I deampt I took a walk with my Dad last night.

I have reoccurring dreams—of course I do, everyone does, even if they don’t remember them. Your brain isn’t SO creative that it can come up with thousands of plotlines and innumerable characters a hundred times a night without some eventual overlay. That’s probably why most people think their dreams are so unfathomable: they think it’s all one program. I suffer from a sleep disorder that keeps me in and out of REM in the most bizarre unstackable ways, and it only stands to reason that since I wake up after more of my dreams, I remember more of them.
What I rarely do (but so many of us have prayed for) is go back into the same dream (ala situational comedy), and immediately pick up where we left off—with the handsome man with the flashing eyes and the etchings he’d like to show you. Your brain isn’t taking reservations and it’s standing room only. So sleep or watch, but either way the curtain’s up and the show must go on.

Now, don’t you naysayers tell me how you don’t remember your dreams, let alone having more than one in a night. Your brain and mine don’t work the same, and you should be grateful. I don’t get much sleep. I trade it in for long, plot filled dreams where I am someone I don’t know in real life, with a life and a history and events of my own. When I wake, I worry about what happened to them: did they escape that horrible vacuum-tornado that filled the garage ceiling and stole Diane’s child? If Susan was really so happy being a stay home mom, making sandwiches for her kids lunch boxes and reminding them to hurry or she would put milk on their cereal RIGHT NOW and it would be all wet, and that made them show up toot-sweet—if she was so comfortable, why did I feel such dread, every time I looked at the stack of mail by the telephone at my kitchen desk? I’ve been men and women, children and the elderly. On half the occasions when I am myself, it’s an alternate time stream. I spent a month in high school dating a boy named Freddy whose mother just hated me and thought I was trash, but every night the dream started with me waking up asleep on Freddy’s big chest, as we’d dozed off on his 70’s style couch, and awoke only to the sound of his mother slamming the screen door on her way in, already bitching about the day she’d had.

Last night, I had the same dream three times in a row. Three separate times where I dreamed it, woke up, thought about how wonderful and peaceful it was and how I wished I wouldn’t have woken up just to roll over or shift the blanket, or have a pee, and three separate times I went back to sleep and started that dream from the beginning. Then I had a fourth dream, and that’s why I put this story down. It’s kind of a love letter for Jessie, and KiKi.

I was driving a car. I haven’t legally driven a car in almost a decade, so these are usually stressful dreams for me, but this time, I was driving a car, with the windows open and everything smelled like wildflowers. It was wonderful. The landscape was gorgeous: hills so high it felt dangerous to drive on straight roads, but the other-side would have roads so windy they felt like hairpin turns, stopping my heart and catching my breathe.  Between these hills, as seen from the peak of the first one I always started up—was endless, boundless green. Flats of curlicues’ and long stretches of straight-aways, roads that were more like highways they were so wide, and roads so narrow the tall grass came in the windows as I drove by. It was like a fantasy of Ireland—nothing but charm and welcoming green and the freedom to explore it without feeling like a trespasser.

The first time I drove the road, all I could think about was how high this mountain was, and when it peaked, how it really was just a hill—I could see higher ones from here, some even in my path, if I kept going—but so much windier and scarier on the way down. But as I started, I realized I had control of the car, and I could even stop if it got to scary, so I let myself drive, and I relaxed and I made it most of the way down the mountain before I woke up.

It had been so peaceful and lovely that I was disappointed it was over, but I really did feel the call of nature, and these things happen, and blah blah blah, I went to the bathroom. I was so tired; I don’t even remember getting back into bed. But I do remember having that same dream a second time. This time I made it all the way down the hill, and on the straightaway, I realized, all of these lands used to be inhabited. There were landmarks that as long as I kept my eyes open, would point out ancient looking railroad tracks mirroring the path of some of the roads. Some of them were higher, and the roads far beneath, so I couldn’t make them out, just trust they were there, until the road took me to a bend, but if I was careful, and studious, I could see little rough cinderblocks, on their own set of casters, at seemingly random points of the railroad. Some were so old, or so mistreated perhaps, that they were nearly illegible, unless the word was very short. But some were in near mint condition, with the grass trimmed neatly around it, as if someone was in charge of preserving this stretch of the highway, and the little cinderblocks themselves. On each stone was written only one thing: Grapes. Strawberries. Helium Fruits. Cucumbers. Thyme. Each black, on little casters, on little railroad tracks, mirroring real railroad tracks, built before the time of the road I was on, was simply there to remind travelers that this was once all farmland, full of edible goodness! The first time I figured it out my car swerved a little, and I wished desperately for a camera. But instead, I kept my eyes open, and counted them up as I drove. It made me feel like whistling.

That dream didn’t end quite so abruptly. I don’t remember how many I saw, or what varieties they all were, and I certainly don’t have any but the pictures of them in my mind. But I did wake up, and I did feel disappointed, but somehow lighter and happier, and I did roll over, and once again go back to sleep.

The third time, I picked up the dream nearly where I left off. With a whistle on my lips, the wind in my hair, my hands at the wheel, I was already descending the windy side of the mountain. This time, I wasn’t worried at all. Windy roads make for safer passage than straight ones. I got this. But this time, the road had other travelers, and I was VERY surprised to see them. This time I KNEW I had been here before, and I KNEW that no one had traveled this road with me. I even felt sort of possessive of it. ESPECIALLY when I realized the station wagon in front of me was driven by a couple of younger guys, who were taking some of those hairpins so tight they were driving right over the grass, leaving tracks and scars on the hill face. They were whooping, and encouraging each other. The road was so narrow, there was no catching them. And the proper thing to do might have been to honk, or even to slow down in case they got themselves into trouble and dragged me down with them. But instead, incensed by the way they were mistreating “my” idyllic landscape, I sped up to catch them. The faster I drove, the sharper the turns. The sharper the turns, the more of the grass I myself tore up, and who knows how many ruts in the mud I left in my attempt to show up the very people I was now imitating. But that didn’t’ matter to me—I was angry and I was feeling more than a little hurt that anyone was here (though I told myself it was the way they were acting about BEING here that was upsetting). But soon enough, I turned a corner that revealed that we were not alone either. There were cars full of families in front of me. Little compacts pulling up behind me. In the distance, maybe a hundred cars, winding their way along the roads, even on paths I wasn’t even eventually going to take, as they didn’t seem to intersect my own. And just when this revelation nearly made me hit the brakes, right past my window, two people, a man and a woman, in proper jumpsuits and gear and tri-colored parachutes went gliding down from the top of the hillside side winding around each other and sharing glances through goggles that made me feel like none of us were really here—only them, in that moment.

I gave the young men their wide berth, and they chose an immediate turn at the bottom of the hill. I had slowed down, but soon enough I left the compact out of reach of my rearview mirror. The road stretched out behind and before me, so I let go of my interaction with the others, and just went back to cinderblock spotting. I hit a beautiful, well maintained straightaway and the wild grass became neatly trimmed, the road well maintained, the cinderblocks all standing upright and well preserved on their little casters. I was just trying to read one that I finally determined said “watermelons” though I was convinced it said “Waltermelons”, and I was imagining the whimsical day someone thought to name the melon after themselves, when I glanced forward and realized that I had driven right into the edge of town without even seeing it coming! There were women in bonnets behind white picket fences plucking fruit from tall stalks and putting them in their aprons, and two men in straw hats, wearing jeans and white t-shirts and carrying baskets of strawberries. Just as I thought, those are the most beautiful strawberries I had ever seen, the woman at the white fence, just a foot away said smilingly, “You think those are good, you should try these helium fruits!”

I actually woke myself up laughing in surprise!

This series of dreams had been so good for my spirit, so simple, and yet, so healing, that I almost got right up out of bed and wrote it down then and there. I didn’t want to lose any of it—the hill top view, the quaint little town, the cinderblocks on their very own rail. If it was a town I wanted to move there. If it was a country I wanted a nice long visit. If I could just taste a helium fruit to know, were they really better than strawberries as big as plums?

I don’t wake up with a smile on my face often (or often enough?) but I was feeling wonderful, and refreshed. Actually, I was feeling well rested, which I realize even now is a feeling I don’t recognize since it’s been so long. Even as the draw to get up and write it down wore off, and I decided simply to go back to sleep one last time before my alarm went off, I felt a little sad that I would never see it again.

That’s when I had a fourth dream. This last piece of my night happened well after the 10am medications alarm went off, so as you can imagine, it’s well and truly morning while I slept. And having gone back into the same dream three times, falling asleep was natural and peaceful. The fact that I woke up at the end so close to Noon means I surely found actual, restful, dreamless sleep beforehand. I don’t even recall how the dream started—it was just like other describe: random and formless and not worthy of note. But eventually it solidified into my normal plot oriented (if not always interesting) dreams.

I was in the basement playroom of one of these new modern homes with all white walls and all beige carpets of the stain-guard variety. There was a lot of space, and not much furniture, just a large beige sectional couch, a huge screen TV with just enough play furniture to imply there were children who lived here. I remember my Aunt Donna came in, very tan, long permed blond hair, and hands on her hips. I could hear running children coming down the stairs and I just KNEW that if I stayed here one more second I was going to end up babysitting. She pursed her lips, put her hands on her hips and scanned over the various game controllers and antique arcade games, but just as she made eye contact with me and opened her mouth, I bolted. I took the first door on the right, and slammed the white door behind me.

It looked like a very pathetic guest bedroom. There was a bed, and a nightstand, and a sofa-table against the wall, but it might as well have been a cheap motel room for all it lacked in hominess. I could see books on the floor peeking out from beneath the bed, but they were for very young children, and there was no way Aunt Donna was going to believe I was “too busy to babysit” if she caught me pretending to read Little Golden Books. As far as I was concerned, the only thing going for this bedroom was the sliding glass doors on the other side, so I ran, but was very, very quiet about the doors, so Aunt Donna would think she had me pinned, and could put me to work when she was ready for me, like it or not.

The house I left was exactly like the ones I passed as I started walking. In that very dreamlike way, I aged up, from the insolent teen who thought it was okay to shirk her duties when grownups required them, to the softer, slower, shaved headed version of myself I dread recognizing in my mirror most days. I walked past two story white house with  brown roof and two car garage after two story white house with  brown roof and two car garage after two story white house with  brown roof and two car garage. It was so repetitious; it might as well have been green screen in a classic TV series. I took to watching my feet as I walked, instead of my surroundings. But soon the black top turned beige as well, and then I noticed grass growing right up next to my sneakers, and I stepped right off the stone and onto a narrow dirt road, with grass as far as the eye could see on either side. I looked up, and was delighted to see to my right, a set of railroad tracks, with a very old and very word cinderblocks, on little collapsed casters that must have read the name of some wonderful fruit or vegetable, some time, long ago. Even its state of decay seemed charming to me. I had never walked this road before, only driven, and everything seemed so much more vivid and real on foot. Just as I wondered how I would ever get where I was going on foot (as I walk very slowly, and as often as I am stopped by the pain, I am stopped by the fear of the pain) my Dad said, “We won’t walk forever. You can do it. Mind if I join you?” And my Dad started to walk the path with me.

There were no cars I could see this time, but I knew they were out there now. We never did climb the hill, but stuck to a part of the path that was long enough to see the straightaway in both directions for miles. I told him all about the cinderblocks, and, being taller than myself, he pointed out some he could spot higher uphill sides, or deeper in long grass than I could. Soon enough we came to the little town where the people were harvesting. Most everyone was at home, I suppose, because only one woman was left, putting helium fruits into her apron. There were only two more red-purple ones for her to pluck from their green husks—two or three more remained, but they looked slightly deflated, and their color was closer to yellow or green than red or purple, so she left them to ripen or die. My Dad waved at her, and she smiled and tipped her hat. I got the impression they knew each other, but it might have just been friendly flirting. My Dad was a handsome man—he still had the majority of his hair, and his legs were strong and lean, like when I was a child.

I had assumed it was the outskirts of a small town, but we passed so quickly through, and it stretched out so much further to the right that it became obvious this was just the furthest reaches of one little corner or a much more prosperous county. But we only saw a house or two before humanity left no more mark on our journey than the old railroad tracks and the cinderblocks memorials.

It felt to me like we could walk forever, but the sun was starting to go down, and I was getting cold. The road look us in a huge winding curve around an enormous patch of heather that swayed in the wind like it had been planted for harvest (though I have no idea what heather could be harvested and used for).  When the road hit a straightaway again, it was right in front of a modern, brown paneled building with sloping roof top and pinnacled entryway that I assumed was a church, except for it’s very non-denominational insignia and a sign that simply read “Welcome”. I would have kept on walking, but Dad said, “I think I grew up here!” and he seemed so excited he grabbed my hand and started walking up the path.

We didn’t head straight for the door. Instead, we headed around the left side, through a little cement patio with overhang, to see a children’s play area. It had tetherball and swing sets, and my Dad was beaming like a grownup who forgets why they ever stopped indulging in snow cones after just one bite. I could tell he didn’t recognize the place, but he seemed really happy that it was here. We walked around the building, and on the other side was another patio, to match the first, but this one contained stands to hold kickballs and soccer balls, and a cage full of bats and various sports toys. It also had two long leads, like you attach dogs to, to allow them to run, and each of them had toys attached, that the church seemed to have prevented the theft of by attaching them to the leads. One was all white and looked a lot like a pogoball (from my childhood) but the other my father went straight for. It looked remarkably like the helium fruit, only all silver, like a balloon made of tougher material. He tossed it into the air, and it seemed for a moment it was capable of some sort of trick, but he was standing at the end of it’s leash, and didn’t get enough air time to complete whatever he expected it to do. He looked so crestfallen my chest hurt. I immediately reassured him I can get it off, and started messing with the lead’s clasp, trying to take it off without ripping it. But my Dad had turned away from me in disappointment, so he didn’t notice my victory when I quite nearly got it off. I suppose stealing from a church wouldn’t have really made him that happy anyway, but it really felt like it was worth a try.

When I looked up to tell him I’d nearly got it, he was already walking away from me. There were sliding glass doors on the church patio, and voices coming from inside. My Dad walked right in, and introduced himself to what I can only assume were volunteers, as they had card tables set up in a nice big open room, with carpeting and vaulted ceilings, but no insignia. I, feeling not even remotely that brave or social, took my time entering. The doors lead through what is basically a concession stand that many churches have, for gatherings and events. There was a large soda dispenser, and an industrial coffee maker, cabinets and countertops with a large open “window” that looked out into the meeting area, where I could see my Dad, and rubber mats beneath my feet, presumably for the ice from the soda fountain. On the right there was a restroom, and on the left, the room opened up and then ended in a huge wall of windows, looking out at the fields of heather. It was a spectacular view and made me earnestly want to get back on the road. But it was noticeably warmer here, and my Dad was already talking to a group of people and sitting down, so I went to join him.

When I arrived, I pulled out a metal folding chair, but my Dad sprang to his feet. Without a word, just a big cheesy grin, he started toting and hauling, unloading giant grey Tupperware tubs filled with ice and food, that he dragged from a little room no bigger than an office that was just filled with totes, and then unloading the food into giant refrigerators and vending machines outside the concession area. A plump, jolly little man I assumed was some sort of pastor rubbed his hands together with glee and started helping my Dad, though from what I could tell all they had in there were frozen giant soft pretzels, and small boxes of orange juice with the push-pull-open tops that they gave out in elementary school lunch lines. The half a dozen men and women who, it seemed, had just been having a break when we arrived, seemed to gain vigor from Dad’s earnestness and started doing all sorts of chores, like breaking down the tables, loading more totes with party supplies, and setting up folding chairs.

I sat there feeling foolish and helpless for a while, because though they smiled at me, they only talked to one another, and my Dad. My Dad was too busy to talk, and too helpful to stop, so I got out of my chair and wondered to the little office space with all the totes. It too was paneled in the dark brown wood with black between that I associate with imitation lodges and self-renovated garage-come-man caves. I could see there was a desk and book shelves, but only barely, behind all the totes. And off at the end, another set of glass doors—where more people were unloading more totes into the room. So I tried to make myself handy, and started opening the crates one at a time. If they contained, ice or food, I dragged them over to Dad, and the fat little pastor, who smiled and stopped coming to the room, and just started unloading the crates faster. But though there were many, many more crates, I ran out of those containing foodstuffs. When I came out to tell Dad we were done, and maybe even hint we could leave, he had already unloaded the last one, and was on a ladder helping the women take down decorations in another room. Almost no one was still in the main area, just me, and the two or three women I could hear in the restroom, who were cheerfully cleaning it, and gossiping about their children.

One woman told another that her daughter had always been such a good girl, and that just recently she had made friends with that boy the whole town was worried about, because he smoked, and didn’t seem interested in anything to do with the community. Her friend told her how kind it was for her daughter to take him under wing like that, and maybe he needed to hear it from someone his own age, if he was going to come back to the church someday. But the girl’s mother seemed unsure, and said that she had told her daughter there was no one in the world who doesn’t need a friend, but that she was only allowed to hang around with that boy in their own house, while her mother was home, so that he wouldn’t be able to smoke while they were together.

I cringe thinking about it now, but from outside the restroom I chimed in that that was some good advice. Teenagers who find ways to break down social norms in rebellion usually have more than one way of doing it, and her daughter could easily find that bad boy attitude attractive. Both women stopped what they were doing and just stared at me. Then they smiled oh-so politely, and went back to cleaning, smiling and looking back at me, but no longer gossiping. I felt so bad for ruining their fun, and for being caught eavesdropping, that I went outside to look for my Dad. He and a few other men had taken the ladder outside and were up on the roof with hammers, banging away at something that needed repairs. When I came outside, I shielded my eyes from the setting sun, and looked up at my Dad who looked so healthy and young, helping these strangers as a brief interlude to walking this long road with me. I smiled at him, and he stopped, and stood up. He was wearing work gloves, and holding a hammer, but he smiled and he waved at me.

And that’s when I woke up. I woke up to my Dad smiling at me. I dearly, dearly wish I could have a video of that dream, so I could replay it when I needed it. He looked happy. He looked young. He was helping people that didn’t even ask. And he was walking with me, which made the walking easier, and the journey go by so quickly. I miss him a lot. It was really, really nice to see him again.

Television Series: Weekend Dad

I propose an idea for a television series starring Mandy Patinkin, Jeff Goldblum, and Neil Patrick Harris called "Weekend Dad"--

A group of men who meet every weekend with the children they fathered but now only see on the weekends and a few weeks in the summer.

Mandy Patinkin's character would have been married, and when his wife left him and took their three kids of a really wide age range, he now has to contend with their new step-dad, and the lives they lead without him.

Jeff Goldblum's character would have been married four times, and has children with three: four children of adult age--one of them with children of their own--one teenager, and one small child. He feels too old to be a Baby Daddy, but is too disconnected from the adult children who are suddenly making an appearance in their lives, and struggling to reclaim his youth again.

NPH's charachter is the quintessential Baby Daddy--found out after the fact that the woman he slept with once had his kid, and initially starts out taking the kid to get his child support lowered.

They all join the group as a way of figuring out how to parent alone, and how to entertain weekend only children--and cope with the ups and downs and hardships of missing out on their kids lives, screwing up and fixing it as they go along.



BFFs 4evah

Melinda sent you a message.
Melinda Soukup-Gallup
Melinda Soukup-GallupAugust 11, 2010 at 1:08pm
(no subject)
I am offended that you sent me a friend request. My husband is addicted to pornography and can no longer have sex with real people. You are disgusting and probably FULL of diseases. WHORES like you destroyed my marriage and my family. You are a disgusting piece of trash!

I realized a few days ago that Facebook is for social networking--not just talking to the people you know, but making connections all over the world, and meeting new and interesting people. To that event, I made myself a promise to put myself out there more, meet new people.

I belong to a fantastic group on Facebook--Engraved Paint. They are funny, and geeky and cute--the guys who run it have very simple folders where they put pictures they have gleaned off of the internet and organized them in a way that we can comment and talk about them. It's fun, and unlike the online world I associate this behavior with, it's a lot less comments about who posted first, and if there is a black person hiding in the photo. The people there are clever and funny, and let me make clever or funny comments.

And then Facebook went and changed it so we can "Like" individual posts. So now, not only do I think I am clever when I comment on Engraved Paint, other people let me know they think I am too.

So I decided to use this new tool to further my goal: whenever someone "Like" -ed on one of my comments on a funny forum like Engraved Paint, I would go friend them. They think I am funny--maybe they have good taste. Maybe we have stuff in common. Maybe we will bond.

Or, maybe they will think I am a diseased whore who stole their husband away and destroyed their marriage and their lives, and should be disgusted with myself.


Mature For Your Age: Immitating Maturity

This isn't going to be very long. My argument is based on common sense and the perspectives I have based on my age, which doesn't hold up in court.

But I am sad. I am sad to watch so many children follow a path I walked, when it was harder to be put on and easier to get off. And now . . . now they all follow it. It's a damned shame.

When I was young, I was told, "You are so mature for your age!" It's a compliment we adults give to children who are clever enough to get good grades, or who start washing the dishes without being asked.  It's the reward we offer in exchange for taking out the trash, or keeping a clean room.

it's the sorrowful consolation prize we offer to children of neglect, or abuse, who had to grow up too fast, or take on responsibilities beyond their years.

"You are so mature for your age!" we proclaim, when they don't run away giggling with their friends on graduation day. "So mature for your age!" when they say please and thank you but no parents are around to hear them say it.

"So mature!" they hear, but "for your age" that part is kind of an insult, as if we expected so much less of them, so they don't hear that part, because, honestly, we did. Your children clean up after themselves? Your children excuse themselves from the table and go to the restroom instead of allowing bodily humor at the table? Your children still have money in their bank accounts? You are so lucky. Your children are so mature for their ages. Any other kid might live in a hell hole, coming out only to fart or belch at the table, and then run off to blow their allowance on energy drinks and glitter based make up.

Maturity. We throw it around, but it has meaning. It is a real thing. It's not just a gold star at the top of the paper at the end of the day. It's not a reward for good behavior. In fact, for so many of us, maturity comes at the price of bad behavior. We screwed up, we had to grow up faster, we had more responsibilities than we realized, and when they overwhelmed us, we had to step up to the plate, or take a stand, or else be washed away.

Maturity is a reward. It's a gift, a blessing, bestowed on us, like a diploma. We finally figured out why we can't leave our toys on the front lawn when we are done playing with them--they disappear, they get stolen. They get rained on and rusty, or the minivan backs over them, and now we don't have them anymore. As we grow older, it's less toys on the lawn and more true friendship, or credit cards, or birth control. It's less convincing Mommy you are responsible enough, and more proving you are by having to buy and maintain it on your own. Maturity . . . you don't know when you don't have it, but by the time you do, it's easier to look back and see that you didn't.

You never stop seeking maturity. There will never come a point where things are so together, so spot on handled that you stop worrying all together. Because the price of maturity is responsibility. The more responsibility you show, the more mature people think you are, and the more they will make your responsible for.

It's responsibility we should be rewarding our children for. It's responsibility we should be congratulating them on.

They aren't mature. Not even for their age. I'm not. I'm 32 years old, and I am not mature, not even for my age. And I certainly wasn't when it was the compliment I sought, at 10 or 13 or 16 or 19. I wasn't mature for my age just because I knew to put my book bag in my bedroom, or hang up my clothes. Those are my things--it was my responsibility to take care of them. I learned the hard way to do that--I had a dog, and he liked to pee on things. Go to school with a backpack that smells like urine and you learn a lesson in humility. I wasn't mature just because I put dinner on the table for all of us kids, or stayed up late to get my homework done. I had a working Mom, and school work to do. Just becasue you didn't see me complain about it, doesn't mean I intrinsically knew the value of my hard work. I needed a parent, or a teacher, to point out the bonds that should have been growing between my sisters and myself, or the doorways I could be opening with good grades if I wanted a better life in the future. Without them, I grew up just a little faster, failed just a little more often, was just a little more irresponsible, because I didn't have the maturity to handle the amount of responsibility I was handed. I paid the utility bills with summer jobs and babysitting. Was I mature enough to keep my family together, mature enough to want to be a part of a functional family at all, with hope and love and joy? Or was I a miserably over taxed teenager, who's demands out weighed her understanding, and worked because she had to?

Maturity isn't about how old you are. That's the aging process. And maturity isn't how much you are responsible for either. That's your work load. It's not about how smart you are. That's intelligence, and information and knowledge. It's the lessons you learn about what you are doing, from what you have done, and what you need to do still. Maturity is about being cognizant of all the cause and effects of all of your actions and distractions.

Our children aren't mature. They are maturing. There is a difference.

It's the difference between buying a laptop now using a credit card you are pretty sure you can pay off, and saving up to buy a laptop when you know a sale is coming up, and only buying it if it's compatible with the programs you will have to use for school--

The difference is between having a license and a credit card and being allowed to buy a car. . . and riding the bus until you have enough money to put a down payment on a car, and get quotes on insurance and always check both ways between pulling out, and worrying about going over the speed limit, or if the gas mileage is low enough, and if it puts out too much exhaust--

The difference, is being mature enough to give birth to a child and raise it and feed and clothe it and take care of it, and making the sacrifices it takes to make sure that child has a better life than you did . . . or to waiting until you are financially safe enough, emotionally prepared enough, and knowing that you have the functional support of family or friends that you can and will turn to--

Those examples still seem so incomplete . . . maturity isn't being smart enough to follow the smart path to doing the right thing to get what you want. Maturity is knowing that you have wants, and you have needs, that there are good paths and bad paths, that you will make mistakes along the way and that you can learn from other people's mistakes as well as your own . . . and still taking the time to see that there is still a bigger picture  than all that, and you are going to be responsible even for what you don't prepare for.

Even with all that advice, at 10 or 15 or 20 or 25, you are still going to find yourself imitating maturity. Maybe I am still trying to imitate maturity at 32, and I will find out that I was goofing off irresponsibly well into the future.   Maybe we never grow to be fully mature. Maybe we just get mature for our age and by the time we are old enough to see more of the big picture, we are too frail or too resentful of all the time we wasted, or too tired to care anymore.

It seems to me, that it's time to stop misleading our children. When we say "You are so mature for your age!" and they don't want to hear "for your age" what they do hear is permission. Permission to do the things they want to be old enough to do, in the great race towards freedom. If they are mature for their age, then they should be allowed, right? Allowed to have a cell phone. Allowed to drive the car. Allowed to decide to drink, or do drugs, or smoke cigarettes, or have sex. It's permission. Those freedoms are the rewards for
living to a reasonable age, and we do dole them out to children as they age towards adulthood.

So if your child is mature enough to do the dishes and wash the car for you, and get their homework done, then they must be mature enough to just try drugs, or have sex with that boy that she just knows is the love of her life, and she trusts him because he's so mature, so they don't need condoms. Because responibility comes with maturity, right? Not the other way around?

He's so mature, he's so mature for his age, he can certainly have a beer. It's not like alcohol will react differently in the body of a child who's not even done growing, who's metabolism is completely different from an adult's, who's alcohol tolerance is completely untested, and who's common sense and ability to reason has so far lead him down a path that allows for lighting his farts on fire, or skateboarding off what seemed like a really really small shed. . . .

Your children are not mature. No matter how competent and responsible they see compared to other children of the same age, you wouldn't want them to choose between something they really want, and something they should do every single time. Because they are children. Because they are young. Because they are not mature. They may be very good at imitating maturity--but that's intelligence. Reward them for their intelligence--tell them you are proud of their responsible actions. Be there, to see them make choices, and to ask them if they made a choice at all, based on critical thinking and cognitive reasoning skills--or if they were following the herd, or randomizing, or seeking a goal that isn't quite the achievement you would hope them to strive for.

Because when you are there for a child, when you can show them the bigger picture, when you can help them through the ever increasing responsibilities that come with age--you yourself may move forward toward maturity. Maybe you will begin to see more of the big picture yourself--make less random or short term choices, use more critical thinking and reach for ultimate enlightenment as well.

Maybe, instead of complimenting children on their ability to imitate maturity, we can set a better example of what maturity looks like, and set a goal for ourselves to one day reach maturity as well.

Outing Judge Walker for Ousting Prop 8

My wonderfully (newly) enlightened husband asked a very good question when I told him that they were trying to have Judge Walker impeached becasue he was gay, and therefore too "biased" to be a good judge. 

He said, "So a straight person wouldn't be biased?"

This is is about marriage, so have one or don't, it's part of who we are as Americans, and what America means to us.  The fight for equality is for everyone.

Courage Campaign

Unbelievable. The American Family Association, part of the coalition of right-wing religious groups that spearheaded Proposition 8 in 2008, is asking its 2.3 million supporters to pressure Congress to impeach Judge Vaughn Walker.

Shockingly, AFA is using Judge Walker's sexual orientation to attack him as a "black-robed tyrant whose own lifestyle choices make it impossible to believe he could be impartial." Like the National Organization for Marriage, the AFA is rallying religious extremists to build a national backlash against Judge Walker's historic ruling striking down Prop 8. 

Their goal? Taking back Congress in November, placing religious conservatives in power, and turning back our progress in bringing full equality to America. That's why we need your support now to defend Judge Walker's historic decision in the court of public opinion. Because of Tom Dolby and Drew Frist's amazing $25,000 matching grant challenge and support from MoveOn.org, we have raised $93,968 in less than 48 hours. With tonight's deadline looming to reach our critical $100,000 goal, we need your help to raise the remaining $6,032. Will you step up at the last minute? DEADLINE: FRIDAY, 11:59 PM:


Dear Erica --

Judge Vaughn Walker just released his decision, ruling that PROP 8 IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL!
Judge Walker's federal court decision is an historic milestone in the fight for full equality, but it is only a first step: The decision will inevitably be appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

After denying Americans the opportunity to watch this historic trial on television, Prop 8 campaign leaders and extreme right-wing organizations like the National Organization for Marriage and Focus on the Family will stop at nothing to delegitimize this decision before it ever reaches the Supreme Court.

But this time, we're fighting back by launching our biggest campaign ever -- an unprecedented online storytelling project to bring the Prop 8 trial into the lives of the American people and transform the debate over marriage equality.

As the next phase in our year-long "Testimony: Equality on Trial" project, our new campaign will empower same-sex couples, their families, and allies to fundamentally change the conversation about same-sex marriage in America -- establishing today's ruling as the social and cultural foundation for victory in the Supreme Court.

To defend Judge Walker's historic decision, we need to go on offense against the Prop 8 campaign, NOM and Focus on the Family. That's why Tom Dolby and Drew Frist, just married last year, have pledged to contribute $25,000 if our community can match it in the next 48 hours. Will you help us make the match and defend Judge Walker's decision in the court of public opinion? Click here to contribute $25, $50, $100 or more right now! DEADLINE: FRIDAY, 11:59 PM:

Ted Olson, the legendary attorney who teamed up with one-time adversary David Boies to successfully lead this case against Prop 8, said it better than anyone:
"If there was ever a trial in the history of our country that the American people should have seen, it was this one."
I couldn't agree more. To prevent the right-wing from spouting the same lies that were debunked and destroyed in Judge Walker's courtroom, we must translate today's victory in court to victory in the hearts and minds of Americans.

That's why we collected nearly 140,000 signatures to televise the Prop 8 trial -- a campaign cited in a dissenting opinion to the the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision against broadcast. It's also why we launched the Prop 8 Trial Tracker and the NOM Tour Tracker -- generating more than 2.5 million views and 44,121 comments combined. And it's why we are bringing this trial to life across America with the next phase of Testimony: Equality on Trial.

Today's historic decision must be defended in the court of public opinion. That's why Tom Dolby and Drew Frist have stepped up to make a $25,000 matching grant challenge to the Courage community so we can fight back together against the right-wing's framing of this trial, all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. But we need your help now to make the match in the next 48 hours. Click here to contribute $25, $50, $100 or whatever you can afford. DEADLINE: FRIDAY, 11:59 PM:

Thank you for all you have done to make today's victory possible. With your ongoing support, full equality will eventually be the law of the land.
Rick Jacobs
Chair, Courage Campaign Institute 


Courage Campaign Institute is a part of the Courage Campaign's multi-issue online organizing network that empowers more than 700,000 grassroots and netroots supporters to push for progressive change and full equality in California and across the country. To get involved in the Courage Campaign Institute, visit "Testimony: Equality on Trial" -- our year-long campaign to bring the Prop 8 trial into the lives of Americans.

To power our campaign to defend the Prop 8 decision, please chip in what you can today:

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Thank you Sister and Brian.

I got up tired and cranky, because I went to bed sunburnt and naked and when I awoke, my bedroom door was a little open, and the house was full of teenaged children, so I could do nothing to change my circumstances--not even go back to sleep.

So I prepared myself for a snarky pout, to be inflicted on my husband as soon as he completed his morning ritual by coming to kiss me goodbye on his way out the door.

But he took those children, and he opened my door to the glorious empty and air conditioned house, and he kissed me goodbye with this hilarious little tidbit which tickled my funny bone, and switched my really well prepared grump into a ready to face the day grouse:

Apparently, he had signed onto his email, and his facebook (per usual) to see if there was anything worth facing the day about, before he resigned to herd those cats, and riding off into the Sunday Work Day. But my sister was on Facebook chat, and she changed the day for me and him.

Sister: You are up awfully early for a Sunday - where is Erica?

Husband: She is asleep and I'm just about to run of to work.

Sister: On the 4th of July, really? *sucks*
I hope you can see the fireworks from your cubicle lol

Husband: Yeah; but they gave me next Thursday off.

Sister: Wow . . . big holiday next Thursday. . .
I always put up my Next Thursday Tree too early.

The neighbors set off their Next Thursday fireworks as soon as the sun goes down.
I will bake a HUGE themely Next Thursday cake and send it your way
--to aid in the celebrations

Husband: lololololoololol

I guess snarky runs in the family . . .
  • Current Mood
    cheerful cheerful

Mind Experiment: Blind Dating

I would like to run an experiment (or a dating service) where you fill out al the forms, and get matched with people based on compatibility factors that are purely sociological (people of the same political notions, religious backgrounds, child bearing notions, etc.) but no photos.

Your first encounter would be with potential candidates in complete darkness. Absolute blackness. No chance of ever ever seeing each other. It goes one step beyond the joys of internet dating, becasue it takes chemistry into consideration. Chemistry is a real factor--internet dating completely negates the importance of the way we smell, the way we zing when we get skin to skin contact .  .

There would be first impressions, dinner dates, all sorts of exclusivity--the couple can choose to date exclusively in the dark if that's the way their self esteem leads them. I would love to know what the average number of encounters before visual contact would be--if it was all voluntary. How many people got physical before they got visual. If I had blood tests and background checks, I could totally see needing hotel rooms . . .

Feeling A Little Untethered

So I moved to Bloomington.

That was basically the culmination of all my plans and hopes of almost ten full years. I have been waiting for this day for so long, it felt unreal--like being on vacation every single time we ran out for trash bags or bottled water. it still doesn't feel real--I wanted it so bad, it doesn't seem like I have stopped fighting for it yet.

The trick is, after "Step 1: Move to Bloomington" nothing seems to have gone as planned . . .

Ok, I should potentially be giving myself a little bit of a break here. It's only been a month. That whole "Rome wasn't built in a day" thing should apply. But I really thought . . . I thought I had this summer, and this summer only to get my place in the world established, before I have to disappear under a pile of homework and research. I mean, Grad Students disappear--you miss them while they are gone, but you know they will come back bleary eyed and interested in current events just as soon as they get some letters after their names. I want to do that . . . but I had three months to make sure I was the kind of person who would be missed.

Step 2 was supposed to be "Take Summer School Class" and it took me the whole month to convince a Community College that I belong there, that I am qualified for the one class I want to take, that the book I need shouldn't be paid for twice, and now that I am finally here, I remembered--oh yeah. I still don't speak Spanish. *sigh*

Step 3 was "Volunteer Work". I want to volunteer at Mother Hubbard's Cupboard and the YMCA, because Steps 4 & 5 were "eat healthier" and "join no-impact water aerobics classes" so I could get my fibromyalgia under control.

I was supposed to have a schedule--days of the week I was at The Hub, days I was at the Y. Being here, amongst all my friends, I figured I would start participating in the game nights and movie watching that I had always had to turn down because I don't drive, and no car meant no ride to Bloomington from Indy. I was supposed to have to work in time to study and pretend to learn enough Spanish to get by so I can start classes in August at IU.  I was supposed to go to bed pleasantly exhausted.

I thought Brian would be happier here too. He talked about biking to work, at the new job that was going to be community friendly and excitingly Bloomington oriented. He wants to volunteer with me--and talked about volunteering at the Bike Project. He wants to join Contra dancing. (I want him to join Morris dancing.) He wants to see more of our friends, and less of the cubicle walls. He wants his kids to sped the summer here, before they are officially to old to care if their parents love them or not unless rap music tells them it's important. He wanted to

I go to bed exhausted alright . . . but it just isn't how I thought it would be.

Brian still doesn't have a new Bloomington job. He's so talented, and his resume is outstanding, but we can't find him placement in either sales or management or sales management. I am at that point where all I want him to do is get a job at Wal-mart, so we can stop paying $500 a month in gas, plus the daily oil change, plus the constant repairs on the car that won't hold out much longer. But he's not wrong--the math is no good. To cover the child support, the rent, the utilities, my class needs, the internet, his cell phone, the dog food, our groceries, and even the most basic variations in miscellaneous purchases (like getting his kids for the weekend, going out for fun with friends, or taking the dogs to the vet) he would have to be making $12 an hour and NOTHING can go wrong anywhere. And though I apply for jobs WAY beneath him every single day, we don't get any offers.

I have been going through a bit of a depression. I didn't get my school application in on time, so I know I have one shot, and that's as an unofficial student, on the fringe of the department I want so bad. The class I have to take over the summer is actually necessary to complete my undergraduate, or they won't release my diploma. I started eating better--but it means no dairy and no gluten, so I am devoid of comfort foods completely. I have been off my birth control for two full months--not because we would ever so anything as horrifying as get pregnant, but I was on a constant feed of drugs, to keep the PMDD from making me feel suicidal every single month. Without it, I haven't been much fun to be around. (Yes, I applies at Volunteers in Medicine, but it will be 4-6 weeks before I get an acceptance letter.)

My friends had real lives all along. I always felt left out of all the fun and parties and good times that were going on here. My friends seem to see each other every single day, and they always have such great stories. But not all of the time si was excluded from their fun was just becasue I was in Indianapolis. Sometimes, they are just having fun without me. I don't need to be there, they don't miss me, and I am not invited. I am a pretty self centered human being, so that came as quite a shock to my system. I really thought I was integral, and now I sort of feel super needy, and very selfish for always inviting myself into things that were going along just fine without me.

I think my little dog Igor Smeagol is dying. I think maybe he has been dying since the very day I got him, and we never knew. I think he has a condition called "collapsing trachea" which is hereditary in toy dogs. I have inadvertently been doing the right things for him (good dog foods, no human food, harness not collar, low exercise, nothing to get him worked up into the honking if we can help it) but none of it would change his circumstances. He will turn 6 in October. He's too old for surgery to do anything but make him feel better for a little while, and we couldn't afford it, even if it was life saving. He had stopped honking, stopped choking--basically become like any other dog, over the last 6 weeks. But this week, it all went away. He's not honking--he's gagging. He can't breathe, and he can't catch his breathe, and he basically just coughs until he's too exhausted to stay awake, and he whistles now while he sleeps.

Under the circumstances we are in right now, if he passed away in my arms too close to the end of a paycheck, I couldn't even afford to have his remains cremated.

So for what seems like the millionth time in my life, I find myself defending my quiet, dark, staying at home not seeing much of anyone attitude. I have to explain over and over why I cry all the time, and how come I don't feel like sex, or funny movies, or even reading anymore. I'm not depressed. Depression is a chemical imbalance, leading to untoward feelings of unhappiness that can be rectified under a doctors supervision. I'm sad. Bad things are happening, and no amount of looking at the bright side are going to make them more acceptable.

Because, of course, there is a bright side.

Brian is way to employable--loyal to a fault, determined to make everything work right, capable of giving his 20 years experience and his heart and soul to a company as if the lights ran off of his own energy and will to succeed. So what if it takes a month--even two months? to find a job? Someone will recognize his talents and $12 at Wal-mart will seem like a grave insult.

I will eventually crawl out of my cave and the bright lights and loud noises won't stop me from wanting regular traveling game nights, dinner parties, celebrations, holidays, theater/movies/dancing/picnics--real life participation in the wonderful world of Bloomington.

And Igor Smeagol . . . he's always been ill. There's no reason to think that now that I know what's wrong means that now is the end of the line. I'm sick, but I'm not dying. He's coping. I'm coping. We can cope together.

But it's disappointing that I can't just look forward into the bright future, the way I did every single day I counted down in my fight to leave Indianapolis, and return to The Path. It's hard to feel hopeful about tomorrow, let alone next month. 

I know all I need is a bus pass, a little spending cash, and the will to pick up where I never started off in the first place. But it just seems so hard. So much harder, really, than I thought it was going to be.

I guess I am still struggling with that sense of entitlement.
  • Current Mood
    morose morose

Weathering the Brainstorm: Need Ideas (Good or Bad)

Our car has one bolt so completely stubborn, that the fact that my husband dismantled the rest of the car to get to it, leaves it undeterred in it's determination to remain exactly where it is. ANd it's position prevents the only car repair we need for the whole car to actually drive. So right not, it's purely decorative lawn art (minus the lawn, and the art element.)

As of this week, my husband has all the pieces of a car, and a job that is 1 1/2 hours away, and no way to change those circumstances. As the not-freaking-out one, it is my job to think of ways other than "magically fix the car" or "get handed the job of your dreams right here in town".  Obviously, those are at the top of the list.

Brainstorming (so no particular order):

Fix the car, drive to job everyday.
Get new job, don't need car.
Get new job so great you can buy new car.
Take week off from far away job, pay someone to repair car on Friday.
Burn out all friendships by borrowing cars, fix car with Friday paycheck.
Get horribly crappy in-town job, fix car with Friday paycheck.
Get horribly crappy in-town job, don't fix car with paycheck.
Sell crappy car "as is", as well as all of DVD's and electronics that are still cool (not VHS) and repair car and keep job.
The "sell crappy car" option, but don't repair car.
Erica AND Brian get crappy jobs in town, we replace the car when Brian gets a better job so Erica can quit.

We have a few hang ups here--

--I want to keep the crappy car just long enough to be able to use it as a trade in at one of those places who can ignore our suffering credit, and still give us a warranty, when he gets the awesome job in town that he will love and want to keep forever.

--He lives in shame and self deprecation, believing he will never get a better job, and that he had better keep the one we have in Indy.

--The job in Indy is costing us $500 a month in gas alone. The total we paid to get this car was $500.

--We are applying for new jobs in the area at about 2-6 jobs per day. HTis has been going on for approximately one month.

--It is just a $300 repair--but it was the last in a long line of repairs, and we are so SICK of paying for them. And we only had $250. So Brian has spent $200 on tools and supplies trying to fix it himself.

There are a lot of options here we really hate--because they so badly effect our future. If I take a job, it ruins my school funding. Plus, my body is reacting poorly just to the stress. I worry what a job will put me through on a daily basis. If Brian takes a job that pays badly, the $525 in rent and the $350 in child support suddenly seem like a lot more money. Even if we make this repair, we still know that it has a gallon-of-oil-per-day habit, so it will never be "worth" making all the repairs on. But it is our third car in six months for a reason--and we can't be sure that anyone will overlook his credit history. I don't have a license, so we can't be sure they will sell a car to me, even with my better credit.

We are so bogged down in the "what we want" vs "what we have to do to survive" that we are missing really relevant, positive options to our dilemma.

If anyone wants to chime in with a suggestion that's not on the list--no matter how irrelevant, like "win the lottery" or "Sell Erica to us for a car" I am listening. Though, of course I would rather hear "I would hire Brian at my awesome company to do this great job I need someone to do" or "Here, take our spare car for free!" I promise not to answer one single comment with "Yeah, great, thanks a lot" all sarcastic-y. Promise. I just really get stuck in a loop when I try to think of all our options . . .
  • Current Mood
    determined determined
Protect my Draco

Book Idea: Transgressions

I woke up with the fully fledged idea of a crime novel. The villain is a psychologist. He is regressing women back to the time in their lives where they were molested or sexually abused by a parent or uncle (the most likely offenders, and the most scarring to the psyche.) Then he molests them in exactly the same way as they were molested as children, during the regression. When they start to have horrible mental breakdowns becasue of the therapy, he blames the issues on transference, and demands more and more therapy time with them. The most vulnerable or susceptible will be asked to come in to a live in rehabilitation center, where they are in 24 hour danger.

The good guys can try sending in female undercover cops, but this will fail, because the chance of one of a small percentage of cops being female, and working sex crimes, without any sexual misconduct having effected her in her past is very slim. If you add to that the incredible ease with which memories can be implanted if he doesn't find any, then the women sent in can leave thinking they had been molested one way or another.

I am not sure what kind of good guy I could have who could possibly beat my effective bad guy--but I imagine I could get  a whole lot of people afraid of therapy.