11.19.2008

Holla Muller!


Muller, Good Dog and me at the pony pasture late 80s

It's official: I have become alarmingly withdrawn from social contact. Not really a good place for an ex-agoraphobic to be, but at least this time my withdrawal is due to actual choice, rather than fucked up devastating biological disorder. This school stuff has truly taken over my life! Ack!

But I am already digressing ...

Today my best friend in the whole world called me at work to check on me and see if I was okay. It'll take a bit of background to understand why this was such a significant gesture.

Muller and I have been buds since we were 16 year old punk rockers hanging out at underground clubs. I don't even remember how we met. I could have been during a then frequent spray painting expedition - hell, it might even have been the very night my little crew almost got arrested for spray painting an actual breathing, though passed out, bum. We might have met during an also frequent late night foray into an abandoned (and reputably haunted) girls' school. It might even have been at the anarchy house we called Place One, where the fact that the balcony was about to collapse didn't stop us from crowding it on a hot summer night to load our wrist rockets with rocks to shoot at the windows of the newly constructed corporate high rise across the street. (Urbanization resentment at its finest folks!) Hee. Those were crazy times; they were scary times; but they were good times.

It doesn't matter how we met, just that we deemed each other cool enough to accept into our respective existences and have been besties ever since. Lately we find ourselves laughing as, in the middle of a conversation, we realise we are talking about our latest wrinkles or urinary problems and we both realise just how old - and thus uncool - we have become.

We have experienced over 25 years of shared milestones - marriage (I don't think either of us has ever approved of any guy the other dated!) pregnancy and childbirth (I wasn't pregnant the same time as Muller, but her favourite horse was pregnant when I was, therefore her past equine obstetrical experience served both Polly and me well. I still crack up about the time I was unsure if I was going into labour so I called my "vet" Muller, who asked in all seriousness, "Are your teats leaking?"

So, we have arrived at that comfortable point of friendship where we don't need to talk every day - or week - or sometimes month. Just knowing the other is out there - just a phone call away if a heart gets broken or someone needs bailed out - is enough.

So, that is why the phone call today was significant. We both dislike gabbing on the phone and we both lead such busy lives that we don't have the freakin' time to make a phone call - much less during the actual workday. But Muller read my last rant about being tired and overwhelmed and she was worried so she made it a point to call.

That, people, is what true friendship is all about. It's not what this particular blog entry was supposed to be all about, but as I typed tonight I found myself feeling really blessed to have her in my life so ....

This one's for you Muller - to let you know that I am fine and I that I love you!


These two photos are from an abandonded building exploration downtown in the mid 80s. I was posing artistically in my RayBans and Muller was, as always, smoking and looking cool.






11.14.2008

UGH.

I am officially tired.

Bone tired.

The kind of tired that the more eloquent poets call weary.

I am almost to the point of surpassing tired and just being done.

Yeah, I’m depressed too. Does it show? Heh heh.

I’ve always felt that if you just get up every day and do the best that you can do then that is enough. I believe that if you always respect the very least of those among us; if you stand up for what is right, rather than what is popular; and if you never ever feel that you are entitled to anything more than any else then you are doing all right.

But what about when that is not enough?

You get out what you put into life. As a devoted Buddhist I firmly believe in Karma. But you know what? I look all around this fucked up world and I see some really crap ass people getting ahead. I see good people losing their homes, their jobs and custody of their children. I see pathological liars succeeding not despite of their dishonesty, but because of it. Sure, it only makes sense that lying and stealing are wrong and we all grew up hearing the morality stories, fables and fairly tales where, in the end, the good guys win.

Well, I'm here to tell ya folks: That's not always how it works out.

Good people get screwed. Life throws you curve balls. When you think you have it all figured out is when God laughs - remember?

I believe that living a life where you have no secrets and no shame is the only way to have a life that is truly yours. You own it; you can be proud of it, and nobody can take that away from you. That is a life where you can look into a mirror and consider the person looking back at you to be a friend you are proud of. I had finally reached that point in my life and was experiencing such peace. Sigh ...

I’m really digressing here ….

My point is that a series of events have resulted in my being at a really negative place in my mind right now. I've lost the ability to find the positive in my current situation. I mean, I'm alive! That's pretty cool, huh? I have a great kiddo and the best cat in the world. I have a job, and a car, and a really awesome collection of books ...

But it seems like being a decent person isn't cutting it. I feel like I haven't done, or am not doing, enough.

This too shall pass. In the end, it always does. I'll wallow in this current self pity; withdraw a lot; and then, I'll find the strength to get back up and start fighting the good fight again. I promise I will!

But right now?

I am tired.

11.05.2008

The American Dream is Alive Again!



I am so proud of my country today! A renewed sense of pride that I haven't been able to feel in a very long time. When Michelle Obama made her comment about how she was finally able to be proud to be American many people attacked her. But you know what? I completely understood where she was coming from.

Of course I have always been American, and always been proud of what America is supposed to stand for. For a long time, however, this country has NOT exemplified the principals we claim to hold dear. For the past 8 years we have been led by an administration headed by an out-of-touch and ethnocentric leader with an agenda representing only a small portion of our public. On top of that - and as a particular pet peeve of my own - that same leader could not even be bothered to learn the proper pronunciation of the very language of our country. Yes, Bush appeared to the world as the stereotypical dumbfuck redneck American hillbilly without any true grasp of the issues of the world today. The fact that we let him steal his first term and then voted the damned thief into a second term further cemented the "gullible America" image to the world.

And if that weren't bad enough, we then held ourselves out as the standard by which the rest of the world should measure themselves. Well, the rest of the world looked at us and laughed. They laughed at our fear of "nu-Q-lar" weapons; they laughed at our "freedom fries" and then they got mad. Mad at our superior bullying attitude; mad at our disregard for the events of the world; and mad that we retaliated against a terrorist strike by invading the wrong country. Then, they began to laugh at us again as we drained our country's finances and bankrupted our nation in an effort to stay where we weren't even wanted.

When it came time to elect a new President, some geniuses decided it would be a good idea to go to the furthest borders of our country and pluck out an obscure (though beautiful), inexperienced, and not very educated woman and hold her out as best choice for our second in command.

At his point, we even began to laugh at ourselves.

Thankfully, we stood up and we finally said, "No." Instead, we chose a man whose very ethnicity represent the melting pot that we are. Barack Obama epitomizes the American dream in many ways. He is of mixed race and heritage; therefore he has experienced first-hand the racism and discrimination that still exists today. Indeed, he experienced it during his very campaign.

He grew up in a non-traditional family, therefore he knows that the traditional definition of the nuclear family is long over. He knows the pain of divorce - which is so prevalent in our society. He understands the struggles of a single mom who has to support her family alone because he has watched his own motherwork hard to provide for him. He has, most likely, experienced the disappointment of being told, "No, I'm sorry son, we cannot afford it."

He wasn't born with a silver spoon in his mouth, and I'm sure he has, at times, gone without. But despite his disadvantages he worked hard and proved that even a poor biracial kid from a broken home can gain entrance into one of our most esteemed Ivy League Universities. he knows that sometimes it is not always about who you know, but sometimes really is about how hard you work. He broke his first racial barrier by becoming the first African American to achieve the prestigious position as President of the Harvard Law Review.

And, guess what? Having been a child of the 1970s he, like so many other of his peers, did experiment with alcohol, pot, and cocaine. More importantly, he owns and admits these experiences so common to American college culture.

Throughout his career he has consistently focused on change at the grass roots level. He is blessed with the gift and ability to motivate people for a united cause. His candidacy addressed the very public he sought to represent rather than the interests of the elite. He asked us to hope, but he also acknowledge the high price of hope. He asked for our help - just $5 sometimes - and in the end we funded the most expensive campaign in history. Imagine that? Asking the average citizen to help without cloaking it in any complicated ruse. It's amazing what we can do for our country when we are simply, and honestly, asked.

Think about it.

Do you think this little bi-racial boy from a poor family was in any way groomed to be president? He had no Senator uncle, or a grandfather with presidential ties; no wealthy family intent on sending him to the white house.

We did that ourselves America. And we should be very very proud.

11.01.2008

Muse: Thy Name is Stress

It always goes like this! I spend weeks without any inspiration to write and then, when I need to be writing very important (but completely un-fun) academic papers the creative ideas just come pouring out!


The whole past summer flew by and i didn't write a single essay here. AND IT IS AN ELECTION YEAR!!!! It's not like I haven't had a million things to say. Those who know me well can confirm that I've been known to write lengthy blogs about the election of PTA presidents at my son's school. They remember that I campaigned for Bill Clinton while in labor! They remember that I used to try and initiate dinner conversation about Bills that hadn't even been completely written yet! So why have I let all this exciting Obama/McCain stuff go on without comment?


On top of that, Angelina Jolie has added, like, a dozen more kids to her brood without comment from me. Have I gone soft?!


Ellen got married and Ididn't write a single word! (Though I was so touched by her wedding video that I teared up a little bit.)




Palin alone has given me sooo much material I could write a stand up routine! But you know what? EVERYBODY is talking about the election and that is sooo because political nerds like me now actually have real people to talk to!

So, I guess I just haven't felt the need to write about it.

8.10.2008

1980 vs. 2008

Little Dog is about to turn 16. It's sort of puzzling, the lack of enthusiasm he and his friends are displaying about this momentous birthday (both his and their own.) When I was turning 16 I all but parked at the Tag Agency the night before so I could obtain my driver's license as soon as possible. But these kids are just kind of "meh" about the whole driving deal. I have friends with kids who are 18 and still haven't moseyed down to the DMV. LD displays a definite interest in driving, but it's not all consuming as it was with me and my friends.

I also have to admit that LD and crew haven't done half the crazy things I had done by the time my 16th rolled around. I was certainly not a "bad" kid, nor were my friends. But by 14 I had already been drunk (and tearfully confessed the same to my mom the very next day, so strong was my guilt.) I had also smoked pot, hitchhiked, and I'm pretty sure I had probably done a hit of speed or two... And I was a fairly shy and sheltered straight A kid.

I am not proud of the above, nor do I have any excuse. I can offer explanations; like the fact that my best friend's mom was an established artist who, in fact, cultivated a very nice pot garden for the family on the roof of her studio. It was she who gave me my first drink of Vodka; my sputtering choking reaction causing her great mirth. She wasn't a bad person; just a bit bohemian. When I spent the night at my friend's house we would walk down to the Brookside bar to find her and ask permission (and money) to order a pizza. Then we would hitchhike up and down the strip just because we were bored.

My own mom did the absolute best she knew how to do in raising me, but there was some of her own upbringing she couldn't, and didn't know she should, overcome. Divorce had left her a single mom, something that in 1964 was embarrassing, uncommon, and led to her leading a very stressful life playing the both the role of mother and father. This meant she worked her butt off, put in a ton of overtime, and in her "free" time she cleaned the house, did the repairs and mowed the yard. There wasn't a lot of time to hang out with me. Most of our bonding occurred during the 30 minute commute home every week day.

Bonding is probably not the correct word. Parenting is more apt. Like any good parent she attended all the parent teacher conferences and school programs, so there was no reason to talk about school. She oversaw my Dr.'s appointments; taking me in for the obligatory shot of penicillin Dr. Fanning always gave when mom took me in for a fever or sore throat. Therefore, there was never a reason to ask me how I was feeling. Emotions were what you displayed, but never talked about, when I was young. When I reached puberty - or at least the age it was expected - Mom ordered a starter kit from Kotex and handed it to me when it arrived. All I remember thinking was, "Ew," and I stuffed it in the back of the linen closet. I guess she assumed the films the girls were shown at school addressed any questions I might have.

Mom was a good southern girl who was raised with the understanding that good southern girls never talked about sex or bodily functions. As such, I was pretty clueless and VERY guilt ridden during my pubescent years.

Because of my own ignorance and upbringing, I vowed to raise my own children armed with all the age appropriate information they needed. I won't embarrass LD by repeating anecdotes about his experiences, but I will say that I used every question as an opportunity to inform. I am fully aware that at times this embarrassed him in the usual "Gads mom!" kind of way. I am also pretty sure that some (albeit embarrassed) part of him is pretty grateful.

I remember when I was studying for my Doula certification, which involved more than one birthing film. LD was only 4 at the time, but he watched the babies being born with me and, perhaps because of the innocence of a child, he reacted with the same amazed reverence of the birth process that I felt. I was still married to RB at the time, and will never forget when he came into the dining room where I was studying and (LD was pretending to study) and freaked out when LD showed him a picture of a nursing mom and commented, "Look Daddy, she has hot dog boobs!" (To his credit, the woman's breasts were pretty elongated.) Anyway, RB was the kind of guy who couldn't look at a naked breast without feeling funny, and with whom I refused to ever watch an R rated movie because of his sophomoric reaction to nudity.

RB was out of our daily lives by the time LD was 8, so I was on my own. It was me who had the "Things That Are Happening to Your Body" talk; the "How Babies are Made" talk; who taught him how to shave and managed to answer no small amount of questions about a particular body part I myself did not have.

So now he is just a few days away from 16 and I think I've done a pretty good job. In fact, I think LD is far more mature than any 16 year old boy I've ever met. I trust that he has never inhaled or imbibed. I know which of his friends, all girls I might add, who have. He knows of my own mistakes and understands that rather than my experiences being justification for his own, they are ways I can teach him from a position of knowledge. He knows I consider myself lucky to have made it through adolescence and to adulthood unscathed - no past STDs, drug addictions, accidental overdoses, or drunken accidents. He knows that I was intelligent, mature and 28 yet his own birth was unplanned, and while I have no regrets about this, it did change my life and postpone certain plans.

As a parent I certainly don't think I have it all perfect. I wing it a lot. I just parent with two very distinct guidelines: 1. Knowledge is power and 2. Nothing is accomplished by dishonesty. The concept of consequences is pretty important in my method also.

So, while I hear other parents of teens wrought with worry about the freedom a driver's license brings, I don't have the same fears. I may find it a bit different that he's not counting the minutes and camping at the DMV, but I am proud that, in this, he is taking his time until he is ready. If he does this with all of the rites of passage to come, then I will have done my job right.

5.01.2008

More Semantics

Yes, my last two posts were pretty boring, but some of you have asked what is keeping me so busy, so I offered a couple of short examples of my academic writing. Sort of. I actually tried to un-academize the papers in many ways to make them more interesting, while still maintaining the thesis. Boring? Yeah, but I am such a nerd I find that sort of writing to be kinda fun.

Okay, so today Bojo sent me some information on a local social service organization for teens that seems to be doing some great work. She is very passionate about becoming involved with them and I support her (and the organisation) wholeheartedly. While pointing out the wide range of programs, however, she mentioned something that gave me pause for thought. The organisation offers programs for "GLTQ" teens. G and L I have no problem with, though technically "gay" and "lesbian" are kind of redundant. Transgendered? Okay, I understand the inclusion. But "Questioning"? Really?

The use of the term "questioning" troubles me because it undermines the whole concept of sexual preference being inherent, rather than a choice. If one is questioning, doesn't that imply an uncertainty? And if there is uncertainty, then doesn't that in turn, imply a decision to be made?

I can understand a young person who feels attracted to the same sex and therefore dealing with the whole, "Wow? Am I really gay?" conundrum. But wouldn't that be included in the umbrella of of G, or L, or even in a basic human sexuality discussion?

Nope. I'm pretty sure that he use of "questioning" is a step backwards for gay rights.

One other thing about this group that troubled me was the idea that it is not just for "at risk" teens because, after all all teens are at risk.

I beg to differ. An at risk teen is one who, due to a poor home situation, or lack of education, or physical or mental disorder, or lack of role models, or history of abuse - I could go o and on, but you get the picture. At risk teens are at risk specifically because of some troubling aspect of their life.

The teen years may be dramatic, hormonal, emotional and confusing times, but I disagree that that they are troubling. Peer pressure is there, sure, but its mere presence does not set a "risky" stage.

I think a teen who has been raised to have a healthy self esteem; who feels secure and confident that they responsible people to protect and to care for them, and if they have positive healthy role models - they are not at all at risk. Let's not give up on teens in general and go ahead and just accept that they are all set up for prolems.

And before you go and get all irate with me, Bojo, I want to clarify that I do support the organisation.

I just have some problems with their rhetoric.

4.26.2008

In an Effort to Balance My Karma

My last post was about all the stupid things that annoyed me last week, which is a negative karma to put out there.

In an effort to balance that negativity I will now post about all the great things in my life last week.

1. Little Dog. My son is incredible. I am truly blessed with him. He is kind, funny, moral, compassionate, intelligent and not bad looking. I enjoy being a part of his life. His friends are all great kids whom I also enjoy being around.


2. Furry. I love this impish little boy! He lifts my mood whenever he's around. He fascinates me as he learns about this world. His smile brightens the room and his tiny hand in mine makes me feel as if I am the luckiest person in the world.


3. My new computer. It rocks!

4. My hero,
Jen, whose husband I have adopted as a brother and whose children I have come to love. She inspires me and makes me want to be a better person.

5. Muller. (Holla Muller!) I could not have a better best friend if I designed one myself. She loves me and she also kicks my ass when it needs kicking. I know if I found myself stranded in a foreign place with no money she would laugh at me, lecture me, and ultimately help me to find my way home. She diagnoses my cat's ailments, keeps me from adopting a stray dog every month, sends me Eminem calendars and bagged fish products and has counseled me through every heartbreak I have ever endured. She has also almost been arrested with me, thrown a chicken at me, taken by best whiskey and used it to seduce a guy, stood by my hospital bed and told me I smelled (Ha!) and was one of the first persons to hold my newborn son. We also take (took) care of each other's moms and share a mutual self righteousness and desire to remain "cool."

6. I was able to help restore the sense of dignity to a couple of men who felt they had been mistreated. Client confidentiality does not allow for me to elaborate, but suffice it to say that if people would just spend 5 minutes explaining things to someone who doesn't understand than the world would be a would be a much better place.

Other random great things (in no particular order): Brenda's friendship, Angela's help at work, Johnnie's honest delight, John's face when he talks about his son, Noah's "we're in this together" solidarity, Jake's mom, Dr. Connie's reassurance, Beverly's sincere goodness,
Jason’s goofiness, Julie Chin perking up my mornings with her weather forecasts, John Stewart's humour, the nice EBay seller who let me off the hook, Eloise's desire to make people smile, Target, Jack Johnson’s music, LD's photography, Winnie's birthday, Corey's joyous aura, my 2 new Gap tops, my new wheel covers, Tim's free service, Baby Mama trailers that crack me up, a gift and flowers from my employer, new softball team shirts, the The 2008 NCheeseAA Tournament Bracket, my improving Sharepoint server and html coding skills, and on and on and on ...

I'm Cranky For Sure

I try really hard to say only what I mean. As an armchair (or at least academic) Linguist, I take language very seriously. Therefore I do not ever claim to "hate" something. In fact, I cannot think of anything worth expending the negative energy to hate. Even RB.

I also do not say, "I cannot stand" or "I will not tolerate" because time and experience has taught me I can stand quite a bit of adversity and I have tolerated some things that surprised even me.

I have, however, realised that I say "stupid" a lot when referring to something that has annoyed me. Not so much people, as while there are some ignorant people, I would rarely consider someone stupid.

Okay, so I abuse the term stupid. It was a really long week last week, and I am pretty stressed these days due to overwhelming work at the firm and my current finals. (Thesis? What thesis?) When things are this busy I do not have the time to properly meditate, and after a while it really shows.

In an effort to rid myself of some negative energy I am going to work out my current stupid baggage here for you all to share.

I give you Stupid Things That Annoyed Me Last Week:

1. The overwhelming sense of entitlement now prevalent in our society. Newsflash people: No one really owes you anything. make your choices and then live with them. Period. I recently encountered a woman who was angry because her (adult) son cannot get a job because of a "gun charge" on his record. She claims it is not fair. Um. Yeah, have you head about terrorism? The rate of crime in America? School shootings? Who wouldn't be hesitant to employ someone with a criminal record for illegal fire arms? Or how about the person who complained that they can only meet with their attorney at 9 am; cannot make an appointment in advance; and whose arrest was "unfair" because the police should be out there arresting "true criminals"? Guess what? if you were arrested for a crime that makes you a criminal. There really are no other requirements than that. And for the record: that trial lawyer you want to meet with at 9? he's IN COURT at 9. Argh! Oh, and lastly: If your rented home is being foreclosed on you should probably focus on finding another place to live; not finding an attorney to try and sue the person who is losing their property to LACK OF MONEY. Sure, it sucks to be you, but it sucks just as much to be your landlord. Sheesh!

2. Christians. Look, I have my religion and you have yours. I don't expect you to believe what I believe, so could you extend me the same courtesy? And don't ask me if I don't care if I am going to hell because I DON'T BELIEVE in hell. And I don't have concerns about satan either because: Ditto. The above request goes for my son too. Even I don't agree with all of his beliefs, I acknowledge that he is the one who has to live by them, not me. You can pray for us all you want, because positive prayer is never a bad thing. I pray for lots of people. But just because you go to church three times a week, teach Sunday school, and pray out loud in restaurants before eating does not make you a better person than me. You might actually be a better person than me, but it's not because of you memorized the script.

3. Telephones. Yes, they are wonderful inventions, but if I do not answer at 8:00 I will also probably not answer at 8:02, 8:13, 8:43 etc. Listen to the answering machine. Not only does it say we can't come to the phone, but it even explains why. And right before you leave your message shouting at me to pick up it says WE will call YOU back. It does not ask you to try repeatedly or promise any second chances. Oh, and if you are my sister: dinner is NOT an emergency.

4. Do not call me stupid or expect me to drop everything to try go an observe how right you are. I am pretty good at allowing for the fact that I may be wrong and really, usually I don't care.

5. Texting. If you are an employee who has been assigned to help me let me be clear: Texting your girlfriend does not help me. If we are dining together, or if you are visiting me at my home please understand that I really truly feel that if you would rather be in contact with someone else not only do I understand, but I am all for you just going ahead and leaving. I don't care what anyone texted to you and I really don't want to hold my thoughts until you have texted a sexy message to your lover. I am seriously thinking of instituting a "check your cell phone at the door" policy in my house.

6. MySpace. Ugh. Anyone who knows me should understand that I DON'T CARE. I really do not want to go into the whys of it. What? You want me to? Okay. I think it is bullshit. I am a HUGE proponent of face-to-face interactions - sort of Amish about it in fact. I use the Internet as much as anybody else, but my friends are all people I have formed relationships with in the actual physical world. I do not want a MySpace. I do to want to see yours. I do not want all the tracking cookies and temp files on my computer from when you check yours because you can't go one fucking hour without doing so. Yes, this includes LDs friends. Yes, this includes co-workers. Yes, this includes family members. If you are into it that is fine. I'm glad it gives you so much joy. But until you post a site with actual writing on it and not a million .jpgs I have no interest in visiting it.

7. EBay. Okay. I recently went through a belated EBay obsession. I got some really good deals. I also was too stupid to read the fine print on one and ended up purchasing an antiquated VHS video camera. I am grateful that the seller allowed me out of the deal with minimal cost. I also bought an iPod. Really fair price. Great condition. I even read all of the fine print, which included information from Apple. When the iPod arrived it took me a couple of hours to figure out it is a very realistic looking fake. I had to measure the fucking logo and compare it with an authentic to figure it out. Now, I am angry and must spend time I do not have engaging in dispute resolutions and very likely legal action. Oh, and I still need a new iPod.

8. Professors who don't take teaching seriously. I have been working on a mini thesis, which is an independent study very necessary for my degree. I have heard nada from the professor. Almost 50 pages of work; a draft of the final, and it is one week until the semester is over. Last week, after joining in as one of the numerous complainants and contacting the Dean, I received a short group e-mail from the professor. He stated our papers are graded and we will have them this weekend. Gee thanks asshole. Your guidance through this legal class has been invaluable - only in that it has no fucking value at all. I just paid hundreds of dollars to take a class in which I learned nothing new and was not even afforded the dignity of acknowledgement or a return e-mail. I'd better get an a for my troubles and at this point I really don't care if my work was deserving. I have a fucking 4 point and I'll be damned if I'll lose it over your disregard. I will also NOT spend next week revising a semesters worth of research and rewriting anything past my draft because the time to speak up (if the work was lacking) was a few weeks ago. I'm done.

9. Renaissance Art. I love Renaissance Art. My dream man is a Renaissance man. If I were independently wealthy I would quit my job and move to Italy and spend the rest of my life drinking in all the beauty. If I were merely rich I would quit my job and spend my days reading and researching the period. It fascinates me. But I am not rich and I do have three very serious academic papers to write on the subject; papers which must be completed lest I lose all my scholarship and financial aid, and I am absolutely overwhelmed and paralysed about them. It is the fall out of letting my confidence be destroyed and my time be wasted by a very selfish person I was involved with when I took the class. Please pray for me to complete them - even you Christians.

10. Grocery and Gas Prices. A minimum wage employee must now spend over an entire day's salary to fill up his/her car with gas. (I also think the current state of minimum wage laws is stupid!) Now they are rationing rice. RICE?! I don't even eat meat and I can still barely afford groceries. Death row inmates are eating better than the working poor. This is just wrong. Fucking oil companies.

11. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. SHUT UP. Can we fucking have a nominee that gives a shit about the party? Hillary, you are an intelligent and powerful woman, but you are fucking it up for all of us. If you truly care as much as you weepingly claim to start using your power for good rather than for victory. And Obama? Could you please remember that you are actually human and not some righteous demi-god. If I don't see some true emotion soon I will agree with the conspiracy theorists who think you are the freakin' antichrist. I read Left Behind and you are looking more and more like Nicholai.

And for an even dozen:

12. Thomas Beatie. Dude. Stop it. You have ovaries and a womb. You are a woman.

4.21.2008

He's NOT a Pregnant Man!

I don't know why this story bugs me so much, as it doesn't affect my life in any way.

But it does bug. HARD.

The story goes this way: Tracy first felt she was trapped in the wrong gendered body during her twenties. She felt more comfortable being a male and wanted society to respect the way she felt inside. In order to facilitate this she began to wear men's clothing. She then had her breasts surgically removed and began taking testosterone in order to cultivate a more masculine appearance. She grew a beard.

Then she married her female partner.

How the hell could that happen?!

I am a huge proponent of same-sex marriage, so it is not any kind of sexual morality issue for me. But it is a legal issue. Thomas may look like a man and live like a man, but she is is NOT A MAN. Hello, she's PREGNANT! Men do not get pregnant and in case you need a reminder as to why, it's because they don't have uteri!

Artificial insemination? No problem. Gay marriage? No problem. Lesbianism? Transgendered? Again, no problem.

Manipulating your sexual identity in order to bypass the law and be legally married? HUGE problem!

Hell, we cannot even guarantee civil rights for homosexuals. We are certainly not ready to allow for unisexually gendered people. One does not get to pick and choose the attributes of his or her gender to serve their immediate purposes. Thomas wanted to be a man in order to get married, but he stated that he always knew he wanted to have children. Sorry dude, you can't have it both ways.

Nope. Thomas and his wife seem like genuinely nice people, and their relationship is certainly a committed and loving one. Their baby is obviously wanted and will be raised in a loving environment.

But Thomas is not only not a pregnant man, but she is not a man period. She is woman who lives as a man; a woman who had her breasts removed; a woman who took testosterone in order to grow a beard; and a woman who even managed via testosterone, to grown a penis which she uses to have intercourse with her wife.

I don't mind calling Thomas "him" but I do mind that somehow, some way he was able to manipulate the law and to legally become a man while maintaining his female integrity via ovaries, fallopian tubes, a uterus and a vagina.

If only all the pre and post operative transsexuals had it so easy! If only all the same sex couples could simply claim that one of them is the opposite gender and thus be legally married!

Thomas is not a pregnant man. He is a pregnant lesbian and his marriage is illegal. Is it wrong? No. But it is still illegal.

Oh, and it pisses me off!

4.20.2008

It Pains Me to Admit This...

...but I am American Idol's bitch.

Yes, that's right, I am. And it is not because this season, rather than watching the show for its inherent snark value, I actually found myself caring about a particular contestant.

Okay, not caring so much as lusting after.

I quickly nipped that in the bud once I figured out that not only am I old enough to be his mother, but since he is old enough to be a father that makes me old enough to be his kids' grandmother.

Ew.

That didn't stop me from downloading several of his performances from iTunes however. Even when he covered Iz's What a Wonderful World, one of my top favourite songs of all time, leading Little Dog to exclaim disdainfully, "Gah! He's doing that song you want played at your funeral!" my enjoyment of his music did not wane.

No, that is not why I am AI's Bitch. This is why:

I downloaded that stupid Mariah Carey song that she sang on the show.

Gaaaaah! I know! What is wrong with me?! I used to be cool - honest! Mariah Carey? There is a part of me that is so embarassed about this it refuses to go out in public with me. That part now stays home reading Bukowski and listening to vintage Cramps.

This new Mariah liking (note: not loving) part hops in the car, pops in a mix cd and sings along with Jason Castro from American Idol. Loudly.

This new me carpools the teens around and owns more than a few items of clothing with an elastic waist. This me recently let herself be talked into purchasing several items from the Clinique lady - the same type clinique lady I always tried so hard to avoid that I used to make RB go to buy the one product I used. This time I actually asked for her card, which I then placed in the filofax and put in my "mom" purse.

My name is Yellow Dog and I am officially middle aged.

Gaaaaah!

4.19.2008

What's a Buddhist to Do?

Little Dog recently told me about an exchange that took place during his second hour Science class.

For some reason the teacher asked, with the obvious expectation of receiving no "yes" answers, if anyone in the class was Buddhist.

Little Dog was the only person who raised his hand and with confidence stated that his mom was Buddhist. (Note that he didn't rock the boat by admitting that he, for the most part, is also.)

His admission led to a discussion of how "weird" it is that his mom is Buddhist - especially since we are not Asian.

Yeah. Racist in middle America High School much?

Anyway the reason for bringing it up in the first place was to discuss a recent article in our local paper that was about a deformed (two-faced) baby whom the "Buddhists" believe to be a "God."

To his credit Little Dog did assert that Buddhism is not a polytheistic religion, but he was outnumbered by those who, still shocked about my Buddhism, refused to hear any logic. Even when he (correctly) pointed out that it sounded like Hinduism to him.

When Little Dog first told me about this exchange I was irritated, not at the teacher, but at the stupid local newspaper for its lack of fact checking. A cursory review of the article, however, indicated that it clearly stated it is the Hindus who believe the deformed baby to be a god.

I didn't bother to read the rest of the article because I neither care what the Hindus believe, nor do I want to see a two faced baby. My irritation turned towards the teacher who allowed the original discussion to take place. Hell, it's reasons like this that I agree religion should not be taught in the heartland's public schools. It's not because I have anything against children learning theology, but rather that any theological beliefs outside of the dominant Christian paradigm that exists in this part of our country will be misrepresented. I considered contacting the teacher to let him know of my offense at the comments. Then I remembered that it is Little Dog, and not I, who has to deal with the drama that is high school in America. Since, according to him, classmates are already attempting to "save" or "convert" him from his mother's heresy, I decided it was in our best interests to let it go.

I did tell him to let the teacher know I was annoyed, which he did the following day. He reported that the teacher's response was to say, "Great. I'm gonna get a phone call about this aren't I?" after which he mischievously responded that he would "meditate" about it. Ha! While I can't tolerate prejudice or bigotry, I do have a great respect for snark.

So, it's all good again.

That is, unless the two-faced baby really is a god. Then we're all in trouble!

3.30.2008

My Awesome Son

There are times when Little Dog will say something that makes me say, "Man, I really do have a teenager now." You know, the requisite eye rolls and responses of "Fiiiiine Mommmm"

But then there are other times when he will say something that reminds me I have raised exactly the kind of young man I wanted to raise; the kind that makes me burst with mama pride. Like recently, on the way to school, he said, "Mom, is it okay if I go make sandwiches for the homeless before school Thursday morning?"

This was not something I had particularly pushed, but merely an opportunity he came across. Never mind that, in the back of my mind, I had always wanted to find an opportunity to somehow do something hands on to help the homeless. He has a friend who spends Thursday mornings before school making sandwiches to be distributed to our city's homeless population and he wanted to help too. Yay him!

I have always tried to live a life that exemplifies giving back. He knows nothing different than donating outgrown clothes to charity; picking a cause each holiday season which will help support someone less fortunate; and standing up for what he believes to be right. He has paid for his own membership to Street Cats, a feral cat rescue organisation, since he was 8 years old and began receiving an allowance. He is a champion gift giver who always thinks of the recipient and chooses accordingly. When the annual Autism Foundation fund raiser rolls around he solicits donations and volunteers to work the race - without even being asked. He has never passed a collection jar without pausing to read what it was for and more often than not, to drop some coins in.

Though I am Buddhist and have long believed in Karma, I have never forced Buddhism upon him. His father, however, is a born again Christian who regularly encourages him to adopt the same belief system.

But I have a thinking child, who possesses the intelligence to seek answers and to process what he sees for himself. When he came to me a few years ago and proclaimed (as so many teenagers do at some point) that he was "Not religious" I told him only that it would be a very difficult life he led if he had no spiritual belief system by which to process the events of the world. I think it is important to have a belief system which will comfort you during times of grief or sadness.

I have never prevented him from exploring any religion, although I do have really really strong beliefs about evil and negativity thus there are certain things that are not allowed in my home.
Just a few block from our home is a new-age bookstore owned by a self proclaimed Satanist. It is almost unheard of for me to NOT go to a bookstore, but I have avoided that one my entire life. As such, I have explained my reasons to LD and he agrees. Better to steer clear of such places than to invite a negative energy unawares. He has a recently developed a fascination with Ghosts and (supposedly) haunted places. He also knows how I feel about such things and although he laughs at me for my fears, he respects my views.

It's not just an "evil" energy I avoid. It is a negative energy period. For example TV. I look at shows like Jerry Springer or Cops and all I see is someone's misfortune being presented as entertainment. Reality shows like Survivor or Big Brother revolve around not just competition, but greed. That is simply not what I want to call entertainment.

But back to the sandwiches. On Thursday he made sandwiches and the next day he found $5 on the ground as he walked into school. When I picked him up he was so excited to tell me about the Karma he had experienced. I stopped at the bank to deposit a check and he noticed that they were taking donations for the Heart Association. Without a second thought (or any suggestion from me) he gave them his found money as a donation.

Isn't it easy to see why I am so proud of my son?

3.24.2008

Jesus, the Amish and Gun Laws: Just a Typical Easter Dinner

I have mentioned that my family likes to eat, but I forgot to add that we also like to have really heated discussions while we do so. Yesterday's Easter dinner was no exception.

Before everything had even been served my dad had initiated a discussion of the current presidential candidates and claimed they were all worthless. That was not surprising at all as my dad has never liked a single candidate - or president for that matter - that I can recall. The sole exception was Ross Perot, whose campaign signs dad displayed liberally in his yard for almost a year. Go figure.

Bojo, who has been the leader of the elect Hillary parade since before she even announced her candidacy has the annoying habit of never participating in political debate with me. Therefore, she sat mostly silent throughout this portion of the meal. She didn't even bust a vein when dad announced that Hillary was unfit to be president because she is a woman. I was left in the very awkward position of defending Hillary Clinton. Gah!

The discussion then moved on to the morality of abortion. I don't know how this happens, it just does in my family. Abortion flew by and capital punishment became a brief topic. I must say I was impressed that my usually opinionated father was actually pausing to hear the responses of others. Not that my stoopid family was being very participatory in the discussion up to this point. (Yeah, I'm talkin' to YOU Bojo!)

Then, somehow we arrived at the subject of gun ownership. Now "my dad and guns" could easily be the focus of hours of therapy for me, but for now let's just say that he has always had one ... some ... er, probably a lot. For over 40 years he has worked in law enforcement ... sorta. Anyway, Bojo suddenly woke from her stupor and decided to loudly proclaim her commitment to shooting anyone who came in her house uninvited; which led me to express outrage (all over again) at the fact that she has a gun in the house with Furry; which led all of my NRA -card- carrying-trigger-happy-gun-freak family members to begin all at once touting the virtues of handguns. At one point my dad asked, as an aside, what kind of gun Bojo had and without missing a beat in the general debate she answered in an equal aside that she had a 38 special.

Okay, I do not, have not and will not ever own a gun. I find it logically, morally and spiritually wrong for me. For one thing, I know enough about gun rules to know that you never shoot unless you aim to kill and I could never do that. At least I am not as idiotic as the stupid (mostly women) I have heard say they would shoot someone in the leg or even worse, fire a warning shot. Gads. Even pacifist me knows the only warning sound should be the cocking of the hammer and by then it's already all over.

Anyway, back to our Easter dinner.

As I was proclaiming the above my step-mom was asserting that they had guns in their home their whole lives and their kids never found or messed with them. ( I could have pointed out that those children also no longer speak to them, but it didn't seem entirely relevant to the topic.) This led to a convoluted discussion of just how cunning and capable children really are and my dad claiming that Furry could never reach, for example, the top of the china cabinet in Bojo's dining room. At that point I threw out a hundred dollar bet that he could and dad and I were just about to call the toddler in and send him scurrying up the built in bookshelves - or at least see just how far he could get. Thankfully (in hindsight) we got distracted within our heated debate because in response to "what would you do if someone broke in" I said, "I'd let them take whatever the hell they wanted because no material possession is worth a human life."

Here's where it gets really insane.

Dad invoked, not the constitution, but the Bible as authority on the matter and said (No shit, I couldn't make this stuff up) that Jesus said to protect your home and your possessions.

"With guns?!" I shrieked.

"Yes!" my dad asserted.

"You're telling me Jesus said to shoot people?!" I asked incredulously.

"Yes! It's in the Bible!" and here he quoted some scripture I have NEVER heard that involved Jesus whipping people. I kid you not. Then he told some other biblical story about Jesus having gone into a den of sinners - maybe gamblers - and driven them out with whips.

"But did he then steal their stuff? Or shoot them?!" I asked.

"Of course not," my dad said.

"So what does Jesus have to do with robbers and guns?!" I asked, my voice just as loud as everyone else, which was by now quite loud.

"They used to STONE PEOPLE," my dad said.

"JESUS?"I asked.

"Yes! They STONED and WHIPPED....."

At this point I heard my nephew, who is currently studying to be a minister crack up. He knows more about scripture than the entire rest of the family combined, but he had wisely chosen to avoid this whole conversation by watching basketball in the other room. That is, until our shouting drowned out the game.

Anyway, somehow we all calmed down and caught our breath, which gave me the perfect opportunity to step up on my Amish soap box and make a case for the admirable pacifist virtues, peaceful ways of the Amish and their respect for human life. At this point Bojo made her escape to her laptop to look at pictures of her latest internet pred...er, I mean boyfriend. My sister had been absent for some time by this point and was somewhere in the house injecting herself with insulin because she ate all the things she shouldn't eat... yet again. Furry was following Nigel wherever he went and looking at him with big ole moon pie eyes of idolation. My step-mom sort of half climbed over my dad in her attempt at escape. That left just me and my dad who promptly discounted my whole Amish lecture with, "Hell, they don't even have TVs in their homes!"

And the next thing you knew we were all in the living room eating pie and arguing about what brand of digital camera is the best while Furry ran around with his new Disney underwear on his head and chocolate all over his hands.

Before I left I made sure to hit up every single member of my family for a donation to the Autism foundation's fundraiser. Then I thanked them for all the candy and the donations; hugged Furry almost too tight and thanked Bojo for the wonderful meal. The last thing I saw before closing the door was Furry licking his spilled yoghurt off the floor and the beginnings of Bojo's freak out about the same.

*sigh*

Just another typical family holiday.

3.23.2008

Easter Stuffing

Do you ever eat ....I want to say do you ever eat so much that, but that's not really the point. Do you ever eat and then feel so freaking stuffed that you feel as if you will never ever need to eat again? So stuffed that even though you really do care about the hungry people in the world you still don't bother to save the other half of your spaghetti dinner? So hungry that you don't even have room for Jello?!

Yeah, that's how I felt after eating last night. I don't know if it is my meds, or the weather, or my stress level, but I am increasingly finding that a little goes a really really long way. Not that this is a bad thing, as I could stand to lose a few (or 50) pounds. It's just weird to get so full on so little.

Plus, I am due at the family Easter dinner in only a few hour s and I swear I still don't have room for even a single hot roll, caramelized carrot, slice of ham or chocolate egg. And at my family's gatherings there is really not much to do but eat. We're big on the cooking and eating we are! Holiday meals usually consist of days of prep work and the use of additional tables.

Also, even though I never did the whole Easter Bunny/Santa Claus/mythical figure-leaving-presents thing with Little Dog , now that he is almost all grown up I feel compelled to do it for the kitsch value. So, last night I stopped by the candy store my own mom always went to and bought him an armload of various marshmallow eggs and chocolate bunnies. I put these, along with the sour candy he picked out a couple of weeks ago (in anticipation of his self imposed no candy until after lent rule) in a wire basket I grabbed from the cupboard at the last minute. Then right before I went to bed I sort of half hid it under his pillow. As I drifted off to sleep I vaguely remember hearing Little Dog brush his teeth, turn out his light and then exclaim, "What the hell?!"

Happy Easter everybody!

3.04.2008

People Are Starving in Our World and I am Making Apple Rabbits to Get Furry to Eat



Furry has mastered language and is talking non-stop these days. That's pretty normal for a three year old, but what is unique about him is his "Bringlish" accent.

See, his mom was born and raised right here in the heartland of America. As such, she speaks with a sort of familiar southern twang. His dad, on the other hand, was born and raised across the pond in England and speaks with a delicious English accent.

Therefore, Furry's dialect is a mix of colloquial English and British slang. The other day he told Bojo that what she was saying was "rubbish" and he was quite adamant about it. He also loves the big green "oh-guh" called Shrek and recently told me he was "gonna git a 'ti-guh'"

It's a lot like living with new-Madonna - after she decided she was British and adopted the accent. Or maybe Brittney: post breakdown. You know, kind of like he's faking the whole British personae.

What he is not faking is his pickiness when it comes to food. This kiddo only likes to eat cookies, candies, yogurts and ...McDonalds. And that is only when he is willing to eat at all, which is rare.

So, aunt Yellow Dog, champion of the organic food, enemy of the preservative, Whole Food Market's bitch, decided to step in and help. I've been planning recipes and toddler cooking lessons and trying my damnedest to get Bojo to join me for a Sunday vegetable puree party.

I have also been working on a healthy foods Easter basket for Furry - filling it with organic alphabet pasta, gluten free muffins and dried fruits rather than candy. I love the challenge of getting a child to enjoy healthy foods.

Little Dog never ate processed foods until he was 4 and Nanna moved in with us, bringing her arsenal of Cheetos, Dreamsicles and fruit loops. I love my mom dearly, but I am not sure I can ever forgive her for getting my child hooked on junk during that year she lived with us. I would prepare of breakfast of corn flakes with honey or yogurt sprinkled with brown sugar and there she would be, lurking with her Eggo Cinnamon waffles or strawberry flavoured Pop Tarts. She was like a dealer behind the fence, only the fence was the doorway which led from our kitchen to her living area.

I would send him to play with Nanna while I cleaned house and then when I checked in on what my mom (the loving grandma) and my son (the attachment parenting raised organic fed child) were doing and I would end up busting their wild little junk food parties. After I washed the orange Doritos stains from his hands; wiped the artificially flavoured banana pudding off his faced and brushed the caramel from between his tiny teeth I would attempt to lecture my mom about healthy foods. She would poo-poo my objections and counter that he had eaten half her microwaved pasta before she gave him "dessert" and so he was, in her opinion, quite well fed.

It was only three days after we all moved into our own houses that Little Dog had his first ever full blown tantrum. It was so ugly that I will never forget that evening. It was all about Oreos.

Little Dog had refused to eat dinner and instead demanded Oreos. I promised him an oatmeal cookie if he would eat a few bites of his meal. Nope. He wanted Oreos and he wanted them bad. The tantrum escalated into screams - including plaintiff wails for his beloved Nanna because daddy and I were apparently mean mean people. He ended up in time-out in his room where he ripped off all his clothes and threw himself across his bed screaming at the top of his lungs. The only intelligible word during this rant was ... you guessed it: Oreo. RB and I stood in the doorway amazed, and a little scared, at the demon our child had become.

The tantrum passed, but his love of junk food remained. He became the pickiest eater in the whole world and it is only now, over a decade later, that he is finally willing to try some new things. We recently went to a hibachi grill and I did a double take when I saw him eating fried rice. Knowing the rare miracle that I was witnessing I was very quiet and pretended not to notice. When the chef's flying spatula delivered shrimp to each person at our table I accused my older nephew of eating Little Dog's 4 fried shrimp (which I had planned to procure for myself.)Little dog quickly affirmed that not only had he eaten the shrimp, but he wanted more.

::Thud:: You have no idea what a shock this all was. The next time we went to the store I bought about a million different kinds of rice and he has been willingly trying them all. He has also opted for organic wheat cereal and even asked for fresh fruit. That night I kept opening the fridge just to look because once again I am finally happy with the contents of my fridge and pantry.


But back to the problem of Furry.

The basket sits half filled on my dining room table. I have several pages of fun toddler friendly recipes typed up and WS is willing to start trying them out on Furry next week while Bojo is out of town.

And then, I find
this. I feel like a complete loser now because I KNOW I will never be the kind of mom (or aunt) who makes such awesomely cool lunches as this. In fact, I want this woman to adopt me and make me cute little lunch boxes every day.

Seriously. *Sigh*

Okay, I must admit I have ordered some of the accoutrement's shown - like the cute little
condiment containers and the multi coloured multi-shaped bowls. And yes, I did even order the tiny picks with animal heads. I even studied how to cut the apples into the bunny shapes.

I am such a sucker.

I am going to attempt to make some of these toy like lunches. I just hope Furry doesn't deem my efforts to be rubbish!

3.02.2008

Latest Bookstore Damage

This week's damage:

Bad Dog, a Buddhist memoir

A Lover's Discourse and The Pleasure of the Text, both by Roland Barthes, whom I have recently discovered and think I may be in love with.

A couple of fairly recent Chomsky tomes

The stuff of Thought, by Steven Pinker

All of the above are currently in some stage of being read by me. For reference I also bought a Harvard Press text on Sociolinguistics and two other linguistics reference books.

Grad school is really going to be hell on my budget, but will result in an expanded (albeit very nerdy) library!

2.28.2008

The Only Time I Ever Ask My Friends For Money (...each year)

Hint: There's a great picture of my favourite "adopted" nephew ; the boy who inspires all this, on his team's site (Holla Josh!).

Dear Friends,

I have a small handful of organizations that I personally support. Tulsa Autism Foundation is the only one that I ask for your help with once a year. Why? Largely because the Co-Founder of the organization, Jennifer Miller, is my personal hero; because Josh is an incredible kid, and because this family exemplifies everything good about life: gratitude, compassion, motivation, commitment, generosity ... (I truly could go on and on.)

I KNOW that the money the foundation raises directly benefits the families in our community who are affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders. Every donation, no matter how small, is received with genuine gratitude. Every single dollar makes a difference for this grass roots organization. Since opening its doors in 2006, the foundation has been able to increase awareness in our community and to offer programming to assist both families and professionals who are affected by autism. All of the money raised during this annual "Ready...Set...Run!" fundraiser goes exclusively towards programming efforts and covering costs for the families. This includes such things as free Family Fun Nights and the parent work room at the foundation.

Some examples of how your donation can help: Just a $10 donation would allow the foundation to purchase supplies for the parent Workroom. A $25 dollar donation would mean one more book could be purchased for the library.

So you see, any help you can offer will make a difference. Please read the letter below from John, Josh's dad. Even if you live out of state; even if you know of no one affected by autism; please make a donation to support this very worthy cause. It is important to me.

Thank you,
Yellow Dog


From: Miller, John T
Sent: Sunday, February 17, 2008 8:09 AM
Subject: Ready... Set... Run! (for Josh, if you please)

(First, let me apologize for such a long e-mail - please read it, though and help us out if you feel so inclined.)

Well, it’s that time again… that time where I embarrass myself by finishing well behind people nearly twice my age in the, now annual, Ready… Set… Run!5K benefiting the
Tulsa Autism Foundation. Did you know 1 in 150 children are being diagnosed with some form of autism, making it more common than pediatric cancer, diabetes, and AIDS combined?

Last year’s inaugural race was a huge success… despite the brutal weather conditions. If I understood correctly, we raised more money than any other charity run in our city, save one– The Race For The Cure, which is huge.

Anyway, last year Josh had the biggest team and was second in money raised in his name, which garnered him several great prizes and he/we are hoping to do the same this year. That’s where you come in – Josh would love and appreciate if you could be part of the team. We want to have an army out there running and/or walking for Team NeuroLogic (or someone else you know affected by autism).

For those of you that know Josh, imagine the joy, the singing, the dancing and everything else as he walks the 1-mile fun run course surrounded by an army of supporters. For those of you that don’t know Josh, well… let’s just say he’s worth it - and I personally guarantee that if you do meet him, he’ll bring a smile to your face and joy to your life… I can’t guarantee, however, that the smile won’t be for something inappropriate that comes out of his mouth.

Here are some of the ways you can help support Josh and/or Tulsa Autism Foundation:

* Join the team! We really want everyone to do this one if they can – Josh really wants to win the biggest team award again this year. Even if you can’t actually make it on raceday… just visit
our team's site and click the link about halfway down that page that says “If you want to register for this event, click here and join our team for raceday (if you’re not comfortable doing business on the Internet, I’ve attached a manual entry form you can fill out and mail back to me with your entry fee). It costs $20 and gets you a race packet that includes this year’s official race shirt – long-sleeved this time. I will pick up our team’s packets about a week before the event and do my best to personally deliver them to you before raceday – otherwise, we’ll meet up before the race that morning and I’ll get it to you. Heck, I’ll even mail it to you assuming I know who you are if you live out of town but just want to be part of the team in spirit. If I don’t know you, I’ll mail all of them to the person I do know that got you involved and let them distribute the shirts.

* Sponsor the team! Just visit
Josh's team's site and click the big button that says “Sponsor Me Now” and make a simple donation – this will not get you a shirt, though. The only way to get the shirt is to register for the event. Again, if you prefer not to do business over the Internet, feel free to mail any donations - payable to Tulsa Autism Foundation and I'll handle it for you.

* Form your own team for a child you know affected by autism and raise money in their honor. Each “Team Hero” will be recognized and receive a trophy during the post-race extravaganza. * Forward this to everyone you know - EVERYONE!

Thank you,
John Miller - proud father of Josh & Reagan (& Copper and Baron, too)

2.16.2008

She's Just Not That Into You (and she doesn't deserve your vote)

I tried to like Hillary. I really did. By all rights I should be one of her staunchest supporters. I am a feminist woman. I loved Bill Clinton. He was the one who inspired me to take an interest in Politics.

I gave birth to my only child just two months before Election Day in 1992. I was a single mom at a time when the Republicans were campaigning on a platform of family values which condemned people like me (and Murphy Brown.) I remember feeling that the leaders of my country condemned, rather than supported me. It was a defining period in my life.

Bill brought politics into the realm of the common man. He got the attention of the MTV generation. He reminded minorities of their voice. During the first six years of his presidency the policies of his legislation served to better the lives of working people.

Of course I wanted to support Hillary.

But she has let me down. Over and over again. Every time I hear her speak she angers me more. Hillary is campaigning from a position of power that her husband afforded her. It is almost as if Bill got everyone to listen, but now Hillary only wants to talk to the important people.

It is now 15 years after the 1992 elections and 8 years after the Republicans regained control. During the past 8 years I have witnessed my country being ridiculed and being attacked. I have watched our economy suffer. I have seen the middle class failing and the poor getting poorer.

15 years later and I am still struggling to make ends meet. I never qualified for any government aid which would have afforded me a leg-up. In 2001 I was earning only $8 an hour - too much to qualify for help with my $600/mo.day care bill; too much to qualify for food stamps. I had no health insurance.

I am now one of the lucky people who has employer provided health care, yet in 2007 my out- of-pocket healthcare expenses exceeded 33% of my income. I am working full time, attending school, paying my taxes and supporting my son alone, yet my standard of living is not improving. There have been times when my hope for the future has waned.

I am excited about this election! Once again I am hearing a candidate tell me I matter. Barack Obama reminds us that even if we do not make a lot of money; even if we are not a part of the political elite; even if we are feeling oppressed, powerless, betrayed by our country and just plain worn out, there is hope.

Obama tells us there is hope for the future, but first we need to enact some change. He is the fresh voice that inspires us to care again; to believe in the dream again. He was not raised in a solely American "white bread" environment of safety and presumed success. He was raised in different cultures, both geographically and within the U.S. He is a bi-racial man who through hard work gained entrance to, and succeeded in, the very waspy world of Ivy League. His determination and his capacity for hope have enabled him to attain a position of respect within the political realm. Thus far he has served well for the people he represents. He appears to have earned every opportunity; honoured every commitment in both his professional and personal life; and done so with dignity, honour and the absence of scandal. There is no doubt that he is a noble man.

It is time to restore some dignity and nobility to the office of the President. Bill's presidency ended amidst much scandal and national embarrassment. George Bush need only to speak and he becomes the butt of many jokes. Our administration has become, at times, an embarrassment.

We are currently engaged in a war with a country whose culture believes women are beneath men. Do we really want to place a woman in the highest office of our land now? Will that make us appear strong to those we are in opposition with? I strongly believe the office of the President should be held by the most qualified candidate regardless of race, gender or religion. I also recognize that at this time the best candidate is not a woman.

It is not about furthering a non-discriminatory agenda in the U.S. It is not about women's rights in our culture. It is about having a leader who will be viewed with respect and authority by the rest of the world. Sadly, in the countries we are currently in opposition with, that person will not be a woman.

I have looked at the platforms of both candidates.
Hillary's website lists 14 important issues, including strengthening the middles class, but the word poverty does not appear amongst them. On the issue of poverty, Obama's ideas address crime in our communities, responsible fatherhood and most importantly, an increase in the minimum wage. Hillary promotes more tax credits, fixing the housing market and making college affordable. The truly poor in America do not have the luxury of considering college options or affordable mortgage rates. They are merely trying to meet their most basic needs of clothing, food and shelter. Hillary appears to have forgotten about the people of our lowest financial class. Likewise, her health plan focuses on tax credits for working families and small businesses, but seems to largely ignore the needs of the unemployed and impoverished. I have health insurance, but I still cannot afford the out of pocket expenses of ever increasing health care costs. Minimum wage is $5.85/hour and gas currently hovers around $3/gallon. Therefore, a minimum wage earner uses an entire day's pay just to fill up his/her car. A single gallon of milk costs more than an hour of his/her pay. Something is terribly wrong with this picture!

For those who say Hillary's experience in the political realm, via having been married to the president qualifies her to do the job I ask: If you need surgery, are you going to have the wife of the Surgeon perform it? She may have scheduled his appointments, kept his office efficient, dealt with his patients, and been respected by his colleagues - but she never actually did the "doctoring" now did she? Ditto the wife of the president. Sure, Hillary is more qualified than me, but certainly not any of her opponents.

Let's talk about conviction. Obama opposed the war. Hillary initially voted yes, but has since changed her mind. Recently, as she is asking us to ignore her record on the war, she also produced a touchy-feely commercial about how she will "never forget" those fighting for us. Supporting our troops is a very good thing, but what Hillary is doing is pandering to both sides of the fence. It is a good tactical measure - stroking the soldiers while backtracking on her record regarding what they are fighting for. This exemplifies why I do not support her candidacy. I want a leader who will hold strong to the convictions and promises he/she stands for regardless of public opinion. I do not want apologies for having made tough decisions. I want someone who owns their actions, regardless of popularity. Hell, George Bush may be an ass, but he has never felt the need to apologize for it. I may not agree with what he believes, but I do believe he stands behind it.

Lastly, there is the issue of loyalty. Hillary recently fired her Campaign Manager. This woman had been supporting her, promoting her and working extremely hard for her. Public opinion of Hillary, the Candidate, was turning. So what does Hillary do? She blames someone else. Rather than own her platform and address its problems; rather than work harder with those working for her; rather than turn to her staff and resolve to overcome... she punishes a scapegoat. Do we want a leader who abandons her supporters when the going gets tough?

This is what it all comes down to: commitment, integrity, loyalty, and the ability to listen and to work through the tough times. Obama has consistently said to us, "Let your voices be heard," whereas Hillary has only said, "Listen to me." Obama is a candidate who offers us hope for our own futures rather than merely reminding us of the glories of his past. He has made me believe in the potential of my country again, and that is more than enough reason to give him my vote.

2.10.2008

Another Embarrassing Confession

I like Aerosmith. There. I said it. Should I be embarrassed about this? Or should I be more embarrassed by the fact that before this weekend I could not have named a single Aerosmith song?

Okay, that is not entirely true because I was familiar with Walk This Way - but only because of Run-DMC (Da Kings of Queens - hollah Muller!) And I guess somewhere amidst the pop culture databases in my mind I recognised that Dude Looks Like a Lady was sung by the only man with lips larger than Jagger. But that was really the extent of it.

While I am shaming myself, I may as well admit that I can still only name two Led Zeppelin songs: Stairway to Heaven (duh) and D'Yer Maker. I only know the latter because one of the cooks in the restaurant I worked in throughout college sang it ALL THE TIME. As far as naming the members of this seminal band ... well, aside from Robert Plant I can't. I even just cheated and googled just to make sure Plant was actually a member.

I guess I just missed the whole 1970s anthem rock bus. Alice Cooper, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and even Van Halen could appear at my dinner table and I wouldn't have a clue who they were. Ditto Pink Floyd and The Who, though I can at least name some of their songs.

It's only because I spent my young teen years at the roller rink that I know the words to so many Journey Ballads. Now those guys knew how to sing about the young love I experienced.

Sigh.

Anyway, I always thought I was pretty well schooled in music, but damn! It's like graduating high school in America without learning who Abe Lincoln or Thomas Jefferson were! (As an aside, I recently dated a guy who rudely accused me of just that.)

So, because an old and dear friend of mine is still, after all these years, in love with Steven Tyler I have discovered Aerosmith. What is that, like 20 years behind the curve? Anyway, she sent me a link to a Youtube video and that led, as Youtube links always do, to a couple of hours of video watching. By the time Liv Tyler and Alicia Silverstone stripped in Crazy I was hooked. I went out and bought some of their CDs yesterday and spent today writing papers to the soundtrack I apparently had muted during my youth.

The only thing I can offer in defense of my musical steet cred is the fact that while I missed most of the Big Boys, I did amass quite a collection of obscure punk, old rock-a-billy, classical and old- school rap. During my music industry years I had the opportunity to meet a lot of cool musicians who became even bigger after I met them - though, uh, not due to any actions on my part.

I do own bragging rights to the following encounters - though to explain how they occurred would take waaaay too long:

* Playing with baby Jack Osbourne backstage while Ozzy gave interviews.

* Discussing how very religous people are in the Bible belt with Bono.

* Dying the hair of Fixx's bass player in the public restroom of the arena before they played.

* Todd Rundgren sat in with Lords of the New Church, which was cool, but backstage he would not admit to us he was Todd Rundgren. (Conversley, Ted Nugent used to call the record store, but we refused to believe it was him. (Mucho thanks to Muller for reminding me of that!) Also, that same night at the LotNC gig Stiv promised to come to the record store the next day to kidnap us...and made good on his promise, though no actual kidnaping occurred.

* I pissed off the lead singer of Whitesnake ... or maybe it was some other hair rock band. regardless, I didn' know who he was then and clearly I still don't. Sorry "leather pants guy in the zebra shirt". I'm sure you've recovered from the ego blow.

* I ended up stuck with the responsibility for the underaged girlfriend of one of the guys in the scratch and rap band that did the "wiki wiki" song, whose name neither Muller nor I can now remember. So much for the staying power of 80s rap! I put the kiddo's butt on a bus back home to Jersey the next morning!

* Too many fun nights hanging with Henry Rollins and the guys after a Black Flag gig.

* Discussing physics and philosophy with the guys from Devo - though not so much input from me on the physics part. Damn! Those guys were freakishly smart!

* Inflicting my wrath on Brian Setzer after he was rude to my (then) boyfriend's two little boys. I didn't care how many tattoos he had - I was still gonna kick his ass!

After a nostalgic phone conversation with Muller we both agreed that there were so many great shows and fun people that they all sort of meld together into one big crazy groupie experience. Even without the Arena Dinosaurs they were still Good Times
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2.04.2008

They Give This Stuff to Fighter Pilots!!!

So my doc quit her practice to take an administrative position and I had to switch to a different one. It really sucks because I really really liked the old doc. But the new doc I chose is my friend Darrin's partner. I'm pretty confident that since Darrin is a nice guy and a great doctor, surely his partner in the practice will be equally good. We ruled out Darrin being my doctor a long time ago, as since we are friends and neighbors it would be kind of awkward to introduce physical exams into our relationship.

Anyway, I met the new guy last week when I went in for some labs. Friday we met to discuss the results and to hopefully find out why the fuck I feel like crap and can barely stay awake these days. Turns out there was nothing in my lab work that would account for my lethargy. Damn! I was actually honestly kind of hoping for some skewed thyroid numbers or anemia, as at least that would explain things.

New Doc is now betting on sleep apnea as the culprit, which has been brought up before in my medical history. I will probably end up doing a stupid sleep study again. Ugh. While I do love to sleep I also get really really uncomfortable when being monitored.

I did ask New Doc if it was alright for me to take No doze or Vivarin or somesuch since endless hours of sleep and a neverending consumption of caffeine aren't doing the trick.

"Oh, I can give you something that I think will help," he said. "This is not an amphetamine and it doesn't contain ephedrine. It will not make you 'speed' but it will help you to feel more alert and to stay awake. It's often prescibed for shift workers and military jet pilots."

Jet pilots?! Does it come in an economy bottle?

He gave me some sample packs and told me to go ahead and start that day, but to take only half since it was already 2pm. I took half immediately and since I had the rest of the day off I decided to do some errands.

I'll just say that I got more done on Friday than I have in whole weeks past! I think it was around 3pm when I started talking and I didn't shut up until after midnight (at which point I had no problem going to sleep). In between I did errands, grocery shopped and went over and hooked up Muller's mom's internet. During the drive times I took care of phone errands - including some counseling. I took Little Dog for a haircut and then went and got my own hair did. At one point as Corey was cutting my hair I exclaimed, "Cory! I cannot stop talking!!!"

Corey's response was the equivalent of "duh". "Girl, you haven't shut up since you got here," he laughed, "What the hell are you on?!" Now Corey is my spiritual brother, so he knows I don't participate in recreational drug use so he was being facetious. I explained about the doc and the pilots and how I finally felt awake for the first time in months. He suggested that maybe after he finished my hair I might want to go on a speaking tour of the world. Funny guy, that Corey.

When I finally got home I called Darrin - well, that was after I hauled in all the groceries and packages, cooked a late dinner and put together a giant training cage for the Most Patient Cat in the World to do her rehab therapy in.

"Is this stuff speed, " I grilled Dr. Darrin, "Cause I have done some speed in my crazy youth and if I remember correctly it was a lot like this - only then I swear I could feel my hair grow and I smoked a lot and I forgot to eat." Yeah, I'm not proud of it, but I was a club kid in the 80's and I did my share of amphetamines. I wanted to be skinny and to dance all night, what can I say?

Darrin used his doctor voice to explain to me that it really, honestly, was not speed and that it was fine for me to take. He said my ridiculously high cholesterol and laid back (meaning: inactive) lifestyle were far more likely to cause me heart problems than this medication.

Hallelujia! I took one the next morning and again experienced feeling awake and alert. I didn't talk nearly as much, but I accomplished even more than the day before. Again, it was a reasonable hour when I went ot bed rather than, say, six in the evening.

I do believe this is a miracle drug! With my luck in about a month the first class action suit will be filed and It'll be pulled from the shelves. It's truly too good to be true.

Until then, if you need a jet pilot, I'm awake!