True Love

The infamous “they” claim that romance novels have destroyed any sense of realistic views of love for women. They say guys don’t really stand a chance because they could never live up to the hype of the romantic characters in books and movies. I can understand that. But the problem for me is I hate romance novels and there are very few “chick flicks” that maintain my interest.

I’m a Marvel Comics, Red, Sin City, No one Lives, action/thriller/horror kind of a gal. I want the kind of love you see in those kinds of movies…for example, when the hero or anti-hero’s girl gets kidnapped, everyone in the audience (AND eventually the person who did the kidnapping) all say “Oh shit, he’s gonna pay for that when so and so finds out.”  And they’re right.

Well then. You can imagine how disappointing it can be to live and love in the “real world.”

It’s not that I hate the idea of my man showing up with a bouquet of field-picked flowers or learning origami just so he can fold me a paper figurine of my favorite bird. That’s all well and good, but what really spoils my idea of love and romance are the love stories shown in the action films, even when they don’t mean to be love stories.

Dance of the Dead (Masters of Horror series, not the movie): When anti-hero Jak and heroine Peggy are face-to-face with the bad guy in a dismal and dangerous post-apocalyptic world, Jak steps in front of Peggy to protect her from getting shot. The great thing is that it wasn’t one of those dramatic thrusts where he flies through the air, arms flailing, to intercept the bullet. It’s the ease in which he does it. There’s no fanfare but also no hesitation. He just smoothly steps in front of her and into the line of fire as soon as he sees the gun come out. Slick as anything. And better than flowers and romance any day.

Dance of the Dead

Dance of the Dead — Jak and Peggy

Iron Man 3: (Potential minor spoiler) Tony Stark’s house is getting blown into confetti by a flurry of missiles. Yet even with so much chaos and panic and fire and noise, his first thought is to protect Pepper. As he’s being blown through the air by the explosion, Stark immediately sends the very cool Iron Man suit to cover her and protect her from the debris while he bears the brunt of the attack himself. It’s not so much the act, but rather that it was his first, involuntary thought. He didn’t think, “I could use the suit, but nah, I’ll give it to Pepper. That’s what a good boyfriend does.” The choice didn’t exist in his mind. His thought process went immediately from “Danger” to “Protect Pepper” without any steps in between. That’s love.

Iron Man 3 — love in the Marvel Universe

The Crazies: Timothy Olyphant’s character couldn’t flee the infected zombie like people because his wife was somewhere in the town.  Oh he could’ve saved himself, sure, the opportunity was there.  But he had to find her.  Another guy was leaving and was incredulous that Timothy Olyphant was staying.  Timothy Olyphant’s character said to the guy: “Don’t ask me why I can’t leave without my wife, and I won’t ask you why you can.” Who wouldn’t swoon at such devotion?

The Crazies -- the wife he couldn't leave behind

The Crazies —  he couldn’t leave her behind

No-one Lives:  Don’t even get me started on this one.  Suffice it to say the title is an apt description of what happens after the seriously anti-hero’s love interest is killed.  The fact that the anti-hero was a bit of a whack job himself does not lessen my admiration of his dedication whatsoever.  Not sure what that says about me.

No One Lives -- a whack job, but dedicated

No One Lives — a whack job, but dedicated

The Notebook: “Well, if you’re a bird, I’m definitely a bird.” Oh, Ryan Gosling. That one just kind of speaks for itself. He says it like a math equation. A statement of fact. Nothing to question. Hey, what can I say?  The Notebook was an amazing movie even for someone like me.

If you're a bird, I'm a bird.

If you’re a bird, I’m a bird.

So the movies I like to watch have shaped my expectations.

Unfortunately the movies I like the best are not always your typical romances. Flowers, candy, all that is easy.  I want the kind of love that drives the guy to fight an army of the undead or break into the Russian Consulate to regain what was taken from him.

I doubt I’ll ever have the need to be encased in special armor during an attack and somehow I don’t think I’ll ever get snatched by the CIA in a convoluted plot or even chased by zombies. But the specifics aren’t what I pine for. It’s the intensity. That, I believe, can exist in this world. If not and it’s just generic love stories like you find in Cameron Diaz movies then I’m screwed.

Sick-O

As if life wasn’t hectic enough, the universe recently thought it could double up on my stress level and bless me with a nice medical problem on top of everything else that’s been vying for the top spot in my list of current anxieties. Or, maybe I should say it’s not so much a medical problem as it is… cue ominous music… “mystery science theatre,” because as of yet the doctors have no clue how to solve whatever it is I’ve got – or even what I have.

I’ll tell you, there’s a special category of “disheartening” when you go to your doctor seeking reassurance in the knowledge that surely to goodness somewhere in his career he’s cured things much worse than whatever it is you’ve got and he just shrugs his shoulders at you. Literally. That’s what he did.  No joke.

When I first went in to be seen the doctors went straight down the terror route. “Ahh, let’s see, maybe we should do a biopsy of something.”  Of course, my mind immediately jumped from “I thought I might need some pills for a few days” to “What the hell’s going to be on my tombstone?” Then, after wrapping my head around the possibility that I might have a malignant golf ball in my lungs and/or my sinuses, the doctors said “Nah, screw that, never mind.” They never did the biopsy.

Instead they downgraded their opinion of what I might have to something cheerfully referred to as “double pneumonia.” Just for the record, I would have been fine with just a single. That’s all the pneumonia I’ll ever need.

Then the doctors said, “Forget we mentioned that” and changed it to sudden onset asthma.  Then, another guess was thrown in the ring for good measure… bronchitis?

None of their treatment methods have worked out so far. At this point it just sort of feels like they’re flipping through pages in a medical dictionary and seeing where their finger lands. After the attempts at treating the bronchitis, asthma, and pneumonia failed they at least know it’s none of those three. Thank you, Dr. Obvious.

So now we just have to keep doing more tests. Not like I have other stuff do with my day. Oh sure, Doc, I’ll be here whenever you need me. What do you want to test for? Rabies? Great! You think it could be scurvy? Let’s find out!

I’m sorry, I know diagnosing an illness isn’t exactly so cut and dry, but c’mon, Doc. You have that fancy degree hanging up on your office wall. Let’s earn it, buddy. If I have to go into another X-ray and give a 10 minute explanation about how I know for sure that I’m not pregnant one more time, my freakin’ head’s going to explode. Just mark it down on my record. I’m sure there’s a box there. Pregnant? No. In ink. And please just believe me next time. I’m not trying to pull one over on you.  Seriously.  I’ve had two kids, one is 22 years old.  I know where babies come from and would hope you’d trust me about something as life-altering as pregnant or not pregnant.  You don’t need to give me the third degree every single time.

As of today the doctors, in their infinite wisdom, have me on the steroid prednisone which, as it turns out, is the same medicine my dog takes. Go figure. If they put a cone around my head I might just seek out another healthcare provider. Until then, I’ll take the steroids and my own in-house remedy…Mucinex and Codeine-laced cough syrup.  A combo of those two and it’s nighty-night.  I didn’t even have to go to med school to figure that one out.

Death Comes to the Drive-Thru

Got an important funeral coming up and you just don’t want to run into Aunt Edna? Or you just know your ex is going to be at the cemetery with his new stick-thin blonde girlfriend? Or you can’t bother to be hassled by Grandpa Barry’s old-school sexist comments? Well, thank heavens for Paradise Funeral Chapels, one of the first funeral homes that comes complete with a drive-thru window. Hallelujah! Drop off your deceased at Paradise and come funeral time you won’t even have to bother trying to find parking. You can just roll right on up to the viewing window where sad, mournful music kicks in from an overhead speaker. Then you and your loved one get three whole minutes of alone time (separated by thick glass, of course) for you to deliver any heartfelt goodbyes.

Gone is the need to actually be in the same room as your family members if you don’t feel like it. Paradise Funeral Chapels understands that people are getting busier every day and has designed their parlor for those on the go. Pay your respects to Grandpa on the way to Timmy’s soccer game without missing a second of the first quarter. Don’t miss a second of that conference call with your firm’s partners as you blow a kiss to dearly departed Nana.

So if you don’t know how the heck you’re going to squeeze in your last goodbyes and still make it to Nordstrom’s in time for the big sale, look no further than Paradise.  Oh and no need to worry about that last-minute beach traffic either, you’ve got that covered! Pop on over to Paradise to say adieu to Cousin Fred and be on the road to sun and surf in no time at all!

In all seriousness, I can almost, sort of, slightly see how a drive-thru funeral option would be maybe “okay.” Some families have “issues” when they get in the same room together. I suppose this could be a way to avoid any potential fisticuffs between brothers that just can’t get along. And as the article states, maybe this is an easier alternative for those who are disabled. Perhaps it has some practical causes. Maybe. Sort of. Kind of. But in reality, it just sounds tacky…especially when there are more respectful, and just as practical, alternatives to choose from: such as separate viewing times for family members (since acting like adults is apparently out of the question), handicapped accessible areas, etc.

Of course there’s nothing that can be done – no real compromise to be made – for those individuals who just don’t want to take five minutes out of their day to go inside and pay their respects to the dearly departed because they’re simply too busy or too lazy. For those people, it would seem these windows were ideally invented.

As for me, I’m still wrapping my head around drive-thru Starbucks. It’s going to take some time to absorb drive-thru eulogizing.

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Eat a Banker

A few days ago I was driving along on my merry way when this car in front of me at a red light catches my eye…not because it was a particularly attractive car or because it was getting on my nerves as so many cars do at traffic lights, but because it was covered in a dozen, maybe more, bumper stickers. The driver obviously has an ax to grind because every sticker was addressing the financial crisis that started a few years ago. He (or she) definitely has bank issues. A lot of anti-1% sentiment. Others spewing condemnation at big banks and their blatant thievery.  One in particular really grabbed my attention. It said something along the lines of “give a man a gun and he can rob a bank, give a man a bank and he can rob everyone.”  You get the drift.

I didn’t really have an opinion on the matter up to this point. If you want your battle to be our financial institutions, go wild. If you want to rail against fracking, be my guest. Making your stand on health care costs? Good for you! As long as it’s not racist, sexist, and any of the other hate-filled “-ist”s I’m not going to get in your way for believing what you want to believe.

This car only got my attention because bumper stickers are very effective at doing what it takes to get read. Big letters, bright colors. Our eyes can’t avoid being sucked in to a good sticker. And this one just had soooo many.  But then, after we read them we may chuckle if it’s witty before promptly erasing it from our memory.

I was on the verge of forgetting this car even existed until I read one of the last bumper stickers. It said “save money, eat a banker.” This one, I could not let roll off so easily. The hyperbole of the message was just so extreme it baffled me, I’ll admit.

Is this what we’ve come to in our protests against big banking?  The suggestion of cannibalism? I’m sure the driver doesn’t mean for the sticker to be taken literally (well, pretty sure anyway). In all likelihood they just got a kick out of it and because they thought it was witty they popped it on the back of their car. But cannibalism as a joke?

That’s sort of a different league then say “save a horse, ride a cowboy” or “honk if you like loud noises.” Those are pretty benign, straightforward, and somewhat goofy. And in the case of “save a horse, ride a cowboy” at least you’d be getting a modicum of fun out of the deal.

I’m not trying to suggest that a certain decorum or taste be applied when one chooses a bumper sticker. I’m not running a car decoration finishing school. It just struck me as odd that the punch line to that particular joke—one that was not about the zombie apocalypse—was to ingest another human being. This is the best that the group who made the sticker could come up with? Cannibalism?

I didn’t stop there with my thinking. Oh no, I kept going. I was riding this freight train of thought to the very end.

I tested the logical reasoning behind the absurd sticker. If someone did eat a banker, would they actually save money? Does the argument hold up? I’ve come to the conclusion that, no, it is not even a valid suggestion. Chances are with how unaccustomed your stomach is for human flesh, you’d end up getting wicked sick and have to go to the hospital to get treated for food poisoning. You’d get your stomach pumped, you’d have to stay overnight for observation, then once they found out you were dining on Barry the Banker you’d probably have to attend therapy if you were lucky enough to avoid getting tossed in prison.

It just doesn’t make sense. Sounds to me like you’d end up spending a ton of money just to get yourself out of such a mess.

And really, say your stomach is fine with human meat. Say that you’ll never get caught and won’t have to go to the hospital. That still begs the question, what kind of wine goes with a banker? Or maybe a glass of brandy would be more preferable? It is a banker after all. The headaches of figuring this bumper sticker out just don’t end. It’s simply a bad idea. How about this one “save your sanity, don’t read bumper stickers.”

Bullies Forever

When I was very young—I won’t say exactly when, thereby aging myself—the first books I read were mysteries with kids my age as the protagonists. I started with The Bobbsey Twins and Trixie Belden, eventually moving up to the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew as I got a little bit older.

They were great and I liked the fun mysteries the plucky little kids were tasked with cracking. But one thing about them always annoyed me: the bully. There was always some terrible bully who would make things difficult for the main characters, even the teenage characters like Frank and Joe Hardy and Nancy Drew.

I brushed them off thinking that these were clichés the author used to move the plot along and give us a reason to root for the heroes a little bit more. Then, once I got into middle school, I found out the truth. There were not clichés. Bullies actually existed! I don’t think there was one grade from middle school on where I didn’t run into at least one archetypical bully. Contrary to popular belief, the girls were quite vicious. Any new girl in the class was fair game for their terrible verbal abuse. There was always at least one boy bully, too. While the girls were poetic in their nastiness, the boy bullies tended to use physical means to get their rocks off.

When I was in school, teachers rarely did anything about it. Times are changing. But back then, they’d shrug their shoulder or look away thinking, “Kids would be kids.” No real punishment or attempt at conflict resolution. Maybe the teachers just assumed that once these kids got older and graduated (or dropped out) they’d see the error of their ways and stop their bullying.

Well, anyone who watches reality TV knows that just isn’t true.

Kids who were bullies in school often stay bullies and the kids who stood by and watched generally tend to continue getting their jollies like that today.

Take the popular shows like Tosh.0 or Smoking Gun Presents World’s Dumbest. The format is similar. A group of D-list celebrities sit around and watch videos of accidents. Some of them are innocuous, like a husband and wife who fall into a pool at a wedding. No injury, no big deal. But then they watch other videos where people are actually getting hurt. Badly. They’ll show a clip of a skateboarder who lands on his head after falling down. The kid could have a concussion, or worse, and these people on the show are sitting in the studio taking delight in the moment. And people at home must be eating it up too, otherwise the shows wouldn’t keep airing.

Fox News has had a grand ol’ time denigrating the First Lady’s weight of late.  I’m not speaking to the politics of it – but the fact that anyone’s weight and the mocking thereof should make the “news” is just amazing to me. This is bullying, plain and simple.

And of course there are a myriad of shows and so-called celebrities whose sole purpose seems to be coming up with vile insults that pick apart the supposedly horrible way people look. No wonder our society has so many issues today.  This is popular entertainment. This is what we’ve become…millions of people sitting on their couches laughing at others and feeling superior.

Observing this behavior has forced me to come to the following conclusion: People have no empathy and no pride. Mocking others isn’t exactly a prideful moment. The lack of respect for our fellow human beings is shocking.

Need proof? Here’s the latest and greatest in human nature:  Yahoo Article on “People of the Iowa State Fair.”

This isn’t the official page of the Iowa State Fair, but it’s a page someone created to share photos of people attending the fair. Roughly 90% of these photos seem to have been taken by a bully–yes, a bully–looking for overweight people or people dressed in a unique and different way. The photos have captions that ridicule the innocent people who were just being themselves trying to have a fun day.

Of course, not everybody enjoys these photos.

According to the article:   Several visitors who find the site offensive have asked the administrator to take down (or at least take responsibility for) the page’s hurtful content, but to no avail. The administrator posted this response on Tuesday: “People watching is one of the great traditions of the Iowa State Fair, and this site was made to allow people worldwide to enjoy that… The internet is full of offensive and disgusting things, and if I stumble across a website that offends me, I re-direct my browser elsewhere immediately and do not go back.”

The italics are part of the article, but I’d italicize them if they hadn’t been, because that’s a common excuse.

“If you don’t like it, don’t watch.”

Well, the problem is, what about the people who do like these degrading photos and captions?  They are society’s problem…because those adults are going to teach their kids that “fat-shaming” and “different-from-us-shaming” is okay.

Is normal.

Is funny.

And that’s so sad.

To clean or not to clean

I’m not sure if you’re familiar with her work but Phyllis Diller once said, “Trying to clean a house with small children in it is like trying to shovel the walk while it’s still snowing.” To that I say, TOO TRUE. While my children are no longer remorseless litterbugs disguised in Osh Kosh B’Gosh, it’s still a saying that rings true to me to this very day.

Let me just go right ahead and cop to being an attention deficit freak. My attention span flits around quicker than a hummingbird at a honeysuckle festival. Equally strong is my desire…no, it’s more of an obsessive need…for organization and order. The problem that I constantly war with myself over is that while I have an impressively low ability to stay focused on things I know I really should care about but don’t (like cleaning), I love having a neat, organized, and clean house. I think you can see why this is a problem. Maintaining a household is flat out work. Constant work. And it’s boring….oh so incredibly boring! In my ideal world my house is always a spotless sanctuary. I can see it when I close my eyes. I know what it would look like if it reached that utopic level, but trudging through the tedium to get there is a damn near impossibility.

Please tell me I’m not alone in this. I feel this is a problem many of us share. We’re standing at the base of this mountain and can see the summit. We visualize how great it would be to be on the peak (oh, what a great Facebook profile pic that would make!) and we know the utter sense of success that would wash over us, but the one thing getting in our way is actually climbing it. My house is my mountain. While it definitely has a comfy “lived in” feel and while there may be little messes lying around here and there, the ultimate cleanliness is a far cry.

Maybe this is okay. Maybe the comfort that comes from knowing the house is not just a house but a home is better than having it ready for any unexpected visits from Better Homes & Gardens. Proof of a family living and loving and going through their lives as a unit can contain much more beauty than a streak-less mirror or sparkling counter top. This is what I tell myself when I see an unfolded blanket half on the sofa and half on the floor (and most likely with a cat hiding underneath). It only got that way because someone that I care for intensely was there using it the night before while playing video games. You can have your solo mountain top photo, I think maybe I’ll be okay here at the bottom drinking and occasionally spilling hot chocolate with the lovable mess I call family.