Sneaky.

I haven’t said much about it, but I suffer from depression and anxiety. I’ve been having a good stretch lately.

Then I woke up this morning.

I had errands to run today, things to do. Instead, it took me half an hour of giving myself a pep talk to get out of bed.

Depression is a sneaky bastard. It sees how well you’re doing and decides to take a sledgehammer to your kneecap.

The biggest hurdle I have to get over when I’m going through a tough time is telling myself it’s okay. It’s okay to take it easy, and avoid situations that make it worse. The more I beat myself up about it, the worse I feel.

This is just a reminder for me to give myself a break.

Moment of Zen.

I have a definitive moment that Jon Stewart made me feel better.

It was the first Chick fil-A day, started by Huckabee and it took off like wildfire. I remember thinking that it wouldn’t, this was coming from Huckabee after all. I had to run errands that afternoon, and Target is behind CFA. There was a cop directing traffic because the back up was that bad. I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach. How in the world were all these people okay with backing a CEO who donated money to pray the gay away camps for teens? How can all these people be so callous? I was feeling pretty down about it the rest of the day, except for seeing all the CFA people in Target, an LBGT friendly company. I sat down to watch Jon Stewart the next day, as I usually do, and saw this:

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I laughed. A lot. I felt better. There are numerous times Jon Stewart’s commentary on fucked up political shit have made me feel hopeful. That no matter how many backwards people there were, progress was happening.

I often said that Jon Stewart is never allowed to leave, because he’s the only one able to verbalize what I feel and am unable to. He can’t stay forever, unfortunately. I’m so sad he’s retiring, but optimistic that they’ll find a suitable successor.

May I suggest Amy Poehler?

An American Tale.

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This past weekend, American Sniper was #1 at the box office. No one expected that kind of turnout. It’s good, that Americans are going to see a movie about a service member. However, Kyle’s legacy is, as the Washington Post said, unverifiable.

Let me say first and foremost that Chris Kyle was a hero. He put on a uniform, he served his country. He was deployed multiple times and received medals for his service.

His proven actions need no embellishment. Somehow, Kyle became a legend, a superhero. I think he was scared of not living up to the hype, or letting people down. So, he made up a few stories. There’s the sniping of looters after hurricane Katrina, the killing of two carjackers in Texas, and the most famous, punching Jesse Ventura in a bar for bashing the military.

Although reporters tried to verify his Katrina and Texas stories, they could not. That’s not to say it didn’t happen, but in all likelihood, it did not. Ventura brought a suit against Kyle posthumously and won. Ventura says he was concerned with the anti military comments Kyle said he made, and wanted to set the record straight. If that were the issue, he could have sued for $1, not the $1.8 million he ultimately won. I digress.

Kyle was killed in 2013 by a veteran he was mentoring. The veteran had PTSD, and that may have played a factor in the shooting.

Most of the criticism I’ve seen from the film is the portrayal of Kyle as superhuman. Even in death, he’s expected to be a legend.

Washington Post article: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/07/30/the-complicated-but-unveriable-legacy-of-chris-kyle-the-deadliest-sniper-in-american-history/

Funny; the Things You Think of.

My 91 year old grandmother was admitted to the hospital this morning. My dad called me to let me know they were heading there. I don’t know all the details, but it’s serious. Given her advanced age, I don’t know what can be done.

I’ve been fairly estranged from these grandparents for years. Even after my mother started talking to them again, I did not. I still got birthday cards and Xmas cards. I never initiated contact though. I can’t decide if I feel guilty.

My grandmother, even in her 1950’s mindset, is kind of impressive. She had 8 kids, was an Army wife, and emigrated from Germany just before World War 2. She put up with my grandfather all these years, who is yelling in pretty much every memory I have. The only two memories of him not yelling I have is when we visited after a long absence, 9 years, and he was so happy. The other was him talking about the nuclear blast testing he was subjected to in Nevada while he was in the Army.

She took care of 8 kids in a fairly small home, had dinner on the table every night. I can’t remember eating her cooking, but I remember the food smells. She loves musicals, she’d often talk about The King and I or The Sound of Music. A vivid memory I have is watching The Sound of Music at my grandparent’s house with my cousin Arthur. He had a plate of ice cream and was slowly stirring it to let it melt so he could drink it. I was annoyed at this. We used to go to my grandparent’s every Christmas Eve. We’d get dressed up, and sing songs, and usually stay the night. One year I tried the “special” egg nog and swore it off forever. There are still annual family reunions and everyone still goes to their house on Christmas Eve.

Up until last year, she and my great aunt Hertha had shopping dates every week. I always tried to picture my 90 year old grandmother and her sister, who is in her late 80’s, gallivanting around town. I couldn’t.

We lived with her for a year when my dad was in Korea. I don’t remember this, I was 1. She always seemed a little distant, but I never remember doubting her love for her grandkids and children.

I guess it was just hard to talk to her. Every time, it just felt like opening old wounds and it was painful. Sometimes I wish I had never been privy to the secret that made me pull away. I don’t know that I would have told Rogue, if I had been in the same situation. Or waited til he was older. My mother kept her up to date on me and my sister, and vice versa.

I guess I just hope she’s not in pain. I hope if something can be done, it will be. I hope she holds on til my mother gets there.

Midnight Radio.

The New Year is upon us. I glanced at my resolutions from last year. I didn’t do horrible, but some things I forgot about and didn’t even attempt.

So, the same failed ones for 2015? Nope. I have two.

Read books off Stephen King’s recommended reading list. I have only read 12.

Be kinder. To myself, to others.

That’s it. Easy, right?

I leave you with my favorite song from Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

So hold onto each other. You gotta hold on tonight.

Happy New Year’s.

Crash This Train.

The CIA torture report came out.  It’s not shocking, which in itself is scary, but full of things that should not have been allowed to happen.

Before you say “they were terrorists, they deserved it”, I give you this:  Torture does not only hurt the tortured.  It makes the people doling out the torture less than they are. It makes the country less than it is. Torture does not work. We didn’t get one iota of helpful information by using these methods. It was about angry people in positions of power crossing the line again and again. The whole argument of “look what they’ve done to us” isn’t valid. Yes, terrorists are evil horrible people. So why in the hell would we be okay with getting on their level?

Look at all the horrible things Nazis did during World War 2. The CIA didn’t perform experiments on people, or do a lot of the things they did. However, physicians assisted the CIA in this venture, hence the rectal feeding.

Nothing will come of this report. No one will be charged with war crimes. The few people who even paid attention to the report will dismiss it as a “dark time” in our history and turn the page. It’s despicable.

Australia had a hostage situation the other day, 3 people were killed. A Muslim extremist led the charge. People in Sydney were so concerned for the Muslim population, the hashtag I’ll Ride With You evolved.  If that happened in America, the hashtag would have been something like #removeyourheadscarfinpublic or #muslimsareterrorists. Just another glaring example of how Australians are better than us.

If we keep accepting all these atrocities that we as a country commit, it’s never going to get better. Perhaps if people weren’t treated like treasonists for disagreeing with the government, there’d be more speaking out.

We Can’t Breathe.

It’s almost 2015. 149 years after the end of slavery. You would think, or hope, that racism was dead. Not even close, and this is coming from a white woman.

The well publicized killings of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and Tamir Rice prove that it’s not. Eric Garner was a father of six, a grandfather. NYPD officers used an illegal chokehold to prevent him from the dastardly crime of selling untaxed cigarettes. He died of a heart attack. Last week the grand jury decided not to indict these officers. On anything. His death was caught on video. His last words were a repeated “I can’t breathe”. They let him die, they didn’t administer first aid. If you were a citizen who did the same thing as the officers, you would be charged with felony murder for causing death, even if that wasn’t your intention.

Tamir Brown was a 12 year old boy playing with an Airsoft gun. By himself, allegedly pointing it at people. The officers responding to a disturbance call claim they told him to put the gun down 3 times. There is a video that shows them rolling up 2 seconds before shooting him. He didn’t point a gun at them, as they claim. He wasn’t 20 years old, as one officer said over the radio.

Michael Brown. This one hit close to home for me. I drive by Ferguson on my way home to visit. Michael Brown was getting ready to go to college. Darren Wilson shot him multiple times, as he was running away. He claimed Brown had punched him many times in the face, although his “injuries” show nothing. The grand jury decided not to indict in this case either, with the smug McCulloch reading a long statement about “misinformation” and not bowing to public opinion. Social media killed Brown, in his opinion, not Darren Wilson.

The biggest thing that bothers me in all these cases? People implying if the victims were white, the outcome would be the same. It’s not racism, it’s criminal behavior. Do you know what the difference if any of the victims were white? There wouldn’t be a case to debate. None of this would ever happen to a white person. In any of the scenarios, if they were apprehended by police, they would be maybe in jail. That’s a huge maybe.  Not in the ground.

People have gone the way the people during the Civil Rights movement did. Protesting, die ins, etc. I’m not talking about the looters, they don’t fit into the category. Many have been arrested, which shouldn’t be a surprise.

I am angered and saddened by all this. Me, a white woman who has never faced racism a day in her life. Imagine how all of the people of color feel.

Martin Luther King Jr said in his famous Dream speech that he hoped one day his children would be judged by the content of their character, and not the color of their skin. Many people think we’ve already reached that day. Those of our who aren’t ignorant are still waiting for that day to come.

Thanksgiving.

I know there’s a lot going on. Ferguson especially. I’m still not ready to talk about the horrible disappointment and sadness I feel with my home state. I am not black, and as pained as I feel over this, I can’t imagine how a person of color feels right now. I’m guessing scared fits into that somewhere. It’s unfair, it’s ridiculous, and it’s horrible. I will talk about it. Just not right now.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday. Probably because it’s the only one we celebrated when I was growing up. That and food. My grandma died the day after Thanksgiving in 2006, so now it’s a little bittersweet. I usually think about the garlic mashed potatoes she used to make on Thanksgiving that had two heads of garlic in it. I cried the first time I ate it. My grandma was a good cook, mostly Southern dishes. She had way too much love for garlic. I think she made the potatoes that way so she’d get them all to herself. I can respect that.

If we can swing it, meaning funds and my husband getting leave from work, we usually head to my parents’. My sister comes over, and I make the cranberry sauce. Not the kind out of the can. I simmer them in orange juice, truvia, and water all day. A recipe tweak my dad made when I was diagnosed with diabetes at 7. I rip up bread for stuffing, my sister “helps”. It takes her 10 minutes to tear up a piece of bread. There’s football and parades on the television, and the house smells great all day. My husband usually eats half the green bean casserole himself. It’s a good day.

This year is my first year doing Thanksgiving alone. Well, not alone, just me and my kid. After our last plane ride, I’m not anxious to get on a plane to my parents’ with him. My husband is deployed. I thought I’d get sad and whiny about it. But, I’m okay. I have a roof over my head, all the Thanksgiving fixings. I got the smallest turkey I’ve ever seen, weighing in at 5 1/2 pounds. I’m tweaking my dad’s stuffing recipe and my kid is going to help me cook. Well, as much as a crazy 3 year old can. We’re going to watch Charlie Brown and the parades and football. My parents are calling in the afternoon to talk to us.  Just hang out. He keeps asking me about the pie I’m making, you know, the important stuff.

First alone Thanksgiving at 29 years old? Not bad.

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Scary Stuff.

0000 blasphemy

I was raised in a pretty strict religious environment. Not as strict as some faiths, but still fairly rigid. We were told not to befriend outsiders, not get involved in anything at school that means more time with unbelievers, etc. I honestly blame a lot of my social anxiety on those teachings, and my mother’s determination to follow it to the letter. My dad wasn’t involved in the religion, but he really liked the no dating until you’re ready for marriage aspect, so he let my mom take us.

The people at the lovely Kingdom Hall are not bad people. They’re warm, friendly, honest to a fault. Provided you follow the rules. I can’t count how many times someone was ‘marked’, meaning they couldn’t socialize with others outside church; I think they’ve changed that phrase, or disfellowshipped. Usually over something stupid. Dating a non believer, marrying one. Having premarital sex. You got a warning, the marking, and if you didn’t change what you were doing, you were out. Disfellowshipping means no talking to anyone. You can still come to the meeting, as Witnesses call them, but you arrive and leave quietly. Preferably before the ending prayer is over, lest anyone have to be uncomfortable with your presence.

You know how you watch a scary movie be jumpy for a night and get over it? Yeah, not me. I watched The Ring at a sleepover I had to beg to go to and couldn’t sleep for a week. Why, you ask? Being taught that watching those kind of movies opens a door and invites demons in will sort of ruin it for you. My mother had my father’s copy of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom outside because she didn’t want spirits in the house. It took me 5 years to get that fear out of my head.

That’s the other fun side effect of being indoctrinated. The first few years you stop going, you feel like you’re detoxing. All the irrational fears and idiotic rules still feel like it’s wrong to disbelieve and break them. Oh, and forget about exploring other religions. When you’re constantly told that all other religions are wrong, they feel wrong. If I weren’t an atheist now, I could probably objectively study other religions and see if they fit without feeling like I was sinning. 11 years later. I would say I was mostly deprogrammed after 7 years. I still catch a thought pop into my head when I’m doing something that goes against that particular faith. Like eating a medium rare steak. I wish I were kidding.

I’m all for believing what you want. You should be able to. I don’t think you should be allowed to force your children into believing it too. Or inserting it into politics. One of the Witnesses’ “signs of the end times” is religions being abolished. I wish. I have a really hard time accepting religion when I see toddlers being forced to hold up signs that say “abortion is murder” on Sunday afternoon at the mall. The most free and clear headed I have ever felt has been these past few years, when I discovered how lovely it was to believe in nothing. Other than science and the inherent goodness of people. At least my faith in science doesn’t waver. People, it depends on the day.

I say deprogramming and indoctrination a lot. I don’t mean that the Jehovah’s Witnesses are a cult, because they aren’t. If they are, all religion should be considered a cult. They don’t do anything other faiths don’t do. The rapture nightmares I’ve heard from so many people, for example. I am glad I was not taught that. Scary stuff.

Us taking R out trick or treating or putting up a tree get a lot of “you know it’s Pagan, right?” Yes, I do.

Pagan and fun.

Gone Girl; Or Why Being the Cool Girl is Bullshit.

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Warning: Spoilers.

I suppose these questions stormcloud over every marriage: What are you thinking? How are you feeling? Who are you? What have we done to each other? What will we do?

So begins Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. Easily one of the most twisted, intriguing books I’ve read in the past few years. I went to see the movie today.

The casting for Gone Girl was perfect. Ben Affleck as douchebag Nick, for one. My personal disdain for Affleck probably colors this a bit. I love Rosamund Pike. I thought she portrayed Amy well. The only criticism I have is Amy was above it all, but relatable. Pike is too untouchable. I thought the scenes she really shone in were her life in the river cabins, post disappearance. Her fear at being hit and robbed, gave you the illusion she wasn’t quite as clever as she thought.

This film is the best adaptation of a book I think I have ever seen. Gillian Flynn writing the screenplay adds to that, I’m sure. Everything important was left, insignificant details were left out. Amy is not featured as heavily as she is in the book, it is more about Nick. Amy gets the last word in the book, not so in the movie.

I will admit, I was squeamish about Neil Patrick Harris playing Desi.  As creepy as he is in the book,  I was afraid I would never be able to look at Harris the same. This was one of the parts the editing really worked. Desi was just creepy enough to unnerve you, but not so creepy that you’d want to immediately shower.

Amy is such a beautifully flawed, vindictive, multi layered character.  I should probably not admit this, but I liked her.  I somewhat understood her need to teach her husband a lesson. Not go as far as she did, maybe just disappear for a few days and show back up to give him a jolt, but not a national scene. You sort of have to admire her determination and resolve. She decides to do it, she does it. In this, the tables are turned. Rather than the mistress turning the man’s life into hell, a la Fatal Attraction, the wife does.

A lot of women I know have confessed to relating to Amy.  If for nothing else but the “cool girl” speech from the book. I think all women have aspired to be the cool girl, not nag, be their husband’s buddy in that aspect. “My wife is so cool”.  Let me tell you something about being the cool girl. It’s bullshit. Deep down, every cool girl is seething and wanting to rage. Incidentally, this is what happens to Amy. She completely changes herself to be exactly who her husband wants, and he cheats on her anyway. That’s the breaking point.

Nick deserves a touch of credit. Him deciding to turn the tables and lure Amy home is brilliant.  Ben Affleck did a decent job of playing the stoic, uncomfortable in his own skin husband. Even though he wins in a sense, getting Amy home and not being charged with her murder, she is still pulling the strings.

In the end, even over Nick’s half hearted protestations, I think they both get what they want.

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