News Round-up!

I read a lot of news articles that I find intriguing or creepy or sad or funny. So, I’ve decided to share them [possibly] on a weekly basis. So, you know, you guys can be as aware as I am. Or, ignore these posts entirely.

Feel Good and Adorable

War on Women

Crime

Religion

Weird Stuff

As you can tell, I really enjoy the Huffington Post.

The Cure For Writer’s Cramp is Writer’s Block.

I’m stuck at TEHNOVEL™. This stands to reason because I’m forcing myself to work on it.

You see, the thing is that when I had it “finished” before, I knew that it was weak. There were a lot of parts that were, what I deem, choppy. This is when I get so excited about nearing a major plot point that I jump forward without adequately explaining how in the hell the plot point actually came about. This bothered me from the second I had decided that I was “done” with the work-in-progress. I also had other issues that were plaguing me: not adequately explaining secondary characters that prove to be invaluable toward the end of the book; character flaws in the main characters that are part and parcel to the story; the asinine characters that were just placed there to prove a point; and various other issues. They were pretty numerous, but it was the choppiness that was getting to me.

Enter the moment that I decided I was going to rework the whole fucking thing. A year-plus later and I’m finally at the point where I can get to the rework. I’m finally at the point where I can say, “IT IS TIME!” And I actually mean it now when I say that I’m going to sit down and work on it. I want this beast completed and out of my hands because it’s just time to close this chapter of my life. (Yes, I have sequels planned, but it’s not going to happen if I don’t finish the FIRST BOOK.) Now is the time to jump on a bandwagon and get what I’ve always desired. And of course, now is the time that I stare at where I left off and go, “Oh, shit. Where the fuck am I heading from here?”

I DON’T KNOW.

How in the fuck does a writer get by these stupid blocks that they self-create?

I’m hoping the answer is rum and Coke.

Reminiscing: My Grandmother Was the Chuck Norris of Our Family.

As a child, whenever I thought about my grandmother or I was at her house, I always thought of her as the be-all, end-all. My grandmother’s persona is something that I whimsically refer to as “dour Catholic.” This is that cool, standoffish persona that doesn’t convey cookies and playing with dolls. This is that remote personality that looks down from on high. In reality, whenever I thought of my grandmother, I thought of her as a god type figure. I think it was the remoteness of gaining access to her inner sanctum: everything was private and, as a child with curiosity coming out of my ears, inaccessible. There weren’t hugs and kisses and picnics and sleepovers and all of that jazz. The grandmothers that my friends may have had is not the grandmother I had.

I had Chuck Norris with old lady glasses, a cane, and a “this is how it is or you will eat my shoe” attitude.

My grandmother ruled the entire world from the kitchen table and you would never, ever forget it. She was the reigning dowager of our family, even though my grandfather was there to back her up. (And from what I’ve gathered, it was my grandfather who did the “this is the way it is” when my mom was a kid, it was my grandmother by the time I came around.) My family was matriarchal by design—there being three girl children and only one boy in my mother’s generation and a myriad of girls in the next—so when I say that she ruled the family, our lives, and the world, I can safely assure you that I’m not joking. She was the center of our universe. And it always began and ended with that damn kitchen table. (Aside: when I have the ancestral altar of my daydreams, there will be a kitchen table scattered with lists upon lists and fake flowers in the center in honor of my grandmother and her awesome ownership of three generations and counting.)

I’m going to pause here and talk about the kitchen table for a minute. In all of my memories of my grandmother, the kitchen table is the very center. She was always sitting at the seat in front of the kitchen sink and to the right of the old-school stove. She was always just right there, waiting for everyone to descend upon her in the visitations that we had numerous times a year. The kitchen table is some old table, completely round. It took up most of the kitchen area. It was covered in detritus of her daily life and newspaper clippings she found of interest. I can remember one about baby pimples that she passed out to the new moms of our family. But, the center of the table held a pot of flowers, although I can’t remember what kind. The rest of the surface was covered in her lists. She had thousands of lists, OCD being her big bad genetic inheritance. They were almost always of the hundreds of medications she was on her for her depression and her heart disease and her COPD and her other ailments. They were everywhere. There was mail and bills and reminders. That kitchen table was the central focus of her world and it was our central focus of her, too.

The reason the kitchen table was the center of the universe was because my grandmother was crippled. I don’t know when it happened. My recollections of her as a child always had to do with her cane. It was fascinating to my little brother and I. I remember stealing it (along with the SKELETON KEYS) and running around with it when my little brother and I would go over there. The story goes that the crippling was my grandfather’s fault: they were at a store and he ran into her Achilles tendon. This story has been passed along as a warning for all children of every generation of our family, thus far. I can still hear my mother yelling at my brother and I about grocery carts not being toys and the damage you can do to each other with them. “YOU WANT TO BE LIKE GRAMMA?!?!?” I’m not sure how these admonitions have affected my little brother, but I’ve heard my mom’s words come out of my mouth at both TH and TS whenever we go grocery shopping.

My grandmother was pretty big on gaining information in various forms. Before the Internet, our very own Mark Zuckerberg decided that the best course of action was to utilize the four children she had at her disposal. So, she would pass out “assignments” to someone about whatever it was she wanted to know. At one point, she asked my aunt to learn the last name of the guy who owns Manny’s TV and Appliances. On another occasion, she was reading a book with ninjas in them and demanded that my uncle ask his Japanese co-worker about them. (He did, for fear of his very life and limb or because he didn’t want to hear it. The guy gave a brief description and then did a karate type move and yelled something like: “Now you must die!” There’s no telling if my uncle illustrated said movement for my grandmother at the time.) Nowadays, you’d just hop on Google and look this shit up. Back then, networking was the only way to go.

I asked my mother to give me a few thoughts about my grandmother. She mentioned that my grandmother couldn’t carry a tune to save her life. I wasn’t aware of this; I think she had given up Happy Birthday singing by the time I can clearly remember. There’s also an amusing joke that runs in our family to this day, years after my grandmother has left us. There were three girls living in that house, with my mother being the youngest. Aside from knowing her son’s name off the top of her head since he was the trouble-maker, she tended to confuse my mom with my eldest aunt. We joke know and call my aunts La-Debbie and Landrea. Oh, another anecdote: My grandmother randomly changed her name and not in the legal way. Apparently, Joan wasn’t a good enough name for her so she changed it to Joanne at some point. This was an amusing source when my aunts were cleaning out the house since some things were addressed to her as Joan and others as Joanne.

In reality, my grandmother was tough-as-nails. She lost two babies to the RH-factor after my mother was born. This was before life-saving measures and abortive attempts. She had to carry both of them to term and deliver them naturally. This little sad story is probably something that helped to prematurely age her and maybe, just maybe, it helped to give her the “dour Catholic” persona I mentioned earlier.

There are other stories about my grandmother that I’m sure my mom would flip if I shared. But, those stories aren’t mine and they’re not about my grandmother.

My grandmother was that woman who could survive the Zombie Apocalypse. My grandmother was that woman who could get through whatever was thrown her way. My grandmother was the terminal hoarder. My grandmother used to laugh and end up in a coughing fit. My grandmother is that woman with the nasal canula to attach her to her oxygen tank. (The very same lines that my cousin, my mom and I used to crimp to see if she’d notice, since she swore she would. She never did.) My grandmother is Betty White with Chuck Norris mixed in…

…and she ruled the world from the kitchen table.

Know Thyself.

I’ve mentioned quite a lot about the basic premise of myself, which is that I am one of the most uncertain people you will ever meet. I put on a fair show about how I know what I’m doing and that what I have to do is simple enough, but that’s an act. In reality, I’m so shaken and uncertain inside that I disgust myself with it. It’s always, “but what if…?” And it’s always me waffling back and forth, hemming and hawing about what I need to do and what I need to get done. It’s always so irritating and it’s always so obnoxious. This is a part of who I am, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

I honestly wonder where it came from. I don’t think I was this bad as a teenager or in my early twenties. I don’t think I constantly questioned myself as strongly as I find myself doing now. I often wonder at the pathology behind this sudden-onset deer-in-headlights mode. Maybe I’m wrong and I did suffer from this in some way as a teenager and in my early twenties. Maybe I’m right and it’s a new thing. All I know is that it is so hard to freeze in the middle of the decision making process and going, Am I doing what’s right? Is this going to work out? Is this what I want? What if? What if? What if? To say it’s fucking irritating is a fucking understatement. It makes me so angry and upset with myself that I’m liable to end up sulking about it the whole uncertainty aspect for hours, days, weeks.

If anyone has been reading this blog for any length of time, then you know I’ve mentioned this dilemma—the constant questioning—on quite a few occasions. My most recent occasion was when I mentioned the job prospect.

Now, in letting all of this out, a friend of mine has really been helping me. She has a therapist that I want and sometimes, they discuss things that correlate with this issue that I have. Perhaps because of that or perhaps because of something else, she’s been able to get me to see a good deal of epiphany-related moments because of all of this. Today, she gave me yet another moment. She posted this on my wall on Facebook today. And I read it twice just to make sure I was getting what the message was. And she said, “This seems relevant, somehow.” And she was right; it was definitely relevant.

For those who won’t click on that link, let me just give you a little idea of what it’s about. It’s about knowing yourself and making decisions. It’s exactly what I needed to hear in regards to my constant uncertainty, questioning, and nail-biting. It’s pretty much exactly what I needed to get through the decision-making process.

So, in relation to the decision making process, I went out earlier and let my mind roam. I was on my way to run boring errands, so it was the perfect moment for my mind to wander around it’s space and figure shit out. With that article in the back of my mind, I placed it in reference to the job situation. I placed it in reference to that particular moment and I discovered something. It doesn’t matter what the job is if it’s in retail. It doesn’t matter how much money I would make or how much I wouldn’t. The outcome would be the same: I would have a honeymoon phase for two to three months where everything was rainbows and butterflies coming out of my ass. And then, I would hate it. I would hate it and despise and bemoan how much I hated and despised it. And I would stick it out because I don’t think I’m the kind of person other people would want to hire (since I don’t see myself as actually having any skills). And I would end up sticking it out until I quit in a huff or I was fired for something retarded.

I’ve done this song and dance before and it’s never changed.

So while I want to make things better and happier and brighter. And while I want to get back to work and be able to casually become materialistic again, I don’t think that job is a good idea. I don’t know what job would be a good idea or if going back to school for something would be in my best interest. All I do know is that working at Home Depot isn’t for me.

Dreaming: the Art of Staying Sane While Surrounded by Crap.

So, this morning, I had a dream about Greed, Inc in various formats.

Now, I have dreamed of that shit place in various mediums over the last few years. While employed, I dreamed of the place and its well-established horse manure quite often. This is how I contend with the stress that I invariably soak up while working somewhere. However, since the firing and since I stopped having to fight them for my unemployment, I rarely dream of the place now. It no longer has a place in my conscious mind, so instead, it lurks in my subconscious until it can leash out at me without any warning. Anyway. So.

The first portion of the dream was Greed, Inc as a high school. I know that it was definitely a high school, although it resembled a mix of the middle school I attended along with the corporate offices of Greed, Inc. To be perfectly honest, I don’t remember this part so clearly. I remember coming down some stairs while the Head of Marketing (possibly posing as an assistant principal) was directing traffic in the hall below me. She had longer hair and was standing outside the office of BHOP’s Boss. I remember being able to see into that office and watch her doing whatever it was she was doing. The dream shifted at that point, but first, some armchair psychology.

I looked up the word “high school” in the Dream Mood’s Dream Dictionary section. To dream about high school refers to the bonds and friendships that you made while you were in high school. What spiritual lessons have you learned? The dream may also be telling you that you need to start preparing for the real world. Now, on the face of it, I instantly just wanted to shake my head and be done with it. It didn’t seem like it really fit with what the dream was all about, although I couldn’t say for sure. As I mentioned, the aspects to do with Greed, Inc High were pretty damn unclear upon waking. I think there may be something to the whole “prepping for the real world” stuff since, you know, this dream does come on the heels of my trying to make a decision about going back to work. It could also refer, in some instance, to the friends that I made while working there, some of whom I am still in contact with.

I mean, just the other day, I was replaying my perfect team in my head. (I did this as an ass-manager because I was one step away from full manager and had part of my team at the store that I worked at. Then one was fired for horse shit, another quit because the first was fired, and the other ended up moving to maintenance. Interesting factoid for no one in particular: those three were all males. I would have trusted boys with my store.) And of that perfect team, I’m still in contact with a few of them. The people who couldn’t be a part of my perfect team for various other reasons, having moved on or been fired, are still friendly with me via FB. So, maybe the friendship thing has something to do with it, too, or I’m grasping at straws here because I don’t like the idea that I need to face reality and start getting back to reality.

Either-or, really.

So, for whatever reason, the dream ended up shifting. At this point, so far removed from the dreaming process and the actual dream world, I’ve begun to consider the idea that I had purposely shifted the dream. I don’t know what the end result of Greed, Inc High was supposed to be, but considering the end result of Part II of the dream, I’m going with “not good.” So, with that in mind, I’m thinking that I purposely changed the dream to better suit me. (Yes, I can do this. I think it stems from being a writer. If I don’t like how a dream is going, then I can rewind it and re-write it to better suit me. For example, if I’m having a horror movie, I’ll rewind and re-write it to something a little less dark and evil because, you know, who the fuck wants to dream that shit?) It was either that or my subconscious really just wanted to stab me with a pitchfork while I was down.

So, after this little bit, I remember walking down a city street in a downtown area. I know that the area in question was akin to the State and Main in my hometown. In fact, it was trying to be that area but there were subtle differences. The restaurants in that area were all missing and each of the buildings were faceless and without any decoration. They all made you think that you were surrounded by people who would spend all of their time looking down at you. Anyway, I was walking with someone to go to a meeting at Greed, Inc. I remember that I was wearing a skirt and heals and I had make up on. (If you know me, you’re trying to reconcile this picture with reality.) So, then I entered a gray-faced building and went up an elevator for this meeting.

Have you ever seen those fancy, ritzy lawyer’s offices where all of the offices have glass doors and windows? The carpets are about twenty inches thick and a deep mauve or maroon color? There are conference tables that gleam in the overhead lights? So, envision this… because that was what the offices of Greed, Inc looked like in dream land. It was actually way more ritzy than the company actually is, and so therefore, a very real possibility of what their future offices may end up looking like.

I walked into a conference room, which held BHOP and BHOP’s Boss. Now, at this point, I’m not sure if I was already fired in the dream or if they were getting ready to fire me. It’s hazy, so I don’t really remember much about the conference room. What I do remember is both of them showing me “video” of why I was being fired… This video (don’t laugh, don’t laugh, don’t laugh…) is actually video of myself and the gang of The Big Bang Theory running around the office, cleaning. So, we were actually doing our jobs, but we were laughing while doing it. At one point, one of the characters accidentally breaks one of the glass panes, but it ended up not being broken in the video. (???) So, in effect, they were firing me… and for bullshit… again.

I know I wanted to wake up then, but my mind had to turn this into the most asinine and ridiculous dream ever, which I’ll cover with a series of quick salient facts: 1. some guy who was the boss, but really isn’t, and looked similar to Obama pinched my tit and didn’t seem at all like he cared that I was filing sexual harassment charges; 2. same guy pinched my other tit, for whatever reason; 3. upset I railed at the friend I had walked to the building near/around/with; 4. I had to rescue a woman from the 22nd floor with a ladder that was only 21 stories long and I could only get her down with ropes; 5. also, a tornado was coming.

So, I have to admit that the whole being fired for doing my job in dream land sucked about as much as it did in reality.

I’d pop psychologize this bitch, but I don’t have the energy. You do it.

The More Alternatives, the More Difficult the Choice.

I appear to be at the crossroads again (thus all the liminal deities having gathered about) and it’s just as much a pain in the ass now as it has been in the past. The problem, of course, being that I tend to hem and haw at each possible decision like a fucking dumbass. I’ll stare at the possibilities and think, Okay, I’ll do this. And, then I change my mind because maybe that’s not the right decision. I ask opinions of everyone that I can because it’s not like I couldn’t possibly make a decision on my own. Sometimes, I’ll ask my Tarot cards in twenty different ways and get a bunch of answers that are designed to say, “STOP FUCKING ASKING.” So, really, I end up not making a decision while I bite my nails and worry about shit.

The thing is that this decision is a big one. I can’t just sit on it.

I’ve been offered a job at a Home Depot in my area. The job is via family. TH’s FF has three kids from a previous marriage who we see about three or four times a year, unless someone dies. (So, we’ve seen them more than normal in the last few months, actually.) Also, the eldest is getting married soon so that’s brought both him and his fiance into the family for more gatherings than they normally have in the past. Actually, to be honest, I think his fiance has been pushing for him to have a better relationship with his father because she seems very conscientious about family and family values. (Not to mention, when you get together with TH’s family, you instantly feel like you’re a part of the family and you’re never going to escape. So, you know, she probably felt pretty similar to me when I first joined the family. And to be honest, it’s not so bad. They’re a riot.) So, anyway.

His fiance works as an assistant manager at the local Home Depot. When she found out that I was fired, she mentioned that the spring time was the usual for when people start rehiring. Since TH’s mom loves to talk me up (I’m her daughter without having come from her body), she’s gone on and on about how good I am at the whole customer service thing to the fiance. This has made her mention on numerous occasions that she wants me to join her team. I was kind of put off because I know that Home Depot hires at a fairly lower rate than, say, Lowe’s. (F’ex: HLB got a job at Lowe’s at the same time their mom had a job at Home Depot. HLB was getting paid over a dollar more than his mom, who has a degree in horticulture.) Also, I would be starting off at the bottom again and that’s seriously soured me on the whole thing.

I mean, yeah, sometimes you have to get shit on to make it somewhere. And sometimes, you have to just take what you can get. However, I would be going from having made $38,000/year to who knows how much with Home Depot? The thought wasn’t appealing. Obviously, since I’m on unemployment, I’ve taken a massive pay cut as it stands. But, the thought of starting off in a similar environment, for a different company, at such a low pay rate doesn’t exactly sound like something I’d want to do. It didn’t take me that long to move up the ladder at Greed, Inc but they also fire everybody humanly possible or lose good employees to competitors all of the time. Whether they wanted to or not, they would have had to elevate me to a higher level and pay rate than I was when I first started.

Anyway.

The newest job offer is that I would be, in effect, a leader of some sort. I’m not quite sure what the whole gist of the job is but that I wouldn’t be starting off with as a simple cashier; I would be running the whole of the cashier stations. There’s no telling what the job pay is because I haven’t actually spoken with the fiance about it as of yet. I do know that she, as an assistant manager, brings home six figures. I also know that her quarterly bonus for this last quarter was ten grand (the store manager brought home something like seventy-grand). So, with me having held out for this long with my usual “I DON’T FUCKING KNOW” brain pattern, I’ve managed to at least get a little higher than your average Joe.

The thing is that I’m not really sure I want to do this.

It’s a good job and it seems stable. MIL said that it only took the fiance to work her way up to assistant manager in less than three years. Considering that there are more positions in Home Depot than there were at Greed, Inc that stands to reason. She also said that the company is pretty family oriented and if I needed my hours changed for whatever reason that they would do what they could to work with me. That, right there, is a pretty interesting factoid. Greed, Inc was more likely to fire you because your home situation changed than work with your schedule. So, there is that in there.

The thing is that I’m just… I don’t know what I want to do. Last night when TH, MIL, and I were discussing this whole thing, TH was pushing for it. He’s currently out of work because no one wants to accept PP’s bids at the moment since he’s not willing to shoot himself in the foot. (There was a guy on their last job, TH said, who underbid by a whole lot and did a shitty job as the result.) So, the two of us are filing for unemployment and we both have dreams of buying a house sooner as opposed to later. When TH commented that it was a good idea, I yelled, “I don’t want to work to support you!” What I really meant was that I’m so tired of living a life that’s entirely revolved around work and work-related things. Yes, as a cashier-helper-person-thing, I wouldn’t have as many responsibilities but even as an ass-manager at Greed, Inc, I remember coming home in a flat rage because of something or having panic attacks at work because shit sucked.

I don’t want to do that again. I don’t want sixty hour weeks of bullshit.

Another thing that I’m worried about: I’ve just started writing again. I haven’t started working on TEHNOVEL™ because I’ve been working up to it. But, it was because of work that I lost my muse in the first place. There’s also the fact that I have a child to raise and a house to run. With working who knows how much that means that things like writing and hobbies get tossed out the window to make room for things like family and a home.

What really bothers me about all of this is that I’m thinking about just taking the job so that I can buy a house.

But again, I can’t help but think that maybe it’s not a good idea. Working to live instead of living to work…

I should have been born independently wealthy.

A Senator E-Mailed Me.

So, a while back, I sent a mass E-mail to Scott Brown for supporting the Blunt Amendment. This is the one where the guy thought it would be awesome to make any employer drop whatever they feel “morally against” from health insurance. This would include HIV tests, contraception and abortion, and various other little things that might actually be useful. I got pretty fucking aggravated that one of my senators was an asshole and actually supported this bullshit amendment. (In case you have no idea what I’m talking about, here’s some stuff about it! So, I signed the little Planned Parenthood sanctioned E-mail and forgot about it. Until now, that is…

…because Scott Brown had someone E-mail me back! (Someone as in an aid because we all know that he would never actually ordain to write someone back.) So, you know what he said to me?

“Thank you for contacting me regarding religious conscience exemptions in healthcare. I value the input of my constituents on all issues and would like to take this opportunity to respond.

“The First Amendment to the Constitution secures for all Americans the freedom of religion. Our Founders felt this freedom was so important that they didn’t just place it in the First Amendment — it’s the first thing to be mentioned — ahead of freedom of speech, the press, or the right to petition government. I support a conscience exemption for religious organizations from the new healthcare mandate because I want to make sure that we are providing the same protections for religious groups that have existed for more than 220 years.

“Under President Obama’s healthcare law [P.L. 111-148], for the first time in our history, religious organizations are being coerced by a federal mandate to violate their deepest religious and moral convictions. Religious organizations are faced with an impossible choice: drop coverage entirely for their employees and pay a punitive fine to the federal government, or violate their faith. As a husband and the father of two daughters, I believe insurers should provide access to contraception services, and I support federal funding for family planning and health services for women. That is the way I have voted as a member of both the Massachusetts legislature and the United States Senate. However, I also respect people of faith and believe we can both provide coverage for the services that women rely on, and have a conscience clause that guarantees religious freedom. It is important to note that we have found that balance in the Massachusetts healthcare law, and we should also be able to do so at the federal level.

“It is for these reasons that I voted in favor of an amendment to the Highway Bill (S. 1831), on March 1, 2012, offered by Senator Roy Blunt (MO), which would have restored the conscience protections in law that existed prior to the new federal mandate proposed in February 2012. The amendment would have required plan sponsors who received a religious exemption for specific services to offer health coverage of the same or greater value as a plan that included those services. This means that employers would have no financial incentive to seek religious exemptions to any mandated health service. The amendment would not have prohibited women from accessing any healthcare service they need, nor would it have impacted existing state laws, and it did not address any other federal law besides the new flawed healthcare mandate. The amendment failed by a vote 51-48.

“Again, thank you for getting in touch with me. Should you have any additional questions or comments, please feel free to contact me or visit my website at http://www.scottbrown.senate.gov.”

And I have to say that I’m just as pissed now as I was when I first sent the E-mail. Not only is such a propagandist piece of shit but it also talks about how he supports religion. Yeah, okay. I support having a religion, too, but I don’t think it should have any basis in what type of health care I receive or what type of health insurance I get from any of my [future] employers. And just the complete and utter bullshit that this E-mail is filled with led me to decide to E-mail him back. And you know what I said?

“The Constitution states that we have a right to practice whatever religion we want. And while the men who founded this country did believe that having religious freedom merited the most important place in our constitution, they didn’t use it to decide how this country was run. They were granting ACCESS to religion, not forcing it down our throats.”

Sit on that and twirl, Senator Brown. You ain’t gettin’ my vote.