Monday, June 27, 2016

I'm Hot and Not in a Good Way

I'm taking a blog detour this morning.  Yes, I was on a path to tell you about a little 5 day va-cay I took to Chicago last week. Not that you are missing anything of interest, really by me abandoning my original post.

A sign I noticed while walking in Chicago

(Brief synopsis) Hubby left Canada and had some business in Chicago, so I decided to take advantage of joining him so I could  hang out in a company paid hotel and escape the heat wave currently hovering over Kansas. I have become a bit tired of and dare I say, "cranky" with the 100 degree temperatures that seem to be stuck over the plain states. OH, and let's not forget heat index of 110 degrees. Humidity is the devil.

It's never a good sign when  a person such as myself is watching the dangerous rescue of the two scientists in Antarctica and thinking that they might want to rethink leaving depending on where they were being taken.  Lack of empathy might be one of the symptoms of one's brain being "crock potted".

So instead of telling you 25 reasons why I think living in a one-bedroom king suite at Candlewood Suites is far superior to buying a "tiny house" or why walking in forest preserves in Chicago in 82 degrees is heaven-like compared to the current hell-like conditions in Kansas City, you will have to hear about the unpleasant turn of event upon my arrival home.

Now, if you haven't picked up on the subtle references thus far about me not liking to sweat, let's just let me state clearly...HEAT and HUMIDITY are not my friends.

Sooo...after 5 lovely days hanging around Chicago, we return to Kansas with the temperature hovering at 100 (YUCK) degrees.  I normally wouldn't care so much but as luck (and I mean bad luck) would have it, after catching up with some chores like yard work and laundry, we realize that house isn't cooling down even though it appears our central air is running full tilt.  This isn't a good sign.

No worries though...I am a sucker for "extend service warranties".  I know, I know, you are all rolling your eyes and making tsking sounds at me.  I don't blame you at this point.  BUT STILL...yearly, I am enticed by my heating and air company's promise that I will be the first in line in the event of air conditioner or furnace failure.  I have a lovely little certificate that comes in the mail after they receive my yearly payment that makes promises...lots and lots of promises.

I am still optimistic when I call them on a Friday night at 9:00 PM to explain that my upper floor is now registering 81 degrees and I would appreciate them honoring my GOLD STAR SERVICE WARRANTY PLAN for 24 hour emergency service on my AC unit.

The woman on the other end of the line, I think was laughing.  I am not entirely sure as she may of been coughing, crying, eating, drinking, or choking but after she composed herself she explained that I shouldn't be expecting even a call back until TUESDAY.

The fact, my head didn't spin full 360 degree rotations while I scream "ARE YOU F****** KIDDING ME??? gives you some indication of my level of restraint. I am saving my rage for someone that is not the call center girl.  I want to save my screaming for someone that has a position that counts.

Then.... much to my surprise, Sunday I did receive a call from  the "liar, liar, pant's on fire (probably because their AC crapped out) company, to say they will send someone over on Tuesday to (hopefully) repair my AC.  When I mentioned, that I was finding their GOLD STAR SERVICE WARRANTY more than lacking, I got a speech about this "unusual" weather pattern.  Let's just again notice my super-power like restraint for not pointing out that every summer in Kansas is like this and she's a dumb bitch.

Here's the thing's not like I couldn't go get a hotel room for 3 nights but then WHY should I?  I have more than the cost of 3 days in a hotel wrapped up in this stupid service plan. I prefer to I wait patiently and perfect my skill of sweating.  By Saturday night, the upper floor is 86 degrees. (NOTE: Now, I will tell you that this house has a finished lower level that remains comfortably cool, so it could be said that I am being a super-duper, spoiled brat about this non-functioning air conditioner.)

 I am not naive to the fact that for thousands of years people survived without central air.

Wonder if Cleopatra had trouble getting her service guys to show up.

 BUT...IT'S THE PRINCIPLE OF THE THING.  I paid hundreds of dollars for a service plan that seems to do the same thing as NOT having a service plan.

I recognize that it's always a pain when  someone pulls out the "it's the principle"  excuse for being stubborn and unyielding but in my current state of "wait", I am not being my sweetest self.  Today, I am prepared to believe that  my HVAC company uses the acronym for Hate and Venom All Consuming and they  are seriously pissing me off.

Maybe by Tuesday...if and when someone...ANYONE...fixes my air conditioner, then maybe a well return to my cooler, calmer self.

Yes, let's hope that Tuesday cooler heads will prevail.  If not you can safely assume that I will be even hotter...and not in a good way.



Sunday, June 19, 2016

If You Knew My Story

What's your story?  Yes, I am sure your life has at least one amazingly interesting story. There is an old adage that says each of us has one great book in us.  There is some debate who came up with this little nugget of wisdom, but a number of years ago, I thought maybe I had one good book in me. I
thought I would put pen to paper and write my story down.  What I found, however, is that I was unable to put it together in any meaningful, let alone interesting way.  Now, I realize that we might all have a story worthy of being written, but not all stories need or should  be written.

On the topic of stories, last Sunday, I was fast-forwarding my way through the Tony Awards program because, I was only interested in the performances not the painfully boring **yawn** acceptance speeches that pretty much consist of thanking everyone the winners have known, currently knows and will meet in the future. 

Anyway, early into the program, there was a performance from the play Bright Star titled "If You Knew My Story".  The play was up for five Tony's and was written by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell. 

Here are a few of the lyrics...

If you know my story you'd have a hard time
Believing me, you'd think I was lying
Joy and sorrow never last
I'll die trying to not live in the past
If you knew my story
My heaven and my hell
If you knew my story 
You'd have a good story to tell

I love the idea that everyone has a good story to tell. I, for one, love to hear other people's stories and how they came to be the person I know.  What life experiences led them to the place they are?

For that matter what were the life experiences that led any of us to be optimists, pessimists, high-strung, laid-back, kind, cruel, adaptable, obstinate or any combination of personality traits that we are comprised of? What happened in our lives that caused us to morph into who we are?

I think our stories not only affect who we are but how we relate to others.  Take for example: I have a friend who is in her 90s.  She has children older than I am but still, I love hearing her stories about her childhood and  her young life as a wife and mother.  As a little girl she lived down the street from President Truman in Independence, Missouri and was a year younger than Margaret Truman.

You wouldn't think that she and I would have common ground but yet we do.  We both grew up without our mothers. Her mother passed away shortly after her birth.  Her circumstances were different than mine and the time in which we grew up was different but there is still a bond to be had between girls that didn't have a mother in their home,

As for my story,  I, too grew up without my mother but it started in 1960. In that time frame it was somewhat rare for single parent families but not unheard of. Just as I might not relate from a time perspective with my friend,  I would think that maybe younger people today would have trouble relating to my my era. Today family composition is far more diverse. Single parent families would no longer thought to be "odd".

Now the part to my story, that might set it apart is the part where I was abducted from school when I was in the 2nd grade. Yes, as in "snatched" as a by-product of a very nasty divorce and custody dispute. There were only two documented reports of this type of case in 1960 according to the few sources that even kept these types of statistics.  Custody laws in the 1960s weren't so much complicated as they were unwritten.  With divorce not being all that common, custody laws were very loosely written.
OK, maybe she knew some things.
The laws that did exist varied from state to state.  Also, since there were no computers or technology to track people's movements, it was pretty easy to stay hidden if you kept on the move.

While I am not going to go on and on with all the assorted details, I will tell you that 20 years later when I  managed to locate my mother, our collective experiences made it hard to relate to each other.  If a book was every to be written that is a very long chapter.

About the time I thought this story might make an interesting book, I realized that the pre-computer era that it took place in made it all but impossible to get the information I would have liked to obtain. I did manage to speak to two of the police officers that were called to my school the day I went missing as well as one of the teachers.   All three had very vivid memories of that day, was a unique occurrence.  One of the police officers, had gone on to become a detective, the other had become a judge. The detective, by then had retired but said he had thought of me from time to time and had wondered how I had fared.  The judge and I had a long talk about the difficulty of following that type of case because of there not being standardized databases. Without computers or tracking devices there was little to be done.  This was, also, before there were groups such as Missing and Exploited Children's Network so they had little cooperation outside of their state. (which was Arizona).  The teacher I spoke with told me about the scene when my mother came to the school to pick me up.  The teacher was more observant to the emotional scene, while the officers were more knowledgeable about the "facts" of that day.

Soooo...after speaking to a number of  people that had some knowledge of that day, I realized that in some ways that event became part of their lives stories as well. Maybe not a significant part but still it touched then in some way.

Here is a another thing about stories.
Our stories sometimes intertwine in other peoples stories and
stories are multi-faceted.  The story teller has one perspective and the other people that are in the story or hear the story will have a different perspective.  I knew what was going on at my end but I had no way of knowing what was happening  with the other participants.  What did my little girl friends think when I just didn't ever show up again? Did people notice I was gone?  Did they miss me? Where did my clothes, my toys or my little pink jewelry box go?  These things I would never know.

(NOTE: BTW...I am telling this part of the story because it is unique but ...this is not to elicit any type of sympathy or sadness on your part.  As I have said in the past, I have the most awesomely wonderful life now and all of this is history.)

To that end...everyone has a story and I am sure some of your stories are book worthy. The thing I realize about stories is that you have to have the time to tell them, the capacity to articulate them and an audience that is interested in hearing them.  I know from experience getting all those things together is difficult.

Another personal observation...when someone is telling their story, don't try to interject how the story teller should of felt or how they should of handled things differently. You can't un-ring a bell, so to speak.  It serves no purpose to have someone question what they should have done differently.

Another verse of the song from Bright Star says:

Many backs have broken from lesser weight, I know
I was born to carry more than I can hold
Even though I stumbled
Even though I fall
You'll never see me crumple
You'll never see me fall
If you knew my story
Drew water from my well
If you knew my story
You'd have a good story to tell

I suspect you all have great stories with some of them being happy and others being very sad. I recognize that there has to be some of both to make a life. My childhood was bumpy but my adulthood is more than a person could hope for.  For every oopsy-daisy in my life there have been fields of upsy-daisies.  I hope to have a lot more time to live but my past has given me resilience and it has made me adaptable. I am optimistic that whatever comes my way, I will be OK.  Hopefully, not alone, mind my husband has been around around for more than a few times to help me up when I was knocked down by life.  His own story makes him a compassionate person.

So there you have it...if you know my story you'll have a story to tell.

Hopefully, all of your stories are good stories and have a very happy ending as well.

This is so bluegrassy...even if you like the genre is is a lot of BLUEGRASS

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Sticks and Stones

I nearly feel the need to apologize for all the name calling I am going to do in advance of writing today's post.  I guess I will hold off to the end to see if I feel sufficiently guilty or not.

Early warning signs of Crabby-ness
Today I am talking about jerks. You know who I mean...the rude pushy people that seem totally devoid of being considerate and feel somehow entitled to behave in a way that removes all consideration of how those around them might feel. While I have to believe the majority of people in the world are kind and well meaning, it appears that I am seeing more and more appearances of  people intent on being mean-spirited jerks.

There seems not to be a definitive definition of a jerk but it's kind of like the Supreme Court's  view of porn, "you know it when you see it." For the purposes of the discussion today, I am limiting myself to just those people that are your run-of-the-mill-jerks, not the truly evil, psychopathic law breakers that harm other people...because, frankly if I get started on people like Brock Turner and Bill Cosby, we could be here until the end of time.  Yes, I am thinking more of the common, everyday variety of people that are more the equivalent of Kanye West or Donald Trump.  People that are just full of themselves and have to keep reminding us how "special"  they are.  For the most part, pushy obnoxious types are pretty commonplace in all walks of life. 

Georfrey Nunberg, a UC Berkeley linguistics professor and author of Ascent of the A-Word: Assholism the First Sixty Years defines this group of people in the following manner.

“It’s somebody who is deliberately obtuse about his rights and entitlements and his relations with other people, who imagines that his position in a marriage, in an office, or on a line, gives him privileges that it doesn’t, and someone who ought to know better.”

How did I happen to decide to write about this particular topic,  you might be asking? Honestly, I have no one person or even any group of people in mind. I am just talking about random jerks.   Last week it seemed I had the displeasure of running into a higher than usual weekly allotment of people being jerkish. if the universe was colluding to give me a blog topic I receive an email from someone with an article from Men's Health aptly named What You Can Learn From the World's Biggest A#@holes. (Supposedly, they were giving me a blog topic and not thinking I needed a tutorial....I will take their word that was their intent.)

Still last week seemed to have a lot of examples on the TV, on the Internet and right here in Kansas City.  Maybe the hot weather has caused people to be surlier than normal or maybe there is a strange virus with the unfortunate symptoms of rude behavior being spread by anti-social mosquitoes.  Whatever the reason, there are ample example's of masses of asses among us. 

Typically, I would describe myself as a fairly easy-going, roll-with-it, type of person....and now that I think about it, I suppose all the short-fused, intolerant, asses of the world describe themselves as "easy going" as well  ...but that is strictly a coincidence, I assure you.  Unlike the Texas lady that shot the person in the "20 and under" line over at the Walmart for having the gall to tie up the line with a cart full of "stuff", I wouldn't have  done more than give the chick an eye roll. It would of been a significant eye-roll but no one would have been injured.  The closest I ever veer toward rage is when exposed to crappy drivers and partially blind, spatially challenged parkers. (I am assuming they are partially blind as they can't see those two rather significant white lines that tell them where to park.)

The fact is that I rarely speak up when dealing with a rude person nor do I typically  make a scene when confronted by some type of douchbaggery.  That's not to say that I don't find these pushy, inconsiderate types annoying. Thankfully,  I have years and years of experience dealing with this species of passive/aggressive  humans (?) as my extended family has it's own fair share of annoying people.  It is my experience that when someone says "Oh that's just Susy Q being Susy Q, that is code for saying Susy Q is a Bi**** but given enough time, you will get used to Susy Q and recognize it is her normal behavior. (*Note: the name has been changed to protect the guilty and keep Susy Q off my back.)

ANYWAY...I have developed a list as I know how people LOVE lists.  I am 99.9 percent sure that none of my readers are jerks, A#@holes, or scumbags but I am pretty secure in thinking you KNOW some, so in that vein here is my list for things that might help the  poor inconsiderate jerks out there be a little less douchey.

#1.  Treating others disrespectfully based on anything connected to your finances is a sure sign you are a jerk. The amount of money in your bank account or lack there of, should NOT be an indicator as to how you treat someone.  

#2.  Empathy doesn't make you a weenie.  The next time you are treating someone like the dirt beneath your boots, try to envision how you would feel if you were on the receiving end of your treatment.

#3. Give respect to get respect. Funny how that works.

#4. Ask yourself this simple question when you are doing some asinine  move, "Is this action benefiting  me more than it inconveniencing others?"  Let's go with the assumption that the answer is nearly always NO.

#5. Despite your expectations to the contrary assume that others can't read your mind.  Don't fault people for not knowing what you expect and then faulting them for it.

The license plate says it all..if it was turned upside down.

OK...I am now sufficiently feeling bad if anyone felt any of my name calling was directed at them.  It wasn't unless you cut me off in traffic,  cut in front of me in line...or you were generally rude to me with in the last 30 days. (anything longer has been forgotten)  In that case...I apologize.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Leveling the Playing Field

A couple of weeks ago, I was eavesdropping on some parents talking at one of my grandson's soccer games. (Let's call that being attentive to my surroundings as opposed to me being nosy, shall we?)  This particular conversation was about "participation" trophies.  It seems that parents are very divided on the subject of kids getting any type of reward whether it be a trophy, or a lesser token such as a medal or badge,  for just participating in some type of activity.

One of the parents mentioned that their child had received a medallion for being on a soccer team but the parent told the child not to accept it as it was sending a message that it was a reward for being a team player.  (NOTE: just for full disclosure these children are 1st and 2nd graders.)

"What does that have to do with anything?," you might ask.  Well....I was reading a blog over at The Boogie Man Is My Friend, where she mentioned an article about a Texas High School that doesn't allow the students that are affiliated with the National Honor Society to wear the National Honor Society insignia or pin on their graduation gowns. The high school in Plano, Texas has a rule that NO insignia, emblem, or regalia can be displayed on individual graduate's gown,  as it sets the student apart from other students.  (ANOTHER NOTE: Momma Fargo over at The Boogie Man is My Friend is an ex-cop that is very funny, smart and seems to always know what's going on in the world.)
Not all activities garner the same amount of notoriety. we have two extremes but both doing the same thing.  It is leveling all the participants to be equally recognized or not recognized as the case may be,  no matter what their skill level is.   BUT aren't there times that when trying to make everyone feel equally recognized that it is really an inequitable act?

Here's the one breath we hear people telling us the virtues of being unique, we should strive to excel,  we should attempt to attain our individual best, we should be true to ourselves...but in other situations people want to make sure that everyone is recognized as absolute equals so no one feels ostracized,  glorified, violated or venerated...and gawd forbid "offended".

There have been plenty of times in my own life that I would have welcomed anonymity. Yes, there have been  times I have been offended and felt ostracized.  You might remember my post from a few weeks ago, Whacks and Whackadoos where I got off to an auspicious start in grade school by drawing on my fat-lined paper the first day before given permission but one thing I didn't mention is that I did it left handed.  In today's world that is no big deal but "not-so-much-good" old days it was, in fact, the equivalent of grade school insurrection. Conformity was the name of the game back then.  The whole idea of being right-handed or left-handed plagued me for a number of years. Depending on where I lived and who I lived with, dictated which hand I could use.  More times than not, I was asked to use my right hand which evidently made everyone else more comfortable. 
We can be thankful that Hester didn't have to explain the A to a six year old.
By rights, in that time frame, I should have been made to wear a big red L on my dress as a symbol of my deviant behavior.  Had I had any knowledge of Hester Prynne, I would of felt a certain kinship.

Today, of course, we have evolved in some ways.  In most cases, we recognize that singling out people because they are "different", especially in cases where a person would feel offended, inferior or victimized.... BUT...if we go the extra step to minimize the merits of others as to not offend, isn't that equally wrong?

Despite my infirmity of using the wrong hand, I did manage to become an excellent student.  And when I graduated I did graduate as a National Honor Student. In our school, I believe that we wore a gold tassel on our mortarboards but, frankly it's been so long ago that I hardly remember.  I do, however, remember when both of my children wore gold stoles on their college graduation gowns because they graduated with honors.

I doubt that my kids would of been angry if they were told that they couldn't of worn the stoles but I think I might of been upset.  They EARNED the right by putting in the work.

Do I think that there should be trophies for everyone on a team?  NO, I think everything can be over done, given a chance.  Patches, pins or certificates showing participation...sure why not?
Children can feel inclusion without it being raised to the status of being "rewarded". All people, young and old, have to learn the concept of winning and losing, achieving and failing...but removing all  forms of meritocracy surely would lead to mediocrity.

Maybe not everything needs to be rewarded but when someone excels in an particular endeavor, why not acknowledge it? Maybe just doing a job isn't cause for praise but maybe doing a job well does deserve some praise.