Monthly Archives: August 2012

Writing…off a cliff.

10 pages.  With specific formatting requirements.  I have three in the can.  I’ve decided to enter a short story contest sponsored by my local newspaper.  I have no intention or expectation of winning but I do have an expectation to complete this self imposed assignment.  To put myself out there and actually publish a fictional short story.  I’m really not very good with fiction, or dialogue, or “making stuff up” so I’m going with advice I’ve heard: write what you know.  My story, therefore, will be autobiographical in nature, with just enough literary license taken to make it fiction.

I’m scared.

A lot.

Who does this?  Who puts their heart and soul on paper (did I really just say paper?) for others to see, dissect, criticize and condemn?  Braver people than I.  People who are willing to take a piece of their existence and throw it in the wind…see where it lands and not care.

Wish me luck.  Not so much for success but for courage.  And inspiration.  And if you’re a veteran of this, I salute you.  If I can move just ONE single reader, I will consider it a success.  Please don’t let it be tepid or smarmy.  If it’s bad, that’s okay, just let it be real.

 


There are no words…Vin Scully. Legend.


Up is down…and other Paul Ryan truisms.

FactCheck.org : Ryan’s VP Spin.

If you open the link, you will find a list of claims made by Paul Ryan during his RNC acceptance speech last night.  Each claim is easily refuted by factcheck.org, or for that matter, you and I with a little research.

Had this occurred in the 1960’s, the “elite, liberal media” would have had a field day.  This would have been front page news and a disastrous embarrassment for the Republican party. How could a vice presidential candidate, on prime time television, tell so many bald-faced, easily refutable lies?  Because our mainstream, “elite, liberal media” has stopped caring about facts.  We as an electorate have stopped caring about facts.  Sound bites that make us feel good are the order of the day…truth be damned!

I’m still a little stunned that Ryan had the huevos to lie this boldly.  He correctly calculated, that the hue and cry would be muted and his base would rally around these falsehoods….”build the lie and they will come” seems to be the mantra.

If anyone at the DNC comes even close to doing this, I will express the same level of outrage.  I guess I’m naive to think that the a potential leader would not play so fast and loose with what he knows to be a lie, but then again, “Honey Boo Boo” is a ratings hit on television right now.  Enough said.


D.C.

D.C.

My daughter’s first week of college…she’s never coming back.


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“There is no Them. There are only facets of Us.”~John Green

The Republican National Convention is in full swing and I think this is a good time to approach a subject I have tried to avoid, for the most part, on my social media sites:  politics.

I suspect that if you have had a cohesive, healthy emotional relationship with your parents, your political leaning have likely been shaped by them.  There are of course exceptions, but in my case this certainly rings true.  My father was a war hero.  He was a member of the 24th Marine Corps Raider Battalion and landed on many a beach in the South Pacific, including Iwo Jima, where he was shot by a Japanese sniper…when Korea rolled around he re-enlisted.  This man killed other human beings at close range and in his later years was haunted by the atrocities he had witnessed.

So it’s hard for a young lad like myself not to pay attention when dad tells you he met Ronald Reagan (at the time my dad was an executive with the NBC affiliate in Sacramento and Reagan was governor) and that the guy was a fraud.  Here is a war hero calling out a man that made-believe for a living and never experienced the horror of war.  Yet this man has become a beacon of the Republican party.

My dad was a liberal…a term of derision these days but he would have kicked your ass in his day had you told him that.  Here is a guy that knew what it was to sacrifice for his country and he had little tolerance for the political posers or the racist of his day.  Dad was a proud supporter of the civil rights movement and when your father espouses these beliefs, with his credentials…it just makes sense.

I’m a liberal too…and I’m not afraid to say it.  I have very strong beliefs that our government exists partially to not only provide economic freedom and growth, but to provide for those less fortunate, to stand up for the little guy, to root for and support the underdog.  I also believe in capital punishment and strongly support the second amendment.  I’m a former member of the NRA who rejected my membership when they launched their paranoid campaign to defeat President Obama in the last election.  I don’t believe in big government but I believe in universal healthcare or socialized medicine if you will.  I simply cannot believe in this day and age, that we are one of the last first world countries without it.  We provide military, police and fire protection for our populace, but somehow healthcare, by definition a life-and-death proposition, is not worthy of that basic tenet of the function of government.

So I guess I’m not a pure liberal…I share some beliefs with my Republican friends.  However, I am disgusted and frankly frightened about some of the rhetoric I hear from the G.O.P. in recent years.  It is so far from the norm, and the dialogue so vitriolic that it angers me.  I want to react, I want to fight back.  But for the most part I don’t.  My vote is my sword.

The political discourse in our country has become toxic at the state and national level.  In many cases it has digressed into an uninformed, base schoolyard fight.  I feel bullied at times by the hateful rhetoric but remain willing to fight to the death if necessary to protect my beliefs and the sanctity of my country…the country my dad fought for.  And if you’re a Republican and a Romney supporter, you may feel the same way about some of my beliefs.  I am only too aware that my Democratic party has its share of shrill idiots and merchants of hate.

What I find unsettling is that some people in my life who I love, friends that I cherish, are Republicans and by extension, I see them as believers of the Hannity’s and Beck’s and Limbaugh’s.  That may or may not be an accurate assessment but the bottom line is I am so disappointed when I find out these people don’t share my cherished beliefs.  I want them to see the light.  In my mind, I want them to open their minds and be better people.  Alas, they are probably hoping the same for me…maybe worse…I don’t know.

What I do know is this…the political discourse needs to change if we are to stay the UNITED States of America.  If you don’t pigeon-hole me as an “elite liberal” or simply a derisive “liberal”,  I promise to try not to unfairly categorize you and your beliefs.  If you agree that we can disagree without personal attacks, I’m all over that.  Finally, if you can take the biggest step of all…if you can agree that at some point, compromise is not only necessary, but inevitable for any union, then we can return this country to something better than what I’m afraid we are leaving for our children.  If you are a Republican…God bless you and your family.  I’m a liberal Democrat…I hope you can reciprocate.

 

 


Lucifer, thy name is bureaucracy!

Seriously…why do I let it bother me?  I have spent the better part of my adult life agonizing over the errors of  faceless monolith’s that serve to grind my nerve endings into dust.

Today’s breakdown is sponsored by the dynamic duo of my employer’s short-term disability program (farmed out to a third-party) with a healthy assist from my health insurance company.  I needed surgery for a new hip.  That’s a big enough deal without having to worry about getting paid and making sure my leave would not threaten my employment.  They have programs for that and I thank Bill Clinton for the Family Medical Leave Act.  This is the second time in my life I have had to utilize this critical program.  So, prior to my surgery, I get all my normally anal retentive ducks in a row, vis-a-vis the paperwork needed to accomplish these goals…you know, getting paid while I’m off and not losing my job…little things like that.  So I do everything right, meticulously document everything, and today, via USPS, I receive a letter saying my leave is denied and I’m subject to termination within 3 days receipt of the letter.  WTF?

After calling a kind lady at Disability, and finding out that they are awaiting documentation from my insurance company that should have previously been sent through no fault of my own, she asks me about my visit to Dr. No Name last August…I have no clue who the doctor is and we collectively come to the conclusion they are putting wrong information into my file.  Oh yeah, and they are addressing me as “Ms. Kelly” in their correspondence, I pointed out I was not yet ready for “that” surgery.

What I don’t understand is why I let it bug me.  Inevitably, this will be resolved, and I will be okay, but the level of angst and frustration it causes is really off the hook…I’ll own my part in that if YOU…yes YOU, the nameless, faceless employee that processes these claims, steps up to the plate and is willing to clean their side of the street.  Do your job.  Do it well.  Make an investment in your client.  Don’t treat us as a just a file number.

I’m fortunate enough to work for a company in the service industry that is well-known for its superior customer service.  Is it hard to provide?  No…it’s actually easier than screwing up the first time.  We screw up, we fix it.  You just THINK we screw up…we fix it.  We eat a lot of revenue each year accommodating fraud, but at the end of the day, our loyal customer knows we will go out of our way to take care of them.

Why can’t you?


And then it didn’t hurt so much…

It’s been a fascinating week watching my daughter (via social media), across the country, get settled into her dorm at college in D.C.  Equally fascinating has been my reaction to this whole fiasco.  As previously documented, it was pretty tough on me when she left.  My pride and joy was moving across the country to begin, what will no doubt be,  her swan song as far as the father/daughter Maslow’s physiological and safety phase of our relationship.  That makes me sad.

What makes me guilty is the fact that my daughter is going to college and she’s not being deployed.  So far so good with my 16 year old son, he’s not likely to enlist and will be college bound.  As I wallowed in my pity this week I read an article about parents whose son was near the end of his deployment in Afghanistan and was killed with less than two weeks prior to his demobilization.

I cannot imagine the sacrifice these young men and women, let alone their parents are making.  I am so far separated from their reality it just doesn’t feel right.  Advocates have suggested bringing back the draft as a means of sharing the sacrifice and raising awareness of the reality of armed conflict, but I’m not sure that’s the answer.  Maybe it’s just a matter of a parent like me being aware…being aware that I haven’t yet had to share the sacrifice of others and be damn glad I haven’t.  Maybe it’s a matter of gratitude manifested in political action and outreach and outrage that so many of our national treasures, young men and women like my own, are being sacrificed for what???  My father fought in World War II.  There was a clear national resolve and purpose in that war.  At the outset of the war in Afghanistan, I believe we could make the same case.  But then we allowed our President to carry on a sick personal agenda in Iraq and our focus in Afghanistan was terminally damaged.

I am sad my daughter is gone.  But, God willing, she will come home.  I am so grateful I can say that.  Other’s can’t.  And we should not forget that…


Friday Night Lights…and the shadows they cast.

My son played in his first varsity football game last night.  We beat the other team 31-0 so by all measures it was a success.   Sean played on kick-off coverage and was put in for the last seven minutes of the game at Cornerback and Wide Receiver.  Not bad for a kid that had never played football until his freshman year of high school.  He will likely be a solid starter next year as a senior.

But I digress…

I fought his participation in football tooth-and-nail as he grew up.  He played baseball but every year he would ask me if he could play football and I would say no.  All of his friends were doing it (which makes his current achievements all the more impressive) and he understandably wanted to join them.   By the time he entered high school, I couldn’t say no.  The social pressure on him, and by extension..me, was too much.  I said okay and held my breath.  He has played two years now and so far so good, injury-wise.  I have become the definition of a “fanatic”…eagerly anticipating each game.  But I do so with profound sadness and guilt.

In high school, I played ice hockey…a sport considered by some to be more violent than football; I disagree, but that’s another post.  But while I was playing ice hockey, a classmate named Greg Cole was killed during a varsity game at my alma mater.  When I got married and had the privilege of raising a stepson, he suffered a broken collarbone and two concussions for the same team Sean is playing on now.  In fact, he was on his way to the neurologist to be cleared for his senior year of football when he was involved in a car accident that left him a quadriplegic and ultimately took his life.  Obviously unrelated but tragically ironic nonetheless.

Last year, my son’s best friend was taken off the field by ambulance after suffering a neck injury.  I was physically ill, but fortunately he suffered no nerve or spinal injury.  When that same young man came back a few weeks later, on the third play he suffered a nauseating hit to his knee that broke his femur and severely damaged his ACL and MCL.  He has yet to return to football.  This is a kid that LOVES football and to see him on the sidelines breaks my heart.  His love of the game tempers my fears somewhat but now this:  my son is on his way to his other best friends house to offer his consolations…this other young man, clearly destined to be the starting running back in his senior year, suffered yet another concussion last night and was dazed and vomiting in the locker room after the game.  I was horrified when I heard this.  His football career is over.  His quality of life is my main concern at this point.

Why do I let him play?  Life is about risk.  Life is about passion.  My son had demonstrated a passion for this and I will not be a barrier to that.  All I can do is say a prayer for him and every other player each time we are asked to stand for the opening kick off.


Fiction…for now.

It had been so long since he had felt the touch of a woman.  As she came up from behind him and surprised him with a hand on his shoulder the effect was electric…literally setting nerve endings on fire throughout his body.  But he would hold it together for this was wrong.  The whole thing was off the radar as far as a real possibility, it just can’t happen so he resolved to sit there, stand his ground, and act like an adult.  The problem was her lips…

If you’ve ever tried to concentrate on a task only to be repeatedly interrupted by a shiny object, you felt his angst.  The crimson lips across the table had a mind of their own.  Oh, they were normal lips alright, but they spoke to him.  As hard as he fought he could feel himself drawing her near and slowly placing his lips on hers while he gently slides his fingers through her baby soft jet black hair and cradles the back of her head and envelopes her entire face with his soul…and all the pain he has ever felt melts away.

But reality was the order of the day and as she agreed that a friendship was the pinnacle of possibility, the lips called…and this time they pointed out that she has possibly the most beautiful cheekbones he had ever seen.  Never mind that her eyes were pools of sensuality or that her laugh was that of a little girl…or that he could seriously envision spending the rest of his life with this “friend”…someone who had already defeated his defense mechanisms and long constructed walls.  She was a man’s woman with the spirit of fun and raging sexuality bursting below the surface.  Where before this scenario would have sent him running for the door, for the first time, this woman had the effect of making his heart feel as if it was going to burst out of his chest at any moment.

The wise choice was taken and goodbyes were offered along with solemn commitments to do the right thing…as it should have been.  But he left eternally thankful for the journey into areas he had long since forgotten and the wisp of a promise into feelings never quite satisfied.


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