Many ways to lose a life in war.

When I was little, my sister and I used to hunt down our Christmas presents like trained bloodhounds for the entire month of December.  We looked in very dark corners, searched the untouched attics, and destroyed any closet in our way.  We should have looked in our mom’s trunk, but we didn’t learn that until it was too late.

On one of my treasure hunts, I discovered an old, dusty rifle case that, based on its weight, still had an occupant.  Too afraid to open the case to find out, I asked my mom about this find.

“Your dad was in the army. He went to Vietnam, but that was long before you were around.” And that was the extent of our conversation.  My dad never mentioned his time in the service, and would only offer up vague details when asked directly.  I learned more from the VA office when my dad got sick than I ever learned directly from him.

There are many ways to lose a life in war.  Even if you come back with a beating heart and lungs that contract and expand, it’s possible to have left your life behind. The son who played football every waking moment that comes home without legs, a father who can’t work because night terrors grip him every time he closes his eyes, the mother that always imagined being a Girl Scout leader and soccer mom who suffers a traumatic brain injury and struggles with basic tasks of everyday.

Lives given in the name of war are far more than the body count. The casualties include soldiers, parents, siblings, spouses and children. We do a great thing by honoring those who have fallen, but we have much more work to do.  We need to help our returning vets and their families stand back up.  Replacing their former life is not possible, it is gone, but giving them a fighting chance at a new one is the least we can do.

My dad passed in 2009, and I honor his service today.  Not just the time he spent in the service, but the years he spent after, alone with his thoughts and memories that were not suitable to share with his children.   I honor the life he left behind, and thank him for soldiering on to be a great dad.

Hallelujah! MIT SuperMinds solve the world’s greatest problem!

I don’t know about you, but global warming, toxic chemical spills, and the nation’s processed food epidemic just doesn’t rate on my list of concerns for the future of the human race. There are just two world problems that I would like to have solved and MIT just smashed one of them.

Tonight I rejoice, and raise a bottle, to the masterminds of MIT that have spent the last two, grueling months of their incredible brain power solving the greatest problem on earth: The have discovered how to make ketchup flow out of a bottle.

Incredible, I know.

Just when I thought there was no hope for that last two tablespoons taunting my fries, the gods have answered my prayers.  Imagine all the ketchup that will be saved at diners across the country, neigh, the WORLD??  (Except in Europe, where they douse their chips in mayo and vinegar. Heathens. But even the heathens can rejoice, apparently this works on mayo too!)

I could watch this video all night long. And I probably will.

Isn’t glorious?

I’m no scientist, but I know the great minds of MIT would never produce an unsafe product, so I was relieved to hear that their secret formula remains under lock and key.

“As for what the slippery coating is made of, Smith isn’t telling, but he and his team worked only with materials that already have the FDA stamp of approval for use in food packaging, for ease of entry into the marketplace.”

via Stuck ketchup problem solved by MIT engineers – Technology & science – Science – LiveScience – msnbc.com.

Already FDA approved and it isn’t even on the market yet? Those clever gits!

Bravo, MIT, for your superior use of minds and resources. I will sleep easier tonight knowing that soon my shelf will hold a magic bottle that will release my ketchup down to the last drop without even the slightest tap.

Sweet dreams all, tomorrow will be a better day.

 

Are you laughing at me?

I worry about competing with Rosie O’Donnel over a woman.  I also secretly believe that Michael J. Fox is harassing me.  And my biggest insecurities stem from lawyers, girl scouts and obituaries.

At least I think that’s what this latest report means.

After reviewing the laugh responses to a video of a stand-up comedian, Robert Lynch, a doctoral student in evolutionary anthropology at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, concluded that “Self-deceivers were less likely to laugh at the stand-up comic than those who were more honest. Lynch suspects that it’s because comedians often joke about taboo topics, and those who are lying to themselves can’t chuckle because they feel it would be too revealing.”

via The Body Odd – People who don’t laugh easily are only fooling themselves.

stand up comedian David Galle www.davidgalle.be

stand up comedian David Galle http://www.davidgalle.be (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just when I thought it was safe to say that the title of my blog is actually an ironic twist on the fact that I really don’t like the show “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”  The show that makes my husband laugh hysterically, like a small boy that discovers the perfect toy is actually attached to him.  The show that takes every chance circumstance and creates a comedy fit for a mad queen.

It’s annoying. It frustrates me. I can tell you with a certain accuracy just how the show will progress from random happenstance to full blown personal chaos, and it doesn’t trigger the funny bone in me whatsoever.  I’ve always thought this was an indication of my superior evolution, that my humor could only be provoked by comedic sophistication.

Apparently, I am just a fraud.

Apparently, I don’t laugh at this show because I am afraid to show who I really am.  I am deceiving myself, concealing my true self from the world around me. Something about this show touches a nerve in me, and triggers the insecurities I fight to suppress on a daily basis.

I belly laugh at nut shots, wedding dance blunders, and the damndest things my kids say.  I howl at disillusioned stunts gone very bad, really horrific karaoke, and stealth pictures taken at Walmart.

I guess that makes me really confident about the balls I don’t have, my talent as a triple threat performer, and my parenting abilities. Oh, and my fashion sense to wear the correct size clothing that hides both crack and muffin top on a regular basis.  Other than that last bit, I wouldn’t have called myself confident in any of these things.

So am I insecure? Or could it be that the stand-up comedian in the video just wasn’t that funny?

 

 

bigoted about bigots

The cycle of bigotry, so well explained. From an excellent blogger, barelypoppins, who I have come to enjoy reading immensely!

barelypoppins

It’s true, I can’t stand bigots.
I’m narrow-minded about narrow-mindedness.
I’m intolerant of prejudice.
I’m opinionated about the obstinate.
I’m small-minded about the unfair.
I’m bigoted about bigots.

Oliver Wendell Holmes described bigots with the quote: “The mind of a bigot is like the pupil of the eye; the more light you pour upon it, the more it will contract.”

My mind contacts and my ears shrivel up when I hear a bigot speaking about their intolerance. Somehow I’ve become a bigot to bigots.

Félix Julien Jean Bigot de Préameneu who, despite his name, was probably not a bigot due to his involvement in developing the Napoleonic Code, which forbade privileges based on birth, allowed freedom of religion, and specified that government jobs go to the most qualified.

If only the bigoted were all bigots for rights, freedoms and justice. But, I have found, sadly, they are not. And so…

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Is there an expiration date on apologies?

Physical bullying at school, as depicted in th...

Physical bullying at school, as depicted in the film Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently I was faced with the reality that my actions in high school hurt someone. More accurately, that my inaction hurt.

I was alerted to a blog post written by someone I attended school with who was bullied mercilessly.  It was written with such honesty and pain that it brought me to my knees.  While I don’t remember seeing any of the bullying happening to him personally, I saw and heard plenty in those days that I turned away from, pretending that nothing was happening.  After reading his post, I expressed my apologies and regret at not being a better person so many years ago.

Yesterday I read an article about a brave young women who posted a poem about her experience being bullied on a class reunion website. Her classmates were moved by her words and have since rallied with apologies and a fundraiser to get her back to the reunion.

It makes me wonder, do apologies go stale after so much time has passed? I was not the victim of bullying in my youth. Cruelly teased at times, yes, but not bullied.  If I had been, what would those apologies mean to me today?  Would it give me any solace knowing that my tormentors had grown up to be decent people that regret the actions of their youth?  Would it make my younger me feel any better about what happened?

I know in 12-step programs one of the steps is to make amends with the people that we have hurt.  Making amends is referred to as restoring justice and it does not always mean  apologizing directly to the people we have hurt. Often it is making changes in our life and in our behaviors to make it better, safer, for the people around us.   Amends seems a far greater gesture than an apology.

Most of us will not have the opportunity to apologize to the people we hurt directly.  In the case of bullying, either by torment or apathy, we are called to recognize our part in the cruelty that some people dismiss as a “”rite of passage.”  We have a chance and an opportunity to make amends to the children of our past by teaching OUR children that taunts, jeers, exclusion and violence are NEVER acceptable towards another human being. We can be an example of how to stand up for others that are being treated unjustly, and not walk away from another person in pain.

While I was offered an opportunity to apologize to someone directly, and would do it again, I think it’s much more important that I make amends for my part in history.  I am teaching my children that everyone has a purpose, a value, and a gift to share. I do not permit mean comments about other children, whether it is about their clothes, hair, or any other attribute that may seem different.  I do not force friendships, but I expect tolerance.  I work every day at modeling acceptance, and it’s not always easy, but I know that my little charges are watching, listening, and taking their cues from me.

I would hope that my amends will make a difference, even if my apologies don’t.

Rage against free speech?

The following image circulated the world of Facebook today:

It was pointed out by someone that this picture is offensive, that is mocks free speech, opinion, and the right to demonstrate.

I wonder would it have been less offensive to use this picture instead?

I am absolutely, 100% behind equality (My Married Life), and I am also 100% behind free speech (Sometimes You Need to Have Diarrhea).

What does the image say to you?

Getting slapped by the Universe…

Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer’s Disease (Photo credit: AJC1)

Hurts. I’m not going to lie.

May 5th would have been my dad’s 71st birthday.  Instead, he’s been physically gone over 2 years.  Mentally, it was many years before, having succumbed to early-onset Alzheimer’s.  He didn’t really  know who I was in the end, but I was there with him when he passed.  That was a good thing, which the universe seemed to know.

For the past two years I have been at peace with my dad’s passing, but recently I have been wondering, “Do I remember my dad’s laugh? Or what made him laugh? How was his smile?”.  The farther the anniversary, the more I fear I am forgetting. Which in context, is a very scary thing.  And when I get scared, I get busy. Luckily, I have two young children so time to think is a luxury.  I have put austerity measures into place.

Earlier this week, I got a call from the Alzheimer’s Association asking if I would volunteer for the 2012 Memory Walk.  I had done the walk for the past 2 years, so it was not out of the blue, but I hadn’t even thought about the walk yet.  Things that happen in October are lucky if they make my radar by September these days.  Ultimately, it was fine. It was busy work, not thoughtful work necessarily. I assembled my team page, sent my emails, and posted my plea for support on Facebook.  I can now ignore it for a bit (maybe till September?).  The universe was winding me up a bit, throwing me the walk just after my dad’s birthday.  Well played, Universe, but a soft blow.

Then the news today. A WAR on Alzheimer’s! New clinical trials that show some real potential.  A commitment from our country to recognize this epidemic that will triple over the next few decades.  Why was this news so important to me? My father had early-onset Alzheimer’s. My aunt is suffering the disease now. Alzheimer’s is in my genes. Literally. If what the research says is true, I may be carrying genes that would give me a 50% chance of having Alzheimer’s. Crap odds.  Even if I don’t need the cure, my brother, sister, cousin, or my children might.  Scary and hopeful at the same time, Universe is winding up for the punch here.

Then the punch.

A fellow blogger announces her new website: www.DeadDadsClub.com. It’s a beautiful site, a place to share stories about your dad, reading the stories of other members.  It’s club with an initiation that makes hazing look like sandbox play.  It’s a reminder to remember. If you can.

TKO.

Winner: Universe

Let me tell you about my dad. His smile was the same as my son’s.  He laughed at silly stuff, unimportant things, and mostly himself.  His laugh made other people laugh because of its genuine tenor and kind intention.   It sounded young, like good days. The early days, the days before Alzheimer’s.

You can run, but you can’t hide from what you know in your heart you must do.  I needed to think about my dad so that I would know that I do remember the important stuff, if not the details.  While initially a little painful, it was ultimately a good match, one that I am glad I lost.

Random Acts of Motherness

I have my card, but I refuse to wear the jeans.  I grew two humans and have thrust them onto the world stage. and tomorrow is my day. According to Hallmark anyway. And Kay Jewelers, Edible Arrangements, and every other retail shop in existence.  I get it, and rest assured, I will totally milk it.  As will the adoptive, step, and grandmothers of the developed world. Ladies, this Bud’s for you.

But I will also raise my glass tomorrow, and it WILL be a Bloody Mary, to the unsung heroes of this sisterhood.  Because my sisters aren’t just the card carrying m.o.m.s., they are the fabulous women that either by choice or circumstance, do not have the perfect Hallmark greeting in their honor. And they deserve one.

My list is long, but here are just a few of the women that I will honor tomorrow:

  • The lady who plays peek-a-boo with a youngster in the grocery store moments before a tantrum of epic proportions seems inevitable.
  • The preschool teacher that drops subtle hints about the needs of a young child that the sleep deprived mom can’t see through the haze.
  • The “cool” teacher that quietly councils our children when their parents “just don’t understand”.
  • The friend that arrives at a two-year-old birthday party without kids of their own, bearing gifts that children most desire, moms despise for their pieces, and cost more that than the standard clearance price.
  • The neighbor that bakes the best cookies, doesn’t care if bike tires tear up the lawn, and always seems to know just when to appear when acts of cruelty among young friends are about to transpire.
  • The women who love their friends’ children on first sight and forevermore, simply because.

We mothers like to think of ourselves as part of a special club, whose initiation includes sleepless nights, supreme agitation and worry, and countless hours of PBS programming.  For some it began with 9 months of physical preparation, for others it was years of planning and preparations for home studies.  Every mom has a story, and it should be celebrated.

Not all women want to join this club, others are unable, but most (if not all) women practice random acts of motherness on a daily basis.  Without these women, we mothers would be lost, and most of us without realizing it.

Let’s end the segregation this holiday represents and celebrate all the women that make our children great.

Happy Motherness Day!

Well done, TIME magazine.

I was just thinking to myself, “There just isn’t enough controversy surrounding being a mom.”  I have been anxiously awaiting a new fight to erupt, pitting moms across the world against one another.  Let’s face it, the working mom vs. stay-at-home mom controversy just isn’t exciting anymore.  The camps are established, colors are flown, and there is enough evidence to support both sides to keep things in a rather boring even keel.

Even the excitement of red-shirting your kid has gotten blasé. For those of you not in the know, it’s the practice of holding your kid back a year starting in kindergarten so that they have every advantage academically, and more importantly, physically, than all the other kids at school by being anywhere from a year to a year and half older than their classmates.

Imagine my excitement when I saw the cover of TIME this week, showing me a bold, sexy mama breastfeeding her humungous three-year-old standing on a chair.  I’m 5’2”, so logistically I can’t even compete, but it still beckons me to pull out my gloves, demanding me to pick a side and fight.

I’ll let you in on a little secret – the Mommy Mafia exists.  Old Italian men with bushy eyebrows have nothing on us.  Moms will backstab and costume slash with the best of them, utilizing subtle techniques of exclusion and gossip to bring opposing families to their knees.  Moms can be secretive and subversive in their dealings, making you wonder, “Is she a Tiger Mom, or a Ferberizer? I just can’t tell! She refuses to let pacifiers in the house, but uses the 5 S’s with reckless abandon.  Is she one of us, or one of THEM?”

Just when I thought the balance of mom and let mom was beginning to overtake us, TIME brought us a new fight.  I have a new choice in Familia, or rather a new oath of allegiance I am required to make.  Do I lay on my sword for the boob or the bottle?  I must choose wisely, for surely the lives of all innocent children are at stake.

My Married Life

My married life is not all roses and butterflies. Sure it has its moments, but it also has its “moments”. Let’s just say that I am glad there isn’t video proof.

Some nights are lovely, things move smoothly. Kids are attended to, bathed, put to bed lovingly. Dinner is eaten, TV is watched. Compromise and teamwork are in abundance and the day ends in blissful sleep knowing that I chose well in my husband.

Some nights are disasters, fights simmer below the surface. Backhanded comments are lobbed over the heads of our little charges, frustration fills the silence in between. Sleep comes after tortured thoughts of all the little things that went wrong.

Each day brings a new challenge, a new adventure. Some days are triumphant, others deflating. But at the end of every day, I am married.

My husband was there to hold my hand in the hospital when I woke up, and will do it again if ever I needed. His work will allow him the time off to care for me, protecting his job and my peace of mind.

When I fill out paperwork for my child’s school, I will check that box that says “Married.” My children will be recognized as having an “unbroken” home because of it.

I will be there for my husband in his sickness and old age and will grieve his passing as his adoring wife. His social security benefits and pension will provide for me for the rest of my life while I struggle to live without him.

Marriage is work. It’s a commitment to work every day for the rest of your life to make the relationship stronger and better than the day before. To work through trials, enjoy the triumphs, and share in memories.

Marriage is family. A family that starts as two, but can grow to any number as the universe see fit. A family that is recognized by neighbors, teachers, employers, and the government.

Marriage is sacred. A sacred bond between two people that find themselves signing up for this journey.

Marriage is important. It’s important for our communities, our children, and ourselves. It’s important in the way we view ourselves in the framework of our society.

Most importantly, marriage is for anyone that wants to make this commitment to another human being. It shouldn’t matter if the person you choose is your same sex, just as it doesn’t matter if they are your same race.

I have a “traditional” marriage. I am a woman married to a man. My marriage will not change if my gay neighbors get married tomorrow. My marriage will still have its moments, and its “moments”. Their marriage would too. My marriage will still offer me the peace of mind that when all of life’s crazy happens, I will have built a life that is protected by laws. Their marriage would give them the same.

Marriage does not happen in a church, it happens in a court. Today a court in North Carolina has changed the state’s constitution to ban marriages between same-sex couples. It seems cruel to take away the right of any human being to be happy, recognized and protected by their government. I wonder how this is even possible? I wonder how our society has become so cruel?

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