Stuck on Stupid

Need I Say More?

The term “zero tolerance” is thrown about quite a bit these days. You hear it in school anti-bullying platforms, corporate quality control procedures, and more intimately, with regards to gender, sexual orientation, and race-based discrimination. But what about discrimination against folks that are just plumb dumb? Is that allowed?  Let me clarify that by “dumb”, I’m referring to a segment of society that acts as if somehow the possession of even an iota of common sense makes no sense at all.  These are folks with access and information at their fingertips.  The last time I checked, you didn’t have to be Harvard-educated to have some damn sense about you.  Great day!

Through a series of events over the last few days, I’ve come to discover that there are even lower levels of tolerance than zero.  It seems that I have a below-sub-zero tolerance for stupidity. That’s not redundant, if you’re wondering.  I want to make sure that you get “it” – my level of intolerance – that is.  (I’m holding up the peace sign, as made famous by Martin Lawrence, moving it from the front of my eyes to yours, to signify the connection that I’m trying to establish with you as we move this conversation forward.  You feel me?)  When crossed, my threshold for air between the ears creates an unnerving sensation in my body, and brings out the absolute worse in me.  The display just makes me want to reach across the counter and snatch somebody stupid! So much for anti-bullying! 😮

Yesterday I was thankful for good healthcare, and today, I am just p.o’d at the folks that stand in the way of my actually getting this care, and the host of enabling systems and accompanying cast of characters – from the “I can’t think for myself/that’s not in my job description/can I do anything else for you today?” chick at the pharmacy counter, to the parent committee chair who simply regurgitates a presented problem, adding absolutely no value of her own, while refusing to even consider the recommendations that are given.  After all, considering a recommendation might actually require one to think, as well as act, and who has time for all that work?  So then I’m left to wonder if this is stupidity or sheer laziness.  I don’t know…I’m just saying. 

It’s as if these characters are on auto-pilot, paid not to think.  Perhaps they think they would be rendered incapacitated by a creative or independent thought.  I can’t imagine what would happen were they required to manually calculate change at a cash register.  Heaven forbid!  I’m not asking for them to fly me to the moon, but could you just go a little deeper…please…try me.  How am I supposed to maintain my composure and sense of decorum when I’m confronted with this foolishness?  I’m clueless.  So in the meantime, after numerous attempts at civility with pharmacists, receptionists, apprentices, and “customer service” representatives, I find myself boomeranging up and down two major streets, in between pharmacies, and then going home to wait on these dumb “professionals” to call me when they’re good and ready with something as vital as medicine for a sick child.  Daggone shame!  This just doesn’t seem right, especially when so many folks are unemployed.

Thanks for listening! You’ve been great! 😮 Now it’s your turn to quip about the subject. Come on, indulge me with your personal encounter of “Stupid in Motion”, and together we can probably come up with something for counteracting. Better yet, share with me why you think this phenomenon is sweeping the nation at such an alarming rate.

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Yay Me!

How many times have you turned on the stove to boil water for tea, to remember that you did so only when you actually heard the whistle?  Too many times, I manage my day based on what screams for my immediate attention.  “The squeaky wheel gets the grease”, goes the old saying, but today I vowed to take care of the bigger and more critical matters that would transport us well into the future and pay dividends for our family in the long run.  Though less demanding and intrusive, I knew that these matters had the potential to bubble over as they seemed to only require that I check on  them sporadically as they were now on a slow, less threatening simmer setting. 

I find myself wanting to streamline my visible spaces, and de-clutter them in a big way as their physical existence beckons for my touch.  I look at everything in my home with a keen eye, asking myself whether it should stay or go.  I’m on a mission to give away the things in our home that can bless others, discard the stuff that nobody would want, and organize what’s left. 

Lately however, despite my deepest desires to cut the clutter and trim the fat in more places than one, I’ve had to become much more disciplined about managing my time versus organizing my tangible space and things to ensure that the “must-do’s” don’t fall through the cracks.  As a result, I’m left with very little time to focus on the “nice-to-do’s”, including any major de-cluttering.  Since I’m not diagnosed OCD – self or medically – you don’t have to worry about finding me on my hands and knees cleaning out corners or color-coding towels in the linen closet.  After all, I’d hate to raise the bar too high. 🙂 Nonetheless, I’ve had to become more diligent and discerning about those matters that should command my time and attention, versus those matters that only seem urgent because of their visibility. 

So today, while I didn’t do a whole lot of organizing or de-cluttering, I was most definitely in the zone!  I rode that wave of productivity and held her hostage until she said “I surrender! No mas! Qué quieres de mί, mujer?” 🙂  I so needed a day like today.  Though it began with my being less bright-eyed and bushy-tailed than usual, I felt really good.  Like most mornings, I am so happy to be alive when I wake up, that I’d jump to kiss the sun if I could…especially after a really great cup of coffee!  Seriously.  I revel in the knowledge that I’ve been given another day, another tabula rasa…another chance to get it right.  What unseats me more than being sleep-deprived is not being productive.  When I know that I’ve procrastinated long enough on something, and can’t find the words to explain why, I feel less than adequate, because I have only myself to blame.  So despite my needing a few additional hours of sleep, I was determined to make it a good day, to organize myself versus my things, to be productive, to be at peak performance, and I would not, and did not, settle for anything less! 

Should I learn tomorrow that some things did, in fact, fall through the cracks, I will chalk it up to them just not being all that important in the first place.  Today’s clarity will not be contested.  I still might not get the doctor-recommended, coveted eight hours of sleep tonight, but I will rest well with the contentment that came from a day well-lived.  Yay me!  Everyone needs a “yay me” day.

Sundays at Sunset

Rhode Island
Sunset, somewhere in Rhode Island

Today, I’m doing my adaptation of the emotion that the songwriter must have been trying to evoke when she wrote “Rainy Days and Mondays always gets me down“. I actually like rainy days and Mondays;  it’s Sundays that are posing a bit of a problem.  Sundays are supposed to mark a departure from the routine of the week. Largely unscripted, Sunday is an opportunity for our family to just relax, be with each other, and nestle a bit.  Given a lighter schedule, I can crochet, pick up a book or my nook, do a bit of laundry if I’m so inclined, polish my toes, cook a Sunday dinner – or not, listen to music louder or longer than I usually do, let hubby and the kids sleep in a bit later than usual, and get out of my PJs when I’m good and ready.  These are things that I love about Sunday.  I just don’t think that this part of Sunday is quite long enough.  It seems that it comes to a screeching halt without my asking.  I dread the feelings of melancholy that sweep over me, rather abruptly, once the most exciting, but simple part, is over.  The pending return to normalcy and routine gives me a swift kick in the rear to remind me of what now needs attending so the “work” week can get off to a smooth start.  Go figure.

Indeed, there’s no day quite like Sunday.  It seems to be the most civil and tempered of the two-day weekend.  Family dinners, church hats, and football games are but a small part of the color scheme for several on this day of the week.  Admittedly, this is a day for relaxation,  reflection and grounding,  and re-upping on depleted stores of energy, drive, and determination so that the upcoming week will be even better and more productive than the last.  As such, Sundays very definitively, play an important role in making life that much more interesting, balanced, whole…and I want much more of it,  minus the Super Bowl.

“Stay a Little While, Child”, Loose Ends

Home Sweet Home


Rewind!!! Pic by my Bud(dy) Walter James

We’re through with the most fretful part of this snowstorm, I hope.  The refrain was unanimous – this is The Storm, one that could break an over 40-year record in 1967, when over two feet of snow fell for miles and miles.  This storm has blanketed a great stretch of the country, from Texas to Maine.  We certainly got more than our fair share here in the Midwest.  The temperatures are also bitterly cold, and will make for a less than eventful clean-up and lots of ice afterward.

It’s Day Two of being housebound with the children and I’ve stocked up on the essentials, as well as a few goodies – buttermilk for baking a cake, snacks, juiceboxes, water, some canned items, fruit, veggies, water, and everything else we may need including batteries, flashlights, candles, and Duraflame logs.  Admittedly, this was all a bit frightening at first.  My youngest daughter thought it would be great to make snow angels, but she’s so tiny that she’d fall right through. Some areas around my home exceed 22 inches, and there are drifts that are taller than my friend and neighbor, who has got to be at least six feet.  That’s even more troubling for us vertically-challenged folk!

I am going bananas inside!  I haven’t been able to go anywhere, and now I have a wicked case of cabin fever.  I love my little darlings and being with them, but what’s love got to do with it? I want out!  Snow is anything but picturesque when it’s parked on your front lawn, driveway, backyard, and in front of your door.

I usually spend little to no time talking about anything that’s less than joyful, but I just wanted to paint a picture and give you a backdrop for this morning’s post.  I get really bad cabin fever when I am indoors for too long. I become irritable, get the blues, and freak out as if the walls are closing in on me.  This seems to be more pronounced during adverse weather events.  I noticed this shortly after giving birth to my first child, who will soon be eleven years old.

While in the hospital, and severely medicated (death to Percocet and Darvocet!), I would look out the window, and all I could see was snow, ice, and slow, crawling traffic. The cars looked like little Matchboxes and the overhanging branches looked like they could snap under the weight of the ice.  Here I was, in this white box of a hospital room, with nurses coming by every few hours to ensure that I took my meds and had a bowel movement.   Come on, already! After 22 hours of labor and an emergency C-Section, I was becoming doubtful about this whole “Joy of Giving Birth” thing.  Though I was excited about the event of being a first-time mother to this most-gorgeous, round-face, bright-eyed little boy, I was anxious about taking him home in this dreadful weather.  Sadly so, I was also feeling a bit of paranoia take over me. To this day, I swear it had to do with being couped up inside a room for so long. Those five days felt like forever. I just wanted to go home!  Could I be experiencing post-partum?

Five days later, I was feeling a bit of the same even though I was home. Having a C-Section limits your movement and activity, to say the least, so again, I was inside. No white walls or box this time, but inside nonetheless. My husband (bless his heart),  started to notice what was happening , and insisted that I go outside regularly, even if I only stuck my head out the window for a few minutes!  A little fresh air would make all the difference, he maintained.  But now, as in February 3, 2011, where the heck am I supposed to step outside for some fresh air? The fresh air is as freaking cold as a naked witch’s tit in February!  What’s so fresh about that?  I.WANT.SPRING!  Day O!   Okay, okay, now that I’ve bitched about how terribly cold it is, and how dreadful this snow storm is, and about my cabin fever, I feel better.

But now, let me also share with you some of the blessings, the small beauties, of being housebound with my three children during this time.  We’re all healthy.  We have our medicines on hand should anyone go into an asthma attack.  We have warm shelter. Though we can all tell that it is certainly colder outside when we’re not wearing socks, the furnace is working.  We have food, flashlights (and batteries), as well as a generator should the power go out. (Oh Lawd, heaven help us all if I can’t figure out how to use it! )  We have a connection to the outside world – what do you think I’m doing here, talking to you?  – internet, phone, television. We have running water, clean clothes, and enough to do to keep us sane. The children have been reading, playing video games, watching TV, eating me out of house and home, playing tag, playing with toys, writing, and painting. Let me clarify that only the girls, ages 5 and 2, were painting and writing. The  2 year old is very confident about her scribbling as she is about her finger painting.  As for the 5 year old, she can paint and write all day, if you let her.  My oldest child, a boy,  isn’t a fan of creative arts, per se. He is my big-picture child.  Don’t ever bore him with backdrop.  “Put it back, and drop it…please Mom.”  😮 (I’d like to have an applause audio right here, instead of that ordinary smiley face.)

I have received more hugs, more closeness, and more love than I can stand. I have been introduced to a 1,000 year old snake, the star of a story written and illustrated by my 5-yr old, and bore witness to the nuptials of him and his “beautiful snake girl”. I’ve received a love letter from her as well, bearing that she’ll love me “no matter what”.  It closes with “you are the most loving mother in the world.” Aww…was I complaining about cabin fever? Over the course of the last two days, my 2-yr old has told me that I’m the “best mommy ever”, in the “whole wide world” at that, and my 10 yr old son has taken to reading my nookcolor, and even convinced me to download a book for him – something about Percy Jackson – which he has been reading, in earnest.  Hey, life ain’t half-bad.  Small beauties.

So I’m going to kick cabin fever as I would kick rocks, because there just ain’t no joy in staying at that layover for too long. Instead, I’ll treasure these moments, these small beauties, for when my children are good and grown, I’m certain that I’ll miss “snow days”.  I will crave their closeness as they grow and go their own ways, and will long for their love letters which make me feel so good inside, even when I don’t always get it right. I am sure that that day will come, so in the meantime, I will let them love me, as only young children can – with randomness, compassion, forgiveness, and innocence, all at once – even when I am stuck inside, surrounded by less-than-picturesque mountains of snow.

Kiss and Tell?

Apparently, it seems that one of my children have made off with one of my writing notebooks in which I took notes for this morning’s writing. Now I have to rely on my memory sans the notes. Look, this has been brewing in me since Sunday morning! (Oh, that was only yesterday!) 😮 At the risk of forgetting any more than I’ve forgotten already, I better quickly get in the flow.

I watched Every Day, an independent film starring Liev Schreiber and Helen Hunt, on Saturday, with hubby dearest, and it raised some good discussion.  This film was beautifully done as it took the viewer into the personal aspects of this family’s life. Liev plays Ned, a husband of nineteen years, a father, worker, son-in-law, while Helen plays Jeanne, his wife, a daughter, mother, and worker.  Ned is going through a mid-life crisis of sorts: he seems less than satisfied with his gig; he’s still making sense of how to best protect his fifteen year old son, who opened up to the family as a young gay man six months prior; his marriage already appears strained; and to top it all off, his bitter father-in-law (played by Brian Dennehy), who is ill has just moved in to live with them. Oh happy day!  Amidst all the hoopla, Ned has an affair with a co-worker during a “creative” session for his job, in which they are under the directive to concoct  material that’s sensational enough  (ie.,  vulgar, raunchy, over-the-top bizarre, sex-laden, out-there) enough for film.  Juicy? Well… not really.

This film’s approach at showcasing a family’s every day struggle to just keep it together, as they confront real issues that are a far cry from trivial or mundane, was rather tempered.  None of the subplots took precedence over the other, nor were they themselves sensationalized. At the end of the day, this family loved each other.  It wasn’t implied. They were actively engaged in loving their children.  Despite the hardship of this particular stage of their lives – caring for aging family members, a teenager coming of self, parents feeling less than satisfied with their careers and sense of living out purpose – they’ve managed to raise two compassionate sons whom they love dearly.    In an instance when Jeannie’s dad (I didn’t get his screen name) launches fierce criticism at her youngest son for not playing the violin quite right, Jeannie interjects like a Mama lion to emphasize  that he’s only playing for enjoyment. Clearly hurt, the boy walks away with a look of puzzlement and irritation which probably only I interpreted  as “you know what, you’re a blankety-hole, but I’m going to let you slide because your blank is sick”; nonetheless, he demonstrates compassion toward his old grandfather, who insists on not dying alone. Ultimately, the grandfather does die, shortly after this same grandson comes in to hold his hand while he takes his last breath.

Ned and Jeannie truly need each other like they’ve never before, but Jeannie, admittedly, isn’t quite available. The responsibility of getting her father the care that he needs, including staying on top of the seventeen prescriptions that he’s required to take, rests squarely on her shoulders, and it is has clearly taken a toll on her life, let alone her sex life.   I don’t believe that Ned went looking for an affair, but it sure didn’t take much cajoling! After all, he was love-starved, and definitely unattended in the intimate department, given his wife’s recent role as caretaker of critical, bitter dad.  I feel for the two of them. Clearly, they need reassurance from each other. It’s obvious that they love and need each other…however, the subplots of their life have taken center stage.

My husband and I asked the question of whether Ned should let Jeannie in on his little affair, and believe it or not, our answers surprised even us!  Perhaps, this was Richard Levine’s goal in writing this film, which is based largely on his own life.  Every Day forced us to be nonjudgmental in areas where we thought we had answers.  We believe in truth and honesty, but agree that there is no right time to unveil this particular truth, given the new circumstance of the father-in-law’s death.  I can take that, but I do believe that they should not waste too much time to address the elephant in the room – that is, non-intimacy – before it takes them down this road again. After all, we know nothing about what similar fate might befall Ned, should he have to care for his own father. You know what they say about women as we come of age.  Ha!!

Georgy Porgy, as performed by the late, great Luther Vandross