Saturday, November 28, 2009

MISSING!: An aging woman's desperate tale of losing her mind and her Friskies Party Mix in the Walmart makeup aisle

Elle was finally feeling well enough to leave the house today. She wasn't feeling well enough to travel the 20 minutes to Target, so we had to suck up our pride and go to Wally World. It wasn't entirely horrible.

(I tend to connect all references to Walmart with "It wasn't entirely horrible" only to justify why I stayed, once I actually walked into the place.)

After picking up a digital thermometer, a hairbrush, and a pouch of cat food, we went to the makeup aisle. Elle was responsibly crafty enough to bring with her a notepad, a pen, and a bottle of water - all in her cute little pink purse. This worried me because the display of supplies showed that she had every intention of setting up camp and doing some kind of project.

Oh. We're gonna be here for awhile.

While Elle made a "birthday/Christmas" shopping list that included the makeup item's company/maker, item description, and price, I stayed in the same aisle and looked at face creams. I had nothing better to do, but hey - I'm getting old, I just might learn something.

And here is what I learned:

* I was a cute kid. I never thought about that overpriced face cream crap.
* I was a cute teenager. I wish I would have recognized that back then. Instead, I worried about my hair and my glasses and how I could afford my next pack of Marlboro Lights. I never thought about that overpriced face cream crap.
* I was a cute twenty-something. I never had to work hard to keep myself thin and looking fit. I say "looking fit" because that's exactly it - I looked fit. That doesn't mean I was fit. I started wearing makeup. I never thought about that overpriced face cream crap.
* I was a cute new mom in my mid-twenties. Or, I could have been if I'd stopped crying, screaming, yelling, and carrying a grudge. I suffered from post-partum depression and never thought about that overpriced face cream crap.
* I am in my thirties. I have gray hair and crow's feet. I have a brown splotch on my forehead from the one summer of weekend beach-going during which I was completely slathered in 80 spf waterproof sunscreen. I am constantly thinking about that overpriced face cream crap.

I grabbed a package of Olay Firming Moisturizer. It was on sale for $6.00, which I still believe to be overpriced face cream crap. I have one bottle of Olay cream at home already and I use it around my eyes every morning. Problem is - it's expired.

Or is it?

Seriously, I'm not treating the signs of aging on my face as a medical condition. It's part of my Life Contract under the section called "Getting Old". I didn't have wrinkles until I had children. Same with my gray hair. And I'm not racing to cover those up, either (although, I do have a box of Natural Instincts in dark brown under my bathroom sink).

I put the $6.00 Olay Firming Moisturizer back on the shelf. If anything, it'll give me something to write about when I'm in my forties - one of those "Oh, I should've bought that $6.00 jar of Olay Firming Moisturizer! Look at my wrinkles!!"

However, it's doubtful that I'll even remember that $6.00 bottle of face cream crap. I hardly remember anything these days. Especially because I lost my package of cat food while I was looking at all that face cream crap. Somewhere, within three feet of my daughter (who was still so diligently writing out her list of "makeup must-haves"), I set down the cat food to look at jars of face cream crap. Then I lost it.

I freakin' lost the cat food. A shiny package that screamed the words "Wild West Crunch!" and had a picture of a cat throwing the niblets all over the damn place, about the size of a bag of donuts and totally out of place on the shelf with Burt's Bees. I searched for a good twenty minutes, looking up and down and all around, making sure I didn't put it in my purse or my daughter's purse and getting funny looks from other Wally World shoppers who made the mistake of walking down the makeup aisle as I mumbled, rather loudly, "Where the hell is the cat food!?!?"

And I'm worried about wrinkles? kid should be happy I remembered to bring her home with me.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Brunswick Strikes Again!

Oh. My. God.

The town of Brunswick still exists, people. I don't know who keeps this running joke afloat, but Elle got even with that place this morning by getting sick all over it. Ha!

And what makes it worse is the one person who had an opportunity to make Elle feel better (besides me, of course!) was the cashier at the gas station where we stopped for a little "clean up", if you will.

Me: Can we have an empty cup, preferably bigger than a coffee cup?
Her: That'll be $1.27.
Me: No, we don't want to get a drink. I need it to make sure my daughter can make it back home alright without being sick all over herself.
Her: That'll be $1.27.
Me: Wow. So it's Thanksgiving and my daughter is sick and you can't spare a cup? One cup? With no ice or soda or anything in it?
Her: It would cost the same if you wanted ice.
Me: I don't want ice. I want NOTHING in the cup. I'm sure it'll get filled soon (har har har!).
Her: I can give you a plastic bag.

Brunswick. Aaaaah, f$%#^$g Brunswick.

I paid my $1.27 and thought it wasteful by the time I made it to my own exit in Jacksonville, 89 miles later, with no further issues. Well, good thing we had that cup. That's all I can really say. The left turn I made to get home didn't do us any favors. But that cup sure did.

Which reminds me - on the way home, after exiting and re-entering I-95 going in the other direction, my daughter asked me to drive slowly so the bumps associated with The Brunswick Infinite Construction Project didn't make her tummy hurt even more. So I did. Folks, I drove 60 miles an hour. I didn't know I was even capable of that. And the world looks strangely hectic from the slow lane...all that merging going on and dumbasses with trash flying out of their pickup trucks. And sewer grates. Lots and lots of sewer grates.

Elle: What are those? I've never seen those anywhere but here.
Me: Those, my dearest daughter, are the portals to Hell. Because Brunswick was apparently constructed over Hell itself.
Elle: (giggles)
Me: What's so funny? Hell isn't funny. That's why we have to hurry up and get out of this town. It's Hell on Earth.
Elle: We shouldn't ever drive through here again!
Me: Smells funny, yeah?
Elle: (pointing to the paper mill just east of I-95) Is that the Fart Factory? 'Cause that's what this town smells like.

So, to end it all on a nice note, I present to you:


1. I do not live in Brunswick.
2. That my parents were able to go to my brother's apartment in South Carolina (in my place) and that they made a second turkey for us here at home.
3. I have pie.
4. I am no longer in a moving vehicle with the A/C blasting to keep the little one feeling well enough to continue living. That was flippin' COLD!
5. My house is warm.
6. I live in Florida. Florida is warm(er than anywhere else I could be today).
7. Forgotten cookies.
Choco chip forgotten cookies   2007xmas Pictures, Images and Photos
8. A beautiful daughter who is still worried about everyone else while her head's in a bucket.
9. Redbox. Thank You (insert higher being's name here) for Redbox.
10. 32 ounce styrofoam cups.
styro cup 2 Pictures, Images and Photos

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Poetry for Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving Poetry by Elle

Pilgrims ate some corn and some bread
Love is a thing they like to spread
Then they lay on a wooden bed
They have good dreams in every head

Indians taught them how to grow food
And turkey feathers, they all glued (*not true, I just made it up to rhyme)
These are things I am thankful for:
My family
and many more...

Thanksgiving is my favorite day
So let's give Thanksgiving a BIG BIG YAY!

Elle and I are heading up to Rock Hill, South Carolina tomorrow. With the Five-Oh in full force, my 6-hour trip will probably turn into 7 hours. We are packing extra tissues, some antibiotics, allergy medicine, and plenty of Tylenol to dope ourselves into a stupor. Let's add some tryptophan and ice-skating to the mix and you've got yourself a disaster waiting to happen.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone I know and love in Internet Land. And who knows? Maybe the pilgrims did like to glue turkey feathers to stuff.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

It can't always be sunshine and Whoppers

The sore throat started on Sunday. The sniffles kicked in on Monday. The sore throat and sniffles double-teamed me on Tuesday. The sinus pressure presented itself on Wednesday morning and later treated me with an afternoon of watery eyes and "Damn, don't look good. Why don't you just go home?" And because I'm a big baby when I'm sick, I really wanted to prove to everyone, especially myself, that I'm NOT a big baby when I'm sick. My body, energetic and screaming, "Go!!!" was being contradicted by everything from my neck up screaming, "Nooo!!!".

The body aches took over on Thursday and I finally gave up, collapsed, admitted defeat, and called in sick.

Because while I spent the earlier part of the week trying to prove that I'm not a big baby when I'm sick, I really only ended up driving what little energy I had to survive straight into a big hole in the ground and wearing myself down into a big ol' bag of uselessness. Somehow over the past few days, I had managed to drive myself and my daughter to two separate doctors appointments (where we were diagnosed with the same virus yet treated with different meds - I received antibiotics whereas she received allergy tablets), drop her off and pick her up from school (all while appropriately dressed in un-pajama-like clothing) and spend more time than humanly necessary stalking my Facebook friends.

Last night, Elle and I had a "Sick Girls Sleepover" by confining the hack-and-snotfest to my room. I was sprawled on my bed with a sick tummy, the result of an Azithromycin-Delsym-Sudafed-Yaz cocktail, while Elle's little belly grumbled with an overabundance of too many snacks. After days of eating little else but pasta and rice, I was craving some meat (and I'm not one to eat meat, nothing vegetarian about it - just simply not a taste/texture I particularly like in my mouth).

"Tomorrow, we're going to feel better. And I'm going to take us to Burger King so we can have a hamburger. No, no, no. A cheeseburger. No, no, no. A Whopper. With meat and cheese and tomato and onion and lettuce and ketchup and mayonnaise...", and so on.


Well, howdy doo. I sprung out of bed this morning with a still hacking cough but none of the "oh, god, my skin hurts when the wind blows" kind of cold/flu pain. I prepared the little one her favorite breakfast of french toast, helped her clean off her wagon in order to load it up and deliver the Girl Scout candy orders, walked the neighborhood in the sunny warmth of this beautiful day - the first day I could actually walk outside and not have to shield my eyes from the blessed sunshine that had been making my congested head throb with explosive pains since Tuesday.

And what a day to really wake up to it all! I couldn't help but take pictures of how extraordinarily glorious my own backyard looked to me after having emerged from my week-long cocoon of bedding, tissues, and even more tissues. Oh, dear Florida. I talk smack about you alot, but seriously - I couldn't imagine waking up to gray, cold skies or bitter cold winds. That would only send me back to bed! And how can I get my Whopper from bed!?!? Mmmm...that was the best damn Whopper I ever had, by the way.

My cat, Polly Esther Pooper Hemingway. The Pooper. Poopie, Poophead, Da get the idea.

Flowers. In November. Eat your hearts out, Northerners.


Our tangerine tree. The Tree of Vitamin C. $4.00 orange juice? Pttth...I get it for free (technically not until January - they're not quite ready for plucking!)

Polly Esther - check out her fists. Six-toed cats rule my world. Too bad they can't clean their own litter boxes, which is why she's called Pooper - she spends most of her time outside but still manages to muck up an indoor litter box.

Another beautiful palm tree.

My little Girl Scout Elle...wagon washin'!

More flowers...purple ones! Me likey the purple ones!

The grapefruit tree...

Here, have a closer look!

Sunshine and Whoppers do a body good.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

My love affair with Chuck

My best friend and I were discussing shoes today. Not like girly shoes, high heels and "oh, those are SOOO cute!" kind of shoes. Just shoes. I mentioned how badly I need to get my feet in a pair of real shoes. My doctor warned me a few weeks ago that my flat feet could potentially cause alot of pain in my near future and I need to slip into some comfortable shoes with good arch support.

Chuck Taylors are NOT known for their good arch support. But Jessie and I agreed that we love our Chucks. I am a flip flops and Chinese slippers kinda girl. Tennis shoes, sneakers, boots - ugh! No!!! Those are like a straightjackets to our precious little puppies. But I desperately need a real pair of shoes. Ever since I walked the craggy path up to Chimney Rock in my Converse sneakers, I have fallen in love with walking craggy paths to other incredibly beautiful natural wonders. It looks like my 20-year relationship with Chucks might be coming to an end. But not quite yet. Soon, though. I think I'd like to reflect:

This is the pair that started it all. I really thought I was something special by slapping a few pairs of different colored socks over my french-rolled jeans and shouldering a boombox down the road to Rhondra's house. There, in her bedroom, we'd practice our dance moves to New Edition and The Jets, then I'd go home and paint a face on my knee, a la Debbie Gibson's "Out of the Blue" album cover. Styled with my 4-inch bangs and shredded jeans (and my awesomely sexy plastic rose pink eyeglasses), Kris Peterson asked me to go out with him. I said no. My years as a heartbreaker were just beginning.

Pink was so immature and rural Upper Michigan. I had graduated to blue and burgundy by the time I entered high school in the gang-infested Washington, DC suburb known as Prince Georges' County, Maryland. That burgundy pair you see up there - those babies helped me escape a gang of thugs hellbent on beating the shirt out of a white person. Because, you see, I was personally responsible for handing the whacking sticks to the LAPD and clubbing Rodney King to a bloody pulp. It was that afternoon, on the second floor near my history class, that I learned how fast a white girl could run. And to never, I repeat - NEVER!! - proclaim your loyalty to any one particular color. I'm sure this is why the grunge movement made such an impact on my fashion choices. Gang members are easily confused by plaid.

An honest-to-goodness staple in any teenager's closet. The beloved black Chucks. I've had this pair since my last year of high school (black was neutral, you see, and I was pretty much ignored by gang members at this point). My friend, Brendan, always had a pair of black Chucks on his big ol' feet. Even when he graduated from Crossland High School in 1992, two years before I would walk across the stage for my own diploma, Brendan's black Chucks poked out from underneath his graduation gown. He defied the "dress shoes" policy and we all loved him even more. Brendan passed away in 1996, at about this time of year. I don't have it in me to get rid of my black Chucks just yet.

Photobucket navy pair of Chucks. I love them but they look awkward because this particular shade of blue conflicts with any other shade of blue denim. I still have them in my closet, taking up space and quietly promising that one day they will either match with something or I'll just grow so old that I won't give a shit about matching anything. Except maybe one shoe with another. We'll see.

It's a shame I couldn't find a photograph of my first "real" pair of shoes. It's been around 10 years that I've had this pair of suede One Stars, light brown - bone, is what Converse calls it - and they match with everything. And they're suede! I remember opening this box on a long-ago Christmas morning and thinking, "Wow, this is probably the most expensive pair of shoes I own!" I was right, they weren't cheap. But they're beautiful and still have the original laces. But because I'm a flip flops and Chinese slippers kinda girl, they haven't been worn out. Just worn. They've been loved.

This is my most recently acquired pair - aren't they cute!?!? Chocolate brown suede, plaid in the star and stripe. Just adorable. They were a gift from a friend, a friend I had shared nearly everything with since we met in 1990, a friend I no longer have. I won't exactly blame the shoes but they had a part in the overall demise of our relationship. Do I love these shoes? YES! Would I happily give them back in return for my friend's trust and respect again? Yes. Yes. Yes. I miss you, Doug.

So, folks, there you have it. I know other people have a story of their own and you are welcome to share yours in the comments.

converse Pictures, Images and Photos

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Bonfire

The first time I went to the Bonfire, my friends and I had to hold each other's hands to keep from losing anyone in the pitch-black darkness of the woods. Tree roots snaked out of the ground and tripped up every single one of us, even after we warned the person behind us, "Whoa! There's a root. Be careful." THUD. And because we were all joined by hand, the rest of the group was pulled off balance by the first man to go down. It probably looked like a train derailment, our little group of hikers, but it was too dark to see the mass of bodies sprawled on the forest floor and all you heard was the thump of knees hitting dirt and someone say "Whoops!" and, after the initial shock of discovering a bloodied elbow, alot of giggling.

Eventually, after a 15-minute walk or so, we came across a rickety wooden bridge that could really only hold the weight of a newborn kitten. Hand in hand, we helped each other slowly cross the planks, careful to mind the planks that were missing. Those were the ones to watch out for as we were reminded each time Little Dave tried to cross the bridge himself only to fall into the small creek below. Pissed off and wet, Little Dave would curse loudly and take off into the woods, when we would hear another thump, another curse word, and finally, more cursing.

This, my friends, was just to get to the Bonfire. This is nothing like trying to find the way out, you know...when some of us were no longer sober. I think Little Dave made it to the Bonfire and stayed long enough to dry off, have some beers, and fall into the creek again as he made a drunken attempt to cross the broken bridge alone. Half the time I don't think anybody ever knew how he made it home. But he always made it home. We all did.

The path was obvious to those who'd been there before. I remember stepping very carefully around tree trunks and dirtholes and wondering how in the hell this place was ever discovered. The drive to this particular neighborhood wasn't too far away from our homebase but I was a mess of nerves each and every time I agreed to go to the Bonfire. Not only did we have to trespass through strangers' backyards and avoid the motion sensor lights we set off in the process, but sometimes a cop would hang around nearby, behind a bush or something, and wait for the moment he saw any movement from within our clump of trees so he could shine his authoritative spotlight on us. We never got caught. At least, I never did. Perhaps this is how Little Dave made it home every night. We'll never know.

The Bonfire was a place to meet new people. Usually someone brought a case of beer (and things that weren't beer) and a couple of guitars. A big campfire, good conversation, and a jam session pretty much equalled a good night. I was with friends and so content to just sit on my happy little log. The occasional argument erupted, fueled by alcohol and macho pride, but for the most part it was just a meeting place for the rich kids, the poor kids, the military kids, the civilian kids, the white kids, the black kids, and the younger crowd who wanted to hang out with the older crowd. Your typical teenage scene.

My last night at the Bonfire was in May of 1994, Graduation Night. We made the usual precarious trek over tree roots and half-exposed rocks, watched Little Dave fall into the creek, and I found my place on my happy little log. I sat next to my friend Sean, a gentle giant of a man and quite capable, I'm sure, of snapping someone's neck with his bare hands. Suddenly, we heard the sounds of motorbike engines coming up quickly from the opposite side of our entry path. Everyone stopped what they were doing at once. The conversations grew silent, the musicians stopped playing, even the drunks stood still. Since I had never walked past the firepit, I didn't know what was beyond the Bonfire and looked to Sean for some sort of guidance. He whispered, "Shhhh..." to me at least once and stared straight ahead, as if he could telepathically convince whoever was headed in our direction to make a u-turn and go back home. I continued to stare at him and everyone around the Bonfire collectively took in a deep breath.

Who were those bikers? Were they pissed because we were here? Was it the cops? What do we do?

Finally, three bikes peaked at the top of the small hill and drove straight for us.

Sean screamed, "Run!!!!" I thought, Run? Okay!!! But wait...RUN? Where??!

And so my plan of escape had been hatched!

I ran into the darkness of the woods, a few yards behind Sean but in a totally different direction. I soon found myself alone and terrified and freakin' lost. In the woods. The woods are dark at night, you know. And while that might not surprise any of you, maybe you'd be interested in knowing that when you are alone and terrified in the dark woods, they get darker. I'm thoroughly convinced that it's scientifically possible.

I eventually found my way back to the party. The Three Bikers brought a case of beer with them and hung out with us all. My own personal party started to wane and I was ready to go home. I was freaked out, exhausted, and I had to pee. No, I didn't want to pee in the woods. That, of course, would require me to be alone in the dark, dark woods again and I was in no hurry to do that.

Where this story came from, I have no idea. It's been over fifteen years and I found myself thinking about that place tonight. I found myself thinking about that night tonight. I wonder why. Those days were cake compared to my real life today. Those were the careless days before my friends and I were separated by our parents' military retirements or our own eventual deployments, before we were gifted with the responsibilities of raising children and fulfulling college requirements and working full-time jobs. Those were the days before we essentially grew up.

Simply put, those were the days!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Homework buddies

Elle was really excited when I told her I was going to start college in January.

"Ooooh, Mom! That's wonderful that you're going to college for the first time!"

The first time?? Child, where have you been since you, born? Do you not remember the tears and screams and bloody clumps of hair in my fists as I struggled with Algebra at the breakfast table two years ago? Do you not remember the twirly-eyed zombie look on my face as I fought off writer's block for a 6-page research paper in World Religions? What about the first four years of your life as you spent every Saturday afternoon at the Regency Mall's Playplace where you barreled your way through the day, exerting a ton of energy and content to jump on plastic dolphins while I pretended to watch you very carefully (when I was really studying Early American Literature)? Thankfully you were such a well-behaved little girl and surrounded by a waist-high wall with only one exit. That mall helped me earn a spot on the Dean's List.

Life has been good since last December when I got my Associates's Degree. I buy books because I want to. And I read them for fun. I started a blog so I could write about whatever I felt like writing about. And I write for fun. I learned how to enjoy going to bed before 2am. Sleeping is very fun.

I'm not looking forward to this whole school thing again.

I'm broke and tired. But mostly tired. Financial aid decided I was poor enough so they're helping out a bit. A big bit. My decision to go back to school was pretty much decided by my ability to obtain financial aid. I've paid out of pocket for classes before so that I didn't lose momentum. Let's hope I don't have to do that again. But I think I would if I had to.

Two more years, I'm telling myself. Two more years of being tired. I'm going to be tired anyway so I might as well do something useful while the insomnia cranks away at me. If I can knock this whole program out in 6 semesters, I'll have a Bachelor's Degree under my Christmas tree in 2011.

I think it's good for us, both of us. Elle will see me working hard for this degree, she'll see me struggle and get pissed off and want to quit. Of this, I'm sure. And she'll see me walk away, take a break, grab a coffee, and fight my way back in. She's at that age level when schoolwork becomes more challenging, difficult and seems nearly impossible sometimes to understand. She'll know it's okay for her to walk away, take a break, get her mom some more coffee, and fight her way back in.

Anxiety has already reared its ugly head and I'm already in the process of grieving. Yes, it sounds dramatic, but I'll be losing the freedoms that I've known in my life for the last twelve months. My life of studying, crying, catnapping, and studying some more is returning and I'm not looking forward to it.

My mother mentioned over the weekend that she doesn't think I'll be able to handle school with everything going on in my life: full-time job, single motherhood, Tuesday night gymnastics, Thursday night Girl Scouts. I did it before and I have no choice but to do it again. Time will be strictly monitored, each hour of my day will have to be devoted to one thing and one thing only so that nothing gets thrown aside, forgotten, or neglected. I defended my decision to return to school for my Bachelor's degree by reminding my mother that, at my current rate of stalled success, I'll be living with her forever.

"No," she said. "I'm not worried about your abilities to get this done. I'm concerned with your personality."

My personality?

Apparently, nobody likes me when I'm in college since I tend to become overwhelmed, short-tempered, and just an overall bitch. So believe it or not, this last year may have possibly been the most pleasant I've ever been to my family since 1997.

"It's only for two more years. I'll try to be nicer to everyone and then I can move out," I promised.

Just the prospect alone of me moving out of their house has my parents putting on their Tolerant faces and replaying the moment in their heads when I said "...I can move out."

This can only end well for all of us. And Elle will now have a homework buddy.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The deepest wounds

"They weren't in Iraq," author Dinesh D'Souza said on television Thursday night, analyzing the culprit. "They were living a normal, everyday life."

Oh, Mr. D'Souza, I beg to differ.

Major Nidal Hasan may not have been in Iraq, he may have never been placed in the center of combat, and he may have spent his working hours in the so-called comfort and safety of Walter Reed Army Hospital, but he was certainly not living a normal, everyday life. And because of his actions yesterday, he most certainly never will.

What, may I ask, is normal about Major Hasan's life? Is it his committed objection to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that makes him so normal? Possibly. Lots of people proudly object. Is it his past desire to enlist in the military against his parents' wishes and proclaim his love for this great country that gave his immigrant family a chance at success and happiness? Could be. Lots of military members have proudly expressed this as reason enough to enlist. Is it his love of God as a Muslim and not as a Christian that enabled him to live a relatively quiet life in America? Sure. Lots of people live this way and enjoy their normal, everyday lives. It doesn't make them any more spectacular than the next guy.

But Major Hasan wasn't your normal, everyday guy. He was a psychiatrist who cared for those returning from the horrors of war. Imagine the stories, the tears, the rage his patients must have carried. The separation experienced by these young men and women from their families - sometimes over a year's worth of a normal, everyday life must be recovered - and their fear of adjusting to a normal, everyday life. A car backfiring can ignite the memory of a roadside bomb that killed two of their buddies. That's not normal. Learning how to eat with their left hand because their right hand was blown off. That's not normal. Listening to these soldiers, day in and day out, trying to help them process the worst time of their lives even as they fear the worst is yet to come. That's not normal, either. Just how heavy is the weight of the world? Ask one of those guys, they'll tell you.

Unfortunately, Major Hasan was also a man who initially became a pysychiatrist to help returning soldiers but whose intentions trumped his ability to do just that. His personal and spiritual objections against the wars fueled his failed attempts to stay out of the warzone as a conscientious objector. And this, understandably so, pissed him off. His performance on the job suffered and his personal views became so distorted that he eventually snapped.


Major Hasan seemed to be carrying the weight of the world. Nobody asked him how heavy it was but he was obviously hellbent on telling us. He was the psychiatrist who needed a psychiatrist, not a lawyer. He was the psychiatrist who needed a pyschiatrist, not a transfer from Walter Reed to Fort Hood. He was a soldier who needed the Army to protect him just as he was assigned to protect the mental health of other soldiers. Where the hell was the Army?

I'm not defending him. Not completely, at least. Maybe it's the soft spot in my heart for anyone who has the balls to join the military. Maybe it's the hardened spot in my heart for the politicians who've decided that the mental health of our troops should take a backseat to lining their own pockets with a pay raise. Either way, there are so many elements involved in this disaster. Too many of them were obvious signs of distress.

So as Fox News and CNN declare NEW DETAILS EMERGE!, keep in mind that these so-called NEW details were witnessed by Army officials long before the tragedy in Fort Hood. They gave Major Hasan a poor performace evaluation. He was overheard making comments about "the enemy" and it was assumed "the enemy" meant the terrorists. He was accused of sharing his anti-war views with his patients. Why did nobody follow up? Why was he shifted from one post to another and not dealt with? Why was he deemed unable to perform his duties on American soil but then given a stamp of approval to perform his duties in the field?

Unless the mental health of our returning troops and their families becomes a priority, it's possible this could happen again. We've already chosen to ignore the increase in soldier suicides and domestic violence and it took us years to recognize the shoddy conditions in our country's VA Hospitals.

We can't ignore this.

"The soldier, above all other people, prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war." ~~ General Douglas MacArthur


November 11, 2009: Wow. Was I ever wrong in assuming that Major Hasan was a victim of the system, too. I am, however, leaving this post up because I still strongly believe that the Army missed alot of signs. Or did they? Did these signs get swept under the rug? Did they get thrown to the wayside in order to make sure enough mental health specialists would be available for placement in the field?

I'll be honest here. I don't see the good in people. I'm not a forgiving person. I rarely extend sympathy to anyone who has committed such an atrocious crime, for whatever reason. And for me to actually defend this man is way out of my character. Immediately I was sure the perpetrator was a military member who didn't want to be deployed. I looked at my father and said, "How horrible would that be if the shooter was a Muslim?" I'm quick to assume and I'm difficult to convince otherwise. So, I guess I've learned a lesson here. But I still think this could have been prevented and this incident casts a heavy shadow over the Army.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Got kids?

This evening has not gone well. When I took Elle to gymnastics, I actually had to stay outside in the cool air so the chill would lessen my desire to projectile vomit (Got kids? You know the morning sickness tricks! and NO I'M NOT PREGNANT JUSTNOTFEELINGWELL!!!!) and ended up missing my daughter being singled out as the best straddle-handstander in the class. But as my mother was checking me for lice tonight (Got kids? Don't judge! You'll end up getting pinworms if you judge me!), my mini-me threw this little gem in front of me:

"Dear Mom,
I am sorry you are feeling ill and having a bad day but something is hidden in my haert and it's called love and care. I love you.

Please, oh please, tell me that she'll always be my biggest, most adoring fan! No? Okay, then lie to me. Seriously, folks. When does this stop? Not that I want it to. I simply want to know when to expect these less and less frequently. Because at our current rate, I'm getting two letters a week. It's become easier to organize her paper-gifts since she no longer draws me one thousand pictures a week and orders me to hang them on the refrigerator and then store them in the "pretty box" for all of eternity. Or until she deems them too ugly to keep as mementos. No, no, no more of that. We've graduated to real letters. With WORDS!