Monday, February 22, 2010

Tales From The Dark Side

During my grey, I'm pleased to find I still have my wit (if not my wits) about me. A few observations, if you'll indulge me:

Apparently, homeowner's insurance does not cover business losses incurred at home. That makes sense. Business insurance does not cover business losses effected in one's own personal residence. OK, I get that. I have substantial homeowner's insurance and pay hefty premiums for business insurance - twice, since both my husband and I are in the same profession. None of my losses were covered when I was robbed. Makes me think - if A=B and B=C then... and here's where I get lost... D= screw you we're just taking your money and running. This must be why I was never good at math.

The Department of Motor Vehicles must install body spray machines or some sort of emergency sprinkler system that will deodorize folks who've been sitting there so long they're beginning to petrify. Really, people, ethnic rules allowed - you must bathe in the quarter-year before you go to the DMV.

The gal at the DMV who said "I'm assuming you're changing your height and weight on here, right?" probably should have taken a look at the expression on my face after hour three of waiting to get in line with her. I looked like my photo. That was not a good sign.

The White gangbanger and mini-Puerto-Rican gangbangerette couple who entertained us all with their constant prancing, phone calling, tatoo revealing and related absurd and inappropriate behavior are to be thanked. It was kind of like watching an MTV show, but live. Unfortunately, I can only take about three minutes of those MTV shows before I want to club someone with a lamp. Lucky for us the DMV has no lamps.

I ordered all new credit cards for myself and have been enjoying the irony of having an empty wallet while card after card shows up at our house with my husband's name on it. In case I wasn't feeling non grata enough, thank you very much.

In the week or so since this all happened, we've had a good bit of fun trying to regularize ourselves. And when I say fun, picture raking your face with a broken fork. However, a few moments of really hysterical laughter provide tons of hope for the future. Latest incident?

"Sara, why are you wearing two different socks?" (Mommy stance, hands on hips.)

"I don't know. I can't find the pairs..." (Light bulb, big eyes, curlyness in full effect.) "Maybe the guy took them!!"

This has become household a favorite.

Found myself hesitating when entering the house a couple of times. Worked myself up into a good lather before I keyed the door. Marched in all "AHAAA!" only to find myself alone in my foyer with my children behind me, eye-rolling at breakneak speed. My dorkness, apparently, knows no bounds.

Also, gave up cursing for Lent. Talk about stupid. I wish I could describe how dumb that was in more colorful detail given the current state of affairs but I'd have to break my vow to do it. Expect technicolor in 35 days.

Have yet to buy a wallet. If you knew how much trouble I have with wallets, you'd know how particularly cruel it is that I lost this article. I'm as fussy as a gal can be on the subject. Has to be the right size, width, have a certain number of folds - no more, no less - have to be able to fit all my stuff in a certain order (according to use, importance, sentimental value, etc.). So instead, I have everything clumped up in baggie, tucked into a spot that's very hard to get to in my purse - for security reasons! Hah! So, to be clear, I haven't bought a wallet because I have to get one that's perfect. So instead, I have a baggie and am miserable. Must find the sense in that...

Maybe the guy took it.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Thank You To My Thief

Last week our house was robbed. I'd like to thank whoever did it. You may think that's an odd reaction. I agree. It is odd. But it is one of the things I've been feeling very strongly since this happened.

I won't say this has been a good experience. It's been awful. I'm still somewhat sleepless and restless. I do not feel safe, despite my husband's and brother-in-law's valiant efforts to fortify the house against all evils, foreign and domestic. But then those toils, with hammers and ladders and Home Depot receipts galore - along with my brother-in-law's most generous gesture to help us pay for some of the expenses when he himself is in less than favorable conomic conditions - remind me how truly lucky I am to have such strong, loving, capable men to care for me and my children. I couldn't design them any better if I tried.

The kids have been putting on brave faces, with small exceptions made for tummy aches of unknown origins and quiet moments when the weirdness of it all seems to sink in. The dull and steady throb of guilt over how this has hurt my children is soothed, if at all, by the fact that snuggles and hugs have been plentiful - even moreso than usual - and mommy does seem to make things better, even though she's no idea how. I remember, in ways I hadn't for a bit, how delicious it is to sleep all in a bed, hot, tangled, touching and together.

I've mentioned this only to a handful of friends, really preferring not to answer and then re-answer all the 'how are you' type questions that are perfectly normal in these types of situations. The truth is I'm sick and petrified and wary and worn and I want to run, run, run away from all these screaming, railing, shrill problems that seem magnetically drawn to me of late. I want quiet and softness and vastness of solitude. I want the sun to soak into my face and the breezes of a wave in motion to rock me to sleep for a long, long time. I want away and over and none of this. That said, who among us could ask for better friends than those who rush over with smiles and gifts to distract from the gloom? What more could one want than just an understanding hug, and then a linger in the hug to make sure the reassurance was real enough to be felt after the embrace had ended? No more. Not for me. That was more than I could hope for.

Still, I am so sad and unsure. It has never been in my nature to dwell; I've always had a natural bouyancy so this period of mull and malaise is new to me. I have no practice in lifting myself up, only in lifting others. I'm afraid I just need some time this time. With that, I know I will find my new place, one experience richer and still hopeful. (cue organ music?)

My thief has provided an opportunity to re-learn, to re-discover, to renew. I am taking that in with some gratitude for the respite it provides from choosing not to see what is right in front of me. For that, and for granting me great confidence in my center - reminding me of something I have always known - that my greatest treasures are those that breathe softly and giggle profusely and sleep soundly (some whilst snoring quite loudly) in my bed - for all that he took that meant nothing and the great abundance he left behind that means everything, I thank him.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

She Asked For It

And asked for it and asked for it. And now I must respond. I've tried to demur. I've tried to tune out. But no matter my efforts, she keeps asking for it. She asks by her manner, her deeds, her presence. And she asks by her persistent insult to my intelligence, my patriotism and my honor. So here goes.
Sarah Palin is treasonous, vacant and a harmful enemy of the state. She threatens to destroy more than just a political party, she is an infection that without treatment will sicken the entire democracy. She is vitriol dressed in tight skirts and snark in high heels. Lipstick, indeed. Gentlemen, turn off those engines before you run over your country.
And before you serve the standard volley, allow me the following: I've nothing against beautiful women; I am one myself. I've nothing against conservative women; I am in many respects more conservative than she. I've nothing against powerful women; ask around - I'm a pretty powerful gal. Further, I will do well, and you would too, to keep God out of the conversation. His judgement shall be entered regardless of our pouts and pants on the subject so I shall leave that part of it in His good hands.
Instead, I shall focus on the areas where she continues to call me out - in matters of state, love of country, love of self. In each of these areas she has tortured me for far too long without my retaliation. The latest in the injuries has come as part of her participation in the 'Tea-Baggers Convention' of last week. And before I go into detail, please forgive the smirk I wear, when I refer to these self-titled "tea-baggers". It's just that I can't help wondering if the Palins and Bachmans of the world know they are representing a group that in most circles outside their protective bubble refers to men who will dangle, dip and place their bare testicles into the open mouth of a waiting lover - usually also a male. That is what tea-bagging is you backassward, no-nothing, foaming idiots! It's a homosexual love-making act! You are running around wearing t-shirts and silly hats and 2-dollar-silver-inlaid pins proclaiming your inclusion in the testicle-dipping convention! And you're all about bringing like-minded people together to change the tide in Washington, right?
But enough about gay marriage.
This week, Sarah Palin has been getting all kinds of press about her closing remarks during the Tea-Baggers Convention (smirk). The liberal media (also known as 'the news') has been going on ad infinitum about the nonsensical nature of her discourse, the irony in her sarcasm about the president's use of a teleprompter when she herself had written some notes on her bare hand, and the frustration of many that she continues to have a voice in the national political arena.
I honestly don't care about any of that. There are wacky conventions all over the place and people I don't agree with talk at them all the time. It's a wonder to me that no member of the Star-Trek convention has ever thought to run for elected office. He or she could run against the housewares convention chair. There're a ton of those 'trekkies' and the City of Chicago makes a ton of money off of those housewares guys when they're here. I bet that'd be a race to watch if it ever happened.
So if the tea-baggers (smirk) want to get together and wave flags and flap around about the issues that matter to them, so be it. God bless 'em. That's an exercise of the freedom we all pay so dearly for in this country.
The problem is when the qualities of this one particular speaker are elevated to become qualities to which I or my daughters should aspire. The problem is when this one speaker is held out to be an icon for women in this country to admire and for men to take seriously. The problem arises when this one speaker dons the aparatus of a hero when she is, in fact, a coward and a traitor. Then, we have a problem.
Sarah Palin is not the keeper of any quality that I wish to possess. She is neither refined nor intelligent - she has proven this again and again. She is not dignified or careful or diligent. She works in spurts, ineffectively, and then quits before investigations can reveal her inadequacy. She has held herself out as a model mother, wife, social servant, but in each of these areas when the truth peeks through, she is found to be lacking. It's fine to having failings in your life, that's natural, human. It is not fine to yourself promote, or allow others to promote on your behalf, the idea that others' failings or differences make them socialists while yours make you a beer-drinkin' good 'ol hockey mom. It is not o.k. for you to tell the President to 'listen' to you when you won't shut your mouth long enough to hear what anyone else has to say. It is not o.k. for you to wink at me, as if we're in on some secret together when, in fact, we're not even in the same hemisphere of thought. It is not o.k. for you to take your small-town self-promotion plan from village to state to the global stage purporting to care about your country when really it means you are putting my country in jeopardy. When foreigners see my country and see you and think you represent me - even in a tiny way - they hate you and they hate me because of you and then they blow up buildings here because of you. And people die.
See how ridiculous it is? If you read that quickly enough, it all seemed to flow nicely and make sense, didn't it? But of course it does not. No one is going to die because Sarah Palin is an idiot. At least I hope not. Unfortunately, the same irresponsible, slanted, stupid logic I used to get myself from "Sarah spoke at the Tea Bag Convention" (smirk) to "People Die" is the same reasoning she uses, if you want to call it that, when she says that the President of the United States is not caring wisely for our country. He wants change. He preaches hope.Therefore he is a socialist. 1-2-3.
To be clear, Ms. Palin does not believe that 'hope' and 'change' are good for our country, unless they are terms she spews along with a few 'betcha's and 'em's. I'm not that stupid, Sarah. In fact, none of us are. If some of us like your spunk and your willingness to take some punches in order to be famous, its for the same reason we buy People magazine with Heidi Montag on the cover. (I don't, but I know some folks do.) Just don't kid yourself, and don't think you're kidding me. You're a national joke. International, even. The political Paris Hilton. You're getting alot of attention now because you're the flavor of the month. We've had these before. Remember when Colin Powell was the 'it' man in your party? Black, military, conservative - flippin trifecta!!! Guess what? Colin voted for Obama. And he had one thing you don't - an intellect.
So I hope you're enjoying your time on the stage. I hope you're getting plenty of mileage out of that lipstick line because pretty soon, the lights will dim, the crowds will fade, and what will be left is you. Empty, accomplishment-less, contribution-less, value-less, and fame-less you. I hope its worth it. You can't say you didn't know it was coming. In fact, you asked for it.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

What Did You Come For?

Tales from the ground, looking up at an election.

First, the media was long-ago comprised of educated and trained journalists informing the public in a manner that both enlighted and protected, not against opposite points of view, but against the overuse or abuse of government power. The media is now comprised of vapid, attention-deprived gossips with no interest in enlightenment or protection of the public, except as it relates to their own interests. They've become utterly useless in the public's preparation for an election.

Next, the election process is flawed, cumbersome, a bit tedious. Most candidates are either overly coiffed and look like they smell of cheap aftershave and Folgers or they are frumpy and rumpled and look like they smell like their last sandwich and Chai tea. Their qualifications are 'too entrenched', 'not entrenched but greasy-looking' or 'will get run-over by a mack truck on the first day in office'. They represent a system that appears to be intrinsically ignorant of the needy people, steered by the greedy people, and working only for the seedy people. Not what the forefathers had in mind, exactly.

Given all this, it may seem pointless to vote. Apathy may appeal, almost as a form of protest. In any case, one voice above the din of rampant malfeasence cannot be heard. This is how we talk ourselves into it, isn't it? I certainly have my doubts at 4 a.m. on election morning when I'm dragging myself to a polling place to set up for a long day as an election judge.

And then as the day gets underway in comes 91-year-old Ziskind, hobbling, cane in one hand, kleenex in the other, 50-something son trailing behind. He announces himself loudly and proudly, reminds me I never know how to pronounce his name (I do) takes hold of his ballot with the kleenex hand, stands at the booth, sometimes leaning precariously to one side or the other, and casts his ballot. Every single election. No matter the season, no matter the candidates. No matter. He is there every election. When he leaves he waves his kleenex good-bye, reminds me to remember him (I do) and scuttles off, good son trailing behind.

He never smiles at me.

I think he's still mad at me.

One year, I asked him how he managed to get to us in such terrible weather. Innocent enough, I thought - just making idle chat - remarking on his good health, I thought - a compliment, of sorts. That's why I was so taken aback when he answered me so sharply, as if I were some flaming idiot with sparks of stupidity flying off me and singing him, "Not to vote? Not vote? For what did I come? For my vote!" The 't' in that word had a 3-dimensional quality.

Why? Inherent in that clipped, deeply accented answer was the real one, a longer one, more painful. It said, without saying, that when a man had sacrificed as much as he had to achieve the privilege of voting, the notion of treating it like a tentative coffee date to be cast off due to inclement weather was so insulting he couldn't help himself but to punctuate with spittle.

So my question, a uniquely American one in its pomp and ridiculousness, was a rather elegant display of my in-bred ignorance. Because for those whose vote does not come by way of birthright, there is a question, but a different one altogether. On election day the question is - if a concentration camp doesn't stop you, and death-inducing poverty and famine don't stop you, if the takeover of your country by a military coup doesn't stop you, if oceans and barbed wire and sewers as gateways don't stop you - if you cannot be stopped no matter what pain you must endure to arrive in this country -will the cold or the snow stop you? What did you come for? Not to vote?

Not me. I remember Ziskind. And in so doing, I also remember the personal sacrifice made by others so that I could vote.

My father came to this country more than fifty years ago to escape a dictatorship in his home country where, to this day, the dictator's party still holds all executive, legislative and judicial power at all federal, provinicial and municipal levels. All the power. One party. No change. Why? Because the vote is pointless there and the people vote simply to please the dictator. Fifty years, no change in power. No vote.

My father left his home as young man and never went back. He could have stayed, kept his head down, worked, lived. He could have given up, been apathetic. Instead, he chose a different path. He came here. It was hard for him, scary, and included more than one confrontation with imminent death. He swam past all that, literally, to get here, to marry here, to have a daughter. Here.

I haven't seen my father in many years for reasons too long to tell. When last I saw him he was tall, strong, handsome, a real man's man. Now, because time is a rigid collector, I know he is older, greyer, perhaps stooped. Maybe he walks with a cane. Whatever else may be, my father has my heart for many reasons and not the least of them is this - he gave me a life and a chance to vote.

I take neither for granted.

And I vote.

Do you?

What did you come for?