Friday, May 30, 2008

It's Friday so you get your Political Hit today...

Someone check the calendar, Hillary thinks it’s Christmas.

Here, we are on the decision weekend for the DNC Rules committee and suddenly, the latest pastor of the Trinity Church in Chicago gives up a sound bite that, if not for the fact that it is truth, would be a parody so sharp as to border on dangerous.

http://www.nypost.com/seven/05302008/news/nationalnews/more_holy_mess_for_obama_113146.htm

Someone should investigate if this Catholic priest, Fr. Pfleger recently received a sizable donation from the HRC campaign. The AP reports that Fr. Pfleger has been a spiritual and fiscal supporter of Obama, even being listed until yesterday when these sound bites found the light of day via YouTube, on Barrack’s website as part of those who give spiritual testimony and support.

Their relationship spans decades. Pfleger has given money to Obama's campaigns and Obama as a legislator both at the state and federal level has directed at least $225,000 towards social programs at St. Sabina’s according to the Chicago Tribune, but of course, there was no quid pro quo.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/chi-0705030035may03,0,7803217.story

But I also have to question the timing of this coming to light. These things do not happen by accident, especially if Clintons are involved. The money aspect with this priest reminds me of the dish washers in San Francisco and those monks that had such largess for the DNC candidates. Perhaps it's all just a misunderstanding. Maybe economic times are not as tight as we’ve been told. After all, these donations could just be those stimulus checks that came in the mail.

Alternatively, maybe Fr. Pfleger was a part of that DaVinci Code conspiracy that Dan Brown and Tom Hanks uncovered, wherein Catholics secretly rule the world…something which, if it were true, I submit, Notre Dame would have had a much better winning record this past decade.

Now I concede that primary season is the time of the improbable that is the world of politics. Everyone gets their lumps. It’s like mental boot camp for the candidates. As an interested spectator, I propose a few strategies for the three wantabes that are seeking the ultimate office in America.

Candidates, please note, none of these strategies were advocated by Karl Rove, nor were they vetted via any public polling.

If Obama really wants to take the DNC without qualms, he should send a few Obama girls over to visit Hillary’s campaign. With the right Obama girls, Bill would swift boat his wife within seconds. Then, you should adopt a symbolic role, declare your administration shall not drive SUV’s and the White House will become Green and have the thermostat stuck at 70 the whole year around as a matter of policy. Declare you will get rid of Air Force One and drive in a hot air balloon or a Zeppelin. Have your motorcade on segways or use the Metro. Bring sweaters back into style. Promise that everyone that votes for you will find their true love, regrow their hair, have healthy gums and season tickets to the local professional soccer team. Promise We will be loved by the Europeans and hand out free Kool-ade.

If Hillary really wants to take the crown, she’s got to show she’s not just an older version of Obama policy. She should go to Iraq unannounced, and then come back and say okay McCain, “Let’s dance.” Then she should demand her place and propose as an alternative, a third party if she doesn’t get it. If she creates a third party, she should meet with McCain, and create the hand shake deal for becoming McCain's Perot to Obama. McCain will get the No. 1 spot and She’ll get a nod to the Supreme Court. The DNC will cave or she’ll win, either way.

Meanwhile, if McCain wants to be the leader of the free world, he needs to decide whose votes he wants and which party he’s the nominee for, RNC or DNC. If he’s going to be leader, he needs to say what he plans to do, what he believes and not back down. If he wants to be president, he needs to convey a vision of what he will do –what policies he will propose and what he will veto. Acting as a leader by gaining consensus through compromise –that’s what happens after one becomes the leader, not how one becomes the head of the pack. If he stops pandering, the RNC will cave.

Finally, McCain needs to inject in his campaign some humor and life about his level of experience and expertise rather than acknowledge any virtue/experience of his opponents.

Old? Seasoned.

Establishment? Really? When I’ve been labeled a Maverick most of my political life?

Out of touch?

I’m not running to be popular. These are the policies I’m for, these, I’m against. I’m running for president. I’m here to govern, not to make you feel cool or cure all ills. The person who says they can do that is lying, not just to you, but to themselves.

As they are, if the US were headed by a committee, these three yahoos would be on it. This is why governors usually do better than senators in national politics. They lead a state, the buck has stopped with them, as opposed to being one of a body of 100. Right now, we have three candidates who want to be the candidate badly, and in some cases, show their desire badly, and no one that shows they want to be more or know how to be more than a candidate.

Here’s hoping one of them grows up by actual Christmas.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Every Breath You Take, We'll be Watching You

In Britain, there has been the proposal to issue credit cards that would indicate each individual’s carbon ration for the calendar year. Excess would be fined or could be prepaid, take your pick, via the purchase of offsets for use that outstripped the standard deviation for inhaling, exhaling and going about daily life in the U.K. polluting by sheer existence, the pristine Gaia.

I’m sure this sort of idea will catch on here soon, if it hasn’t already started in California or New York. Imagine the glee of the government…we’ve finally figured out how to tax people’s air! Now, if we could only tax swallowing or flatulence.

Maybe if we installed internal sensors to count burps, yawns and methane emissions.

There will of course be allowances for politicians who expend more carbon than most on a daily basis, affectionately named the Fillibuster offset, movie stars, who require extra opportunities for lavish use of resources, and perhaps a charitable fund for musicians who use wind or brass instruments, athletes who need to take in extra deep breaths and asthmatics, who might in the course of an attack, waste some of their allotment in the subsequent attempt to regain control of their airways.

I for one object to being rationed on my use of the atmosphere, as the only alternative to paying up if one runs afoul of the government sanctioned limit, would be to die. I have to wonder if that’s given as an option or alternative to paying up. I’d like to think that people will come to their senses and tell the people proposing this carbon credit ration system where to go, but...

I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Sun and also My Daughter Rises

It doesn’t matter what time of night it is, if a door creaks or a light switch flicks, my toddler’s wide awake and comes a calling. So desperate am I for a night without the uninvited two year old guest, preventative measures have been taken.

The other day, I left the door to the bathroom ajar such that a late night visit would not cause the tell tale squeak that summons her from her stupor to my bed. Unfortunately, I had neglected to brief my husband on said plan, and as such, he closed the bathroom off, rendering my plan of stealth moot, in that it was no longer mute.

Her daddy sleeps through these late night visits, thus he did not understand the scope of the problem. Our lovely daughter only rests fully stretched out, perpendicular to the bed, giving Mom a measurable five inches of fighting room, which at six months, is insufficient to the cause.

So, we had a briefing on the issue two nights ago and the door remained ajar. Alas, I had not reckoned on maternity to be inflicting me with 2 am hiccups, necessitating not only a door opening but a light and sink tap turning. She was in my bed before the water graced the cup.

Now I know people are thinking, just take her back to bed.

We’ve done this. I have even gone to the extreme measure of waking her father to carry said toddler back to bed multiple times in a night. She views being deposited there a second time after dark as license to run wild in the home as long as she doesn’t wake you. Juice boxes have been discovered in odd places. There are Hansel and Grettle type trails of Oreos up the stairs from the kitchen.

Once, she figured out the Nintendo and awakened her four year old brother to join in the fun. I have independent verification from our phone bill that one night, she placed a long distance call. If we would guarantee the maximum number of minutes not conscious for adults while maintaining property damage to a minimum, my bed is her bed if she so chooses after 1 am.

There had been talk of getting her a toddler bed, but the idea of not having those four lovely barred walls that sort of hem her in at times, well, I can’t quite give up my crutch. It is true, she climbs out at will. It is true they no longer serve as a reasonable deterrent to her wandering. It is also true that I am not yet up to facing the reality of a range free two year old 24-7.

Last night, I surrendered and went to the couch. She joined me. I returned to our bed. She joined me. I took her upstairs to her crib and curled up with my five year old on her bed.

In the morning, she was in my bed, spoon feeding Daddy a chocolate ice cream breakfast.

In my next life, I’m coming back Dad.

Monday, May 26, 2008

How to Party when You're Grown Up

For some reason, adults always downplay their own milestone markers. Recently, I heard two friends talk of having dull birthdays. These adults are the same people that hire ponies, cater bar-b-que, and hold an all day fiesta when their children turn two. The result is that birthdays become a marker of aging, rather than a time of celebration. To help all of those in the parenting stage of life, acknowledge the anniversary of their birth about gaining another year, but not being old, I present the following tips.

1) Invite Friends. Whole Families, extended family, neighbors and their friends, their dogs, cats, gerbils, hamsters. It’s your birthday darn it, and people should first, know about it and second, properly celebrate it.
The best way to do this is to send invites or e-vites, it allows you to publicize the event without seeming immodest.

2) Think Fun. I know those fun muscles are out of practice, they probably have stretch marks. But exercise routines start with the first day you decide to exceed the normal 2.6 miles most people trod in a day, and well, you don’t want something like this to happen to you.

When I turned 30, I was handed three lovely presents by my husband, an unwrapped autographed book by Bill Bradley and a CD of Dennis Miller Rants, plus some very good chocolate. He kissed me and said, “Happy Birthday.”

I swallowed hard and managed a feeble “Thanks.” I really did like the gifts but felt uncelebrated. He looked at my face and said, “You’re sad.” I shot back, “I’m thirty years old. It’s my birthday. I’m NOT SAD.” He looked at my eyes. “You are sad.” My lip quivered. “I AM SAAAD.” And man did I bawl.

Fortunately, my beloved husband took charge and we went to Gettysburg and toured Picket’s Charge on my birthday, and then to Williamsburg for a day at Busch Gardens where he and I took turns going on roller coasters and watching our then two children. My daughter, then two months old, let me sleep through the night. It was a celebration bonanza.

Of course that meant I had to come up with something just as funtastical for his Big 3-0, so I invited all of his guy friends from college and high school and law school to our home for the weekend.

We saw Star Trek First Contact –remember back when Star Trek was good? Almost me neither. We ate steaks and I made Tres Leches –a gloriously bad for you cake that requires more cholesterol than found in an entire five buckets of KFC. It’s made with at least a dozen eggs and a can of sweetened condensed milk. I’ll email the recipe if you ask.

We played flag football and went to Dave and Busters in the evening. I’d arranged for sitters to allow us all to go play for the evening. I even was a good wingman to a friend of ours who was and is an actual pilot in the Air Force. Who knew I could be a wingman?

The point of all this is plan. Have a plan and execute the plan, but most importantly, plan to have a blast.

3) Laser Tag, Dinner at a restaurant you’ve been dying to try or even one that sings those hokey songs and makes you wear a Sombrero are great. Bar-b-cue in the back yard, A baseball game, go-carts, a concert, bowling, poker night, a day at the pool, the park or the beach, a snowball fight, a water gun fight with your kids, tickets to a show, flag football at the park, the possibilities are endless.

4) If you like to or would like to try, play video games, let your kids teach you. New skills make the mind agile and feel young. You can’t really feel old when you’ve just schooled your teenage son in wii golf. It’s not possible. Gloating is permitted and even in some families, considered an art form. Who’s your Mamma?
Note to self: work on end zone routine.

5) Wear a new outfit. Most of us moms get a new outfit for the birthday kid so they’ll look spiffy for the pictures. Do the same for yourself, whether it’s a haircut, a manicure or even just a new pair of shoes. Spruce yourself up so you look good, you’ll feel good.

6) Reality like sick kids, work schedules and unavoidable activities sometimes crowd a birthday. This is why our family celebrates Birthday Month. Why limit the fun to just one day? This does mean that seven months out of the year, not counting actual scheduled holidays, we're celebrating. Want some cake? Odds are in your favor in the spring if you come over.

7) Go to Mass. If possible, receive the sacrament of reconciliation so you can start your next year with a fresh spirit. Okay, this last one is only completely doable if you’re Catholic.

8) Feast well. Calories on Birthdays are 100%allowed. Chocolate Cake all day? Why yes thank you. I believe I will….

9) Write down three things you hope to accomplish next year and put them in a birthday jar. Have each of your family do this as well, and on you next birthday, see if you did them.

10) Schedule a Health Check up and a Dental appointment. Why? Because the year will go better if you know you’re taking care of you.

11) Go to the Bookstore or Library, pick out a book you’ve been meaning to read. Start the first chapter.

12) Take a picture of all those you love. Don’t forget to include yourself, even if you hate how you look in pictures. Try to remember all of the birthdays past that you can, going backwards, or your favorites. Don’t forget to call your siblings and your parents and other family members not present to get their memories of those same events.

13) Hog the remote.

14) Start a diary. Leave it by your bed. You’ll be amazed next year.

15) Take a long hot bath

16) Open your presents…hint to family, wrap them.

17) Plan a trip for the following year somewhere you’ve always wanted to go.

18) Take up an instrument/art/craft you’ve never done before and always admired or wished you knew…who knows what will happen. Practice and failure and surprise success are all good for the soul.

19) Blow out the candles. All of them. Give everyone a big slice with extra frosting.

20) Give Thanks to God.

Friday, May 23, 2008

Something So Very Y

It's that little something we girls don't have.

For such a small chromosome, it carries a lot of information. There's the usual stuff like testosterone and all the equipment that is required for maleness, and then there's the hardwiring that makes guys feel uncomfortable with pastel colors, arty films and light dinners that are salad and soup. These unspoken extras that come with the transfer of a Y chromosome from Man to conceived man, are part of a world that we as women, lacking that essential "Y"ness, can't quite grasp.

This otherness is best explained by example. The Y ensures that men eschew the mall, buy things in bulk like three 20 quart bottles of Ragu packaged together and can listen to sports other than baseball on the radio without the assistance of chemical stimulants.

Y also carries with it, the secrets of the humor of the three stooges, successful war strategies for games online, and how to watch movies about people on submarines with enthusiasm. People with Y chromosomes bought Iron Man comic books before the movie was even considered.

Lest anyone think I'm stereotyping, I have been told, by those in the Y club, that I'd make a pretty good candidate if I weren't a girl. I'm more comfortable at a football stadium than an art museum and have been apparently, though I'm not admitting anything, witnessed to accidentally nod off at a symphony but never a ball game.

Still, the Y chromosome carries with it unknown elements. Free radical personality traits that latch onto perfectly reasonable males and thus render individuals incomprehensible to those lacking this essential bit of DNA sequencing with Yness before maturation, perhaps the most confusing of all.

A young Y owning human can wear the same shirt to bed he wore for the day and then come down saying "I'm dressed." still wearing the same wardrobe. A young Y can come home with a bad grade and five minutes after snack ask, "Can I go see a movie tonight? It's the opening for the latest...insert summer blockbuster Y movie here of your choice" A young Y is puzzled that bacon is not served daily, or that women folk get irritated when the carton of orange juice is put back in the refrigerator with a measurable two teaspoons left. "I put the juice away Mom." they volunteer helpfully.

Still, we love these genetically different creatures of the same genotype. They remove mice and mow the lawns and even hall screaming toddlers off to bed. They offer to grill food and have been known to organize games of Capture the flag and sometimes the sub movies are watchable. I go upstairs to turn off the stereo of my oldest Y offspring. It is blaring James Bond instrumentals for the Trombone. Walking in, I see his sleeping form and smile. Turning off the stereo, I spot a large three gallon bottle of Deer Park in the middle of the floor.

I shouldn't be surprised. This has happened before. We have had discussions about leaving large vats of H20 in the middle of the room when he has his own private bathroom with a working sink just five feet away.

"Y son? Y?" is all I can think.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Road Trip

In every family history since the beginning of time, there is a story about a well intentioned trip that had all the hallmarks of doom from the start.

The Washington Post in it’s well meaning ways creates Road Trips every weekend to places 3 hours or less away from DC, designed to give the traveler a slice of experience from the locale, highlighting the “Don’t miss whatever you do..” of the off beaten path. But there’s a catch to all of this. Sometimes, the non beaten path has been not travelled for a reason.

This voyage has been created as a precautionary tale against well meaning folks who might have otherwise entertained the notion of making a pilgrimage to Dover, Delaware for Saint Patrick’s Day festivities as suggested in this past Sunday’s Washington Post “The Source” section in future years.

First, let me make a caveat to those Delaware fans out there, we love going to the beaches there and bear no animosity whatsoever towards the “First State,” but I’d wager a Guinness, a freshly picked four leaf clover and all the winnings at Dover Downs Hotel and Casino, the locals could have come up with a better itinerary for catching the highlights of the 3.5 miles showcased of Dover, Delaware.

Getting there: I-95, straight line, 2 hours theoretically but then it’s only 20 miles to DC from my home and that takes an hour. By that type of math, anticipate 4hours with the obligatory gas/provisions stop and artery clog at the bridge.

Going there…this is a time when a DVD player would prove useful, as there isn’t so much as a single cow to point out to the children staring aimlessly out the window, or a corn field, or mountain, or windmill. There’s flat field after flat field of brown at this time of year, or possibly patchy greyish white. Ambient temperature, 40 plus a wind, slightly damp. Think Seattle spring without the chic possibility of flying salmon across a fish market, rural in an uninteresting and endless freeway kind of way. Even getting a competitive game of Alphabet going will take some doing if the powers that be rule out license plates as a source.

What to do: Well, here’s where things got interesting. The first stop on the day was the Johnson Vitrola Museum. “Get out of the car kids, it’s time to see the predecessors of the IPod.” The photo of the mostly brown room with the shiny giant Crumpet attached to the phonograph machine I am sure will bring joy and giggles to that budding spinster in your offspring. It lacks the kitchziness of the Museum of Yarn or the History of the Kazoo. The very air feels drowsy.

“Okay children, it’s time to really have some fun, so let’s head over to “The Green” at First State Heritage Park, for some four leaf clover hunting.”

“We drove three hours to go sit in a park?”

“Shut up and start searching. There’s a reward for the first finder of a four leaf!”

"What's the reward?"

"We get to get back in the warm dry car."
"I'm on it Mom!"
"Me too!"

The thing is, clovers have not quite yet come to full blossom necessarily by March 17th, at least not here. The rain and snow have managed to make the ground marsh like and cool –damp, like Ireland…so it’s an authentic hunt, not that the Irish ever hunt four leaf clovers, that’s just something Americans do…since the shamrock was actually used to teach the Trinity and a four leaf cannot be used that way. We don't find any, but one child thinks he's found one, because another kid mercifully "doctored a three leaf to split one leaf," making four.

“Great trip…where to next?”

“Oh, well, since we came here Sunday, we missed the Schartz Center for the Art’s homage to traditional Irish music, but we can go by the center and stop in Forney’s Jeweler’s because nothing says “I’m Irish” like a porcelain pig with a shamrock painted on his rump. It’s decorative and oh so festive.

"Lovely. I can think of nothing better, except perhaps, for going to the Wiccan shop, Bell Book and Candle, after all, I can’t think of any way to celebrate a Saint’s feast day better than to revel in pagan roots by purchasing a few Celtic books and deity sculptures."

“Wow…what an engaging multi-cultural experience…what’s next?”

The Parade…finally, now we’re talking! School marching bands, homegrown beauty queens and 20 floats featuring mostly local boosters including the Confederate Irish.

The thing is, the whole town is marching and the whole sideline is filled people like us, who read and took seriously, the Washington Post, damp from clover hunting, sleepy from Vitriola watching and busy proselytizing our children to prevent them from becoming junior druids.

Now that we’ve really started to enjoy ourselves, we’ll go see the mechanized potato harvester at the Delaware Agricultural Museum. It’s a kid favorite to see how Irish’s favorite food is pulled from the ground….I can see the little wee bairns dancing jigs from here at the prospect of it all.
“I…need…a drink. “
“ Me too!”

Luckily for us, there’s the Irish Mike’s Olde Towne Pub…which for this day only, is overcrowded as the 2000 people who came to see the parade and participate in all the heart pounding fun seek libation to kill the sinking feeling they’ve just blown a Sunday…

"Hey! I bought a four leaf clover at the Wiccan shop, now we’re lucky so let’s go to the Dover International Speedway or the Dover Down’s Casino."

"Sure, as soon as the 3.5 mile strip that is closed for the day because of the Parade opens up. That should be around eight this evening. We have to hit the road by six."

In the meantime, we’re going to the local McDonald’s for a green shake. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

Editor/Spouse: “Psst. Sherry! It’s May. Memorial Day Weekend is coming up. Why are you posting this?”

“This has been a cautionary tale as part of a public service announcement. Drive Carefully. Plan, even better. Thank you.”

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

My Two Cents vs. Their Three

Picking up the mail in January, I froze, and not just from the -10 degree wind chill whipping around for my winter pleasure. In my hands amidst the bills and late Christmas cards, flyers for pizza and leftover catalogs were an OVERDUE NOTICE.

I always pay all our bills at the beginning of each month. I keep the tabs and am scrupulous about knowing what checks I write and for whom. Maybe the Christmas rush had allowed me to miss one…I was upset as I sat at the table and began to open it up. Would my clerical error ruin our credit rating? The notice seemed to scold me with its very presence.

Opening the letter my fear gave way to rage. “This letter is to inform you that the bill on your 2004 Mini-van loan for the amount of $.03 is PAST DUE. Please remit the sum of $.03 to the Ameri-Bank account immediately to avoid procedures that could affect your CREDIT RATING.

I put down the letter. I got out my checkbook and past bill stubs. Sure enough, I had written the check for $379.76. The bill was $379.79. I called the 1-800 number to discuss the matter.

“May I help you Ms?” A disinterested voice came on after I had spent the better part of 15 minutes punching buttons on the phone tree to get to a human being.

“Yes! I’m calling about my account…”

She then proceeded to interrupt me to ask for all the information I had just spent 15 minutes punching into the phone tree. “How may I serve you today?” she said finally in a bored voice.

“Why am I getting an OVERDUE NOTICE?” I asked. “You have proof that I made my payment promptly.”

“Yes, it shows that you paid, but our computers indicate that you haven’t satisfied the terms of your contract for the loan.”

“Because of three cents?”

“Yes Ms.” She replied. “What if everyone started writing their checks for pennies less than the actual bill, the company would loose thousands of dollars.”

Momentarily stopped by the thought that a business could loose thousands because of a second of dyslexia, common sense reasserted itself in my brain. “This isn’t a vast conspiracy; I just switched a number by accident, from a nine to a six. I can’t just write three more cents on the next bill?”

“No Ms, our computer indicates that your account is not in compliance. Any additional money sent in next week would apply to the principle but not satisfy the outstanding balance left unpaid.” She droned.

“But it’s three cents. If I write a check for three cents it will cost .39 cents to mail it and more than that for you to process it. Why am I getting a threatening we will destroy your credit rating over three cents?”

“I understand Ms. But our computer reads the payment as insufficient funds and as such you have to send in a check immediately or it will forward your account to the appropriate collection agencies.” I could almost hear her filing her nails and chewing gum in indifference.

“What? For Three CENTS?”

“Yes Ms.” She said this with the evident self detachment culled from hours of telling countless people the same information for even smaller sums.
…..

Trying not to seethe at the incomprehensibility of having my credit rating ruined over three copper coins easily found on the bottom of my car for which the payments were made, I mentally debated the satisfaction of mailing three pennies, of mailing the next full payment in nothing but pennies, and of simply blowing the whole thing off.

“What about an electronic transfer?” I asked, trying to avoid an unnecessary chore and make the best of a stupid situation.

“There is a twelve dollar fee for the transfer Ms.”

“So it would cost me twelve dollars and three cents to square my account?”

“Yes—“

Not feeling particularly civil at that moment, I hung up in mid Ms.

As I wrote the check and began addressing the envelope, I wondered if the bank would fine me for having written a check for such a tiny amount. Phoning the bank, they explained that yes indeed, there would be a 5 dollar fee for writing a check for three cents. I could avoid the fee if the amount exceeded a dollar. I also figured that mailing three cents physically would cost $.45 cents in postage, and that probably sending three physical cents would warrant another letter from the bank.

Ripping up the check, I wrote a new one for a dollar with a note, “Since we both could use the change, I’m transferring my account.”

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Maternal Struggle Wears Thin

As a connoisseur of maternity clothing for over a decade and a half, (subjecting myself to the cruel whims of unknown designers since 1993) I have weathered many an ill conceived creation over the course of a nine month period sans periods. The following are my nominations for the Blackwell Worst Idea Ever pregnancy wardrobe options.

First up: the bicycle spandex pants of ’95, in homage to Lance Armstrong, because nothing says comfort to a pregnant woman like clingy gym togs that show every curve and generate sweat. That was a bleak year, spent mostly raiding my husband’s t-shirt drawer for something to cover my mid region as it expanded and my posterior. It was also the year I bought a poncho.

Second Nominee: The unfortunate au natural trend started when countless starlets would pose on sleek magazine covers wearing maternity shirts with only one or two buttons, allowing their beautiful airbrushed tan in a bottle six or more months pregnant bellies to peek out. Most women I know, hope if they are undergoing pregnancy, it’s during the winter months so they can hide and hibernate in large wooly sweaters.

Most women I know, have enough sense to recognize a half buttoned shirt is a half buttoned shirt. If a woman over 30 has a shirt half buttoned and isn’t a starlet, it’s because her toddler was busy working the buttons while she answered the phone, loaded the diaper bag and was slipping on shoes, or she just finished nursing the baby. It just doesn’t work if you are over the age legal to order a beer. And if you are under age...that isn't so good either.

Third option: Then there was the Maternity bikini, modeled by women who, if they chose, could go to a five star restaurant sans reservations wearing a bikini and get a table. Of course, these same women would not actually consume any food at a five star restaurant, bikini or no. No beautifully draped shawl was sufficient enticement for non model women to don the pregnancy bikini. It didn’t go anywhere. Even missing 10% of their grey matter owing to pregnancy, women knew better. That year, the poncho was growing a bit thin.

Fourth Alternative: Baby collar, pinafore, jumpers. Just slip them on and off you go to work was the pitch. The thing of it was, you felt like a fourth grader. Newsflash to designers. The fourth grade cute look only looks cute on fourth graders. Help! I’m maudlin and I want to throw up. The poncho now had a hole and the zipper was stuck but I still wore it.

Designers hear me, I am woman! We want pregnancy clothes that fit, that don’t look slutty, sporty or babyish. We are not knocked up spice girls. We also require clothes that do not insist we sit still to remain artfully draped and appropriately covered.

The genesis of all this, was the need to break out my old maternity clothing with the recognition that most of my past periods of confinement were during the winter. I needed things to make it through the not so cool months of May, June, July and August. Going to the local mall, I entered a chain store that caters to pregnant women. Alas, where it once had had someone behind the counter with a degree of style and some measurable sense, it had been taken over by a post MTV plays music kind of generation that sought to establish pregnancy as chic in the cutting edge Ipod/blackberry wireless world that goes clubbing on Thursdays.

Low rise pregnancy jeans and shorts? Leopard spot tanks? Yellow? Even the pregnant thin model wearing the yellow mini dress and four inch stilettos in the picture looked like she wanted an epidural for simply agreeing to be photographed. Yellow on a pear shaped form conjures up only one image:

Big bird.

The expectant model had managed to avoid that look, and instead gave the distinct impression of a perfectly ripe banana half peeled that had been grasped at the middle and squished. There were racks and racks and racks of yellow. I wasn’t buying.

Rushing home, I ransacked my husband’s drawers and pulled out a black t-shirt. It was oversized. It celebrated a now defunct hockey team. I could weather the weather as long as we didn’t have to go anywhere t-shirts weren’t acceptable attire, otherwise I’d have to break out the poncho.



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Friday, May 16, 2008

A Gaulling Matter

Two years ago I had laser-scopic surgery to remove my gall bladder. For those out there who slept through junior biology, (or like me, spent the time in the back of the room finishing my Latin sentences for next period), the gall bladder is this tiny sack that acts as a back up system for the liver, siphoning off excess bile from the digestive system. The bile is used to digest fat, like the stuff that makes donuts, ice cream, nachos and pizza preferable to say fruit, broccoli, fish and tofu.

Because I as a loyal American ate more than my fair share of the former, the gall bladder dutifully stored up the unwanted bile produced to allow me to gain weight from my choice of diet. Then one day, I had an attack.

The official gall bladder “I quit!” resignation form had been sent to management.

The result of this painful episode was a trip to the emergency room, during which we discovered my little gall bladder was full of gall stones. A conservative estimate from the doctor at the emergency room looking at the ultra sound was that I had a Google’s worth had built up over a forty year life time of abuse via fresh fried chicken and big macs, Ben and Jerry’s and real butter. The only cure was a perpetual diet of no fat no flavor foods, or surgery. As I had additional extenuating medical conditions that made this not a run of the mill procedure, I was to strictly follow the diet until the specialist could fit me in his schedule.

For three months I ate oatmeal and tea for breakfast, broth based soup and dry toast for lunch, and diet coke and fish with cooked vegetables for dinner. Every once in a while I would dare a bit of variety but only at night, when my husband could hold down the fort as I crumpled in a ball from the stabbing pain of indiscretion. A glass of milk seemed innocent enough. Nyet. How about some rice at dinner? Not a prayer. Maybe some other meat like beef or chicken I thought hopefully. That experiment almost sent me back to the hospital. Nothing makes one disciplined like body crunching severe pain for the slightest infraction. One day I begged for a piece of chocolate and my husband quietly reminded me how much I liked weeping.

A side benefit of being unable to eat 90% of what one wanted was I lost 25 pounds in two months. The downside...well, if you are what you eat, I had the personality of beef broth and could generate about as much energy and excitement.

The date of the surgery arrived and the surgeon explained how they would make three cuts and slice up the gall bladder to remove it through the tiny incisions and then vacuum up any stones or bits of bile that fell onto other parts of my anatomy while the procedure was ongoing. “So doc, basically all of my gall will be divided into three parts?” I asked. It was then the surgeon cued the anestiaologist to proceed.

Six hours later, I nervously ate a hamburger and drank skim milk. Never has hospital food been such a gourmet experience. I even added mustard and ketchup for flavor. There had always been about a two hour layover prior to great pain when I ventured away from dullness. Two hours passed. Three. Four. I went to bed. No attack. No pain. No gall bladder. Huzzah!

I’d love to say I learned my lesson, but the instant I was free of the doctors, I started down my bad eating habit road again albeit at first cautiously.

Then one day, I got daring and ate fried chicken. There was a problem. Without a gall bladder to help with digesting fat, the liver does all the work. It can’t manage fried chicken without creating too much bile. Too much bile acts as a draino on the system. Enough said. Ditto for such treats as ice cream and baked goods that use oil. So while “Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres” I can no longer stomach a Caesar salad. My stomach and liver will override any foolish choices on my part. “Et tu Body?”

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

How to Stay Unpublished for Life

10) Avoid reading submission guidelines whenever possible, they take away valuable time from writing, which as we all know, is a craft worthy of pure devotion. Submit using the spaghetti approach. Your stuff is so gold, only idiots would not recognize the opportunity being presented.

9) Publically deride any newspaper or magazine that has rejected your latest offering. Send out a spam explaining your personal vitriol in this circumstance; be sure to link the publication to your blog and sig line in the email to guarantee they get the message.

8) Use clich├ęs and metaphors like salt on popcorn. Write peevish emails to any editor that would dare alter or adjust your deathless prose. Reject their acceptance if they refuse to acquiesce.

7) Submit the same article to at least sixteen publications at once, cc the others in a group email to save time.

6) Resend the same articles to the same magazines using the theory of publication via erosion of editorial will.

5) Write a screed damning everything including young puppies. Make sure it is at least 5000 words long and hand written. Send with insufficient postage but with a personal post-it to the editor using his or her real name and possibly a term of affection.

4) Phone the editors on the hour to ask, “Have you read my piece yet?”

3) Phone them at home.

2) Repeat the process with potential agents. Consider moving into a tent at the park near his or her home. If anyone asks, explain you are doing “research” for a character or engaged in a civil protest. For added mystery, never give the same cause twice.

1) When receiving a rejection via email or letter, throw your computer or notepad or both into the trash, dump motor oil over the entire mess and set it aflame. Repeat as often as necessary while screaming and pulling out all hair, including one’s eyebrows, “I’m never writing again!” Continue until broke, the EPA arrests you, or becoming hirsute free.

For Experienced Non Published Writing Professional Hacks Only...
**Write a journal detailing how the world never understood your secret genius. Leave obvious clues in your will to allow relatives to eventually find this hidden opus. Be sure and tuck a few George Washingtons in the pages to reward them for their trouble.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

When Mom Was a Kid..

What it was like when I was a kid

On Sports and Games

Growing up, we strapped metal wheels to our shoes and fell on our knees on bumpy concrete until we learned to stop falling. Turns were tricky so you either held on, or in my brother's case, got down on your hands and knees and crawled through the turn, or you decided you knew what you were doing, tried to make the turn and fell at least 50 times before you got it.

When we played on swing sets, teeter totters and monkey bars, they were made of wood and steel and sometimes gave us splinters, particularly when we would ride with two or three at a time.

Tag and hide and seek, dodge ball and freeze tag had winners and losers. We played them often. In fact, we loved them. Even when we were mad about being picked last, it just meant we hoped next time, we’d be captains or picked first, or at least not last again.

Sports had b-teams and sometimes, you didn’t even make that one. You only got a trophy if you won, and sometimes, you got skunked. People kept score but the teams for grade school and the like, were not posted in the paper. It wasn’t important. These were kids’ games.

On School and Education…

There were three channels on television if you didn’t count the educational one, which we didn’t.

The library was a place to check out books, a week in advance of the science project that was mandatory.

The science project was a big deal, complete with a hand written four page report and five references, none from the web. Everyone had to make a poster and a project. People would know if your parents did the art work, and you wouldn’t win.

We’d get pop quizzes at school and worksheets that had been freshly run from the ditto machine, and smelled like ink. We loved those, and I think sometimes, the ink made us dizzy.

You got grades. You got grades every day. Most of the time, it was a number or a letter. The grades included C’s, D’s, F’s and the less common, C-, D+ and D-. Your parents got called if you got these grades. Every time. Forging your parent’s signature got you in bigger trouble.

If you didn’t do an assignment, you got to do it during recess while everyone else was outside playing, which stunk.

They made us memorize Kipling’s “If,” our multiplication tables and say the pledge. We often had to read aloud or do problems on the board for everyone else to watch.

They showed us videos of “The Red Balloon,” and “Chicken Soup with Rice” as treats. We saw each every year at least once.

At noon, We’d get kicked outside to play, we had recess. It was after lunch and lasted a decent amount of time. It didn’t matter if it was hot or cold, muggy or raining, we were on our own after lunch for that half hour. Recess lasted long enough to form cliques, to organize a kick ball game, to braid hair or play a no prisoners game of speed solitaire.

On Grown Ups…

People disagreed on politics, as they always have, but it wasn’t acceptable to insult someone just because they held a different political affiliation. No one was considered heartless or brainless for being a Republican or a Democrat; these were party denominations, not the solutions to every problem under the sun requiring absolute religious fealty.

Being kids, we didn’t even know what politics really were until Mom caught us one day having uprooted all the political signs and repositioned them in our front yard because we thought they were cool. These Vote for…posts seemed like some form of mushroom that had sprung up overnight. We were busy dismantling them to make swords when Mom found us.

Television had a family hour which was boring and grown-ups watched the news, which was boring to us, but then the alternative was bed.

There were uber parents out there who made their kids compete in every sport and activity, but most of the grown-ups knew that these people were wrong and encouraged all of us to pick what we loved and do that first.

Grown-ups drank things like beer and wine, ice tea, diet soda and coffee, all of which tasted terrible. They also had weird clothing rules like no shorts after Labor Day and no white in the winter. They ordered foods with dressings and sauces on them and used “Sweet and Low.” They would make us eat the crust on breads, the stumpy parts of broccoli and occasionally, liver.

For Fun…

Swimming lessons and camp took care of maybe two weeks. The rest of the time, we were on our own.

We’d troll the neighborhood to amass as many at home minors as possible. It didn’t matter who, if you were a kid and you were home, we were knocking on the door asking, “Can you come play?”

Then, we’d ride our bikes until dark, no helmets. We’d pin cards to our spokes with clothes pins to sound like motor cycles. On a dead end street, we’d hold races all afternoon until someone announced they were thirsty. There would be a run on the hose, with each person jockeying to be later in line, so as not to get the first swig of heated by the sun water that came out of the end.
Then the beep beep beep of the mosquito spraying truck would be heard and everyone would clear out to their homes as fast as possible. We didn’t know DEET was poisonous, but it sure smelled bad.

When it was too hot, we’d play monopoly in doors until someone won or was called home. We sometimes made card castles, trying to use all 52 cards before the thing fell. We loved fresh boxes of crayons and coloring books. The coloring books were almost always of animals and never had stickers.

Come fall, we’d gather pecans from every yard, filling up two trash cans. Then we’d offer to rake leaves for a dollar all over the block and try to sell the pecans.

Every Christmas, we’d have a Christmas program. They never had plots, just grade after grade, alternating between secular and religious music, with the grand finale, always, Silent Night. Then most parents would reconvene across the street at the Carnation Dairy restaurant to praise our performances and buy ice cream.

Why am I telling you this?

So my darlings, you will understand some of the why I tell you often to turn off the television and the DDS and the DVD’s and the IPods and the cell phones and the computers.

I will shrug sometimes when you are not 100% safe and even encourage you to jump off the high dive, draw until you run out of chalk and drink a soda outside while reading comics in a hammock.

I will not rush out to challenge other parents to a duel to the death because your feelings are hurt, though I will offer you a hug and say I love you.

Life is always unsafe and unfair but worth living. Sometimes, it is even unsafe and unfair in our favor.

Skinned knees and even bruised hearts heal. Memorization, pain from learning to learn is part of the process, and not what you will recall when you get to be nostalgic about childhood. Like giving birth, we don’t recall the labor pain itself, only that it hurt and then it was over, and we had this person, and everything was light and wonderful and still is.

Happy Thank You for Making me A Mother Day! And Happy Mother’s Day to everyone out there who has been so blessed.

Friday, May 9, 2008

The Surest Sign there are No More Weeks of Winter

There is one bonifide signal that Spring has set into motion in earnest.

Last minute school projects.

Every parent has had that dreaded moment when they struggle between teaching responsibility for time management and the urge to become a Superhero and pull an all nighter with the child in question to ensure a decent grade. Most of the time, we wind up circling the wagons and helping the delinquent student to finish their work before 1 am, but not without occasionally morphing into the adult from the nether regions...if YOU EVER...I am NOT DOING THIS AGAIN...

The other day, I got a text message. "Need three fold before weekend!"

I ransacked my brain in the desperate hopes of having at some point purchased such an item that went unused. It would have helped if I knew what a threefold was. I text messaged back but before I got six taps in, I grew irritated and just phoned.

“Can’t talk. Turning off phone now.” was the response from my beloved teen.

Now, I couldn’t even text message. I knew a fishing expedition to the local office supply store was imminent.

We had just loaded up in the car from my second son’s baseball practice. It was 6:30. Dinner had yet to be served, showers and bed routines were being thrown out the window, and even microwave pot pies were looking like a time consuming chore.

Twelve year old to the rescue! She knew what a tri-fold was, I thought it was either a hat or a way to properly stow a flag. I had my atm machine card at the ready. We would go to the bank and then the art store. We could do this seamlessly if I booked.

Alas, the errand gods were not with us.

The ATM refused to cooperate. The drive thru had closed thirty minutes before we arrived. We also needed gas. Having experienced the engine light read “Low” before and actually run out, I wasn’t taking any chances, so we tanked up before proceeding with the poster hunt. It was now 7:24.

The art store was closed, but I knew of an office store still open, so I gambled, scrounging through my purse and the pockets of the car. Collectively, we found change amounting to$3.57. I did have to promise to pay the two toddlers back their respective 64 and 12 cents. It was 7:37 pm. They’d get showers the next day. For bed time stories, I handed a book from my satchel to my ten year old and instructed her “READ...aloud…expressively,” although I had to conceed, "Writing Query Letters that Rock!" wasn't my first choice for my children's night time supplimental literacy program. She abandoned it in favor of a discarded Avenger's comicbook. I was in no position to argue.

I drove at a not entirely state approved rate and we arrived at five minutes to eight. The twelve year old went in, I looked at the clock. We’d not get to dinner before 9 o’clock if I cooked.

I phoned the local roasted chicken establishment and placed an order for the family feast for four plus a few extra sides.

My daughter returned triumphant, carrying a poster board as large as herself. She had 17 cents left, so I paid back the 12 cents and listened to the other toddler howl at not receiving prompt reimbursement. For a kid who can't add or count past 15, he knew getting a nickle was getting stiffed. I offered to pay interest. He wasn’t moved. I handed him a credit card, but discovered he was a cash only kind of guy until his sister offered him a turn on the game boy.

We drove to the chicken store, but the cash problem still loomed. Five cents was insufficient to buy the family meal order I had placed, and I wasn't even sure my son would lend me back the five cents!

I took out the toddler rejected credit card and hoped my daughter could go two for two. In she marched, and returned. The card had expired one day prior. Maybe that’s why my son refused it.

I handed over another and waited. Driving in circles in the parking lot, hoping the restaurant would take it, hoping they would let her sign for it and go, the phone rang, but I was too stressed and distracted to deal with it. We saw my daughter waving with her hands full. I drove up, joyfully anticipating an end of the struggle.

Her sister went in to help bring back the bounty.

Driving home, while congratulating ourselves on a successful mission, I planned out bed time routine in my head. Then I got another text message.

“I tried to phone you. Project due Monday moved to next week.”

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The True Rewards of Laundry

Frustration is good for the soul.

This is what I tell myself when twelve loads of laundry in a day are insufficient to produce the required gym shorts for all three girls. I try to be flexible. My eight children however, aren’t always nearly so accommodating.

“Those are my shorts.”
“Do you need a pair for today?”

“No.”
“Then let your sister wear them.”

“No.”

Now, the maternal gene does protect against the natural human reaction to such situations. Still, to deal with the work load, my husband and I have created systems. Laundry systems designed to prevent this sort of wardrobe malfunction from disrupting the morning routine.

Everyone has a laundry bag. Even the baby. There is a bag for the towels and a bag for dry cleaning too. Note to self, never get those last two mixed up ever again.

There shall be no mixing of laundry bags so that the wash/dry /fold tasks do not include sorting according to size or child, only color. It’s been working pretty well except for the final part of the job, the kids doing the wash. I’ve taught the top five how. They view washing their clothes as something you do like quarterly taxes.

So I was finishing up the last wash of the day. My husband had worked late himself and looked at the twelve neat piles, whistled and asked “So, the system is working well?” He picked up a few socks and mated them. I conceded, it had cut back on some of the work. This was insufficient praise for the economy of the system as envisioned by the designer. “So even if you never get additional help doing all the laundry from the kids…”

“Stop. Do Not Even Finish that sentence.”

“…Would you like a foot rub?”
"Ooh. Yes."

“And a bowl of ice cream and a diet coke.”
"That would be great!"

“And I’ll finish this load shall I?”

“Thank you.”

The system works.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Ensuring Proper Credit

When is the proper time to wash a baby?

Let me be perfectly clear. I am not some wet behind the ears rookie of a parent that requires others give standing ovations at the mere sight of my progeny being pushed forward in an immaculate state of the art, J-lo would be jealous type pram. No. I am a veteran of the 24/7 mess cycle known as motherhood.

I am quite serious in my inquiry.

Why?

There seems to be no viable reason to bathe a baby during the day, as the baby only gets more orange goo following the next nap, wets, poops and spits up orange goo and therefore requires a complete change before being seen in public. On the other hand, bathing the baby at night seems rather pointless other than from a cleanliness standpoint, as the kid will be tucked in bed and again, the orange or green goo consumed, will soil the sheets and the outfit and the hair.

My daughter still gets a bath, don’t get me wrong. It’s just, I want some credit and don’t know how to time my care of her such that there is a higher percentage chance of her being seen in public and someone not thinking, “Well, you know, she has so many children, she can’t have time to dress her baby up cute.”

I know it’s vanity, but I’m proud of my children and think they’re adorable and would like to not feel like I’m campaigning for Bumpus parent of the year by virtue of my daughter’s appearance. Finally, I’ve taken to placing the baby in her bunting blanket as a way of providing pretty cover for her spitting up tendencies.

That leaves the toddlers, who have recently taken to dressing themselves. This would be great except they both think it is July when it’s winter and winter when it’s July. I’ve tried squirreling away all the wrong season attire. It would have worked except my toddlers are terribly verbal. One asked his brother where his shorts were. I hadn’t briefed the teenager that this information was classified, so the shorts turned up in abundance the morning after I had stored all the stuff. The other just raided her sister’s wardrobe until she found something she deemed suitable.

Lacking the emotional energy to repack the clothing, I finally decided that reality is a good teacher. In March, he came down in shorts. I help him with the socks and he was good to go. He put on his shoes and coat and went outside to ride his bike. Five minutes later, there was a knock on the door. “It’s really cold out there Mom.”

“Why don’t you try long pants, I bet they’re warmer.”“I bet you’re right Mom.” And off he marched to change. While we repeated this routine three times, he then got in the habit of checking the weather.

Now I have a toddler who won’t consider the idea of climate change during the day…it’s cold now, so it will be cold later, or it’s hot now…so it won’t possibly rain later.

Still, it beats the alternative my other darling came up with; she now strips whenever she thinks it is too hot, down to a pull up. She strips in secret, so I find piles of barely used outfits hidden all around the house, under couches, behind doors, once in the refrigerator…don’t know the story behind that one but then I’m not sure I should. I now keep an outfit in spare stashed in my gym bag for just such an occasion in an effort to keep everyone dressed for the day.

Maybe I’ll start draping her in the baby blanket bunting too.

Friday, May 2, 2008

The Cost of Sweet Nothings

The News is screaming these days about the price of food.

It seems to have increased by a third.

I haven’t noticed, not because I don’t shop, or because our budget hasn’t been hit.

I haven’t noticed, because for the past five years, whatever food I bring home gets ripped through by a horde of happy raccoons within five minutes of darkening our doorway.

So I’m aware that it cost more, for the price of air.

The other day, I spent two hours at the store. I had brought a list. I had planned a menu. All the organizer/budgetary/helpful how to manage your family type books and web sites suggest using such things. I had even used coupons. I felt like a good mom. I unloaded and then went to pick up my little darlings from Mother’s Day Out and school.

When I got home, there was a need for a double diaper change which took me out of commission for a few minutes, followed by a phone call and a frantic search for the Spanish to English Dictionary for one’ child’s homework. I returned to the kitchen to prepare snack.

You know that 70’s commercial about the American Indian crying by the side of the freeway at the sight of pure devastation?

Green apples in refrigerator –gone. Well, okay, that’s alright, at least it was healthy. Sure I planned to hand those out the next day for school lunches but…hey…the apples are still here, on the table. Five of them have bites out of them. Who was the apple eater? Goldilocks had sampled the fruit until she found the one that was JUST RIGHT. Then there was the little matter of the two children opening a cereal box, and a fourth making two peanut butter and banana (Nuts, that’s my back up plan for tomorrow’s fruit in lunch), sandwiches.

Lest one think I only deal in healthy issues, I checked the closet. The box of five sets of Zebra Cakes? Open. Down to two. The Chips Ahoy, the only processed cookie my middle son eats? A sleeve is missing.

OKAY. I do not use my inside voice. WHO HAS EATEN? I wait for responses. It seems, each of them have now had a snack, they just each chose different ones, leaving six separate foraging trails for me to follow. I declare war. I threaten major chaos. I promise a semester worth of snack baggies filled with nothing but raisins and celery if I don’t see some major clean up detail. I promise to purchase freeze dried space bar ice cream and store brand beef jerky instead.

They think I’m bluffing.

So I remind them, I write fiction. I write articles. I could make a query to a magazine…Frugal Mom or some such on how to economize during this fiscally turbulent time. We’ll live on oatmeal, pasta and eggs for a month. It will make a great piece, feeding a family of ten on just ten dollars a day…what a hook…

There is a flurry of cleaning activity and a few verbal commitments to follow the menu schedule. Still, there is a seventh child I haven’t seen yet. I take the remaining fruits out to the second fridge to keep them safe until the next day. There is my four year old in pure chocolate bliss, having found the Double Stuff Oreos and done just that.

“These are my favors Mom.” He says in a goey voice. There is a layer of top soil cookie crumbs on his hands and face. He offers me a cookie.

Looking at the refrigerator, I eat the cookie and take another. It’s very expensive rare air, but it still tastes good.

For more tastey mental treats, try http://www.humor-blogs.com/!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Sherry Speaks...a Political Musing...

For chickens coming home to roost, nothing beats the Democratic party like the democrats.

For eight years, the out of power in the White house party has nursed it’s grudge, treasured its hatred of all things not Democrat. For eight years, there has been an “ I-Double-Dog-Dare-You style I-hate-George-Bush-the-Most” type fight on the political playground, with honors, applause and face time on CNN for the person able to best capture the exponential level of hostility towards the current administration. Now, with two promising candidates of the DNC eviscerating each other publically and privately, the party that thought it couldn’t lose, is fraying at the seams.

Why?

Because the political base has fed on anger for eight years and can’t just turn that spigot of rage off. The Bush administration is gone regardless in seven months, and all that animosity needs a new target. It doesn’t just evaporate, it lingers in the atmosphere like CO2 gases. It pollutes the spirit and the mind. It prevents legitimate solutions from being considered if they come from the wrong source, and renders even the most minor of disagreements that span across the political aisle unbearably impossible to fix.

Where is the peace and love? Or even civility?
Where is the open mindedness and tolerance for alternative view points?

Politics may have always been a blood sport but these days, it’s more like Survivor than American Idol, with the American voter in the awkward role of Ryan Seacrest. As an observer of the political process, I confess, I prefer less government to more, I think laws and policies and the fiscal allotments that back them reflect priorities, and that all life and all liberty in recent years, have been held cheap.

The irony of all of this is, the three candidates in question are like the differences between the regular, premium and super levels of gasoline…there’s a dime’s worth of difference to each, but they all are overpriced and still only perform the minimum function for which they were formulated.

Let’s stop pretending that the politicians have all the answers, walk on water, have control over all of their past or their associates or even can manage to escape in this digital age, momentary lapses of temper, judgment and wardrobe. Let’s stop mocking people who seek to serve for being human or being so polished, we decide they aren’t. Then we could decide, do we want a country where the hatred goes on forever, or where we recognize there are multiple ways to operate and use government and no one person or body politic has a monopoly or even a plurality of the actual solutions necessary.

Democracy in action requires compromise. It's messy and incomplete. It seldom satisfies purists or idealogues.

Demanding that only one side be heard, be it to the right or the left, in politics or in the news, is refusing to accept anything but a dictatorship from the side one backs. It is not a democracy, it is not even an representative republic. It is the triumph of a small collective of would be philosopher kings who think they have the knowledge, acquiring power. Forgive me, but I haven't seen Socrates or Plato in the running, and I'm not sure I'd trust them either anyway.

Each of these people have their sins, their flaws, their less than noble desires, but they also willingly seek to serve and that is no small task. No one looks good in a microscope or in a funhouse mirror.

So Democrats, Republicans, Liberals, Conservatives...let's try to play nice in the sandbox for a while and when you're all done.

Let’s eat those chickens before they cost too much.

Leaving a comment is a form of free tipping. But this lets me purchase diet coke and chocolate.

If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!