PlazaJen: The Blog

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Category: I’m Crazy (page 2 of 9)

How I Came To Detest Neil Diamond

I got a lot of flak on Friday when I posted on Facebook via my phone that I was going insane at the nail salon, as they were playing Neil Diamond songs back-to-back. I was panicked because I couldn’t find my headphones, but eventually did, plugged them in and drowned out the insanity with some Mumford & Sons.
Turns out, a lot of people really love Neil Diamond, judging from the comments. (It never got ugly, these friends just started peppering me with lyrics as a form of torture.) So here is the backstory for why I am NOT a fan.

It started when I was very young – 6 years old or so? I would get off the school bus at my babysitter’s, who had a son in my class. I clearly remember two things about my babysitter: she had an impressive collection of nail-wire “art” in her living room (you know, like big ships at sea or animals, made from wire criss-crossing on a black background) and she had an undying love for Neil Diamond. She was SO EXCITED when she picked up a new 45 and she would play the song over, and over, and over again. I particularly remember when she got “Reverend Blue Jeans” (as I thought he was singing, anyway, the song was  “Forever in Blue Jeans”, no matter how many times I heard it. Which was a lot.

Fast forward 15 years. I’m out of college, and working at Carson Pirie Scott’s Menswear department – dress shirts and ties. The music that played overhead was Muzak, and it was pretty much the same dreck every day. And it never failed that there would be an hour of Neil Diamond music, done to Muzak, and for whatever reason, it just made me crazy. Because it’s earwormy to begin with, and then you mash it down and take out the words and synthesize it and now you’ve created a shadow monster, something that is ten-times worse than it’s source, like artificially-flavored chocolate chips. Better to have none at all than that lingering chemical taste in your mouth, I say.

I do make an exception for the hilarious Will Ferrell send-up of Behind the Music on SNL. That’s a case of improving on the original, imho.


Neil Diamond Storytellers
Uploaded by JimGoodwine. – Click for more funny videos.

And here’s a great example of the art I was trying to describe. I’m pretty sure she had a big ol’ ship over the sofa.

I know there are plenty of superfans who love Neil Diamond. But I was raised on the Beatles, the Stones, Bob Dylan, folk music and protest songs. Balladeers like Neil weren’t welcome at our house, and his music is like fingers on the chalkboard of my soul. But I also know that not every Neil Diamond enthusiast embraces wire ship art, either. So let’s celebrate what we can agree on – and I’m betting it’s a universal dislike of those faux chocolate chips!

For the Love of a Bestie

It’s never been a big secret, my dislike of musicals. It’s not that I hate ALL of them, certainly – in fact, it surprises even me, the number I’ve seen and enjoyed. Chicago, Sweeney Todd, The Producers (the original), Rocky Horror Picture Show, Rent…. I’m sure there a couple more in there, but as you can also see from that list, I’m not into classic musicals and apparently, if it’s not got twisted humor, then there should be death.  OK. So, my BFF, Beth, has teased me forever about musicals, because she loveloveloveLOVES them, and Moulin Rouge is her favorite. She even told me the other night at knit night that she now had it on Blu-Ray so the original DVD could be mine for a low low price.  It’s always been a funny piece of our friendship.  So much so, that on October 22, 2010, she sent me an email with this text:

I’ll quite pestering you about watching musicals if you make me these.
Not an easy bargain for either, but you might win in the end.

(Pattern linked to designer’s blog so all can access. Ravelry pattern link here.)

Yes, Moulin Rouge MITTENS.

Now, what made this even funnier is that I have never been much for colorwork, the technique required to create these things. In fact, I think I’ve even been heard to proclaim how much I hate it. But a seed was planted. A challenging seed. And as I continued to knit on my holiday presents, my brain thought and buzzed and finally concluded I could knit these things. Not to end the banter, never, but because it would be a fantastic present.  A present knit with adoration and humor, and hopefully, not too garbled and jacked up, since my skill set in the technique category was low.

I won’t lie and say it was easy. Especially at first. I started out using Knit Picks Palette, as three of the ten photo-containing projects on Ravelry had been knit with it, and I was ordering some other yarn for holiday knitting. Egads. First of all, it’s splitty as hell. Second of all, even on a Size 0 (that’s tiny, for the non-knitters who have read this far), they were coming out grotesquely huge. I made a mistake in the chart, and decided to start over. (This was giving me some practice on my stranding!) Second attempt? Still came out huge. I couldn’t believe it. So I turned to the trusty folks at the Loopy Ewe, and ordered yarn from their new solid series of “house yarn”. Barn Red and Sand. And oh what a difference yarn twist can make. I’ll confess, there are a couple rounds here and there that are a smidge tighter than they ought to be. But in the end, they made a certain birthday bestie very happy, and I’m damned proud of the knitting accomplishment – because in the process, I came to enjoy knitting colorwork, and even have plans for some other projects now.  What’s especially funny to me is that I watched a TON of MI:5, the British spy drama, while knitting on those, and it often feels like the things we watch are knit up into the stitches, as we look at something we’ve made and recall what we were doing while they were created – so they truly capture both of our passions.  May she wear them for years to come!

Moulin Rouge Mittens

Them’s the Pits….

I had a day on Friday where I rolled from one thing to the next: coffee in the a.m. with a salesperson, then the rest of the day unfolded at my feet. Off to Costco, then to Indigo Wild, one of my favorite local businesses, to get some Xmas shopping wrapped up. Their factory has a little storefront and the employees are always cheerful, dogs can be seen roaming around,  and the smells are to die for.  I fell in love with the Mazel Tov soap (a heady mix of almond and orange) but stuck to my list…except for one little “for me” treat. I was looking at their Zum Mist, which comes in 10+ scents, and had a little note that said something about “the perfect mist for rooms, lockers, cars, anyplace that needs a little freshening, even your body.” I think, “Self, that is nifty! Let us select one of these!” I sprayed about four different ones, and settled on Clove-Mint. Nice and spicy, with the uplifting mint notes. Paid for my purchases and headed off to meet friends for lunch.

Now this part is unheard of: I’m more than an hour early. So I decide to hang out in my car, maybe do some knitting. Keep in mind, the weather was unseasonably warm, and the sun beating in on me through the car windows had me feeling a bit steamed. A smidge sweaty. Not so fresh, you might even say. I think to myself, “Hey! I just got that spray!” and I proceed to snake the spray can into a sleeve and give my armpits a refreshing little mist.

Then I decide I should call my insurance company, to make sure that my prescription refills were sent in properly, and handle any problems before the weekend comes and offices are closed.

Suddenly, my armpits begin to burn. As in, BURN. CALAMITY. A NEST OF FIRE ANTS UNDER EACH ARM.  EN FUEGO. CUIDADO. And I’m shouting my choices at the automatic operator, writhing about in my seat, trying to reach behind me to see if I can grapple successfully for some handi-wipes I keep in the car, apparently for emergencies like this one. No luck. So I continue with my phone call, while keeping my arms in the air, trying to prevent skin from touching skin, as that seems to exacerbate the problem. Every so often I do have to clutch them in pain, while the service representative keeps putting me on hold to check things. I think to myself, ok, essential oils, probably best not sprayed directly on skin, and especially skin that doesn’t really see daylight and has only seen  gentle Dove products for the past decade.  It feels like the fire of a thousand suns is pouring out from each armpit, and a gingerly attempt to touch the skin makes me imagine a rash the size of Kentucky. I revert to arms-in-the-air. This phone call with the insurance dude takes 23 minutes. By this point, I am ready to run into traffic and make the pain stop, but it also begins to subside, albeit at a much slower rate than its onset.

By the time everything is wrapped up, and I decide I can go into the restaurant and wait without tying up a table for an obnoxious amount of time, the pain is nearly gone. I was prepared to go to the washroom and have a mini-shower right there in the sink, if it came to that.

BUT.

My pal Teri did point out that at least it was just my armpits. That not-so-fresh-feeling-let’s-try-this-OMG could have been a helluva lot worse.

Good Times

Last night, in my dreams, I was teaching a knitting class. In a different city, in a huge -crazy huge- auditorium. And famous knitters were there, and it was all rather chaotic. I was feeling stressed, worrying about everyone keeping up, trying to keep the room in control.

But I didn’t need to worry. Because then a stream of colored water came rushing in behind me, eddying and flowing towards the drop off beyond the podium, and as I looked at it more closely, I saw that it was actually blood. And I ran towards the back of the building, to discover it was raining blood. Torrential downpour. A veritable Stephen King Epic World Awash In Blood.

Get to! Analyze THAT. I’m sure it’s just that Christmas spirit, misdirected!

The Hottest Pepper in the WOooooorld

Yep, the Bhut Jolokia.

Well, ok, as of 9 am, my husband discovered there’s some NEW pepper that has about 130,000 more Scoville units than the Bhut, but I really don’t care. BECAUSE I ATE THE BHUT.

The Ghost Pepper (as it’s commonly called) has over 1 million Scoville units to its pedigree. That means it’s super calicrazyfucking hot. A jalapeno has about 2500 SU. A habanero has 100k-350k SU.

Keep in mind, all the dudes were gung-ho. Oh yeah, gonna eat this chili pepper. And five of them did. My brother-in-law went all out and ended up eating about half a pepper. (HE CRAZY.) I decided to try a chunk of habanero. It really, really burned, but wasn’t debilitating.
Then the Wo finally said he’d try the Bhut. I’d told him I’d do it if he did it. (Which Beth was QUICK to remind me after he’d taken his bite.) So I did. And it really didn’t do much.So I took another bite. Ah, yes, that one …. resonated.

Here’s the crazy thing, about both the habanero and the Bhut: both had an unbelievable fresh, citrus, bright clean flavor. Before the heat even began. They were utterly delicious. Like your brain’s going, “Well, what the hell, you rang up and warned me this was going to be difficult and it’s surprisingly charming and OHMYGODOHMYGODOHMYGOD” because then, yes, after that delicious milli-moment, the burn rapidly takes over and it’s as though you’ve maced your tongue. It really does burn. But the endorphin rush is also something to be reckoned with. I felt like I’d had a victorious afternoon hike, followed by a relaxing hot tub. All from a vegetable sliver no wider than a few staples.

And I did get very hot from it. My skin flushed like nobody’s bidness:

BhutFace

But I have bragging rights now, and I can certainly stare down any bowl of salsa in the future and say “I’ve had hotter…”

Just Breathe

So, fair warning. Yes, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted, and yes, I’ve written about 30 different blog posts in my head. So many things I’m thinking about, so many things I’d like to say, some of which I shouldn’t, some of which I won’t. I had been thinking, OK, let’s get back in the swing of it, put the thoughts to keyboard, and had planned on writing something today.
Just not about this.
Fair warning again. It’s so gross.
I got some things done this morning, met a rep for lunch, and went to the grocery store. Got my car washed, filled up Mimi with gas, and headed home. I’ve got a lot of work to do this weekend, but I’m also looking forward to my evening out with knitting peeps and having some laughs. I decide to leave Mimi in the drive, as that will make it easier to get the groceries in, and after all, I’m heading back out later.

None of this is interesting, or of note, or even that different. I push open the door, the alarm warning goes off, the dogs greet me, and I walk through the breezeway and into the dining room. I am carrying as much as I can, and it’s funny how your brain multi-tasks: Make sure dogs don’t go out into the garage (as they could get out of the house or, more likely, attempt to eat all the dog food out of its bin.) Have a very short amount of time to get to the alarm, which we don’t have right by the door on purpose, so don’t dilly dally. Note that answering machine is blinking. And through all of this, Olfactory Gnome wakes up and starts sending up red flags. Alert! Alert! Something smells…… and something smells …… BAD.
Then I see it. Because now I’m across the dining room and about to enter the kitchen, only it is a mine field of dog diarrhea. One main source, but there was some travelling and then some tracking to boot. The smell is overwhelming and the alarm is still going. I think, “Do I tell the alarm company when they call that I just couldn’t cross a river of dog shit to turn it off? Would they accept that?” I think, no, I have to turn this off and so I do my own version of a Highland jig through our kitchen, screaming “BACK! BACK!” because Tripper is now eagerly following behind me and I all can think is we’re both expanding the cleaning area exponentially. I get the alarm turned off, the dog has retreated, and I repeat my jig back across the tile, breathing through my mouth.

Somewhere, in the recesses of my mind, Philosophical Gnome asks the question, “Which would you rather clean up? Dog vomit, or shit?” Well, duh, the answer is neither, but I’m going with vomit. Unless it’s just hardened overnight poop, which is unpleasant but nothing compared to the chore ahead of me. I get the rest of the groceries in the house, shut the garage door, and strip down to skivvies to handle the worst of it. (After all, nobody needs their clothing dragging through it to boot.) Paper towels everywhere, and copious amounts of plastic grocery bags. Yes, they may be evil but lord help me, this is why they’re on earth. I get out two trash bags. The Swiffer Wet Jet, a huge stack of mop pads, and I tackle it.

Partway through, I realized I sounded like Darth Vader trying to say the word “Halal.” (Hey, we don’t know if Darth needs his meats butchered according to Muslim law.) For to just breathe through one’s mouth is not enough – the stench was so horrific. I was trying to block my sinus passages with my tongue, which leads to very raspy, labored-sounding breathing. hhhhhhhaaaaaaaa….lllllaaaaaaaaaallllllllllllhhhhhhhhh. The anal-retentive chef from SNL has nothing on me. Everything is multiple-bagged, and then I mopped. And then everything went into another trash bag, while I still hhhhhhhhaaaaaaalllllaallllllllhhhh’ed around and took the trash to the garage. I’m dripping with sweat, I shoo the dogs outside while holding back dry heaves, and get the rest of the groceries put away. My phone’s ringing, I’m having a Silkwood Shower in the sink, I get a candle lit to put on the stove, and finally sit down in front of the fan to cool off.
Only to hear a huge clap of thunder roll overhead.
Dogs are hurried back into the house, and I throw my top back on, because remember? Freshly washed car sitting in the driveway. At this point? I can’t be bothered with pants. Yep. I did a SWAT-team-esque run to my car (only potentially being in-sight of someone driving by for all of 3 seconds) to get it put back into the garage before the heavens opened up.

Which, fifteen minutes later, they have yet to do. I didn’t need to crouchingly shuffle to my car half-dressed, but I did. And I didn’t really care if someone happened to drive by at that exact moment.

Basically? This is my life. I have a lot of good things in my life, and I’ve reflected a lot on the past year, over these past few weeks. Losing my job, almost a year ago, was really shitty. It was also really good. I haven’t done all the things I thought I’d do in that time, but I also haven’t gotten sick, had stupid office politics/turmoil with people clawing to climb over you or tear you down. Did you notice that first one? I haven’t gotten sick. No cold. No bronchitis. No walking pneumonia, for the first time in many, many years. I miss a couple of my clients, and I miss not worrying about money as much, but there’s really very little to miss about my former job except a couple of friends. The limbo, sometimes, gets to me. But I’m not all that different from most of the people out there. I noticed there’s a Facebook group making the rounds, “Be kinder than necessary, because everyone you meet is fighting some sort of battle.” and it’s really true. These aren’t easy times. When stressed and/or depressed, it’s even easier to feel overwhelmed and hopeless. And alone. But we’re not. So many people are riding this same current, and so it’s those moments of connection, we need to make them and find them and enjoy them. Because when I was at the grocery store, the checker asked me to put the big sign on the end of her checkout stand, that said “THIS LANE CLOSED”. I did, making sure I put it right on the spot where the belt wouldn’t grab it. Helping someone out. So imagine my surprise, as I’m finishing up paying, I see this very old lady in my peripheral vision, standing next to me. I look down, and she’s got items on the belt. I actually did a double-take, like, WHa? I swear I put that sign there, nobody’s supposed to be behind me, and I look at the checker, who’s looking at me and has seen my whole WTF reaction. I raise one eyebrow at her. She starts giggling. My eyes shift over towards granny, then back to her. Oh yes, the sign was there. Granny just decided to say “Fuck it” to the sign and what was anyone going to do? I don’t have to say a word, my face says it all. The checker is shaking her head, she gets it too, and is shaking with laughter. I’m chuckling, still with an eyebrow hitting my hairline, and we went on from that moment. That moment, those are the moments I seek in life. When we can look at each other and just laugh because there’s no point in getting mad, there’s no issue of race, or religion, or age, or income, or anything, it’s just fucking funny.

And when the shit gets too high, just take off your pants, light a candle and breathe: Hhhhhhhaaaaaaaa….lllllaaaaaaaaaallllllllllllhhhhhhhhh.

That Reign of Terror is Over

Let’s talk about office bathrooms. No, I’m not going to go there. Though the fact that our office is located on the first floor of the building, we do get a fair amount of SecretPoopers(tm) who come down to use our bathroom, so they can sustain the impression in their own office workspace that they NeverPoop(tm). Eye roll, please.

First of all, the facilities were remodeled to make them ADA compliant, and in losing one bathroom stall, we have one stall that is a Toilet Suite. Of course, the toilet is still smack up against the wall next to the other stall, and there’s just a giant expanse that even goes around a tiny corner, where a very slim, mean-spirited person could hide and give someone the surprise of their life, if they were to leap out screaming at the right moment. Let’s hope that never happens. I’ll even admit I give it an extra eyeball just to be sure nobody’s back there.  However, I’ve often looked at that space and thought about how you could put a chair, ottoman, reading lamp and accent table, and still leave the stall feeling roomy and quite at home. The cleaning lady does kinda use it for her office, sitting in there, talking on her cell phone.  (I say that jokingly, though she will just sit in there and yap, and I always wonder what the person on the other end thinks as the other toilet auto-flushes.)

But the reign of terror I’m referring to is the paper towel dispenser. When I started there, I found myself instantly at odds with the machine. It was an automatic one. You’d wave  your hand under it, and sometimes, if the sensor was feeling generous, you’d get a towel. A small shred of a towel that was barely sufficient to dry one hand. Not two. I don’t know about you, but I wash both my hands as a general practice. So that necessitates a second hand-wave, which would often be more resistant than the first, because OMG no WAY you are OVER USING the TOWELS and you’d have to keep flailing your hand about until you got your second half-sheet. Or not. And for whatever reason, the effort to get the second towel would usually result in the machine jamming. Often times,  the first attempt jammed, too. The small print on the machine told you to use the manual feed button if the machine malfunctioned. Oh rilly? What manual feed button? Because all there is on the side is a dummy button that has been put over the feed, to prevent the Johnson County Paper Towel Insurgency from stealing your precious paper towels by the yard.

Frustrated, one day, I discovered that I could just pull the whole front metal piece up! and pull down and tear off the towel amount that I needed. I felt scandalous and vindicated all at once. (Lookit me! Tear that mother UP!)  Eventually, the machine malfunctioned so much, often a roll of towels would sit on the counter, for you to tear off. (Let it be noted that I never took anything APART, I just used my noggin to get at the towels.)  While I was annoyed at this situation, it wasn’t until some maintenance was being done and the bathroom was closed, that I discovered on the second floor, the paper towel dispenser was NOT flawed, it distributed a generous amount of towel, and it had a working manual feed, and I felt that it was truly the curse of the first floor location and the higher traffic.

Finally, I asked my female co-workers if they carried the same annoyance level that I had towards the paper-towel machine, and that’s when I learned that we were actually getting a NEW machine in a few weeks. This one works so well, it often spits out a second towel for the next person. I haven’t even had to investigate the manual feed.

So, that reign of terror in my life is over. It really is the small things, sometimes.

The Resemblance is Remarkable.

I've created a Minion to join Gru's Minion army.

Circle of Life

Well, this is not an easy story to tell. But I’ve managed to tell it a few times now, and I even see the humor in it – hell, part of my brain even saw it in the moment, so I’m going to give it a go. If you’re exceptionally tender-hearted, then I suggest you go look at chinchillas and come back another day.

For those following on all fronts, you might have seen some exasperated plurks/tweets earlier this week (Tuesday), in which I screeched about a particular bird that was making a ruckus outside, so loudly I wanted to go and shoot it. Said bird kept up the racket all afternoon. When James came home from work, he noticed it, and decided to investigate. Turns out? We had two baby ducklings hanging out by my herb bed, and he got a small net and a box, and scooped them up.

I immediately changed from “goddamned bird” to “omg! SQUEE THEY ARE SO CUTE!” and while he went off to look for the momma duck, I tried to pick them up in the box. Fleet little creatures, ducklings are, but eventually, I scooped one up and delighted in its softness, beauty and fluff.

Tripper, meanwhile, walked by and saw the other duckling and went, CHOMP, and scooped one up in his mouth. Horrified, James and I both screamed at him, he dropped the duckling, I put him back in the box – where he died, 15 seconds later.

Fuck. My. Life. James took the dogs inside, and I removed the duckling from the box, and burst into tears. Now, see, most people, at the very beginning of this story, where I say, “Two baby ducklings…” have an instant transformation in their expression. They know. They understand, the doomed nature of ….. Nature. But not me. I think everything can be rescued, everything can be saved, just work hard enough and everything turns out alright. And so, suddenly, this dead duckling exploded into a personification of all the stress and angst with job-related things, that no matter how well-intentioned or hard you might be working, a giant black lab can come along and just pluck you out of your existence.

I pulled myself together, put the (now lonely) duckling in the box, and went inside.

Somewhere in the next fifteen minutes, a small case was made (again) for chickens. If we had a chicken tractor, we could just throw the duckling in there, and he’d be fine. We discussed options. Keeping said duckling, raising him. But I searched online, and there wasn’t a lot of hope or options there. Plus someone made the point that one duck is a very lonely duck. We still have a goodly number of feral cats around, and those probably created this very predicament in the first place. James boiled it down to two choices – he could take care of things, or I could take the duckling, try to find a pond with a duck family on it, release the duckling, and hope for the best.

I put some paper towels in the bottom of a Costco-sized Contadina Tomato Paste box, put the duckling inside, and into the Murano we went. James advised me to drive along Blue River Road, which truly is a beautiful stretch of asphalt tucked away in the city. I’d never been on it, so after veering off Bannister by the Federal Complex, I found the road and headed south. There were parks, and even some ponds, but I couldn’t spot any ducks, and even though there were cars parked in places, I also couldn’t see any people. Because it felt pretty isolated, I didn’t feel completely secure just getting out and tromping around. So I kept going. And going. And going. Until I got to Blue Ridge, and then I knew I had to start heading back towards home. I drove up Holmes, and spotted a great pond – but no ducks. And there was a strange woman parked there and the signs said “No Trespassing”, so I continued to look. I figured I wouldn’t be able to just roll on in to a golf course, but then I thought – Mt. Moriah! Yes! Cemeteries often have ponds, reflecting pools, etc. And as the sun inched towards the horizon, I found myself rolling through the placid hills and then – yes – there it was. Two large pools of water. I made my way towards them.

The good thing about hanging out in a cemetery is that nobody really pays attention to you. Most of the people there are dead, and the ones who are alive are focused on one or two spots. It’s a serene place, and I actually used to study in cemeteries in college, just to find complete isolation (and I was in my Harold & Maude stage).  So I drove around, waited for some people to leave that were nearby, and approached the pond furthest from the grave sites. No ducks, but there were a large number of geese. Birds of a feather! The ugly duckling. Surely, these feathered relatives would take on a lonely duckling.

Now, again, a good percentage of you have changed your facial expressions. I’ve watched it happen this week, again, at this point in the story. But I didn’t know. I know geese can be territorial, but I had no idea they’d be so discerning that they’d immediately know this ball of fluff was NOT of their species, and would proceed to peck him to death.

But that didn’t happen. Because that would have been pretty horrifying for me, yes, and I would have probably gotten into a goose fight and I really cannot imagine how that might have unfolded, except I probably would have been brought home to my husband by the South Patrol and asked to never enter Mt. Moriah Cemetery again.  Yet, tragedy was still inevitable, though I didn’t yet know it.

I released the little duckling within a dozen yards of the geese. He immediately turned and started running back at me. I thought, “OH SHIT, he’s already imprinted on me and now I’m going to HAVE to take him home and raise him, there is no other option.” Except he kept running. Past me. Towards the car. OK, dude, you really wanna go back with me, hm? No. You want to run away from me, and we’re going around and around and around the Murano.

I did stop and think, well, I’m in a cemetery. People who are grieving do crazy things. If I don’t do this TOO long, it will just slide by and people will not come over here to figure out what in hell is going on and why this fat lady is going around and around her car with a large Contadina Tomato Paste box, scooping at the ground.

Pretty soon, the duckling figured out that the same run/hide/evade experience could be had by just going around and around the back wheel.

We did this for fifteen minutes.

Finally, I gave up.

I told myself, “Ok. I’m going to get in the car. He’s on the inside of the wheel, so I will edge forward very slowly, and he will either be adopted by the geese, he will wander off on his own, or – worst case scenario – I will run over him, but at least it will be quick.”

And I look in my rear-view mirror, fully expecting to see a wandering duckling.

Nope.

I ran over him.

Of course I did. If we were going to sustain this giant emotional snotball of a metaphor, OF COURSE I HAD TO RUN OVER THE DUCK.

I just shook my head. Went home. James came in from the yard and said, “So, how’d it go?”

I replied, “The only way it could have gone, really.” And cried in his arms.

See, I know. I KNOW this is funny in a tragi-comic sort of way. But at the same time, I marvel at my naivete. My desire to fix and solve, a desire that is untouched by reality. I don’t think I would change that part of me, there’s enough inside me that is jaded and bruised and sharp. But oh how it stung.  I thought of how the circle of life is sometimes just a car wheel.

And then, changing subjects after telling this story last night, I (completely unwittingly) said, “So! Extra Virgin is SO good. I had duck gizzards!” and everyone collapsed around me in hysterics.

Circle of life, indeed.

Am I Going to Have to Change to “FlashMobJen”?

WTF, riots on the Plaza?

Parents?! Hel-loooooo. It’s 11:30 on a Saturday night, do you know where your children are?

I’m utterly disgusted with the state of parenting, consequences, and the lack of personal responsibility.  I love how we’re talking about trying to move teachers to a merit-pay basis – sure! Who doesn’t want their compensation tied to a crumbling infrastructure you have no control over? There are students who don’t care about their MAP scores because – well, nobody at HOME cares about their MAP scores. They’re perfectly content to race through, guessing, writing “I Don’t Know”, and basically turning in a half-assed job. How do you motivate that attitude to care? You can’t beat them – and if mom and dad don’t think getting an education’s very important, well, they’re not going to pass along any desire to excel to the kids.

So back to these roving mobs of ‘kiddos’. It’s scary. Mobs of anyone, any age, any size, any color, with limited wisdom and little care for consequences? Scare the shit out of me.  GroupThink is one of my greatest fears in life, and I was raised to question it and shun it with every fiber of my being.  And because the attitude towards authority, elders, the merchants, the police was so flagrantly insubordinate, so disrespectful, I go straight to smackdown. I think there should be a curfew. I think if these kids break the curfew? The parents should get fined. If the parents can’t pay the fine, or want an alternative to the fine? Then they should be court-ordered to parenting classes.  This is what would happen if you were caught drunk-driving, or beating your wife, or other things we deem  wrong and in need of correcting. Why not parenting? Is the American Family oh-so-sacred? We shouldn’t tell another person how to parent their child? Well, no, I don’t think it’s my place to tell the mother with her screaming infant that it would be better for everyone in the restaurant if she took her child outside. But we do tell mothers who shake their babies not to do it. And we do make people take classes to learn how to drive a car, and hey, even a test! But none of that’s necessary if you want to bring a child into the world, and you think it’s ok to put your needs first and not stay home  on a Saturday night and make sure your kid isn’t hoofing off to some part of town to participate in a riot, or a strong-armed robbery, or breaking someone’s jaw, or ruining some girl’s prom night.  All we do in this country is sweep up. We build higher-security prisons, instead of teaching disadvantaged mothers that they can break the cycle, they can raise their child to get an education, how to help give them tools to a better life. Instead, we throw a little money at them, teaching them “the system” will always take care of them, when in fact, it won’t. Don’t get me wrong, I’m the biggest advocate for a helping society. I believe those who are fortunate should help people who are less-so. But I don’t believe in handouts, nor do I believe in something-for-nothing.

arrrrgh I could rant on and on. I just HATE the fact we don’t just turn the worst parts of town into places like the Harlem Children’s Zone. Make being a part of that desirable. Make being a good parent, make being a productive member of society, make being a good student the desirable goals in life. Instead, we’ll just throw up new prison walls, drain a strained court system even further, and add more police to the streets on a Saturday night. Maybe bring in the National Guard. Turn our streets into a new kind of war zone. Freedom, my ass.

P.S. if we bring in the Nat’l Guard, my friend Beth would like them to spend their days fixing potholes. kthxbai.

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