Monday, June 23, 2008

In Memoriam

""Over the last two weeks, we have lost two of the most influential people in my life; Tim Russert, and George Carlin. I am heartbroken, which I guess is fitting in that they both died of heart failure.

""I didn't know that Tim Russert's death would have such an impact on me. When I learned of it, I cried and got goose bumps instantly, and continued to do so every time it was mentioned on any broadcast or show that I saw. I had no idea that I relied so heavily on his perspective on the world arena. How much I appreciated the questions that dared to ask. They were sometimes so smart, that I wouldn't have known to ask them, but every time, they cut past the crap and got to the heart of the matter so that the answers, when he courageously pressed for them would answer exactly whatever it was that I was trying to figure out about a topic. And always, he did it with heart, and true concern for our country and the direction we were headed in. I didn't expect to be deeply touched by the death of Tim Russert, and yet I was.

""George Carlin, on the other hand, didn't surprise me at all. He was my first stand-up comic. And like a virgin who's first man was hung like a walrus, I was forever changed. Now, to my mother's defence, she was a single parent working two jobs when I, at the tender age of 11, had my life roto-rootered by "Carlin at Carnegie". Much to my mother's consternation, he is the root cause of why I am a true vulgarian. After that special; I became a stand-up comedy junkie, said the dreaded 'F word' like one would say their name (causing countless phone calls from countless other 11 year olds' mothers), and have always had a special place in my heart & soul for the irreverent and irascible but somehow lovable Carlin no matter what he was doing. You know it's love when you can forgive him for voicing a character on "Thomas the Tank Engine".

""Tim and George both taught me to ask questions even if they were tough ones, and to never 'just accept' what the government told us. And maybe even more importantly, they taught me to care about the answers. They drove home my concept of thinking outside the box and being able to laugh sometimes at what is inside said box.

""I shudder to think what will happen to this country without Tim & George having the courage and intelligence to ask the questions and let us all in on what they've come up with. Thank you for your work, my unbeknownst-to-you friends. Condolences to all of us that have to go on without you both. I hope we don't fuck up too badly without you here.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


There are many things we do and say in this world; and it can be exhausting to realize that a huge majority of them have an impact on the people in our lives as well as ourselves.

I have made no secret of the fact that my ex-husband and I... well, to put it nicely, we didn't play well together. Since our separation, we have gotten along much better, causing me at one point to say that if we acted like this during our marriage, we'd still be together. But, habits in a relationship are ingrained deeply and do not change regardless of the myriad of circumstances that change around it.

Three months ago, I had the unusual experience of being able to visit my daughter for two weeks. Unusual in both the sense that I don't often have the money to fly myself & my son out for two weeks, and even more unusual in the fact that I was to spend those two weeks staying with my ex-husband and my daughter in their home.

Many things were instantly familiar; the banter in the car ride from the airport, the furniture when we got to the apartment, the food my ex had planned for our 'welcome dinner' and the type of music and movies that he enjoyed & wanted to share with me when I was there.
I had ample opportunities to spend time with my daughter and see her in her day-to-day life & what she was up to. I enjoyed all the amenities that I'd been doing without, such as satellite TV, movie channels and a dishwasher. All in all, it was a very pleasant visit. All the same, I couldn't wait to get home to my single-wide in the country with hand washed dishes & the aerial TV antenna.

I wasn't sure why I was desperate to leave the relative Shangra-La of my daughter's home until I got back to mine. For all the things that had changed with myself & my ex (the biggest being our mutual sobriety!) our dynamic hadn't changed at all, save that we were now polite, and not flicking lit cigarettes at each other in rage.

I realized this most acutely last night, when he got on the phone during my nightly call to my girl to speak to me about our daughter. Under this guise, he proceeded to give a run-down of my mistakes and shortcomings going all the way back to when we were dating some twelve odd years before; supposedly in an effort to illustrate how I was not living up to his standard of motherhood--to a child that lives 1200 miles away from her mother.

I allowed him to scold me like an errant child, until it finally dawned on me that this was not about our daughter, but about him continuing our set-pattern, IE: his verbally beating me down and me submitting to the ego-whipping. Something within me acted before my conscious thought caught up, and I hung up on him in the middle of his listing my transgressions. Afterwards, I sat on the couch, phone in hand, and tried to turn my boiling anger down to a simmer and see what was really going on. Our communication dynamic was the same as it had been for so many years, that is to say scolding and verbally cruel. It had just gotten quieter and no one was slurring.

I was pleased with my subconscious for no longer accepting the old ugly and cutting it off at the knees with the push of a button. And while I realize and accept that I have made many mistakes throughout my life, I have also made some really good choices, and that the more I follow my heart and take my past experiences into account, the more good choices I make.

I can refuse to keep allowing myself and others to beat me over those past mistakes and the ones I will make in the future. I can also learn from them and move on toward more 'right moves' by keeping a few things in mind. First, what you say and do affects someone else most of the time and yourself always. What you put out into the universe will always come back to you be it ugly or beautiful. You don't need anything physical to beat someone up, hurtful words can do way more damage than broken bones & bruises and their effects almost always last longer. Lastly, and this is important, so pay attention... the more you allow beatings, the more they will happen, and you don't have to accept being beat-up by anyone especially yourself.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Parenting Craziness

I believe, that no matter what you do, parenting makes you crazy. Not insane, like my last post... you can hide insane and be functional in the world. I mean crazy like pull your hair out, scream like a banshee, call the ambulance & tell them to bring a straitjacket: Crazy.

It starts in pregnancy: all the do's & don'ts of taking care of your body and setting up the space for the baby and how all of this will effect your relationship, add the hormone hell a woman goes through... excited, but crazy.

Then you have the child and it comes home; bigger do's and don'ts and how-do-I's. Add the well-wishing guests that drop by without calling and say and do things to make you want to kick them all the way out the door and down the driveway mainly because of the new round of hormone hell you are in and the severe to the point that Navy Seals are dropping like flies exhaustion...excited but tired and crazier.

Then they become toddlers: more expansive do's and don'ts, the kind that involve poison control numbers, electrocution, and emergency trips to the er & doctor's office. They need bigger badder gadgets that take Mensa membership to assemble. They start watching educational television, which is very good for them and yet, melts your brain like soft butter on a full open burner. They walk and get into everything including, but not limited to; the cat food & litter box, the kitchen cabinets, dvd & cd collection, bathroom cabinets, the toilet and anything else that is 3 1/2 feet high or less. Unless you've got a climber, and then the cut off height and the level of panic goes up exponentially...excited, tired, brain-dead and crazier.

Then they start school. Now the do's & don'ts are less common sense and more personal-style invasive. You are angry with their classmates for not being nicer to your child on the playground and frustrated that the teacher doesn't get to paddle children that don't share the blue crayon with your child. They can't wait to start loosing their precious baby teeth like the big kids, and you can barely remember how they got from newborn to school-aged so fast. You run around every morning like a chicken with it's head cut off to get everyone out the door on time...excited, tired, half brain-dead, hyper-protective and crazier.

Next thing you know, they're in 5th grade. They fight over doing homework, want money for lunches instead of taking one cause it's cooler, and have multiple permission forms that need to be signed and returned or you're child will sit in the Principal's office with a book cause their parent didn't remember to put the slip into the backpack that weighs 37 lbs. Instead, their parent handed it to them and expected them to put it in their own backpack. They start talking back in a tone that makes you want to knock the rest of their baby teeth down their throat. You have become an embarrassment overnight and they get away from you with the speed of a roller-derby queen on meth to go to any other aisle to pick out their own movies at the video store. They will try every time to get at least one R-rated movie past you. You are chauffeuring them to so many non-school activities that you have a calendar on the fridge to keep everything straight & heaven forbid you forget to make 75 cupcakes for the underwater-basket-weaving team which you didn't know until last night that you were responsible for bringing...enthused, forgetful, trying to keep up and be hip so they will still throw you a hug from time to time as long as it's not in front of anyone, and crazier.

Before you've blinked twice, it's senior year. You're arguing about college applications. You're wondering if you can get college funding, but first you're wondering if you can get senior picture, yearbook, cap & gown and prom funding. You see more of the back of your child's friends' heads in your refrigerator than you see your own child, in fact it's been so long since you've seen your child that you wonder if their friends ate them for their X-Box and just haven't left yet. You pass your child's room and see a circle of friends around the computer chair, and you hope your child is in there and is not cyber-bullying anyone or being cyber-bullied by anyone or looking at anyone naked. Then you remember that you actually saw them two days ago mumbling something about needing $40 dollars as they were scrounging in your wallet. As it has been two days, you know you will see your child today for more money from the Parental Unit Bank & Trust... where they trust that the parental units will always be their endless supply of cash to supplement their income as they bust their butts at work -- all 12 hours a week at minimum wage. You thank your lucky stars they can afford their own gas and manage to find their shoes. Every night they come home sober you fall to your knees and thank God for keeping your child safe and then immediately worry that they weren't sober earlier, they were just smart enough to come home sober. You take a deep breath and try to be thankful that at least they're that smart and at the same time worry what they're up to that you haven't caught on to yet or heard about being done by kids their age on the 'Panic Now News'. You're interested, have old-timer's disease, are trying to stay out of the way so you don't get run over while also figuring out how to pay for it all, and crazier.

Then one day, you get the call... that they are going to be a parent, and you smile to yourself as you hang up the phone. First, you know about all the beautiful wonderful memories and the way that having a child will change you and your life and your world forever and you are thankful that they'll get to experience the wonder of it all. And then you smile even bigger as a chuckle escapes your throat, because the mother's curse always works ("I hope one day you grow up to have a child that acts just like you!"), it always comes with interest, and now they get to be crazy too.

Sunday, June 8, 2008


Talk to anyone who has ever been at a 12 step meeting, and if they remember nothing else, they will be able to quote, "insanity is continuing to do the same thing and expecting different results."

Initially, they mean; continue to use, your life will continue to be a disaster area, but what about after you're sober? I'm glad to say that I have long ago given up drinking to excess and smoking pot daily till I'm glued to whatever piece of furninture I happened to be sitting in when I started toking. And yet, my insanity continues in other areas of my life. Specifically, I still give all of my life over to my men and expect them to respect me.

When I do this, mind you it takes time, I eventually get lost in doing for them. I get lost in supporting their interests, furthering their causes and making their lives as comfortable as I am able. Over time, I become a favorite chair with their butt print in the seat cushion. They spill their food & drinks on me & sit on me with greasy pants from working on the car. No matter how many times I'm wiped up or vacuumed, I'm still stained and smell vaguely of sweat and hot sauce. After awhile, I'm worn out from them not putting the leg rest up & down properly. And never would a 'normal' person ask the opinion of a chair--at least not seriously. Nor do they discuss their day with a chair. And once it becomes stained and well used, they no longer show the chair any respect. For that matter, they don't even really see the chair anymore, they just know where it's suppossed to be and expect it to be there waiting the next time they go to sit in it. I won't even mention the pain in the ass the chair can be when it needs cleaning or you want to rearrange the living room.

I have decided to take concious steps to not be a chair. I have to remember and care for myself with love and kindness so others will do the same even if what I need conflicts with what others need. I need to fuel my own interests, not only fan the flames of the interests of people around me; espically if I have no interest in their interests. I need to respect myself so others will continue to see me as someone worthy of respect. I need to assert my opinion even when it differs from other people's if I feel strongly about it. Because once you become a chair in your homelife, you become a chair in public and most people are not in any way respectful of a chair on the side of the road; in fact you may even get moved over next to the trashcans.

So in my homelife, I am conciously going to work to bring the healthy balance back to right. I may still be my man's chair, but I've got a clean silk covering, my cushions are not dented or misshapen and my leg rest works like new-- and he needs to be my couch! I promise to treat him as if he is also covered in clean silk with new cushions. That way we can both start living In-Sanity; it's a much happier place to be.

Why white trash has nothing to do with money

Being a white trash woman has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with money and everything to do with life choices.

I could be a millionaire, and it wouldn't change the things I've done. I've come to learn the truth about white trash, and that truth is, that most people have things in their past that could give them white trash status.
Mind you, there are plenty of outward signs of white trash that lend itself to the stereotype. But I'm not talking about those. As was pointed out in a comment to my prior post, I don't have kids that think that underwear is normal all day everyday go anywhere apparel. Also, Jeff Foxworthy's '...redneck' comments and observations lend itself heartily to the stereotype.

I do believe that white trash implies a certain disregard of the rules of ettiquette & mores of general society. It has also been pointed out to me recently, that you may not know what those are depending on how you are raised.
So it occurred to me that it may not be so much what you do, but whom you do it around. Maybe. See, in the family that I grew up around, I am most definately, without doubt or reservation; White Trash (capitalized white trash, in case you missed that part)! However, in my husband's family, I am most decidedly NOT white trash, in fact, some of my day to day behavior lends to the belief that I can be quite hoity-toity.

I love my husband's family for a fair number of things. Most of all, because they are without pretense. What you see is what you get, hell be damned if you don't like it. To them I'm not trash, I've merely made some bad decisions, and who the hell hasn't? I've got a good heart, and for all my 'uptown' ways, that's all that matters to them.

My family, on the opposite end of the spectrum, is all about the manners & the appearance and for the most part, are the most protencious bunch of people I know. They have beautiful warm hearts, they're just burried under 3 feet of ettiquitte, strict morals, and judgement of others. Poor decisions are not looked upon very kindly, espically when the general belief is contrary to that action. If it looks bad enough, it is punishable by disownment.

Example for you... I was living with my ex-husband, who made good money, and our daughter. We bought a new home, had nice furniture & drove pretty decent cars. I worked for the state and my income was gravy. My daughter had all kinds of toys and a nice yard to play in. Yes, it looked good, nearly great. But what was hidden on the inside was a verbally & physically abusive marriage fueled by alcohol & drugs. And yet, even as the cracks showed to my family, they approved, were good to us and were in very regular contact with our little piece of good looking hell.

Well, I finally left that marriage and after a few short months, I met my second husband. I was separated but not divorced when I gave up my job and came with him to Texas. We were pregnant almost immediately, and together with our son on the way, we moved into his inherited single wide trailer 5 miles from the nearest town. I no longer work outside the home, it is normal to go outside to the porch and see chickens in the yard and cows over the back fence. My current husband makes a fraction of what my ex-husband used to make. We have one car, a little gas sipper that he commutes with and we all squeeze into on family outtings. And on the inside? We have a healthy relationship of mutual respect and love. We don't drink or do any drugs and we raise our son in love instead of the shouting & punching matches that my daughter had to witness. But it looks poor and amoral from the family viewpoint that I was running off with a new man & having his baby while the divorce from my ex-husband wasn't final. I've been all but disowned.

I've seen both sides. I've lived them both with all that is in me. I was raised with manners and attention to the morals that our family adhered to, so I can understand all about, "how it looks".

That is why I know full well that dirt-poor and white trash have nothing to do with one another unless you let them; or unless you have been surrounded by judgemental people your whole life.

And, that is also why I'll be happy to be considered White Trash by my family for the rest of my life; cause I no longer give a damn about how it looks over the reality of what goes on behind the scenes...and I'm still waitin on my lotto ticket to hit--so I can get a bigger ashtray.

Learning to love myself

I'm learning to love myself; warts and all. Not that I actually have warts, but when one becomes aware of one's white trash status, you have to dig deep to still love yourself.

If still is the correct terminology... somehow, I wonder if I've ever loved myself in a healthy, balanced way. Was I ever good enough or smart enough or pretty enough. Oh, from time to time others have told me all of the above, but have I ever really believed it?... not really. I believed that they believed it, and how sad for them.

Truth is, how sad is it to live all day, everyday in a body you don't like, thinking how you should have done everything better; from housekeeping to past relationships.

How sad for me that I didn't recognize within myself the cool or smart or pretty things that others saw. I'm not looking for a pity party here, that's not what I mean at all. What I do mean, is that we are all given gifts and we are all given faults; on that one particular playing field, every human being on earth is even.

So, I've decided to give myself a break. Like I would do for any one of my good friends. I have decided that for me to be happy in this life, I have to be the best friend I have, in spite of all my gifts and all of my faults.

Who knows, maybe one day I'll even like me enough to take me home & show me off to the folks.

White Trash Woman

It is so amazing to be just tooling through life to suddenly one day realize that you are white trash.

I don't know how it happened. I came from a good home. My parents were both professionals in NJ and they stressed repeatedly the mantra, "Get An Education!!!" I'd never even seen a trailer up close and personal. I have a good vocabulary and all of my teeth. I wasn't pregnant by 14, and finally, the only time I'd been to Florida was to visit DisneyWorld. These were the prequalifications to being white trash, as I knew it and I didn't fit any of them. So, it never occurred to me that I was headed for a life that in so many ways could have me as a regular on Jerry Springer. At least to an outsider's perspective.

Since I was busy living my sordid life, I never realized what it would possibly look to someone that didn't know me and my struggles. I finally saw it one day in a conversation with my sister, when I listed my many past actions and came to the startling conclusion, which burst forth from my mouth in an anguished, astonished shout, "Oh My God!!!! I am white trash!" My sister gave a giggle at my realization and said that I wasn't until I pointed out that if I was talking about someone we didn't know, we would have been sure that the person I was describing fit all of the above listed stereotypes.

I haven't broken the news to my parents yet that they have raised a white trash woman. They will be devastated, so I have omitted certain circumstances of &/or actions that I've taken in my life. I've let them live in their little bubble. That's all about to change...

Mom, Dad... pass the honey baked ham & an ashtray, now have a seat on the front porch of my singlewide, I've got something to tell you....

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