Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I Don't Think Flag Pins Are Patriotic At All

I am going to write something that will probably get me a hateful email. But I am writing it because I am so frustrated by what I keep reading and hearing.

I hate Veteran's Day.

I hate yellow ribbons ad Facebook thank yous and prayers for troops. I hate the weirdly ostentatious displays of faux patriotism.

My husband is a veteran. Both my grandfathers (and one of my grandmothers) served in WWII. I truly value their service and am thankful for the sacrifices that they and others have made on all of our behalves.

That is why I hate the fucking hypocrisy about members of the military.

You know how Americans show what they value? With money. This is why lawyers make fortunes and teachers are on food stamps. We put our money on what we really care about. And so instead of flag pins and those weird magnetic yellow ribbons on cars I think we should fund the appropriate equipment for soldiers. I think we should pay wages that mean that no military personnel need food stamps. I think we pay for better security so that military families are safe. I don't believe that prayers will protect a soldier serving overseas--but the right body armour might.

I know that Veteran's Day was last week but the chatter keeps going. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with thanking a Veteran for their service--but making sure our WWII and Korean War and Vietnam Vets have their pensions funded and have the best health care available is the best sort of thank you we can offer.

Once we have settled all that--maybe then I will re-post your facebook message.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Why I Don't Use Foursquare

I've been online blogging and using social networking for seven years. I obviously still use a pseudonym and take certain precautions about anonymity but I don't kid myself--if some one wanted to figure out who I am and where I am they can. In fact, many of my regular readers know.

I don't worry too much about it because well, I can't. I am reasonably cautious and I accept that living online carries risk. Living in the physical world carries risk too. That being said apps like foursquare and the like make no sense to me. I have no desire to report my whereabouts to everyone at every moment. I don't even really like that my phone has GPS.

For the past few months I couldn't quite put a finger on why my friends' foursquare updates pinged something in my stomach, I couldn't place why they upset me even though there is nothing to be upset about.

I was stalked in 1999. I met a man at a seminar. A friend and I worked with him on a project--we went to his house and he showed me his paintings. I mainly remember that part because I have always been into artists. He had this great dog. And I didn't see him again. He never even told me his last name.

Except I noticed this car behind me a lot--a model/color just special enough that it seemed odd it turned up everywhere I went. One day I recognized him. The next day he started screaming at me on the street--calling me names. He parked outside my apartment and honked the horn and flashed his headlights at my windows for hours.

I called the police. They didn't seem to know what to do with me, kept wanting me to say we had dated, wanted it to be something that I had done. I finally got dumped with an officer who specialized in domestic disputes even though everyone knew it wasn't really that sort of situation. I liked the officer and she was the first one that looked me in the eye. But she couldn't do anything. Until he attacked me no one would do a thing about the harassment.

One night I was studying in my apartment with some classmates. He followed another resident into my "secure" building and knocked on my door. I answered and he pulled me into the hallway. He tried to pull me down the stairs. I fought back and a classmate came into the holiday and so did the super. Just enough to pull him off of me.

I don't know what his intention was that night, was he going to hit me, try to kidnap me? But it turned out to be lucky for me in a way because he had an arrest warrant for assault and had skipped bail. That the police could and would do something about. That made the officers take me a little more seriously.

I won't ever know what made that guy follow me. I don't think it had much to do with me at all. I don't think he was obsessed with me. I just think he was trying to control something, some one. I was just unlucky. But I know this sort of thing happens every day. I imagine the police have gotten more savvy about what stalking is and hopefully they don't shunt women off with warnings about dating strange men and maybe you just need to only drive with some one else in the car. I hope the officers don't stare at the women's boobs while they are clearly trying to size up why the guy would want this girl anyway.

I think about that guy all of the time. I walk down the street now without a worry about who might follow me. I am a suburban mommy, no one follows me or notices me much at all. But my eyes still watch my rearview mirror closely, I still look people in the eye and watch my surroundings on the street. And I would never ever use foursquare.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Lucky Girl

My father and I got along for a while.

To simplify things, the story is that he and I have always fought. But that isn't strictly true. It is true that he always preferred my sister's company to mine (in the natural way that some people just enjoy each other more). It is true that I never held his attention really--I wasn't anyone particularly interesting or special to him when it came to me personally. He always loved me--and it isn't as though I came out of the womb and we started fighting.

There was this brief moment though--when I was old enough to have real conversations and my sister was all teen angsty-when he and I enjoyed each other. I think it was maybe around a year, right after we moved here to Washington. We watched movies every night--working our way through all of the James Bond films and movies he considered classics. We are popcorn and played cards. It was just this moment in time when we just drank each other in.

In the next couple of years I hit puberty and I think he stopped being able to pretend I was his son and I don't know. Teenage girls are unpleasant at best, I can't blame him really. But we drifted away from each other. We became these people who would tense up when the other person was in the room. I can piss my father off by sitting a certain way.

I don't blame my dad. He loves me. He did the best that he could. He and I just don't get on together the way that we would want to. I am lucky to have a father like him though because he wants me to be happy so much.

I can't help seeing the difference though, in how J is with our daughter. How he plays with her and holds her and just loves her for who she is. Now, who she is doesn't play loud music or wear inappropriate clothing and she hasn't called him a cocksucker yet. But this weekend he played tea party with her for hours, even though he would rather have done anything else, because she wanted him to and because he loves her.

My daughter won't ever have to wonder what is so wrong with her that her father is indifferent to her. She won't have to try to change so that he will think that she is worthy or interesting. She already is.

Lucky girl.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Evil Gingy

Growing up my sister did everything first. I am sure this is a youngest child thing but since we are the same gender and interested in the same things I ran into an endless string of "oh Sister already did that" whenever I accomplished anything. I don't think my parents loved me less or thought I was any less wonderful than my sister but for them and our extended family it was hard to get worked up about a first grader getting all A's when her big sister had done that four years in a row at that point.

This continued basically our whole childhoods. I do wish that some one had urged me into different activities and sports than the ones she did. I wasn't really talented at anything and she was always better. In another family I would have been the smart one but in our family I couldn't snare that title. She was even prettier once she got through the awkward phase (sadly right as I entered mine).

As adults none of this matters. We both grew up to be successful adults who are happy and have beautiful families and our lives couldn't be more different (I would like to go back in time and somehow tell Little AB that--that none of this matters). But that feeling of never being really GOOD at anything built a tiny evil voice in my head (truthfully, he looks like Gingy from Shrek which says something maybe not so flattering about me) that exists only to fuck with me.

I think we have all have this voice sometimes. Unless you are more mentally healthy and probably really boring and maybe also a kitten kicker at any rate. I think mine is louder and meaner and maybe more convincing than other people's (wait! this is what I am good at! huh I am never going to be on Star Search). Evil Gingy whispers in our ears about how we aren't smart at all and how GOD how could you have worn that outfit don't you know you have Mommy Ass and everyone in your office hates you and your stupid FACE. Evil Gingy plants bad thoughts in your head about how your husband doesn't really love you and resents you and how your mother screens your calls. You know these things aren't true and yet that dark place in your heart wonders. Evil Gingy is an asshole.

Most of the time I don't listen to Evil Gingy. Listening to Evil Gingy never results in good work or cute outfits or gold star parenting moments. Listening to Evil Gingy means you will find yourself in the parking lot of Kentucky Fried Chicken licking a honey wrapper with a bad haircut and wearing weird frosted lipstick.

Occasionally though Evil Gingy gets to me. I have Evil Gingy days. Days that are filled with anxiety and that terrible deep in the stomach feeling of DOOM DOOM DOOM. Days when you think about crying in the bathroom at work even though you are WAY TO MATURE FOR THAT YOU MEAN IT. Days when you could rip some one in HALF. Days when one more email chirping away in your in box is the difference between functional adult and a trip to the nuthouse.

I had an Evil Gingy day yesterday. I don't know what overtook me. Nothing was happening out of the ordinary. But I became convinced that everyone in my office hates me and is talking about me. Also that they make fun of my outfits. That I am old and washed up. That I am going to be fired. It was like having a huge cannonball of PMS and shame and hate hitting my self esteem. Every ten minutes.

Today is better. Today maybe they hate me, maybe they don't. I can't really do much about it. Today maybe my outfit is better and I made roasted carrots for dinner and I just slog through it all. Today I am remembering to be proud of myself because maybe no one else sees that I am doing something to be proud of here.