When you have kids, they always seem to collect one thing that seems to take over all your living space to the point that you want to kill anyone who gives them another one. With my daughter, it was stuffed animals. Every time she got a new one I wanted to stuff it down the throat of the person who gave it to her.
In the vein of ‘things never change’ my own mother is still going through that with me, only now it’s my collection of coffee mugs.
My mother babysits for me all the time. She actually does more than that – she is there for me all of the time, for whatever I need and whenever I need it. I always manage to work jobs that have crazy hours; she pretty much takes my place at home when I’m working. That includes washing my dishes.
I don’t have a dishwasher – well, technically I suppose I do, but Mom hates when I call her that.
Her biggest bitch is about the amount of coffee cups I have. When my daughter is out for any extended period of time, it’s almost a certainty that all the ‘dishes’ in my sink will be coffee cups.
People tend to give me coffee mugs as gifts. That happens when people know you drink a lot of coffee.
The same thing happens when people know you wear tiaras.
Every time I get a new mug, she starts yelling about how much space they take up. With my ‘older’ perspective, it’s actually quite funny.
Just like old times.
The thing is, I can’t get rid of any of them. They all mean something to me and usually have a story attached.
This one offends my daughter. Even if I hated it (and I don’t), that’s reason enough to keep it.
This one was part of a set of four that my grandmother owned. My siblings and I each got one after she passed. Drinking from it is like having coffee with Grandma.
I got a new one two weeks ago while on vacation at Old Orchard Beach, ME. The story behind it is a little longer because it started last year.
For some reason, I wake up very early when I’m on vacation. The last three years in OOB I’ve been getting up in time to catch the sunrise on the beach. The first year my best friends and our kids and I went to Maine together we stayed in a small unit of one house. Last year and this year we got a bigger unit; the same one for this year and last. I had a HUGE problem last year with the coffee cups in the cabinet: they were teeny tiny. I would pour a cup that I would finish drinking before I walked the 15 steps to the sand. Before the week was over, I was on a quest to find the perfect coffee mug for my beach sunrise mornings.
(And I mean “quest”. Everyone heard me complaining about the lack of a decent coffee cup. Mom was there a few days with us, and she heard it, too.)
My best friend Donna found THE mug three days before we went home. We each got the same mug, just a different color.
The mug WAS perfect – until we got home. One pass thru Donna’s dishwasher and two passes through ‘my’ dishwasher and the logo washed off! We couldn’t believe it!
These cups are from 1985 and 1988 (they are dated on the bottom), and they are perfect!
When it was time to go on vacation this year, I was tempted to bring a coffee mug. I had overpacked again, and because of that I almost didn’t pack the mug. It was Mom who reminded me how … uptight I had been the previous year about the coffee mugs. I had actually forgotten until I got there and opened the cabinet and saw the cups that were there – and it all came back to me in a flash. I was grateful I did bring my own. (Thank you, Mom.)
Of course, Donna and I discussed how bummed we were about last year’s mugs. When Donna found this new one, I went out and bought one, too (a different color). The logo is in the ceramic; it won’t wash off!
Mom was unable to come up to Maine this year, so she did not know I got a new mug.
Because life is life I went back to work after we came home, and Mom was back at my house washing dishes. Of course, she noticed the new coffee mug. I was actually surprised that she didn’t start bitching. Well, she did, but then stopped herself when she realized that the logo wasn’t going to wash off. She actually sanctioned this one because of that! “You DO need your souvenir, and you had to replace the other one.” Wow!
This mug is now extra special to me; it matches one my best friend has, it’s a souvenir of a special place, and the logo won’t rub off. I’m also sure, one day when I’m forced to wash my own dishes after a week of working crazy hours and I notice the ratio of coffee cups to plates, I’m going to think of my mother.
AND because kids never change – even when they get older – the fact that my mother ‘allowed me to have it’ AFTER THE FACT makes me feel a little like I got away with something!
We all know what a terrorist is. In one of my blogs I referred to terrorists as ‘bullies’ because changing the name can change the perception; ‘terrorist’ seems so big and scary, and ‘bully’ seems a little … smaller, more manageable. In that case, the exchange of the words can be helpful when it comes to managing emotions and levels of fear.
However – and for the same reason of acknowledging and using the power behind words – I’m going to flip it around: a bully is a terrorist. While the motivation behind their actions may be different, their goal is the same: to coerce or intimidate another person or person(s) with the use of violence and/or threats.
They are the same, except for one difference; the terrorist is open in the attack and the bully operates under some cover of secrecy. The schoolyard bully never beats a child up for lunch money in front of a teacher; cyberbullying is not usually posted on Facebook and is instead directed to one party; and stalking is usually done under cover of night. All of these forms of harassment are shrouded in secrecy – unless the target of the harasser comes forward.
That should be it, right? But is it? Most of the time the people who are the victims of harassment will not speak out about it, and the reasons are endless. Most people don’t like to be called a ‘snitch’ – which, in my humble opinion, is the vilest form of victim-shaming; someone does something to you, and you are made out to be wrong for reporting it? We really have things ass-backwards here, don’t we?
Another reason is simple embarrassment; admitting to being bullied opens the door to exposing the same secrets or threats the bully is using to victimize, and no one wants to air their dirty laundry, do they? Certainly no one else on the planet has any. This is victim-shaming by the victim him or herself. What would other people say about me if they knew this? This reasoning doubles the harasser’s power; he’s doing it to you, and you are doing it to yourself.
And then there’s the common response of “It’s not so bad” (because no one is physically bleeding?). We think that something like this is small in the grand scheme of things; therefore, we should be able to take care of it ourselves. Even if we were to go so far as to take legal action, we would be made aware that so many other worse things are going on that this seems trivial; this thinking is validated by either/both of sitting in a courtroom while you wait your turn and listening to real issues or not feeling like the police or judge are taking you seriously enough because “nothing has happened yet.”
(And in typical ass-backward fashion, when something does happen we react with “Why wasn’t something done sooner?”)
How do I know this? Because I sat in a courtroom for two hours (plus an hour for a break) the other day to get a harassment order against someone.
I am being bullied. In fact, my whole family is.
Another party has taken their simple dislike for us from unkind letters a few years ago, to an actual threat last year, to attempting to force self-humiliation under threat of certain exposure by reaching out to extended family members, friends and acquaintances in the past two months. The latest attacks have come with no participation or communication of any kind from any of us for a year.
Is this embarrassing to me? Of course it is. No one wants to be a part of anything like this. Then I wonder why it is embarrassing. I’m not doing it. And I realize that I’m also getting old enough that what other people think of me matters less and less.
It is a shame that it happens that way; that we need to get older to un-condition ourselves from silly beliefs. I may not publicize my ‘skeletons’, but I do try to move past them – and I’ll be damned if I let someone else undo that progress that I’ve made by attempting to use them to control me in a way that I won’t allow on my own.
Like I said before, a bully’s power is contained in the secrecy of his actions (his secrecy and the keeping quiet by the target). When we were first threatened with “war” I had said I will not fight. If I were fighting now, I would be naming names. (Although names are mentioned where it counts.) What I am doing now is exposing the harassment, taking the lid off, and circling my wagons. Disarming the weapon of secrecy. There is now record of this behavior.
Secrecy hurts. Keeping the lid on can cause a person to alter their way of life and then isolate and withdraw. Am I going to spend my time second-guessing every move I make for fear of another finding some way to twist it around to hurt me? NO FUCKING WAY.
My family is delightfully dysfunctional. Are any of us perfect? I stand at the front, speaking for myself when I say, “NO WAY!” But we love each other, I cherish all of them, and I don’t take kindly to threats of any kind made against any of them – particularly my daughter.
To all of you out there: Should any of you receive mail/emails/phone calls that suggest in rather crude and vulgar fashion that I have had sex, don’t be surprised – this is what’s going on. Besides, I have had sex. Even better than what was so nicely described in an email to my parents, my siblings, and my daughter. (Note that I have offspring; you can pretty well rest assured that I have had sex.)
I’ve also made quite a few mistakes. I’ve even done stupid things.
If you are offered any kind of monetary offering for any of the above type of information about me or my family, take it. Everyone can use a few extra bucks. As far as I’ve heard, the starting price is $100. Ask for more; the terrorist is well-funded. (You may need a PayPal account.)
To you, the terrorist: you said, “WAR. My mind, my time, my wealth aimed at YOU. Get ready!” Fine. You have your resources; this is me using mine.
You can make me a target, but you cannot make me a victim.
The idea of being a mother is not solely devoted to the act of giving birth. That trait of care and nurturing any of us have for another being – for any life form – is called The Mother Instinct, and it’s in every one of us.
If you have wiped away a tear,
If you have helped clean up any kind of mess,
If you have encouraged growth,
If you have taken care to clean and bandage a wound,
If you have fed the hungry,
If you have provided comfort, support, or shelter,
If you have shown genuine love,
You are a Mother.
“Mother” is a verb. If you have ‘mothered’ anything you are, indeed (in deed), a Mother.
Happy Mother’s Day, to you.
Today was one of those days you’re not unhappy to see end. No tragedies, just unfortunate circumstances that make that night’s sleep a welcome escape. The plans my young daughter and I had for a girls’ day with our cousins who live an hour’s drive away were scratched when my car overheated 20 minutes into the drive. My car had to be temporarily abandoned and a friend came to rescue us and bring us back home.
Today is Saturday. This unfortunate event means all weekend plans are negated – and I actually had plans all weekend, too. Adult ones, even, because my daughter is sleeping over a friend’s house tonight. Here I am, showered, shaved, having a great hair day – even wearing what (for me) could be called a cute outfit (as opposed to the way I normally leave the house: lawfully covered) – and I am stuck.
The drive to my cousin’s house was well-planned and supposed to be part of the day’s fun because it was sort of a ‘maiden voyage’ road trip. My daughter is 12 and only this year old enough and big enough to be sitting in the front seat; we had the tunes ready, we hit the Dunkin’ Donuts drive-thru, and we had the top down on the car. It was 82° when we left. One of our first real spring days here in New England. It will be 30° cooler by tomorrow. We might have another spring day some time during the week (you know, while we are all working). We hope.
Obviously, that little milestone will have to wait. Hopefully, my car can be fixed without too much pain and discomfort and we can try again another time.
There was another little milestone that she crossed today. Because I am me, this is a milestone that I cannot let be overshadowed by the day’s frustration: she shaved today for the first time. While I whined about my car on Facebook, I could not make a public post about this subject – but I can blog about it, because she doesn’t read these!
She’s a weird little kid. Good weird, but weird. If I had told her last year that she could sit in the front seat of the car she would have refused because she knew she did not meet the age and weight requirements. She’s kind of a stickler for those rule things. Don’t know where she gets that from.
But to me, this is a milestone for her because it was a milestone for me. I won’t get into my feelings about shaving in general (but if you want to read that particular bitch, click here), but it was a big deal for me. I remember begging my mother to let me shave my legs in 6th and 7th grade, but she kept telling me I was too young. I tried to explain that shaving had nothing to do with age and everything to do with hair – and Eddie. He was a year older than me and he tormented me for those two years on the school bus, calling me “Hairy Mary.” She finally let me start just in time for 8th grade – and after Eddie moved on to high school. She wouldn’t let me use a blade, either; I had to use an electric razor because she felt it was safer.
I understood my mother wanting me to wait, because shaving is a lifetime commitment once you start. I was actually hoping the hipsters would decide that shaving was too mainstream and take a more European approach before the subject came up for my daughter so that she would not have to take on this aggravating female burden (we have enough). But that didn’t happen.
She asked to start shaving. I let her. And, I let her use a real razor. (6th grade, Mom.) I found out during our discussion that she had ‘already done her research’ and watched a few YouTube videos that a few girls had made regarding certain events that come up in a girl’s life. Research. Funny kid. With everything I’ve said on the subject already, she probably wanted to make sure she didn’t go through anything I did.
And in her usual, quiet way (nothing like me), she took care of business by herself – outside of a few small questions – like it was no big deal. Even after she was done she had little to say about it. Hell, I remember staring at my legs for hours after I shaved for the first time, amazed at the transformation and giddy with it.
She did say one thing, somewhat boastfully, about not injuring herself – but that’s because she has YouTube, and me, and she didn’t have an older cousin who handed her a blade without telling her she needed to use soap and water with it.
I have high hopes for her now. She should not be scarred for life like I am.
She didn’t have Eddie. Or cousin Kimmy.
When I woke up this morning before my alarm, I immediately grabbed my phone to check the time and see if I had significant time left to sleep a little more. I was smiling at the full hour and a half I had left when I saw the Facebook notification from my best friend Donna, but the smile left my face as soon as I saw her post – along with any thoughts of going back to bed. She forwarded me an article someone had written days earlier about painting fingernails!
(To see the article, click here.)
While the article itself may have little importance to some, it is extremely significant to me. Why?
I wrote the same ‘article’ in my blog four years ago – well, close enough to the same. (Actually, it was almost four years to the day; mine was published 4/29/2013, and this other writer’s article was published 4/17/2017.)
(To see my post, click here.)
Even the picture used for her article was very similar to a picture I used that same year.
It was like having a bucket of cold water thrown on me while I was sleeping (it certainly had the same effect – I jumped out of bed that fast).
FOR THE RECORD:
- This is NOT about plagiarism. I do not think anyone ‘stole’ anything of mine.
- I do not hate her article.
Writers, inventors, musicians, and other creative types are very familiar with the Mark Twain quote about ideas:
“There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely; but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.”
I’m sure every single person has had an idea that they dismissed at one time or another and saw another person some time later cash in on the same thing and kick themselves for not acting on it. Words, musical notes, blueprints, small parts, big parts … thoughts … all get recirculated and recycled.
But I acted on my thought! I did write about it!
In my blog. And only 30 people read it. This other writer had hers published by Glamour Magazine and the article was picked up by the Huffington Post, no less. The Huffington Post! (Can you say ‘dream’?)
Ain’t that a kick in the head!
(I bet she’s younger than I am, too.)
Fortunately – and maybe because of my age? – I was able to get past my initial self-pity. In the short distance between my bed in one room of my apartment and my computer in another (with a pit stop at the bathroom), I pretty much had my thoughts in order – and in a positive light – before I even sat down here at my keyboard. It was not so much as a kick in the head, but a kick in the ass.
Here’s what I realized:
I was validated. Someone else felt the same way I did, and the many other people who read and shared her article felt the same way. Did it matter that it was only about painting my nails? No. I was right.
Timing matters. Yes, sometimes you have to get something out at the right time, when enough people are thinking along the same lines. That’s the reason why some thousands of wonderful books, movies, and songs don’t make it – or even flop initially then grab a chart-breaking popularity some time later.
And now we get to the more personal ‘lesson’:
Did I really act on my thoughts? Yes. But no. I followed through with my idea as far enough to publish it in my blog. And I left it there. Did I send it out to any bigger publishers? No.
I try to be so clever with my blog titles, yet there is a definite difference in an article title – one that informs. To some extent I even downplayed my writing by calling it a ‘fluff piece’ – in the title.
Blogs allow us to be a little more self-indulgent, as well. That is a privilege I enjoy heartily.
We wrote the same idea but for different audiences. If I really wanted my writing ‘out there’, I should have tailored it a little more (with less self-indulgence) and added a supporting authority footnote (“backed by science”).
And then, I should have pushed it out. Pushed. Not just tacked up somewhere where someone may or may not have seen it.
Four years ago, I wasn’t ready to do that. Four years ago I had just started that blog (only two weeks prior to writing that particular piece). It was my third attempt at writing a blog and the first one that ‘stuck’.
Now, I am ready to start pushing further. I can read and enjoy that other writer’s article without anger of any kind – not even self-loathing – because my own personal timing played into things, too. Where I was back then is not where I am now, and it is a place I needed to be at to get to where I am now.
Reading her article was an encouraging nudge to me to get moving more, writing more … pushing more. Her article showed me that what I write about has an audience. No, I am not where I want to be as far as my ‘writing career’ goes, but this place where I am right now (like four years ago this month) is a necessary step in that direction. I have pushed my writing more, I have published more. And I still have more to do.
My alarm just went off. I have to get ready for work. To go do the job-that-pays-my-bills-until-I-can-make-money-writing.
Who knows? Maybe if I follow the nudge and my inner muse a little more closely and seriously, four years from now I will be on that next step.
The time is going to pass anyway; I might as well make it count.
I found these two lovely posts on my Facebook newsfeed a few times over the past few weeks:
Aren’t you glad you wanted to be famous?
There’s nothing better than living in a country where I can determine the value of other people by their jobs. Where I can take my right to think, say, do and be whateverIgoddamnplease and shove it in everyone’s face while telling them that they are not allowed the same.
You celebrities, you make life easier for us in so many ways. Your music, films, television shows, books, and art provide us escape when we need it. We’ve even made some of you famous like circus side-show performers because we can’t feel good about ourselves unless we trash someone else – and who better than a celebrity, who is not close enough to defend him or herself. (We have taken passive-aggression to perverted lengths, haven’t we?)
Thank you. We return the favor by not allowing you your own escape (Isn’t that right, Robin?).
One day we will decide to like you and put you up on a pedestal – but that pedestal is made of clay and sits on sand. What you give us to entertain us will only be enough for so long, so we must take away your privacy and make unreasonable demands on you. Smile for us, talk to us, give up your entire life for us. Let us chase you and hound you, and sell your used napkins on eBay. When that’s not enough, let us delve further into your lives so that we may mock you for your stupid decisions, laugh at your relationships’ ends, and insult you for being the human that your stardom apparently was supposed to have taken away from you. We accuse you of being fake, then criticize you when you try to be real. When you try to maintain what we appear to expect from you, we mock you some more for trying to remain the same.
Once you’re up on that pedestal, you are expected to lead by example – unless, of course, you have a different opinion. We want you to be good role models, and insult you when you try – but make sure to give us a good excuse for why our children act the way they do so that we don’t have to accept any blame.
We will expect you to spend your money on what we deem worthy, using the “use your status for good” theory – until it’s not money you are offering.
You will not win.
I have seen the above two posts on the Facebook pages of people who post all that shit about following your dreams, being who-you-are-warts-and-all, not allowing yourself to be pigeon-holed, treating others with kindness, and even bible verses – now, I do not think those types of posts are ‘shit’, but they are if that person who posted them means that anything positive, tolerant, supportive and nice are only the rights of him or herself. One person even posted one of the above memes AND a few posts later put up a political endorsement by a celebrity. Which is it?
(It is quite a skill to talk out of both sides of your mouth, isn’t it?)
I applaud all of you; it takes courage to stand under the microscope in front of such a large audience – not like those of us who hide behind smaller spotlights and only voice opinions from behind computer screens.
We are the real actors; we pretend to love you, but we will use and then crucify you.
I am sorry.