Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Thing About Things

Husband and I have made some choices in our lives; choices that we thought would benefit our family and help us secure a comfortable future.

We choose to live within our means.

We choose to live in a modest home.

We choose to be a one income family.

We choose to have only one car payment at a time.

We choose to put 10% of our earnings into savings without fail, each pay period.

To expand upon that...

We don't use credit cards, so if we do not have cash on hand, then we simply do without. For big purchases, we save up or wait for bonuses, tax returns, etc. We do have one for emergencies, but we absolutely, positively do not use it for intangibles such as dinner out or a mani/pedi. We learned a hard lesson early on in our marriage about abusing credit, and we will not go down that road again.

Our home is small and shabby. It was 15 years old when we bought it and already in desperate need of some TLC. The improvements have been slow going and over the years, some things have deteriorated even further. But it keeps us warm in the winter, and cool in the summer. It keeps the rain off our heads. It has a big fenced in yard in which my boys frolicked safely for many years. Most importantly, the mortgage is quite manageable. We are not house poor as so many of our friends and neighbors are. And now that husband is out of work, it will be difficult, but not impossible to pay it.

Fourteen years ago, quite to my surprise, I found that I simply could not fathom leaving my tiny pink baby in that cold, sterile, cheerless place. I chose to stay at home with my boys. While I have sometimes questioned whether it was the best choice for me, I have never doubted that it was the best choice for them.

Husband and I trade off with vehicles. I got a new van 6 years ago, while husband's poor Jeep plugged along year after year. When my van was paid off recently, he finally bought himself a new car. He had been driving the Jeep for 11 years, and it had over 200,000 miles on it. Now, I will wait until his car is paid off before I replace my big blue cliché with something a little less...maternal.

Both of us have seen what happens when you don't plan for future. So although it's tough to see that money subtracted from our already meager bottom line each month, we know that it's a necessity. Who knows if there will even be social security in 30 years? I don't want to be reduced to eating tinned beef and stale crackers from the dollar store.

All of that means, we don't have some of the stuff other people have. We can't do some of the stuff other people do. We can't go places some other people go. We do not appear affluent, though we live in an affluent area.

Still, my children have far more than I ever did growing up, which makes me both enormously happy and somewhat fearful. I sometimes I worry that they have too much.

It's a fine line to walk in this material world.

I remember the humiliation and shame of not having the right clothes, the right house, the right car. I can still hear the taunts and jeers; I can still see the contemptuous looks. I didn't invite other children to my home because I was ashamed of the sofa with the stuffing coming out of the arms, the crumbling hole in the kitchen ceiling, and the mismatched bedclothes in the room that I shared with my sister.

I didn't volunteer for things at school and church because I knew I would have nothing appropriate to wear. I didn't go out for sports or cheerleading or choir because I knew that the cost of uniforms, dues and equipment was just too dear.

And although my mother tried very, very hard to make sure we knew we were as good as anybody took a lot of years for me to stop thinking of myself as less.

I don't want my kids to ever feel like they are less. I don't want them to ever feel shame for something over which they have absolutely no control.

And yet...

I worry that they take the things they have for granted. They have televisions, cell phones, iPods, xBox, Wii, computers. They have some of the latest clothing brands, and nobody knows they were bought used on ebay or from the consignment store. They have never been picked up in a rusted out rattletrap of a car that backfires and leaves clouds of black smoke in its wake. They have never had to miss a fieldtrip or a cultural experience because we couldn't afford the fees.

I don't know if that's entirely good for them.

Now, I'm not saying that poverty builds character and that any kid who hasn't gone to bed hungry is destined to become a shallow, materialistic brat with huge entitlement issues.

But I think sometimes that people need to hunger. Not in the literal sense, but they need to need; they need to want. Because otherwise, they never learn to strive for anything. They never learn to be resourceful, they never learn to be driven and determined. They have no appetite.

So I am torn between protecting my children from the cruel reality of being and having less, and keeping them from becoming the kind of greedy, grasping, hedonists that are responsible for the economic collapse of this country.

I think about this a lot. Because I myself sometimes get depressed and discouraged by always being on a budget. I want new living room furniture and I want it now. I am sick to death of driving the big blue cliché. I want to get rid of this disgusting carpet and put down hardwood floors. And we could. We could have all that and more...if we changed our priorities.

Yesterday was Diminutive One's birthday, and he had a small party with sleepover guests. Despite our current situation, we were able to give him a pretty nice birthday and I was feeling good about that.

He was excited by his new cell phone. But about three seconds after he unwrapped it, one of the birthday guests said "I've had a cell phone since I was in third grade." He was excited by his new Wii game, which prompted another comment. "The graphics on this game suck. Too bad you don't have an xBox. I have all the game systems."

I hadn't been paying much attention to their chatter, but for the duration of the party, I was hyper aware of everything that was said. And the comments continued. Diminutive One was completely oblivious to the fact that this kid was dissing all his stuff. Sometimes the fact that things go right over his head is a blessing in disguise. But the more I listened, the more irritated I became.

Shortly before he left (he was not able to spend the night like the other guests, thank God) he made an unsolicited comment to my son. I think he was growing frustrated because his jabs had gone unnoticed or at least, unacknowledged by Diminutive One. He said, "Boy, I feel sorry for you. You don't even have a laptop." Diminutive One looked at him blankly and ignored the comment completely. He has a very nice desktop pc and was obviously baffled as to why anyone would feel sorry for him.

Why? Why did the child feel the need to make these comments? I've been to his home. It's a huge lavishly decorated McMansion in an upscale neighborhood. His Mom drives a high end SUV. He always has the latest and most coveted clothing and shoes. The disparity is obvious. They have more money, or more credit than us. So why the need to continually point out that he has better stuff? Why so much concern over and emphasis on material things?? Why the need to steal Diminutive One's moment and dampen his excitement over his gifts?

I was puzzled and thoroughly annoyed.

To my knowledge, my children have never behaved in such a way. Though they have a lot of things, they have had to wait for birthday and Christmases. We don't buy them things just because. Sometimes they have to use their own money for things and save a very long time. Pubescent One wanted an xBox very, very badly, but at $350 for the game console, and $50 per game, it just wasn't an expenditure we were willing to make. So he saved his money for a year to buy his own. They know that things don't come easily and money doesn't grow on trees. They have pride in the things that they do have, and, for the most part, take good care of them.

Pubescent One got an iTouch for Christmas only to have it stolen from his gym locker a month later. He never asked us to replace it. And several months later when Husband got an iPhone and gave Pubescent One his old iPod, he was genuinely grateful.

Diminutive One was incredibly pleased with his phone. He knows what the situation is, and never expected to get such an extravagant gift. So the surprise and delight that he displayed upon opening them was genuine.

And that makes me think that I must be striking the right balance or at the very least, helping them understand that there are more important things than things.

But if I *ever* hear one of my children talking the way that child did...I will take every single thing they have and make them earn their possessions back one by one with very hard, very grueling, and very stinky labor.

You can count on that.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

My Kid Is Weird

One characteristic of children like Diminutive One is that they are very literal minded. Because of that, they often don't get certain kinds of humor, such as sarcasm. While Pubescent One grasped and then proceeded to utilize sarcasm at a fairly young age, Diminutive One is just completely perplexed by it.

And though he is a very smart child, certain things go right over his head because he doesn't interpret nuance, implication or ambiguity very well. He is very direct, sometimes disconcertingly so. And he expects others to be equally direct, equally clear in both word and deed.

If he were a smidge smarter, and a whole hell of a lot neater, I would liken him to Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory.

This is sometimes a problem for us, as both Husband and I are very sarcastic individuals. We share a very wry sense of humor. And we often forget that he is oblivious to our wit. Sometimes he will ask if we are being serious, but because he has an extreme aversion to looking stupid, a blank stare and an indifferent shrug are often the only indication that we've flummoxed him with our repartee.

It all sounds kind of talking about someone in a foreign language while they're standing right there, or, putting a "kick me" sign on someone's back. But it's not intentional. It's second nature for Husband and me. It just comes out. It's inherent. Or is it innate? Maybe both.

When he does venture a verbal response, they are often fantastically funny, because they are just so...wrong. Incongruous or Awkward or just nonsensical. And then it's funny because he didn't mean to be funny. He doesn't quite get why we laugh, but he's delighted to have made a joke of his own for once. And then he will repeat it over and over to anyone who will listen.

The other night, we were watching "Dances With Wolves" with him. He loves historical epics and hadn't seen this one yet. For some reason, he was enchanted with the Indian names. He was particularly charmed by "Stands With A Fist". After the movie, he asked Husband what he thought his Indian name should be.

"Well that's easy. Your Indian name would be Wears Shirt Backwards."

(Diminutive One has this amazing propensity for getting his clothes on backwards and inside out, and being completely oblivious to it. It's really quite a feat, as he has a 50% chance of getting his shirt on properly, but fully 90% of the time, he comes down with his tag showing and his neckline dipping oddly in the back.)

"Ha Ha Dad."

"No, no wait! It could be Showers When The Moon Is Full."

(He is also notorious for his aversion to showering regularly.)


"Or what about, Argues Like a Badger."

(He is renowned for his argumentative nature.)

"Very funny, DAD."

He folded his arms and frowned. Then he said...

"Well your Indian name would be weirdo!"

Husban and I looked at each other and broke into giggles. We genuinely did try to stifle them, but it was just so goshdarned funny because it was so wrong and not funny. We finally let go with full blown guffaws.

Diminutive One looked over glowering, but slowly a grin spread across his face. He had no idea why we were laughing, but he knew he was the cause of it. And that tickled him to death.

Just then Pubescent One appeared.

"Why are you laughing?" he asked.

"DUDE," said Diminutive One, "Dad said my Indian name should be Wears Shirt Backwards and then I said HIS Indian name should be weirdo!"

For a moment, Pubescent One looked confused. Then he snorted. And snorted again. Then he began to laugh. He laughed for the same reason Husband I had laughed, which caused us to break into fresh gales of laughter.

"Dude...that's so not funny!!" gasped Pubescent One.

"I KNOW!!!!" howled Diminutive One.

And that's when I realized that he....was laughing at us. Because we were the numbskulls laughing our fool heads off when nothing was funny.

And that is why I kid is weird. But then you have to remember...the apple doesn't fall far from the tree.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

More Weirdness

You know, I've been writing this blog for almost 4 years now, and I've really gotten remarkably little crap considering some of the delicate topics I've written about. The crap that I have gotten is relatively mild and mostly, I ignore it.

I had an internet experience five years ago that resulted in my hide becoming iron clad. That experience also taught me that often when people lash out and say vile, awful's not about me. I'm just a convenient and near perfect target, as would be any other blogger or myspacer or message board member they happened upon.

Because I'm a faceless stranger. They don't have to look in my eyes as they digitally scrawl their insults and hatred and profanity across these pages. It can be done with emotional impunity and cathartic intemperance.

No, It's about them, and the darkness of spirit that has overtaken them. It's about despair and loneliness and self-loathing. It's about not having anybody to care that they are miserable and hurting, and it's about feeling like there's no way to fix what's wrong.

There is something wonderfully freeing about venting one's spleen of all that anger and frustration. I get that, I really do.

So, Anonymous, whomever you are....

I hope that whatever is making you so sad and lonely and angry is lifted from your soul soon. I hope that somebody notices you're not okay and has the humanity to reach out and ask you what's wrong and how they can help.

Everybody needs and deserves that.

That said, there are several posts that still get a ridiculous number of hits though they are years old, due to my woeful disregard for basic search term science.

So sometimes I just chalk it up to the fact that some sick bastard who is frustrated and no longer gratified by jerking off in his Mommy's dirty panties decided to search out some visual stroke fodder to feed his perverse needs. With his one free hand trembling in anticipation, he pecked out something like...oh, say..."eat my Mom's pussy" (128 yesterday), which landed him here.

That post of course, did nothing to satisfy his deviant desires, and thus, sent him right over the edge, (where presumably, he had been teetering precariously for some time) and precipitated the kind of deranged, pubescent rantings you see on the post below, which, by the way, were stunningly well articulated, don't you think?

Boy, that sure fixed my little red wagon, dinnit?

To the other Anonymous (AMAZING how so many people by the same name happened to read my blog yesterday) who characterized this blog as "over the top dramatic"'s okay. You don't have to like every blog you read. I certainly don't.

And I understand that some people don't get my sense of humor. That's okay too. Irony, sarcasm and satire are pretty sophisticated concepts.

Jesus, you go away for a few days to make sure you don't have a brain tumor and things go to hell in a handbasket. In that respect, the internet and real life are remarkably similar.

Am I right ladies?

Sunday, July 26, 2009


My BBPV is back. The information that I read said that it could take several treatments to effect long lasting relief, so, I guess I'm going to be hanging my head frequently and doing maintenance therapy as well.

No posts forthcoming until I can stop the whirling in my poor brain.

Getting old sucks big hairy donkey balls.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Alright, I need to get that self-indulgent dreck off the top of my blog.

I have nothing of import to write, and yet, I feel compelled. It really is my therapy I guess, and cheaper than talking my fool head off to someone with a few fancy schmancy letters after their name while they work on their weekly menu plan.

My incredibly talented writer friend Amy, who is disciplined, determined, fearless and above all....published...tells me; "JUST WRITE. Write about anything. It doesn't matter what. It's who you are and writing is like breathing for you."

So I thought I would just tell you about the very weird thing that happened to me this week.

Now, first, you have to understand that at least once a day, I convince myself that I am dying. It's an affliction that I come by honestly. My entire family tree is riddled with phobias, fears, disorders and neuroses.

And unfortunately, the worrywart gene has been passed on to my children. Once, when Pubescent One was in the second grade, I was called to retrieve him from school because he was writhing and howling in pain; clearly in the throes of some sort of gastrointestinal crisis.

The school nurse, who was a pretty unflappable sort (as school nurses are wont to be), was convinced he had a hot appendix, a perforated colon, or at the very least, a whopping case of food poisoning.

As we raced to the emergency room, he howled and sobbed, effectively freaking me right the fuck out. This, I knew, was serious. At one point, he stopped sobbing long enough to ask me if lead was poisonous, to which I obtusely replied, "Well, only if you eat it".

This elicited fresh howls, which were even more frantic, more agonized and decidely louder in volume. I began to get a glimmer of a clue, but before I put two and two together and come up with four, he wailed,

"MOOOOOOOOMMMMM, (sob, heave, sob)Iwaschewingonmypencilandpencilsaremadeoutofleadandnow


"But babe, pencils are made out of graphite. They stopped making them out of real lead a long, long time ago."

The howls stopped immediately. I looked in the rearview mirror to see that although he was still ashen and sweaty, he had stopped crying and clutching his stomach.

"Really?" he asked cautiously.

"Yes, really."

He puked with relief at a gas station up the road and that, as they say, was that. Mission ER - aborted.

So anywhoo....

I tend to convince myself quite often that I have some horrible deadly affliction. Gas? Colon cancer. Headache? Anuerysm. Pimple? MRSA. Weird flaky spot on the back of my knee? Necrotizing faciaitis.

See a pattern here?

I don't know why this is. I suspect its due to generalized anxiety disorder combined with the lack of a spiritual belief system. I would love to believe in heaven or reincarnation. But when it comes right down to it, I think dead is just dead. And that scares the ever loving shit right out of my cancer ridden ass.

So Monday morning I awoke feeling rather good, which is unusual for me, as I am a life long insomniac and usually awake feeling rather sluggish and groggy and thoroughly disgruntled that a new day has dawned.

I yawned and stretched in a most satisfying way. And then...

Before I had even raised my head off the pillow, the room began to whirl violently around me. I couldn't focus, I couldn't move, and a gray haze began to envelope me.

Honestly, my first thought was...I knew it! I knew I had an aneurysm. I guess it finally blew. I'll just lie here and wait to die. So tragic. I never got to say good-bye to my husband and kids. It's going to be so traumatic for them to find me here like this and....

I realized the room had stopped spinning. I put two fingers to the artery under my jaw and found to my profound shock, that I had a pulse.


I sat up cautiously with no ill effects. I then rose to my feet, whereupon the whirling sensation returned. I staggered to the bathroom and vomited copiously. Trembling, I crawled back to the bed and began to take stock. It wasn't a stroke because I had no neurological deficit (I did the finger to the nose test, and the follow it with your eyes not your head test), no weakness and no paralysis. So, what was it? MS? Brain tumor? Slow leak of cerebrospinal fluid?

All the morbid possibilities were giving me a major anxiety attack. So I went back to sleep, hoping it would all be gone when I woke up. I call that "The Ostrich Defense" and I have raised it to an art form.

It wasn't gone. Every time I rolled over in my sleep, it provoked another attack of vertigo. And so it went for two days before I finally called the doctor to make an appointment. I had divined by then that I wasn't going to die, so I wasn't in any big hurry to take my whirling head and churning stomach out of the house.

Vomiting anywhere but my own toilet elicits extreme dread in me. Actually, vomiting in and of itself elicits extreme dread in me. I will do anything to avoid vomiting because in the back of my mind...way, way back where I won't have to acknowledge how terrifficly foolish it is, there lurks the fear that I will vomit up vital organs.

Well whaddya know, another phobia.

So I stayed flat on my back, again...hoping it would just go away.

It didn't go away and I was forced to admit that I needed medical attention. Did I mention that despite my fear of being beset by catastrophic illness, I am a chronic doctor avoider? Yeah. I hate going to the doctor. A lot. Don't ask me how long it's been since I had a gyno exam. And don't lecture. I know. Forget cancer, I'll probably die of a simple case of crotch rot.

Then, by chance, an internet acquaintance happened to mention that she had suffered from the same thing. She said it was called BPPV (Benign Paroxsysmal Positional Vertigo) and that it was actually very easy to treat. In fact, I could do it at home. All I had to do was hang my head upside down.

PUH. I thought. I'm, like DYING here. I need interfuron or a lobotomy or something!

But later, in the wee morning hours, sleepless, dizzy and sick, I decided to give it a go, despite the rather daunting fact that hanging my head upside down might cause the theoretical aneurysm in my head to blow.

So I tried the Epley maneuver (see above link). I was dubious. Because *I* would never suffer from something that could be treated so simply and easily. Nosir. *I* would contract something horribly obscure, requiring some exotic, costly and most of all...painful, treatment.

But I'll be goddamned if it didn't work.

I gotta tell you, hanging my head backwards like that triggered one bitch of a vertigo spell and I nearly heaved my guts right into my own nose. But once I got past that, it was easy and painless.

I could tell as soon as I sat up that the vertigo was gone.

And I can tell you that apart from that moment when my children finally exited my womb (GOD, didn't you just feel SO much better when that kid was OUT of you???), I have never felt so relieved in my life.

Weird huh?

The human body is an amazing and complex machine. And this old machine is breaking down piece, by piece, by piece.

SIGH. I guess I better take the ole girl in for a tune-up.

I really hate that.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


You all have been very kind. I truly appreciate all the encouragement, praise, and support.

But it's not you. It's me.

I stopped writing for comments a long time ago, because I realized that it was changing me and changing my writing. Also, I realized that I would never be one of those bloggers who garner a ridiculous number of comments on every post, no matter how mundane.

No, it's more a question of...

Just what the hell am I doing this for anyway?

What VALUE is there to what I am doing here?

If I were to look back in fifty years, would I feel gratified by what I have done here? Would it make me proud? Would it have benefitted me or the people I care about in any way, shape or form?

Perhaps this is just a symptom of the larger sense of apathy and malaise I am feeling right now.

We are jobless and frankly, life is no fun right now. It could be worse, because we can feed our kids and keep the electricity on, but I am growing disspirited nonetheless.

And I feel incredibly useless. I have no skills, other than my writing ability. I can't do anything to help. Oh sure, I could go get a job at Wal-Mart. And I will, if it comes to that.

But people...I want to do something that matters. Is it so wrong to aspire to greatness? Is it so wrong to want to feel as if I changed something, made some kind of impact, contributed to the greater good somehow?

I always thought I would do something like that. And I always thought my life would be different from the hardscrabble existence my parents edured. I thought that there was greatness in my future.

Well shit, didn't we all?

Ah, the optimism of youth. It doesn't allow logic or common sense to corrupt it. Just how did I expect to achieve greatness with no education, no training, no game plan?

I want to take that young, idealistic dimwit by the shoulders and shake her senseless.

I know nobody is going to hand me a book deal or a syndicated column. I know that people who achieve success as writers and journalists work hard to establish themselves. But it all seems so out of reach.

I can write. I know that. But I could spend a year of my life writing a book, only to have it languish unnoticed on every slush pile from here to Random House. It's a depressing thought.

I confess I feel beaten before I have even begun.

My husband, mister glass half full, assures me that it could happen the other way too. I could be catapulted to the top of the best seller's list and become an instant success.

"You're that good." he says. But he wears husband colored glasses.

So, I don't know if the apathy is the symptom or the disease. Regardless, I don't know how to treat it. I don't know what to do. I do know what not to do...and that's to let this consume me. But how to stop it.....?

Not by writing this kind of desultory drivel, that's for certain.

Go ahead. Tell me what a whiny, insufferable, self-pitying wretch I am. I deserve it.

I sure hope Wal-Mart is hiring.

Post Script: (More of an afterthought really)

I've decide that I have good reason to be a little down in the dumps. This year has been a particularly tough one.

A dear friend was viciously murdered in a shocking act of domestic violence. The investigation was badly mishandled, the evidence hopelessly compromised. Thus, her killer is free today. Her beautiful children are motherless. Then, two deaths within two weeks on Husband's side of the family. The bully stuff, which was BEYOND stressful. The CRCT thing, deciding what to do about that and how the hell to pay for it. And now, job loss and all that entails.

We've been terribly fortuante. Our sixteen years of marriage have been amazingly free of any major catastrophe, though of course, we've had bumps in the road like anybody else. So, I feel like I shouldn't complain too much about the hand we've been dealt.

And yet....I can't help thinking that it's a teensy bit unfair that all of this has been dumped on us in the span of just six months.

So I'm going to allow myself to wallow just a bit.

But not too long. Because I'm going to have to make a few decisions about my life.

I really hate that.

Friday, July 17, 2009

I think this blog is finished. It's been dying a slow death for a long time and I'm not sure how to resuscitate it. Or if I care enough to bother.

I know, I've threatened to quit before. It's kind of an annual tradition here at BAS. I know, you're probably throwing up your hands in disgust or chuckling to yourself. "Oh, that B.A., there she goes, threatening to quit blogging again. She'll be back."

But this is different. The apathy.....I just don't know.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Sweet Relief

It was a beautiful summer morning in late June. It was not yet 8:00, but the air was already breath warm. It caressed our naked arms as we walked across the parking lot to the small shabby elementary school building so unlike our own, which was sleek and new.

Diminutive One was subdued. It was a momentous day.

It was CRCT retest day.

A pretty black woman signed us in and ushered us to a windowless classroom where rows of chairs were stacked against one wall and boxes full of textbooks lined another. The weak fluourescent lighting was pallid and depressing. Several children roughly the same age as Diminutive One were already there, playing a game of Uno.

The proxy introduced herself. She was to have been Diminutive One's summer school teacher, had we chosen to go that route. She was friendly, but harried. She took him by the shoulder in order to lead him to a seat, but he resisted her.

"Uh...Mom?" his voice was tinged with uncertainty.

He doesn't like new and different. This place made him nervous. The teacher made him nervous. The other kids, clearly so at ease, made him nervous.

The teacher answered him before I could, which annoyed me a bit.

"Your Mom can come back and get you at noon. We're going to have a movie in the cafeteria when testing is finished. It's going to be fun!"

"Listen..." I said, in a firm tone, "I understand that I can't be in the room during testing, but new situations sometimes make him nervous. Above all, I want him to be at ease today. So I'm going to wait in the lobby until testing is finished."

She looked at me askance.

"You're going to wait in the lobby for four hours?" without waiting for a reply, she turned to Diminutive One. "Do you really need your Mommy to wait in the lobby?"

OOh. That irked me. But I kept my composure.

"Yes." I said.

"But why? He'll be fine here with me."

"Because he asked me to."

I looked Diminutive One in the eye, trying to telegraph strength and confidence.

"I'll be fifty feet away. You're going to do GREAT. Just take your time, check your answers, and show your work."

I hugged him and retreated to the lobby.

Thankfully, there was a comfortable chair, a bathroom close by, plenty of sunshine streaming in the front window, and a clock on the wall to cater to my impatience for this whole stupid thing to be over with. That clock and I became bosom buddies over the next four hours. It ticked on steadily, assuring me that time was indeed passing, though it certainly felt as if it was standing still.

I had a banana, a mug of fresh coffee, a bottle of water for later, and a book by one of my favorite authors. It's one I've read time and again, so chosen because I knew I would be unable to follow the thread of anything new. I think of it as an old friend, steady and unchanging. In it's pages there is no longer discovery or adventure, but the quiet solace of familiarity. Just what I needed.

At long last I heard the squeak of tennis shoes on the highly polished linoleum, and Diminutive One appeared, looking relaxed and relieved. The black woman who had signed us in earlier was with him, and she motioned me into the office discreetly.

"The teacher wanted me to tell you that he finished much sooner than everybody else. She suggested that he go back and check his work, but he said he didn't need to. She just thought you should be aware."

I felt my heart sink a little bit. This, historically, has been the problem for us. Fed up, irritated and impatient, at the threshold of his focus and his tolerance for being confined, he will simply start filling in answers. But he KNEW how important this was! He had been preparing for weeks. Surely he wouldn't blow it off this time!

I ushered him into the car, worried, but trying to appear nonchalant.

" secretary said you finished way before anybody else. I'm a little worried about that, but I'm thinking it's just because you were so well prepared and confident in your answers....right?"

"Mom, don't worry. The test was just EASY. I can't believe how easy it was! I KNEW all the answers. I didn't even have any doubts except for on one question and then I used the strategy they taught me at know...eliminate the most obviously not right answers first, and then work with what's leftover? So really, I only guessed on ONE question on the whole test, Mom! Can you believe that? Oh, and I showed all my work too. I had two whole sheets full, front and back."

I can usually recognize one of his snow jobs before it's even left his lips. I can see the wheels turning in his brain, formulating a plausible story. But he seemed to be telling the truth. His eyes met mine squarely and his posture was entirely relaxed. The grin on his face seemed pretty genuine to me.

I felt a little better, but still, there was some niggling doubt there. What if he had flubbed it..again? Would I be able to talk them into letting him move on anyway? I'm pretty persistent and persuasive when I need to be, but failing twice...that's not good.

We would have to wait two weeks to find out, which seemed like an unnecesarry cruelty. It was even crueler when two weeks stretched into three. Finally, the letter arrived in the mail. Husband called him down and handed the envelope to him. He took it, looked at it for a very long time, and then handed it to me.

"I can't. You do it."

I did.

"This letter is to inform you that your child has successfully passed the math portion of the CRCT and will move on to the 6th grade."

His breath left him in a huge whooshing gasp and his shoulders sagged nearly to his knees. He bent over and let his head and arms dangle for a moment. When he came up, he was beaming with pride and relief.

"Thank GOD." was all he said.

Then, cannily, he asked if his video game privileges, which had been suspended on an unrelated charge, could be reinstated as a reward.

Hell yeah, Dude.

Stupid ass standardized testing. Do you think that they ever intended for it to have these kinds of consequences on students? Do you think they ever meant for it to be so all consuming and worrisome and just....stupidly important?

Maybe they didn't, but that's what has happened. And it's a damned shame.

For us, now, it's over. But unless something changes, he'll be doing this again in three years. And those of you with young children could find yourselves in our shoes one day.

And for what?

You know, if I really thought that these tests have resulted in a better education or a better learning experience for our students, I'd be their biggest fan. But they haven't. Not at all.

My kids and I only have to endure three and six years more years of public education. But there are those of you who haven't even started yet. And twelve years is a damned long time to be stressed out.

Think about it.

And then let's do something.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Fatty Fatty Two By Four

One thing that I find very hard to stomach, is trash talking.

But its what fourteen year old boys do. I know this. Apparently, it's an inherent part of the male experience; a rite of passage if you will. As a male, you have to learn how to trash talk, or you become the victim. You have to trash talk in order to demonstrate that you are not easily cowed. That you can laugh at yourself. That you are not some pansy ass who gets hurt or offended by mere words.

This seems to hold true for adult males as well.

Have you seen the movie Gran Torino? There's a scene in the movie where Walt is trying to teach the quiet, passive Thao, how to trash talk. (WARNING: foul language, may not be SFW.)

Most of the time, it's friendly, believe it or not. But sometimes, there is an agressive edge to it just beneath the surface. Sometimes, the smiles hide true malice. But with boys, it's momentary. Someone calls someone a pussy. Someone calls someone else a faggot. They tell each other to fuck off...and it's done. Five mintues later, they're asking to spend the night together.

It always amazes me when this happens. Because if there's one thing I remember from my youth...girls know how to hold a grudge. Oh yes. A girl will make you PAY. And pay. And pay.

So anyway...most of the time, I turn a deaf ear to the trash talk. I endure it and don't interfere. Much.

But yesterday, as the boys were huddled together under the meagre shade of a portable awning waiting for a game to start, my son crossed a line. And I was mortified.

Let me preface this by saying that my eldest son is a genetic aberration in a family full of stolid, round faced, heavy limbed Eastern European peasant stock. He is tall and slender. His limbs are impossibly long, his frame devoid of any excess fat. He has never had an issue with his weight, and probably never will. He is a naturally thin person, which is as much a result of his personal habits as his genetic make-up.

He escews butter, gravy, mayonnaise. He never eats when he's not hungry. He will often wrinkle his nose when offered some sweet inducement. When he does snack, he chooses popcorn, pretzels, a boiled egg, a slice of cheese, a leftover chicken leg, a slice of deli meat.

He is truly blessed.

There is a young man on his team who looks like he sprung forth from the Antagonist family tree. He is stocky and well padded. Solid and strong, but not nimble or quick. He is acutely aware of this and tries to compensate by being the best catcher and batter he can possibly be. Those of you who don't have boys and aren't into baseball might not realize it, but a good catcher; one who won't let anything by him, is absolutely essential to a team's success. And he is good. Really good.

He and my son are particularly well acquainted, being catcher and pitcher. So he and Pubescent One were bantering back and forth, trash talking, poking fun, messin' around.

"You throw like a girl." he said to my son.

Pubescent One grinned. He doesn't throw like a girl and he knows it. So does everybody else. Thus, the insult was accepted with good grace. He countered with...

"Oh yeah? Well you're fat."

I gasped in horror.

The young man grinned as widely at Pubescent One's insult as Pubescent One had at his. He had no choice. But I knew he was smarting from that.

"Pubescent One Antagonist! That is OVER the line!" I said.

"We're just kidding around Mom." His tone was bewildered.

"I don't want to hear that again." I warned.

"Yes Ma'am." he said contritely.

I didn't say anything more, because I didn't want to embarass the other child further by making a big deal. But later at home...

I asked him how he would feel if someone called me fat. Or his Dad. Or his brother. Or his grandfather, who is a very, very big man, but one of the most gentle, loving, generous people you would ever meet.

"Bad." he admitted.

"Why?" I prodded.

"Because I know it would make you feel bad."

"Uh huh."

"But I was just kidding Mom! I didn't mean it. I like Catcher."

"It doesn't matter if you meant it or not. It hurt him. He had no choice but to sit there and act like it didn't, but it did. That child has never been anything but nice to you has he?"

"No Ma'am. But it's just what we do, you know that."

"I do know that. And most of the time, I don't say anything, even though I don't like it. But there is a fine line between good natured trash talking, and personal insults that cut deeply. You crossed that line today buddy. You have no idea how hard it is to be fat. You have no idea how bad it makes you feel about yourself. You have no idea how much it hurts when somebody calls you names. But I watched Aunt Antagonist struggle with it her whole life, and now I'm watching your brother struggle with it. And even Dad and I have to deal with it from time to time. Remember that time you were in fifth grade and some little pissante was teasing you about your fat Mom? How did that make you feel?"

"Sad. Because you're not fat and you're a good Mom."

"Well, Catcher is a good ball player and a good friend, and he doesn't deserve to be made to feel bad about himself. And you know what else? You can't unsay that. You can apologize, but it won't erase those words. He will always remember that you called him fat. And it will always hurt his feelings, because now he has realized that what you see first when you look at him is not a friend, or an excellent catcher, but a fat kid."

He was silent a moment, processing what I had said.

"I think I'll apologize anyway."

"That would be a nice gesture."

"Okay. Mom? I'm sorry I embarassed you."

"You didn't embarass me, dude, you embarassed yourself."

Later, I heard fervent murmurs coming from his room. I'm hoping those were the sounds of a heartfelt apology. But I don't know. I don't know if he can really understand how hurtful his words were and why it was different from calling someone a douchebag or a queer (though I don't like that one either) or a retard (ditto).

Life is easy for him. He is intelligent and self confident. He makes friends easily, girls fall all over him. He is tall, slender and naturally athletic. He is highly adaptable and fits into new situations with ease.

I worry about that.

Because people have to suffer some kind of heartache or hardship to develop empathy and compassion. He's really and truly a nice kid and I do know that he really didn't mean to hurt that other kid's feelings. He simply has no frame of reference for how deeply such words can wound.

Sigh. You'd think I would just be content and enjoy the fact that one of my children has it easy in life, wouldn't you? But no. I can't.

Because I don't want my son to be an asshole. And I'm sort of afraid he's heading down the asshole highway in a big old asshole mobile.

What's a Mom to do?

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Stuff and Nonsense

I'm going to L.A. next week to pitch an idea for a new reality show.

What? You think I, suburban dweller, stay at home Mom, PTA Goddess...have nothing of interest to share with the viewing public?

Oh contraire, mes amis!

I don't want to give too much away, but the basic premise of the show, titled "The Procuress" will be to chronicle my life as I procure any and all manner of stuff for my family.

Food stuff. Cleaning stuff. Sports stuff. Educational stuff. Personal grooming stuff. Pet Stuff. Medicine stuff. Stuff to wear. Stuff to sleep on. Stuff to clean the stuff. Stuff to transport the stuff. Stuff to store all the stuff when we're not using the stuff.

I'll share my tips for saving money on stuff. I'll show you how to make stuff into other stuff. I'll give advice on how to make someone else's old stuff, into your new stuff. I'll tell you how to market and sell stuff you don't want anymore. The Procuress has lots of tricks up her sleeve when it comes to making people believe they cannot live without your stuff. And then, I'll tell you all the places that will take the leftover stuff.

But that's not all.

Oh no.

You will see up close and personal how I handle a stuff crisis.

It's 9:00 pm and little Johnny realizes that he has a school project due tomorrow! No problem. The Procuress always keeps a supply of arts and crafts stuff on hand, along with a plentiful supply of cutting stuff, measuring stuff, and embellishing stuff.

Husband just rememberd that there's a potluck at work tomorrow! Not to worry. The Procuress always has stuff on hand to whip up a tasty casserole or a delicious dessert. Foodstuff is a snap for the Procuress. She also has handy and convenient stuff to carry the foodstuff to and fro.

The dog got into the garbage and is now sick as...well, a dog? No sweat! The Procuress is well stocked with stuff to keep other stuff from coming out of her family and pets. She also has heavy duty stuff to tackle the tough stains and odors left by effluviant stuff.

Oh no....someone forgot Grandma's birthday! No matter, the Procuress has all manner of charming but essentially useless stuff to wrap up for her special day. Why, there's smelly stuff, knick-knacky stuff, reading stuff, kitschy stuff, stuff with hearwarming sayings and stuff bearing humorous depictions of the elderly.

You will also witness the Procuress's unwavering insistence on recompense when stuff doesn't perform as advertised and the steadfast commitment to truth in advertising stuff. Stuff should do what stuff is supposed to do and the Procuress doesn't stop until she is satisfied that it will. Long lines at customer service are no match for her iron will. Surly sales associates will wither in the face of her scorn. There will be justice.

I'm telling you, it's a ratings goldmine.

Everybody loves stuff. Therefore, everybody will love......

The Procuress.

Check your local listings.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Soapbox #2

The other crisis our country is facing, is that of education. If you don't have children in the public school system, you might not realize just how bad it has gotten. But I have two, and I can assure you, that the educational needs of our children are not being met. Not by a longshot.

There are a plethora of problems, but the most prevalent problem right now, is reliance on standardized testing as a barometer of success for the public school system. The Georgia benchmark test is called CRCT, but every state has one. And every kid, from kindergarten to high school, dreads taking it.

Standardized testing has made the classroom more like boot camp and teachers have become drill sergeants. They are not teaching our kids to learn, they are teaching our kids to take tests, and there's not much they can do about it. The good teachers still try to make learning for learning's sake fun and exciting, but they are fighting a losing battle.

I actually think that the premise behind these tests is a sound one; making sure kids have the skills they need to advance to the next level of education. As a trouble shooting tool, I think it's fairly effective. But as the be all and end all of educational standards, it can't even begin to address all the variables that occur when one static unit of analysis is applied to a group of individuals.

That's what has been overlooked here.

Our children are being treated and educated as a collective.

But children are individuals; as widely varied as flakes of snow, or seashells on the beach. And like children, intelligence is a highly individual thing. It is not easily defined or quantified and it cannot be measured by the ability to fill in bubbles on a piece of test paper.

Also, these tests fail to take into account the value and importance of creativity, imagination and visionary thinking. In the American public school system, children who are unconventional learners, out of the box thinkers, and/or creatively inclined, are either ignored, or forced to fit into an ideal by which they can be labeled for later acclimation into a world of worker bees; unthinking, unquestioning drones who take direction well.

Other nations are making sure their children are schooled not only in reading, writing and 'rithmatic, but also receiving a comprehensive education in art, music, and language. Why? Because studies have shown that students who receive instruction in those subjects are stronger students as a whole. They receive higher test scores in all areas because these disciplines encourage free thought, inspire imagination, and celebrate the individuality that each person brings to the creative process.

They are being taught to think, not just learn.

But our kids? Nah. As long as they can fill in a bubble, we call it an education.

This has got to change.

I know you've heard it before, but my boys are both extremely intelligent; albeit in different ways. However, they share a distinct handicap when it comes to math. Neither cares for math, neither excels at math. They are competent when they apply themselves. When they don't, they lag behind. This doesn't seem to matter one bit to either one of them...they simply can't see the importance of math, when neither of them plans to be an actuary or an accountant.

I can't say I disagree. I struggled with math my whole life, and even had to repeat basic algebra in high school. I haven't used algebra once since then. When I've needed to perform more complicated feats of computation, I simply pulled out my handy dandy calculator. These days, people with math handicaps can rely on technology to make up for that deficit. Why...the iPhone even has a tip calculation app you can download. Even I can calculate 20% of a bill to within a few pennies, but now? I don't have to.

But I digress....

This year, in 5th and 8th grades, both of my boys were in a position where they had to pass the math and reading portion of the CRCT to go on to the next grade.

Pubescent One failed math every single quarter this year. But he passed the math portion of the CRCT.

Diminutive One got passing grades in math and had resource math as well. But he failed the math portion of the CRCT.

Pubescent One will be allowed to move on to 9th grade. Diminutive cannot move on until he can pass.

Does this make sense to anybody?

Let me explain further: Pubescent One and Diminutive One are probably about equal in terms of math ability. Both can perform at grade level if they apply themselves. They have to work a little harder than most kids; because they are both right brained individuals and they both suffer from ADD/ADHD. Typically, math is more difficult for kids with this disability. But they can do it.

The difference?

Pubescent One tests well. For a variety of reasons, Diminutive One does not.

Pubescent One failed math because he did not turn in work. Some he did, but lost in the abyss of his locker. Some he did halfway. Some he blew off completely. But he knew the material, because both of my kids retain information very well. So he passed the test. And he gets to move on.

What does this say to my son, people??

I'll tell the mind of a 14 year old boy, this just confirms his belief that homework is unnecessary bullshit. It's a belief I happen to share, but that's irrelevant. The point is, he is being taught that he can be lazy, undisciplined and unmotivated, and still get where he needs to go. This is not a lesson that is going to serve him well as an adult.

Diminutive One is an entirely different story. I won't go into all the reasons why he doesn't test well; that would take an entire treatise on "The Pathology and Psychology of Diminutive One" and we don't have time for that.

It all boils down to the fact that we, as his parents, had to find a way to help him pass that test. Because if he doesn't, he will not be allowed to advance, despite the fact that he is a fantastically intelligent and creative child, who is clearly gifted, clearly leaps and bounds ahead of his peers in the way he approaches learning and problem solving, but who struggles within the parameters of a conventional classroom setting.


What to do.

Well, he was eligible for summer school at no cost to us; three weeks, three hours a day. But the dynamics did not change, only the setting. He would still be one of 30 children in a classroom, being taught to as part of a crowd, a collective. His individual needs would not be met. It wasn't very hard for us to conclude that we needed another option.

We chose Sylvan.

People...I am paying Sylvan $2,000 dollars so my son can pass a test.

Now, in a variety of ways, Syvlan has been worth every penny. It has boosted his confidence by showing him that he can do math and he can learn. Failing that test did inestimable damage to his self-esteem, but Sylvan has taught him that he can learn anything he puts his mind to learning. Pubescent One, despite his intellectual gifts, has always thought of himself as the dumb kid. Slowly, he is realizing that he is not a dumb kid.

They haven't taught him a great deal of math. They have helped him become stronger in basic concepts and to not be afraid of math. They have addressed areas where he was weak (mostly newer, pre-algebraic concepts that were just introduced at the end of this school year). But the bulk of what he has learned is how to take the test.

And let me tell you...he was not alone. Sylvan's enrollment rates typically skyrocket after CRCT results are received each June.

Sylvan even offers a crash course that they call "CRCT bootcamp" during spring break week. The course is all about how to take the CRCT. It is not concepts and skills, it is tips and tricks.

But what about children whose families who don't have the resources to pay for that kind of individual attention? Well, I guess they just go to summer school and take their chances with the rest of the underprivileged kids and overburdened teachers.

Does this seem wrong to you? It SHOULD.

How many children are being left behind thanks to No Child Left Behind????

The priorities in our public school systems are dangerously skewed. We badly need education reform...nay...complete and total overhaul...if our children are going to remain viable and valued in a global community. We need to figure out how to produce leaders and visionaries.

We can start by eliminating standardized testing and beginning to focus on educating our children as independent thinkers. Bring back arts and enrichment and put as much emphasis on their value, as that of math and science.

And for God's sake, let's pull our heads out of our collective asses and realize that intelligence is a multi-faceted jewel that can outshine any and all material baubles if only it is honed and polished with care and attention.

Off Soapbox.

Related Articles by yours truly:

Intelligence Quotient Quotient

Art Is Free

NCLB Strikes Aagain

No Hablas Engles

A Question Of Freedom

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Soapbox #1

I've been saying it for years...

We DESPERATELY, DESPERATELY need a system of universal health care in this country.

I said it because I lived it when Husband was consulting and I'm living it now that Husband has lost his job.

When Husband was an independant contractor, we were responsible for our own healthcare needs. The cost to insure our family of four was in excess of $900 each month.

Just let that figure sink in a for a few minutes.

Nine. Hundred. Dollars.

Since we had small children and only one income, we came to the realization that we really had no choice but for him to stop consulting and take a salaried position with good benefits.

That was ten years ago. For ten years we have watched our premiums and copays rise, while the number of covered services and providers became smaller and smaller. Still, I felt fortunate that we had insurance at all.

I don't mind telling you that there was some pretty serious panic in those first grim hours after we got the news. But we've crunched the numbers, done the math, and gone over the budget with a fine toothed comb.

It's going to be very, very tight, but we can sustain for a while, assuming no disasters strike. The kids will not go hungry, the mortgage will not go unpaid, we will not have to cook our meals on a hot plate by candlelight.

So my focus has shifted from feeding my kids, to insuring them.

Well what about COBRA?

That's what you're thinking right? COBRA is the answer, that's what it's there for!

Well guess what. The RIGHT to insurance doesn't do a damned bit of good if we can't pay the premiums. Would you like to take a wild guess as to the dollar amount of our COBRA premiums?


With no money coming in, we are supposed to magically produce $1,067.00 each month to insure our children. That's an impossible number. BUT...if we don't pay it? One debilitating illness, one serious injury, one little disaster could absolutely devastate us. Ruin us. Bankrupt us and leave us fighting the rest of our lives to regain our financial footing and restore our credit. We have planned well, laid a little aside, carefully tended our modest nest egg. But it could all disappear in a puff of smoke if one of us gets sick.

It has happened and is happening to people all over America. People are losing their homes and filing bankruptcy because of unexpected and insurmountable medical expenses.

It's a very complicated problem with many causes.

First, the cost of procedures and medications have risen beyond what most people can afford to pay out of pocket if they need to. Second, lifetime caps on insurance are met relatively quickly when a calamitous and prolonged illness such as cancer strikes. Third, affording insurance as an individual is almost impossible, unless one has a substantial amount of disposable income, in which case, they probably can do without it anyway. Fourth, insurance companies, not doctors, are in control of what procedures are considered "necessary" and therefore, a covered service.

There's a lot more to it than that, of course. As I said, it's an extremely complicated problem that is going to take some time to fix.

What I know is this: If we had a system of Universal health care in place in this country...I would not be facing this problem right now, and neither would the countless other Americans in the same boat.

Now, the ARRA is helping us a little bit. That brings our premium down to around $400. But assuming that someone is completely without resources, even that amount is completely out of reach.

The maximum payout for unemployment benefits is $330/week, which is laughable, really. That's $1320 a month. That happens to be almost the exact dollar amount of our mortgage payment, and we live in a very modest home. So let's assume we have no other resources. How exactly are we supposed to pay for water, electricity, groceries, car payment (we have only one, most people have two), car insurance, gas, orthodontist...and still pay out $400 a month for health insurance? It just doesn't add up.

As I said, we do have some resources, but regardless it's going to be very, very difficult to pay on our limited and finite means. For us, that means I will have to streamline our food budget and cut out some small luxuries.

Perhaps I will have to buy store brand orange juice instead of Tropicana, or the 10 for $10 Ravioli instead of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Maybe we will have to stop renting movies for a month or two. Maybe unlimited texting will have to be limited. Maybe I will have to start going to the library more often, insteading of patronizing Barnes&Noble and indulging in a $4 dollar coffee while I browse. The lawn service is already gone as is pest control (That one really hurts. Have you seen the size of cockroaches in Georgia?)

But for some people, it could very well be a choice between one necessity and another. For some people, it really is a matter of either/or. Either buy food...or take a sick child to the doctor.

Realistically, it could come down to that for us if this goes on long enough.

People, we are the wealthiest developed nation in the Western Hemisphere. This is not an issue our populace should be facing. Nor should sick people be denied the latest and most effective treatments because they are too costly. Did you know that some cancer drugs cost in excess of $1,000 PER DOSE?

That's what happens when you combine Capitalism and health care. That's what happens when we let the insurance companies and the drug companies take control and use our misfortunes to line their pockets.

Some of you might argue that letting the government take control is just trading one set of problems for another.

That may be true. But at least, with a universal system of health care in place, everyone will have access to basic medical care and medications that they need. Mothers won't have to debate about taking a feverish child to the doctor, or sacrifice their own health for that of their family.

We Americans like to point fingers when crisis looms. Politicians did it. Big Business did it. Greedy doctors did it.

But the real truth is much uglier.

Americans have done this to themselves with their sense of entitlement. We have resisted a government subsidized health care plan because we want only the best, we want to choose it for ourselves, we want it right now, and we want it at a reasonable price. We don't want to share our sparkling, tastefully decorated clinics with the poor unwashed masses. We want to think ourselves worthy of more and better options.

And now, the cost of that proletariat thinking is becoming very clear. We are paying for our short sightedness with shrinking benefits, higher premiums, and perfunctory care from health care practitioners who are working under almost intolerable conditions and who are taking their orders from actuaries and administrators.

Soon, only the very wealthy will be able to afford any health care at all. And then we'll be back to the way things were at the dawn of the Industrial Age, when disease spread rampantly and even minor illnesses resulted in death. Mortality rates will skyrocket and the number of babies who make it past their first birthday will plummet.

Does that sound melodramatic? Well, perhaps it is. But not terribly so. Things are deteriorating quickly in this country. Those of you ensconced in comfortable jobs with good benefits are too blind to see it; purposely, perhaps. It's not fun to think about. But it's there. And it's getting worse every day.

It's time to make some sacrifices. It's time to think about the many, rather than the few. It's time to think about what's best for everyone.

Establishing a system of universal Healthcare does not mean we are allowing Socialism to gain a foothold in our country. It just means we are creating a system of checks and balances, prohibiting abuses and maintaining a standard of care that is available to everybody, regardless of economic status.

For the life of me, I don't understand why people oppose this ideal.

Actually, I do. One word: privilege. We have grown complacent and myopic in an era of wealth and privilege. But that era is at an end, and this problem is going to grow into a plague that infects us all.

You could be next. Your family could be next. Is it going to take a crisis like that to open your eyes?

I really hope not. It's a really crappy place to be, because I know it could be and can be, much, much worse. Living with that fear is incredibly wearing, and I've only been doing it for a week. I can't imagine doing it my whole life. Nobody should have to live with that hanging over their head every day; especially when there is a solution.

Support healthcare reform. Stop opposing universal health care. Vote. We have a voice and we can change things for everyone.

Stepping down now. Tommorrow: Soapbox #2 (completely unrelated).