Limbaugh tried to insult, but only got Fluked

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kate magic“Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic; capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.”

These words were spoken to Harry by Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the eighth and final Harry Potter movie.  The magic had ceased, the enchantments silenced, and the splendor of Harry’s and his friend’s supernatural journey of spells, witchcraft, and wizardry had come to an end.  In their final meeting, where he speaks to Harry from beyond the grave, Dumbledore reminds Harry that at the conclusion of this journey it’s our words that hold the true magic.  If you don’t believe me, think of how your child feels after a chastisement or after you praise him. Think of how your spouse feels when you are being overly critical. Think about how you feel when someone praises you…or says something unkind to you that just cuts to the quick.  How do you feel after reading a good book or when your carefully chosen words show empathy or understanding? That is precisely why words are magic.  Sounds, letters, and words are all innocent and benign on their own, but when combined with tone or inflection, words can raise us up…or tear us down.  It takes no wave of a wand.  Words–whether spoken or written–anticipate a desired response, but what happens when one doesn’t give the desired response?  Who then holds the power?

I have watched and listened as Rush Limbaugh has been made a national crisis in the midst of one of the most pathetic presidential races of my life. The Republican candidates have been spewing religious and racial verbal vomit and calling it politics, rather than taking on the critical issues of unemployment, lack of substantial job creation, and the fact  a country in the Middle East living in 10 A.D. is getting ever so close to having nuclear power, if it doesn’t already.  Rush Limbaugh then rears his ugly, fat head and calls Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke a slut and a prostitute.  All hell broke loose in a firestorm of public outcry. Over the last week, I have heard more about my own ability, obligation, and right not to procreate, as well as where to find suitable and affordable contraception than I care to. The right and left knocked over all of us in the center. Everyone was upset–from my liberal friends (who felt Limbaugh needed to be shot at dawn) to those who shape public policy; they demanded he publicly apologize, and he did so (in a lame tweet) more to preserve the financial backing of his remaining sponsors and to maintain airtime from the affiliates that had not left him than out of remorse.  Everyone expected and demanded it…except Sandra Fluke.

I have never been an advocate of political correctness, but I do believe a certain sense of decency and respect is a moral imperative–or at least an obligation–in a country where the first amendment is so cherished and protected.  I also feel there exists a right to be stupid; even the Rush Limbaughs who dwell among us have that right.

What Limbaugh said could hardly be considered hate speech; he threatened no violence towards Ms. Fluke or any prostitute for that matter, nor did a riot break out resulting in injury or death on account of his stupid remark. And that’s what it was: stupid. His remarks stemmed from  frustration due to lack of a cogent argument in regards to Fluke’s stating her views on women’s health, specifically the fact birth control should remain accessible and affordable regardless of where one is employed.

Sandra Fluke remained silent, but no response is certainly a response— and a powerful one. She demanded no public apology.  She did not furiously hurl insults back in an angry or tearful knee jerk reaction.  I wish she had explained to Limbaugh that he whores himself for ratings and an exorbitant paycheck by saying exactly what the redneck, bible toting, conservative right wing constituency that is truly a blight on the United States wants and pays him to  say, and that in itself is the biggest form of prostitution that I’ve ever seen.  Talk about projectile projection. But she didn’t go there. She had a perfect platform in the public eye to accomplish this, but she did not defend herself. Her 15 minutes are now up, but the way she handled this ugly situation will be forever be burned upon my brainpan.  She chose to not make herself a victim and it was the most amazing demonstration of grace, character, and wisdom that I have ever witnessed.  In a sense many of his critics not only wanted a contrite apology from Limbaugh, but also demanded Fluke be hurt and angry. But she chose not to give his words power, thus he had no control over her.

Many in my community and the nation at large gave Rush Limbaugh’s words power, and by doing so gave him more power than he deserves.  It resulted in fueling his ego and boosting his ratings temporarily. He is still on the air along with Don Imus, Howard Stern, and Michael Savage.  Why? Because we have given them power to use their words, their disembodied voices, on radio talk shows that tend to fuel hate, cause hurt, and to make others feel small.

As I stated earlier, I am not a PC proponent; we must always be free to speak our minds and share our beliefs, but with that comes a certain responsibility.  Whether one chooses to exercise that responsibility is up to the individual. I disagree that Limbaugh, or anyone else who speaks his or her mind or who speaks on behalf of others, should be banned, fired, figuratively muzzled, or forced to apologize. I do believe that if we simply stopped playing the helpless victims, allowing our sensitive egos to be bruised by mere words, they’d lose their power to hurt and insult. By that I mean, we are responsible for the power we give to words and to those who speak or write them. The result would be that people like Rush Limbaugh would simply go away.

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Loving in Reverse and Dreaming in Color

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heartI love when I read a book, story, or play and find a resonating or universal theme that stays in my mind for days.  I enjoy mulling it over and allowing it to marinate for awhile, applying it to my own life to somehow become more cognizant of who I am or strive to be.

Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh is one play that has stuck with me. If you aren’t familiar with the play, it takes place in Harry Hope’s bar whose patrons, mired in their lack of purpose, seek oblivion in each other’s company and by getting drunk.  Their pontification of their personal pipe dreams is their sole impetus for living at all.

One of the characters, Hickey, kills his wife before showing up late one evening at the bar.  Hickey is a philandering alcoholic whose wife forgives him over and over for his marital transgressions and alcoholism; her devotion unwavering.  His pipe dream is his reformation and his admission of her murder not only liberates him from the guilt and burden of that pipe dream, but also indicates his hatred and resentment at her faith in him and her constant forgiveness.

“And then I saw I’d always known that was the only possible way to give her peace and free her from the misery of loving me. I saw it meant peace for me, too, knowing she was at peace. I felt as though a ton of guilt was lifted off my mind. I remember I stood by the bed and suddenly I had to laugh. I couldn’t help it, and I knew Evelyn would forgive me. I remember I heard myself speaking to her, as if it was something I’d always wanted to say: ‘Well, you know what you can do with your pipe dream now, you damned bitch.'”

His own self-loathing behavior of repeatedly cheating on his wife coupled with his alcoholism brought about a notion that there must be something wrong with her to feel love for him and to always forgive him.  Pipe dreams may keep one going, but he came to the dismal conclusion he’d rather kill the dream of his salvation than live under the guilt of it.  He convinces the others to kill their pipe dreams, too, and to face the reality of their futility.

Perhaps our lives are not so dramatic; we may not literally be murdering our spouses or loved ones, but rather the relationship itself to alleviate not just the guilt of living under the burden of a pipe dream,  but also to allow ourselves a static existence in our own despair or misfortune.

Mired in the guilt of self-loathing or low self-esteem, it is easy to fall into the trap of hurting those close to us because we either feel we are so insignificant that our actions are incapable of hurting those closest to us or we have convinced ourselves we are unworthy of love because of our mistakes and flaws–or both.

How do we fix that?  How do some of us who are so flawed learn to stop creating the stumbling blocks that sabotage our ability to be receptive to love and forgiveness?

The answer, though difficult, is simple:  by loving oneself.  For some, that’s a difficult idea to grasp. It’s an all or nothing notion; hating oneself to the point of despair or destructive behavior, or taking on a narcissistic love of oneself so grand that it becomes in and of itself a form of self-hatred. Both are equally destructive.

What Hickey lacked—what many of us lack—was the not only the ability to just be receptive to love, but to also love himself enough to do better by his wife; to set himself to a higher standard and strive towards it. We do not have to be brilliant or amazing.  We don’t have to be beautiful or witty or charming. We must love in reverse; accepting our flaws as opportunities for improvement, or perhaps just accepting them just as they are.

Hickey saw his wife’s resolute and unyielding faith as a burden; a constant reminder of the guilt he carried at making the same mistakes over and over. He buried himself beneath the weight of his despair; his resentment at his wife’s love gave way to his dream of reformation as being merely dissipating smoke. Our flaws and our mistakes do not define us; they are opportunities to learn, in small steps, to love, to be loved, and to love ourselves—which is a much more colorful and tangible dream.

Gifts of the Mother

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I have a 12 item rule. Each day I try to throw away at least 12 items that are either taking up precious space in my home or that I feel are useless. Junk mail, broken umbrellas, clothes that don’t fit or that I no longer wear, magazines, old make-up; all of it finds its way to the trash on a daily basis. I have even tossed CD’s that I ripped to the hard drive, old photos of people I no longer know, old text books, college and high school awards, and music albums. Nothing is exempt when I decide to de-clutter my living space. I grew up with an older sister with whom I shared a bedroom, as well as a twin brother, so I naturally grew up with no emotional attachment to things.
A few days ago I threw out a piece of framed art my mother had given me a few years ago. It was of a cherubic angel girl and a bunny rabbit and I have always detested it, but I kept it on display for years in my bedroom out of courtesy to my mother. The action was a catalyst of sorts and spawned a tossing rampage. I began putting into trash bags and taking to the curb every single knickknack, piece of art, Christmas decoration, as well as a myriad other “seasonal” decorations that she foisted upon me over the years. The assorted items also included a collection of Winnie the Pooh memorabilia because I was told I should collect something. The fact I never expressed an interest in Winnie the Pooh had no bearing. I carried to the curb a child’s rocking chair that was supposed to be for Kate, but she never sat in it, not once. One of the rockers banged against my leg and caused a nice sized bruise. I threw away with glee boxes of Avon jewelry I had accumulated over the years; useless trinkets and baubles I would never wear.
When I was finished with my knickknack amnesty, I was tired, sweaty, but somewhat euphoric. My house looked better; my closets where most of the items had lived were empty and immaculate. I walked my elderly, incontinent sweet dog Jasmine at four a.m. the next morning and the picture and rocking chair were gone. One woman’s guilt laden baggage is another’s treasure, I suppose.


It was then I realized those things–those useless, aesthetically unpleasing, dust- collecting items I never wanted or would have chosen for myself—were merely physical manifestations of emotions my mother insisted I keep. Guilt, fear, shame, inadequacy, anger, intimidation, rejection—my mother gave to me to hold onto, to cherish as she did, to display…or even to hide away. The framed picture of the girl with the rabbit? It had hung in my bedroom for so long, I barely noticed it anymore. I had grown so accustomed to it I had forgotten how much I hated it. The stuff I shoved in the closets were forgotten most days, but when I ventured inside to retrieve a jacket or suitcase I was reminded of all the junk I hid away; if I wanted to put something new inside, I never had any room to do so. I would tell myself I needed to clean house, toss this stuff away, but never found the time or inclination to complete such an arduous task.
My mother grew up poor—she had two dresses growing up and didn’t enjoy indoor plumbing until she attended nursing school. When she started making her own money as a registered nurse, she began validating herself with her possessions. Her closets were filled with clothes that never had the tags removed and collections of porcelain bears that never saw the light of day. She has lighted curio cabinets filled with Fenton glass cats, angels, and miniature tea sets. My mother is now in her 60’s and realizes more and more a sense of her own mortality. One day she said to me she hoped I would take these things of hers when she dies; all these objects she venerates, holds onto, and that give her comfort. She panicked when I told her no. I told her that I will not take them, not one item—they mean nothing to me. My mother never seemed more like a child when she said, “But these are my things. I was hoping you’d take care of them when I’m gone,” and in a last ditch effort to ensure their safe keeping or perhaps to appeal to my maternal side, she added, “Kate will want them.” I never felt so empowered when I told her that Kate had no use for her things either. She will choose her own things; things that make her happy and that allow her to express who she is. My mother looked at me without understanding; she taught me what she knows which is to hold onto the junk—it’s more patient, more understanding than people.
2012 is around the corner, and with it, for me, is the promise of replacing the useless junk with things, people, emotions that I choose—not ones placed upon me by odious offenders or even the well-meaning friend or family member. Perhaps we all could stand to take inventory of our lives, our things…our junk. It’s never too late to unburden those useless things we hold onto. 

We all fall down; it’s being forgiven before we hit the ground that makes all the difference.

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Forgiveness on a post itI walked into Starbucks with an agenda.  The drive across town was terrible, the torrential rain made a mockery of my dilapidated windshield wipers, and I had to park in an unfinished, muddy gravel lot as far away from the coffee shop as I could possibly get; my damp, tangled hair resembled a wet cat on my head.  It was dark already at 4:30 and the warm lighting of the coffee shop, the hiss of the milk being steamed, and Burl Ives singing “Holly, Jolly Christmas” did nothing to deter my foul mood at having to be out in inclement weather.

I saw my estranged husband and the second he made eye contact, I looked away, quickly approached the counter and mumbled my order to the less than enthusiastic barista.  When I felt Brian behind me, I focused my attention on a collection of Michael Buble Christmas CDs perched on the counter—this actually helped me maintain my defensive and impudent mood.  Never was much of a fan, to say the least.

Carrying my grande cup of hot coffee, I followed him to the tiny table and it was then that I noticed how pale and small he seemed; both of us paler and thinner these days; the divorce diet wreaking havoc on our exhausted physiques.   We looked at each other for several minutes, neither of us knowing how to begin.  After 14 years of marriage (the last six being the quietest) we did not know how to talk to each other.  We fumbled, we stuttered, we held our breath and looked at our cold hands encircling our coffee cups as if the necessary and eloquent words we struggled to articulate might appear on the table itself, offering respite from the awkward lack of ability to speak.  When did this happen?  Was it a year into the marriage?  Ten years?  Was it your constant military deployments or my impatience and high and unreasonable expectations that led to what I call the quiet, constant disintegration of our marriage?  What was it exactly that brought us here, to this tiny coffee shop to say the things we both needed to hear as the cold, winter rain fell outside?  We took the opportunity to try and tell the other what “it” was and why we shut down; essentially emptying our quivers of every insult, every criticism, every deal breaking reason our life as one came to its tragic demise.  Two things happened during the fusillade of aspersions we cast upon each other’s character and the tearful tirades of finally articulating what we each needed or just plain wanted and didn’t get.  First, neither of us defended or objected to what the other said, no matter how painful it was to hear, and second, it was the first time I saw my husband cry.  In 14 years, he never could show defeat or weakness—two characteristics unbecoming a soldier, and in his mind, a man.

We sat there for a solid two and half hours and our coffee cups had long been empty.  Like two people who have been together a certain number of years, we were oblivious to those around us who may have heard us lament the trials and tribulations of a marriage at its end.  I was, for once in my life, thankful for the back drop of the Christmas music turned up entirely too loud.  Aretha Franklin wailing, “O Christmas Tree,” lapsing into O Tannenbaum, and, finally, her tribute to Baby Jesus interlude in between the English and German drowned out our volleying insults.

Suddenly, Brian looked at me and asked simply, “Can you forgive me, Mare?” Immediately on the defensive, I tilted my head back, drew in my breath and tried to formulate a response.  Was this a way to ask me if we could reconcile?  No, I was not going back to how things were—how WE were.  I agreed to meet with the sole purpose of easing the transition, working out emotional and logistical details necessary to ending our marriage.  As if he read my mind, he added, “That’s all I ask.”   I lowered my head and reached for his hands and said yes.  I asked for his forgiveness, too, for what I had done.  With no preamble or hesitation, he also said yes. In those seconds we grew up.

Forgiveness, like love, is not earned. Trust, respect, friendship—those are all earned, but love and forgiveness must be given freely, unconditionally.  We love the unlovable, our children, our friends, but not in order to receive it.  It is the immature, the selfish, who love with the hope of getting it back.  Pure love given does not require pay back, or even recognition.  Forgiveness is the same, as it should never require any expectation of restorative justice.  Forgive those who trespass against us—whether they know it or not.  Luckily, Brian and I were able to say the words, “I forgive you.”  In time, maybe I can say the same to myself.

I had been loving him with a broken heart for quite some time and his forgiveness was, for me, his way of letting me go as his wife; a wife who was never satisfied, who set him up for failure with my unreasonable expectations.  We’ll have a love, but it will be one of a different sort—a love not based on desperation, loneliness, or any sort of  unfulfilled dependence.  We have a 12-year-old daughter to consider, and although we may never be Bruce Willis and Demi Moore “close,” we will certainly maintain civility and a parental relationship to get her unscathed, as best we can, to adulthood.  Perhaps it’s too early to tell, but we may have a better divorce than marriage.

I drove home to an empty house.  The smell of winter and wood smoke as I entered the front door offered little in the way of comfort and consolation, as it usually does this time of year for me.  I went to bed knowing we had crossed an emotional Rubicon.  We had touched on the beginning of our new normal; a life apart, doing only what we did best, and that’s being parents.

The question remained—and still remains—If he can forgive me for committing the most damaging and devastating betrayal that exists within a marriage, why can’t I forgive myself?  With time and painful introspection,  perhaps forgiveness will come.  I don’t have to “earn” forgiveness from myself, either.  I also know that if I don’t forgive myself, I will be no better to myself or to anyone else than what I was in the marriage I left.

I can forgive, but I cannot forget, is only another way of saying, I will not forgive.  Forgiveness ought to be like a cancelled note—torn in two, and burned up, so that it can never be shown against one. ~Henry Ward Beecher

Alone…and grateful.

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Thanksgiving. A day of thanks. A day we set aside in late November to consume a 3000 calorie meal and give thanks for people and things before we spend every dime we have buying presents for those people for whom we are so grateful. 

As I scrolled my Facebook newsfeed, I read varying posts of gratitude; health, gainful employment, a successful surgery. Someone was grateful his dog couldn’t speak. I particularly enjoyed that one. But the most popular posts of gratitude were for family and friends.  

We simply enjoy the comfort of being with those we love.  We thrive on the physical contact and close proximity. The sharing of a meal, the retelling of stories, the creation of a new memory–all adds to the intricate, delicate, yet continually fortified bond that holds us together.

The eve of Thanksgiving found me newly separated from my husband of 14 years with our divorce pending.  I was alone with a glass of wine, my canine at my feet, and a marathon phone call from one of the kindest, most generous souls I have ever had the fortune of knowing. I cried. I was a pathetic mess. I was not strong. I was exhausted and did not want to go to sleep for fear of waking to the arduous task of enduring, dare I say it…loneliness.  

I awoke Thanksgiving day alone, but not lonely and perhaps it was due to the much needed rest; perhaps it was the loving pep talk from the night before.  Or maybe it was just me. 

I missed my daughter who was celebrating the holiday with her dad. I also missed my parents, my twin brother, and a few close friends I have known since childhood, but being a natural recluse, a part of me(OK, all of me) was grateful to NOT be around anyone.  I spent the day alone, quiet, reading, and thinking. I am not, nor have I ever been, one who requires the company of others for some sort of validation that I am loved, or even liked. I do not understand or find particularly attractive those who DO require the constant company of others; the fact there are those who cannot find fulfillment, enjoyment, or peace with their own company is, in my not so humble opinion, sad.  Granted, I update my Facebook status more often than a 12-year-old girl; the mere idea screams, “Notice me! Love me! Be insanely jealous of my fantastic life!” Social networking, a deplorable pissing contest for some, is a certain dream come true for those of us who don’t choose to completely drop out of life, but still feel the need to keep others at a considerable arm’s length. 

So this year I am grateful for peaceful solitude, solitariness, calm, being inside my own head. As a mother, my thoughts are never my own.  I don’t need to explain that to all the mothers; you know exactly what that means, and to have even a few hours to just think is worth immense gratitude. 

So bring on the loneliness, the tears, the fear, the grief of losing a once ardent love that has changed. I will turn it all into something good, something useful. I welcome all of it.  My life ahead of me will be wonderful, perfect, insurmountable, hard, joyous, and somedays hell. But it is my life–adding yet another layer to my intricate, delicate, yet continually fortified life. 

Wall Street or Wal-Mart: What’s Your Occupation?

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“Dozens of Occupy Wall Street Protesters Arrested in Several U.S. Cities.”  “October 15th: A global day of Action.”  “We are the 99%: Stories of the Great Recession Victims.”  “We are the 99%.”  “Occupy Wall Street Movement comes to Lexington, KY.”  I have been overwhelmed with news stories and headlines recently that concern a sudden “movement” that, regardless of class or income, instructs us to be angry, to seek vindication…to say “We just aren’t gonna take it anymore!”  OK…so what exactly is it we aren’t supposed to take anymore and why are we angry?

I asked an acquaintance, whose political analysis I respect, what exactly it is the 99% are protesting because apparently I only partially understand.  His view is that at the core of the movement is an acknowledgement and subsequent resentment towards the top earners getting richer; their salaries more than doubling while the rest of us see paltry (or non-existent) raises with the rising cost of living.  Included in his analysis was the disproportionate tax rate the wealthy pay in comparison to the rest of us. (Payroll employees pay taxes on their earned income at rates ranging from 10 to 35 percent depending on marital status and the amount earned. They also pay payroll taxes of 4.2 percent.  The wealthy get most of their income from capital gains and dividends, both of which are taxed at 15 percent, and on this income they pay no payroll taxes).  He also stated that corporate welfare contributed to the Occupy movement. And lastly, he stated that when governments work to impose “social responsibilities,” fairer tax rates, for example, in proportion to their income or by eliminating corporate welfare, those businesses will simply “relocate to where there are lower tax rates and less red tape.” Interestingly, too, he also mentioned the quality of life of the less affluent becoming better and I can’t help but say that the middle class has driven itself into debt trying to give the illusion of “wealth” and affluence, sparking serious animosity towards the wealthy (who he stated are also doing much better, but this fact has gone more or less unnoticed—til now). The middle class has driven itself into poverty essentially, and believed the lie that an affluent lifestyle can be financed. It’s caught up with us and now we want someone to blame.

The desultory Occupation of Wall Street protesting wealth, our blatant Corporatocracy,  the unfair accumulation of wealth in the form of corporate bailouts, unfair payment(or non-payment in some cases) of taxes, and the growing gap between the have and the have-nots drags on.  Initially, I was under the assumption that the Occupy Movement was simply that the 99% who were not obscenely wealthy wanted the 1% that is to stop rigging the political system in their favor and in doing so, forcing us to pay for it. There has always been an income disparity, but only in the last couple hundred years have we seen such a gradual increase in the influence of the top wage earners over our political system. The Occupy Wall Street movement is legitimate, and although it has certainly raised awareness and has provided a definite catalyst for change, it won’t solve anything. I can’t help but guess an entire global economic collapse or devastating catastrophe such as a plague might solve it, both of which would force us to rebuild; start over.  Beyond those, we’d just have to abolish our entire system, which will never happen. And what would replace it in either case?

Late last night, I was scrolling through my Face Book news feed and I saw this photo and in an instant, I answered my own question.

Shopper gone crazy.

THIS is why we allow corporations to rule the country.  It has less to do with how we vote at the polls and more to do with how we spend.  Instead of occupying Wall Street most prefer to occupy Wal-Mart; giving hard earned money to Sam Walton rather than supporting a local economy or, God forbid, supporting local farmers like a bunch of health nut hippies.  Shopping and financing our pursuit of imagined and fleeting happiness has become a pastime, a mindless hobby, and an obvious distraction we devote entire weekends to in order to ignore our real need for contentment, while at the same time exacerbating the afore mentioned economic problems that are growing like a cancer.  While it has been argued we should also be occupying our voting booths, we first need candidates who not only pay lip service to passing legislation that force corporations to shoulder their fair share of the tax burden, but who will not blink when those companies decide to move in order to avoid doing what’s right—thus paving the way for our local economies to grow.

We can blame our legislators and vote them out of office only to replace them with more of the same—greedy individuals more interested in vying for campaign donations and getting re-elected than representing their constituents, but so far that hasn’t worked to enact change. We can blame the corporations and the “top 1%” who manipulate Congress to create and pass laws to protect their interests and their assets or we can just stop giving them our money.  Clutching a $5 Big Gulp gallon of soda while spending hundreds of dollars on a cart full of foreign made garbage and food flown in from China loaded with fat and high fructose corn syrup, which keep us fat, sick, lazy, and complacent ensures the gap between the poor(which is all of us now; all 99%) and the obscenely wealthy.  So instead of occupying Wall Street or worse, Wal-Mart, occupy the local Farmer’s Market and local businesses.  I’m not suggesting we all drop out of life by say, eliminating toilet paper from our lives, but is it necessary to buy 48 rolls at one time?  As Bill Maher notes, “We shop with forklifts,” and that needs to stop. Yes, I have been guilty of buying 7 tubes of toothpaste at one time, I’m ashamed to say, but I vow right here to change my ways!  By slowly eliminating our dependency on faceless, soulless, and greedy corporations we can build our local economies, and in turn, we can rebuild our infrastructure; combining residential AND commercial establishments in the same areas, for example.  We can eradicate the need for more interstate highways, as well as the cul-de-sac—which in its own way forces us to get in our cars and drive to get anywhere in our cities and towns.  It appears counter-intuitive to blame the legislators and corporations for our plight, and then expect them to rectify the situation.  Why should they?  It’s a win-win for them.  Only by voting—at the polls and with our dollars can we get out of the sad and pathetic situation we, the 99%, have created.  Playing the recession victim with a $400 dollar cell phone in one’s hand and holding a cleverly worded picket sign does little to get one taken seriously.

In Her Time

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9/11

I was feeding my baby the day the twin towers fell.  I was in shock as I saw one tower fall…then the other.  My husband was home on leave from Korea and I woke him to come downstairs and see what I saw; to help me make sense of it.  I remember crying all day thinking of the people on the plane trying to call home as they waited, imprisoned on a plane that they knew just became a missile. Later that afternoon, I remember dropping a jar of spaghetti in the kitchen sink as I watched the news.  I cried as I tried to clean up the mess and succeeded in cutting my hand; my vision blurred from the tears.  I gave up on the mess, wrapped my hand in a towel, sat down on the staircase, and cried.  We were a nation in shock.

For days we watched the towers fall over and over and we all got angrier and angrier.  Our helplessness, frustration, and fear suddenly alleviated when our leaders vowed vengeance. In the spirit of candor and concision, I’ll refrain from enumerating the millions of wrong reasons our leaders sent in troops.  I could malign our leaders for pages for the lies we have believed or were told in order to justify a meaningless war, but I will only mention that ten years later our soldiers–who only wanted a job, who only want to get up and go to work every day, who only want to defend our country and provide for their families–are still in the Middle East fighting, occupying, rebuilding, waiting to come home, and dying.  And for what?  Religious and political liberation?  Oil?  Freedom?  For whose freedom are they fighting?  Certainly not mine.  Last I checked we aren’t being attacked.

My husband was friends with and served alongside Staff Sgt. Johnny Horne who was tried for a war crime in Iraq.  He fatally shot a wounded Iraqi insurgent who was severely burned, dying, suffering, and beyond available medical assistance, rather than leave him to die slowly. He served one year of a three year term, spending 55 days of those days in solitary confinement in a wooden box where he suffered nothing short of outright abuse.  He was left for hours, starved, and forced to sit in his own waste.  He was discharged from the U.S. military as a Private.  Horne thought with his heart, not his head, and his testimony here is riveting, emotional, and asks some very pertinent questions about our presence in the Middle East.

When put to the test, Horne, and many soldiers like him, have two choices in today’s military—go to prison for doing what they are trained to do…or die.  And as Horne puts it—“If you hesitate, you die.”

Those politicians on the Hill responsible for this ridiculous war should be the ones brought up on war crimes, every one of them.  Instead we keep re-electing them.  And while our soldiers fight a political war, they write books, clap each other on the back, cover each other’s asses, and tell each other what a great job they are doing.   What I can’t figure out is whom they are trying to convince—the American public and the rest of the world or the person they have to look at every day in the mirror?

It’s interesting (and pathetic) to note that Dick Cheney’s book In My Time:  A Personal and Political Memoir was released just short of two weeks prior to the tenth anniversary of the Sept 11th attacks—coincidence?  Doubtful.  It’s an insult to those who fought and died under the administration’s command.  Those politicians responsible for sending American soldiers to war to avenge a political vendetta between the Senior Bush and Hussein, to procure oil fields, to show the world that America is a force to be reckoned with are not good enough reasons to me to remain in a ten year war.  Dick Cheney, Paul Bremer, and George W. Bush have no real military experience and have never been on the receiving end of the half assed and misguided orders they so cavalierly gave to our troops on the ground.

My daughter has grown up watching this war on the nightly news.  In her time she has never known an America that is not at war.  In her time—12 years—over 5000 soldiers have died.  How do I teach my daughter to respect our leaders and the orders they send down the line to protect our liberties, our soil?  I suppose I can begin teaching her when we begin to elect real leaders; because in her time that has yet to happen.

As we approach the tenth anniversary of 9/11, I have to ask: When do we open our eyes, raise our voices, and say enough is enough?

Lest it be forgotten…