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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Nostalgia and Summer Magic

It’s not quite again summer yet; but I feel the need to return to a less complicated time and place. Enjoy!

My Magnificent Mess

With apologies to Mr King (I edited the tense and changed the year)

“All the same, the past feels very close just now. Maybe it’s just the golden cast of the declining summer light, which has always struck me as slightly supernatural. It’s as if 1970 were still right here, only hidden beneath a flimsy film of intervening years”. ~ Stephen King, 11/22/63

Perhaps it’s because we were both born and reside in New England, albeit different generations, but I “get” Stephen King. His writing just lingers in my brain, mulling around – until I come out with some seemingly random quote that makes sense to absolutely no one but me. The quote above fits my feelings, thoughts and mood PERFECTLY today. It’s certainly because I am on holiday from my job this week! And lastly, perhaps it’s also because my children are now officially on their summer break…

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The Times – are They a’Changin?

I have been having a multitude of conversations with my 14 year old lately dealing with behavior, morality, human sexuality, sexual orientation, social acceptance, bullying etc.  More than I ever seemed to have with my oldest at that stage of her life. Times have gotten tougher everywhere.  These times, they are a changing  – or are they? Its not that my youngest doesn’t get it, or is having trouble socially – it’s just that what’s out there is so darned overwhelming. She starts high school in the fall. It’s a whole different world – even more so than when her sister went to high school – and CERTAINLY much different socially than when her dad and I attended,  way back in the “olden” days.  (and it’s a whole ‘nother planet when you think of the differences between now and her grandmother’s generation – who probably graduated in the 50’s or 60’s)  But perhaps not.  There is so much further we still have to go in terms of  inclusion, equality, and respectful social interaction.

I read this online today at www.aholyexperience.com   and while my prevailing thinking does not generally run toward a religious bent – something she said really resonated:  “When the prevailing thinking is ‘boys will be boys’ – then girls will be garbage.”  And I went: “Wow…”   since I have those two girls of my own. Being young – and female, in today’s society comes with enormous challenges; and becoming a successful, self assured, independent female adult requires great sacrifice, a strong steady moral compass, sheer cussed stubbornness – and a big mouth.  Raising such women has been supremely difficult – and supremely rewarding.  Raising girls sure is tough. Girls are, well….girls. There are days when I feel extremely sorry for The Viking – trapped in an unending sea storm of estrogen.

We’re up against it aren’t we, after all? That glass ceiling – career-wise. A woman earns 70 cents for the dollar that a man earns to do the same job.  Hypersexualization of women in our culture from an early age Toddlers and Tiaras, anyone? Jon-Benet? . Madonna provided a hypersexualized portrait of women in their early 20’s.  Brittney Spears brought the age level down to 17/18 and Miley Cyrus – 14/15.   This society we live in, with its severely delinated and defined gender roles that allow no room for people to just be people. Outdated patriarchal thinking that allows women to be objectified; and is more concerned with blaming a  woman for her clothing choices on a Saturday night out with friends – rather than blaming the drunken lout who assaulted her.  “Boys will be boys” after all. Boys are not accountable simply by virtue of their gender?… Wait, what?  Yeah, I went there.  The “rape culture” that blames the victim and elicits sympathy for the offenders.   Witness Steubenville, Ohio.The media laments about  “promising football careers lost” while simultaneously – and gleefully – reporting that the underage victim had been drinking.  Witness Delhi, and Datia Province – both in India – where one only need be female  in order to be assaulted, defiled, and murdered.   Witness Elmont, NY – where a 15 yr old special needs student was gang raped beneath her desk while class was in session – with a teacher only feet away.  They were all asking for it?  By being drunk? Being in the wrong place at the wrong time? Being developmentally disabled? Or merely by being female? Oh I think not! Things like this make me want to keep my girls home permanently. Only I didn’t… haven’t… won’t.

My daughters both have minds of their own – quite intelligent and compassionate ones. The 14 year old is particularly sensitive to social issues and is not shy about expressing her opinions even if they differ with mine. (The older one is even more vocal, hahaha) My views at this point in life are somewhat jaded (I guess that would be the most apt word).  “It is what it is, my friend – and life’s not fair – so get used to it.” That’s not to say I won’t pick any battles, but I have seen the futility of tilting at the proverbial windmills.

As my youngest starts to establish her adult identity she is of course interested in self expression.  Hairstyles, clothing styles etc.  I have always encouraged my girls to choose for themselves, – but within limits.  The conversation we had the other night is a good example.  There seems to be a fashion fad going around of people wearing informal style pants where the crotch hangs down around the knees by design. The waist is not pulled down manually – as has been the gangsta style (underwear showing) that’s been so popular. Below the knee, the pants (t shirt or sweatpants material) fit tightly to the calf.  I did not hesitate to tell her what I thought: 1. Looks like pajamas, which are NOT acceptable to wear in public 2. Looks like the person wearing it has a full diaper and needs to be changed – again, not acceptable in public.

Like it or not,  people will be judged by their appearance. If you walk out of the house to do business in public in your pajamas – you will be perceived as lazy, period. If you are dressed like a two dollar hooker – please do not be surprised when you are treated like one. Is it right or fair? – NO. But its not going to change anytime soon.  How do I teach the fine line between self-expression and immodesty? Or sloppiness? or laziness?    Hopefully it began long ago, when their father and I (again hopefully) instilled a sense of pride in themselves. By demonstrating that we do things the right way, not necessarily the easy way. And, by treating each other with respect and tolerance.  Walking the talk, as it were.

No one has the right to harm another person, no matter how they are dressed, what their IQ is, where they are from, or how inebriated they are. That said, however – it is also important that women remember to be proactive, self protective, and self aware.  This means understanding that choosing to wear the belly shirt and the micro mini-skirt may bring unwanted attention. It means being responsible – and response-able, making smart choices.  We cannot control how others behave; we can only control our own behavior.  We can hold others accountable for their behavior, but ONLY after the fact.  And by then – Damage Done.  Damage in the form of teasing or bullying, harassment, or outright physical harm.

The teenage years are horrid at best – so why would anyone deliberately make extravagant choices that would paint a target on their back? What about that self expression?  Well, living in adult society often means compartmentalizing and role-playing.  For instance – I’m a jeans and tee shirt kind of girl – who also happens to be tattooed.  However, I work in an office that has a dress code and I have to wear business casual attire Monday-Thursday and cannot go sleeveless even in the summertime.  Do I feel stunted or my freedom of expression impinged upon?  Not really – because who I am inside is always there and I don’t need to show it on the outside all the time in order to feel I’m living authentically.  I know I can go home and change when I get out of work. I have developed a public identity to go along with my private one. My personal friends and family see a more complex me than my acquaintances do. My professional contacts see me only superficially. Their opinion of me on a personal level means little. I merely have to do my job and be pleasant. I have a bigger obligation to be “real” to my acquaintances and even more so with my friends and family. This is the process teens are working through – developing their adult identities and coming to terms with the fact that our public and private faces do not necessarily have to match in order for us to live happily. Finding the balance, becoming OK with the layers.

Another issue is that we tend to over share these days. Somehow we’ve gotten the idea that unless we are acting uninhibitedly we are being untrue to ourselves. NOT SO. Just because we can do something does not mean we should. A bit of inhibition is a good thing. Self-restraint is a sign of maturity whether you’re male or female.   It’s a fine line to walk, and a big challenge to impart that lesson.   (The brain’s judgment center is not fully developed until the mid-twenties) Teen females also need to learn to navigate the patriarchy and carve out their own niche – not settle for whatever society determines is right for them  ie: The Trophy, or The Bitch.

So I’ve told my girls: Be authentic – do what feels right, provided it doesn’t hurt anyone. Be respectful, and expect to be respected in return.  Harm none. Speak up against injustice and unfairness.  But, recognize that as a female they will have to do it better than the boys to even be considered half as good.   And that by speaking up, by demanding that respect – they’ll be thought of as Bitches. And that’s OK – a strong Bitch is hard to push around, isn’t she?   I want my girls to be happy and successful.  I have tried to make sure they have the tools to excel in today’s world, while also striving to assure that they have the dreams and vision to aspire to something better for themselves. So in the end, they can choose to be someone other than a Trophy or a Bitch. And THEIR daughters won’t even have to think about it.

2012 in review: Happy Birthday to Me! ( today really is my birthday)

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 22,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 5 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

This is one of my Brother in Law’s blogs – fellow Trekkie, sci-fi geek, and lover of all things Conservative! Love you Bunches Dave – in spite of the fact we have yet to visit/meet in person!

My Great-Grandfather, Frances Marion Holt, died in 1903. I, obviously, never met him and what I know of him is from his Civil War service record and what I have been able to glean from a few sources here and there. I do know from family records that he was illiterate and left no written records, no letters, no postcards, no writings behind. I can imagine conversations with him, but I have no real idea what he liked, what he thought, what he dreamed or what he hoped. I do know that he had a son, Charles Leonidas Holt

My maternal grandfather died in 1959, five years before I was born, and it wasn’t until I was well into my own 40’s that I knew much about him at all. I had the opportunity to spend an afternoon with my Uncle Joe (of blessed memory) and talk about Grandpa. In…

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Timely, logical, caring advice for those of us about to rock. Bring it on Sandy, you ain’t got NOTHIN… BOOYAH!

dailymomprayers

As soon as the tribe awoke and ate breakfast this morning, I bundled them all into Fran the Van to pick up a few last-minute supplies; we’ve done a few more road trips than usual this summer, so some of my stocks of “easy eats and drinks” were more depleted than I like them to be when the emergency management people are warning people to prepare for power outages lasting over a week.  While using my rewards points to score a bunch of freebies at Walgreen’s, a gentleman of roughly my father’s age surveyed our little band and commented that he has four granddaughters he’s raising.  I complimented him on his dedication and energy; it takes a special person to raise another generation at an age where many people are contemplating a life of retirement, and shook my head as I commented that I didn’t know how I would do another…

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Gahhh Internet Difficulties

Apparently my computer got some sort of virus with a or cookie add on that links advertisements to random words in my posts. Several people suggested I clear my browser and cookie history and reboot so Ive done that .  Am posting this quickly to see if in fact the annoying add thingies are gone.  Im editing to see if in fact this severely annoying feature is in fact gone for good.  The links have appeared in prior published posts, comments made by myself and others and its really creepy to me.  The kids have been repeatedly told time and again not to download games off the internet,  I’m really not sure what happened. I did see a site when I got to add ons in firefox –   arcade candy games so disabled that immediately. I have no idea what it is anyway.   Keywords like Insurance and plastic surgery got linked.  Im baiting this to see if it will happen again.  And it did.  Dammit all to hell!  Update:  I had to disable all my add ons and extensions whatever the hell they are, and also put a site called text enhance in my restricted sites  (this may only work for internet explorer and not firefox though)  Deleted cookies, histories and caches  four or five times too  Rebooted the computer 4 times.  It looks like the problem is finally fixed, Im hoping.  Stupid computer hackers!!!.  I also had to delete my last post.