Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Good Old Days?

  I recently attended my husband's high school class reunion. My spouse remembers a lot about his high school years. I can't say I have a lot of fond memories of those years. In fact, you couldn't pay me to be 16 again. The 80s hair alone could give me nightmares if my recall was good but thank God it's not. College was marginally better but mostly I remember working my ass off, not having much money and occasionally drinking. The only person I knew there was my spouse so it was my turn to take one for the team.
  I've also heard of grammar school reunions. If there was ever any group of people I was happy to put in my rear view it was those brats, except for one person I stayed in touch with and two people I didn't. These were not nice people. I was bullied but I don't think they called it that back then. Nowadays it's a huge deal in schools. We are lucky to live in an amazing school district where we couldn't ask for better teachers for our daughter.
  There are all sorts of meetings, programs, books and public service announcements about preventing bullying. What I'm wondering is why can't we just teach our kids to leave each other the hell alone? To quote the philosopher (or maybe it was Will Smith?) 'Don't start nothin', won't be nothin'.' We can't expect the schools to raise our kids for us. 
  I know there are plenty of people out there who say that bullying is always going to be a thing and kids need to stop being 'wussies'. That may be true but only up to a point. First, bullying should not always be a thing.  I firmly believe that the problem starts at home. Whether it's lack of parenting or poor behavior being modeled at home, I firmly believe we are products of our environment. I also believe that kids will do whatever they feel they can get away with. I live with cute but evil.

  It would be great if we were all born with a thick skin. Unfortunately, much to my dismay, I discovered recently that I can hold a grudge like a nun. An old friend let me know she reconnected with an old bully on Facebook. She let me know the woman has a disabled daughter. I don't know if I said it out loud but my first thought was 'It serves her right', not exactly magnanimous! 
  If we're supposed to enjoy karma, why do I feel like such a rat bastard for even thinking such a thing? While I admit the problem is mostly mine, it's a lot like the old therapist joke, 'If it's not one thing, it's your mother.'. I most likely went to school with a bunch of people who were not taught how to behave. Some wounds fester and it appears that I was swimming in a fish bowl that was never cleaned. It's now up to me to clean up. Beware, lest your offspring become the victim of someone else's bad parenting!
  Don't get me wrong. I do plan on teaching our girl how to defend herself (preferably verbally first) and eventually how to agree to disagree. First, since she is still young, I want her to understand how to be a good friend. Fortunately, the rule is simple, treat others how you want to be treated. The execution part can be complicated. She hasn't asked me yet 'But mom, what if the other guy is an asshole?', for example. I'm still working on my response to that one. There's a fine line between nice and doormat but that can be hard to explain to someone who is 8.
  I do plan to make sure she understands that greeting someone with a punch in the face is not acceptable behavior ( especially at a reunion).

Thursday, November 17, 2016

We survived, now what?

   After what felt like weeks but was really only days so far on Facebook I've finally decided to get political but only here if I can.  First, I am glad it's over. The political ads made Halloween seem like a prelude to Easter. The presidential campaigns were bad enough. We were also subjected to the local ones, not even in our state, just to add to the nauseum. I was really concerned about the effect they'd have on our daughter but they were repeated so much that she started to tune them out. Still, it was really getting old for all of us.
  I had no clear idea what I was going to do when I got into that voting booth. It was a lot like a martial arts test. I try not to think about it until it's on top of me. For most elections, I end up voting for the person who seems the least evil. What do you do when you're faced with a tie? I was used to holding my nose on election day, but full on hazmat suits?! I've left my screaming pumpkin on my porch in honor of the results.
  I admit it was also hard to ignore the commercials for us grownups, too. Hillary's commercials were the worst and best ones. They were the most effective in that the most negative shots at her opponent were nothing more than clips of him speaking like an ass. The bad part for me was hearing more venom than policy. Trump's commercials were God awful because they were full of pie in the sky promises with next to zero clue how to get there.
  I cannot understand how in a country of millions of human beings, these two bozos were the best we could come up with?!?! I wanted a woman president, for obvious reasons. I am one, I'm raising one, and men have been screwing this up for so long, why not try a woman? My problem was that it shouldn't have been That woman. If she had any class, she would have resigned or offered to resign after the Benghazi disaster and who knows, maybe if that had happened, Americans would have forgiven and forgotten by now.
  When the big day finally came, I found a way out. I voted, but I couldn't bring myself to vote for either one and the alternatives were underwhelming, too. Fortunately, I found a third option, you were able to type in someone! I typed in the name of Alan West, no not the guy who played Batman. He's a political commentator, of sorts. (Google him.) It was an emotional choice, I know. Many people said 'You wasted your vote', I get the logic but I went the emotional route.
  Like most other white people, or rather, not enough of us, I was surprised at the outcome of the election. More than that, I found myself in a real funk for a few days afterward.
  I also couldn't watch the concession speech and definitely not the victory speech. The concept of our nation putting that thing in office was bad enough, I couldn't hack hearing it speak any more than necessary. Beside the whole shitty attitude toward women thing the other thing that bothered me about what we elected was the I-love-me attitude that was so overt it could be seen from space. If Hillary had the same attitude, she at least hid it better. Did I mention I left my screaming pumpkin on my porch in honor of the election results?
  Facebook has been depressing mostly because I'm watching friends argue back and forth over who they voted for. I read one really good post that said basically I'm disgusted at people who voted for Trump because they were supporting his attitudes (racism is ok, it's ok to treat women like shit, we don't care if you make fun of handicapped people etc.). What I'm wondering is whether that's really true. How many of my friends chose to ignore Trump's behavior because they would rather have put Daffy Duck in the White House over Hillary? That's understandable.
  The problem I have with the protestors is that I see them as a bit misguided. Our election was legal according to the laws we currently have. What the protestors should direct their energy to is to change the electoral college law. From what I understand Hillary won the popular vote and she would have won had the law been different, but it's not. We're stuck with who won, legally.
  My mother I think, had the smartest take on the whole thing. She said 'I hope he surrounds himself with smart people and listens to them.' I'm hoping that, too. None of my friends would treat women like shit or make fun of handicapped people. I wish they had voted for None of The Above but that guy was too smart to want the job. My friends are still da bomb, no matter who they voted for. I just hope they agree to disagree, even if it's for four years.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

What's a holiday?

 I would like to take an informal poll.  What constitutes a holiday for you? Most would say family. I am, or at least partially, with that crowd. Thanksgiving is well on its way and hence the annual decision is upon us.  Since our family is not only small but largely older, we don't seem to have a consistent tradition when it comes to Turkey Day. This holiday, as a kid, was always spent at my grandmother's house. Now that many people have passed away and I have a family, I am down to my Mother and the inlaws to consider.
  It's frustrating that I'm the only one who feels this way.  I get the feeling that my inlaws consider us as an afterthought. We are informed of what his family is doing for holidays after the decision is made. I guess because I'm the last one to join the family and most of them are older it makes sense.  My problem is their choices.  They are restaurant people. Maybe someday I'll get there but I'm not there now. I have no interest in making someone else cook a huge dinner for my benefit, I get it, it's a lot of work.
  Here's where the question of environment versus the company comes in,  Am I wrong to feel like Thanksgiving is not a holiday when you're at a restaurant.  For some reason every year we go out with his family, I feel like I'm missing out. On the other hand, I don't want my husband to not see his family on a major holiday. Our house, while not completely far away from everyone, is also not centrally located. Although in previous years, they have selected restaurants close to our house. ( I don't think they've had much of my cooking so how could they deem it inedible??)
   It could be that the grass is always greener. Would it feel better if some people came here for dinner?  A lot of the people I grew up with are gone. There's something about walking into a house and smelling a turkey that's irreplaceable for me. I understand the appeal of taking the easy way out and when you work full time, the prospect of having company and all that entails is especially daunting. This is all the more reason to have people over our house, at least this year. I'm a stay at home mom.  I have the luxury of a little more time and energy. 
  We also have the miracle of supermarkets. If I asked everyone to bring maybe a side dish or dessert, doesn't that make things easier and certainly cheaper than a whole restaurant dinner? I admit I have another motive. I get to use a turkey out of my freezer and not have to deal with a stupid amount of leftovers. We are a family of three without company so a huge turkey is not something I would normally consider. 
  For some reason, I don't mind Christmas with the in-laws, mainly because it's at someone's house. Still, I am still trying to figure out how to start our own tradition even if it is just us three. It would be nice to have people over that day, too but let's not get greedy. I may have to settle for Christmas Eve at some point. We still have one tradition left from my youth. There has always been a fish dinner and  Mass with my mother. Currently, we gather what's left of my side of the family and my mother prepares the Polish fish recipes I grew up with. 
  That tradition may change locations but it will never be a restaurant.