Friday, February 12, 2016

Expectations of the Day

Typically when I go to the office break room I keep my head down, avoid eye contact, and mostly just try and get through it with as minimal interaction with my coworkers as possible. Most days I can make it out with little more than a pleasant smile or a mummbled 'hello'. This makes me extremely happy because I really don't ever have anything to say to random coworkers, especially since most of them are not even from my department. 

Today I was not so lucky and was forced into an incredibly awkward bit of small talk with two women who did not even look remotely familiar. We were all standing around waiting to get water behind a woman filling up a giant jug. 

The two women were chatting casually about Valentines day. They were comparing restaurant choices, flower deliveries, and jewelry selections. It was your basic generic Valentines day prattle. I tried very hard not to engage, but they seemed to want to involve me for some unknown reason. One turned to me and smiled and asked "What are your plans for Valentines day?".

"I don't celebrate Valentines day." I politely replied giving her a tight lipped smile.

Her smile faltered. It was as if I had just told her I didn't breath oxygen. She glanced down to my hand and eyed my wedding ring before looking back to my face. She schooled her expression so she wasn't looking at me like I was an alien, and asked me why.

I sort of shrugged and told her that it just wasn't something that we celebrated. I didn't feel like explaining to this stranger why, I just wanted her to stop talking to me. She sort of gave me a pitying look and nodded. Thankfully it was my turn for water and I made quick work of getting my drink and getting out of there before she could pry into my life any more. 

I get this every year and it kind of drives me crazy. I say that we don't do Valentines day and people look at me as though I am somehow being deprived. Or perhaps they are looking at me as though I am depraved. I think I would get less strange looks if I told people I don't celebrate Christmas. That at least can be reasoned through; religious reasons typically. 

Here is the thing, I am not being deprived of anything. This isn't the husbeast deciding to  be cheap or lazy. This isn't some sort of statement against the system or anything else. I am not saying that Valentines day is a bad thing, or that people who celebrate it are wrong. This is simply a day that does nothing for me.

When I was a kid Valentines day was just a day where we got chocolate, which was AWESOME! I mean free chocolate, who is going to argue with that? It was a lot of pressure though. I was in Elementary school just before they started requiring all kids to give a Valentine to everyone in their class. I am pretty sure my mom made me give one to everyone, which didn't bother me. I was well aware of the fact though that some people, sometimes me, did not get a card from everyone. I also noticed that not everyone got as good of treats as some others. 

You are never too young to feel slighted I guess. 

As I hit my tween years I began to see the other implications of Valentines day, and I quickly began to dread it. This was a day about couples and it served as a moment in time to highlight the fact that you were single. Of course in middle school when girls are just starting to be flooded by the evil hormone, this is particularly brutal. Tween girls can be especially vicious when flaunting that they have a boyfriend and you do not. 

I remember in 6th grade there was this thing the student council did as a fund raiser where you could have a flower sent to someone on Valentines day. The flowers were delivered during class, and if you got one it was super embarrassing because everyone wanted to know who sent it to you. I very unexpectedly got a flower during homeroom from a 7th grade boy that I had a huge crush on, who also happened to be one of my brothers friends. As I was walking down the hall between class this boy found me and I discovered he had gotten a flower which was labeled as being from me. 

Most likely this was a prank perpetrated by my brother, but I had no end of evil tween girls who hated me, so it was really possible one of them had done this. What I did know was that it was an incredibly cruel joke. The boy was so embarrassed by the gesture that he confronted me in the hall, threw the flower at me, shouted at me in the hall (in front of EVERYONE) how he didn't like me, and how I had embarrassed him, and he thought I was pathetic. 

It was pretty well one of the most awful moments of my school career. He was more cruel than he needed to be, but kids that age don't handle emotional things and embarrassment well. At the time I was devastated, but in retrospect I actually don't blame him. I am not saying it was cool, I am just saying I get it. 

I spent the rest of my younger years single on Valentines day. I like many would celebrate it in some form of Single Appreciation Day, and try not to let it bother me that I was single. I was always more than a little disappointed, but I swore that someday I would not be single on Valentines day and it would be amazing.

The husbeast and I had been dating about four months when we got to have our first Valentines day together. I was SUPER excited about this day. I had been waiting my entire life for this it seemed. It was going to be magical and amazing. 

We got all dressed up, he bought me a gorgeous tanzanite and platinum ring, we went to our favorite little Mexican joint for dinner, and finished the night cuddling on the couch watching romantic movies. It was exactly what a Valentines day was supposed to be except that it wasn't actually magical or special. Hell I think it was one of our worst dates ever.

The restaurant had brought in extra tables for the night, and the room was packed so tight that you couldn't hear each other, and you couldn't move without hitting someone with your elbow. The service was super slow because of the sheer volume they were trying to accommodate. The movie was good but it wasn't actually what we wanted to watch and so half way through the husbeast got up and went to play on his computer because he was bored. The whole thing was just so forced that it was ridiculous.

I realized that there was nothing romantic about the day at all. It was all of this pressure and all of these expectations for something that should never be forced. It was only a thing because I had made it a thing in my head. I discovered that it wasn't even a thing I wanted. 

Turns out I much prefer it when I get some daisies on some random Tuesday because he knows they are my favorite and wants me to smile. He likes it when I leave a Reeses cup on his side table for no reason more than I know he likes them. We like a quiet romantic dinner just because we can.

I am not saying that having a day to celebrate your love is bad. I am not saying that people who like Valentines day are wrong. I am not telling anyone how they should or should not enjoy any particular day.

I am just saying that it is not a day that means anything to us. It is just another day that we love each other, and we celebrate that love every day, so there is nothing overtly special about it. Our relationship works on random acts of love with no expectations and we are happy with this. 

So if you are celebrating Valentines day on Sunday I hope it is a wonderful and magical day. If you are not celebrating I hope you have a wonderful and magical day anyways. 

Most importantly I hope that every day is filled with love to celebrate whether it is romantic love or another form love, because love is what is important.
 

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

No Way Out

Owning your own home is a wonderful thing. It is an accomplishment which is seen very much to be part of achieving the elusive American Dream. There is something about knowing that this space is yours that is empowering and freeing all at once. It is wonderful.

Of course the reality of owning your own home is that until you pay off your mortgage you don't own jack shit. All you own is an incredibly large debt that you have absolutely 0 control over when it comes to who handles that debt on the debtors end of things. None whatsoever.

When we bought our first house we were told that our loans would be sold within a month. The company we had worked so hard to get a mortgage through were not going to actually end up being our lenders. In fact the people they sold our loans to would not be our lenders for the entire term of our mortgage. Over the next several years our loans would go bouncing around from lender to lender without any rhyme or reason, and certainly without any input from us.

We have absolutely no control over any of it. If our loan is sold to a company that has bad customer service, are unscrupulous, or have a tendency to cheat their customers, there isn't squat we can do about it. We have to continue to pay our monthly payments and just hope that our mortgage is sold soon to someone who is more tolerable to work with. I have no idea how that is supposed to be right, but that is how it is.

Now we could always refinance our mortgage. We could go to a bank and go through the incredibly arduous task of getting them to do the refi and having them be our lender. That is we can do that if we happen to have the money available to refinance a loan, because you can't just do that sort of thing for free. So if I happen to have the time and money and qualify I can refinance the mortgage and get away from my awful lender to an awful lender that at least I chose.

Until that lender sell my mortgage again, most likely right back to the amoral willfully negligent company I just escaped from.

This is the most fucked up system that is obviously completely built around making the banks money without any regard to the customers that they are supposed to be serving.I as a consumer have little to no recourse against these companies and banks. Anywhere else if I get shitty service I can easily fire that company and move to another provider.

Phone company supplies poor coverage or charges you too much for your data plan? Jump ship and head over to the competition where now days the competition will pay your switching fees. Cable company have abysmal customer service and constant outages? There are a plethora of other TV viewing options available to you from satellite providers to a Netflix Hulu subscription package.

Your mortgage company is forcing you to pay for things they shouldn't and has customer service reps that actively lie to you and are unwilling to help you?
Sucks to be you.

Suddenly owning a home sounds so much less appealing than it once did.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

All lives matter

Times when it is alright to shoot someone:

Is your life in immediate peril?
Is someone actively trying to kill you, assault you, rape you, rob you, do you serious harm, or do any of these things to someone  you are currently in the presence of?
Are you a police officer/soldier/peace officer on active duty and in that moment feel that it is a necessity?

If you answered yes to any of these questions then it is probably alright to shoot someone.


Times when it is not alright to shoot someone:

When someone doesn't agree with you.
When someone does something you don't agree with.
When someone is a different race/religion/sex/sexual orientation/nationality/profession than you.
When someone supports a political or ideological stance that you oppose.

It is never alright to open fire on hospitals, schools, malls, highways, offices, or any other public locations if you are not in an active war zone. News flash, there is not an active war zone in America.

America is plagued with domestic terrorists. Don't agree with me? Well here let me help you a little.

Terrorism, as defined by Merriam Webster dictionary (and this is the 'for kids' entry so that it is in the simplest terms): the use of terror as a means of achieving a goal.

Domestic, again as defined by the for kids section of Merriam Webster dictionary: of, relating to, made in, or done in one's own country.

Shooting a bunch of kids, clinic workers, or innocent bystanders in American suburbs pretty well fits these definitions to a T. Also consider that these are not isolated incidents. This stuff happens on a weekly basis. Police officers shot because people think that cops hate black people. Black people shot because people think they hate police officers. Clinic workers shot because they are pro choice. Muslims shot because they are not Christian. Children shot because someone thought it would make a point.

Well you are right, these acts do make a point by causing panic and terror. These acts don't rally support for the cause, it simply causes reactionary violence. It puts everyone on edge, makes them afraid to leave the house, and in turn causes more hate. It is an endless cycle of violence and hate.

Banning guns is not the answer. Just because guns are not legal does not mean people will stop shooting people. It simply means that the black market for guns will be stronger than it already is. People will still feel the need to own guns to protect themselves and will find a way to get them. People who want to shoot up a school campus will find a way to do it whether the materials are legal or not.

What is the solution to this? Fix your attitude. Never ever condone this sort of violence. Never say words like "They deserved it." because they certainly didn't. Stop hating people who think or are different than you. Stop teaching your children to hate. Accept that you are not the only person in the world and your views and lifestyle are not the only ones out there.

That is how we start to fix this. Remember that ALL lives matter. Stop viewing people as the enemy and treat them as your neighbor and a fellow human being who deserves the same respect and freedom you expect to have. Do not continue to divide yourself because of where you were born, who your parents were, where you do or don't pray, what you eat, or who you are voting for.

Be a good person. Don't be jackasses. Don't sit by quietly and let this happen. Don't just post snarky passive aggressive memes to Facebook, or change your profile picture to something patriotic, or blame a politician or the media (hell stop listening to the media altogether), or shake your head and go on about your day. This accomplishes nothing.

Do something positive. Start a positive dialogue with someone who is different than you. Donate your time to helping others. Give blood. Give money. Give canned goods. Give a smile. Be kind. Be good. Be the best you that you can be. If we all did that then maybe the idea of shooting a stranger wouldn't be something people thought would be a good idea.


I feel like I have said all of this before, but apparently it needs to be said again, so I will continue to say it until it does not need to be said again.

Be good. Stop hating. Be tolerant.

Please.

Monday, November 30, 2015

I fought the app and the app won

I tried once again to post from my phone while in the car last night and it once again did not work. I was cold and tired and traffic was awful so I decided not to bother trying again. I just have to face the fact that mobile posting only works on my phone when I am stationary. It is a lesson well learned for me. Learn from me my minions.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Fairemily

It was 2001, I was in my third year of college, and I found myself with a semester of no shows. For a theater major this was pretty well unheard of. I had this huge chunk of time with nothing to do and I didn't like it one bit.

A large group of my friends worked down at the Ren Faire outside of Houston and I had visited them there over the previous two years and had started to fall in love. I knew I had all of this time coming open and I figured it might be fun to earn some extra cash and do something cool like work for the faire. A few nudges to my friends later and I had a spot in a shop with a couple of them.

Fifteen years later and I am still here. Tonight is the last night of the season and it is bittersweet as always. While the work and long drives are ending, so is the time of being with this strange little group who have worked their way into my hearts and have become my family.

The crew has never just been coworkers and has always been more than friends. These are people I live with for two months of weekends a year. That is a lot of time spent in very close quarters; you either love them or hate them, but you can not escape them.

These people have seen me through many major life events. Some of the crew were my college friends who saw me through my journey of faith, saw me through finding the husbeast, and saw me grow into me. The rest of the old guard not only watched and participated in my wedding, they made it possible. The newer crew even drove close to 6 hours in one day just to help us move.

I know that this ramshackle group of misfits would do anything for us and I would do anything for them. Much like siblings we do not always get along or like one another, but we are family and in the end are there for one another. Heaven forbid you pick on one of us because that will be the last mistake you make.

Tonight will be the last night with my little family on our island of misfit toys and tomorrow we will work hard before once again separating for the year. If we are lucky we will manage to get together a few times in the months between, but those times will not be often enough.

Come next September though we will all make our way down the dusty back roads of site to our shop, climb the steep steps to our bunkhouse, and embrace as family. It will not matter that time has passed because to us time does not matter. We will once again be home and once again I will sleep the peaceful sleep of one who is safe with her own.

Friday, November 27, 2015

A toast

Here is to good friends I never get to see making me forget about how much I despise Black Friday. To people who make me forget that people can be over entitled shita. To people who love me no matter the distance and time. To people who see me.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thank you for the pain

The turkey has been eaten, pies and puddings served, and all have settled in for their post feast stupor. All is right in my world on this warm rainy Thanksgiving eve. I cooked for and fed people I care for and it makes my heart sore, not to mention my tummy is pleased too.

I do lament not being able to spend this day with my blood family as well. Other obligations in my life and the logistics of travel have meant I have missed more family holidays in my adult life than I have made. We always make time to celebrate, but rarely is it on the right day. Really though as long as we are together it does not matter what day it is on.

Now is the time when I tell you all of the things I am thankful for, only I am not going to. I am not going to tell you how thankful I am for health, and security, and lived ones. I am thankful for all of that and always am. I hope that I show my gratitude for that often.

I am going to tell you about some things that I am thankful for that are a little out of the ordinary. What can I say, I am weird.

I am thankful that my biological father was a horrible person and my mother was strong enough to leave him. In doing so she saved us and herself, but also she made way for the family we would eventually have. We made room for my dad and sisters to join the family 12 years later which was perfect.

I am thankful that I mistakenly turned down the husbeast the first time he asked me out. I was far too much a wide eyed confused college freshman at the time and he was not ready to be serious. The time that passed between that day and the day he stole his first kiss was important for us to be the people we needed to be to be together.

I am thankful that the husbeast was laid off 7 years ago when he was. The trials and tribulations we had to work through in the years to follow made us stronger individuals and a stronger couple. We know what we want and who we are because of it. We are more capable now.

I am thankful for all of the awful things that have happened in my life. Without those things I would not be the person I am today. They taught me to be strong, caring, compassionate, brave, understanding, forgiving, and patient. They made me me.