My Future Explained

The movie Far and Away, starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, is one of my favorite movies. Yeah, yeah, it’s a love story and I like that aspect okay, but in the context of this entry, I like the lead character Shannon’s feisty attitude.

Here’s some of the dialogue I liked best from the movie:

Coniff (a fellow worker to other workers): I think the prettiest girl in this factory, the one with the prettiest eyes, and the prettiest red hair, is Joseph’s sister – if you don’t mind me saying so Joseph.

Joseph Donnelly: Well, ya can say what you like lad. But I warn ya, that redhead has a bite that stings.

Flynn/Boss: [to Shannon] Get to work!

Shannon: Get your filthy hands off me you ugly animal!

Flynn: That’ll cost you a day’s wage. Go ahead. Insult me again. 

Shannon: [somewhat quiet but determined, like she can’t keep it inside] Pig.

Flynn: There goes tomorrow. Done?

Now at this point, Shannon really should stop. She needs the money, and from a strictly monetary standpoint, she really can’t afford to lose another day’s wages. But, it was like she couldn’t contain herself.  She just has to say something.

Shannon: [looks over to Joseph, who gestures “No!” she returns to work, but then spins around] Take Friday as well, you spineless little fraction of a man.

Joseph Donnelly: [laughs and smiles]  Bite, lads. Bite.

While of course it helps to have the looks of Nicole Kidman, it’s not necessarily a prerequisite for a smart-ass mouth.

I made a blog entry recently where I pointed out that I would most likely meet my fate through employing sarcasm or smart-assery at the wrong time. You may remember it. Thinking about it today, I have to say that it’s likely true. I’m actually surprised it hasn’t happened before now. After all it’s not like this is a new, emerging talent…

Even now, I often cannot help myself from having the last word, or at least a word, with the totally clueless people I come across in my daily life.  Of course I don’t mean people who are just unaware or those who maybe are just having a bad day (don’t we all have those!) or anything like that. I mean the truly senseless people of the world that are often hard to take.  I seem to encounter them every single day. I don’t know how that’s possible, frankly, it just seems to be my karma. Lucky me.

Of course Facebook is the worst. Well, that’s the anonymity of the internet for you. People reveal their true selves – or just talk tough – because they know they’ll never meet the people they’re being rude to, or the gender they’re dismissing, or the people they’re being condescending to.

It can’t be just me, right?  I’m sure everyone encounters these yahoos and deals with them in their own way…

For me, it is soooo difficult to just let it go.  You know – you just know – that responding to stupidity on Facebook will get you nowhere because no-one (well, virtually no-one) is interested in the truth, they just want to hear themselves talk, or rather, type, and really only want to sow the seeds of dissent.  You can’t really do much with people like that. Nonetheless it’s hard to hold back the “WTF is wrong with you!?” comments.  At least for me.  That’s nothing though – that’s just an ongoing frustration.

Where the real fear of my Grand Demise lies is in answering someone’s goofball question honestly (without running it through the “safety filter” first) or perhaps coming out with (what I think) is a comedic retort to a rude comment made by a person who just doesn’t find me funny (or as cute as Nicole Kidman).

Now, I do have some control. It’s not like I go throughout my day willy-nilly saying rude things to people who deserve a few choice words, whenever and wherever I want. But it’s damn hard, I can tell you that.

My tongue hurts by the end of the day, I kid you not.

What kind of people come into my life, you’re asking yourself.

And is it just me, I ask myself?

I meet them at parties, in restaurants, on the street, in a store – people who are blatantly rude, gender-biased, intolerant, condescending…they run the gamut. Sometimes they just come up with incredibly silly observations that deserve equally silly answers (à la Bill Engvall) and, for better or worse, it seems like my mind is always on fast forward in that regard.

I’ve gotten really good at making the smart-ass comments in my head and letting the “real,” more appropriate, comments come out of my mouth.  But there are times I feel as if I must surely look like a fish gasping for breath.

You know the fish face thing – you want to say something, but you’re so dumbfounded by the person in front of you that you lack the appropriate response, or else you’re trying desperately to contain a not so appropriate response, so your mouth opens and closes like a fish gasping for air as you mentally tell yourself, “Don’t say it, don’t say it. For God’s sake, don’t say it!”

That’s what I look like (or what I imagine I look like) when I’m mentally searching for some innocuous words to use instead of the ones I WANT to use.

I have to say, sometimes I feel like I hesitate for so long prior to saying something (from sheer shock at the stupidity of what the person has done or said) that we’ve skipped into another time zone.

The thing is…you can’t fix stupid. And while a very apropos remark might make me feel better at the time, the sad thing is, I think it would go totally over the heads of most of the people I’d be directing it to. And if they do understand it (with no explanations necessary) that’s when their anger might just kick in, and rather than pushing these folks toward an epiphany, it might just lead to them pushing me under a bus.

And then it’s helloooo afterlife…

 

“I’ve been accused of bein’ a lot of things…

inarticulate ain’t one of ‘em.” 

Boyd Crowder

Want Ice With That?

We’ve been having some truly frigid weather here lately on the East Coast topped off with a nice freezing rain yesterday that turned to a lovely sheet of ice overnight. It’s been fun slip-sliding away down the steps and across the sidewalk to my car. Just ask my daughter — she’s the one who can be seen looking out the bay window, surrounded by animals, warm and snug in the house, howling with laughter as I do my herky-jerky “ice dance” across the yard.

I’m not a photographer — but I hope that you’ll appreciate my attempts anyway, as I couldn’t resist snapping the below pics of the tree in my front yard. I thought the ice made it look beautiful.  The larger trees in the back may look like they’re blooming for spring but in fact are completely encased in ice.  When the temps warmed up later in the day, it looked and felt like we were being bombarded with millions of icicles.  Just try walking dogs in that!

ice berries 2

 

ice berries

 

Ice tree with berries 3

 

blooming with ice

Unlikely Plaything

Kids can be so cute, can’t they? The way they have endless curiosity about everything they see; their exuberance over new experiences that we have grown jaded to and take for granted; the wide-eyed openness to everything the world has to offer regardless of how taboo, odd, or grotesque. They’re simply amazing.

Take this video of a little girl traipsing around her front yard playing lovingly with a dead squirrel:

If it were a doll or a stuff animal or a photo of a family member I’d be letting all sorts off oohs and awwws escape my mouth. The only thing holding me back from sharing in her happiness is that it’s a freakin’ dead squirrel! Mouth agape, eyes rolled back in its head, limbs hanging heavy, neck slack, this squirrel is deader than dead. And recently dead. As in their dog just killed the poor thing. So of course, why not let the kid play with it. It’s the natural order of things, right?

I don’t wag my finger at the girl, though. She’s so young, she obviously doesn’t understand what her newest toy actually signifies. I’m more angered at the parents. The Dad who saw this as the perfect opportunity to grab a camera and film his daughter being so oblivious that it’s “cute” and the Mom who can only stand there, hands on her hips and smirk on her face, looking at the camera with an inner monologue that screams, “Don’t kids just do the darndest things!?” What is wrong with these parents?

You don’t have to agree with me, but in my opinion the Gods that be (or whoever you want to name) just gave them an absolutely perfect teaching opportunity about oh, I don’t know, empathy, compassion maybe, life being a sacred thing, and they squandered it. This could have been a prime moment to impress upon their child a lesson about the sanctity of life, the inevitability of death, and the respect that we can show the dearly departed. But no. What do they do instead? They mock the animal that tragically lost its life (in the jaws of the family dog no less…not even a natural death) and turn what could be a window into the frailty of life into playtime. The little girl sees the squirrel as a toy (again, not blaming her for this because she’s too young to know any different) and the parents just go along with this little show, encouraging it even — with the Dad calling the dog into his video masterpiece so he could introduce “the killer and the killed.”

I could also go off about the fact that his kid is rubbing a dead carcass all over her naked chest and the obvious health implications of that. I’m not saying that the squirrel definitely has fleas or a virus or a disease or whatever, but until I’m 100% certain a wild animal corpse isn’t going to pass along some transmittable illness, I wouldn’t want my kid laying a finger on it let alone using it for playtime. But I’ll let the other YouTube comments harp on that point.

My main concern centers around this one question: Where is the empathy? Clearly not with the parents and because of what they are either knowingly or unknowingly passing on, the kid has none either. What message does this send to their child? Sure, it’s all fun and games for now, but I wonder what they’ll do when she drags home a dead dog to play with.

Road Trip

So life has been a bit stressful lately — nothing that won’t get better in time, but enough to wear on the nerves.  I live in a somewhat rural area and most of the time I find it annoying that it takes a while to get, well, anywhere.  But today…even though I couldn’t open the windows due to the frigid weather, I found that one should never underestimate the therapeutic nature of an open country road and some very loud music.

Open Road

 

 

The Locked Door

Like many of us, my daughter suffers from anxiety. Being a teenager there’s what seems like a never-ending list of reasons why her mind could be thrown into a tizzy. Her main source of anxiety comes from school. No, it’s not the academic workload or fretting about standardized tests that hammer home the fear that how you perform will shape your future. She’s an Honor Roll student who excels in the classroom. What she finds stressful are the crowds, the thronging mass of other teens jostling and ricocheting off of each other in the hallways. It’s an everyday, unavoidable occurrence between each period (unless they build her a network of secret underground tunnels, which I don’t think is quite in the school’s budget). Not to mention the annoyance of sharing classroom after classroom with kids who basically do not want to be there and who do not share the same tolerant mindset she has for her fellow human beings.

Well, her anxiety recently got worse due to a safety precaution her school is now taking, or rather, a teacher’s explanation of it. The semesters changed over this past month so classes and teachers also changed. On the first day, a new teacher of one particular class explained that she keeps one of the two doors to her classroom locked because they are the first classroom in the hall and if a madman with an Uzi comes into the school guns blazing, it will be more difficult for him to come busting in their room, spraying rounds. Now I’m all for keeping kids safe. That I have no problem with. I question the teacher’s sense in explaining the reasons behind the locked door, but apparently she felt the kids were old enough to take the news and process it accordingly.

However, this brilliant educator of children went on to voice her opinion that since the door was just a flimsy little piece of wood, the shooter could kick it in rather easily or else simply shoot through it. And what with the second [unlocked] door only about 10 feet down the hall, if the gunman wants to get in, one silly locked door isn’t going to stop him so “either way we’re all screwed anyway.”

I’m just not sure what the hell this teacher was thinking divulging this info to the kids and putting this heinous idea into their heads. She could’ve just said, “I keep that door locked at all times” and end it there. They don’t have to necessarily know it’s to slow down a psycho with a semi-automatic assault rifle, because once that possibility is raised, it can be a little difficult to erase.  Then, by all means, let’s take away even that tiny bit of a safety net by saying it’s completely useless.

This possibility, that someone could be kicking into the classroom at any given moment (because sadly this is the world we live in now)…let’s just say that has not helped my daughter with her anxiety whatsoever.  And she can’t be the only one. Kids nowadays have so much to be anxious over and this is just one more thing to stress about. School, much like home, is supposed to be a safe place. Only it isn’t. You think kids don’t know that?  They know it more than anyone else.

The school itself locks all of its external doors which is a good thing. They do what they can, as most schools do, and that makes me feel better as a parent.   I just don’t quite understand the teacher’s need to give such tragic disclosure. We know why cars have airbags and don’t need commercials showing someone flying through a windshield. We know why we own fire extinguishers and don’t have to be shown pictures of people burning alive.

All I’m saying is that while I appreciate the safety measures being taken I think spelling out the potential consequences can be a little unnecessary – especially given the teacher’s added personal commentary. It seems to me that adding stress to an already stressful situation (high school) could be a little counterproductive to the whole learning experience.

Veggie Woes

Ask me if I’m vegetarian and I’m not exactly sure what I’ll say on any given day. I try, but I fail as often as I succeed. I think it’s easier to be a vegetarian if you truly don’t like the taste of meat, which is not me. Some meat is really tasty so I have no physical aversion to it.

So I’m not trying to be vegetarian because I look at meat and think, “Ewww, that looks gross.” I’m trying to go vegetarian for ethical reasons and while my intent is strong, my will power is weak. I’m not going to lie; it’s a bit of a struggle. I was raised with meat as a pillar of a balanced diet. The necessity of meat has been drilled into me from a lifetime of food choices. I’m trying to change the patterns I’ve learned over the decades, but it’s hard and I’m far from perfect. Though I am making progress I’m glad to say.

When my resolve does start to cave I like thinking about a dear friend of mine who is a devout vegetarian for spiritual reasons. She believes that every animal has a soul and, by God, you just don’t eat something with a soul. It all seems so simple to her—this kooky no-soul-eating concept— that I just sit back and admire her. Her devotion and conviction are unflappable. I wonder how I can get to be like that. It’s not that I don’t share her beliefs. I’m totally on board with the idea that all animals have souls, but still, I’m fighting a deeply engrained sense of eating normalcy from my childhood. Or maybe that’s a cop-out and I’m just weak-willed. Regardless of the reason, I’m trying. I’m trying yet failing which buries me in guilt because I can’t practice what I preach.

Having a somewhat imaginative mind I’ve wondered what would happen if someone lived her entire life 100% meat free and living a spiritually clean life respecting all animals around her until the day some villainous ne’er-do-well slipped a piece of meat in her food without her knowing. Or what if she eats a salad that unbeknownst to her had some meat by-product in it? Whatever the circumstance, the lifetime of being ethically nutritious comes crashing down unexpectedly. Should she be consumed by guilt? Is her soul at risk? Personally, I don’t see how. Shouldn’t it be the true intent and not the accidental act that matters? She still gets a primo seat in the cushy part of the afterlife as far as I’m concerned.

But me? I know exactly what I’m eating when I’m eating it. I know when I have meat on my plate. I can’t plead ignorance. This is perhaps more evidence to add to the ever-growing list as to why I’m going to the fiery underworld after I leave this earth. If you’re interested in perhaps joining my friend in the VIP section of the afterlife, I’d start by reading her blog. She has a quick wit and a real way with words. You won’t be disappointed.

If you want to join me in the afterlife spitfire, go get yourself a Double Down Dog and I’ll see you there.

My Future

I have a strong feeling that my demise will come about by my being sarcastic in the wrong place, at the wrong time.  I don’t have a crystal ball or anything, but let’s just say it wouldn’t be a big surprise if my obituary were to read: passed suddenly after a brief confrontation in which she just could not keep her smart-ass comments to herself.