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Archive for February, 2011

Ok, admit it. You have songs on your iPod (or mix CD’s or computer or whatever) that you should be embarassed that you have. Those songs that you rock out to in the shower and bellow out in the car; the tunes that you just SHOULDN’T love but you simply can’t help it. Sometimes they’re cheesy, sometimes they’re just plain bad – but you love them anyway. The songs that are like that one boyfriend or girlfriend you had – you look back and think “what was I thinking?”

So, should I die and someone find these secret gems on my iPod, I am going to save them from having to publicly humiliate me. I am going to admit, here and now, some of the embarassing songs I own:

  • Mmmmbop by Hanson – it’s just damn catchy
  • Wannabe by The Spice Girls – ok, who wants some girl power?
  • I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing (the Coca-Cola jingle) – ahhh, the childhood memories
  • Bust a Move by Young MC and Wild Thing by Tone Loc – yikes, were these really the songs of our teenage years?
  • Hold On by Wilson Phillips and After the Rain by Nelson – oh, the teen angst that these songs recall
  • various camp songs like The Princess Pat, Kookabura, Barges, 500 Miles, and The Cannibal King – thank you Sprucelands campers
  • Just the Way You Are by Bruno Mars – what can I say, it has sentimental value and I will always love the person who gave this song to me
  • the entire soundtrack to The Rocky Horror Picture Show – the cult classic is a Halloween tradition for me
  • my favorites from the Statler Brothers, John Denver, and Conway Twitty – my mom and dad used to listen to these
  • bagpipe music – yes, I *know* it sounds like cats being murdered but I like it
  • gospel hymns like Just A Closer Walk With Thee, Amazing Grace, I’ll Fly Away, The Rugged Cross – they make me think of some very special people in my life
  • Lift Every Voice – ok, I admit it, I was trying to learn the words to “the black national anthem” to impress my mother-in-law
  • the greatest hits of Peter, Paul & Mary, Pete Seeger, and the Kingston Trio – give me a guitar and I’m ready to folk
  • the cast albums for about 900 Broadway shows (including Ragtime, Rent, South Pacific, Oklahoma, Sweet Charity, Phantom of the Opera, Showboat, Godspell, Oliver!, Carousel, Tommy, Titanic, Side Show, and more)

My brother once told me that I am “musically schizophrenic” and after looking over my iPod list, I guess I have to agree. Who else has a playlist that runs from Glenn Miller to Lady Gaga, from Pitbull to Patsy Cline, from Blondie to the Boston Pops? But surely I can’t be the only one that has eclectic music tastes. So go ahead, share with me, you’ll feel better….

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So I came home the other night and my entire house smelled like smoke. And not of the electrical or chemical burning, either – no, this was cigarette or cigar smell. I noticed, too, a haze in almost every room and, while I tried to ignore it, I just couldn’t. So, I stupidly forced a confrontation with the asshole with whom I share my house. Here is how the conversation went:

Me: “why do I smell smoke?”

Him: “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Me: “I definitely smell it and the whole house is smoky. Was there a problem with the oven or the dryer or something?”

Him: “No. I don’t know what you’re talking about.” (looking at me like I am the dumbest human being on the planet)

Me: “Was someone smoking in here?”

Him: “No. Who would I have in here?” (now getting antagonistic)

Me: “God only knows.” (thinking about the legions of trampy mistresses) “But if no one was in here smoking, I’m going to have to call 9-1-1 because we must have a fire burning in the wall or something.”

Him: “Don’t do that. I had a cigar, ok?” (downright pissy now) “A guy had a baby and gave out cigars so I smoked it.”

Me: “You don’t have to lie to me. We’re not married anymore so please don’t disrespect me by lying about stupid shit.”

Him: “I didn’t lie to you about anything.” (acting all wounded and insulted)

So, this was by far the DUMBEST argument I think I have ever been involved in. He lied straight to my face and it wasn’t until I had to threaten to call 9-1-1 that he finally told the truth. And then he tells me that he didn’t lie to me. And it was all over the stupidest, pettiest thing. What the hell??

First of all, we are trying to sell our house and, as my husband tells the story, I am sabotaging the sale. Never mind that *he* is the one that leaves dirty laundry out in the front hall on a day he knows the house is being shown. Never mind that *he* is the one that has a derelict car, lawnmower, AND air compressor hanging out in the front yard like the freaking Clampetts. And now he’s going to smoke cigars in the house and have it smelling bad – and somehow I bet that will all be my fault too.

Secondly, it just clearly illustrates for me how easily and naturally he can lie to me. Obviously (since his mistress claims they’ve been together since before he and I married) he’s very skilled at keeping secrets and lying to me. And, obviously, I was too naive and stupid to realize it and question it. Only now, when I am wiser and don’t have anything to lose, do I question the truthfulness of what he tells me. How sad is that?

And lastly, it just irritates the crap out of me that I so clearly have withstood this kind of disrespect. How long have I been dumb enough to be lied to and verbally abused? And what is it about my emotional makeup that not only tolerated it for almost 10 years but also comes to expect it? What on God’s green earth is wrong with me? OY!

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Intolerance and prejudice is not inherently born. Watch a group of small children sometime – they do not discriminate based on skin color or ethnicity; they will play with anyone who is nice to them.

Public schools are therefore, I believe, the ideal environments for re-training children to be tolerant of other people. I feel sorry for home-schooled children, who have a limited exposure to people with other backgrounds, beliefs, or identities. Are we doing a disservice to today’s youths by not forcing them to see the world through others’ eyes? Public high schools put kids (at an age when they are most impressionable) in direct daily contact with people who come from different backgrounds. Maybe they speak a different language or eat different foods. Maybe they have less or more money. Maybe they go to a different church or have differently colored skin. Maybe they are of another sexual orientation or come from a blended family. Maybe they cope with a disability or have different political ideals. Whatever their differences, the pre-teenage and teenage years are the times to teach kids to accept and embrace the differences in all human beings.

Yes, I guess you could say I’m somewhat rabid about this subject – I am sick to death of the intolerance and prejudice I see in the world. I was raised to believe that all people are equal, regardless of race, class, religion, education level, gender, ethnicity, etc.. I married a man of a different race and social background than mine. I lived with two lesbians in college and stood up for them at their wedding. I have 6 wonderful godkids who are a mix of colors. I have friends in the fire department from all professional and socioeconomic walks of life. I am good ol’ redneck with 2 college degrees, able to rope a cow and write a thesis in equal measure. I firmly believe that diversity is what makes our experience on this planet such a special experience!

Imagine if you woke up every morning and could only wear white clothes, eat white bread, drive a white car that looked just like everyone else’s, went to work in a small white cubicle, and only saw 1 other person (who was also white) ever.

Imagine if you never saw a colorful painting or a dramatic sculpture, never got to eat different styles of food, never heard music, could never travel to anywhere but your house and your job. Imagine if you only knew people who agreed with you on EVERYTHING, from politics to movies, fashion to philosophy. Imagine if you couldn’t go to school and learn about other histories, cultures, or ideas. Imagine if you couldn’t go to church and study the Bible in the way YOU wanted. Imagine if you never heard a foreign language or saw a movie or read a book. Imagine if you only had friends that looked, sounded, and thought just like you. Imagine if your television only got 1 station showing 1 program.

We live in a diverse world, rich with colors, flavors, textures, sights, and sounds. I love the fact that I don’t live in an all-white world. I celebrate my friends and loved ones who lead different lives than mine. And I pray that someday the world will learn that tolerance and acceptance of others are the positive keys to a peaceful world!

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Shut up and drive
You don’t know what you’re talking about
He’s not the one
You ought to know that by now
You’ve got one of those hearts
That keeps changing your mind
Your heart has a way of making you stay
So shut up and drive

Don’t look in the mirror
He might have that look in his eyes
The one thats so strong
It strangles your will to survive
He’s mastered the art
Of looking sincere
His eyes have a way of making you stay
Don’t look in the mirror

I’m the voice you never listen to
And I had to break your heart to make you see
That he’s the one who will be missing you
And you’ll only miss the man
That you wanted him to be

Turn the radio on
To drown out the sound of goodbye
Blink back the tears
Show me you’ve still got your pride
Just get yourself lost
In a sad country song
Those guys that they play
Know just what to say
Turn the radio on.

I’m the voice you never listen to
And I had to break your heart to make you see
That he’s the one who will be missing you
And you’ll only miss the man
That you wanted him to be

Shut up and drive
Don’t look in the mirror
Turn the radio on
Get out of here
Shut up and drive

This is an older country song from Chely Wright (who, fyi, recently made headline news by being brave enough to be herself – look it up). So when did my life become a country song? Oh, hell, it’s been that way for a long time. I have a cheating husband with a drinking problem. I drive a pickup truck (or I would if I wasn’t being a total sap and letting the dumbass borrow it). I used to ride horses and pick up cowboys at rodeos. I went through a Wrangler phase and thought that a man with a big belt buckle would sweep me off my feet. I think Reba and Shania are the grand divas of girl power. I would marry Alan Jackson in a heartbeat. I think big tires on a truck are sexy.

But never in my life have I had such a hard time listening to the damn radio! I can’t go anywhere in my car without hearing a song that either makes me cry or makes me want to punch one of my exes in the head. I don’t know what is wrong with me! And I don’t know why I would want to linger in the past and rekindle those relationships! Why on earth would it be a good idea to reconcile with my husband? He’s lied to me, cheated on me, and verbally and emotionally abused me for years. What flawed part of my DNA is encouraging me to go back, to make it work?

Soooo….turn up the radio, blink back the tears. Don’t look back, just look forward. Get out, start over, try again. Shut up and drive.

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From Pretty Woman:

Vivian: People put you down enough, you start to believe it.
Edward Lewis: I think you are a very bright, very special woman.
Vivian: The bad stuff is easier to believe. You ever notice that?

How true is THIS? How many of us tend to put ourselves down (either in our heads or out loud to others) because it’s easier than believing that we are good, kind, smart, funny, loving human beings.

I often believe the worst things I say and think about myself because it is easier than believing the good things. It is easier to revel in the anger and hurt -why, I have to ask, does everyone seem to want to write me off? I think maybe it’s my own fault. By trying to blend in and be invisible, I think I have invited everyone else to consider me as unimportant and insignificant as I consider myself. I have allowed others to treat me badly because I expected it – and since I couldn’t control others into giving me positive, life-affirming feedback, I took what I could get.

It makes me so sad to think that any of my friends and loved ones for a second have ever believed a single bad thing about themselves. Why do we do this to ourselves? Why can’t we embrace who we are and believe that we are good? Now, I’m not saying that all people are good – and I’m not saying all people have trouble accepting compliments and believing the best about themselves.  Sadly, I see these difficulties as a trend more in my female friends than in my male buddies. Why do women have to be so hard on themselves? Is it in our genetic makeup? Our societal conditioning? Is it because of our mothers? WHY can’t we love ourselves for who we are??

I find myself constantly asking of myself “am I nice/kind/pretty/smart/generous/loving enough?” I cannot accept that I am who I am – it is like I am constantly seeking to improve myself or to live up to someone else’s ideals. When, may I ask, will I simply acccept myself and learn to love myself?

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When we first started dating and even in the early years of our marriage, my husband and I fought relatively little. I admit that I probably stored a lot of emotions up and, after a long fuse-burning, would let go in a monumental sandbag against him. Of course, being a man, he often didn’t know:

a) what I was talking about when I referred to events that happened months ago or

b) why I could possibly still be so upset.

So we’d end up arguing and I’d wind up crying and then we would eventually reach an uneasy truce that eventually faded into our normal bonhomie.

Bonhomie – what a great word to describe what our married life was like (and a fabulous SAT word, too). I don’t think, even in our earliest days, we ever had that burning passion that is the stuff of romance novels and pornography. I think, now in hindsight, that my husband just simply isn’t hardwired for that kind of positive, urgent emotion. We never had that flame of romance – it was always more of a slow comfortable ember. We were great friends, very compatible as roommates and pals.

But, looking back, I’m not sure I should have settled for that. Maybe I should stop watching chick flicks and reading books about lifelong loves – they are tricking me into thinking that kind of intense love is possible. And if I should ever had a child of my own, I will not read them fairy tales – “happily ever after” is just a myth. For a while I had “happy in the moment” but that is over now. So now I am going to create a “happy with myself.” Wish me luck!

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Not many people outside of a very close circle of friends know that I am a survivor of molestation. As a child, I was sexually abused by a female cousin off and on for almost a decade. I have, thankfully, repressed most of the incidents – and have chosen not to bring them back out in the open via hypnosis or any other form of therapy. What’s past is past and I am not going to dwell on it. I could, of course, use this as an excuse for a variety of my mental and emotional problems – but what would that get me? I would have an easy excuse to act however I wanted – but I don’t want that. Interestingly, when my husband’s mistress contacted me to tell me about her affair with my husband, she said she’d had a rough life and deserved happiness wherever she could find it – so she was going to have my husband. What an interesting rationalization for clearly immoral behavior (dishonesty, adultery, betrayal, general sluthood)! I did wonder then if I could use the excuse of my past to do whatever the hell I wanted…

I have never publicly spoken about my experiences and have kept it a very private matter up until now. I, however, have recently realized that the abuse, as much of a detriment as it was for me, also taught me a lot about surviving as a victim and about pulling myself up by the bootstraps and moving on with my life.

Recent events have caused me to consider the word victim. The dictionary defines a victim as “one that is subjected to oppression, hardship, or mistreatment.” But a secondary definition is someone that “has been tricked or duped.” I could easily classify myself as a victim, not only because of the past but also because of the present. The abuse clearly victimized me – but so did my husband. I have been tricked, duped, AND mistreated – but I refuse to allow either situation to define me or defeat me.

I don’t want to be a victim!  There is such a helpless, passive implication in that word. I want to be a survivor instead, someone who has lived through some bad things and come out whole on the other side. The dictionary defines a survivor as one who “continues to function and prosper” after a difficulty. I admit that I haven’t had a maiming accident or a traumatic disaster, life-altering tragedy or catastrophic injury – which I realize makes me a hell of a lot luckier than other survivors out there! But I am determined to not only survive but to thrive after the latest setbacks.  I am going to face life, from here on, not as a victim but as a survivor!

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