Sunday, July 27, 2008

Integrity, I Haz It, Part 2

Wow, I'm getting really good at this "saying no" stuff.

Today, a friend asked me to sign a petition to get a particular candidate on the ballot for the political party he represents.

I actually said no, even though I felt guilty because he's my friend and a good guy.

If the candidate had been Jo Schmo, I might have given in.

But he specified the individual, whose very sorry history I happen to know all too well from 20 years in Georgia. I just couldn't. I would have felt irredeemably dirty.

Yeah, I feel a little guilty on his behalf, but the upside far outweighs that.

So I smile... Click Here to Read More..

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Well, this pretty much says it all.


As a 1930s wife, I am

Take the test!

A'right, it's a slow day.

There were 100 questions on this quiz, and many of them served to point up the slightly unconventional character of my marriage to Carl.

I drive, he doesn't.
I pay most of the bills (at least the big ones).
I manage the overall finances (probably not very well).
Carl does the housework.
Carl does most of the cooking.

So, yeah I flunked questions about having dinner ready on time and keeping the house neat. But I passed the ones having to do with being friendly, considerate, affectionate, etc. because I love the guy. I was just born without the June Cleaver gene. Click Here to Read More..

Thursday, July 24, 2008

There's This Guy

He's a single dad, apparently not at all well-off financially, and he's in my neighborhood. Talking to him briefly, he seemed like the sort of person who might feel comfortable at my church. Since this is a small city and people tend to know who's who, even when someone's been here a short time, I mentioned him to one of the ladies I went to the Florida church conference with.

Sure 'nough, she knew him. She knew all about him. She warned me to keep a distance.

According to her, he had come to church a few times and brought his child. He had raised a huge fuss with the religious education people because they offered his child a snack, as is customary. It was the opinion of my church friend that the guy was borderline abusive toward his child.

From her observation, it wasn't the fact that the child had a food allergy or dietary restriction of any kind -- it was because the food wasn't home made -- it was store-bought and therefore had ingredients that came from factories or non-union corporations, where workers are exploited, etc.

It's not clear whether he notified the staff beforehand that no snacks were allowed; my impression is that he landed on them with both feet, as though the idea of giving kids snacks is so "out there" he couldn't believe it.

Now, I know perfectly well that N.D. (Neighborhood Dad) is hardly alone in his ideology. But here in this li'l corner of the world, he's more alone than he would be in, say, Seattle or Portland or some parts of New England. Not only is this very much the South, but our neighborhood isn't exactly known for its vegan population! I recycle, vote Democrat and attend a liberal church and I'm sure some people around here would consider me kind of fringe-y, despite my otherwise conventional ways.

At this evening's neighborhood meeting, N.D. and the youngun were on hand. We discussed an upcoming outdoor event and one of the organizers said "We'll have a crew there ahead of time to spray for mosquitoes so we won't all suffer." N.D. spoke up as if on cue, asking if she was talking about bug repellent or bug killer. "I don't like poisons," he said. A perfectly admirable sentiment, but again, this is the kind of place where people drive cars that rolled off the line when Iaccocca was actually president of Chrysler; they dump motor oil down the sewers and throw old pork bones out in the yard for the "dawg." Most of the folks 'round here would agree that "the only good bug is a dead one." I wager that N.D.'s anti-poison stance is the first such thing many people in the room had ever heard.

Finally, the meeting adjourned and we were invited to collect our food to either eat on-site or take home. They had box lunches which were probably either fried chicken or BBQ, and grilled chicken salads in plastic clamshell boxes (along with cookies & chips). N.D. steered his child out the door quickly; when someone invited him to at least take a salad, he informed them that he was vegetarian, and left. I heard someone say, "Well, what's the big deal? You get a salad, throw out the meat and eat the rest." Again, these are people who believe that to be fussy about food is to reject God's bounty -- which is why so many are obese, hypertense, and/or diabetic.

So what we've got here is two very different cultures trying to speak to each other. I see N.D. as someone who strives to make a political statement at every possible opportunity. I'm not sure he's looking to "convert" others to his way of thinking, but he holds his worldview so very sacred that he will not compromise one iota, ever, and feels compelled to spell it out whenever the question arises. On the other side you've got your basic salt-of-the-earth people who believe that if something was good enough for their great-grandparents it's good enough for them and their great-grandchildren.

And of course, there's me in the middle, Ms. Go Along to Get Along. I see the validity of both sides. I love the environment; hate the mass-production consumer culture we're in, yet understand that when you don't have a lot of money, you tend to buy cheap stuff and settle for convenience over principle.

Being in the middle has been the story of my life. Click Here to Read More..

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Women on the street

Here in the small city where I live, there are various crime problems. Gangs, drugs and prostitution are the ones people talk about constantly. My work with the neighborhood association brings me into contact with law enforcement and groups that work with law enforcement to minimize the crime stats.

Every city, I think, has a block or two known for the sex trade. Atlanta had "Stewart Avenue," which was renamed "Metropolitan Parkway" in the hopes that somehow a name change would bring about an attitude change. Naturally, it didn't. People make the same jokes about the place for the same reason.

This town has Willow Street. Willow stretches along for 2 miles or so, starting near the access to the interstate and continuing up to about where I live. Willow is home to a lot of poor people. All ethnicities are represented.

Characteristics of a "poor" neighborhood include minimal or no home improvements; little or no greenery; noticeable litter; a preponderance of billboards, liquor stores and pawn shops; homes and businesses standing vacant for long periods, and a large amount of foot traffic.

A lot of poor people can't afford to be drivers. Because there's an excess of alcohol and drug addiction among the poor, there are more DUIs that keep people from getting behind the wheel. Their cars get impounded and they can't pay to get them back, or their cars get repossessed. Or stolen. Or they break down for the hundredth time and that's the end of the line. So you have people who walk where they need to go. Or they take a bus, which still involves walking from home to the bus stop.

That's Willow Street. A lot of people walking.

A lot of women walking.

As you drive along Willow, you're likely to see women between the ages of, say, 15 and 55. They may be walking alone, or standing and talking to a group of other people. Most often, they're not wearing much.

This is the South, and we have really cold weather, where you need to wear a jacket, for maybe 5 months. Of course, some people have different heat tolerances. I know plenty of people who can go outside where the temperature is 45 degrees Fahrenheit and not need a jacket of any kind. They consider 45 to be a pleasant, moderate temperature; they suffer in the heat. So it's not unreasonable, in the American South, to see a woman walking along in shorts and a sleeveless top, even when the weather is relatively cool.

Most women carry handbags. Some don't. They may use their pockets, or just carry a clutch.

In the course of walking along, a woman may see a friend driving; the driver stops to talk and a conversation ensues. Or a woman may stop walking periodically to look around and survey the surroundings.

All of these factors (walking alone, scanty dress, no handbag, stopping to talk or look around) can either be characteristics of a normal woman walking on the street, or a prostitute.

I've walked along the street many times in a futile attempt to get some exercise and lose weight; I dress comfortably, and try not to carry a bag when I'm just out walking and not shopping.

So where do you make the distinction? I think plenty of people don't. They see a woman walking along and assume she's a hooker.

I have a problem with this.

In high school, our Spanish teacher told us about countries in Latin America where a woman walking alone or going into an establishment without an escort is immediately branded a prostitute and thrown in jail.

I was outraged. How awful to stereotype women and restrict their movements for such a stupid-ass reason. Obviously, the same type of mentality exists in the Middle East, but even more so -- actual laws on the books prohibit women from going about their business in public. They are required to stay inside their homes unless they have a male escort.

Okay, so we know about Muslim countries and Latin American countries. But this is the United States of America. Land of the free, and also land of capitalism, where you're not considered "normal" unless you're "productive" and occupied in some way. Supposedly, it's also a land where women have equal rights. We vote, we're theoretically free to do whatever job we're qualified to do, regardless of gender.

So I have a problem with the "woman walking alone on the street must be a hooker" mentality.

Yes. Prostitution is an undesirable pursuit for a variety of reasons.

It visibly labels communities as "bad" places.

Most street prostitutes are injection drug users.

Street prostitution leaves behind distasteful and dangerous trash such as used condoms and used syringes discarded on the streets.

There is a high incidence of HIV among injection drug users, and a high incidence of sexually transmitted diseases among street prostitutes.

Prostitution is associated with gang activity.

But a poor woman who has to walk where she's going, or even just a woman who wants to walk for exercise, risks being labeled a prostitute for this reason alone. When this attitude becomes prevalent, it leads to false arrests and harassment, and has a chilling effect on freedom of movement for women.

We need to use the Middle East and Latin America as cautionary examples and prevent this regressive mindset from becoming pervasive here. Click Here to Read More..

Saturday, July 19, 2008

The Most Annoying Person I Have Ever Known

[This is a continuation of a topic from my previous post.]

Q. Who is the most annoying person you know? Why?

Her name is Pam. I met her in 7th grade when she moved to our town. She is the product of a couple of people who didn't want her. She has no boundaries, no manners, no class, and thinks nothing of pushing her way into someone's life.

She pushed her way into mine when I was being raised to "be nice to people." That, to me, meant having to put up with them. Pam had no radar to tell when she wasn't wanted. Unless someone got downright violent and threatened her, she'd keep coming around, trying to be friends.

With the kind of home atmosphere she lived in, it was very easy to feel sorry for Pam. And so, I dealt with her all through high school, tolerating her tendency to be my "shadow" and copy everything from my clothes to my taste in music. I had no way to explain what introversion felt like, so every waking moment during the summer I could expect her at my house.

Senior year of high school she pushed my last button by openly rejoicing in the fact that I had broken up with a guy she didn't like. I completely blew my stack at her in front of practically the entire school and enjoyed a blissful 3 years or so without her presence. However, time took the edge off the irritation and when I heard she'd gotten married I naively thought she'd grown up and would be easier to deal with.

Pam, however, was not wired for maturity. At this writing, she is a few months shy of her 50th birthday. She is still boy crazy. Her first marriage ended, to be followed by about 10 years' worth of promiscuous sex that would have boggled the mind of Howard Stern. Her parents openly rejected her, so she went through a series of rented rooms, low-paying jobs and boyfriends.

Then she met Ed. She and Ed have been married now for nearly 17 years. She managed to stay faithful to him for exactly one year, and then I started getting the calls again from her about "this guy at work." She has not slowed down or stopped since then. She and Ed went through a phase in which he tried to "put his foot down" about her playing around, but the fact that they're still together tells me that he's every bit as dysfunctional as she is. She is openly active in “swingers’ clubs,” and though she will fixate on one guy or another, sometimes for years, especially if they keep her at a distance, she has also admitted that sticking to one guy will never work for her. She is always hungry, never satisfied. I would conservatively estimate that she has had something in the neighborhood of 500 sexual partners.

Pam is simply from another dimension. She has a compelling, sexual quality to her that really draws people (especially men). Many people are initially convinced that what she does is "put on a dumb blonde act." After awhile it becomes clear that it's no act. But her other compelling quality is the ability to inspire pity, and soft-hearted, well-meaning souls find her very hard to shake loose of.

About 4 years ago I was going through a fairly bad patch, financially. Carl was having medical problems and we were in the midst of getting him tested at various facilities. My car was dying and my remedy was to stay home as much as possible and not take the car anywhere except work and the occasional shopping trip. Pam decided she wanted to visit me (we lived about 850 miles apart). Despite telling her it was not a good time, she pushed and pushed and pushed, then finally bought a plane ticket and informed me she was coming. She was convinced that a visit from her would be "helpful" to me. She said she'd bring lots of money and pay for anything we did.

She arrived and promptly started asking to be taken to various stores (especially wig shops, her favorite). Predictably the car died. I ended up having to rent a car to squire her around. My mood was foul and unfriendly, and still she never noticed a thing. When she got back on the plane a few days later, I called everyone I knew and hysterically told them "I'm free!"

It was The Voice of Reason, better known as my cousin Pat, who finally got my head turned around straight with regard to Pam.

"Tell me," she said, "do you get anything out of this relationship at all, or are you the one doing all the giving, while she does all the taking?"

It was so simple. And the remedy was equally obvious. Pam had already told me about another friend who "out of nowhere" stopped picking up the phone or returning calls. "What was I to do?" Pam said, "She kept ignoring me so finally I quit calling her."

Once she was back home, I simply declined to return her calls or to answer the phone when she called. Thus ensued about four months' worth of harangues and threats, such as "Don't be too surprised if what goes around comes around and you start having bad luck because of the way you've treated me." Pam often bragged about "lighting black candles" against people who had "wronged" her. However, eventually she realized her efforts were fruitless and closed with a short note saying "Don't ever call me again." That was one request I'd have no trouble complying with.

Fast forward about 19 months. I had just moved to my current residence and the phone rang. Caller ID gave me no information. And there was that awful, Brooklyn-accented, whiny voice of hers, half crying about how nothing was going well in her life and she really needed me there to talk to, and she really missed our friendship. How, she wanted to know, could I possibly be able to close the door on a relationship of over 30 years?

I was not about to get sucked in again, under any circumstances. I told her that plenty of married couples stay together for more than 30 years only to split because there was no happiness left in the relationship. I told her I never really liked her but merely put up with her from a sense of obligation. I enumerated every fault, every shortcoming, every annoying habit I could recall, from 7th grade to our last time together. And still she argued: "But ... but ... but ..." She was determined to wear me down.

Finally, I said "I don't want to talk to you anymore, don't call me anymore, and I'm hanging up. Goodbye."

That, to date, was the last contact. I hope she has finally gotten it through her head that she'd better do what she can to improve the relationships she still has, because I'm out of her life and determined to keep her out of mine. Click Here to Read More..

What Annoys Me

I am seriously desperate for a blog topic; when my faves don't post for several days it's aggravating and I don't want to be guilty of the same thing.

So, I googled "topics for discussion" and landed on an ESOL site that lists various topics, intended for students to use in practicing their English skills.

My English skills could occasionally use a workout, so I'm listing as many as I can answer. The basic topic is "What Annoys You."

Sorry if this is a bit too much like a "meme."

1. What annoys you about living where you live now?
Aside from people "sympathizing" with me about the neighborhood (they would faint if a non-white moved within 5 miles of them), my pet peeves include
-unnecessary noise;
-people who don't take proper care of their pets and either leave them to bark all night or roam all day and cause trouble;
-graffiti and vandalism
-Chronically unkempt property
-lack of decent restaurants and stores within walking distance

2. What annoys you about driving a car?
Ooh, good question.
-Other drivers in general would have to lead this particular list
-The constant need for upkeep -- just when you've spent a fortune on one type of repair, another crops up, and it's often something you just finished paying off from 2 or 3 years before.

3. What annoys you most about living at home with your family?
-Well, my "family" at home is now down to one other than myself. He is a Felix Unger type, obsessively neat. Watching him move my shoes from one room to the next is exasperating, but when I think of how this place would look without his vigilance, I'm less inclined to complain.
-Actually, our other family member is our destructive, intrusive cat. I have an entire blog dedicated to him already.

4. Do you think you have habits that annoy other people?
-Well, my husband would cite the above-referenced tendencies toward disorderliness...
-I'm not terribly sociable, so others have to do more work to maintain the relationship (starting conversations, calling me, etc.)
...ever notice how introversion is rarely if ever viewed as a positive trait?

5. Does it annoy you when people kiss in public?
-Are you talking about kiss-goodbye-at-the-train-station or a 20-minute tonguefest, for which tickets could be sold?

6. Do you get annoyed when someone cuts in front of you when you are waiting in line?
-Generally, I consider myself out of kindergarten for a long time and don't let it bother me, but if many others are behind me, then I get it for letting them in.

7. What are some new pet peeves you have as a result of recent technology (i.e. cell phone use)?
-I could do without cell phone text messages that are little more than rehashes of junk e-mails ("U R my bff -- send this to 10 of your bffs in the next 10 minutes and Jesus will bless you!")
-In my opinion, the more often your cell phone rings, the more quiet and unobtrusive your ringtone should be.
-Advanced technology has done little or nothing to boost basic levels of intelligence, especially judgment. Hence the proliferation of urban legends.

8. What annoying habits does your best friend have?
-She's a bigot
-She's sometimes too tough for her own good and demonstrates a regrettable lack of sensitivity.
-She's a talented writer but still insists on reading James Patterson and V.C. Andrews.

9. Does smoking bother you?
-My parents were chain-smokers and as a result I had a cold throughout my entire childhood, right up until I moved in with Doug, who didn't smoke. Carl is a smoker, but he confines it to outdoors and therefore, it's manageable. I sympathize with smokers' addiction and wish more could be done about it.

10. Do you get annoyed when other people display bad manners? Give some examples.
-I think lack of awareness of personal space is my number one pet peeve in this area. The person who parks him or herself (and the shopping cart) in front of the freezer case at the store and stands there for 10 minutes reading labels -- oblivious to other shoppers who would like to grab the box of Hot Pockets and be on their way.
-Related to this is people who are unnecessarily loud and boisterous in public. Those who don't keep their voices down in the library or a movie, or who get into mock fights with their friends while waiting in line and then say "Oh, excuse me!" after they've knocked into you.

11. What is something that your parents do that annoy you?
-Well, my folks are long gone, but I suppose their drinking gave rise to nearly anything I could think of that annoyed me. The loud fights in public; the eccentric behavior when friends came over; the reckless driving, and tendency to be unreliable, to name but a few.

12. Can annoying someone be a good thing?
-If the main goal is just to get their attention, it may work if you then have a plan to appeal to something they want so they'll become an ally.

13. If something is annoying you, what do you usually do?
-I am much more likely to "put up and shut up," or to vent about it to someone else later on.
-However, if I know that many other people are equally annoyed about the same thing, I may then find it easier to speak up to the offender.

14. How do you change annoying habits?
-I guess the most effective thing for me is feedback. I can be utterly oblivious to the impression I'm making ... though more recently I've developed the ability to take a hint. A direct approach ("Don't start talking when the weather report is on, please") usually works best.
-Once I know about an annoying habit, I then look for triggers. For example, I get snippy with people if I sense both pressure and frustration at the same time (Must make 100 copies right now but copier is out of order...). When this happens I just need to tell myself "Okay Volly, this is one of those pressure-and-frustration type scenarios, so keep smiling and mind your manners. It won't kill you."

15. What are some things other drivers do that annoy you?
-Tailgating when they're behind me
-Driving too slowly when they're in front of me
-Not moving when the light turns green and then sliding away from the light when it's turned yellow, leaving me to wait through the next red.
-Forgetting to turn off their blinker
-Blasting the stereo
-Not staying in their lane
-Barreling up to a stop sign when you're approaching, so that you have to wonder if they plan to stop at all
-Loud mufflers or belching exhaust
-Driving too slowly in the left lane
-Not knowing what "yield" means
-Making unnecessarily slow right turns (seems to be especially prevalent in the South; no idea why)
-Stopping in the middle of the street to have a long conversation with another driver

16. Can you think of some things children do that annoy adults around them?
-I think being too loud or "running amok" is the main one, and that's really up to their parents to fix. Kids are kids. They don't shape up until someone tells them to.

17. Does it annoy you when people don't use the right punctuation?
-A great deal.

18. What kind of people annoy you?
-Opinionated in a bullying way
-Those who use crude language all the time

19. How do you inform someone they are being annoying?
-Whenever possible, I prefer an oblique approach. For example, I once lived in an apartment complex and one young lady would come home late at night and wake me up talking loudly to her friends. The next day at the pool I saw her and we got into a conversation. When she asked me how I was doing, I told her I felt ill because I hadn't gotten a decent night's sleep -- "someone" was right outside my window going on in a loud voice about "99-cent Taco Bells." The girl got very quiet, then finally said "That really must be hard to deal with when you're trying to sleep -- people should be quieter at night." After that she was much more courteous.

However, most people I spend time with don't annoy me that much.

20. Who is the most annoying celebrity?
-Paris Hilton, Britney Spears, sports figures who are more "players" than players, and people with no discernible talent but great publicists.

21. Which is more annoying, being caught in the rain without an umbrella, or finding out you don't have enough money to pay for something you really need?
-It doesn't rain that much where I live, but the latter situation arises all too frequently.

22. Who is the most annoying person you know? Why?
-See next post. Click Here to Read More..

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Had a bad weekend? Somehow I doubt it.

If I'm dead wrong, let me know, but by comparison to a friend of mine, it's been bliss.

This friend often shows up at gatherings with her two big ol' dogs. Both well-behaved and friendly. She travels a lot and takes them both with her whenever possible. She keeps us all posted on their adventures.

One has been progressively ill for awhile and over the last year it had become clear that her ability to live a normal dog life was getting difficult.

Early Saturday my friend let us know that the end of the road had come. The second dog knew something was wrong; my friend was trying to keep him busy, taking him on runs, etc. so he wouldn't wander around the house looking for his missing companion.

Then, Saturday evening came a terse message that the surviving dog had been admitted to the emergency vet with bloat, a condition common to larger dogs that involves stomach torsion -- it's massively painful and calls for immediate treatment if the dog is to be saved. Surgery was performed to remove the spleen; the dog needed plasma transfusions and was put on morphine IV's. My friend was hoping that with each hour that passed, his chances for survival would increase, but he was in such pain he had to be kept under almost all the time.

Early Tuesday morning he went into cardiac arrest and that was the end.

I know she's strong, but damn.

And then you read about human parents who leave their infants alone in cars. Click Here to Read More..

Friday, July 11, 2008

The truth really will set me free

I got sort of shunted into a slot on the governing board at my church that I am 100% completely unsuited for. They needed someone to fill a secondary position and because I was a new member, they figured (rightly) that I'd be reluctant to say no. I also knew that the next year I'd be expected to move up to a position with more authority and responsibility.

The responsibility part is fine, except for the fact that I am woefully lacking in the know-how that's necessary to do the job right. So I waited out the year that just ended, patiently hoping that I'd somehow catch on. Everybody was sweet, nice and encouraging, so I kept waiting.

But last night we had our first board meeting and when people asked me questions, assuming there was more to me than my title, I got this deer-in-the-headlights look and fumbled around trying to fake it.

So this afternoon I e-mailed three of the individuals involved in such matters and told them straight out that I'd really appreciate keeping the position I had last year and letting someone else take over the reins. This person is simply waiting in the wings, but is far more qualified than I. It would not bother me in the least to see her move up while I stay put. These are not paid positions so it shouldn't make any real difference. I can do as much good, or more good, as 2nd banana than if I sat there in my glorious cluelessness while things went to that place that doesn't exist in a handbasket. Click Here to Read More..

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Wow, I Actually Heard From My Son

For those of you who don't know, don't care, or don't remember, my son Wally and I have been more or less estranged for the past month and a half. This (in my view) due to him allowing himself to be drawn into the soap opera that plays in an endless loop in his father's head.

All contact has been extremely brief, mostly in the form of text messages. Well, he called me out of the blue this evening. Because I was right in the middle of a meeting, it was hard to talk, and it wasn't really a social call anyway. He wanted to (I guess) remind me that college would be starting soon and there are certain administrative tasks that have been assigned to me in this regard. I acknowledged the message and called him back after the meeting was done. I was trying to think up conversation starters on the fly; he answered a few questions and then told me had to go.

Needless to say, this situation is painful, but I'm trying to be philosophical. Wally is the same emotional & social age at nearly 19 that I was at about 24, and I remember clearly how much I wanted to distance myself from my parents. They've been gone almost 20 years and I miss them and appreciate them more than I ever expected to ... but I have to ask myself quite honestly whether these feelings would be here if they were still alive. I don't know if it's the loss or the natural development of maturity that causes us to appreciate our parents more. Most likely it's a combination of both, and it's not the same for everybody.

So I try to see the relationship with Wally through his eyes, and content myself with knowing that one day he will be in a very different place than he is now. He'll have a solid career, good earning potential, be in control of his own life, not dependent upon Doug or me, and able to see the humor and irony in some of the events of his still-young life.

I hope he will get to understand the truth -- about his father, about me, about Carl, about life in general.

And I accept that it may take a very long time. Click Here to Read More..

Monday, July 07, 2008

Integrity. I Haz It.

One of the traits I admire least about myself is wishy-washiness. I have plenty of strong opinions, but am often not willing to really stand behind them.

The local online group I frequent has one member named "Elizabeth." People either love her or hate her. She has been castigated, reviled, and compared to the Shelly Long character on "Cheers" - kind of snooty and pompous in some of the opinions she expresses. There's also a rather sharp division among this group between the liberals and the conservatives, and she has lined up time and again with the conservatives, all the while disclaiming any particular ideology. Some of her remarks have cut too close to the bone for forgiveness in the case of several other members. Elizabeth apparently sensed this because she went and created her own forum. One of the first people she contacted and invited to join was me, and this made me feel really strange because as far as I knew, I hadn't extended the hand of friendship to her. I remained noncommittal ("Gee, I'm so busy, I can't imagine when I might find time," etc.), but she was rather persistent, so I went and checked out the site, registered with a username and posted a few comments. A few others from the original forum have been active there. With all of this, Elizabeth has also maintained a presence on the original site. A few weeks ago I went head-to-head with one of the more reactionary personalities on there, who answered a straightforward question with sarcasm. Elizabeth spoke up in her insistent fashion and I thanked her publicly for defending me.

But recently, I shared lunch with two of the members that Elizabeth provoked the most hostility in. I admitted that I'd participated in her site, and realized I felt guilty, ashamed and uncomfortable about this because I genuinely care about the two people I was sitting there with, and overall had little or no regard for Elizabeth. So what was it that compelled me to accept her invitation in the first place? Basic wimpiness is the answer I come up with. I guess I like forums. Hers isn't terribly different from the one she spun off and there's really, truly no reason for me to be there.

Fortunately, a major news story broke a few days ago and when I read her take on it, it reaffirmed most emphatically how WRONG it would be for me to continue having any association with her whatsoever. Talk about wanting to take a shower -- hoo-wee, especially after my weekend in Ft. Lauderdale, getting back in touch with my liberal self. I did, in fact, take a shower, because I read her post first thing in the morning over coffee. I curtailed my usual perusal of news sites for the sole purpose of going onto my profile page and deleting my membership. No comments or anything; I just got out once and for all.

And then reached for the soap. Click Here to Read More..

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Restless and Dissatisfied

Not a bad weekend overall; just not feeling content.

As always, stressed about my work with the community. I've got the minutes from two recent meetings in front of me; they need to be transcribed before they get too stale to remember what the scribbles represent. Also need to organize the big binder to hold minutes and other documents, months by month. So all the paperwork I've accumulated so far is spread out on the floor.

I'm going to be leading a church service next month. No doubt I can put it together -- actually, it's one of those sink-or-swim, do-or-die situations where I can worry about it all I want but bottom line, I have to make it work.

I'm also worried about the role I play at church, for which I have always felt unqualified, and now I have an entire year to find out if that's true or not.

I worry about my job. Just a couple of months ago (and I should have known better than to ever do this) I was blogging about how it's such a great gig, best ever, etc etc. Earlier this month the entire job description was changed, and I don't know where it leaves me. And my annual review is coming up next month. My boss has a long memory. You make one mistake and she pins the whole review on that. Of course, I'm not that naive. Companies do this all the time in an effort to minimize the amount of money they have to pay you. And so I'm updating my resume on the major job search sites.

And then, of course, there's everything else. Like, the economy. The upcoming election. Which ties in with my job. If I lose this job, I'm probably going to be in some serious trouble.

Missing my cell phone and sunglasses, both of which were lost on the trip. Tomorrow I have to get over to the cell store and see how much this deal is going to cost me. Can't do anything about the glasses right now because my insurance is only good at eye doctors that have bankers' hours. First available day I can get an appointment will be Tuesday the 15th.

My health. I'm probably about 40 lbs overweight and it's really starting to have an effect. I have heartburn and acid reflux nearly all the time now -- it went a long way toward ruining this weekend for me. I lose sleep at night and find myself making it up at odd times during the day. This afternoon I sacked out on the couch and had a really vivid dream about my mother. Carl called to be picked up from work and after I hung up I just sat there blinking, trying to figure out what day it was and what planet I was on.

I started using St. John's Wort earlier in the month, recognizing that the depression was starting to creep back. It seems to have made a difference; I have more energy. But with the trip last week I got out of the habit of using it, and I think this gloomy little post is evidence. Better get back on track or my worries are going to turn into self-fulfilling prophecies. Click Here to Read More..