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.

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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.

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