Thursday, August 17, 2006

All about "Argument # 6."

A fellow gal here in cyber space has a very interesting blog. She and I don’t have many coinciding political views, but I genuinely like her because she holds firm to her personal values and is not easily swayed from anything she believes is right. I admire that. Dani and I may disagree on damn near everything, and find cause for debate on every issue that has ever hit a newspaper headline, but I respect and love her anyhow. The only thing I really dislike about her at all is that I have never once seen her step back and say to anyone with opposing views, “yeah – you have a point there.” She seems to feel so strongly that she’s fighting a battle that she was divinely chosen to fight that she doesn’t always listen to anyone who isn’t nodding in full agreement.

I don’t think there are any arguments present in this world that don’t all have at least one valid point. For example, I support gay marriage as well as homosexuals adopting children. However, I absolutely agree that we have an issue within our society with regard to how small children grow up and learn family roles. In addition, I think that having homosexual parents would potentially make certain situations harder for a child.

So why do I support it? Simple. For any given issue, I weight the pros and cons. Sure, having homosexual parents might make certain situations harder for a child who would otherwise have a “Beaver Cleaver” family and fit into the current societal “norm.” But what about the children who would otherwise live a whole childhood in an orphanage? And/or passed around between foster parents? And/or subjected to poverty, abuse, hunger, or God only knows what else? So when I weight the odds, I am firmly of the belief that overall, it’s a good thing. If two homosexual people are willing to open up their home and offer a child a decent life and a future, then by God that child should be allowed that chance, much less the homosexual couple allowed to parent the child.

Now maybe if we didn’t have unwanted children in orphanages and bopping around the foster system, this wouldn’t be an issue. But we do. And in weighing odds of any situation, we must educate ourselves properly. Sometimes that takes a lifetime of paying attention.

The worst thing anyone can do, IMHO, is to just blindly make a call on an issue without a whole lot of thought; (i.e. I am Episcopalian, so I will believe with the Episcopal church says is correct no matter what, and I won’t think about it any further than that.) Or, similarly, make a call on an issue just because it fits in with other decisions made on related issues (i.e., being opposed to multi-racial people getting scholarships just because one is opposed to inter-racial marriages.)

I certainly don’t expect, or even want, people to agree with my position on any given subject. But I do expect everyone to be big boys and girls and acknowledge that people who have differing viewpoints are not automatically “wrong.” I’ve learned quite a bit about the world from paying attention and listening to people who are not like-minded.

And last, although some things we believe and do based on principle alone, overall, we have to focus on facts.

Nothing frustrates me more than when people don’t consider the facts. Please. Consider. Facts.

Dani has recently blogged “13 Bad Gay Marriage Arguments.” Now it’s not her original work, but it’s something she obviously agrees with or she would not have bothered to post it in the fashion she did. She credited the source, as she always does. I didn’t trace it back to the original source because I trust her.

It was one of a few posts she’s made over time that really made me wonder if she’s one who takes a stand based on what her church or family or husband or neighbor or whomever thinks, rather than gaining enough knowledge on the matter herself to have a position that is very personal and can be both explained and defended in an eloquent and thorough manner. I hope she is not that way. But I still have a hint of suspicion every now and then when I read her.

I don’t know if I’ll have the time, energy, or cause to debate all 13 arguments, or even if I would tend to disagree with all 13.

But one of them hit home immediately. My grandmother is dying. Right now as I type this, she’s inching closer to her moment to leave this earth and go experience heaven. It’s bittersweet. Of course it’s hard to say goodbye to anyone who leaves permanently, but yet it’s horrible to watch someone suffer in any way. She’s dying of liver failure. When the medication that pulls toxins out of her body can’t work fast enough, her levels of toxins rise, and her brain function and neurological function is impaired immediately. Eventually, she falls unconscious. The event of her levels rising to the point of “being mentally loopy” and sometimes even further to loss of consciousness, is getting more often just as the doctor informed the family it would. In time, she will eventually fall unconscious and then likely pass quietly into a coma, and then into heaven.

Grandma’s deteriorating condition has caused the issue of “quality” of life vs. “quantity” of life to come up in conversations. That further caused the Terri Schiavo case to come up once or twice as well. I was really surprised how members of my own family didn’t really know the facts of her case, but rather went ahead and drew a conclusion based on either what was readily published, or what seemed ethical, religiously speaking, at first glance. Not a good way to form personal values. But I digress.

Number 6 out of Dani’s “13 Bad Gay Marriage Arguments” is as follows:
Bad argument No. 6
"Marriage is necessary for gays to gain important legal benefits."
Homosexuals don't need marriage to gain most significant legal benefits. For example, hospital visitation depends on the wishes of the patient. If families disagree about medical treatment, even marriage won't solve the problem, as the Terry Schiavo case has demonstrated. The answer is medical power of attorney, which is open to anyone regardless of sexual orientation. Another example is Social Security benefits. Children's benefits are not dependent on the marital status of their parents, and the only certain benefit is a one-time death benefit of $255. A wife can access her deceased husband's Social Security, but if she has had her own work history, her Social Security benefit would usually be higher than the survivor's benefit—and she must choose one or the other. Most other benefits are based on work history.

Let’s take this line by line, shall we?

“Homosexuals don't need marriage to gain most significant legal benefits.”
Oh no? Let’s first discuss what “legal benefits” are as they commonly pertain to marriage. Health insurance. Custody rights to minor children. Survivorship of assets. Actually, I’ll just stop at those three, although there are many more.

It’s quite publicized how huge the population of our country is that goes daily without health insurance. My husband got laid off in April 2004, only found contract work afterwards in this pitiful economy, and hasn’t had health care available to him since. Sure, he had cobra for awhile. It was VERY EXPENSIVE. When we got close enough to the wedding, we just dropped it and took a chance for several months. Not really smart, in the big picture, but we didn’t have a whole lot of choice. Now had we any children, or one single bill more than what we’ve had, there is literally no way we’d have been able to pay for the cobra coverage at all. Further, it doesn’t go forever. What do people do when it ends? Besides just go without? We happen to be opposite genders, and heterosexual. So when we made our commitment, it became legal to insure one another on one policy. So he’s covered now. What if we were gay? He would not be covered. He’d be going without. Only. Because. We. Were. Gay. No other reason. All other details are the same. And another thing… Many companies have recognized this business of disparate benefits offered to employees based on sexual orientation. This is evidenced by the handful that has offered benefits to “life partners” or some such term. I happen to know the details of this, because when the e-mail came out announcing this new policy at my place of employment, it listed the qualifications, i.e. cohabitating partners, joint finances, etc. This struck me as interesting because even though we weren’t gay, we were unmarried, so it fit the bill. I went and checked out these “life partner” benefits to get him insured before the wedding. The benefits for a same-gender life partner are unbelieveably more expensive than they cost for a hetero spouse. To the tune of twice as much. And? The employee must also claim the small portion that is company paid as income, and pay taxes on it. Overall, the deal would have cost us more than to continue his cobra, which was too expensive on its own.

So, to be on one health insurance policy, which is often necessary, you must be legally married, or work for the handful of companies who have alternative policies which cost a fortune. Clearly, the status of being legally married makes a huge difference with regard to health insurance. My husband and I, a heterosexual and legally married couple, are living proof of that.

And one last comment – please note how easy it would be to lose sight of the whole issue and just focus on the issue of homosexuality in general if one had never been in a position to worry about health insurance, be without health insurance, or worse.

Let’s move on to custody rights to minor children. If a homosexual person has a biological child, and currently lives with a same-gender partner, and dies, the partner has no legal rights to the child. Sure, there are wills, living trusts, and the like. How many people have them? And even when they are held, are they air-tight? How many cases do we have in history where a child becomes a ward of the state because the unmarried partner of the only biological parent either loses the court battles, or worse, doesn’t have the money to fight them. So who suffers the most? The children do. Clearly, the status of being legally married makes a huge difference with regard to custody rights of minor children.

Should a husband and wife need a special will and testament to insure that if one dies, the child(ren) is(are) not taken away? Of course not. It should be automatic that if one parent dies, the other parent retains continuous custody. Well then, should it matter if the “parents” are both female, both male, or one of each? Do you think it matters to a child already living in that scenario?

Again, folks, the argument as to whether it’s okay for homosexuals to co-parent a child is a whole different ballgame. It’s not the argument here. This is focused on the importantce of marital rights in our society – and how necessary they really are.

Last on my super quick, off-the-top-of-my-head list was survivorship of assets. You can put all sorts of scenarios in here. Let’s say a woman owns a house. It was her birthright. No money is owed on it. She covers her taxes, and lives comfortably. She marries a man, and together they have 4 biological children. She gets cancer. The husband supports her, the children, and the home for several years. She dies. What would happen if her husband got kicked out of the house? Her four children would be out on the street, and so would their only living parent.


But, thankfully, the legal institution of marriage guarantees survivorship in a case where there is no proper will and testament, or living trust, or other instrumental device.

So if a homosexual woman owns a house, same scenario, and has a life partner who she adopts four children with, and she dies of cancer after the partner supported everyone and the home for years, the remaining five are out on the street.


Now there is no “but.”

Clearly, the legal institution of marriage makes a huge difference with regard to survivorship of assets.

"For example, hospital visitation depends on the wishes of the patient."

I can’t even be calm and sweet about this. My response is: BULLSHIT. I lived with a man, engaged to be married, for several years. I had emergency surgery. Do you think he could see me in recovery? Or immediately after recovery? Nope.

Did I have all sorts of issues getting his name on all the directives for decision making? Sure did. He wasn’t a blood relative, or a LEGAL SPOUSE. Did y’all catch that? LEGAL SPOUSE.

A friend of mine, over a decade ago, got pregnant. Her fiancé, who she’d been with for years, heard her cry in the room and wanted to comfort her. The office “could not legally allow him to be past the limits of the waiting room” because he wasn’t yet a “LEGAL SPOUSE. So if legal marriage matters so much for heterosexual people, why wouldn’t it make a difference fore homosexual people? And folks, notice this isn’t even hospitalization. This is just a urine test at a doctor’s office.

But who would really think of these issues if she hadn’t lived through it?

Clearly, the legal institution of marriage matters with regard to hospital visitation far more than the wishes of the patient.

(Quick side note – they married, and she had a beautiful baby girl.)

"If families disagree about medical treatment, even marriage won't solve the problem, as the Terry Schiavo case has demonstrated."

Ah, but marriage did solve the problem. The courts upheld the legal institution of marriage, and Michael Schiavo was regarded as the expert on knowing his legal spouses’ wishes. Her parents fight to overpower him as her LEGAL SPOUSE was without merit.

I don’t care whether you agree that her tube was pulled or not. Michael Schiavo’s position and Terri’s parents’ position could have easily been switched. That’s not the issue here. The issue is simply that the legal system, and medical community, each regard a legal spouse in a special way. Common law marriage is as close as you can get without having a marriage license, and that’s not even good enough. You must be legally married for the benefits our society offers married people, and this includes automatic directive on medical treatment.

(Also please note that Terri spelled her name with an “i” not a “y.”)

"The answer is medical power of attorney, which is open to anyone regardless of sexual orientation."

The answer COULD be medical power of attorney, depending on the situation, the needs, and of course whether one exists. Should a husband and wife need a medical power of attorney for issues such as ensuring a person’s wishes are held if he/she dies? Nope. Society has clearly shown this shouldn’t be necessary, because it’s not necessary. Medical power of attorney would not have gotten my fiancé in to see me in recovery, or even immediately after recovery, because it wasn’t an issue requiring a decision from someone who held power of attorney. It was an issue of whether or not he was a LEGAL SPOUSE.

The next three lines go together, and can’t easily be separated because they all relate to social security benefits.

"Another example is Social Security benefits. Children's benefits are not dependent on the marital status of their parents, and the only certain benefit is a one-time death benefit of $255. A wife can access her deceased husband's Social Security, but if she has had her own work history, her Social Security benefit would usually be higher than the survivor's benefit—and she must choose one or the other."

Now first of all, the statement regarding children is fine. But then we read on.

A wife can access her deceased husband’s social security, but basically in some cases, her own benefit is higher, so she wouldn’t need it. So in other words, because this benefit legally married people have is not always required, it shouldn’t matter that it doesn’t apply to those who are not allowed to be legally married?

That’s baloney for sure. If a person can stay home and keep house, raise children, feed the cat, water the garden, and do the “domestic” stuff, then draw benefits if his/her breadwinner partner dies, it’s a serious benefit. My grandmother, the one who is dying, had five young children when her husband had a massive heart attack and died in his early forties. What if that same scenario occurred with a man who adopted five children and never worked a day in his life, as my grandmother did not, and his breadwinner partner died? What would happen to him and those five young children? How were my grandmother’s children more important than five children adopted by a gay couple would be? How is a gay domestic engineer more important and “entitled” to different benefits than a heterosexual, legally married domestic engineer? The end result is no different. These are human beings, whether you agree with the lifestyle or not. Society can’t decide that it “owes” someone something based on whether that person chose to spend a lifetime with someone of the same or opposite gender. Yet it does. And it uses the term LEGAL MARRIAGE to draw the line in the sand.

If a heterosexual woman can draw social security benefits on her deceased husband, based on the fact that they were legally married, then clearly the legal institution of marriage makes a huge difference.

And last….
"Most other benefits are based on work history."

Oh? Like what? And more importantly, do these “other benefits” change or disappear with regard to a LEGAL SPOUSE?

You can bet they do.

And in conclusion, yes, homosexual people DO need the benefits of legal marriage, or an equivalent, to experience any of the benefits that society affords legally married heterosexual people.

If I have any time, I’ll address the other 12 reasons in the days ahead.

Have you or your current partner ever been without benefits because of not being legally married, or have you or your current spouse obtained a needed benefit through legal marriage?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

My wedding day

...was the best time ever. I thought about it a lot today. My handsome groom looked so happy. Everyone danced, ate, drank, socialized, danced some more, and had a really nice time. I will cherish every memory of that day forever and ever.

I thought about the wedding quite a bit today.

Those thoughts were jostled into mind by thoughts of the distant future and wondering how it will turn out. The verdict overall: it will be happy. I love my husband more than words can explain using common English verbiage. He is like the other half of my soul so to speak.

And, we've been together through thick and thin already. We've had times we were both out of work at the same time. We've been through births and deaths of loved ones. We've adopted animals, lost animals, Had money, been broke. Been healthy, been sick. And through it all, we've stayed happy.

A coworker came over to my desk today, and out of the clear blue, said to me, "I don't know how old you are, but while you are young, do everything you can to get out of the car business. When you get old like me, there might be nothing left."

And he's right.

There are so many things about the Asian automotive market that I'd love to write editorials on DAILY, in hopes that every single American citizen driving around in a Toyota could at least peer into my perspective. I would certainly welcome a peek into his/hers as well. I may be opinionated, but I'm fair.

However, that can't happen for fear of getting dooced. I'm lucky to have my job, and not a single day goes by that I'm not sincerely thankful for it. Even the days I don't enjoy being there.

So of course I tried to be comforting to this coworker, and said, "____, you are still a young man. You're crazy. You could easily start a new career if you were so inclined. You are only as old as you are willing to feel."

He chuckled and revealed his age.

Same age as my father.

Who, incidentally, was laid off from one of the big three last week, and has to start a new career. With three children at home.

And thankfully, most importantly, he's married to the other half of his soul too. Someone who he's been through far more with than my husband and I have faced. Yet they've always been happy. What a shining example. Of how to live, what's important, and what to drive.

Do you buy American? Why or why not? (All opinions welcome, I promise.)

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

I always said...

... that I'd never drive a minivan. Ever. No. Not ever.

But after possibly being successfully pregnant for a minute and a half, I'm starting to not think they are so bad.

Yeah, it looks like it might have happened - and then didn't stay happened. It was in July. I got sick. Really vomitously sick. For two days. Then - things happened that you'd expect to happen if you were pregnant and then suddenly you weren't.

I'm not sad. I'm really excited at the thought that my eggs might not be as crusty as predicted. Whatever is meant to happen will. And that's totally fine with me.

What's the last thing you came to peace with?

Monday, August 14, 2006

An admittance of guilt.

I am a terrible friend.

Resist all temptation to argue with all the sweet words coming to your minds right now such as, "aww, you are not."

Alas, it is true. I am a terrible friend.

For several years, I had more "guy friends" than girlfriends, primarily because I just don't have a catty bone in my body, and I didn't play the games that all the girls played with each other. The level of social politics and teaming up in cliques, which often left some people feeling abandoned and alone, were not acceptable to me at any age. I was never a huge dorky nerd. But I really didn't like the way the "cool kids" treated other people. So I chose my friends carefully, and they were usually male. I was one of the guys.

In high school, I didn't really have a social life because everything I was involved with that provided some identity and cause for interaction with others who I had things in common with didn't last. I went to two parties my whole high school career. Yep. Two parties. I can remember a couple situations where I had permission to go and do something, but then my mother would pick up the night at work and I'd be stuck once again at home. I cheerleaded for awhile, amidst serious complaints of what camp cost and the times for practices. Many practices had to be missed, based on the mandate that my *responsibilities* at home be handled first. Anyone reading who has been on a cheer team knows this is unacceptable. Eventually, my mother forced me to quit altogether. Possible the most painful of all her actions that destroyed my self confidence and chance of any serious collection of treasured memories throughout my highschool career. The reason? A progress report that said: "C-D range." For two classes. Now, the school had a policy that was followed to the letter of the law that said you must keep a certain average, and have minimum grades each cardmarking. So I was very well aware of what my minimum grades needed to be to hold my spot. Thus, there is no logical explanation for this other than my mother was sick and tired of my running off to have a life of my own, and there were several weeks before any hope of my getting myself kicked off the team for academic reasons at the hand of the school's administration.

I was not accountable as a friend. My team couldn't depend on me. My study groups couldn't depend on me. I went home immediately after school just about every single day. Several boyfriends didn't stick around. I couldn't live the life that everyone else did. Or anything remotely close to it. You guys know how kids are in high school. Do you think anyone was sensitive to that? How could anyone be? Where would anyone else have gotten the frame of reference to understand this?

Rather, my memories are being so bored making spaghetti for my younger siblings that I would find tapered candles so we could eat by candlelight. Getting freaked out because I tipped the cookie sheet with baked chicken on it and had huge flames burst immediately out of the oven. (There were no casualties save for some of the hair on my right arm. It's all good.) Getting so tired of holding the baby that I'd stick him back in his seat and turn on The Little Mermaid yet again just so I could read some of my chemistry stuff for the next test, even though I felt totally guilty doing it. I can remember vividly the habit of getting frustrating to the point of tears at trying to essentially run a household for an evening, complete with three children, and just sneaking away to sit somewhere as far away as I could get. There is a closet underneath the stairs at my parents' house, and it was full of old clothes, I'd climb on top of a pile and just sit up there. When I smell that typical basement style musty smell, my mind usually goes right back to that closet.

I remember so clearly the summer before my freshman year in high school. My "big sister" was so frustrated that I couldn't participate in any of the activities she planned. I was able to help with ONE carwash, and I HAD to leave at a certain time to be back before my mother had to go to work. No exceptions. Of course, by the time I had to leave, it was not nearly overwith, but had progressed long enough for all the other girls to make plans for what they were all going to do together afterwards. I hadn't even gotten to high school, and the most influential girls on the yearbook roster stopped including me in anything. And I knew better than to blame them. I could never do anything. Why bother to invite me? Duh?

I became fiercely independent and focused on the FUTURE in a very unnatural way at the given age. I suppose this is a side effect of having a very high IQ. Instead of just rebelling and sneaking out to party and drop acid, I made mental notes of what my business suits would look like as soon as I could escape my reality and create a new one. And I didn't need no stinkin friends anyhow. I was fine by myself. And besides, I did have really great conversations with the folks in my advanced placement classes, which were so stimulating to me that it's all I looked forward to during many long chronological chunks of my high school years. We talked about everything from politics to technology. And, best of all, they never discussed plans for any social activities. It was a safe haven. Nobody there had any social maintenance involved in sharing a friendship.

That's really how I always looked at it too. Social maintenance. When I would talk to a girlfriend a couple times a week for three weeks, then I'd get hit with a monsoon of responsibility that overwhelmed me for the following week, the fifth week that girlfriend would certainly wonder "what happened." Um, duh? I got super busy, don't you ever get super busy? And the answer was always no. My peers weren't running home to change diapers and help iron clothes in record time. They were learning to have a social identity in this world. I truly thought my peers were incompetent, immature, shallow, and high maintenance. But no. They were all so perfectly normal.

So the friendships I'd fostered in elementary school and early junior high slowly fizzled backwards in high school, and very few, if any, distant new friendships were formed.

I remember my sophomore year, and the first good half or so of my junior year, leaving me to think that as soon as I got into college I'd be okay. I'd have some space, be in charge of my own time, and I could have friends and do fun things. Then, about midway through my junior year, I realized what school cost. I got depressed. My grades dropped to an ugly state of being. I was angry, frustrated, and alone. I had occasional thoughts of suicide, and my outlet was writing. Essays, sonnets, various forms of poetry, and sometimes even full blown plays. I'd kill to have some of them now just to represent that time of my life - but I threw everything away the same week it was written as a strict rule. I had no privacy at home. If a boy wrote me a love letter, I'd come home and it would have made its way, sometimes in less than 12 hours, out of my secret hiding place to the middle of the kitchen table, unfolded and blushing in plain view of everyone who walked by. So, very quickly I learned that anything I wanted private required proper disposal.

My senior year started without incident. Nearly three-quarters through, many of my classmates were pairing up to room together in their respective college destinations.

The week of my final exams, my senior year, school was dismissed each day at 10:30 a.m. My classmates came early to gather in the cafeteria before each day's agenda of two hour-and-a-half test periods. They'd wear cutoff denim shorts, and t-shirts or halter tops with bikini strings hanging out from underneath. Each of the three days that week, they'd all head immediately to Stony Creek Beach at 10:30 for yearbook signing, canoe races, or whatever the plan was that day. I arrived just in time for the first test period, exhausted from the all-nighter to study, wearing the dressiest clothes I had in my possession. At 10:30, I managed to dodge as many of the inquisitive minds as possible who wondered why I was dressed like that, why I was in a hurry, and why I hadn't been at the beach the day before, and I headed to the one-week training class for my first full time job. That job began the first Monday morning that I was officially a high-school graduate. I was 18 years and 4 months old. And I truly believed that not being able to go away to college would be okay - because I'd just meet friends at work or community college that had more in common with me anyhow.

Sha. Right.

I was the youngest person at work by a LANDSLIDE. People don't work high-end commission retail in that sort of environment for a simple job. It's a career. And the folks in community college? Don't even get me started. They were either weird, or they were 45.

My mother did something for me the following October that really made me feel like she gave a rats ass whether I had a life. She drove me to Michigan State University to visit my friends in their dorm rooms. It was very sweet of her. (Don't misread that - it's NOT sarcasm. I seriously thought it was very special that she bothered to do this.) It was one of the worst weekends of my whole life. It was my best friend, our mothers, and me, getting a tour of my best friends new college towns. I don't think I'd ever felt so insignificant. I remember wondering if I'd ever feel the sense of accomplishment that my high-school-best-friend so clearly felt. Granted, her ambitions were different. I'd wanted to be a cheerleader in college since meeting my freshman cheer team coach, and I wanted to join a debate team or some such activity. My high-school-best-friend joined the row team and a few other seriously technical sports. But she was doing her thang. I'd never felt so much jealousy and resentment in my whole life. (Until eventually my own sister, who came out of the same uterus I did, not only enrolled at MSU with a dorm buddy, monogrammed towels, and the whole nine yards, but also decided to be a college cheerleader.)

I did frequent MSU a few more times throughout that academic year. My first 4 - 6 paychecks all went towards necessities and work clothing. The next several went toward my second car. A blue Chevy Cavalier. I'd stick my cocker spaniel in the front seat and off we'd go to East Lansing. By this time, the folks I'd known from high-school had taken up with the party scene. Nobody cared as much about obligation, i.e. when are you coming back for another visit? Are you going to call me tomorrow by 2? My peeps were far too hung over each day to bother with any typical expectations. I was safe.

This was my first year out of high school. As it came to a close, I was shopping homes. I purchased my first one at age 20. And in true form, I thought for sure that I'd have a whole lot of friends once I had a house. One of my friends even came close to moving in with me when she dropped out of MSU.

But no. This time only began a bigger rat race of three jobs, college classes, and the rest of a list I don't want to think about much less take the time to write out. That rat race has never ended. It morphs a little here and there, but the rat race continues. As a matter of fact, it may be more crazy now than it's ever been. I've been a serious workaholic since the end of my junior year in high school, when I had two jobs on top of school. Therapy identified years ago that my career shapes my personal identity and self image. That just can't be good.

And thus, I have even less time than I ever did before to be a decent friend.

One thing I've learned over the years is that my girlfriends were never "high maintenance" in a bad way. They were just good friends. And good friends should support each other. Not be around and then disappear for three weeks like I always typically had to.

And, I honestly don't even know how to make time to be a good friend. I'm 30 years old, and still haven't even gained full comprehension of high-school level girlfriend relationships. When a friend gets too close - I literally back away and I've always used the excuse (even to myself) that "Oh gosh - I better create some distance, I'm not going to have time to shop and and return calls and hang out and all that.) When really, it would have been the best thing for me all along.

I thought about this whole deal as I realized that I am not even keeping up with proper etiquette with blogger friends. Folks, if you left a message or a comment and didn't get a response, please know that I just now figured out how to have comments appear in my email box so I can respond properly.

And thus begins friendship rehab for me. I want to be a better friend and put some time and energy on the things that matter most.

I'm about to shamelessly steal an idea from one of my all-time favorite cyber friends, Pajama Mama and leave the cyber world with a question... What are you in "personal rehab" for in hopes to change for the better?

Run down at the Golden Arches.

A new level of rage hits a Georgia McD's.

We all knew it wasn't a healthy place for breakfast, but this took the risk to a whole new level.

Saturday, August 05, 2006


I'm giving myself 7 days to have a perfect house. Starting tomorrow.


Y'all might remember shortly after my wedding I posted about being broker than broke. Well, folks, get out your maraccas, a bongo drum, and your tambourines. We're having a parade to celebrate that I will be credit card debt FREE by the end of November. Woot!

(Yes, certainly only to run them right back up where they were for Christmas, but still...)

Nah, that's just a little joke. Even my biggest holiday expenditures usually leave me about $1400 in the hole all things told. My credit debt is a whole lot bigger than that. (At least for the moment, but it's been shrinking since the wedding.)

Now there are a few things that certainly may stretch that goal a little longer. My husband is talking about taking classes this fall. He also needs a new laptop computer. (He can't take classes without it.) That would likely stretch things out until December, then with the holidays, I'll be debt free by the end of January. But that's still fine with me!

Not to mention, I have a third car to sell still, and the condo will hopefully be gone soon. Eliminating one of the three households we pay for each month will help immensely.

I'm off to clean up, head over to spruce up the condo, and give the realtor a call.

Dear Anonymous...

With regard to this lovely comment:

Anonymous said...
hey buttmunch.why don't you free up the next blog button? you some kind of blog nazi?

I am soooo much of a blog "nazi" that I really had no idea there existed a "next blog" button.

Yes. I'm sure hundreds of barely-cyber-literate people who use tools like Blogspot rather than something far more professional and difficult like WordPress with paid hosting are really blog nazis in disguise. And we're in disguise just to piss off random people who stop by uninvited into our personal space with intent to simply browse through and keep moving. Yeah, that's right.

And don't go telling me that it's not "personal space" just because it's published on the Internet. Your living room is personal space, yet you still invite people in to sit on the couches and have a glass of wine, don't you? Of course you do. So you allow friends to frequent your personal space by invitation. This blog is my personal space, and I welcome friends, neighbors, and even occasionally passers-by. But I don't invite the general unidentified public here, for the same reason I don't open my front door and stick a sign on the front lawn that says "Come in! Free lemonade and snooping opportunity!" So, Anonymous, I'm looking at you right now with the same look I'd give some person who arrived on my doorstep and proceeded to walk through the door, ininvited, and unidentified. Fuck your "next blog" button.

Now really, folks. I have to wonder if Anonymous truly believed that I somehow disabled this apparently illustrious tool that would take him/her through blogs that are not listed on blog searches, nor published in any directory, requiring that I provide my web address to anyone who comes here. (Which, incidentally, is often done simply by leaving links on blogs I love, thereby letting that whole community know where I am. I still don't consider that the general unidentified public.)

I had not disabled this "button." I actually had to open my blog up in a separate window just to see what this Anonymous person was talking about. Sure enough, there are "previous blog" and "next blog" buttons up in the top right corner. And, sure enough, they don't work because they are UNDERNEATH a very obvious linked banner that is impossible to miss. They are buried under there, and gone. And so is the opportunity to leave shitty comments without identifying yourself. Call me a nazi, you'll see a nazi. I've always aimed to exceed everyone's expectations.

It does make me a bit sad to disable anonymous comments, because there was an anonymous comment left for me a couple months ago that I really was thankful to get, and posted an edit as such. (Regarding my thoughts on Bob Enyart.)

However, I will not tolerate silly and offensive language by intruders too incompetent to even use capitalization properly. Had this person said, "Hey - the next blog button isn't working properly. Please fix it," or anything remotely similar, I'd have moved the poverty banner to the other side, thus freeing up those buttons. But this intruder has identified the type of people who use those buttons. The free lemonade sign doesn't exist, and my front door is not gaping open. If that makes me a nazi, well, fine.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

"Bloggin' Good Blogger Days"

My good friend Pajamamama has christened the next few days "Bloggin' Good Blogger Days."

I am contemplating a post that fits right into her request, but first, I want to go ahead and release some thoughts that fleeted to the very front of my grey matter before thoughts ventured into formulating a post to fit into PM's brilliant and loving broadcasted request of folks participating in cyberworld communications.

When I read her post, I was actually already in deep contemplation of how generally inconsiderate people are. These thoughts were caused by a general notice of how prevalent "coping mechanisms" are in people around me. I have one coworker with whom I've discussed smoking with. He's tried to quit, and can't seem to shake the habit. He's not alone. Maybe it was wrong to mention a coping mechanism first that I don't happen to use, but trust me, I have my share. Now I've watched the smokers around me. Not only do they often have a set schedule for smoking that they just can't deter from, but they also run for the back door each and every time things get heated or stressful. Thus, it's an escape hatch.

Some smoke. Some eat. Some sleep. Some get hostile. Some engage in high risk activities. Some drink. Some use drugs. Some just run away for awhile.

I have a myriad of them that I personally employ.

So why do we need these coping mechanisms? I think it's just because the world sucks so much more than it used to. We're in a bigger hurry. We spin our wheels incessantly trying to do more with the 24 hours in each day. We're tired and weary.

And we're damn impatient.

Detroit is one of the worst areas for road rage. I read an article once that described a strange phenomenon where people see cars as inanimate objects and forget that live human beings are inside. For example, you don't normally see people in a grocery store checkout line get impatient and step out of line to rush past someone along side him to get in front. But you see that on the road every time you leave your house. People in line at the movie ticket counter don't normally holler if the line is moving too slow. But you hear horns blow in contempt for the same phenomenon on the road. If you were at a ticket counter, and the woman in front of you was too busy getting her two-year-old to blow his nose in a Kleenex to notice that the line had moved, would you wait patiently or holler at her to scootch forward? Do you honk of someone doesn't move immediately when the light turns green?

I don't think it's necessarily our "fault" that the world has become what it is. However, it is our fault that we allow it to change our attitude and behavior.

I had these thoughts going on earlier today at work after watching some interesting behavior. Then I read PM's blog, which was right in line with what I'd been thinking about. I kept this in mind for the rest of my day.

Later this evening I headed to the local shopping mall. I was supposed to get my eyebrows done, but there was a huge mix-up and the eyebrow person was not even working at the salon today. (The mix-up is a really interesting story, and will make for another day's post.) I resisted all temptation to holler at the people working in the salon, who didn't deserve it, and hadn't done anything wrong. Somehow, it's natural to feel "entitled" to lash out when we feel someone has inconvenienced us or caused us grief. I'm no exception. But I know this is a really crappy way to be, and I'm going to try my best to shake the habitual response. The salon was my first opportunity, and I think I did okay. The second opportunity was only moments away. I grabbed a super quick dinner on the run, ran to three places in the mall, and then headed out before deciding I needed a Starbucks. I love Starbucks lattes, but have been trying to refrain from visiting any Starbucks because $4 on coffee is just stupid when credit card companies are charging 29% APR on debt I owe. (Duh, right?) So I hardly ever go, and when I do go, I get regular coffee - not a latte. Big savings overall from both efforts. Anyhow, I go in, and order a large coffee of the day. I decide to ask for it iced, as it's 98 degrees outside and really friggin hot. Now the last handful of times I've been to Starbucks, it's either been in Rochester or Royal Oak. Not the one in the mall. The non-mall SB's will simply put ice in a cup, add the coffee of your choice, and off you go. But no - the SB that lives in the mall doesn't roll that way.

A large coffee at SB is $1.70. With tax brings it to $1.80. Yes, I know this is still ludicrous for coffee that I can make at home, but that's not the point here. The gal running the register took my order, pushed some buttons, and $1.70 flashed on the digital display before she wiped it out, pushed some more buttons, and suddenly $2.40 appeared. Add tax - $2.54. Why had my coffee doubled in price? Or, since the amount supported the theory perfectly, had the girl simply charged me for two coffees instead of one? So of course I politely asked her. She insisted that iced coffee was more than hot coffee. I resisted the urge to sternly ask her what she is smoking, and courteously asked her why that might be. She went on to explain that the coffee used for iced coffee is brewed stronger, so it uses more grounds. It is also more labor to prepare an iced coffee than just a regular hot coffee. Yes, of course I was calling bullshit. Even if the coffee used twice the grounds, I seriously doubt that twice the grounds would yield exactly twice the strength coffee. And even if twice the grounds were used, doubling SB's cost, there is no way that a full 10 ounces of coffee are added to the cup full to the brim of large ice cubes.

But instead of launching my natural instinctive argument, I simply smiled and asked for the coffee regular and served hot.

Then things got even more challenging. Remember the total had become $2.54 with tax on the overpriced iced coffee. I had two dollars in my hand before seeing the total appear, and while I was adding it up and wondering why it was so high, I reached in my purse for another dollar. I handed the gal three dollars while asking the questions, hearing the ludicrous explanation for the coffee being twice the price when served with half ice in the cup, and changing my order to hot coffee.

This gal finished the sale for $2.54 (don't ask me why) and then processed a "refund" through the register for the $2.54. During this, she put my $3 in the register. Then, she rang up my coffee for $1.80 with tax, and gave me $0.74 in change. Obviously, she rang in $1.80 in charges, then entered $2.54 as the amount I'd given her.

I looked at the change in my hand and reminded her that I'd given her $3. She babbled on insistant that the change was correct. I instinctively wanted to lean over the counter and bite off her head for want of cashiers who can make change intelligently. But I held it together and was kind to her, in large part due to PM's reminder that it's a whole lot harder to stay positive and not just find fault. I explained to her that I'd given her $3, and my total was $1.80, so my change should be $1.20. Although she was thoroughly confused at what happened, she did understand that statement, She just opened the register and dumped back in the $0.74, while removing $1.20.

Remaining patient and kind is difficult in the face of frustration, but I do think it would make the world a better place if we all did it. Maybe, some folks could even find it a little easier to quit smoking or drinking far too many cosmopolitans.