Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Grande Finale of Assholery

My mother received her mother's last will and testament in the mail yesterday. I was immediately reminded of a simply MARVELOUS post by one of my new favorite bloggers, Maigh. First, Maigh's words of wisdom. Listen closely. I find her scathingly brilliant.
May 9, 2007 at 7:54 am

What ever happened to peace, love and understanding? Or at least being thoughtful, polite and considerate?

Half a dozen grocery carts strewn around a parking lot in an affluent area of town are symbolic of a greater issue: being an asshole is contagious and we haven’t been inoculated.

Leading by example lives on in a gross expanse beyond the urchins that fall from our collective uteri and breaks through the walls of our florescent days. Hell, just look at Al Gore and his bright green interwebs. An Oscar later, the world wakes up to find frog colored glasses strapped on their heads.

Everywhere we go and with everything we do, this simple assholearrific fact has me teetering on the edge of any religion and the core of them all where “do unto others” is the chorus regardless of how it’s interpreted and who said it. Jesus, Buddha, the Dali Lama, Confucius, Allah, Brahman, whatever. It’s all the same.

Don’t be an asshole.

But we are. We’re assholes. We’ve been reprogrammed since the societal high bar crashed to the ground and the collective death rattle of our moral compass went spinning out of control. We’re too far from home to worry if our parents see us doing something we know is wrong (though I’d guess the view isn’t shabby from the after life). We’re not just lazy and inconsiderate in grocery store parking lots - we’re irresponsible with the environment, we’re negligent with the emotions of others, we’re flat out ugly in traffic, and we sure as hell haven’t earned the special treatment we all seem to think we’re entitled to.

So here’s my request. Put the cart back. Say thank you. Smile. Don’t run the red light. Put the seat down. Let that guy merge. Don’t be a jerk to your waitperson. Remember that not everyone harnesses the ability to read your mind.

Find the good, and push it out…infect everyone you meet."

The will that my mother opened last night excluded two of the five surviving children. A mother who played her children against each other in life has succeeded in allowing it (or at least not effectively preventing it) to perpetuate after her death.

What did the two do wrong, you ask? Absolutely nothing. Other than do wonderful things for their mother the entire time she was alive, and fail to always agree with the one favorite child. The favorite child that orchestrated a new will just a short time before my grandmother died. Someday I will publish the writings I've created on the last six months of my grandmother's life, the funeral, and all other fiascos. If nothing else, so that other people can rest assured that they are not the only ones with ridiculous families laden with psychiatric problems and greed.

I have two aunts who will astonish the undertaker upon their respective deaths if they are autopsied, because their hearts will be found black as tar and hard as rock.

My grandmother's coffin was delivered to the graveside service in the BACK OF A MINIVAN "CONVERTED" INTO A HEARSE. But the following week, these women were sipping umbrella drinks on a Caribbean island.

Anyway, I won't (and can't just yet) rant about the details.

But when I stopped over at my parents' last night to offer some words of comfort and read the will for myself, I was reminded of Maigh's words of wisdom. People are assholes. And while strangers, neighbors, and business associates may have truly lost peace, love, understanding, and the ability to be polite or considerate, I think far too many families are in even worse shape than the collective public. Families have come to forget how great the gift of each other. They've forgotten how to love and cherish. They've forgotten what really matters. We may leave shopping carts scattered across a lot or be curt to a bank teller, and while those things are truly ridiculous, what's worse is that some will step on their own flesh and blood to get ahead.

In some cultures, such as most European countries, families are not all that important. Community is actually more important than family. But, family members still wouldn't stick a hot poker into each other's backs if given the chance. Even if they don't travel for weddings and baby's first birthday parties, they are still decent and humane unto one another.

The two people who were excluded from the will were incidentally the two with the biggest hearts you could ever imagine. The two that have by far done the most for their mother over the years, even when there wasn't much to give.

I thank God that I've had the chance to learn what really matters. And that's a post all it's own.

While Maigh has called upon the collective Internet to "find the good and push it out..." I wish to not only heed her advice and be part of a solution as well as spread her brilliant words out as far into the world as I can, but also to add to it and encourage everyone to seize the day to tell someone you love him/her. Particularly those who share your blood. Some aren't lucky enough to have sisters or brothers or cousins or parents. Those of us who do? Let's all count our blessings and make the most of the time we have simultaneously on this earth. Especially if those sisters or brothers or cousins or parents aren't wicked, evil, pieces of shit.

And with that, I'm going to call my grandmother. (The other grandmother...) I will call her this minute and tell her that I appreciate and love her. Please go now and do the same.

With writing that thought down, I was just reminded of dear Eden's words regarding the recent loss of her father... She had put something off until tomorrow and he passed, so it was too late. Remember Eden in your prayers if you say any tonight. Heck, remember my mom too.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Sudden Torential Downpour


I came home a wee bit early, and let the dogs outside. I went out with them, because the dog who lives behind us was out, and that dog and one of my dogs don't see eye to eye on the fact that there is a fence separating their yards and if each stays on her respective side of the fence, there is peace in the world. We're out there long enough to wave kindly to all the neighbors who are out, bark at all the dogs who are out, pee, poo, and head towards the door. The minute I'd caught up with the dogs at the back door, the previously stunning blue sky turned grey and opened up to dump tennis ball sized raindrops on the world surrounding my house. Instantly. Within about 45 seconds, it was raining sideways.

About four minutes later, it all stopped. Leaving ponds strewn about in any low area of land.

We don't usually get this sort of weather here in Michigan. We usually have rain, or no rain, and it does one or the other for a significant amount of time before it changes direction. Sprinting storm clouds are something I expect to find in Florida, but it's weird to see it here.

And then, no more than ten minutes after the sudden violent spill from heaven, it started raining "normally." That's more like it.

You've never seen ironic until you've seen an enormous 140 lb. shepherd whining and crying to be next to you because she's scared of the storm.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


That's the word to sum up life right now. Chaos. Sheer, unadulterated chaos.

I'm sitting here at a card table with enough space on it for most of the computer to sit. The rest is covered by a coffee pot, a stack of mail with a paint tray on top, and a few other odds and ends strewn about. About 3/8 of this card table is in the great room, which still has purple carpeting, and the remaining 5/8 is in the dining room.

Our food is kept cold via two devices. A cooler which was designed to be used with a cigarette lighter that has been fashioned with a special adapter connecting the cigarette lighter plug to a household electrical socket, and a wine fridge. So, there is no room for wine. Because there is yogurt, and broccoli, and all sorts of other things I'm supposed to be eating other than the "pastry bites" I got through the Tim Horton's drive thru window this evening on my way home from work at 8:30 pm.

Our mattress is on the floor in the only purple carpeted room that has any window treatments.

No, it's not a new build with a poor choice in carpeting. It's a foreclosure we snagged, that may or may not end up a good investment. We'll see...

I realized something today. On my way home, I was looking at the sky. It rained all day and truly looked as if heaven was a little closer to earth than normal. The sky was a little pinkish, and there was a fog that looked sort of like mist suspended in air. Thoughts of how excellent life was circled around the inside of my head, and it suddenly dawned on me that I spend way too much time thinking about everyone else's life to really focus on living my own.

I have to work on that.

For now, I'm off to finish the pantry organization. It would be so nice to have even just one room finished, but I'm far from that....

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Still Thankful

All I can do is count my blessings and laugh. So let me do that first before I explode and just rant about what today brought, which in the big picture, is nothing too catastrophic. I have a wonderful, handsome husband that I love with my whole heart and soul. I have an amazing family. I have food to eat and a warm house. I have dogs and cats. I’m in reasonable health, and all my senses are intact. I have a vehicle to get around in, and clothes to wear. I have faith, confidence, and a strong sense of self. I have a gorgeous landscape of natural woodland outside my window with chance of wild birds stopping at my new feeders hung in the nearby trees. I have music. The gift of music that will soothe any soul no matter what the cause of stress or ailment. Or, so I thought; that I’d have music that is. Argh.

Okay, now that things are sort of in perspective, OMFG. People, one more day like this and I may just have a teensy eensy meltdown for the first time in history. My shoulders are broad, as they say, but not THAT broad.

First, the day starts with a strong wind of suggestion that it might, just might, be a productive day where I actually get some of my work done. I get to work and get two reports knocked out right off the bat. I reward myself with a cup of steamy coffee with cream. I have my first conference call at 8:30. Second at 9. I’m on the phone until 12:30. E-mails and faxes and notes going on in the multitasking sidelines all the while. My cell phone kept ringing incessantly during the meeting, so I turned it off, determined to use all the principals of good project management and time control. “I can only handle 59.2 things at once” is a good idea of the mantra those training seminars and classes give the pupils.

I have an hour and a half to polish some things off, tackle my to-do list, actually eat lunch for the first time in over two weeks aside from grabbing drive-thru on my way between buildings, and make it a great day! My next meeting is at 2, with a supplier, and I expect it to be short and sweet. Then, I will leave to run over to a customer site and pick up some parts that need to be sent overnight to Windsor, Ontario. A perfect day in the making, and I was so overdue!

At 12:30, one of the VP’s walks by my office and leans his head into the door I left open. He informs me that he heard out at the plant that [insert customer names who are very high up on the food chain] are planning to stop by at 2 pm. I call one of the chaps that is apparently planning to squat in my conference room unannounced and uninvited. I end up talking to two of them one at a time. They are planning to squat, yes. They have no agenda, no. But eventually, yes, I dig and find what they really need, and determine both that I can help them and the meeting would be worthwhile, although not the least bit timely. The call to the first chap identified their desire to actually come at 3. Well, at least that gets me out of my conflict with already having a 2pm. So I call my guy coming at 2 pm to make sure he agrees we can be done in less than an hour. Next comes a call back from the guy who is helping me get the parts released from the customer this afternoon and overnight to Windsor. He is leaving early. I’m booked the rest of the afternoon. I look at the clock, and it says ten past one. I grab my keys and run.

On the way there, I found out my husband had a standing 2 pm meeting to receive an offer from the company he works at, currently as a contract. He was very nervous.

When I got to my destination, I pulled up to the front door area, parked off to the side, and tried to turn my hazard lights on. They didn’t work. Neither did my turn signals, headlights, or anything else similarly electric after that point.

I called my mom on my way back, remembering she had a doctor’s appointment, and found out she’s getting another scan on Monday and likely surgery the day after. About halfway back to the office, after tinkering with the switch, I got the headlights to work. No turn signals or hazards, though.

I got back to the office at 2:03. Hardly finished that meeting and the folks are there for the 3 pm spontaneous snafu. I spent about 7 minutes preparing information packets for everyone, and invited them into a conference room. They left at quarter to 7.

I walked into my office and called my husband back. His offer was hardly justified as a “lowball.” They made him an offer that would be half his current take home pay. Now had this happened to me, I think I’d look at it differently and see that it was a HR punk earning his keep and opening the bargaining on the low end. But my darling husband is an honest, forthright, straight shooter who doesn’t like those sort of stressful games that I do. I felt terrible. I told him he should counter, and recognize the worst case scenarios. No problem. I also crunched numbers for him quickly so he’d know right off the bat that if he took the initial lowball offer, the truth was, we’d have no improvements happening on the house, things would be tight, we’d eat at home even for date night, but, we wouldn’t starve and our lights would remain on. Not a bad deal, really. Many have it much worse. Much, much worse.

I left the office at 10 minutes to 8. Exhausted. Got home, and was hardly in the door when our shepherd promptly threw up a foot from my shoes. I scavenged for something to eat in the house, fed the dogs, and reached for a knob to create some music. The radio was broken.

I’m not sad. I feel entirely blessed beyond words. However, I feel stressed out and spread so thin I could break. Everything will be okay. It helps to blog again on my own blog, and take a break from the other chapter of my life that has been sucking me dry. Life, overall, is good. I am thankful.