Cashiers really, honestly do put up with every rude, horrendous and idiotic behavior imaginable.  You just have no idea.  No idea.  They hear every type of complaint.  And? They are rarely thanked.

They are rarely thanked.

Just FYI...  They also have to depend on others to come relieve them for a break or let them go home.  Those others are often late by a few minutes, sometimes more.  That may not sound like a big deal, but when your back is about to snap from pain or you're trying not to lose your patience on the next customer because the last one was beyond horrible, and you have to pee and you're repeating your silent mantra, "Only 10 more minutes until break.  Only 10 more minutes..." It's a big deal.  So, next time your cashier is griping that her break was supposed to be 10 minutes ago?  She's not just being an unprofessional, spoiled snot who doesn't appreciate having a job (although, granted, it is unprofessional to gripe in front of a customer and not something I would do).    She's just reached her breaking point.  Try to be understanding of that fact and extra kind, instead of judging her for her bad attitude. 

When you see the cashier turn off her light or put out the Lane Closed sign (time to go home, finally!), and you say, "Oh, I only have a few things.  I'll be quick!"  It's a big deal.  Yes, it is her job to provide a service to you.  But, you know what?  Cashiers can get in trouble for not clocking out on time.  Did you know that?  If she remains there to serve you past the time a manager told her to turn off her light and go home, she will eventually get a butt-chewing.  Or, she may have been told to leave that lane in order to relieve another cashier who is desperately in need of a pee break.  The Lane Closed sign means, um... that the lane is no longer open.  Go to another lane.  It won't slow you down that much or ruin your day to walk to the next aisle. 

Remember, it is not her fault that the store is packed and there are only five lanes open.  She doesn't like that any more than you do.  Believe me.  She has no control over the scheduling and, like you, she too wonders why Mal-Wart has 24 check-out lanes if they're only going to use a few of them. 

Since I began livin' the Mal-Wart dream, my interactions with cashiers have changed greatly when I do my own shopping.  It's not like I was ever a rude jerk before (I certainly hope I wasn't), but I'd be willing to bet I had my share of self-absorbed moments when I was in a hurry and didn't give two flips about the cashier.  I now know the sad truth- that I could, honest-to-God, be the only kind person she'll wait on that hour, afternoon, or- God forbid- the whole day.

Even though I know she's paid to do a job for me, I try to make that job a little easier these days, if I can, whereas I honestly didn't give it much thought before.  For example, if I expect her to scan things in or under my basket, I make sure the bar codes are easy to get to so she doesn't have the additional work of dragging everything out and putting it back.  I'm personally not picky about how things are bagged, but if I did want her to bag certain things together, I'd make sure those things were all grouped together on the conveyor belt (because you idiots who wait until the moment after the bags have been loaded to finally tune in and ask if the Hershey's bars are with the canned peaches and ketchup, 'cause that bag is going to your aunt's house, really need to be dipped in hot grease).   And?  I behave as if I'm standing in front of an actual living, breathing, human being, instead of the ATM or a vending machine.  I make sure I smile and say, "Hi.  How are you doing today?"  I know I did that before, but now?  I really listen to her answer.  I no longer mumble 'thanks' as I rush off with my basket, while talking to my kids and fumbling for keys. I make myself stop. I look her in the face. And I say, "Thank you."  I do it like I actually appreciate, respect and give a flip about the person standing before me.   Because I do.  

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Photos for Grandma...

A few pics to make the Grandmas happy. These were taken tonight at Tucker's birthday dinner.  Happy 14th birthday, Tucker!  Love you, sweetie!

So proud of this bunch!

Savannah, Alex's girlfriend (soon-to-be fiancee-Yay!), is the blonde beauty in green and BayLeigh, Evan's girlfriend, is the pretty one in black holding Sam.

I swear Tucker's cake was not as pitiful as it appears in this picture.  It may have been a little lop-sided, but after the fresh strawberries, blueberries, and whipped cream were dumped on it, we really didn't care.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Deep Thoughts With Michelle

I've had so many posts rolling around in my head lately that they're actually starting to make noise up there when they clink together.  I'm pretty sure others can hear it, too.  And they're important posts...  Not my usual, goofy tripe.  We're talking Deep, Deep Stuff here...  Intellectually stimulating.  Spiritually convicting.  Inspiring.  Thought-provoking.  All that crap. 

Alas, I just haven't had the time to get these masterpieces written down  (And, by the way, have I ever told you I got a job?  That's what I've been doing with my time.  Well, that and being a mom...  and writhing in unbearable pain, but whatevs.  The job's no big deal.  I'm just a cashier at a store you've probably heard of:  Mal-Wart.  You would not beeelieeeeve how many posts I'd like to write about that!  And, just FYI, it's killing me.  The job, I mean.  I'm dying a slow, painful death and shall one day very soon collapse atop my conveyor belt on register 5.  But...  It's no big deal).

Anyway...  I've had much I wanted to say about Christians, Christian Bashing, Gays, Gay Bashing, Chick-Fil-A, Freedom of Speech and the Left's never-ending tendency to force their opinions (and agendas) down everyone's throats and quash the voices of all who disagree with them like two year olds who stick their fingers in their ears, then take their toys and run home crying... 

See?  Deep, Deep Stuff.  You had no idea I even thought of any Deep, Deep Stuff, did you?  Hey, it's not all hot flashes and peed-in pants around here.  I can think real thoughts.  ...Sometimes.

Since I've been unable to complete any of these awe-inspiring, future award-winning posts, I decided to share one that already says a portion of what I would say if only I had time to say it:  If you haven't already seen this on my FB wall, you can read it here at Jen Hatmaker's blog. The post is:  In The Basement, and it's wonderful...

I hope you'll read it. I loved it. It brings to mind a few lines from a Casting Crowns song (Jesus, Friend of Sinners):
Jesus, friend of sinners
We have strayed so far away
We cut down people in Your name
But the sword was never ours to swing

Jesus, friend of sinners
The truth’s become so hard to see
The world is on their way to You
But they’re tripping over me... 
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Open our eyes to the world
At the end our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Break our hearts for what breaks Yours...
Nobody knows what we’re for
Only what we’re against
When we judge the wounded
What if we put down our signs
Crossed over the lines
And loved like You did...
Good song.  Good post (Jen Hatmaker's, I mean, not mine).  Read it.  That's all I have time for today.  Hope you're well and happy.  Tales From Mal-Wart soon to follow. 

I'm out.

Friday, May 18, 2012

And it just keeps getting better...

I've recently been informed that:

A)  My uterus should be tossed in a dumpster sometime soon (This is so incredibly awesome because, as you know, I have no health insurance and am approximately 3 steps above a coal miner from the 1930's on the wealth scale.  Actually, the coal miner could probably afford to take me out to dinner, so maybe he's 3 steps above me.  Want to guess the odds I'll get the surgery anytime in the next few years????  Anyone?  Anyone?  Nil.  My guess is NIL.  Unless I win Publisher's Clearing House, or something.  It could happen, right?  You can have my uterus, but let me keep my dream.)

If I could get my uterus yanked, I'd consider trying to re-purpose the stupid thing (you know how committed I am to recycling, right? *Snort*)  - like maybe make it into a purse or something (Is the average uterus more like the size of a large change purse, or a small clutch?). 

No, if I really am ever fortunate enough to junk it?  I'll be happy to say, "Good riddance, Pesky Uterus!  I shall not miss ye."  I got plenty of use out of it- it blessed me with 5 pretty babies- so I'd be just as happy to excise it myself right now with a dull pair of Fiskars, if possible.  Unfortunately, I'm not that flexible or coordinated.  And we're out of Betadine.

And 2 (...and this is the fun one...):  I may have had a small heart attack back around Nov/Dec. 

...I'm not joking (Yes, it's hard to tell when I'm joking and when I'm not- since I am known for my heart attack humor.  It's the best in the Four State region.  But, I'm not joking.  Sadly.). 

I know it happened sometime around the holidays, because I was stressed and trying to get everything done before company came.  It didn't seem important enough to mention at the time (mostly because I received a wee bit of sarcasm, bordering on ridicule, from someone over it and was embarrassed to tell you about it).

It definitely felt like a heart attack at the time (I guess...  I mean, it felt that way to someone who's never had one- explosion of chest pain, yada yada yada, elephant sitting on the chest, making it hard to breathe, blah blah blah.  You know...  The usual.  Lots of pressure in my head and neck, with a whooshing noise in my ears.  And the back of my neck and jaws hurt like you wouldn't believe.  It was crazy-scary.  I was making things right with Jesus real dang quick, know what I mean?  It was painful as crap and made me weak, shaky and a little sick to my stomach afterwards, too.  I didn't have the whole "pain running down the left arm" thing, but that's more common in men.  I did have some pain in my left shoulder, but truthfully the neck/jaw pain was worse).  

It also looked like a heart attack to my poor, freaked-out kids who were standing there frantic, watching, feeling helpless and screaming, "SHOULD I CALL 911?  MAMA!  WHAT DO I DO?"  I didn't want to scare them any more, so I was trying to act as "okay" as possible, which is kind of stupid now in hindsight.  They were plenty scared anyway and could plainly see something big was happening.  I also didn't want them wasting the paramedic's time until I knew for sure I needed help.  Again, hindsight is 20/20 and makes you feel like an idiot.  I always overreact on the kids' medical stuff and under react on my own.  I kept thinking, "Wait 'til I collapse, then we'll call."  And I didn't collapse, so...  I assumed I was fine.  It couldn't be a heart attack when you're able to stand up on your own and go back in the kitchen to finish baking a cake, right?  Wrong. 

Now my doctor also thinks it may have been a small heart attack (This really is awesome because now I can say "IN YO FACE!" to the certain person who made fun of me at the time [the mocker in question wasn't there to see it], flippantly referring to the whole thing as "my little palpitations," which, in addition to hurting my little feelings and making my poor heart feel attacked all over again, made me want to beat said horse's butt person with a bag or oranges).

(You know the old saying, "Nothing says 'I love you' quite like mocking someone who may have just had a heart attack?"  Wait...  That is a saying, right?)

Anyway, you may refer to our previous coal miner conversation above to see why I will not be getting the cardiac work-up my Dr. wanted anytime soon (This is super-awesome because, without having my heart tested, she feels uncomfortable prescribing the hormones I need to keep that pesky uterus in line, since they carry some risk of heart problems).

Nothing has changed around here on the financial/job front, obviously.  In fact, the hub is basically doing odd jobs/handy man crap for a few dollars here and there.  We no longer have any guarantee that money will be coming in from week to week- no security of knowing the house payment will be made and food will be in the fridge.  I honestly never thought it would get this bad, and yet I'm afraid to imagine how much worse it could get before it's over.  I never, ever thought this would be my life. 

The hub hasn't had a "real" job in so many months, I've lost track.  He and I disagree, um, somewhat about giving up on his company and trying to find employment elsewhere, possibly even switching careers altogether.  As you can imagine, this causes lots of warm, fuzzy feelings between us, so we're experiencing a second honeymoon, of sorts, around here.  It's awesome.  I feel like a girl again.  The romance is palpable as soon as you walk through the door.  Can ya feel it? 

I feel we are way past time to throw in the towel and get a "normal" job, but he isn't ready to give up on owning his own business.  So... 

This leaves me scared out of my mind, nervous, anxious- you name it- and wondering if I should give up on homeschooling the kids, put them all in public school/daycare, and try to find a FT day job.  I think it's time to give up the hope of finding a night job (for myself) or something I can do from home that will actually support this many people. So I'm looking at the FT daytime option, as much as I hate the idea. I worry about working FT outside the home with Fibro/chronic pain, too. That's going to be hard. And it's going to suck. And not being a SAHM and continuing to homeschool the kids goes against everything I ever wanted to do and be as a mom.  But, you know, as a mom, you kinda want to see your kids eat, lol, so...

I don't know what's going to happen, but I know that my uterus and I will be going through it together.  So, that's nice.

I'm suddenly hearing Kelly Clarkson in my head (... what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, somethin somethin somethin...). I feel as if I'm becoming the Queen of Facing Adversity with a Smile and a Joke. But the terrified chick underneath all the jokes is starting to wonder how much more she can take. 

I know it's hard for people to listen to this kind of stuff and I apologize for that.  Money problems are awkward to discuss and make everyone who isn't going through them feel uncomfortable.  But, you know me- I figure, why not tell the truth about stuff?  And you want to know a secret?  Money problems sorta make the people who are experiencing them feel uncomfortable, too.  So, at least it's a feeling we can all share.

Since no one, including me, likes to hear all this negative crap, I'll balance it out with something positive and say that it really is incredible the way God continues to take care of us on so little.  Despite my looming fears about hungry kids and home foreclosures, my kids have never missed a meal (I've missed several- yet I'm still huge.  Go figure) and we still, for now anyway, have a roof over our heads.  I don't know how He's doing it.  I really don't.  We've learned to live on less, sure, but I genuinely don't see how a household of 7 is staying fed on what we're making.  God is unbelievably, undeservedly, amazingly GOOD to me. 

Speaking of goodness...  Did I mention yet that I was able to go to the Dr. because my kids all pooled their money together and paid for me to go?  That was my Mother's Day gift and it's one of the sweetest gifts I've ever been given.  I am beyond blessed.  What is a word that means more than blessed?  Bragging on my babies is almost as nauseating as discussing our financial problems, I know, but I don't care.  They're good kids and deserve a little bragging every now and then.  They are my reasons to keep going; the ones who make this whole thing tolerable...  They are the silver lining in my really big, dark, crappy cloud; seven bright spots on a dismal, dreary landscape; my sunshine on a cloudy day (sorry, Temptations);  the white daisies in my field of horse poop.  I'm quite poetic, am I not?  I'm thankful for my babies, is the general sentiment I'm trying to convey here.

You know...  Picasso once said, "I'd like to live as a poor man with lots of money." Unfortunately, I've had ample opportunity to learn exactly what that means. If only I could have it both ways- to keep the lessons I've learned; to continue to appreciate the sweetness of small things... To remain focused on gratitude, and what truly matters (and what does not); to be content with less ...while still having enormous amounts of cash!  Yes...  that would be good.