Small is the number of people who see with their eyes and think with their minds.” ~ Albert Einstein

A Member of the Patriot Group Riders in Front of WBC Protestors

“Bigotry dwarfs the soul by shutting out the truth.” ~ Edwin Hubbel Chapin

So Kate Gosselin is having temper tantrums on “Dancing With the Stars.” Kim Kardashian is tweeting pictures of herself in a bikini. Madonna wants her daughter to wear more conservative clothing.  

WBC Protestors: Lunatics Laughing

Meanwhile, back in the real world, a 15-year-old New Jersey girl sold her 7-year-old stepsister to a group of men for sex. We’re seeing new allegations that then-Cardinal Ratzinger failed to defrock an American priest who allegedly molested 200 deaf boys in Wisconsin. And an appellate court ruled that Albert Snyder has to pay the legal fees for Westboro Baptist Church to the tune of over $16,000.  

I’m sorry. What? Westboro Baptist Church, that hate group that protests at fallen soldiers’ funerals? That group of lunatics who rejoiced in the deaths resulting from 9/11? That Westboro Baptist Church?  

Let me see if I have this correct:  

  • Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder was killed in Iraq, and his body was sent home for burial.
  • Members of Phelps’s group waved signs saying that “God Hates Fags” and “God Hates the USA” at Matthew Snyder’s funeral in 2006 because “military deaths are God’s punishment for America’s tolerance of homosexuality.”
  • According to a website created in Snyder’s honor, his relatives filed the civil lawsuit against the Westboro Baptist Church to “bring an end to the reign of terror and abuse that they inflicted” upon grieving families of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Albert Snyder sued Westboro and was awarded $11 million (later reduced to $5 million) in damages by a federal jury in Baltimore because the group “intentionally inflicted emotional distress on the family.” This award was overturned on appeal. The case is scheduled to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court.
  •  Now, Snyder’s father, Albert has been ordered to pay $16,510 to Fred Phelps, leader of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas for legal costs.

Those are the most basic facts. What you have to infer, of course, is the magnitude of the most recent court ruling. Consider, Phelps and his band of haters make it their mission to protest at military funerals. They wave hate-filled placards at the mourners: “Thank God for Dead Soldiers.” Really?  They sing songs of hate at the top of their voices all in the name of their god, who they say supports their actions.  

Now let me pause here. I am no Biblical scholar, but I have read many parts of the Bible. I do know that the god in the old testament is a more wrathful being than the loving god of the new testament. There is conflict there, and anyone who wants to find verses to support his or her claims can likely do so with enough searching. Still, I find it truly abhorrent that these nut cases are using god as their rallying cry for hate-inspired protests. However, the WBC contends that “God’s hatred is one of His holy attributes,” which in their small minds completely justifies their actions.   

“Too small is our world to allow discrimination, bigotry and intolerance to thrive in any corner of it, let alone in the United States of America.” ~ Eliot Engel

Shirley Phelps-RoperOkay. We’re back to that whole First Amendment thing, free speech for all no matter how nasty, racist, conservative, liberal, whatever. I get it. I really do. I support your right to protest. Hell, I even acknowledge that the Klan has the right to protest. But protest at a funeral? What happened to common decency?  

Have we become such a myopic society of us versus them that we no longer acknowledge even the barest niceties, you know, the right to have a funeral in peace? I mean, and this is a bit off subject but still on the subject of hate-filled protests, when we have been reduced to a society in which people see nothing wrong with spitting on members of Congress (and no, that wasn’t made up. I watched the video showing the spray of spit), what kind of society have we become?  

Of course members of Congress aren’t sanctified, nor are they above anyone else. Having said that, I don’t believe that it’s all right to spit on anyone. That’s the way that my parents raised me. Were these people raised in barns near donkeys?  

But back to my main point: Losing a family member to war, however that person died, is unbearably hard. Burying a child is beyond painful. Imagine, if you will, for one moment what it must have felt like for Mr. Snyder and his family and friends to have to be escorted into the service entrance of the church so that they didn’t have to see the protest signs. Imagine what it must feel like to kiss the coffin of your son, daughter, mother, father, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, while outside litanies of “God Hates Fags” are being screamed across the street.  

No one should have to imagine that.  

“Anger and intolerance are the twin enemies of correct understanding.” ~ Mahatma Ghandi

WBC Protestors: Stupidity Speaks for Itself

A little background on WBC for those of you who may not know a lot about this fringe group. Westboro Baptist Church is a small, homophobic, anti-Semitic hate group that stages protests all around the country. The group pickets any institutions or individuals who they believe are against god’s law, and they believe that their protests are a form of preaching to a country that is doomed.  

Since they are incorporated as a church, WBC is non-profit. It should be pointed out that WBC has no official affiliation with mainstream Baptist organizations and considers itself an “old school” or “primitive” Baptist church, i.e., belief in man’s total depravity and limited atonement for the elected.  

WBC targets include “schools the group deems to be accepting of homosexuality; Catholic, Lutheran, and other Christian denominations that WBC feels are heretical; and funerals for people murdered or killed in accidents like plane crashes and for American soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.” WBC also protests at “dozens of Jewish institutions around the country, from Israeli consulates to synagogues to Jewish community centers, distributing anti-Semitic fliers to announce planned protests at these sites.”  

The only time that WBC has been convinced not to protest is when a local radio station in Pennsylvania offered the group airtime in exchange for not protesting at the funeral of the Amish schoolchildren who were gunned down in 2006 at the West Nickels Mine School.  

“Nothing dies so hard, or rallies so often, as intolerance.” ~ Henry Ward Beecher

Patriot Guard Riders Line the Street of Funeral Procession

Now I would be remiss in this post if I did not take a few lines to acknowledge the Patriot Group Riders as they have been instrumental in shielding grieving families from Phelps and his hate-mongers. I pulled the following from a letter of appreciation to the PGR from a Sergeant after learning of what the PGR does:  

“One thing we didn’t anticipate was the disrespect and hatred shown by the Phelps church group . . . protesting at our fallen brothers’ funerals, waving the banners and signs that they wave so ignorantly and so proud.  The first time I read about that in the ‘Stars and Stripes,’  I had to read it again, because I couldn’t imagine anyone being so hateful and disrespectful.  I just about cried after reading the article . . . Then, a few days later, there was an article about this group of bikers who were now putting themselves as a barrier between the protesters and the grieving families of our fallen soldiers.  I couldn’t believe that when I read it, either . . . the feeling we all felt that someone was actually doing something to counter the protesters was the best feeling I can’t even describe.  I was filled with pride to know that fellow Americans were giving up their time, honoring our fallen, regardless of whether they knew them or not, and providing a barrier from the protesters for the families grieving.”   

According to their website, the Patriot Group Riders have two objectives in their mission when attending funeral services of fallen American service men and women:  

  1. Show our sincere respect for our fallen heroes, their families, and their communities.
  2. Shield the mourning family and their friends from interruptions created by any protestor or group of protestors.

I have seen news footage of these awesome men and women and how they use their motorcycles and the American Flag to shield families from the likes of WBC. I am including a YouTube clip that I hope you take a few moments to watch. I know that watching the clip really helped to quell some of the intense rage that I was feeling immediately after reading about the injustice served up to Mr. Snyder by the courts.   

(If you are interested in making a donation to Mr. Snyder to offset the fine, please visit matthewsnyder.org. Since the announcement about the ruling, Snyder and his family have received thousands of e-mails and letters of support, as well as financial pledges to help pay the legal fees associated with filing a Supreme Court brief, as well as the outrageous fine.) 

  

I am also including a more tongue-in-cheek protest of WBC by Michael Moore . . . “Fred (knows) a lot about dog vomit.”  

  

 

“Man does not weave this web of life. He is merely a strand of it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.” ~ Chief Seattle

What Our House Will Look Like When We Begin Remodeling 

“What we anticipate seldom occurs, what we least expected generally happens.” ~ Benjamin Disraeli 

Would love to have a glass block shower

Well crap. The one day that I really, really need to make telephone calls, the phone is off. Normally, I avoid the telephone at all costs, but today I woke up early to call two doctor’s offices only to find that no calls were going through. I have the worst timing in the world. 

Corey is working today from 3 to 11. He was originally scheduled to do guard duty at one of the yards, but they called him and asked him to stand watch on one of the boats. This is only his third full shift. He worked on Friday and Saturday; on Friday, he spent the day being taken to all of the different docks so that he would know where to go. Apparently, they are not just going to use him at Lambert’s Point as they originally said. Some of the docks/yards are in Newport News, which is all well and good but is much farther, hence, more gas. 

Anyway, I’ve spent the afternoon doing a bit of cleaning and some laundry. I really wanted to get to the ceiling fans, but I think that my back has had enough for the day. It’s very quiet without Corey around the house, but this job will help both of us to get used to him not being around all of the time. 

The weather here has been bizarre the past few days—sunny, warm, cold, rainy. As a result, my sinuses are protesting. What’s new? 

It was a very quiet weekend. Brett spent most of his time at Gordon’s house. He made the passing comment to me that they (Gordon and Tailor) have no idea how easy they have it. I suppose the vast differences in our lifestyles are really laid bare when he visits them. They live in a very nice suburb in Virginia Beach. I asked Brett if it was hard for him to see that, and he said that it wasn’t hard, but it made him realize how easy other people have it as compared to us. I assured him that one day our lives would get back on track, and things would be easier. 

Here’s hoping. 

“Fate is like a strange, unpopular restaurant, filled with odd waiters who bring you things you never asked for and don’t always like.” ~ Lemony Snicket

Almost Gutted Kitchen (not ours but could be)

I was watching “Holmes on Holmes” last night, and Mike Holmes was redoing a kitchen. As usual, he didn’t stop with gutting the kitchen, he went into the dining room and sitting room as well, tearing everything down to the studs. When I watch his show, I get so many ideas about how we can fix this house, but I also realize that none of the repairs that we need to make will be easy. 

For example, the wall in the living room on which the window is situated is going to need to be torn back to the studs because there is water damage from the window A/C unit that has been there for years. To fix that one thing, we need to rip out the window, tear down the wall, and replace both from scratch. However, we really cannot take that air conditioning unit out until we get central air. To get central air, we really need to replace the old duct work. When we replace the old duct work, we need to put in new insulation . . . 

I mean, even the fireplace needs to be redone. The reality is that there is no one small thing that we can do. I fear that when it really comes down to it, we are going to have to gut a lot, put up a lot of plastic sheeting, and just rebuild. 

“It is a mistake to try to look too far ahead. The chain of destiny can only be grasped one link at a time.” ~ Winston Churchill

How I would like to remodel my fireplace with bookcases

So other than those tidbits, not a whole lot going on. I think that I’m going to abandon the book on Mary Queen of Scots because I am finding it tedious. Perhaps I am not in the right frame of mind, but the endless lists of names is keeping me from making any real progress. 

The other night I watched a show on the Travel Channel about the ten best beach resorts in Mexico. Why? Am I trying to torture myself? White sand, blue water, palm trees. I could so do that in less than a moment’s notice. Of course, doing such a thing requires funds; funds require a job; a job requires stamina; ya da ya da ya da . . .  Meanwhile, back in reality, one of the neighborhood children is screaming at the top of his lungs directly outside my window, which is making the dogs bark as if Genghis Khan is invading. No Mexico for me. 

The word for today is sesquipidalian, a long word meaning long word. I love the way this word sounds, and it popped into my head when I was trying to think of the antithesis of Sarah Palin. Don’t ask me why I was thinking about this or her or whatever. Anyway, my sentence using my word for today is the following: Sarah Palin, when faced with the sesquipidalian oratory of her opponent, predictably resorted to a toothy smile and a “dontcha know” retort . . . 

I do have one interesting thing to report before signing off: Last night, I dreamed that I was hugging my father, and at the precise moment that I touched him, he became a bright light, so bright that I could not look at him. I woke up crying to a booming thunderstorm with bright flashes of lightning. Funny how the mind works in sleep. 

More later. Peace. 

Music by System of a Down, “Lonely Day” 

 

 

“What we face is above all a moral issue; that at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country.” ~ Senator Ted Kennedy

“I came to believe that soon, very soon, affordable health coverage will be available to all, in an America where the state of a family’s health will never again depend on the amount of a family’s wealth.” ~ Senator Ted Kennedy

The following is taken from a post by Populista at Daily KOS. I am reprinting some of it here because I believe that this information far outweighs every stupid sign that makes my blood boil.

A few noteworthy statistics:

32 million of our brothers and sisters who would not have had healthcare coverage will have it because of this bill.

150,000 people who would have died will live because of this bill.

Our deficit will be reduced by $138 billion over the next decade because of this bill.

“The great unfunished business of our society” ~ Senator Ted Kennedy 

Before he died, Senator Ted Kennedy wrote President Obama a letter:

Dear Mr. President,

I wanted to write a few final words to you to express my gratitude for your repeated personal kindnesses to me—and one last time, to salute your leadership in giving our country back its future and its truth.

On a personal level, you and Michelle reached out to Vicki, to our family and me in so many different ways. You helped to make these difficult months a happy time in my life.

You also made it a time of hope for me and for our country.

When I thought of all the years, all the battles, and all the memories of my long public life, I felt confident in these closing days that while I will not be there when it happens, you will be the President who at long last signs into law the health care reform that is the great unfinished business of our society. For me, this cause stretched across decades; it has been disappointed, but never finally defeated. It was the cause of my life. And in the past year, the prospect of victory sustained me—and the work of achieving it summoned my energy and determination.

There will be struggles—there always have been—and they are already underway again. But as we moved forward in these months, I learned that you will not yield to calls to retreat—that you will stay with the cause until it is won. I saw your conviction that the time is now and witnessed your unwavering commitment and understanding that health care is a decisive issue for our future prosperity. But you have also reminded all of us that it concerns more than material things; that what we face is above all a moral issue; that at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country.

And so because of your vision and resolve,  And while I will not see the victory, I was able to look forward and know that we will—yes, we will—fulfill the promise of health care in America as a right and not a privilege.

In closing, let me say again how proud I was to be part of your campaign—and proud as well to play a part in the early months of a new era of high purpose and achievement. I entered public life with a young President who inspired a generation and the world. It gives me great hope that as I leave, another young President inspires another generation and once more on America’s behalf inspires the entire world.

So, I wrote this to thank you one last time as a friend—and to stand with you one last time for change and the America we can become.

At the Denver Convention where you were nominated, I said the dream lives on.

And I finished this letter with unshakable faith that the dream will be fulfilled for this generation, and preserved and enlarged for generations to come.

With deep respect and abiding affection,
—Ted

The Least Among Us . . .

In good conscience, when I tried to choose which parts of the letter to reprint, I realized that I had to post all of the late Senator’s words. Ted Kennedy fought decades for healthcare reform, knowing that a country is only as great as its citizenry. If even a fraction of its citizenry is oppressed by economic factors that inhibit the ability to prosper—intellectually, physically, emotionally—then that country can never truly call itself great. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, approximately 15.9 percent of Americans do not have healthcare. Wow. Staggering.

For every angry tea bagger out there who carps that healthcare reform will take us down a dark road, I have one question: Are you proud of the fact that the United States, this glorious powerful country, is ranked with some of the smallest third world countries when it comes to infant mortality? All of your bombastic declarations will not hide the more shameful realities of how we as a nation treat the poorest in our population.

I am fairly certain that our Constitution says something about “we the people,” not “we, the fortunate people,” or “we, the only people who matter,” or “we, the people who are fine and everyone else is f*cked.” To form a more perfect union we first have to right the wrongs, rid the injustices, and create a more balanced playing field. Oh there I go again, being a wide-eyed idealist. How very stupid of me.

More later. Peace now, more than ever.

Ruthie Henshall, “I Dreamed a Dream”

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than a sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

“There is nothing more frightening than ignorance in action.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

While perusing the blogroll on blogsurfer.us, I came across a blog that made the following statement: “Understand the Green Movement has always been, among other things, a front for the Eugenics Movement.” Wow. Really? I mean, are you serious?

The post concluded with the following completely inane statement: “Please turn on every light on in your home on March 2th – Earth Hour. Show them you are on to their lies and deceptions.”

I actually had to go back and read the short post from the beginning to make sure that it wasn’t written tongue-in-cheek. Sadly, the poster was serious. I certainly know that my efforts to recycle, conserve water, avoid styrofoam, and other earth-conscious efforts are all done because I believe in eugenics. You know, eugenics, that Hitler-esque concept in which the human population engages in selective breeding to improve the race? Yessiree, I am a whole-hearted proponent of the very policy that would have me cast aside as a mongrel because of my mixed blood. Self-preservation be damned. Let’s clean up the gene pool.

I girded my loins and perused a few other posts on this blog and came across blanket statements such as the following: ” . . . global warming’ is both real and a threat to the very survival of the human race. Global warming is neither real nor a threat . . . Environmentalism  (for their purposes) has nothing to do with the environment and the sooner people understand this the better.”

How could I have been so stupid all of these years, not to realize that the U.N. is a front for Eugenics? Not to understand that there is no such thing as global warming, which should have been obvious to me because we still have winters? Melting ice caps, pshaw. No such thing . . . How could I not know that the “Green Movement is after our children”? By god, I’m going to turn on every light in my house. That will show them, whoever them is. And that huge power bill that I’ll get will really show them . . .

Color me green with nausea over the rampant ignorance of the misinformed. I’m trying to be gentle here . . .

“When ignorance gets started, it knows no bounds” ~ Will Rogers

Along those same lines, I was reading a post that was mentioned by someone in my blogroll (Seeing Eye Chick), and I came across some images and videos that made my hair straighten (can’t curl as it already is). I thought that I’d share. There is this obviously racist one which deserves no explanation:

Or this lovely one promoting the use of gun violence:

Or this one which is not big on subtlety:

“The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding.” ~ Albert Camus

And finally, let’s close with this wonderful video in which the woman featured is simply giddy over her message. . .

  

Lovely. Simply lovely. Free speech is a wonderful thing. Too bad the Constitution didn’t include an ignorance caveat.

“The recipe for perpetual ignorance is: Be satisfied with your opinions and content with your knowledge.” ~ Elbert Hubbard  

Seriously, though, all of this might actually be funny, entertaining even, if it were not true, if the people yelling, carrying signs, and posting rants did not believe what they are saying.  Listen. I never claimed to have all of the answers, nor have I ever said that my way of thinking is the only way of thinking, and that’s what separates my flaming liberal, left-wing feminist sensibilities from the Tea Baggers, and birthers, and conspiracy theorists: They are so certain that theirs is the real truth, the only truth, and anyone who opposes them is damned for all eternity.

I mean consider: I did not like George Bush as POTUS. I think that he was inept and power-hungry. That being said, I would have stood up when he entered the room, and given the chance, I would have addressed him as Mr. President because that is the courtesy that is is due the President of the United States. It’s called respect for the office, common courtesy, manners. What we are seeing now is a social conflagration that is being fueled and perpetuated by hatred, unmasked hatred for President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Congressional Democrats . . . insert the name of anyone who opposes.

The New Deal was called socialism: Did anyone turn down the opportunities afforded by it? Medicare was called socialism: How many Tea Baggers (a large number of whom are over 65) turn down their right to Medicare? Healthcare reform is now being labeled as socialism: How many people will refuse coverage on principle?

I would weep and gnash my teeth if I had not already been rendered emotionally bereft of feeling over the current furor.

More later. Peace.

Red House Painters, “All Mixed Up”

“What matters in life is not what happens to you but what you remember and how you remember it.” ~ Gabriel Garcia Marquez

From the Infinity Series by L. Liwag©

“Memory is a part of the present. It builds us up inside; it knits our bones to our muscles and keeps our hearts pumping. It is memory that reminds our bodies to work, and memory that reminds our spirits to work too: it keeps us who we are.” ~ Gregory Maguire

In the Gloaming II (pointillated) by L. Liwag

I no longer weep on Caitlin’s birthday. That fact does not make me sad. No. That’s not the truth. That fact does make me sad, for does it mean that I have forgotten? In truth, I have not forgotten anything, but I suppose the memory has become so much a part of me that it no longer sits alone by itself, waiting to be taken from its perch, brought to the front, so that it can hold sway over my entire existence. 

That is the fact, the truth, the reality.

We are all collections of our memories—both painful and lovely, luminous and cutting. We file our memories in the small repositories within our brain, move them around over time so that some can be recalled instantaneously, while others are relegated to forgotten corners where they collect dust, withdraw into almost nothingness, only to resurface at inappropriate times. 

“Memory is a tenuous thing, like a rainbow’s end or a camera with a failing lens.”  ~ Ellen Hopkins

Lynnhaven Pier at Twilight (pointillated) by L. Liwag

Some years, the memories of my baby girl breach my consciousness in horrible ways, unrelenting waves that pull me under and leave me gasping for air. But most years, the memories are just there. I can delve into them if I choose, or I can just look at them from afar, keep my distance, choose not to touch them. 

That I have arrived at this point in my life is a good thing, I think. That I can meet March 26 without the fear of complete emotional paralysis means that I no longer feel Caitlin’s presence, her life, her death, so keenly. She is no longer the fresh wound that I bore for so many years, one that I continually tore the scab from so that I could watch it bleed. Rather, she and all that she was has become one of those fine lines on my body, one of the silvery scars that make me who I am. 

I do not believe for a moment that there will not still be days in my life on which I suddenly find myself overcome with grief, but I know that those days will happen with less and less frequency because that is the way of life. We live, we collect, we sift, we hold, we discard. All of the pieces that are precious never fade entirely. That is why we are allowed the gift of memory. Some of the pieces will not go away. That is why we are burdened with the pain of memory. 

“Some things don’t last forever, but some things do. Like a good song, or a good book, or a good memory you can take out and unfold in your darkest times, pressing down on the corners and peering in close, hoping you still recognize the person you see there.” ~ Sarah Dessen

Caitlin and Me

For me, the pain of those days in November has melded with the joy of those days in March and April so that it has all become one. If I pick too much at the threads, it will fray and unravel, but if I just touch it gently, it will remain whole, with all of its swirls and hues. The Pointillists knew that if they created enough colored dots, the eyes would see a whole image. Such is memory: thousands and thousands of disparate dots, a second here, an afternoon there—all coming together to create the one image. 

In my mind’s eye, I see Caitlin with her dark hair and almond eyes, her chubby arms and legs. I see her without the wires, without the machines. I can still hear the machines, but I no longer see them. In truth, I do not remember very much about the day on which she was born. I remember the doctor, and I remember that it was afternoon. I remember taking a shower. Other than those few things, I do not remember.  Unfortunately, too much of what I remember came later. 

Today, though, I remember her arms and her hands. I am not weeping, nor am I overwhelmed with sadness, and that is a good thing. For now. 

“You are lucky to be one of those people who wishes to build sand castles with words, who is willing to create a place where your imagination can wander. We build this place with the sand of memories; these castles are our memories and inventiveness made tangible. So part of us believes that when the tide starts coming in, we won’t really have lost anything, because actually only a symbol of it was there in the sand. Another part of us thinks we’ll figure out a way to divert the ocean. This is what separates artists from ordinary people: the belief, deep in our hearts, that if we build our castles well enough, somehow the ocean won’t wash them away. I think this is a wonderful kind of person to be.” 

 ~ Anne Lamott from Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life 

                                                                                                           

Rain Light 

All day the stars watch from long ago
my mother said I am going now
when you are alone you will be all right
whether or not you know you will know
look at the old house in the dawn rain
all the flowers are forms of water
the sun reminds them through a white cloud
touches the patchwork spread on the hill
the washed colors of the afterlife
that lived there long before you were born
see how they wake without a question
even though the whole world is burning 
 

~ W. S. Merwin 

Ray LaMontagne’s “Empty” 

“The tongue like a sharp knife . . . Kills without drawing blood ~ Siddartha Guatama (Buddha)

 

“Pandora,” by John William Waterhouse (1896, oil on canvas)

“The evils of the body are murder, theft, and adultery; of the tongue, lying, slander, abuse, and idle talk; of the mind, covetousness, hatred, and error.” ~ Siddartha Guatama (Buddha)

I’m sitting here in a white cotton sweater that is probably sixteen years old. I love this sweater, even though it is torn. It is soft and comfortable, and it reminds me of my friend Mari, who gave it to me one Christmas.

"Pandora and Her Box," by Warwick Goble

I have a lot of things that are this old. I’m not complaining, just noting. Why? Well, I’m a tad upset, actually more than a tad, and once again, it has to do with my mother, the woman who can cut me down in two sentences and never glance back.

Today Corey stopped by her house to use the fax machine. My mother had a bone to pick. She asked Corey if we (more specifically, I) had made any big purchases lately. He was, understandably, confused as our purchases are limited to groceries and shampoo. My mother told him that she had heard we had bought a new big bookcase for the living room. I know where she heard this from—my other m-i-l, whose visit I mentioned a few posts ago. My other m-i-l noticed the large wardrobe that is sitting in the living room, the one that is supposed to go in the bedroom, but the bedroom has yet to be painted or carpeted.

This piece of furniture is very large and heavy. Moving it is not simple or easy; hence, we have not moved it into the bedroom. We purchased this piece of furniture four years ago with cash from our tax return at a time when money was not a concern as we were both working in good paying jobs. That this furniture is still not in a bedroom is a reflection of the state of our life right now. However, it is not a reflection of careless spending on our part, or extravagant purchases.

Try telling this to my mother who got the information from my other m-i-l, who lives in a constant state of confusion. Corey explained this to my mother, who informed him that he needs to keep me in line. Corey told my mother that I don’t buy anything, that he pays the bills and does the budget and that I don’t even go shopping, all of which is true. I have been shopping on my own once in the last 12 months—at Christmas—and even then I was very restrained and made no purchases for myself.

“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it.  Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many.” ~ Siddartha Guatama (Buddha)

"Pandora's Box," by Arthur Rackham

Now let me pause here to interject a bit of history, and I apologize if I am repeating myself. After Caitlin died, I shopped my way through my grief. I have admitted this and owned up to my mistakes many times over. I worked very hard to overcome the need to shop to fill the emptiness in my life. I still like to shop, when I have money, but I do not have a fierce need to shop, and there is a big difference.

I no longer go out every Saturday and buy things just to buy. I no longer go from store to store to store, picking up things indiscriminately simply because I can. I no longer do this not because I don’t have the money. I no longer do this because I realized why I was doing this, and I no longer have the deep well of emptiness inside of me.

I have moved on. My mother, however, has not. She still thinks of me as that person who shopped and shopped as if my very life depended upon it. I don’t know about life, but definitely sanity. I have tried to tell my mother repeatedly that I am no longer addicted to shopping (and yes, it is possible to be addicted to shopping). I have tried to tell her that I do not spend money without any thought of the consequences.

She, for whatever reason, does not believe me. Hence, the snide comment about a recent large purchase on my part. Why does this bother me so much when I know the truth?

Well consider: How would you feel if you had made a mistake many years ago, and you had learned from that mistake, and you had taken measures to correct that mistake only to have said mistake thrown in your face at any given opportunity?

I can tell you. You would feel like a failure, an abysmal failure.

“There is nothing more dreadful than the habit of doubt. Doubt separates people. It is a poison that disintegrates friendships and breaks up pleasant relations. It is a thorn that irritates and hurts; it is a sword that kills.” ~  Siddartha Guatama (Buddha)

"Psyche Opening the Golden Box," by John William Waterhouse (1903, oil on canvas)

I truly believe that I will never really understand my mother, no matter how long either of us lives. She can be loving and generous and kind, but mostly with anyone but me. She will talk trash about me to just about anyone: my spouse, my children, my friends. She will believe anyone else before me.

There are so many little stories from my life that exemplify this, far too many to bring up, but one in particular illustrates my point: The homes in my parents’ neighborhood had septic tanks before the city installed sewage throughout the area. One time, the tank became clogged, and my parents had to call one of those companies that specialize in fixing such problems. My mother told the workers, my father, anyone who would listen that she was certain that I had thrown a bottle of nail polish down the toilet, and that had led to the clog. I was about 9 years old.

Nail polish . . . really? Why? I never even contemplated doing such a thing, even as a child. I mean, to what end? I didn’t have any nail polish of my own, and as far as I can remember, my mother did not paint her nails. Did the polish appear by magic? I protested my innocence, but to no avail. I had already been judged guilty, so that was that.

I hadn’t remembered this incident until a few nights ago when for some reason, it popped into my head. Funny how memory works.

“Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill.”  ~  Siddartha Guatama (Buddha)

"Pandora Atop the Opened Box of Evils," by Frederick Stuart Church

I know that I should not let what my mother said affect me so much, nor should I continue to be surprised when she makes these declarations. But it takes a great deal of self-confidence not to let disparaging words spoken about you affect you, especially when spoken by someone who is supposed to love you in the way that a mother is supposed to love. And self-confidence is something with which I still have a hard time.

At the same time, I know that my mother is a product of her generation, a product of the Great Depression, being the youngest in a family with 12 children, being the daughter of a mother who died when she was only eight, and the daughter of a father who drank. I realize that her life as a child was very hard, and not having her mother definitely affected her ability to show love outwardly.

I try to remind myself of these things when she does something to irk me. It helps, but truthfully, it does not lessen the hurt that I feel. I sound like a petulant child. All that is missing is the stamp of the foot and the protestation that “it’s not fair.” So of the two of us, I try to be the adult. All that being said, it would be so nice if just once I felt, truly felt, that she was not sitting in judgment of me.

All I can do, I suppose, is try to remember not to treat my own family in the same way, to let them know that I am proud of them, to tell them that I love them, and to refrain from interjecting past failures into the present. I hope that one day I do not have to read something written by one of my own children only to find that he or she sees me in the say way that I see my own mother.

Counting to ten doesn’t work. A hot cup of tea helps. Writing about it helps to lessen the sting. Time, healing, and all of that . . . scars remain forever, but my scars are the map of my world, each one a wound healed, a memory filed away, a piece of mortality tasted.

Patience. Is. A. Virtue.

More later. Peace.

Music by REM, “Everybody Hurts”

“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness but of power. They are messengers of overwhelming grief and of unspeakable love.” ~ Washington Irving

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart . . .” ~ William Wordsworth

I woke up today very out of sorts, and I really don’t know why. I did have disturbing dreams again, but that doesn’t usually affect my mood for the entire day, just for the first few minutes immediately after waking. When Corey asked me what was wrong, I didn’t have an answer for him. I hate having an unspecified case of the blahs. If I am going to feel this way, I think that I should at least have a reason.

Corey had his orientation last night. Everything went fine; although, he wasn’t too impressed with the two other people in class with him. One arrived fifteen minutes late and texted during class. How rude. The company’s website purports that they only hired ex-service people; however, neither of the other two men were ex-service. One worked for the City of Virginia Beach in heavy equipment, and I don’t remember what he said the other man used to do.

I am awfully glad that Corey has a job for now, but I must admit to being a bit confused. This company supplies port security for one of the largest ports in the world. If the caliber of people they hire is less than optimum, what kind of security is being provided for our ports? Just saying.

“This is. And thou art. There is no safety. There is no end. The word must be heard in silence. There must be darkness to see the stars. The dance is always danced above the hollow place, above the terrible abyss.” ~ Ursula Le Guin, The Farthest Shore

Let’s see. At this precise moment, my desk is filled to overflowing with forms—forms that have been completed and printed, waiting to be sent; forms that have yet to be completed, that require me to find information from yet another source, the location of which I may or may not know; forms that are now obsolete because too much time has passed and yet another form has been sent to replace the old form.

All of this leads me to two conclusions:

  1. I need to clean my desk . . . desperately.
  2. Too many trees are still being felled for paper, which is redundant since so much of this paperwork can now be accomplished electronically. I mean, I was astonished to learn today that one form had to be faxed but couldn’t be e-mailed. I don’t understand.

Now, having alighted upon the above, one would think that I would clean my desk by taking care of the forms; however, it is so much easier to push things to the side and just write this post, all while using my precious metal Pica ruler to scratch my back, usage for which it was surely not intended. My collection of metal Pica rulers comes from my past in the newsroom, that is how old the rulers are. They are part of my ruler collection. Of course I have a ruler collection just as I have a pen collection and paper collection.

In other people’s houses this stuff is referred to as clutter. In my little world, this stuff is known as collections. I like my terminology better.

“Give me silence, water, hope
Give me struggle, iron, volcanoes” ~ Pablo Neruda

In other stupid news . . .

  • Reportedly, Kate Gosselin did a terrible job on DWTS (no, didn’t watch). Such a surprise. Now go home and take care of your eight children.
  • A teen pageant queen who was featured in an episode of “Wife Swap” is suing the network, claiming that scenes that showed her in a bad light were exaggerated. Hmm, the teen’s mom had previously said, “I feel the way to Alicia’s happiness is, give her everything she wants. Don’t give her any rules. Why upset her?” Is anyone surprised by the resultant actions?
  • Kim Kardashian has ended her relationship with her boyfriend, Reggie Bush. Oh. So sad. In the world of real people this rates right up there with Kate Gosselin’s failure to drive men mad with her waltz.
  • Everyone is feeling sad for Sandra Bullock because it turns out her husband Jesse James had an affair with the tattooed woman. Really? A man who prefers freakish to a seemingly down-to-earth beauty who is so non-threatening . . . Even Betty White is sad
  • And oh, by the way, President Obama signed into legislation healthcare reform that was pushed through Congress solely by the Democrats. And no, the world didn’t end. We didn’t suddenly begin to salute swastikas. No one seems to be calling for immediate reforms to an agrarian society. Damn. All of those poor repubs didn’t manage to derail the historic legislation that might actually help people. Of course, the debate rages on, with various people calling for repeal of the law, various lawsuits (including one from my forward-thinking home state), ya da ya da ya da. Sorry. I cannot hear you. I’m basking, however brief it may be.

Seriously, though, the legislation does some pretty cool things, including making it mandatory for insurance carriers to cover children until age 26 (which actually takes into consideration how many more young people are staying at home). Also big is the action that makes it illegal to drop a child for a pre-existing condition, gets rid of lifetime caps, and very big, prohibits cancellation of policies for people who get sick.

Now, with this in mind, would someone please tell me how these things are going to sent our country into a tailspin? Pleez. If you want a concise breakdown of how the legislation will affect you, take a look at this NY Times article.

More later. Peace.

Missy Higgins, “The Sound of White”