Growing Up, and Letting Go.

Thought I would post these today, with permission of course.  Time slips away and these moments are gone before you realize it.  Thank You Baby Girl – for allowing me to save them and share them. You’re beautiful!  May 3, 2014

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“Ours Not to Wonder…

…What were Fair in Life; but finding what may be – make it Fair up to our Means.” ~ Anne McCaffery

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/kansas-judge-man-who-provided-sperm-to-lesbian-couple-must-pay-child-support/

This made headlines recently and I figured I could use a good op-ed piece to get my muse kick-started again. So here goes…

First of all, I am completely supportive of same-sex couples adopting and/or having their own biological children together.  A loving home with good consistent co-parenting is a key factor in raising a healthy well-adjusted child. (I’m leaving single parenting out of my factoring in this case, although a loving strong and consistent single parent is just as effective in raising a healthy well-adjusted child – I think we all can agree that having two involved parents is the optimal situation for all concerned. Parenting is a tough gig.) That said, it is not the “right” of any couple to be able to have children simply because they want them.

If one or both of the partners is infertile then medical insurance can cover procedures to mitigate that, and/or provide Artificial Insemination or other options to assure pregnancy.  In the case of this lesbian couple – its safe to presume that at least the biological mother was fertile – in which case it was NOT incumbent upon her medical insurance (if she had any) to provide coverage for the AI procedure. Just as it is not incumbent upon a fertile heterosexual woman’s insurance to provide that coverage.  There’s no problem with the plumbing in either case.

No, I can’t say its fair that same-sex couples have to struggle on this level too, but in regard to this issue – that’s the way it is.  I’m going to use myself as an analogy here for a moment:  I had bariatric surgery several years ago.  I could use a few nip/tucks here and there post-weight loss.  However, I am not covered for it. Fair? Nope. But that’s the way it is. Life’s given me bat-wings so I better learn to fly with them! Anyway, however any of us may feel about same sex relationships, and related civil rights –  we cannot deny basic biology. Unless there is some help or scientific intervention there can be no fertile relationships between same sex partners.

So,  – the correct thing to do if AI is the way fertile females are choosing to conceive, is to SAVE THEIR MONEY in order to get the procedure done.  Mistake #1 in the case I am discussing here. Mistake #2:  The couple  advertised online (Craigslist???) for a sperm donor.  They must be OUT OF THEIR FREAKIN MINDS.  Mistake #3:  The man involved actually responded to an online advertisement to be said donor.  He was not a registered sperm donor.  HE must be OUT OF HIS FREAKIN MIND too.   The poor kid could’ve ended up with John Wayne Gacy or Delphine LaLaurie as parental material!  We all know what a wonderful, safe place the internet is, so let’s search it to find the perfect person to create a child with…….. OR NOT.

Mistake #4: AI is a medical procedure with inherent risk even when performed by a licensed physician.  Conception a la Turkey Baster at home is, how shall I say this – a “Bozo No-No”….. yeah that works…. The woman was fortunate in that her home performed procedure did not result in complications such as infection, peritonitis, sepsis, STD’s, or even death – and lead to a healthy baby.

I guess my bottom line here is that life isn’t fair.  We all have dreams that are unfulfilled; things we want to do that we cannot.  It is what it is, and we should try to make the best of it if we cannot change it.   The Kansas court rightly decided that the donor should be responsible for child support in that proper procedures were not followed by any of the adults involved regarding the insemination of the woman, or the subsequent support of the resulting child. The judge also quite correctly inferred that the child is the person who matters here.  Hopefully this will serve as a heads up to other couples deciding whether or not to have AI. If you want to be a sperm donor, please register and donate at a licensed medical facility. These steps protect you legally.  If your insurance doesn’t cover artificial insemination, save your pennies, consult a lawyer, draw up a binding contract that clearly spells out obligations and will be recognized in court, and use state approved and medically licensed facilities and personnel to perform the procedure.  Or alternatively – ADOPT. There are far too many children who need loving and supportive homes out there.  But that’s another story…..

Livin La Vida Loca

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Whew! Hello Again “Strangers”! My apologies for being away from you all for such a long time. I have missed writing, blogging, and my photography intensely these last few months. Life took an insane turn for the busy is the best way I can put it. (Those of you who are friends on Facebook will know exactly what I’m talking about) But for those of you who are not, or who I’m not in direct communication with – here’s what’s up in my neck of the woods:

I have scarcely had time to breathe or relax since August. Several family members – including my mother – have been very ill with serious medical issues and/or issues with aging. It is now time for me to step up further, along with my sister and step-siblings, as we continue to adjust our assistance to help meet the needs of our parents. The initial period of adjustment has been, shall we say, “bumpy”? – as diagnoses are mentally processed by all, and plans are put in place. I’m not a friend of Bill W – but I do find myself saying the Serenity Prayer frequently; as I’m learning the difference between what I can and can’t change in a BIG hurry; and finding my balance in the process (which is a good thing!) But I gotta tell ya – its tough when you live just down the street – jussayin….

As someone who went to school for Social Work and more importantly, as a Parent, my first instinct is always to be “The Fixer.” I see, I analyze, I solve…. Problem is, not everyone agrees with what to me are obvious fixes. Therein lies the rub…. I also need to remember that not everyone is looking for advice, sometimes they just need to vent. I don’t have to have a solution for everything. And I don’t. There are things that I have to let be, whether I like it or not. I can, figuratively speaking, grab a seat and some popcorn to watch the ensuing train wreck. I may have to do that – and I’m not happy about it at all.

Additionally, other friends and family are struggling with their own issues and I am doing my best to be supportive of them. Who ISN’T struggling these days? That would be the short list I think. That’s the list I would like to be on, even for a brief time. It doesn’t appear to be in the cards for me right now – but I’ll live. The Viking changed jobs and went back to his old company in CT. His former company has downsized considerably and cut all overtime for employees. Since we are trying to replenish the seriously depleted nest egg – this was unacceptable. Like most in the middle class – we can generally pay our bills on 40 hours, but saving appreciably? No way. So, he applied back with his old company and was pretty much re-hired on the spot. We had to get a second car for him, but well worth it. Good news in the midst of Mi Vida Loca!

For those who are interested, my weekday looks like this:

6:30 am – Hit the deck, get ready for work etc
7:30 – Commute
8-4 or 4:30 – Work
4/4:30 Commute
5pm-7/8/9 pm – Dinner Prep, Chores, Pet Care, Child Taxi Service as needed, Dinner, check in with family, friends, shop, run errands etc. etc…. (Wine, anyone? 😉 )
9/10/11 pm – TV/Read/Bed (depending on level of tired I am)

It doesn’t look like much when I write it down, but Boy Howdy! It sure takes the starch out of my knickers. And when the morning light comes shinin in I get up and do it again, Amen. And I remind you, dear readers, I am not 25 anymore. La Vida Loca, indeed. Weekends are spent catching up on chores I don’t get to do during the week (like the major housework) and helping the Viking with the outdoor stuff, plus doing whatever my Mom needs help with. So yeah…. Busy, busy. And its not like the girls don’t help. But Chaos is rarely around on weekends and busy with college and work during the week. Mayhem is helpful but also increasingly busy as her high school social life expands. She’s now involved in the Drama Club and the GSA at school; and Keystone Club and the PAL Mentoring Program at The Boys and Girls Club after school. Fortunately, one of her friends’ family and ours kind of “co-op” transportation duties so no one has to play taxi all the time. In many ways, it does take a village these days – or at least another family – to raise children. This weekend my friend Eve – of the aforementioned family transportation co-op – is coming over to help me regain some control of my house and the clutter therein. It’s a mess despite best efforts otherwise. She’s really, really good at organizing and de-cluttering so is going to give me a consult free of charge! Hurray!!!!! We have a really small house (approx 800 square feet) with only two micro-closets. Add two large breed dogs, a cat, a ferret, a teenager and three adults and VOILA – hot mess!

So that pretty much catches you all up my friends. I should have an op-ed post up about the Healthcare debacle in the near future, as well as whatever else strikes me or tickles my funny bone. I just need to find the time to gather my thoughts and write the darn things! Hahaha.

I’m out for now, Peace.

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You’ve Got to be Carefully Taught

Lyrics from ‘South Pacific’

You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear,

You’ve got to be taught from year to year,

It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear,

You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid

Of people whose eyes are oddly made,

And people whose skin is a diff’rent shade,

You’ve got to be carefully taught.

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late,

Before you are six or seven or eight,

To hate all the people your relatives hate,

You’ve got to be carefully taught!

I must admit I didn’t get the underlying social messages when I watched this wonderful movie as a youngster. I was more interested in the beaches, and later as a teen – in the beefcake – to give much thought to a little bit of a song in the midst of all that glorious technicolor – sun, sand, the United States Navy, and the US Marine Corps.
That little throwaway number has become an earworm for me over the last few weeks, as I try to make sense of the senseless. I did a bit of research about the song, which actually had a pretty powerful message for 1949; and again in 1958 when the movie was released. Apparently Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein felt so strongly about the importance of that message they insisted it remain in the performances, even if it meant that the production failed. In essence, this song was the lynchpin of the entire play/movie to them, and could not be removed. And it was not, despite considerable political pressure to do so.

Humans are not born racists, homophobes, bullies, misogynists, thugs, or criminals. We are taught, and as the song goes – by “six or seven or eight” – taught to hate. It’s pretty easy actually. You just have to point your finger at someone who looks or acts different than you and blame them for your misfortunes. It’s easier than blaming yourself, after all. You just have to be afraid of the different. It’s kind of genetically programmed into us – right? Biology and survival of the fittest ; we cull out the mutations. We make snapshot judgements about others and we pass on what we think we “know” to our little ones. With our words, and with our actions, we teach our children to mistrust and/or hate people who aren’t exactly like us. Chips off the old block, as it were. We’re becoming increasingly polarized, intolerant, violent, and murderous. It’s almost impossible to even agree to disagree these days. The uber liberals and uber conservatives belittle and scoff at one another in their quest to be “right” and get the last word. Centrists don’t seem to have a voice – and a loud centrist voice is sorely needed. I had hopes at one point that our POTUS would be that voice, hopes that have been dashed by the realization he can’t even get out of his own way, much less facilitate an environment where all can come together to work towards solutions.

So I guess it’s up to us folks, and not the politicians. And maybe that’s as it should be. If change is not coming from our government, we must bring it to our government. Rightly, righteously, respectfully. We hold these truths to be self-evident:

That all people are created equal and endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

We need a different lesson plan for People; for Families. We start with self respect; we set a standard for behavior at home and in public and we hold everyone accountable. We talk TO our children rather than AT them. We do not tolerate bullying or demeaning behavior and we support our children to speak out if they are targeted; and to stand up for others who are being harassed. We stop making excuses for offenders and we expect consequences for offenses. It’s based on the Golden Rule. Do unto Others…. We have the talk with our sons about respecting our daughters. We have the talk with our daughters about respecting our sons. We encourage learning – more books and less TV. We work at making our adult relationships work so that our children can see that these commitments are neither convenient or disposable. We admit when we are wrong, and we apologize. We can reeducate, but it will take some hard work. . I feel sometimes like I am screaming at the top of my lungs to what at best is echoing silence. These truths I have outlined, this lesson plan for humanity is SELF-EVIDENT. A no-brainer. A return to that Golden Rule and the Core Values our society is based on (see above).

Above all we need to get mad, in the proactive sense. We have to stand up and scream “No More!” No more hate speech, no more name calling, no more profiling, no more beatings, no more rapes. No more feeding a beast that deems softcore porn appropriate entertainment matter for a globally televised awards show. No more judicial system that says a 14 year old girl bears responsibility for consenting to sexual activity with a man more than twice her age… Just exactly how does one become “older than their chronological years” anyway? She is not an emancipated minor – just so that’s clear. 14 is not capable of legally consenting to ANYTHING. Coercion is implicit when a much older person gets a minor to perform sex acts. Apparently this is something the judge chose to ignore in his statement of ruling. No more mothers who sit bored and yawning in a Georgia courtroom where their son is on trial for cold bloodedly shooting an 18 month old toddler. Society’s Moral Compass is severely misaligned at present, quite obviously.

It bears repeating – This is what we need to be CAREFULLY TEACHING:

Respect yourself.

Treat others with Respect and Kindness, even if you do not receive Kindness in return. Remember that a difference of opinion is not a personal attack. If you can’t say something nice(ly); don’t say anything at all. (“You Stay Classy San Diego!”)

Play by the Rules.

Help your Neighbor.

Speak out about Injustice and Inequality. Be that shining light in dark places when all other lights go out.

Own your mistakes and strive to do better.

Get – and stay – Educated. Learn to read, speak publicly, write well, and most importantly LISTEN. You’ll find out much more when you are silent and observant.

Above all – Love one Another.

That’s not really so hard to do. The government isn’t going to legislate that for us. We have to do it ourselves. It starts with an individual commitment to change, and a commitment to raise our children to be better people than we are. How many of you reading this are willing to make that commitment, take that step, and for example perform an act of kindness for a total stranger? Give up getting a few extra presents under the Christmas tree and instead donate that money – or some of your time, to a food pantry or homeless shelter? Set limits with your children and enforce them? This includes curfews, and dare I say it again – some form of dress code? We can carefully teach our children by our loving example. They pay far more attention to what we do. What we say – not so much. (Ask any mother of a teenager about that – we’ll tell ya!) Hold the door open for an elderly person, offer to help someone struggling with grocery bags. Show our kids that we have respect for one another and I’m pretty sure our kids will start showing respect too.

I do not want these people, and countless others I can’t name, to have died or suffered for nothing – please remember them:

Delbert Belton. Christopher Lane. Antonio Santiago. Trayvon Martin. Matthew Shepherd. Islan Nettles. Cheryl Green. Jyoti Singh. Brandon Teena. James Earl Chaney. Andrew Goodman. Mickey Schwerner. Martin Luther King. Phoebe Prince. Jamey Rodemeyer. Reginald Denny. Paramjit Kaur. Satwant Singh Kaleka. Prakash Singh. Sita Singh. Ranjit Singh. Suveg Singh. Francois Chenu. Ginger Slepski. James Byrd. Jennifer Daugherty. The Victims and Families of 9/11. The Victims of the Manson Family Murders – included because it was Manson’s stated intention to incite a race war. The 11 million + Victims of The Holocaust. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………

The Slippery Slope

http://jezebel.com/girl-gives-boy-blow-job-at-music-festival-boy-is-hero-1170516814

This past weekend there was a music festival in Slane, Ireland at which a young woman was photographed engaging in sex acts with at least two different young men. The photos went viral quickly and the young woman has promptly been slut-shamed; while little if anything negative fallout has been attributed to the young men who participated in said publicly indecent behavior. I cannot even begin to tell you how upset this makes me – on many levels.

First off – it takes two (or more in this instance) to Tango, folks. The young men who engaged in this activity with her are just as “slutty” if not more so – than the woman in question. They ALL should be ashamed of themselves, and probably should be arrested for public indecency and placed on the sex offender registry when convicted. Since 17 is the age of consent, child pornography is not an issue in this particular case. Yet, I fail to understand why young people these days deem it OK to photograph, videotape, and share what should be extremely private moments. There is certainly  more than enough information out there about the dangers and consequences of sharing explicit photographs and messages via cell phone or on the internet. Once it’s out there, its out there FOREVER. I don’t completely understand why folks aren’t more careful about what they do – or don’t do, in the internet age. Hel-lo!?! It ain’t rocket science to figure that one out – and act accordingly. Secondly, there was no expectation of privacy…. Moreover, since when did it become OK to get a blowjob in public? So for the young woman to be “distraught” by the publication of these pictures doesn’t make sense. Duh – they were in PUBLIC. If this woman was inebriated, where were her friends to talk her out of doing something this dumb? Oh wait, they were probably all inebriated…… and thought this was HILARIOUS….

I think, perhaps, there’s a very slippery slope here – and what we see in this instance is the pileup at or near the bottom of that slope. The code of conduct for public behavior, hell – even the dress code, has relaxed considerably in the last few years. For example, \10 years ago I don’t know of a single person who would have left the house in their pajamas for any reason other than a critical emergency room visit. Just stroll around your local mall this weekend and you will see a lot of people wandering around in their nightwear. Standards of decency have lowered too – as evidenced by the fashion of wearing ones pants below the hips with one’s tightie whities or boxers showing to all the world. Shirts showing either under-boob, side-boob, or uber-cleavage. Low rise pants that stop millimeters from revealing the upper pubic area. Short shorts clearly outlining one’s genitalia, and buttocks hanging out the back. The attitude is “anything goes” – fashion wise. It’s a short step down to “anything goes” behaviorally, is it not? Especially when, alcohol and drugs are involved. These music festivals are notorious for such things. Is the lack of decency in fashion a cue to act less than decently when wearing such costume? I think that’s highly probable.  I am not saying one cannot express themselves via their clothing.  I am saying that one should be careful and thoughtful, always. Just because you CAN do something does not necessarily mean you SHOULD.

There’s not a clear line to distinguish the acceptable from the unacceptable anymore. Is it then surprising when we (ie the rest of us)  get treated to the free show? If we are surprised, we shouldn’t be. We are not holding anyone to acceptable standards of public behavior when we make ridiculous allowances for “freedom of expression” that cross the line into indecency and immodesty. I am not saying that fashion choices are the sole determining factor in this debacle – but I do think that it was a big part of the slippery slope these folks were on when they fell. Its all connected folks – don’t let anyone tell ya different. I believe it does no one harm to be told “NO” once in awhile. No – you can’t go out of the house dressed like a hoodlum, or a 5 dollar hooker, period. That boundary allows us the structure to eventually determine our own levels of self-respect.

In the festival fellatio fiasco, there was a serious lack of self respect shown in regard to all the participants in the “event.” Certainly more than enough blame to go around for all involved. Is it slutty behavior to perform sex acts in public? Absolutely. All should be held accountable, not just the female who performed the favors. A young man with any self-respect whatsoever should have declined any ‘offers’ and assisted the woman to a safe location. Any young man who was raised correctly, that is. And any woman with any sense of self worth should absolutely know better than to engage in such behavior. If both consenting individuals were interested in a hook-up – it should have been conducted in PRIVATE. I am hoping that all parties will have charges brought against them, that they will learn a tough life lesson, and conduct their sex lives in private from this point on.

 

The Head Table

Head Table Place Settings

Head Table Place Settings (Photo credit: VancityAllie)

Remember when you were a kid, and you couldn’t wait to sit at the grown up table on holidays?  No more mismatched chairs, paper plates and plastic cups at the rickety old card table. No sirree bub – you got the formal dining room and the good china at the adults table.  You were where it was happening. Definitely a mini rite-of-passage, at least for this chick.  As the oldest child and oldest grandchild I got to go first. Woo Hoo! Welcome to the Party, Pal!

But I want to talk about a different table.  The Head Table.  I don’t mean where Bride and Groom sit during their reception, or where the Silver and Gold Anniversary Couples get to sit. Those are cool places to be.   The happy place – center of attention and hub of the party wheel.  I want to talk about the table you get move up to – and sit at – when your parents pass away.  Its not an actual table, but its a real thing nonetheless.  And its emotional, and scary.  If all goes as hoped, you’re bound for the cemetery next. Not that anyone hopes to die, but if The Fates are kind, they take you before your children.

When you step up to take your seat at the table (if those Fates have once again smiled upon you) you’re usually middle aged – and usually with children and grandchildren by that point.  Sitting down, you get to take stock of your life to date.  You evaluate your goals, reevaluate them and maybe even change career direction. Or divorce. Or remarry. Have a full blown nuclear mid life crisis. Make a menopausally fueled Hit List. Or none of those things. But –  underlying whatever is going on is the stark reality that there’s no human buffer zone between you and the Great Beyond anymore. No safety net below you as you stand on the platform at the ceiling of the Center Ring.  Tag. You’re it.

I was chatting with my Aunt Jean the other day.  She lives near Chicago, but we try to connect with one another as much as possible. She was 17 when I was born, and she’s my Godmother.  We were discussing careers and work. She mentioned that at my age- I’m at the apex career wise.  If I’ve reached for the brass ring already – great. If not, I’d better do it soon. She didn’t say so, but I thought –  I’m approaching the Head Table, dammit.   I haven’t sat down yet because my Mom is still with us; but  I’m halfway up there as of 2007 when my Dad left us terribly, suddenly. Two of my best friends in the world – Cheryl and Martha – have a seat saved for me. Cheryl’s been sitting up there since 1999.  Martha, since last year.

I’ll be in great company, but I’m really not ready to move up to the Head Table yet. Those Fates though, they don’t deign to ask whether or not you’re ready to sit up there. And if I had to guess, I would say that NO ONE is ever ready for a seat at this particular table.  The view is probably lovely up there – friends, family etc. The love, palpable. But it seems a lonely place, regardless of the company you’re in. And, taking your seat up there acknowledges that you are, in point of fact, now an orphan.

So, as I meander towards my new assigned seating (which I FERVENTLY hope I will not have to sit in for a few years yet) I find myself asking the questions:  Am I happy? What makes me happy? Do I matter? Selfish questions, but at my age I’ve paid enough dues in life to ask such selfish questions. I also ask unselfish ones:  Have I made a difference to someone, helped someone, been a good parent?  (Don’t ask my girls that until I’ve had a chance to bribe them) Hahaha! ;). And finally: What do I want to do with the next 30+ years of my life?  I’ve certainly discovered a passion for writing and photography in the last year or so. I would like to build on that if I can.

What questions will you be asking yourself as you approach The Head Table? Or, what are you thinking about as you sit there?  Inquiring Minds…. etc.

What’s in a Name? And, A Drive By Vomit

I woke this morning to the sound of giggles and murmuring in my living room.  Mayhem (the youngest) has been sleeping on the couch because of a spider-fright in her room. Chaos (the oldest) had to get up early to register online for next semester’s college courses.  So of course Chaos had to make sure that Mayhem was awake – because in her world if she ain’t sleepin, ain’t nobody sleepin. They didn’t bother me (today 😉 ) and so I snuggled back into my cocoon of warmth for a few extra ZZZZ’s. When I finally emerged into the living room – Chaos was registering for her classes and Mayhem was doing her usual morning zombie shuffle. At some point, Chaos decided to help herself to some post-Easter Jelly Beans.

Didja ever start eating something that you thought you knew what it was; but it turned out to be something different? Well…  (Gagging, goat-like noise) “Mom? Black jelly beans, what flavor are they?” Me:  “Liquorice.” Chaos: “What’s anise, then?”   Me: “It tastes like liquorice…. Its a plant.” She had been expecting grape flavor -mistaking black for purple in the dim light. Well, since things usually taste pretty crappy when you were expecting one taste and get another  – much merriment ensued when the word “anise” was phonetically compared to the word for the body orifice that produces said crap.  Which I was unaware of, quite apparently –  since I continued to blather on about the anise plant.  The girls were still chortling over “anus” and thought I was commenting about anuses….how you can boil and reduce them to make the liquorice flavor. Yes, I have lost my mind – but not quite on that grand a scale – yet….Mayhem  was holding her sides. To paraphrase JRR Tolkein: Its a dangerous business – getting out of bed in the morning.

Fast Forward to this afternoon:  The Tale of the Drive-by Puking.  To set the stage: the usual state of affairs is that Chaos brings Mayhem home after work, since the younger one is a member and the older one works there.  They arrived home at abut 6:20 pm today – par for the course.  Chaos had to relate what happened on the way home –  literally just up the street. They had turned down our street and were approaching the neighbor’s house.  Both girls noticed a girl sitting on the curb. The car in front of them slowed, stopped and picked the girl up.  Mayhem: “Whats going on?” Chaos: “Getting a ride, or getting kidnapped.”  Door of car opens, girl leans out – Kidnapping Escape Attempt? Nope.  She proceeds to hurl on the street.  The driver waves Chaos around and gives her a wide-eyed  “IDKWTF is going on” look as they pass the car.  Said car then proceeds to speed off down the street in some haste – leaving the lovely deposit behind…..

I am not surprised. In this town literally anything is possible.  But I think I have had enough strange hilarity for one day.