Monday, August 31, 2009

Drowing in a Sea of Data

This is me, not really writing a blog entry as I'm swamped to the gills with this school directory. It's needed, it's due to the printer, and I'm not finished. Yes, it's a volunteer project, but no, it can't be ignored and frankly, I want it over with.

So, here I go diving back into the data, to sort, fix, format, layout....see you later...if I survive.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

The Name of the Emotion

I feel something watching the funeral, the procession, all the parts of these ceremonies for the passing of Senator Kennedy. He wasn't my Senator, I live in another state. I didn't know him personally, though I have always known who he was. I don't think I can point to anything particular in my life that he directly affected, but I know he is the force behind legislation that I have benefited from.

But I feel something beyond what I think I should feel for a public figure who has died. I guess it's sadness, but what is a sadness for the passing of a public figure? Is there another word to mourn someone whose hand guided important parts of the government, whose words inspired others to change things for the better?

My son saw me with the twinkle of tears in my eyes as I watched the funeral and asked why I was sad. I told him that Senator Kennedy was a great man who did so much for the country and that watching his wife, his children in their pain, left me with my own. (Pretty sure he stopped listening after the first three words.)

But I still think there must be a word for this feeling that is probably shared by so many watching this. Seeing so many file past his draped casket, let me know how many have this same emotion. We are sad. We are something even more, knowing that our champion, our lion has gone. Even those of us not from Massachusetts, can feel the great loss.

I wish I had a new, powerful word to express this feeling. Maybe desolation comes closest as we close the chapter on Kennedy's life and worry we are closing the book on what we needed him to do.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Oh the Blank Screen...My Eyes, My Eyes

You'd think I get paid or accolades or gifts for writing a blog the way I seem to persist writing almost daily. There is no money, few and far between comments, and I haven't received any chocolates lately, so I think it's either becoming a habit, or involves guilt, or perhaps verbal therapy.

Right now the only therapy I need is for my chronic procrastination. Behind me is another computer waiting for me to finish formatting info for the school directory that really, really needs to go to the printer. But it's tedious, a little outside my purview and basically eating my lunch.

Speaking of lunch... the news is understandably about the tributes and memorial to Ted Kennedy. I applaud this, especially how the health care reform debate has been added to the dialogue. Then there is also crazy train Sanford calling press conferences to talk about why he isn't stepping down, even though everyone in his state is now convinced he should. He not only needs to resign, he needs to be prohibited from saying more non sequiter crap on TV.

The sky darkens with impending rain. I'm ambivalent about rain, getting things done, my life today.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

I Had to Say No

Yesterday, I was in the office of my child's school checking in to volunteer to help with those in my son's class with limited reading skills (doesn't include my son, he can read well.) The office staff asked me if I wanted to be in charge of the Odyssey of the Mind team. No, I don't. I'm sorry. I already work 40 hours a week from home, serve as vice-president of two organizations, volunteer one hour a week to help with reading, go to Cub Scout meetings, soccer games and would like two minutes for myself.

Yet, I felt guilty. Immediately, I began asking them what it would entail, which students would be involved (one or two afternoons a week, with more frequency as competitions happened and probably the older students, of which my son isn't) and isn't there someone else they can get? Finally, I left it at "The PTO president and I will brainstorm some parents who can do this."

As I talked to my husband about this, I realized that I have never had a time since I was 18 that I wasn't either going to school or working or both. No time. My husband's business isn't quite enough to provide for us (and mirroring the health care issues out there today, since he's self-employed, we would have no insurance without my job) so I've always worked. I guess there have been a month here or there when I was between jobs, but then I was actively looking, panicking about my next paycheck.

I never even had relaxed summers at home between semesters in college. I would find temporary employment, go to summer school, or be indentured to my mother for three months. Many days, I truly envy the women in my area who don't work. I know they have a house to keep (so do I) and children to take care of (so do I) and maybe they are also involved in some volunteer effort (so am I) but they have some time. I see them out having coffee with a friend. Or going to a movie during the day with a friend. Or just shopping leisurely at WalMart as I run through there like a tornado picking up what I need so I can get back to whatever project I abandoned to make the trip.

I am happy with my life, for the most part. But some days, I want to be a kept woman. I want to be a woman of leisure who could spend all day making a scrapbook if I wanted, leaving only enough time to make dinner. Cleaning up this hellhole might not be the nightmare it feels now if the task wasn't shoehorned in between database management and spreadsheets and PowerPoint info something-or-others.

I guess I particularly get jealous when I hear a woman complain that she's a little bored or gush about how much she loves taking her kids to playgroup so she can get out of the house. I would love to stay in my house if it was just to keep it, instead of stuck in my house doing work, waiting for my boss to call and give me another project.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

And Now We Are Sad

Once I heard Senator Ted Kennedy had brain cancer, I ignored the ticking clock that came with the diagnosis. Ted Kennedy always represented the best of what a Senator, a Democrat, a politician (used in the true Greek sense of the word) could be. He had flaws, he had scandal, he had tragedy, but I think out of that crucible came a man who inspired, who led, and who cared about his country.

He has been leading all my life. For me, the Senate has always had Ted Kennedy to champion and help pass legislation that changed the way our country cares for its people. He believed in equal rights, equal access to care, equal pursuit of the American dream.For someone who was raised in privilege, he seemed to genuinely understand what it meant to be poor and disenfranchised and he worked hard to alleviate the suffering of those who needed it.

I knew how very ill he was, but was still keeping that little fantasy of seeing him brought to the Senate on whichever day they finally were to vote on a real health care reform bill. I wanted to see him smile as he cast his "yes" vote. Losing him as we fight for TRUE health care reform saddens the fight, but I can only hope it will also rally the fighters.

I can only hope that Ted Kennedy's death will be the lightning rod that propels the Democrats to create a real tribute to his legacy by creating and passing a truly great example of reform in health care.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Can I Be Serious?

No, not really. I can be cranky, wry, sarcastic, whimsical and bitchy. Only occasionally am I ever serious. Right now, I wish I was feeling enough passion or inspiration to blog about the health care reform debate. Trust me, it's in there. I cringe each time I see one of these "ads" that hint at death panels, higher taxes, or rationing. I cheer when I see the ads that talk about a need for reform, a need for all Americans to have health coverage.

I just don't feel I have a serious new thought to add to the debate. Then again, I'm currently watching John McCain's town hall in Arizona. The biddies and coots in this audience and their stupid, uninformed questions are making me crazy.

One reasonable woman stood up and suggested these argumentative oldsters give up their Medicare if they don't like the idea of a government run health care program. They sort of seemed stunned after that.


Most of the day has gone without me finishing this blog. I have lots of deadlines (here I am being serious) for work projects, volunteer projects, things my child needs me to do and suddenly I felt like my insides would jitter to the outside. I have spent a chunk of the day just sitting and reading to quell the fearful feelings. Better now, will leave this as is.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Squinting Into Another Sunny Day

I like waking up to grey skies. I love an overcast, crispy-temperatured day. I feel like kicking puppies when it's this sunny and potentially hot and humid. I will throttle the next person who says brightly to me, "Isn't this great weather?" No, it isn't. And, you Miss Pollyanna can stand behind me sponging sweat off my neck since you love it so much.

Picked up the son today from school. The incredibly short walk from car to gym (where they have the children sit in the enclosed heat, as opposed to the open heat) had my nape soaked and upper lip cascading. This isn't even a particularly hot day, but the sun was really baking me good.

So, yes, I obsessively watch The Weather channel looking as far forward as they want to tell me, hoping to spy a cold front, or some rain, or anything that isn't one of those mockingly happy little suns under a high temperature. And, I count down the days until Halloween, usually assured that by then, the crispiness will have returned to the air, and even if there's sun, it will be slanted in a warm autumn way, not the Easy Bake Andee way it is now.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Cue Plague of Frogs

I took an actual walk this morning. For exercise, with music in my ears, in the sun, through the neighborhood, before noon. All of you really should be looking for the ground to open up or rivers run with blood. It had been so long since I walked that the gravel pathway I used to take through the park is now paved.

I actually enjoy walking for exercise, head clearing, musing. It's the forcing myself out the door, knowing the temperature isn't what I want (really needs to be below 65 and it wasn't today), finding my headphones, justifying the time that keeps me from it. When I was younger, walking was always my fallback exercise. But, not long after I had my son (almost eight years ago) my right knee started making walking a small misery. Soon, it wasn't my form of exercise, going to Curves was. I've had my knee replaced and walked some since then (January 2007) but not regularly. I think I'm afraid to say out loud or even loudly to myself "I should walk daily or at least every other day" for fear my lack of commitment will undermine what little morale I have.

But I took a walk. Maybe tomorrow or the next day, I'll do it again.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Headache Leaves, Mind Degaussed

I have frequent headaches and by frequent I mean most days, most of the time on those days. When surveys ask "how many days in the last three months did you have a headache?" I think it would be easier for me to remember the days I didn't. This isn't to say that I have horrible headaches every day. I don't. I have a spectrum of headaches that range from "almost didn't notice it" to "can I drill a hole in my forehead now?" I probably only have one day in ten when my head has zero pain.

I've seen doctors who have prescribed drugs and treatments and most include the instruction to lie down in a dark room. Lots of things are better when you can lie down in a dark room, so I didn't really need the drugs. Frankly, if I have time to lie down, I will take some Tylenol and a Benadryl and hit the hay. An hour or so later, most except the worst of migraines will be gone. The issues is more that I don't have time to lie down in a dark room, or a dark room, or time, so I need something that smacks down the headache without all that lying about. None of the drugs suggested have few enough side affects and work well enough to bother with.

This morning I woke with a fairly miserable headache. Not the worst, but not mild either. Sick pain, nausea, extreme irritability. Extreme. I could have gone all Ozzy and bitten the heads of something given the chance and if those somethings were in my way. A venti iced latte, Egg McMuffin, and some quiet non-lying down time got the pain down to something manageable. At one point, I felt pain free, but that only lasted for a short time and now I have one of these "I know you are there, bastard headache, but I can handle you" types.

But the worst part (ok, the worst part is the pain) or other worst parts is the post-pain emptiness. Once the meds or caffeine or protein or dark room lying down does its trick, I'm left with not only a cessation of pain, but a cessation of thought. Like one of those buzzing degaussers was held to my head and, instead of magnetic particles flying away, all my initiative and thoughts have left me.

I have loads of angry little things on my to-do list. I'm having a hard time feeling the urgency that should be there because with the end of the worst of my pain, came a blankness that is a little post shock therapy-like. I feel dull, adrift and pointless.

I'm not asking for the pain to come back, but I'm waiting for whatever external, or perhaps, internal impetus puts me back on my path of grousing about health care reform, finishing volunteer work, shoveling clutter and taking care of my family. Right now, I feel like I'm waiting for a bus to go somewhere I've forgotten.

Friday, August 21, 2009

For Whom the Cap'n Crunches

Not one protein pair of my DNA has any inclination to tidy up. Yet, I would love to live in a clean, uncluttered home. Not all-white-surfaces, space port clean, just comfortable, people can come over without me having a panic attack tidy.

I know I've blogged about this problem before. But other than achieving health care reform with the rest of the country, snapping my house into shape is my next biggest concern. That is sad, isn't it. But my environment is causing extreme anxiety. As I sit on the couch to watch a show, I look around & my breathing goes short. The coffee table, such as it is, is covered from stem to stern with school papers, magazines (not mine), toys, remotes, random stuff I can't identify.

The floor is coated with strangely orderly lines of Legos, tiny cars, Pokemon, scraps of paper that have meaning to a 7-year-old and look like trash to me, and lately marbles. Then there's the cereal. My son loves to eat dry cereal straight from the box as a portable and constant snack. His preference is for Cap'n Crunch. He is constantly breathing crunch-breath in my face as he talks to me and making hideous crunch-eating noises behind me as he watches TV over my shoulder. I wish the Cap'n gets an assignment in the West Indies and goes away.

As my husband asks today if I've seen some sheets of DVD labels of his that he left in the living room, I hear him crunching as he walks, cursing as he looks. I found the sheets, they had fallen from the footstool where he left them into the pit of Crunch, toys and trash. Ick.

Usually, all of this mess is then accented with a nice, fluffy layer of cat hair. My house would make most people cringe. As a consequence, most people don't get to come here. But you're invited if you can ignore the mess or want to help me sort through it. I mean, I don't think it's at the "maybe we need to call Social Services" level but if added some dirty dishes, it might be.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sneaking Suspicion I'm a Moron

No, really. Here's the evidence:

  • Training seminar this morning couldn't hold my attention, left me confused, and stressed out at the thought of more training, using what I've supposedly learned - if I were smarter, wouldn't this make more sense and energize, rather than enervate me?
  • Beating my head against this health care reform wall, trying to argue sense with those spouting nonsense - if I were smarter, wouldn't I just give up or give in?
  • Continuing behavior that isn't working (re: housecleaning, losing weight, stress management) - if I were smarter, wouldn't I have learned new things to do to solve my problems?

Just saying.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Is There Something in my Ear?

I feel like I need to constantly clean my ears out. I can't possibly be hearing the clearly misinformed, spurious, and, let's just say it, crazy shit that is being bandied about concerning health care reform.

The opening paragraph of the health care bill in the Senate is the following:

"To make quality, affordable health care available to all Americans, reduce costs, improve health care quality, enhance disease prevention, and strengthen the health care workforce."

What part of that sounds frightening? What part of that was ever offered by the Nazis? Maybe there is something hidden in the particulars of the bill that scares the beejesus out of these rightwing fallacy repeaters? Of course the fact that neither this bill, nor the ones in the house are the final bill. This is how legislation works, people. Didn't you sing "I'm just a bill" along with Schoolhouse Rock? There are committees, then there are votes, then there are joint committees, more votes and all along the way changes are made to the final bill. Then final vote.

Yes, express your opinion to help craft the final legislation, that's what town halls, letters to your Reps and Senators are for. But stop screaming uninformed craziness. The basic definition of Nazism includes 'racist nationalism, national expansion, and state control of the economy.' The only racists here are the ones who are using the health care debate to express displeasure at having a black President. Obama is not trying to expand our national borders. And, while there have been bailouts (started by W, not Obama) I sincerely don't consider that the state controlling the economy. If they could, or would, it might be in better shape, but that's not what is going on.

And certainly, the health care bills, any of them, look nothing like Nazi policies. No gas chambers, no one being singled out due to race, nothing like that at all. Mostly, just measure, reasoned policies that's entire goal is to provide adequate health care to all. How can you compare regulating the bloated insurance industry to guarantee people aren't excluded due to pre-existing conditions or dropped because of illness to Nazi policies? I defy any of these crazed shouters to find a true comparison in writing. Not just assertion, IN WRITING.

The screamers also have confused the concept of public option with Communism. Really? Does our government hold all property? Is our government totalitarian? Really, it isn't. It doesn't hold our property, it isn't controlled by one party or we wouldn't have to hear from you yahoos. I mean there are days, I'd be all for everyone who disagrees with the party in power (the one I like) to be silenced. But you aren't, as is evidenced by your constant shouting of nonsense.

Finally, your favorite thing to shout about (besides truly bizarre crap like death panels) is socialism. So concerned we will adopt a health care system like the extremely successful ones in Canada, United Kingdom, France and others (God forbid, we'd want the successful option) and become some socialist state. Trust me, one little public option couldn't effect this kind of change. I'd be happy as a socialist but I understand that level of change is so anathema to you detractors that it makes you hyperventilate. Don't worry, we won't change too much, too fast. Your little heads won't spin off your tiny, stupid necks.

Two anti-reform ads have been running a lot in my market. One wants you to be very frightened of Obama's plan (of which there really isn't one, just his suggestions, again, not finished, you pack of idiots) because if suddenly all 50 million uninsured have the ability to visit a doctor, they will pack the waiting rooms like so many sniffling sardines, forcing the oldsters to not get the care they need and PROBABLY DIE. CARE WILL BE RATIONED, it practically screams. Do none of you understand what insurance companies do now? They ration care. They force doctors to endlessly justify why you need that knee replacement, or new medicine before they will pay the claim. All these frightening words based on facts from City Journal. Guess what? City Journal is a rightwing scare publication, barely considered journalism, that gives written "facts" to back up what the right wants to say.

The second anti-reform ad features a breast cancer survivor who has clearly been convinced that under any reform she would have been denied life-saving drugs and treatment like in the UK. People in the UK live almost 10 years longer than those in the US. No one is denied life-saving drugs. This is twisting of statistics and outright lies.

I just still feel amazed at how unreasonable and uninformed these protesters sound. I'm proud of Barney Frank for calling out the woman who asked him why he would support Nazi policies. He's a Jew you bint. That is the most offensive thing you could ask him. He said you are like arguing with a dining table. I wish I could just dismiss all of you as furniture, but you are much louder than my furniture and frankly my furniture would probably hold liberal, reasoned opinions could they talk.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Like Peter Pan, But about Health Care

I usually don't feel like much of a grownup. I know I'm 46, have a husband, a child, a job, a house to keep, but in my head I'm still back in Sixteen Candles land. But in the case of health care reform I'm feeling like a sage. Some fear-mongering group called the League of American Voters is wasting my TV time with an ad that purports that under Obama's plan (apparently scary words in and of themselves) putting those fifty million uninsured into a health care system will overburden the doctors (already too few according to their spurious stats) will mean old people are ignored, left to die, all the money sucked from their Medicare by the hordes of new patients.

Really? Do I actually have to play the reasoned adult and explain how a public option could work? Larger pools of patients in any coverage system guarantees lower costs. Like WalMart selling prescription drugs for $4, they are a large pool, they get to negotiate. A large pool of uninsured, getting a non-profit, regulated option of coverage would guarantee lower health care costs for everyone. Probably pay for the shortfalls Medicare is experiencing now due to lack of regulation in the health insurance industry.

Bringing us to the next grownup point - no actual final bill has been written. So if we all put our heads together we can make sure that not only will it include a robust public option (favorite phrase ever), it will include stringent regulations of big insurance to prevent anyone from being excluded based on pre-existing conditions, dumped for large claims, and force them to work on making costs reasonable. The money-grubbing needs to be pushed back at. A bill could help with this.

And frankly, a good thing to add in to the bill might be more grants for medical school tuition to encourage more doctors in our system. Paying for qualified people to attend medical school and get their degrees wouldn't actually be that costly and the same people could be held to "serving" in particular communities that need them as payback.

Reform opposition has stopped even listening to themselves. They stand with their fingers in their ears, shouting death panels, pulling the plug, turning into Soviet Union at the top of their lungs without even understanding what they yell. Grow up, evil Peter Pan! Peter didn't want to grow up because grown ups seemed short-sighted, unimaginative, and to be honest, douche-y. All three describe the reform opposition. They can't imagine a world with any change. They can't picture how reform solutions would be better for everyone. They just want to yell and bitch and moan and be right.

They aren't right. They are childish little whiners who are against their own best interests. They think their slogans and chants are clever but they don't even understand the genesis of their thought. If any of them had the intelligence to actually parse out what they are yelling and if there is any real truth to it, they would actually be embarrassed.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Call Me a Socialist and I'll Say "You Betcha"

I'm not a verbal flincher. Call me what you want, I might argue, but I won't flinch or look hurt. I will roll my eyes at stupid insults. And, not only will I not flinch if you call me or my ideas socialist, I will proudly accept that appellation.

Harry Truman said, "Any jackass can kick down a barn, but it takes a carpenter to build one." There have been lots of verbal jackassery recently in terms of health care reform. Take Whole Foods CEO John Mackey (please, we don't want him). He, rather sanctimoniously, wrote an op-ed dissing the idea of making sure everyone had health care. He is so proud of the high deductible insurance provided to Whole Foods employees. Sounds nightmarish to me. I'm a diabetic, and trust me I would burn through that $2,500 deductible fast and it would probably mean going without a lot of other things to do it. He thinks people make better health care choices when they have that deductible. What if you DON'T have a choice, douchebag? So happy your veggies have kept you healthy. Some of us lost the DNA lottery on disease states. Grumble. Then I see people defending his stupid comments, saying no one should boycott WF because they do so much other good. Trust me when I say that I'm not the only one who feels betrayed by this man. Who would have thought this "shining example" of a feel good company would be run by such a rightwing, self-justified tool.

More verbal jackasses are, of course, the parade (and one long-ass parade it is) of detractors on the right, the far right, and the really far right. From the pitiful locals waving badly written signs on either side of the road as we walked, then drove into the Democratic fundraiser in the park last night, to the supreme tool Dick Armey continuing to spew delusional crap on Meet the Press this morning. It's all the same nonsense. They grasp at some sentence in the bill or more likely something they saw on TV purportedly interpreting the bill that is completely not what the bill or any logic says.

Bill says, Medicare/public option will pay for end-of-life counseling every five years. No mandate. And Grassley, it doesn't say you only get it on your death bed, you fool. No death panels. Just saying they will pay for what is already in other bills as optional and unpaid. Seriously, this is like me seeing the tag on a mattress and yelling at my child for touching it and assuming stormtroopers will descend upon my house to arrest us.

I can't express how disappointed I am now that these loud idiots have fucked the chance we had at a public option. Obama, Reid, etc. have slunk back to a health care reform that is hardly reform. I want single-payer but I begrudgingly accepted public option, thinking it would be a slope (I won't define as slippery as I'm not negative about it, I wanted to slide down that slope toward single-payer) we could scoot down toward something good. Now they're like cats who eat their own vomit. No public option. Look, you don't see it anymore protesters, we ate it. Co-ops,exchanges, really? That is like offering bread to someone with scurvy. Yes, scurvy is caused by malnutrition but malnutrition of a particular kind. Without an orange or lemon, still scurvy.

I hate feeling hopeless. I couldn't flinch if I wanted to, no muscle tone now, so tapped out emotionally from all the backing up these politicians are doing. Now we are down to: Yes We Can...capitulate to special interests, blue dogs, and loud, angry rightwing nutjobs. Bully for us. I don't think we even built a whole barn before we let the jackass pull it down.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

When is a Democrat not a Democrat...

...when I'm not hearing better ideas from the Democrat than from the rightwing nut jobs. Let's go back, I believe it was two days ago, when I first got news there would be a town hall in Rogers. I was nervous and excited. A town hall a few miles from my house at something called the Samaritan Community Center with Blanche Lincoln speaking. I clicked the RSVP button in the email from Organizing for America, then printed out the signs from the link sent in response to my RSVP. We were ready. My husband, my seven-year-old son and I would exercise our right to democracy by attending (as calm as we could manage) a town hall meeting that might provide all sorts of entertainment.

Suddenly, this morning (or late last night)I find out through a series of sources that the town hall had been moved to a park in Bella Vista (15 miles north of our town) and that it was no longer a town hall meeting but a local Democratic party fundraiser. A little more research and I find out it was NEVER a town hall meeting, always a fundraiser ($5 to get in have beverage and watermelon or $10 for BBQ dinner) and now I'm thinking how pissy the Repubs will be that they thought they would get to yell things about death panels and plugs being pulled and socialism.

So, we wouldn't really get to face down any screechy GOP haters and we'd have to pay for the privilege of hanging with the tiny community of Dems we have here in red, red, red land.

But we (well I on behalf of the three of us) decided we would go anyway. We don't want to eat at 5 (we're not 75 years old) so we'd go with the cheaper $5 option, happy to get some cups of ice and tea, politely declining the watermelon. We drive to this park we've never seen nor heard of, find it pretty easily and at first think we have to park along the road as it seems crowded already. We park next to some old people who had just arrived also and schlep our folding chairs down the road toward what we've been told is a stop to buy the tickets. Along the way there are many (relatively) of the nutjobs waving their signs that speak of socialism, dead grandmothers, we don't want change, etc. They smile as they waggle their signs, we sort of glare at them or don't make eye contact. When they speak to us, I say "No thank you. We don't actually agree with you." They smile like we are sooooo deluded. One of them has the temerity to say "We'll take care of your child for you." As if, because we oppose their lunacy, we are poor examples of parents. My child looked afraid and shook his fist at them. He is probably more left than I. He is whispering to me how stupid their posters are.

We get to the ticket tent that boasts two older ladies selling the tickets and three Bella Vista policeman ready for trouble. We buy our tickets and learn that there is actually more parking further on past the ticket tent near the picnic (that's how they referred to the whole fundraiser, THE PICNIC, like that would make it as benign as possible and hope to just lame the protesters away.) My lovely (not said sarcastically, but gratefully) husband volunteered to go get the car. So Fletcher and I stood by the ticket tent, three folding chairs at our feet and waited for Joe to show up with the car.

When he arrived, he said he wasn't harassed much but felt like punching some of the more sanctimonious of the birther/deather/nutsquad. We happily drove on to the shady, quite pretty area where the fundraiser/picnic/gathering of the hearty Dems were. We wandered over, seeing a few people we knew or at least knew by sight from other aspects of our lives - the CNN iReporter I know from Twitter, the lady who works at Barnes & Noble, the guy I volunteered with at the local Dem HQ during the campaign, a woman I know from a group.

The crowd wasn't huge, but these are the Dems who will not only identify themselves as such, but are willing to drive to a place, be with other Dems, etc. That really shakes out the wheat and what we are left with are mostly older citizens of our area. We see a few in our age group, not many children have been forced to come, everyone sits in their folding chairs or at the cement picnic tables. Democratic chairmen from the county, the state (or somewhere, couldn't hear) and some guy who apparently has some film industry contacts and gets us movies before first-run to use as fundraisers, next one in October.

Then Blanche Lincoln speaks. She is relatively eloquent. Sort of sticks to the bromides and the usual. She takes a few questions after. The last is someone who asks, rather passionately, for Lincoln to promise to not vote for a bill that doesn't include a robust public option. We end up getting a lecture on how we shouldn't want a public option that is completely government supported as it will cost TOO much money and we should like co-ops, etc. I'm getting more and more cranky at the thought of supporting this woman for another term and wondering who might be running against her in the primaries. I'm not the only one. I hear grumbling and see people packing up their chairs. As a group (save one or two who probably couldn't hear) we have heard enough and we ARE GOING.

Course my husband pointed out that even if we supported someone more liberal in the primaries, they probably wouldn't stand a chance in the election against a semi-reasonable Republican cause this state is so red it looks like it will have a stroke and the best we can hope for are blue dogs. Ick. I'm disillusioned and undermined and we still have to drive past the douchebag parade.

We do drive past them as they wave their pitiful signs that say illogical things, cutting their noses off to spite their stupid faces things, or just hateful nonsense. It only takes a few minutes to drive back to the highway and head home to get the coupon to Outback Steakhouse where we've decided to have our dinner.

I'm glad we went so I didn't think I missed something, but now feel more resolved than ever to get real liberal leadership in this state.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Titles are Esoteric

I read other blogs. Then I feel inferior, even though a blog is supposed to be a sort of diary and thus not required to be funny or clever, I want mine to be funny AND clever. How can you be funny but not clever, you can make fart jokes. People laugh (perhaps uncomfortably, but still laugh) but those aren't clever. Just like on Twitter when I feel some pressure to toss off bon mots, I feel that those who bother to read this blog (so far mostly my husband) should have a few funny tears at the corners of their eyes.

Too much to ask? Probably. My degree is in painting and ceramics - nope, not really funny, though perhaps clever on a good day. My job is as a sales analyst - only if you find tedium rip-roaring hilarious. I have previously mentioned husband and a seven-year-old son, both of whom do sometimes provide me with funny anecdotes and witty quips. But not nearly enough.

I'm feeling whiny. Maybe I just have a headache approaching, but really I want people to like me. Well, not like me, like what I write, tell others how they should read what I write. Follow my blog for Camptown's sake (my neurotic cat, just felt like throwing her in there) or at least comment on it so I know someone is reading it.

Pretend I just wrote something clever, whimsical and amusing. Cause if I have to come up with something right now it will involve bitching about the rightwing asshats who are messing up our country's chance to have health care reform helped out by the blue dog Democrats and the badly written bills. The only whimsy in my life is that my home office (only place I work) has a floor coated with neat rows of Legos, Hot Wheels, Pokemon and Happy Meal toys.

And now, instead of continuing this rambling husband and I have to go pick up our van at Best Buy because they can't really determine why the Kia dealership blames our stereo for the power problems. BB figures it's the satellite adapter part of the car stereo but doesn't know how to fix or replace right now. Only suggestion is, "take the van and see if the problem happens again since we disconnected sat adapter." Great, we get the van back. It still might die in our driveway AND no Sirius radio on it. Blergh.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Yelling into the Echo-y Void of Stupidity

The country is gone ape shit. No kidding. I mean I think it's an extremely vocal minority, but they are really loud. I get that an individual might not like particular parts of a health care reform bill - to be honest, at this point their are 4 or 5 bills floating about, all really long, full of that bullshit billspeak making it all too complicated. I don't find them tenable either.

Here's what I would like a bill to say:

1) Insurance companies are no longer allowed to exclude someone based on pre-existing conditions.
2) No person can be dropped from their insurance for any reason except non-payment of premiums.
3) Government panel to be established to set limits on insurance costs, everything from what we pay insurance companies, to what they pay out
4)Doctors will get to decide what care patients need. They can be sensible but if they say a patient needs a particular test or drug, the patient gets it.
5)One of the insurance plans people can pay for will be a government option similar to Medicare.
6)To make sure there are enough doctors to go around, med school will be paid on scholarship so long as the applicant qualifies to get into med school, works hard, AND agrees to spend a period of time serving an under-served community.
7)Community clinics will be established where health care is lacking so people choose where to go for preventative checkups, etc. by proximity
8) Insurance companies will be governed by further regulations (going back to the ones in place in the late 70s, I'm not going into detail)

Can't think of anything else except, of course, I would prefer single-payer. After WWII everyone in the UK was given a pamphlet telling them about their National Health Service. I'm sure there was bickering and fear at the time, but it was settled. Here you go, people, stop in when you need some health care.

If we can't have that, at least we can make sure the uninsured get insured, the under-insured get something better and the rest of us (me, for instance) have some kind of insurance always waiting when we lose jobs, change jobs or just decide that we can make enough money selling crafts that we don't need the kind of job that involves health insurance.

I have kept a job I don't love for many years (several jobs, actually, none of which I would call my true calling) just so we can have benefits. My husband is better equipped to earn money without that sort of job so I keep one. But I would love to know that if I found a way to make enough money with my artwork, I could do that while still seeing doctors and getting lab tests to keep me healthy.

Meanwhile, these jacked up lunatics are screaming about death panels, dead grandmothers, the government turning into the Soviet Union. Are you listening to yourselves? I know you aren't listening to logic, reason, or intelligent people. You just let the TV crazies tell you what to think, feed your fears and train you to be a good little army of idiots.

And, I'm smart enough to realize that most of you (probably all of you) yelling so loudly are really just trying to find that one talking point or action that will make the scary, black President go away. You have a fight on your hands. He's not going anywhere and there lots of people like me to make sure of it.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I think my brain is shrinking

I'm feeling incompetent. Really, uselessly incompetent. I'm supposed to be working on the school directory and by that I mean taking all the badly formatted raw data and shove it into better formatted data that can be verified. But I'm moving slowly as this is volunteer and NOT my job and my job keeps interfering. So the PTO president is getting shrill and I'm feeling bad, but can't move any faster. Oh, and I need to blog about it, taking even more time.

I also have at least five work projects that I'm ignoring, though I did just call a Walmart in Louisiana to find out why they had none of our products in-store even though they are supposed to. After a lengthy time on hold and a department manager with a seriously snarky tone, I was told they were having a store remodel. Really? If SHE was competent that would have been the answer immediately. Something's fishy about that, but I don't care enough to pursue. Yes, part of my job is actually calling WalMarts around the country and asking why are stupid vacuum bags and filters either aren't stocked, aren't selling (meaning they haven't bothered to put them out) or aren't being ordered. Blergh.

House is still a mess, laundry still undone, there is something in the crockpot, but I will probably fail to think what veggie to go with it. What goes with gyros? Salad?

I need the sort of vacation where it's easy to get ready for, no one talks to you while there, your mind shuts off...sort of a stasis. Yes, I need to be put in stasis for a few days and just relax. But then I wouldn't be aware I was, so I need an aware stasis, like a pocket of a parallel universe where I can putter and dither about and no one needs me for anything.

Monday, August 10, 2009

If I attach balloons will it all float away

While I type this, far away in Trafalgar Square a man is building a contraption on the One and Other plinth. It seems to be made of balloons and foils pans, and sticks and aluminum tripods. I have no clue what it will do and it both looks like a mess and fascinating.

My house and my life are a lot like this. Like those illusory pictures where you see two faces, but if you sort of let your eyes cross then you see a goblet, or a rabbit or something instead, my house is a wreck when you first look at it and when you unfocus your eyes, what you see, or at least what I see is my mind trying to deal with chaos.

I don't this mess. I want a well-organized, neat home that people can come over to any time. But I'm kidding myself if I think I can get anywhere near my idealized home. In all the years since I escaped my mother's tidy, neat home of stuffed but well-organized storage areas, I have asserted my independence by living in a pile of clutter and dirty dishes.

Each day, I make a tiny bit of headway in a particular area. Then, either my smart but clutter-y son or my smart, but compulsive husband fills that area with their stuff and it's like drifts of snow that I can never shovel.

The problem is I have the psyche of a neatnik and the energy and drive of a slob. I see the mess and my chest is gripped with cold panic then I distract myself with HI-larious TV or a book or a magazine or Twitter or lint. Either I have a short attention span or that is my coping mechanism for not being able to follow through with the burst of energy it would take to CLEAN IT ALL UP! And therein lies my other problem - breaking the task down. I do to some extent, but then I multitask myself into little progress or so many stops and starts of work that I peter out to a forgotten craft project instead of making my house livable.

And really, it's worse inside my head. Every scrap of paper, unshelved book, toy without a home, dirty dish or lone sock as an analog in my brain. Each clutter thought falling upon the others, looking to find a permanent home, a reason to be or a way to extinguish itself.

Oh look, here's another e-mail newsletter on organizing. Maybe my salvation lies there.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Fish in a Barrel

Actually the barrel was a manufactured pond area, but the idea is the same. This morning we met our Cub Scout pack (and by our, I mean my 7-year-olds pack and my husband and I complete the our because that's how involved we are. Thought it was just Dads you say?Oh no, Moms, whole families come along to earn the patch for every event they can drag us to.) Where was I? Wow I really wandered off in the middle of that sentence.

We met Pack 81 at the Roaring River Fish Hatchery at 9:30. This was after obligatory Saturday breakfast at McDonald's where my child sucked down his daily biscuit. We had pretty good instructions, still with my complete lack of internal compass, we had some directional bumps. Still got there within minutes of everyone else, including Den leader in his uber-goofy hat.

Parked, wandered down to where the rest of the boys and families where arranged along the stone banks of what must be a human engineered pond, what with the stone blocks, pumped rush of water to keep fish happy and clearly well-stocked supply.

We borrowed a pole from the den leader as we are a currently still a little too urban to have fishing poles and tackle and also some bait. It looked like little yellow and orange balls of playdoh that smelled like fish butt. I left most of the labor to my husband while I went to find Hansel and Gretel's bathroom cottage. Really. I asked where the bathrooms were, was pointed to a picturesque house on a hill. If I hadn't really needed to go, I wouldn't have trudge up the hill and ten stone steps to get to it still worrying the witch would come out and bake me. But it was just regular, if old-fashioned bathrooms.

Returned back down the hill to my guys glancing at the hatchery tanks along the way. The whole hatchery looks as if it were built in the 50s as it's all stone tanks and ponds and old-fashioned buildings, but still working and producing trout. Rainbow trout, lots and lots of smelly rainbow trout.

Joe and Fletcher were "fishing" at this point and I used the term loosely because that consisted of an argument between the two because Fletcher hadn't got the hang of casting and was frustrating his father. Fletcher eventually learned to cast without endangering all of us with being hooked and caught two fish. Each fish caught caused a ballistic-level reaction at the thought he might have to touch it or even be near it. He acted as if there was the possibility of the fish leaping on him and going for his throat. Trying to get him to pose next to one of the fish, in a net, held by another person was misery.

After catching two fish and a whole hour standing around with a pole in his hand, son was sick of the whole process. He and I went to look at the hatchery tanks where he freaked out again at a large trout who was a little too close to the surface of the water. Really, I can't explain to him enough times that short of actually being in the water with the trout (where it would, at most, tickle you) it can't get to you. He doesn't buy my explanation, continues to flinch and dance away, almost falling into another tank.

Meanwhile, the other boys of the pack are happily touching flopping fish, crowing about catches, and happy as clams. Mine was bored, wanted to go home. We did.

Joe and I figure we should probably acquire some poles and tackle and force (I mean take) Fletcher to fish again until it's not too scary. Though I admit, it's still dull.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Spreadsheets and Prospace and Powerpoint, oh my

It's actually hard to describe my job without actually making you do it. Though that's a great idea, here everyone, grab a spreadsheet, go to town.But I feel the need to express again the sheer tedium that being a sales analyst presents.

I work from home, which sounds great, and is in a way but also causes me to lose focus, most minutes and fail to act as quickly as I should, causing lots of last minute panic.

I realize I'm being tedious talking about my tedious job. Every day, I have at least eight spreadsheets, one or two Word files, up to three online databases, and perhaps a PowerPoint open switching back and forth working on the info. None of the information is interesting. NONE OF IT! Even if we have an uptick in sales, it's not interesting. It just is.

Seriously, it was all I could do not to burst into tears this morning when my boss called and said blithely, "Do we have Prospace set up for Ultracare?" I know that question just sounds like nonsense from the outside but in here it means have I completed hours of work in the stupid, clunky CAD program that helps you design shelving units for stores. More specifically have I ever done this for KMart. No, I haven't. I've never been asked to and it's not something I can just one-off in a thrice. It takes hours. It's tedious. Lots of little boxes have to be created with specific measurements, labeled and put into a bigger box. Blergh.

Prospace is like the worst computer game ever. Unless you find trying to fit small rectangles into a bigger rectangle that looks like a pegboard fascinating. It's a CAD program, and eight months passed between the time I had the training and I first needed to use it and I'm frankly incompetent. So it makes me nuts.

My job finally comes down to, people above me asking for me to retrieve information, put it in a usable, friendly form (that hopefully makes it say what they want) and distribute. My degree is in painting and ceramics. Does this sound like a good fit for me? Bonus points if you answer correctly.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Death of Pretty, Pink & Sixteen

I find myself somewhat devastated by the news of John Hughes passing. Granted, in recent years, I have not found myself in a theater watching a John Hughes movie. I think his last work was writing Drillbit Taylor. Not a classic. I didn't even see it.

But in the 80s, I could probably define my time by Hughes. I was already college-aged (and in college, something that took me longer than it should, that's another blog) when Sixteen Candles came out. I can remember the ads, desperately wanting to see it, going by myself to a theater in Lubbock, TX. I only remember a dark theater, laughter, wanting all of Sam's clothes, probably her hair, and certainly her outcome in that movie.

Each successive Hughes movie celebrating the intricacies and tragedies of being a teenager was a favorite. He wrote the words that echoed what we spoke & thought or more likely what we wished we did. I was a 20-something finding myself in The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, even Some Kind of Wonderful.

And then there was Pretty in Pink. I didn't live on the wrong side of the tracks, but I almost wish that was the reason the popular people weren't friendly to me in high school. How I wanted a combination of Andie's clothes, Iona's cool & Duckie's verve. I am an Andee (different spelling, but still) imagine hearing your name attached to all of that. The angst, the cliques, everything that makes the teen years what they are. I was still needing these movies to help me recover from my teen years and move through my twenties.

Even now, upon hearing John had died, all my favorite scenes roll through my head. I want to find a cool hat to wear, I want to go back to work in a record shop, I want to fall in love again like I was 16.

I feel like we have truly lost something great. What words, what scenes, what defining moments were left in his head that we will never know? The lover of the visual in me is crushed to not know the answer.