Friday, December 12, 2014

New Year's Promises of 2014

So here we are...December 2014.  I mean seriously, can you believe that there is literally only 2 weeks left to the year?!?!?  Whoever said "time flies when you're having fun" was only half right.  Time flies no matter what you're doing, so make the most of every moment!!  First off, before  I get too far, I apologize for not being the avid blogger and smart, albeit smart alecky most times, entertainment to my readers.  This year has been a whirlwind and I got caught up in so many changes all at once that I'd probably compare the last 11 and an half months as the fastest up and down, loop-dee-loop, roller coaster ride I've ever been on.  You know, the ride where you're terrified as you reach the top of the launch hill and looking down in anticipation you're sadly awakened that this might be a mistake, but the ride takes you away and you get off feeling like you just want to do it again?  Yep, that kind of year.  Needless to say, I've probably got so much to say and yet I think as we close this year for the next I should revisit the promises I made to myself at the end of last year.  You might remember it?  "New Year's What?"  I don't make resolutions, but I decided to make promises to myself.  With old man 2014 about to ring out, it's probably time for me to consider those promises--well, at least see if I managed to keep promises I make to myself.

1.  I was going to quit being a "pack rat".  Hmmmm.  I've been broke most of the year so I didn't really add to the junk I already have but did I actually get rid of stuff?  Ummm.  I sold a bedroom set.  I threw away a lot of paper.  A lot of useless, years and years old paper.  You wouldn't know it to walk into the office in my new home in SC.  Looks like someone backed a dump truck in and plopped it in there.  OK, so I'm exaggerating a little, but well, that's technically about 2 rooms worth of stuff and closet stuff in one room smaller that one of the original rooms.  Yea, let's go with a win in that category.  At least, I haven't taken to collecting old newspapers like my Grams did.  A couple trunks full of them.  She'd be rolling over in her grave right now me telling that but she (thankfully) opted to be cremated. 

2.  Not applicable to shoes and purses.  OK.  So I did manage to buy a new Harley backpack purse.  It's really a backpack style.  It's a backpack.  Yea, I did really well here.  I don't think I bought but 2 new pairs of shoes and that backpack that's not a purse. Yes, really well.  Just 2 pairs of shoes.  Hmmm, now that I think about it that really means I've been broke this year.  Next year's promises need to include more shoes and purses.  I didn't even get a new purse this year.  (Shush.  It's a backpack.)

3.  I was going to distance myself from difficult people.  You know the problem with this is when you first meet some difficult people they are just SO MUCH FUN!!  But, of course, that fun comes with the energy-sucking, drama chasing, crazy madness that just becomes exhausting eventually.  I actually did super duper good at this this year.  I left a job where the craziest laziest women I have ever met in my life made everyone they worked with miserable.  I've never met people that would want to work 7 days over working 4 days.  The exhaustion can't be worth the money, and I'm speaking from experience.  No amount of money is worth having no personal life to speak of.  Got those ladies to 4 days and a little hoard of them got together to end those 4 day work weeks.  They drove me nuts with non-stop crazy phone calls.  I mean some of them were fantastic people, so don't get me wrong.  Like Grams said "one rotten apple can ruin the whole barrel"...get about 5 of them together and you've never seen bullying like that before.  So yep, best decision I've ever made and a good lesson too.  Never stay at a job with miserable people. I know sometimes it seems like there's no other options--been there, done that, but the amount of stress isn't worth it.  Life is too precious to give it over to difficult people. 

I've also been super successful at distancing myself from difficult people in my personal life.  I'm always amazed how difficult people are the ones that cause all the drama and never seem to be able to see their way that they are the cause of it all.  Thing is Grams used to say "birds of a feather flock together".  Nope.  Just the stupid birds.  Smart birds get to know people different than themselves.  Sure we all like our comfort zone, but when you're the new kid on the block--even though I'm really not since all I did was move home, amazingly it's ALWAYS the difficult, crazy, backstabby people that latch on to you first.  You'd think we'd grow out of that.  Takes some time to get tired of their crap--like I stated they can be a lot of fun initially, but yes, I distanced myself so fast all they could do was claim that it was the other way around after they finally realized I had done it.  Teenagers that go to a new high school often find the crummiest people to hang out with because the crummy ones are the ones that need "friends".  Sadly, adults are like that too.  If you decide to move somewhere, just remember to take heed that the best friends you will make will come somewhere down the road.  They very likely will not be the first ones to try to make you "comfortable".  Of course, I'm very proud of myself.  As soon as I realized they were more drama than they were worth, I distanced myself with the precision of a butcher knife--yes, gapping wounds when you realize people aren't who you thought they were.  But hey have you ever met liars that cared if they disappointed or mistreated anyone else but themselves?     

4.  I was going to the beach.  Have you seen my Facebook?  Heck yea I went to the beach!!!  We went to the comedy club.  We walked the shore and pier near the beach.  We were even up early enough to see the sun rise over the Atlantic!!  Next year I'm going 2 or 3 times.  I LOVE THE BEACH!!

5.  I said I was going to fall in love again.  I was really specific that I didn't want to just love someone.  Loving someone and being in love with them is two entirely different things.  So...let's come back to this one.

6.  Make one new great friend this year.  Well, I've made a handful of good, making their way to great, new friends this year.  Have I upgraded anyone to a great friend?  Yes, I upgraded 3.  I rekindled old friendships that meant the world to me but that I had lost track of--several.  I look at some of them and realize how different some of them are.  It makes me beam with pride that I can be friends with such diverse people.  I always learn something from each and everyone of them and I treasure all of them immensely.  What I've realized over the years is friendship is more important than anything.  Family can annoy the crap out of you, even let you down.  True friends when you have them, they might annoy you too, but true friends never let you down.  True friends are the family we choose ourselves. 

7.  I will no longer beat myself up over what other people do (say or think, for that matter).  Let's face it.  This year this is just some of the ridiculous stuff I observed and/or dealt with:  A grown man pretending to have cancer and right after it went to stage 4 it was miraculously cured less than a week later.  A woman who told me that I had no idea what I was talking about after some idiot started an altercation between two other guys when she hadn't even been in hearing range of what was going on and insisted on telling me a mina bird version she had heard from the same idiot that pretended he had cancer.  I mean really, I just cannot make this stuff up.  Crazy drunken phone calls from an employee, several, and she even left an almost 5 minute voicemail where you couldn't understand but every 10th word if that.  A bully who got into my face and was telling me what work she would or wouldn't do.  Who gets in their supervisor's face like that?  Serious, I really cannot make this stuff up.  But yes, those 4 out of all the other ridiculous stuff I observed--especially in the beginning of the year--made it really easy to say to myself: "Not my circus, not my monkeys."

So back to 5.  Yes, I did fall in love again.  Not right away.  The man spooked me at first.  I think he told me he had decided he was in love with me like the second date.  But there's just something about finding someone where you're both watching something and you look at each other and you're thinking the exact same thing.  It happens with us a lot.  And he makes me laugh.  All the time.  He has the same sense of humor.  They say "laughter heals the soul".  It sure does and so does finding someone that we can communicate with, that understands how we see the world and vice versa, and most of all, someone we can laugh with.  I think some people are so miserable that they try to laugh at others, even if it means making stuff up, but laughing at others doesn't heal the soul.  The people I see doing this are the most miserable I know.  But finding someone that can unlock that laughter where their sense of humor matches yours, well, that my friends is priceless. 

So in a nutshell, yes, I managed to keep all my New Year's Promises to myself.  Never saw that coming, especially number 5.  I threw it in there because I know me.  I keep my promises, but I'm so glad that didn't have to be one that I broke.  Have a Merry Christmas! Kwanzaa, Hannukah, Celebration of Life, Winter Solstace, whatever rocks your boat!  It's the holidays; enjoy friends and appreciate what you have!! 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Voting, Voter ID, and a couple of other anomolies to consider before not going to vote....

Oh right, you haven't heard from me in a while.  In the last year, I've moved, started a new job, got my son into a new school, graduated another one and well, it's been really hectic.  Doesn't change that I've got an opinion on most things, just haven't had the time to type them down.  So, tomorrow is the big day we get to vote in the great United States of America.  I always dread when I hear someone say that they aren't going to vote.  Really?!?!?  I know it seems like nothing ever affects you and your vote is one drop in a bucket, right?  But if anything, with the economy the way it is right now, we all know from watching the fiascos over the last 6 years it is definitely time to do something.  I don't care if you're democrat, republican, libertarian, librarian or flat out anarchist for that matter.  It's not just our right to vote; it really is our only job in our government's operations.  We are not just the people investing our money into this country via our taxes; we are the shareholders.  You think you're vote doesn't count.  Ask any corporate executive if the shareholders count.  They'll tell you.  The shareholders might only vote once a year, but they can have a major impact on the outcome of a company and usually some of those corporate executives careers.  And that is what every single one of those Congressional leaders all the way down to your district representative in your city or town is:  An executive that you just hired to keep our country running and paying you back for your investment.  So far in the last 6 years, the only thing that we have been asked for is more investment.  But the return sucks.  Increased costs in health insurance--no matter what the President promised.  Increased taxes.  Decreased tax credits.  High unemployment.  Money borrowed from China.  I won't go into the war.  That's an entire blog on its own.  These are the things that every voter, every single stockholder of this country, should be thinking about as we cast our votes tomorrow and at EVERY level of government.  How is that candidate going to benefit your town, your county, your state, or our country?  Are they dishing rhetoric? Party line crap?  Or do they explain their stance?  Do they understand what they are talking about?  Anyone can mina bird the President's, the Republican or Democrat stances.  Do they have a clue or are they just wanting us to hire them for up to $400K per year because they are little more than con artists who found out the easiest way to make money?  Why are we paying these people if they aren't doing what we need them to do?  That's what our votes are for to decide who deserves to get paid for helping our nation along.   

Fine, now I've given you my take on why you should vote.  Next.  Voter ID.  Of course this has become a heated debate, although frankly I'm not even sure why.  Another reason to believe a lot of politicians are con artists and who would recognize that better than other politicians.  Takes one to know one.  How does showing a picture ID, government issued, keep someone from voting?  Most states have laws that as a resident of their state you must maintain a state issued driver's license or identification after turning 18.  Yes.  Really.  An hundred years ago, pictures weren't exactly cheap and they couldn't be instantly transferred to a little piece of plastic with a magnetic strip with all of your information digitally available.  But hey, an hundred years ago, they didn't take driver's tests either.  They simply mailed in for one.  Birth certificate?  Yea, they mailed in for that too--especially in rural areas.  Social security card?  Yep, same difference.  My Grams had three different birthdays on her driver's license, social security records and yes even her birth certificate which did not match the family Bible.  So in this day and age, we have to flash our identification, a photo ID, to cash a check, to use our credit cards, to get into a bar, to purchase alcohol, cigarettes and even lottery tickets.  So why in the world would we not show one to vote?  Seriously.  Never have understood the concept of not having to.  Only way it makes any sense whatsoever is that some con artist can't get voted in without putting some fraudulent votes in the bucket.  No matter what lame brain bozo excuse I've heard against flashing an ID, they simply don't make sense.  There's only a couple states in the Union that do not require someone over 18 to carry a government issued identification with a picture and that's been for decades now.  Decades.  Since before I was 18.  Not only that since 9/11, our government has become very strict on citizens carrying proper identification.  Oh yes.  In some states, you can be arrested if you don't have proper identification on you and you will not be getting on any Federal sites without one.  Give it a rest con artists.  Time to make sure that if you want to cheat to win it's going to take more than chafe or just a printed voter ID that anyone that can find an old typewriter can duplicate.  You have to prove you are the shareholder casting your vote at a company's shareholder meeting.  Can't even believe this is an argument in the biggest investment of any of our lives--our government.

Who do you want to win?  No telling.  Don't care.  It's not the point.  We were promised by the Founding Fathers that we would be able to have a government for the people by the people.  What I see anymore is a government run by a lot of con artists, no telling who is or isn't half the time or more, for a complacent bunch of sheep that would rather be conned than represented.  I seriously doubt the Founding Fathers ever meant for the United States government to be a government of sheep paying con artists to burying our Great Nation.  Get out there.  Form an opinion. It's not a bad thing to have an opinion.  That's what the con artists want you to believe and they've been selling that hype for decades.  "Opinionated" has become an insult.  Who drove that?  Con artists.  Opinionated means you've given it some thought.  We don't have to agree when we have opinions.  We don't have to vote the same.  That's why the separate balloting booths.  You get to make up your own mind and it's nobody's business.  But, you want people to see your point of view, then open up your mouth and share your opinion.  Don't expect everyone to agree.  That's what fascists do.  We're not fascists.  The Nazis lost WWII.  But have a dialogue.  Find out why someone disagrees with you.  Let them know why you disagree with them.  Then take your final result to that polling location and use the knowledge that you've accumulated to cast your vote as a shareholder in what I still believe is one of the greatest nations in the world, hopefully in the nation that you also believe is still one of the greatest also. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

At the end, Flaws and all...

There's some things in life that we are better off letting go.  One of those is when someone has an obsession with another person we simply can't let it go.  I've been on both ends of that ruler and it's not very smart albeit I'm not sure we can do anything about it.  I could probably sugar coat even my own failings at it and make it sound like it was all good.  Truth is trying to replace someone that is no longer part of our life is a bigger no-no than trying to have someone in our life that is simply not good for us.  I've got a couple of friends that I would simply call ridiculous when it comes to replacing someone or some relationship.  I myself could make those same accusations when I'm looking in the mirror.  Ironic when we consider that I kicked my ex-husband to the curb and only looked back in wonder as far as the impact on my boys.

Let's go there first, shall we?  My ex-husband cheated on me while I was pregnant (many of you know this already) and rubbed my nose in it similar to rubbing a dog's nose in poop.  I kicked him to the curb so fast it made his head spin faster than mine was at the time.  He eventually married and is still with the last of several mistresses at that time.  While I didn't just walk away, I mean I was at a brisk run in any direction away from him, he spent the next 10 years calling me at 7 am his time--which sometimes meant 2 am my time--for my birthday, the anniversary of our engagement, our first son's birthday, Valentine's Day, and our wedding anniversary.  I could tell you that it was a big ego feed.  I'd be lying.  It was annoying as hell, particularly to the one or two boyfriends that happened to be there over the years.  His obsession, for lack of any other description, was simple.  I wanted nothing to do with him and that was a blow to his ego.  So frankly, a blow to someone's ego can cause an unhealthy behavior that will go on for years and years...and years...and years.  Frankly, he quit paying his child support 6 months before he was supposed to and I was told that I could file to get the money through our son's senior year.  I thought about it.  It would mean driving down to Florida.  It would mean having to chase his *ss around for the next year to 2 years.  Honestly, I've never wanted someone out of my life so bad ever.  Making any effort for a lousy 6 months of child support that would mean I would have to endure contact with that jerk for more time than I had originally anticipated...well, no thanks.  All of his actions have ever done is fortify that I was correct in walking away.  His obsession with trying to piss me off, aggravate a situation, upset the apple cart, try and get a rise out of me...well, yes, yes, I absolutely made the right decision kicking him to the curb.  The lesson here?  Obsessing over someone where we think we are going to make them miserable does two things: 1.  They won't care.  2.  They will ultimately be positive they made the right decision.

So am I immune?  No.  I obsessed over an ex-boyfriend for years.  It was a really good relationship.  Never argued--until we broke up.  Always had his undivided attention when we were together.  He was kind and fun.  And sexy as hell.  Seriously, never be with someone that you don't find attractive.  And I was blinded by all the good stuff.  He was smart, soft spoken, and always a gentleman, at least while we were dating.  I suppose that was all debatable after the fact.  The thing that made it so good is that I realized that I could have a normal, non-jealous, secure relationship.  That was really what I was obsessing over.  I hadn't had that in years and years by the time I dated him.  The main flaw that I kept overlooking was that he was basically a coward.  That's how it ended; he was afraid of another guy I had dated.  Moreover, he would keep tugging on that string that I left in his reach until I moved away from him.  But it was my own fault.  I just didn't want to forget how great that had been compared to everything else I had ever been in.  There's a keyword there:  Compared.  Compared to everyone else I had dated, only one other relationship had been that great and that one had been cut short by a Gulf deployment.  I kept kicking myself when the reality was I was sugar coating a major flaw.  Cowardice was just as bad as the cheating--in some ways even worse.  At least the cheating was upfront and in my face.  The cowardice problem was something I kept sugar coating and telling myself that wasn't the problem.  Faced with his lying to his brother about our relationship, I realized that his cowardice had little bounds.  Ten years later he had minimized 10 months, plus 5-6  months on and off again to two weeks.  I could've crowned him.  All I could think in that moment was WTH did I spend all this time obsessing over a coward?

Truth is none of us know why we obsess over someone.  I have a really good friend who's 1st wife passed away suddenly.  He loved her very much, and still does.  He's had a couple marriages since, but I think he spends a lot of his time searching for another her, someone just like his first wife.  I'm not sure how much the last couple were like her, but I can say that isn't working for him.  It won't work for anyone.  We cannot replace what's lost.  We have to move on and accept that it's gone.  In this case, she's gone forever.  There's no reconciliation even possible.  Still, I watch him wallow in it sometimes and listen because that's the kind of friend I am.  My advice is always the same.  She wouldn't want him looking to replace her and she would want him to be happy.  There's a major difference there.  My ex-husband wanted to make sure I knew he was still around.  Shove that knife in my side as often as possible.  Truth is that my friend's first marriage sounds perfect, and I'm not saying that it wasn't.  However, nothing is perfect.  It was simply as close as he has ever gotten.  He won't find another as perfect until he stops dwelling on how perfect that one was.

Over the years, I've observed lots of my friends, male and female, run into this rut called obsession.  Sadly, sometimes it's not all their faults.  I'd say at least half the time the person being obsessed over plays a part.  My ex-boyfriend popped up every time I posted on FB where I was when I first moved home.  So I quit posting.  He give me dirty looks--I assume (yes, I know *ss-u-me) it was because I would text him but not acknowledge him in person.  However, I had made up my mind that if he couldn't acknowledge me that it was definitely time for me to move on.  I'm not sure it helped or hindered my "recovery" or acceptance.  All I know is at a certain point I realized that it wasn't making me feel better.  It was like stepping back in time and having that string tugged.  It was worthless.  I had a good friend who insisted on dating every woman he could get his hands on.  More often than not, annoying trashy women.  In fact, that seems to be most men's ways of dealing with their obsessions--find as many trashy women as possible.  I'm pretty sure it doesn't work from my humble observations.  In fact, if anything, it hyper-exasperates the fact that they are still obsessing.  Women, most anyway, we tend to cut ourselves off, short, whatever and do anything but date.  I suppose that's just how we cope.  Ironic when you think about it.  The male ego is probably in general far more fragile than the female ego.  Not to say that confidence and ego are mutually exclusive, but in terms of recovering from a bad relationship, women are far more likely to recover in a healthy way regardless of their self confidence levels.

Sadly, I suppose the only way we truly get passed the obsession is by seeing the obsession for what it is.  I'm not really sure how my friend can get passed his first marriage since she passed away.  It's not like he can see all of her flaws and accept that it ended for a reason.  It ended because of happenstance.  Life can be funny (ironic not haha) that way.  My own obsession ended when I saw the cowardice.  It had been there all along right there in front of me.  It hadn't been hidden; I just chose to ignore it.  I watched a good friend of mine lose her obsession with a guy after she realized that she was always paying for everything.  I watched a guy I know obsess so much over his ex-wife that he turned into a complete butt.  By the time a couple of years had gone by, he only had 3 guys that would still hang around him.  (Yea, no even yours truly bailed on him.)  So I don't have an answer.  I suspect the best answer I have is see the person that you are with for what they are.  Flaws and all.  If it ends, then focus on the flaws--not what you thought were the good things.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Not just about motorcycles...Look Twice, Save a Life.

To a self-proclaimed business owner from the Charlotte, NC area after he was so kind as to post that he was sick of bikers and us asking non-riders (and riders) to Look Twice, Save a Life and threatening to run us off the road.  He used his FB page to comment on a female rider killed in a motorcycle accident in his local area, so I sent him the following message:

  • I'm not sure if you are the guy who made the ill founded remarks about motorcyclists after a lady was killed in a wreck but I thought you should have some facts to consider before threatening to run someone off the road.

    1. There are approximately 8M motorcyclists in the 50 States.
    2. According to Federal estimates approximately 5000 riders are killed on the highways per year.
    3. Of the 5000, only 1000 nationwide are cruiser bikes. 4000 are rockets (sports bikes).
    4. Of the 1000/cruisers more than half are attributed to the other vehicle either pulling out in front of the rider or rear ending because they didn't see the rider.
    5. You are correct in assuming the rocket riders take a lot of risks. Over half of their 4000 deaths have their speed as a factor.
    6. The average cruiser rider is 43 years old with an average household income of $65K/yr. The average sports bike rider age is 27.
    7. Over 30% of riders are now women. In multiple studies, women that ride report being happier than non riding women by more than 20% in the most recent study.
    8. Harley reports that almost 70% of their bike sales are to professionals--engineers, managers and business owners like yourself. I myself know nurses, business owners, engineers and even two VPs of major corporations that ride.
    9. Of the 8M riders in the US, 99% of us are just like you and your family. We have kids, jobs and/or businesses, and pay taxes. We may or may not have tattoos. We give to charity or to the lady who happens to be a neighbor of someone we know that's house burned down. We do this not for anyone's approval but because its part of the culture, part of who we are. Most of us, in spite of what you have seen on television, are just good people who have a common hobby.
    10. While our hobby may not be a hobby you or any of your friends would enjoy or even entertain in trying, I would ask you to reflect on the statements you made and think about what kind of person you depicted yourself as. I hope that really isn't who you are but I'm sure you know that better than I or anyone else would.

Let's be blunt. It's not just our lives you put at risk when you don't take the time to look twice. Every time that you blow through a Stop sign, pull out of a parking lot without taking time to check what might be coming, you put yourself and everyone in your own vehicle at risk also. If you drive an SUV or truck, you may feel very confident in your safety, but the truth is side impacts can result in significant damage to a vehicle and often severe injuries to drivers and passengers. Would you want someone you love to die or suffer long term injuries because you didn't take the time to Look Twice? Let alone what impact it might have on you and any passengers to observe someone else dying?

Look Twice, Save a Life should not just be about motorcycles. It should be about everyone that you care about also. It's an extra second of your time which could mean the life of someone you care about. Look Twice, Save a Life. The life you save could be your own.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Cross Sectional Sample is Screaming It

"Welcome to the United States Navy, ladies," I remember the Company Commander, the Navy's equivalent to a Drill Sargent, screaming at about 3:30 in the morning, after I had less than 2 hours of sleep.  The screaming CCs, the banging on the tin garbage cans, and the counting off.  Four months later, I was in Millington, Tennessee for A school, the Navy-Marine Corps version of technical training.  About 2 weeks after arriving, the Senior Chief in charge of our barracks had about 10 of us in her office.  All of those in her office were slightly older than the average recruit.  About 80% were straight out of high school, but some of us were 20 to 30 years old.  I was part of the later.  She asked us what we had joined the Navy for.  Our answers varied:  College money, see the world, get out of a small town, challenge ourselves, serve our country, the usual answers that any of us give.  She took a long pause, mainly for effect.  "Well," she said.  "Each of you have your reasons, but you all got a little more than you bargained for.  In the United States Navy, you are either a bitch, a dyke or a whore.  You choose now, or someone will choose for you."  She went on to explain that whatever we were named, by choice or not, would follow us through our career in the military.  Over the time I served, I can honestly state that this was the case.  While the civilian world doesn't directly translate, the military is a reflection of the United States as a whole.  There is nowhere else that is made up exclusively of Americans or people that are from the territories.  There is also nowhere else that you have agreed to sign away your Constitutional rights.  When we join the military, we accept that for the duration of our lives we can still be under orders, and we also accept that we have no formal legal recourse if we are mistreated in the military.  If the women that have served suffered sexual harassment or assault while serving, there is no civil lawsuit against the employer.  There is only what the command, the Commanding Officer, the Officers we serve with, and the Senior Enlisted do to protect the rights of the women in their charge.  So I am loathe to find out that a Command Master Chief (highest enlisted rank in a command) has been dismissed because of sexual harassment and that the Commanding Officer of the Blue Angels, the most recognized unit in the Navy, has been taken to Admiral's Mast, lost his command, ruined his career, by allowing a sexually charged atmosphere to exist.  Twenty, yes 20, years after Tailhook we have not made a real dent in the male chauvinism in the military, and as I said, since we are the reflection of the United States as a whole, what does it say about us as a country?

After the rants of a crazed young man, I would like to believe that we don't tolerate this and he was a "one off", but only weeks later we are facing a military that is breaking down.  I have heard all of the arguments of why women don't belong in combat.  I'll be blunt.  I've watched grown, trained men break down, freeze, literally poop their pants at the face of what we are trained to do.  I've watched women, straight women--not just the stereotypical butch lesbian, that have leapt up and let the training take over.  Did their jobs without a second thought about their safety, completely focused on the mission and taking care of their brothers and sisters in arms.  It has absolutely nothing to do with whether we belong or don't.  We can do the job.  We have higher standards and when those standards are upheld, we are the greatest military in the world.  So why do some in the military still have a problem acknowledging that women can serve and should be treated with the respect their predecessors have earned?  Well, it's simple:  We are a reflection--we are the mirror of the best, the worst, and everything in between that the United States has to offer.

Years ago, a friend asked me in a conference call, a sidebar discussion while waiting for the meeting to start, what I thought about a situation another co-worker had experienced.  He asked the other guy to describe the situation.  Let's call the guy Ted (not his actual name).  Ted's son was a varsity wrestler at a high school ranked in the Top 10 in his state.  His son was a ranked wrestler in his weight class and the school had recently participated in an invitation only competition.  The top 3 schools in wrestling in the state had been invited.  In his son's weight class, a young female competitor was wrestling for one of the other schools.  She was also a varsity letterman and was one of the top 3 wrestlers in the state in their weight class.  His son had forfeited his match to her because he had refused to wrestle her.  The coach from the team, the family of the young woman, her teammates, became irate with his son, their coach, their team and him and his wife that his son refused to wrestle her.  She was top ranked.  He was apparently the first to refuse.  Her teammates had accused his son of being afraid to lose to a girl.  He and his wife were proud of him.  The other friend, let's call him Tom (he reads this blog so he'll know who he actually is), Tom asked me what I thought.  I said that Ted might not want my opinion.  Ted said that he did because from his point of view I was the only one that might be able to explain to him why this young woman, her team, her coach and her parents were so upset.  So I asked why did his son refuse?  Ted explained that he refused because of the positions that they get into while wrestling, where he had to put his hands, and that he felt it wasn't right.  His son had felt that because she was a girl he might have to put his hands in places that he didn't want to.  So I asked him to clarify what I already knew:  The competitor with the lower center of gravity has the natural upper hand (women by nature have a lower center of gravity than men), the weight classes are pretty tight so the girl and his son were relatively close in size, and the smaller competitor often has a natural upper hand also.  She was ranked higher than his son in the state rankings in their weight class?  Yes.  She was wrestling for the top coach in the state?  Yes.  She was wrestling for a higher ranked team than his own son's team?  Yes.  She was a varsity letterman?  Yes.  I sighed.  And the only reason, I asked, was because his son was uncomfortable with where he might put his hands?  Yes.

Well, I said, she had put herself there to compete.  She was a varsity letterman for one of the top teams in the state and was higher ranked than his son.  Her coach was the best in the state so he wasn't going to just hand out a varsity letter to just anyone--male or female.  Just because his son was uncomfortable didn't mean that she shouldn't compete.  By his actions, the actions that Ted was so proud of, he had said that a girl didn't belong because he was uncomfortable, not because she was uncomfortable.  She had put herself there, her parents had agreed, her coach had agreed, she had earned the respect of her team, she was obviously a fierce competitor and because his son had deemed that she shouldn't be there he had refused to compete with her.  He had decided that his discomfort over-weighed the respect she had already earned.  I couldn't tell him what I would tell his son, but if it were my son, I would have told him that you don't turn down the best because it happens to be in a female package.  It was male chauvinism at its worst.  A woman should not be told no because it's going to make a man uncomfortable; she should be able to choose whether she wants to be there like any boy/man could.  He chose to compete and she chose to compete.  He had insulted her coach's ability to choose a letterman, he had insulted her team that depended on her record as much as they do everyone on their team, and worst yet, he had insulted her because of where he, he I emphasized, was worried about where he (again emphasized) might put his hands.  This is the biggest problem in our society.  This is the problem with our military, and with our society as a whole still.

What is?  People, men and women, defining women for all women.  No one tells a man no because he's a man.  We tell girls they can't play football, they can't wrestle, they can't serve in the military, they cannot serve in combat.  We tell our boys that girls are less, more fragile, and we instill in them that women are still less than they are.  Then we wonder and scream at the boy who refuses to wrestle our top ranked varsity letterman daughter.  We wonder why women still hate on each other so much, yet we teach our daughters to self loathe and thus to loathe each other.  We flash sexually charged 18 year olds naked on a wrecking ball and wonder why our daughters are so devalued, why they only think of themselves in the simplest sexual object formats.  We have taught them that is the majority of their self worth.  It's not that they can compete.  We tell them they can't all the time by our own words.  It's not that their minds, their brains, their ability to converse, their ability to think quickly on their feet, their ability to contribute to a team.  No, it's their manipulative skills and sexuality that is valued.  Girls, heck women, hate on the other girl that they perceive as smarter, prettier, or more affable simply because we have continued to devalue girls.  We allow our sons to devalue women, then wonder why women are sick of it.  We haven't changed that women in a male setting often think the only thing that they have to offer is sexual content.  I'll be blunt again.  I'm an educated, smart, attractive woman.  Not because I am all those things to everyone that I come across but because I was taught to believe in myself in spite of what society has told me over the years.  My grandfather taught me that I was equal to a man.  My Grams wanted that for women, and yet of my grandfather's 3 granddaughters, I was the only one he instilled that in.  While I believe women can instill it partially, I truly believe that the only ones that can make sure that girls believe it to their cores are the fathers and grandfathers.  It's all fine and dandy for a woman, the mother, the grandmother to tell girls they are equal, but only when a man tells his daughter or granddaughter and backs it up with his actions does that little girl, eventually woman, believe it no matter what other men tell her.  

The United States military instills that belief in these young women.  Tries to anyway.  So they become indoctrinated into a world that tells them they are equal, but then brow beats them as our society does.  Three months of boot camp cannot change years and years of societal woe, especially not when the leadership, a Commanding Officer, the Officers and Senior Enlisted themselves still harbor those beliefs, those tendencies and allow the behavior to continue.  Women serving is not the problem.  Men who serve and served that believe that women are inherently less are the problem.  Just because we as a society continue to view women as lesser doesn't mean that women are.  A man should probably be writing this.  Men like that don't respect that view coming from a woman.  They often don't want to hear it from other men either, but truth is that a lot of men even when they believe women are the greatest, can be equal, fail to instill that in their own sons and more importantly in their daughters.  No man wants his daughter to be treated as less of a person simply because she's a girl or woman.  Yet, we brow beat girls in society to think of themselves as sexual objects.  And, in an ironic twist, sometimes even when we teach our daughters to ensure they are treated with respect we still encourage them to be housewives, dependent on someone else, and wonder why every women has at some point in her life questioned her own self worth.  How do you think seeing pictures day in and day out of men's genitals, naked women, and being told if they want to be equal to a man that means that they need to tolerate sexually charged comments?  Equal to a man doesn't mean that at all.  Yet, appallingly, it still apparently is happening in the United States Navy.  While the military doesn't directly translate to most civilian workforce environments, consider that it's a cross section, a 2% sample of the United States population, from all the corners that this country has to offer.  The military is a small reflection of our country--the good and sadly in this case, the bad.  Isn't it time that the men that want their daughters, granddaughters to be treated with respect and equally start telling those girls that they can, they are and never to accept less?  The irony is that without that male reinforcement it's hard for a woman to turn on the male chauvinist and tell him that he's wrong.  The cross sectional sample is screaming it.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

#yesallwomen or #notallmen? How about and?

So a lot of women apparently are responding with #yesallwomen because of a mentally ill young man who went on a shooting spree with women telling their stories of assault, sexual misconduct, rape and other unfair, unethical and/or illegal treatment of women.  A myriad of responses from men now with #notallmen with men trying to defend themselves that not all men are like this young man.  A very good friend of mine had asked me what I thought being a single, educated woman who has raised three boys on my own.  He and his wife have 3 boys also, but I think he's wondering if my perception would be any different from his wife's or other female friends.  I tend to have a unique way of looking at things--outside the box, I suppose.

So the first thing I did was look up this young man's history.  His dad is a low end Hollywood director.  His mother was on some reality show.  He wanted to be important but he seemed to fall short of being anything more than less than what he envisioned himself as.  I feel sorry for this young man from a mother's perspective.  He was obviously ill, but we are so quick over the last 20 years to make excuses for everyone we have created these people that think they are entitled even though they've done nothing to try to earn anything for themselves.  This boy was no different.  He wanted it handed to him on a silver platter--hot girlfriend, awesome job, awesome money.  Bottom line, no one apparently ever told this young man, or at least instilled in him, the need to be responsible and earn those things that you think you want.  Even if he had earned those things he might have been dismayed by the fact that sometimes no matter how hard we work we don't get what we want.

Of course, his rants on YouTube (since pulled) have sparked the #yesallwomen and #notallmen--responses to the big can of worms in the room:  Are women victims still?  Are there still a lot of misogynistic men out there?  Are women still ill treated by a lot of men?  One woman's post compared men to a bag of M and Ms with 10% of them poisoned...basically claiming that women should have nothing to do with men at all because if 10% of them are "poison" why risk it?

First, the answer is:  yes AND no.

Yes, women still put up with male chauvinism in the workplace.  Women are still raped and it's still very difficult to prosecute rape cases because any attorney will tell you that rape is still the one case where they can get women's previous sexual history in front of the jury.  Women are still paid an average of 70 cents on the dollar to their male counterparts.

No, not all men are bad.  Even the 10%, assuming that I even believe it's that high, and by the way I don't, men are not poisoned food.  Men are human beings.  Like any of us on this planet, some of us are nicer than others, but I hardly think this young man is even remotely representative of all the men on this planet.  I may be a little naive, but I believe there are still a lot of good people in this world--that includes lots and lots of men.

Women as a whole have come a long way.  We have.  Only 100 years ago, we could not vote.  Only just over 80 years ago, women proved that we could weld and forge metal and supply a war machine with tanks, aircraft, jeeps and bombs.  It's only been 50 years since the birth control pill was legalized for American consumption via prescription.  Less than 40 years ago, there were still blue book laws that stated a woman could legally be raped by her husband.  Just over 20 years ago, the United States Navy stopped referring to women as WAVES (women's auxiliary volunteer emergency service) and started respecting women in the Navy as sailors.  Only in the last 20 years have the Army, Air Force and Marines followed suit.  In fact, in spite of studies done by the USSR and Israel proving that female snipers are more effective than male counterparts, American women still question ourselves whether we belong in combat roles or not--let alone whether men do.

We have forgotten what women before us endured:

Courts rarely sanctioned divorce and most often did not order any means of child support less than 50 years ago.

Societal norms only 200 years ago allowed a man in many cultures, including some European that migrated here to the United States, to rape his eldest daughter once his wife tired of sexually gratifying him or he grew tired of his wife's aging appearance.

Rape was sanctioned under marital law.  (You married him; you were stuck with him.)

Only 100 years ago, women could not own property in most circumstances.

Women were institutionalized at the turn of the last century if they did not conform with societal norms.  My own great aunt was institutionalized because she liked to wear pants.  By the time they had decided to release her because nothing was wrong with her, she had lived in a mental institution for over 40 years.

Women could not bare children out of wedlock without it being a piece of that child's record for the rest of their lives.  Children bore out of wedlock had their birth certificates stamped "bastard".  This practice went on in some states into the 1970s.

Women who insisted on divorcing their husbands could have their children taken from them and put into orphanages if they did not have the financial means to support their children.

Women were discouraged even by universities and colleges to attempt any programs other than nursing and teaching.

Rape was always the woman's fault.  She was always asking for it.  Our court system still has a hard time not allowing the victims of rape to be put on trial for their past, yet the defendant has the right to have their past excluded.

Women who married well financially, lived well financially.  Marital options were limited to those in your same social class.  Hell, even in the 1980s, I heard a friend's father say to him about a girl he was dating, "you date girls from the wrong side of the tracks; you don't marry them."  How's that for coming a long way, baby?

There are still blue book laws that state that a man, a spouse, can beat his wife in public and it's considered "domestic" not assault.  Even if there are 40 witnesses, in some areas, she still has to be the one to say he did it or he goes free.

Since women could hold no property 100 years ago, many women could not have any money whatsoever.  All household monies were their father's or husband's and therefore they couldn't purchase anything without his consent.

Only 50 years ago, it was considered socially unacceptable for a woman to show her knees.  Who knew the 1960s would blow that out of the water?!?!

Even now, we tell girls that they cannot wrestle or play football.  It's a big argument whether we can serve in combat.  One in 4 women have been raped.  70% of women say that sexual harassment still occurs in the workplace--while only 40% say that they would report it.  Women still get jealous of each other because of the way we look, carry ourselves, who our friends are.  We can be our own worst enemies.

So, yes, the answer is all women, every single one of us, has experienced some form of horrible stuff--whether abuse by a spouse or boyfriend, rape, sexual harassment, just some clown cursing us in a bar because we're not interested.  We've all been treated like crap by a man at some point in our lives.  But not all men.  Maybe one.  Maybe more based on our individual circumstances.  But worse yet, we can all claim that we have been harassed by at least one other woman.  As I said, we can be our own worst enemies.

Men, well, some of them are just pigs.  Not all, not even close to all.  However, interestingly enough, many men think because they themselves would never treat a woman that way, do not say anything when a woman is.  She's entered their arena and therefore often the many think that we should be treated inappropriately because of it.  Yes, we're on the football field.  That doesn't mean low blows are appropriate.  A man should not get away with making vulgar comments about a co-worker to "put her in her place".  It's not high school.  It's the equivalent of shoving her in a locker and closing the door, to put it in the simplest terms.

As far as this young man's rants, well, sorry ladies.  Not all men view women with hate and discontent because they're not getting laid.  Are there men like this?  Yes, very sadly so.  As far as those men that think women suck because they are not getting laid, 40% of single women have the same complaint.  Go figure.  We just don't get all upset about it and go shooting up a place.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Sixty seconds at 3 pm...

As we come up on this weekend, Memorial Day weekend, most are all excited about having 3 or 4 days off.  Lots are planning picnics, mini-vacations and visiting, celebrating, with family and friends.  I myself am already committed to a "big party" this weekend.  I'm betting most of my readers don't even know that we are supposed to have a moment of silence at 3 pm on Monday for all those that have died in service of this country, in service of freedom.  Furthermore, I bet only one or two realize it is technically Federal law.  We have moved so far away from about what Memorial Day is, why and for whom, that we cannot even appreciate the sacrifices that those that have died have given.

Yes, a moment of silence at 3 pm Monday.  We almost all have cell phones now.  Alarm yourself at 2:59 pm to remind you to take 60 seconds at 3 pm.  Sixty seconds to consider the lives we sacrificed for freedom in combat (these are combat statistics only and do not include all US military losses during those years):

1.  In WWI, 53.4K Americans.
2.  In WWII, 291.6K Americans.
3.  In Korea (during actual action prior to truce), 33.1K Americans.
4.  In Vietnam, 44.7K Americans.
5.  In Desert Storm, 148 Americans.
6.  Current War on Terror, 6.7K Americans (latest count in 2013)

During the Civil War, we sacrificed over 215K Americans on both sides.

Put the rhetoric away.  We haven't sacrificed as many Americans, not even close, to what our grandparents sacrificed in WWII or what our great-great grandparents did to preserve our great country.  Just consider how important each and everyone one of those military members sacrifice is.  Consider theirs and their families' sacrifice:

Consider that almost all of them had a mother and father and grandparents that loved them.
Consider that given the average size of families, almost every single one had siblings that would never hear them laugh again.
Consider on an average well over half of them had spouses and families of their own.
Consider how important it must be for their sacrifices to not be in vain.

Oh, I know.  That's why we should end the war.  Stop.  Focus on what I'm stating.  We have always sacrificed ours for the greater good.  That's what makes us American.  This day, this Memorial Day is about the hollowed ground that those great sacrifices mean.  It means our freedom.  It means others' freedom.

Remember that because of those sacrifices:

Europe is not a Nazi state.
South Korea still has its independence and freedom.
Japan has flourished as a non-warring state.
Kuwait is still independent.
The 240K Iraqi men, women and children that were slaughtered between Desert Storm and 9/11 because they spoke out against (the parents did anyway) Saddam Hussein's regime, were vindicated.
The United States exists because of the Founding Fathers that fought.
The United States still exists because of those Civil War service members.

Stop and think whether you would make those sacrifices yourself.  During the draft of the Vietnam War, there was no choice.  Consider that our grandparents didn't need a draft.  Men and women flocked to help the war effort during World War Two.

I have no doubt of those sacrifices and what they mean.  We all need to understand what those sacrifices are for.  Don't just thank a service member for their service.  Consider that every single one that you have met in the last 40 years did so of their own volition.  No draft.  And always a promise that tomorrow might be their last.  That next week might bring orders to deploy.  That orders might mean that some of them don't return, and yes, that the one that doesn't return might be them.

Is it really that much for you to interrupt your picnic and give the respect to those that have sacrificed for freedom?  Or is it that it has to only be for the freedom that you enjoy?  If so, fine, we still sacrificed hundreds of thousands just for our own country's freedom, the freedoms that you enjoy even today.

Sixty seconds at 3 pm on Monday afternoon.  It shouldn't be that much to ask.