But, let's debunk that "accidental" shooting. First of all, it was no accident! The British police fired on a suspicious subject dressed in a "bulky" coat (IN JULY) that jumped a turnstile and ran from police when ordered to "Stop! Police!" I'm sorry, but that is suspicious behavior. Somebody who is innocently jamming to their ipod tunes doesn't behave this way. Somebody who is jaywalking doesn't behave this way. No, only people who think they ought to run from police behave this way. It was no accident! This guy's stupidity got him killed, no differently than people who drink and drive and kill themselves in an accident.
The fact of the matter is, he knew better. He's been living in England! You can't tell me that the terrorist attacks in London somehow escaped his notice! Moreover, reports suggest that he's been living in London for at least 2 years, so he must have enough of an understanding of English to know what "Stop! Police!" means.
Some say that he was running because his green card had expired and he didn't want to get caught. Um...I didn't think that the Brits were so hard-core on immigration violations. Am I missing something? It flat-out doesn't wash!
Nevertheless, even if he was motivated by fear and completely innocent, it doesn't matter. He is dead. It is a tragedy and we can wish it otherwise, but the simple fact remains. It would be irresponsible to now blame the brave individuals who chased him down. While this guy was innocent, the next one may not be. I would prefer that the next one also got seven head shots rather than be given the time to depress the trigger. Some suggest that the coppers ought to have said, "Excuse me, old chap, but would you be one of those terrorist fellows intent on blowing us all to hell? Because if you are, I will be obliged to shoot you now."
I'm sorry, but that is bloody ridiculous!
They had probable cause. They had a reasonable expectation that this person was a danger to British citizens. I'm glad they pulled the trigger! I'm glad they plugged this potential threat 8 times! I wouldn't have stopped until the clip was empty!
And let's be clear: it is the protection of the citizenry that is their duty. I'm sorry that this young man died. I'm sorry that he lacked the mental capacity to stop when the police directed him to do so. But mostly, I'm sorry to see some bending over and begging to take it in the ass.
God help them. I pray that they aren't the ones holding the pistol when the time comes.
Kathy, who is about the coolest chic ever and an exceptional blog-mama and role model, has this thought-provoking post about unions that you should read.
The reason I mention it is I absolutely freakin' despise Unions. I've never worked for one, or even worked somewhere where there was one, and yet numerous things have led me to see the evil of their ways.
For example, my cousin, the bakery scientist for a major cereal manufacturer, is a farm girl just like me. Yet, her career led her to suckle at the teat of a major conglomerate that is unionized. She was explained to me about getting into trouble because one of the mixers in her lab needed a minor repair. Being the handy farmgirl she was, she picked up a screwdriver and, SHOCK OF SHOCKS, completed the necessary adjustment in 3 minutes flat.
(Insert wagging finger here).
Didn't she know that was a union job? God help her, she was single-handedly working to put down the working man. Nevermind the fact that it would have taken three maintenance guys and 45 freakin' minutes to get them to the lab, she should have known better. Shame, shame, they know your independent name! May God smite you, you anti-labor neaderthal!
Here's another example closer to home.
My husband, much to his and my chagrin, is a member of a union. He works for Sub-Zero (the reason why my kitchen is so sublime). Sub-Zero is a manufacturer of high-end "professional" refrigerators - the types made for people who can afford to spend upwards of $5K on a refrigerator - and the owner of Wolf (the manufacturer of high-end "professional" ovens, cooktops, and assorted kitchen appliances).
Now, Sub-Zero is a union shop. And, the union sucks donkey dick. I'm serious! As far as I can tell, the union exists to keep the members down and reward non-productive and negative behavior. The union, for example, makes it impossible to fire a habitual drug user who comes to work high, despite the fact that this is an industrial setting and being under the influence is hazardous to the other workers. As a matter of fact, the longer you keep one of these druggies, the harder it is to get rid of them. At some point, they merely become a high-paid piece of bottom-feeding sludge. They are not productive, and their senority keeps management from rewarding good employees with better jobs as these opportunities are rewarded by seniority, not merit.
And, safety concerns aside, this is my bigger issue. Any system that prevents a company from rewarding merit, is not working in the long-term interests of the company or the employees. It offends me deeply. To me, it is the same thing as giving "A's" to failing students because you don't want their ego to suffer. You know what? Maybe pointing out how decayed and putrid the dead weight is will spark it back to life. I can assure you, no child who gets an "A", no matter how deserving, is unlikely to put in more effort. There is no incentive! And, we aren't talking about the fragile egos of children here, but those of 40, 50, and 60-year-old men.
If they can't leave the coke alone, should we really be worried about their feelings? I don't think so. And I certainly don't think that their habitual drug use should be rewarded with lifetime employment like that given to Supreme Court Justices!
The worst part of all of this is the impact the union has had on the management of the facility. The fact of the matter is, members of management are cowed by the union. They can't actually fire anybody. So, what good are they? Not a damn. Not worth a damn! They want to reward hard workers, free-thinkers, problem-solvers and innovators, but their hands are tied. Despicable!
Now, the company is really pretty good. In fact, it would be vastly improved into nearly perfect if the union were kicked out. I mean, we have excellent benefits and a really great employee discount program. (My kitchen is totally tricked out with the retail equivalent of $15K worth of high-end appliances that we purchased for ~ $3K.) The company even has a program whereby they reward employees who stay for 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 years, etc.
The union on the other hand? Well, we pay them $50 per month and get screwed without the use of a lubricant. Do I hate the union? Hell yeah. But unfortunately, we are powerless to do anything about it.
I wish those bastards who were sucking on the teat of those hardworking guys would get kicked in the head by the sow, then squashed and left for dead.
Yesterday afternoon I had my third baby-related doctor's appointment. I peed in the cup, they stuck me with needles, then they scanned me with the magic wand. The blood they drew was for the checking of my thyroid and something called a "Quad Four" which screens for birth defects, or some such. The magic wand/palm pilot-esque deelio monitored the baby's heartrate and determined it to be a steady 168 beats/min. Which, for those of you scoring at home, is exactly the same as it was one month ago. The nurse/wizard assured me that this strength in the heart beat was a very good sign as most fetal heartrates slow as the baby develops. So, strong heart = Good News.
I made my appointments for the Fetal Echocardiogram and the Anomaly Ultrasound this morning. These will happen three weeks from now, and I'm both excited and anxious over these. I know that my doctors are just being cautious and thorough. To be fair, I like them better when they err on the careful side than the capricious, if you know what I mean.
My doc feels that my very minimal conditions of the heart (a very small hole between two chambers due to my heart not completely sealing in utero that amounts to a trace amount of regurgitation, and the very slight weakening of one wall aka aneurysm) which have never and will never actually impact my physical well-being, they are that slight, are still important enough that we need to rule out a congenital heart defect. Hence the need for a Fetal Echo. Still, it is kind of scary.
The anomaly ultrasound just goes hand-in-hand with the fetal echo. Which is pretty cool, because that means we'll know the sex of the baby in three weeks instead of having to wait until week 32. (My doctor's practice makes a habit of doing two ultrasounds - one at the beginning of pregnancy and one at 32 weeks.) Yahoo! However, anything called an "anomaly" can't be good, right?
The next issue my doctor put in front of me is the decision regarding Cord Blood and the stem cells that reside therein: To bank, or Not to Bank. That is the question.
Oh, puked again this morning, for those of you scoring at home. Yes, yes. The baby is winning.
I leave on Wednesday for my vacation/training mission at that island paradise/CIA Safehouse in Bermuda. As such, due to the constraints of air travel, there will be no posting on Wednesday. However, I should be able to post from the island. I'll be sipping my virgin mai tai poolside and post clever bon mots as I tan.
Oh, on a related topic, the "puppy" has been recovered.
Week 16. I feel like I've been pregnant for an ice age. Here's what the experts have to say about this week:
If you haven't already, you may begin to feel movement as the baby's bones harden. If you are somewhat overweight, have a thick uterus, and/or if this is your first pregnancy, you may not be feeling baby yet or feeling baby regularly. Don't panic! You will soon. The legs are now longer than the arms, and s/he is moving those arms and legs frequently, especially since there's still lots of room to move within the uterus.
Fingernails and toenails are growing too. In fact, some babies need their nails clipped right after birth!
There is a pronounced hardening in my mid-section that must be baby-related. I'm still having the morning sickness, of course, and two days last week I was so exhausted that I had to make an early night of it. So wimpy. Prince Charming is eagerly looking forward to our next ultrasound. I think it is becoming more and more real for him.
And I don't mean to suggest that he is denying anything. It is different for him. I'm the one who must urinate 8,000 times/day. I'm the one that can't wait for a meal. He may see me puke on occasion, but he can't feel the baby. He didn't go to the first ultrasound appointment and he hasn't heard the baby's heartbeat. I'm still wearing my regular clothes, so it is harder for him to "know" the baby and for it to be "real" to him.
Me? I just want to know the baby's sex so we can decorate, start shopping, and settle on a name.
A little Joan Jett to start your Friday off right...
I Love Rock N' Roll
I saw him dancin' there by the record machine I knew he must a been about seventeen The beat was goin' strong Playin' my favorite song An' I could tell it wouldn't be long Till he was with me, yeah me, singin'
I love rock n' roll So put another dime in the jukebox, baby I love rock n' roll So come an' take your time an' dance with me
He smiled so I got up and' asked for his name That don't matter, he said, 'Cause it's all the same
Said can I take you home where we can be alone
An' next we were movin' on He was with me, yeah me
Next we were movin' on He was with me, yeah me, singin'
I love rock n' roll So put another dime in the jukebox, baby I love rock n' roll So come an' take your time an' dance with me
Said can I take you home where we can be alone
An we'll be movin' on An' singin' that same old song Yeah with me, singin'
I love rock n' roll So put another dime in the jukebox, baby I love rock n' roll So come an' take your time an' dance with me
I've had morning sickness everday this week. Every. Damn. Day.
It is sort of hard to get excited about motherhood when you are forced to view your own stomach acid on a daily basis. And the viewing of it...not nearly has awful as the taste of it. Talk about something that'll put you off your feed.
For some strange reason, the taste of my toothpaste prompts the projectile arrival of said stomach acid. I can't seem to be sick without the toothpaste, and yet not brushing is not an option. Moreover, it means that sometime later, after a dose of baking soda to neutralize the acid, I am forced to rebrush. You don't want to keep tasting that, after all.
I suppose that I should be happy that I had that brief respite, and that I'm not getting sick in the afternoons anymore. Still, it is not easy to be sick all the time. I mean, it totally screws up my well-oiled and carefully planned morning routine. I can't apply makeup until after I've puked and cooled down, because puking makes my face turn red and sweaty. So then, I recleanse the face, moisturize, and then begin the other stuff.
It is kind of like trying to iceskate using alligators for skates. Yeesh.
Imagine Donna Summer is a slinky and spangly outfit with horrendous blue eyeshadow...
Sittin' here eatin' my heart out waitin' Waitin' for some lover to call Dialed about a thousand numbers lately Almost rang the phone off the wall
Lookin' for some hot stuff baby this evenin' I need some hot stuff baby tonight I want some hot stuff baby this evenin' Gotta have some hot stuff Gotta have some lovin' tonight I need hot stuff I want some hot stuff I need some hot stuff
Lookin' for a lover who needs another Don't want another night on my own Wanna share my love with a warm blooded lover Wanna bring a wild man back home
I have news on the CIA's Bermuda cell. It seems that my sister has had a bit of a shock. For the past three days, she has been searching the island for the oft-discussed "dog". The "dog" disappeared from the "custody" of a "friend" while on a "playdate".
They now fear that the "dog" has been "taken".
I'm not certain what all this is code for, but please, keep them in your thoughts and pray for the safe return of the..."dog."
I know what you are thinking. This must be all about spinach in the teeth, coming back from the ladies room dragging a toilet paper trail, stories about slips showing, or being sick in his car. Not so, at least, not from me. Au contraire. My two little stories for you involve embarrassment that was handed to me by my dates.
Both of these stories come from the same year in college. I was a junior and living in my sorority house. My boyfriend at the time, the Texas rodeo cowboy/navy firefighter was never able to attend any sorority functions, so my friends set me up. For Barn Dance, they found me a “nice” boy from a “good” frat. Suuuure.
What they neglected to mention was that he had a drinking problem. Either that, or he had recently grown gills and swimming in alcohol was the only way for him to survive. He was so drunk, in fact, that his frat brothers finally dragged him to our house 2 hours late, after we had missed dinner. He puked in my sorority house’s bushes. When the bus driver saw him (the guy who was supposed to drive us to the dance) he refused to let him board. So all of that patience expended for a puking date and then he couldn’t even attend the dance. Lovely. I left the slobbering drunk in the quite capable hands of his slightly less drunken frat brothers and went to the party by myself.
I can’t tell you how much this embarrassed me. Too many people assumed that this was the boyfriend instead of some random fix-up. I was tarred and feathered with the puke and piss of his public humiliation. I had no feelings for this person except an initially open mind that was quickly replaced by revulsion. I wish, in fact, that he had canceled on me instead of attempting to meet his obligations.
Now, that was bad. But it was nothing compared to this:
Early in the Spring semester of my junior year, my sorority was holding it’s formal. This was a ritzy shindig where all the girls are in black dresses. It was a catered affair and I really didn’t want to miss it, but once again the cowboy couldn’t make it. So a different friend set me up with a “really nice guy” who she also billed as a “singing cowboy.”
He called me on the phone to arrange things (a vast improvement over Mr. Pukey Pants from the Fall) and everything looked to work out just fine. That was, until he called me back with a conflict. The Singing Cowboy performed with a singing group on campus. Unfortunately, the manager had accepted a last-minute gig at a local coffee shop/open ministry. However, he assured me that it was only a five-minute performance and that we would still make it to the formal.
So, the night of the big do, he comes to pick me up. My hair is up, I’m wearing heels and nylons, and this beautiful black dress with black lace. Very elegant. Very chic. My good friend and her date decided to accompany us to his gig so that I wouldn’t be alone. I should say that the Singing Cowboy showed up in jeans and tennis shoes for our date. He then explained that he would change after the gig. Ooookay.
So we go to this gig and wait. Then, my friend, her date, and I discover that the gig is for the Gay and Lesbian Foundation’s get-together. So there we are, standing in the back of the room wondering why everybody is staring at us. Granted, the rest of the attendees were in jeans and looked like typical college grunge and we were dressed like “the Young Republicans Go To The Plaza”, but whatever. We also apparently looked very hetero: college girls in makeup and heels and a guy with his arm around a girl. Dead giveaways!
But it turned out that we had to wait nearly 2 hours before the Singing Cowboy and his troupe had had their moment in the spotlight. It then took him another 20 minutes to change clothes and get back to where we were waiting. To cut to the chase, we only just barely made it back to the house in time to catch the bus to the venue. Dinner was long over when we arrived, so I had the distinct pleasure of knowing I’d paid for two meals I would never even see, let alone taste and enjoy.
We danced. Or, I should say that I danced and he did an imitation of Elaine’s dancing on Seinfeld. Scary. An hour and a half later I was ready to call it quits and we boarded a bus to depart. The bus was delayed a bit in leaving, so I was treated to a serenade. Yes. That’s right. This really annoying, grabby-handed, singing cowboy decided to serenade me on a bus in front of several of my sisters and their dates. He made an ass of himself, embarrassed the hell out of me, and I just wanted to disappear. The serenade was some song from a commercial (at the time), but it was so off-key that I’ve obliterated the details of the memory from my mind. Particularly since the rest of the yahoos on the bus were trying so hard to keep it in the forefront of all discussions on all possible topics.
Post-World War II Poland: Did you hear what Phoenix’s date did at formal? Benzene: Did you hear about Phoenix's Formal date?
I vowed to never see him again.
But two days later he called and apologized for everything and suggested we go see a movie. I agreed. (I should have listened to my first instincts.)
Singing cowboy didn’t have a car, so I drove to his place to pick him up. The movie was supposed to start in 20 minutes, but when I got to his door he didn’t even have socks or pants on. He was in his boxers! It took him 10 minutes to finish dressing. I couldn’t believe it. What takes so long? Well, it turns out that he couldn’t find his wallet.
He informed me of this when we arrived at the ticket counter. So, I drove and paid for a date that had been his idea. It really pissed me off. To add insult to injury, the only movie he would agree to see was “Naked Gun 33 1/3.” You know, the one with Anna Nicole’s big bouncing….
Mortified. Embarrassed. Humiliated. Wish I could disappear into the upholstery chagrin. Those were my worst dates ever.
It has been a while since I've ranted, so why not get a load off my chest now?
1. John Roberts, nominee to the Supreme Court: what a tempest in a teapot! Holy crap, you'd think the Democrats are only happy when they are sniping at someone. As much as they like easy targets and unprovoked attacks, you'd think they'd be more supportive of our armed forces! What really has me riled up is their insinuation/obvious stance that abortion rights are the only issue worth discussing. I swear! Get a new drum to beat, the skin on that one's wearing thin! They suspect that Mr. Roberts is a pro-lifer for a number of reasons. a) he's never claimed to be pro-choice, b) his wife's past would indicate that he is pro-life, c) he's a Republican, and d) in confirmation hearings to his current post to the DC Court of Appeals, he refused to say he thought the law was wrong, only saying he would have no problem applying the precedent, and e) (by far the most damning of all) as a lawyer, he argued for a client in front of the Supreme Court that the decision in Roe v. Wade was erroneous.
So much to say...seething...can't hold back.... Here's the thing. If we are going to damn politicians, or anyone for that matter, on the virtues or positions held by their spouses, we are going to have serious problems finding anyone to serve! Anybody who assumes that my husband's opinions are shared and endorsed by me is woefully misinformed. His opinions are not some sort of guide to mine, and I suspect that John Roberts's wife also has a mind of her own and that their opinions don't always coincide. There is such a thing as a pro-choice Republican, you know. If you were in the biggest job interview of your life, would you say the guys running the show are wrong? Probably not! And let's face it, if lawyers are all to be held accountable for the positions they've argued for clients, most politicians are going to hell. Most of them are lawyers, after all. Just because you can make an argument doesn't mean it represents your own personal feelings. I've heard all about the frog and the french fry, but I'll tell you this: Pro-choice or not, this guy at least strikes me as a strict constructionist, and that sounds like a good idea to me. We shouldn't be so loosy-goosy with the Constitution.
2. Inconsiderate Drivers: Some people out there on the roads are just assholes! You know, you can see on the interstate when people are going to be merging with traffic from an on ramp. It is considered polite and safe to remove your vehicle from the right lane so as to allow these entering cars to merge. Being an ass and not moving over, even when there is no other traffic in any other lane, is fantastically rude. Don't be surprised if I make a rude gesture. People like you shouldn't get first dibs on the available oxygen.
3. Media Outlets and Members of the Media who won't call a spade a spade: There's lots of them out there. You know the ones I'm talking about. The ones who feel that using the term "terrorist" is somehow too emotional and biased, and will hurt the feelings of the poo' wittle tewowists. Instead, they use terms like "alleged bomber" and "insurgent". BULLSHIT! You hear me? I'm calling BULLSHIT!
The media is supposed to report the news. The truth, the facts. They are supposed to do this without bias, but really, do we need to be sensitive to a mad bomber's feelings - particularly one who left his pregnant wife without support - in order to go on jihad and kill innocent civilians?
I say NO! NO, NO, NO! Damn his feelings, damn his hide, and damn him to hell. "Terrorist" is too soft a word, if you ask me. "Evil-doer" maybe, or "Demon-seed" maybe, but definitely "MURDERER"!
Let me ask you this, is the term "pedophile" too emotional and derogatory? Should we instead use a euphemism like "people who love children too much"? Is "Serial Killer" too emotional? Shall we instead call them "assassins in a rut"?
Instead of "wife-beater" shall we call one a "hands-on domestic discipline enforcer"?
It is bullshit! A terrorist attacks the innocent in splashy ways to terrorize those who survive. That's why they are called terrorists. For God's Sake, a little common sense is in order! This p.c. shit has gone way too far when we are worrying about the "feelings" of terrorists.
I've had a serious case of the blog blahs for a couple of days. I don't know what's up. I'm tired, I guess. I can't seem to get enough sleep this week. More than that, I've had morning sickness everday this week. Charming way to start everyday - if you enjoy the smell of stomach acid in the morning and the full-body pain of dry heaves, that is.
I've had a difficult time getting ahold of anyone. I can't reach my usual personal therapists, and not even my teenage sister wants to speak to me. My husband's non-paying jobs leave him so exhausted, he barely speaks to me when he does finally stumble out of bed. I'm just not getting enough attention!
Yeah, that's what I thought. I'm speaking into an endless chasm, mistaking the echo for somebody who gives a damn. That is so like me.
Anyway, I'll probably have something to say today.
I have posted before about how my neighborhood could have been the inspiration for Desperate Housewives. Instead of Wisteria Lane, though, it is Columbia Drive.
The oddities continue to mount.
At ABC.com, you can take a quiz to determine which Housewife you are most like. My friends and I have taken this quiz and we all come up as a different housewife.
My friend Lori is most like Susan, the Terri Hatcher character. She's a mom and a career woman, nice as can be. I don't think she has a mean bone in her body. (She's married though, so the whole plumber boyfriend thing doesn't quite fit.)
My friend Ann is most like Lynette, the Felicity Huffman character. She is a new mother and will be dealing with all that that life change brings. More to the point, though, she is a career woman who has turned into a stay-at-home mom, at least for now.
My friend Kristy is most like Gabrielle, as portrayed by Eva Longoria. A snappy dresser, they have much in common, except for, as Lori says, the lawn boy.
Me? Well, I must be Bree (played by Marcia Cross). It isn't even much of a stretch. I'm the Queen of the Dinner Party, the one who makes a fab creme brulee and loves to entertain. I run a very tight ship (as do most of us control freaks) and what else? Oh yeah. NRA membership and handgun ownership.
I'm not sure if these characters fit us so well because the stereotypes are well-supported, or if it really is one of those weird coincidences. I worry that our Edie is just around the corner. I suspect that we've already identified her though. We all seem to dislike the same annoying neighbor and I wonder if that isn't our Edie.
Our Martha Huber lives down the street, but lives on instead of being the victim of foul play.
So, my friend went into labor at her baby shower. But the weird thing to me was her mentioning the following:
"I should have known something was up! Daisy (her dog) wouldn't stop following me around this morning."
So, is it possible the dog knew something she didn't know? Dogs do have a superior sense of hearing and smell to humans, but can they sense when another animal is going to give birth? I don't know. I'm curious, though.
Anthropomorphism is not usually something I subscribe to, but this and other weird events make me wonder. For example, I've seen a dog jump into a lake and swim into the depths when he failed to see my step-father come back up for air (step-father was testing scuba equipment). I've read stories where animals have "saved" or "cared" for abandoned infants.
That's all I seem able to say, it seems. If you intend to read the book and haven't finished it yet, stop reading this post. I may say something you don't want to know yet. I don't want to spoil the surprise for you!
The book seemed to deviate a bit from the normal pattern. By that I mean, most of the previous books had a plot that had a number of minor climaxes (each progressively higher) that pulled back and eventually led to the major climax and denouement. Each book seemed to answer our questions, while still having us beg for more.
This book, though, was different. I didn't see the minor conflicts, only the build up of the bigger themes. This opinion may change upon re-reading, but this book even felt different. Harry is more mature and less angry. He still has the flaw of not thinking things might be dangerous, or to put it another way, he still fails to look a gift horse in the mouth.
As far as the literary crafting of the novel, this one was amazing. The plot fell together perfectly, as one would expect Jo Rowling's carefully crafted plot to do, but it seemed less contrived this time, and more..."holy shit!"
The identity of the Half-Blood Prince was not a surprise to me. In fact, I had a suspicion of his identity right after the name of the title was released. But, upon reading the novel my suspicion only grew to the point that there was no doubt left in my mind. The final unveiling of the Prince's identity was a ruse. The fact of the matter is that the revelation was somewhat lost in the climax which had two extremely shocking events that overpowered it. If one was going for dramatic effect, I can't help but feel that the revelation would have been better placed elsewhere, if only to give that mini-climax feel.
Malfoy's actions, I'm sorry to say, did not surprise me in the least. However, the death of a MAJOR character hit me like a Mac Truck going 90 mph hits a ground squirrel. I was stunned, shocked...nearly catatonic. I kept hoping that Rowling was going to pull the fake-out, but no such luck. The whole end had me bawling like a baby, particularly the funeral chapter.
There can be little doubt that this novel was meant to explain a great deal in preparation for the final showdown. I get that. I even understand why Rowling titled the book as she did, though until the very end it remained a mystery.
By that I mean, in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, it is clear early on why the title is what it is since the whole plot revolves around the Stone. Similarly, Chamber of Secrets is all about the Chamber and its mysteries. In Prisoner of Azkaban, we are introduced very early on to the Prisoner and are teased and tempted throughout the novel. The title of Goblet of Fire, too, is explained early in the tome, as is Order of the Phoenix.
However, this book's title seems like a red herring. I was convinced throughout the reading that Horcrux might have been a more likely title. That was, of course, until I read the climax. At that point, all became supremely clear.
The betrayal...damn, it just broke my heart. I still wonder if the final book won't reveal the "betrayal" to be a mistake, but I fear all evidence points to the contrary.
One major theme that I took away from the book was this: Everybody makes mistakes.
Dumbledore admitted to an old man's foolishness at the end of Book 5, but Harry discovers at the end of HBP, that this is not the worst possible mistake. No, the betrayal points out clearly the danger of trusting anyone implicitly, and that even the best of them can be taken in. Rowling expands on this theme by pointing out that Voldemort, too, has made a number of mistakes.
A second theme in the book seems to be Harry's realization that nobody can protect him but himself. He recognizes that both of his parent's died in his defense, as did Sirius Black, and now Dumbledore. Harry realizes that he is the captain of his out ship, and quite alone.
All in all, the book was good. Very good. But, it was so shocking that I'm not sure that my opinion isn't colored by the trauma. The book may very well be excellent, I'm not sure yet. I need to re-read it, this time slowly so that I can pick up everything I missed in my haste to know. My shock was so great that I felt at the end unsure of whether I wanted to read the last one or not. Silly maybe, but I've come to love these characters and I worry that Book 7 can only bring more pain.
If you have an ultrasound now, you may notice your baby sucking his/her thumb. The bones are getting harder each day. The baby's skin is very thin and transparent; you can see blood vessels through the skin. Lanugo, a very fine hair, covers the body and will continue growing on the baby until around the 26th gestational week of pregnancy.
This infernal heat wave we're having here in Wisconsin is sapping all of my so-called 2nd-trimester strength. But, I did have a very busy weekend, so maybe that is why I'm so tired. I've had baby on the brain more than usual over the weekend. That may be due to the fact that I went to two baby showers.
At the first one, the guest-of-honor's water broke in the parking lot prior to the beginning of the shower. It gave a whole new meaning to the term "baby shower". Needless to say, the party was cut short by the mother-to-be's trip to the hospital.
The second baby shower I attended was for a friend of mine who is about 3 or 4 weeks further along than I am. She's supposed to find out the sex of her baby today. That's got to be exciting. I keep telling myself that I can start shopping once we know the sex of the baby, but it is so hard to hold off that long! This second shower was a bit...frustrating.
The thing you need to know about me is, well..., I'm a scheduling freak. If you tell me something is going to start at 1 pm, I'll be there at 12:45, then plan my day according to how much time I'm devoting to said activity. So, I went to this shower that was scheduled to begin at 1 p.m., hoping to attend to the rest of my obligations by 3 or 3:30. WRONG! The hostesses didn't do anything baby-showerish until 2:30! So, I sat there bored and resentful sipping Lemonade wishing they had told me the party wouldn't start until 2:30. I could have finished cleaning the house or run my errands (or both) in that time.
Oh well. I was still out of there by 4 p.m., but that meant I wasn't home until 5:15 p.m. So, no time was left for Harry Potter. Crap!
Once upon a blog, Feisty Christina got the idea to expand the blog fiction serials into a recurring thing. She determined that more people would get to test their mettle at fiction, and thereby give fellow bloggers something new and different to do once in a great while.
The rules are simple. Five (or so) bloggers are given a story starter/premise to frame their tale around. Each participant then has 1,000 words in which to elucidate his or her tale.
This week, I am attempting to do just that. I am pretty proud of the result, but you can be the judge of my success. I would appreciate it if you would leave a comment if you enjoyed it, though. I put quite a lot of effort into this and went through several drafts to cut it to a mere 1,000 words - which it is exactly.
The other bloggers participating this week include:
It is dawn. The first thin fingers of the morning sun are reaching across the distant waves toward the shore. She has emerged from the darkness to stand alone in quiet testament to the ability to survive and endure all the night holds.
Instinctively she knows the worst has yet to come.
Last night, her husband, Juan Dominguez, a man she had thought long dead, found her in the Port of Barbados.
She and Nate, her toddler son, had fled from the abusive man two years prior. Ariadne had escaped into the night, bleeding, bruised, and broken of spirit, and set sail with her crew from St. Kitts on her birthright, The Jaded Jezebel.
Not many women inherited a ship and crew in 1667, but then, not many women in that time had fathers who plundered the high seas. Her father had taught her to shoot, sail, and give as good as she got, until she married the bastard. She had loved Juan in the beginning, seeking a new and different life, forgiving and excusing the abuse for far too long. But in time, this had changed.
Again Ariadne was bruised and bleeding, and again, Juan hadn’t touched her face. When beating and raping her had lost its appeal last night, he had thrown her overboard, believing her dead. Divine intervention had pushed her nearly unconscious body back to land while the seawater had washed the blood from her body and clothing.
In dawn’s early light she had walked several miles from the beach to the awakening Bridgetown, rage keeping her upright. She walked gingerly, aware of at least two injured ribs. Her only hope lie in entreating Captain Jacob Spry to her aid. Spry owed her, but as heroes go he was untrustworthy. She gave a silent prayer of thanks when she saw The Crone in port.
She found the attractively scruffy man inspecting supplies in the hold. “Jake,” she said by way of introduction.
He whipped his head around, startled by her tattered and bruised appearance. He smiled his characteristically lazy and lascivious smile. “Hello, Darlin’. To what do I owe this early morning visit?” He waggled his eyebrows suggestively and leered at the way her thin blouse had dried to her curves and her shredded skirt clung to her hips. Few things stood in the way of Jake’s libido.
“Jake, I don’t have time for your wretched pecker’s prose. Stop waggling those eyebrows – I’m no doxie.” She paused. “I need help.”
“That’s what I’m sayin’, Darlin’, I’ve got what you need right here,” he said patting his groin.
“Take me seriously or I’ll run you through with your own damn cutlass for expediency. When can you sail?”
He noted her agitated state. “Alright, alright. Why’s your corset in a knot? What the hell did you do last night; you look like you’ve been brawling.”
“Juan.” She tried holding back the tears. The pain was wrenching. “Juan isn’t dead. He…found us last night.” The mere thought started the tears. “He took Nate. He has my baby…”
Crying females had never been Jake Spry’s forte. And this indomitable woman’s crying was stomping all over the heart he swore he didn’t have. She winced when he reached out to hold her until the wracking sobs became quiet sniffles. “That’s better. Tell me what happened.”
Taking a deep breath, she explained about Juan’s trickery in getting aboard. She explained about having only a skeleton crew on hand, and about how Juan had brought her son to her, knife at his throat and fear dulling his usually bright eyes. He had directed her to send the men to retrieve a fictitious cargo. While the men were onshore, his crew of thugs boarded then slaughtered her crew upon their return. They had set sail in the dark, skidding quietly out of port.
Free to indulge his sickness, he locked their son in a cabin and strong-armed her into her own, locking the door behind them.
“And then?” he asked gruffly.
“Let’s just say he hasn’t changed much.”
“Obviously he beat the piss out of you.” He paused, “Did he…?”
She changed the subject. “How soon can we set sail?”
“I’m not sure that’s necessary. The Jezebel is in port. Or was, an hour ago.” He squinted through the porthole. “See. She’s just there.”
She looked to Jake with pure rage blazing. “Here’s what we do….”
Many hours later under a moonless sky, Ariadne, Jake, and a select group of men boarded The Jezebel by force. Not long after, Ariadne was standing, booted legs spread, with her knife to Juan’s throat.
“Where is my son?” She gritted out, barely controlling her anger. She pressed the knife deeper into his windpipe and a small trickle of blood appeared. “I’ll do it, Juan. Tell me. Where is Nate?”
How had the bitch survived? He felt the knife dig deeper and another trickle of blood slid down his sweaty neck. He’d never seen her so crazed. The fire in her eyes scared him for the first time in his life, and his bladder leaked.
She looked down and noted his personal embarrassment. “That’s another thing that hasn’t changed,” she laughed derisively. “You still don’t have any control over that thing. Now tell me.” She said with a coldly harsh voice as she slid her knife to his scrotum. It dug in and he lost complete control of his bladder. “You’re gonna owe me a new knife.” She turned the blade up, twisting viciously.
Jake stood quietly behind, letting her have this moment. She was not a woman to cross, not if you treasured your family jewels. “I’ll look.” The words didn’t startle Ariadne. They registered, but she never flinched, her desire for revenge so acute. Moments later, Jake returned, confirming that Nate was safe.
Ariadne brought her knife to Juan’s heart. Suspended in the moment, thoughts flew through her mind’s eye. After an eternity, she settled on the picture of her son’s impish grin. Tears started to fall. “I…I can’t do it.” She stepped back defeated, not dropping her weapon. “I can’t kill my son’s father.”
Jake fired two shots, one from each pistol he held. The acrid smell of gunpowder exploded and two roses bloomed: one on his forehead, one in his chest.
This post was inspired by a series of posts at Seven Inches of Sense whereupon a number of women share the stories of how they fell in love with soldiers. You should read them all, because they are really good.
But, I want to discuss how I ended up with Prince Charming.
Let's get strapped into the way-back machine, shall we?
In college, I was involved with a Texan. He was a team-roping, bull-riding cowboy who fought fires for the Navy. Ours was a long-distance relationship as he was usually on a ship somewhere or momentarily in some foreign port. I was busy at school, chasing an Agronomy degree. We mailed letters and sometimes found a few moments on the phone, but it was mostly long months between contact. All the better for my studies, I suppose.
I graduated in May 1996 from the University of Illinois with High Honors. From there, I started working 25 miles west of school in the little town of Farmer City. Two weeks after I started my new job, the cowboy called and asked me to marry him. He wanted me to come to Virginia Beach as soon as possible because he was shipping out again in a month.
Needless to say, that didn't happen. The engagement was broken and my seemingly broken little heart buried itself in a new career. Fast forward 18 months. I'm excelling at my job but am still pining. They hire some new guy at work and one of my many duties is to bring him up to speed on safety. I do so. The secretaries and I are planning an outing a few weeks later and on a whim, we invite him along. And he agrees.
We are all drinking and having a good time. This guy is friendly and fun. We are dancing and more drinking ensues. At some random point in the evening, I reach that point where I am begging for the cherries in people's drinks so that I can attempt to tie the stem in a knot with my tongue. Yeah. I used to be one of those girls.
I'm a bit too tipsy to manage the "tush push" (line dance of yore), so I stay at the table with him. Well, he must have been drunk too, because he leans toward me and lays one on me. I was shocked! Stunned! And drunk, my reaction time was slow. The first kiss was over before I knew it. I looked at him. He looked at me. And he kissed me again. That's when I began to sober up pretty fast.
The kisses were very nice, don't get me wrong. But I was suddenly so ashamed of myself. I felt like I was cheating (even though the cowboy was 18 months in the past) and that didn't sit well with me. Moreover, I was mortified that I had kissed somebody from work. It is hard enough being the only female member of management in a male-dominated field without going around kissing the staff!
Later that evening, he was still drunk and I was still tipsy and stunned. Our designated driver dropped me off at home first and he walked me to the door. I'll never forget what he said. "Either you meet me at my place in an hour, or I'll be here for breakfast."
Talk about brazen.
I can't really blame it on the liquor, but an hour later I was tapping on his door. I didn't return home until noon the next day. Oh shame!
Work was interesting the next week. I wasn't sure if we had a thing developing or had just had some fun. Unfortunately, the secretaries at work had been with us at the bar and knew something was up from the way he had lingered at my door. Before long, the whole sordid tale was all over the plant. Just great.
We go out a couple of times in the next few weeks. It wasn't really dating though. He never picked me up, we'd just meet places. I went over to his place once and he came to mine once. Anyway, after 3 months of working with us he announces that he is moving back to Wisconsin. His previous employer wants him back.
So I was upset. Maybe we had potential, maybe we didn't, but now he was leaving and I'd never know. It felt sort of raw. And so began the long-distance relationship of Phoenix and the man who would become her Prince Charming.
I'd like to tell you that it was easy, but it wasn't. He sent me all sorts of confusing messages. We had difficulties getting together because we both worked crazy hours with lots of responsibility. And, when I did get up there to visit him, we'd never leave his room. Until one trip where he took me shopping for cars and informed me that he was going to build a house with his sister and her husband. That sorta made me feel like I was irrelevant.
So when I was offered a promotion a few months later, I took it and moved to Southern Illinois. Can you blame me?
Our relationship became more distant from that point on. He changed jobs and began working nights, making phone conversations almost impossible. A year passed without any visits and only a couple of short phone messages. I was ready to bail. I went on vacation with my parents to San Antonio and had a fabulous time. But on my way home from the airport, I started thinking about him.
When I got home, I wrote him a letter that basically put the ball in his court. I told him how unsatisfactory the relationship was at the time, never spending any time together and rarely speaking to each other. I told him I needed to hear from him more often or it wasn't worth it. A couple of months passed with no response from him. Finally I got the impression that he had moved on.
A couple of months later I got a phone call from him out of the blue. From that point on, we started speaking at least 4 times per week, and usually daily. We made plans to see each other and things seemed vastly improved. It was almost as though he was somebody else. I felt like asking "who are you, and what did you do with my boyfriend?" but I was afraid I wouldn't like the answer. Don't look a gift horse in the mouth.
In September, he called me up and said he was "in trouble." Now all the girls out there will know exactly what I imagined at these words. Somebody is pregnant. Suddenly I wasn't feeling so good. I feared the answers to questions I couldn't bring myself to ask. I asked him if he was in jail, if he needed money. No and no. He changed the subject and the conversation went on. But as he started to end the conversation I couldn't take the suspense anymore. "Aren't you going to tell me what the trouble is?" Nope.
A couple of days later, we are talking again and he asks if I'm going home (Chicago Suburbs) for my little sister's birthday. I hadn't planned on it. He suggests that we meet that weekend and go together. So we do. I meet him in our usual hotel with a splitting headache from the combined stress of driving 5 hours and fretting over what news is so awful that he must tell me in person. He's asleep when I arrive, but I wake him and before my bag is out of the car he asks me to move in with him. Okay, I say. "Well, if we're going to live together, we might as well get married too." he says. Okay, I say.
The entire time, I am preoccupied with what the bad news could be. I didn't cry or scream or do any of that girly stuff when he proposed. I kept thinking how bad it must be if this is how he softens me up. I'm sure my cautious, waiting reaction freaked him out. But I was waiting for the bad news. When I couldn't stand it anymore, I just asked "So tell me what the bad news is. What kind of trouble are you in?"
Turns out it was nothing. Some stupid thing men say when, as he puts it, they "get stupid and decide to propose." So finally I was able to relax. We moved in together 4 months later and got married the following month.
And he's been as good as I could ask for ever since. Even so, I still tease him about the proposal.
First, I must go on record and admit that my single days are behind me and that my advice, though I believe it to be sound, is not based on any recent research (technically I’ve been off the market for 8 years).
As I see it, I must address this from two distinctly different perspectives: that of the one seeking long-term relationship, and that of the one seeking somebody for a “little bit later tonight.”
The individual seeking a short-term hookup, to me, is misguided. Nevertheless, I will attempt to offer some advice. First, make no promises about your intentions. Do not say “I’ll call you” if you have no intention of doing so. Second, do not lie about your goals for the evening. There will be members of the opposite sex who will take you up on your proposition. There will also be those who find your proposition of a casual encounter to be loathsome. Always understand that it is a choice for the other person as much as it is for you and treat the other person with respect. If your charmingly phrased suggestion is rejected out of hand, don’t take it personally. This person is (probably) a stranger to you and you don’t know why he or she may be rejecting you. Maybe it isn’t your breath. Maybe, instead, that person is just exiting a very serious relationship and is not emotionally prepared to handle any new entanglements, however brief. You can’t know, so don’t take it to heart. Be courteous. Then leave that person in peace and move on.
For the individual seeking a relationship, two main rules exist that will keep you if not attached, then at least happy.
a.) Know, understand, and accept that you will not find love if you go looking for it, love will find you when you least expect it.
b.) Always, always, always be yourself. If they don’t like it, it isn’t meant to be.
You can’t avoid rejection. Rejection is a part of not just relationships, but of life itself. Imagine that you are on life’s road with many other travelers. Just as you get to pick and choose which paths you follow, so do the other travelers. If someone chooses not to travel with you, however briefly, it isn’t an apocalyptic catastrophe. It is only life. Do not wrap yourself up in fantasy and then seek to make those fantasies realities. Life can not possibly live up to fantasy. It is unrealistic to expect it to do so. Do not delude yourself that this one person is the answer to your future happiness. The only person that can truly make you happy is you.
Remember that rejection is a two-way street. You must be careful in your discourse with members of the opposite sex, because it is very easy to offend. However, and I can’t stress this enough, you are not responsible for other people’s feelings. They are responsible for theirs like you are yours. It is too easy to offend, but if you seek to always avoid offending someone, you may find yourself in all sorts of situations that you would otherwise have chosen to avoid. Better to offend someone by rejecting them out-of-hand, than to hurt them emotionally by leading them on. And, if you consider it, you too would rather be offended briefly and get over it, than strung along, entangled emotionally, and then cut from the line suddenly.
Hold your head up high when dealing with rejection. You are a beautiful person and this is a learning experience. There is no shame in rejection. Here are a few examples of situations where I rejected someone and why there is no shame for them in it.
1. J**** Albertini - in school, he sent his envoy to see if I’d be interested in a romantic relationship. I had to turn him down. He was hot and I was available, but he was also the lust/love object of my best friend. We may have enjoyed each other’s company, but I would have hurt my best friend. I couldn’t do that to her. So, I rejected him to spare her feelings. Seeing as how it wasn’t so hard to do, it must have been the right decision.
2. The black guy at the gas station – after college, as a single young woman and survivor of attempted rape living alone, I was very cautious about getting involved with men. One day, quite out of the blue while I was pumping gas in sweatpants, some random stranger came up to me and asked me out. Safety dictated that I reject him. Random meetings at gas stations are how single women disappear. (Haven't you ever watched Cold Case Files?) He may have been a great guy, but I’ll never know. Safety demanded I decline.
This, my loyal readers, is exactly why you can’t take a rejection personally. The possible reasons for it can not be fathomed. It is not the end of your world. You shall survive this too.
I do hereby submit my own name for consideration for the Federal Supreme Court vacancy left by retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.
I realize that it is unusual to nominate yourself, but I would be an unusual justice. Consider:
I would promise to keep my political opinions to myself and never appear on any Sunday morning political talkshows.
I would promise to serve faithfully and always wear panties under my robe.
I would never move to legislate from the bench, but always keep in mind that my duty is the preservation and strict interpretation of the Constitution and the ideals of the Founding Fathers.
It is true that I've never served as a judge, but I view this as a positive. I have a fresh perspective and would be unencumbered by the liberal teachings of law professors in my past.
I really KNOW the Constitution and revere it as a most honorable document and the very instrument of our Republic.
I would be happy to take my turn cleaning the Supreme Bathroom as a way to save taxpayer money. I'll even bring in 2 cases of toilet paper at the beginning of every season to assist taxpayer savings.
I would be friendly and helpful to the other justices as I learned the ropes, but never compromise my character, my beliefs, or my opinions.
I hereby promise not to get involved in some splashy sex scandal, drug scandal, or anything involving fuzzy bunnies or goats.
As I have never held elected office, I have no debts to repay and therefore can't be held hostage by special interests.
I am a woman. A young woman. A young, married, pregnant woman. Not even the Democrats can take issue with that.
I am passionate about my beliefs, but weigh all evidence before coming to a decision. I politely listen to all viewpoints with an open mind.
I have a college education and I read lots of other things. Therefore, I have a broad knowledge of stuff and am familiar with many issues.
As a young person, I am intimately aware of new technology, what it is for, the perils and dangers and boons, and could assist other justices in moving into the now. I could even help the justices set up a blog and use email! Imagine: 9 Blogs with the inside view of the life of the Supremes on display. "They over-starched my robe today and Ruth forgot to flush. I hate that." Good stuff.
I am clever (most of the time) and will not fall asleep during court.
I promise not to make unclear decisions that are difficult to interpret. My decisions will be clear, well-written, and based on the Constitution and common sense.
I promise to hold inviolate the rights of the citizen, as outlined in the Bill of Rights, and always remember that those powers and rights not enumerated in the Bill of Rights were intended by the framers to be reserved for the People and the States.
I promise to retire if I start slobbering at the bench.
I promise not to criticize the other justices or call them "ignorant out-of-touch bastards."
I will go ahead and become a member of the DAR so that my credentials are on display for all of those who find such things important.
I will donate much of my off-court time speaking with people, particularly school children, about the government as it relates to them and their rights so as to interest future generations in the Democratic process.
I will teach the other justices how to do the Electric Slide and begin have Supreme Mixers to help the older members of the court keep their hips in shape.
I will establish a Supreme Court Daycare Center so that my children can be at work with me, and the other justices can see their grandchildren.
I will teach the other justices today's slang so that they know when they are about to be mugged or ridiculed.
There it is. 23 reasons why I'm at least as legitimate a candidate as most, and better than quite a few.
Yesterday a friend informed me that there is a Wisconsin town that is prohibiting the playing of tag on school grounds. I've googled it and can't find a news source, but I still don't doubt it. This is Wisconsin, after all.
It just confounds me to no end. I'm sure that it has something to do with insuring the schools or something, but really...it is just ridiculous. Actually, from what I've heard, it wasn't just "tag." The story goes that all running games have been prohibited.
Lovely. The entire nation bemoans a sedentary and overweight population of video-gaming, tv watching kiddies, and then some school bans the sort of activity that might fight the other ills. Irony calling, line one.
Every new attack, every new victim, create more anger in me. Anger, frustration, and fear that make me want to scream and shout with rage at the whole world.
This is an emotional thing, separate from rational thought. I'm aware of that. But in the meantime, the feelings are real and can not be denied.
I take security very seriously. At home, I have my handgun that protects me from the boogie man in the night. When I am out and about in the world on a daily basis, all I have are my gut instinct and my powers of observation. Needless to say, these two aren't all that comforting. A dead man can't testify, after all.
I can't get past the fact that all of the people (it seems) who want to destroy us fall into this very specific group. They are Muslim. Okay. How do I get past that fact and not feel goosy around members of this group? I realize that not all Muslims seek my death and destruction. But I also know that the ones that do don't wear a sign that says "Islamic Extremist Seeking Your Death" either.
I tell myself that these feelings are reasonable. After all, if you are bitten by a Rottweiler and chased up a tree, you fear other Rottweilers, not Cocker Spaniels. Right?
I fear the wider group of Muslims. I do. I'm not proud of it, I know it is not fair. I know that the vast majority of the group are peaceful people seeking to live their lives. I know this, but it doesn't change the fear.
If I am seated on an airplane, bound for Baltimore, when two 20-something Muslim men walk down the aisle speaking Arabic and carrying Korans, I am very alert. Very. Alert. I watch. I wait. I measure. Our politically correct indoctrination makes me feel guilty for all of 3 minutes before I realize that there is nothing I can do about it.
The very nature of terrorism is that it relies on attacks on the innocent for power. If you don't kill grandmas, grandpas, and little school children, your message doesn't have the same horrifying impact. I don't have to be rude or uncivil to become a victim. They have already decided if I shall die. So, there is nothing I can do to prevent it, save being watchful and ready to give my own life in the preservation of it.
These extremists are ready to lay down their lives in the taking of mine. I can't combat that with anything known to man. A man of conviction is a dangerous thing. Negotiation isn't going to work. I've read that it is a sin for one Muslim to kill another believer, but I'm not sure even that would stop them. It certainly doesn't stop them in Iraq.
In light of these facts and feelings, I've been known to sit on an airplane and brainstorm for possible weapons. I've been known to consider if the weight of my purse, or the spike of my heel could make any difference in a struggle for life and death.
But it comes from somewhere.
We weren't attacked by the denizens of the Land of Fluffy Bunnies, you know.
British authorities have arrested some number of young Pakistani men (or of Pakistani descent) in connection with the London bombings of last week. It seems that the identification of one of the suspected bombers, whose dead body was among the rubble of the bus explosion, and a tip from a survivor of the blast about the suspicious behavior of the young man, led to the search of several homes in Leeds and a car parked in a lot at a railway station.
The story is still developing, but I hope, for the sake of all of us, that the perpetrators have been apprehended and will find swift justice.
I am just crowing and glowing over a compliment that I received this weekend.
So, I'm going to brag a bit. I hope you don't mind.
A friend of mine has a teenage daughter who has expressed an interest in being like me. She probably doesn't want my thighs or the naturally curly hair. No. She admires my quick wit and my way with words. That is so flattering I can't even come up with the words to express it. How humbling it is to realize that someone thinks so much of you as to desire those same qualities in themselves.
I'm serious. The sentiment is nice, but who knew I was a role model? It is crazy. I've done some mentoring in the past of course, but I've never felt so good without doing a single thing. There is no doubt in my mind that this young lady will go far. I don't say this as some way to stroke my own ego as I've had little to do with the shaping of her. Indeed, her excellent parents are much more deserving of the credit, and so I lay it at their feet.
I know that she will be successful because she values the right sorts of things. She appears to be more than able to make the right decisions about the tough issues. Imagine, a young person today valuing wordsmithing and cleverness above physical appearance and fleeting high school romances! My own little sister, purportedly cut from the same cloth as I, is not so mature! She is too wrapped up in piercings, weight, and her boyfriend. Which is all good, that's part of being young too. But anyone so driven at such a young age can only be on the right path.
I think it is marvelous. And not just because I've been paid the greatest compliment ever.
As a preface, I would just like to say that I'm not Emily Post or Miss Manners. I am aware that times have changes from the days of "at home visits" and "visiting cards."
But I don't think that all of etiquette's rules and general courtesy need to also go the way of the dodo. I have ranted in the past about certain people's misunderstanding of what R.S.V.P. is all about. It seems I must also offer the following guidelines to some adults who are clearly unclear on the concepts of etiquette and common courtesy.
This weekend I attended a party at the home of a friend. Upon arriving, I greeted the host and hostess, as is proper. I was invited to attend and they are friends. Naturally, as a guest in their home I was cognizant of the fact that my behavior reflects not only upon myself, but also on the host and hostess. Their invitation of me is really an introduction to others and implies their good opinion of me. Most people don't knowingly invite cretinous mouth-breathers into their homes, do they? (Okay, frat boys might, but adults with nice homes do not.)
The hostess of this event informed me that she never met a great many people at her party. This fact begs me to point out two errors of etiquette. First, if you are attending an event at the private home of someone unknown to you, you are duty-bound by courtesy to introduce yourself to the host and/or hostess. (In fact, as I've indicated above, you should still greet the host and hostess even if you were an invited guest.) Secondly, if there were people at this event that they did not invite, that means that some guests brought other guests. This re-invite is not necessarily gauche, however, it does necessitate the obligatory chat with the host "do you mind if I bring along so-and-so." Unless the circumstances are unusual, the host will not begrudge another head at the table, but, and do not misunderstand this, the choice is always that of the host or hostess. If he or she deems the additional guest undesirable, burdensome, or hesitates in any way, you must not bring this other person.
Next, if you are going to attend some function, you must make yourself part of the activities. As I've said before, your behavior reflects on your host and hostess. If you segregate yourself from the party, choosing only to associate with the party crashers you brought, you are not respecting your host and hostess. If the company you keep is so alluring, consider removing yourselves to your own private space instead of acting as though mingling with the others is beneath you.
Respect. I can't believe that I actually have to write this down, but it seems that I do. If you are invited to someone's home for an event, respect their property with more care than you might give your own. Ask for a coaster if you don't see one around. Ask where the trash can is if you don't see it, and for god's sake, throw away your trash. Do not leave their home littered with empty bottles and glasses sweating rings into the woodwork. Do not leave your plate unattended in some random corner of the house.
Do not, under any circumstances, make yourself too comfortable in their home. For example, don't go roaming around in the obviously private and clearly off-limits parts of the house. What are you, a Barbarian? This is despicable behavior! If you need to be private for a while, to breastfeed a babe in arms, repair a button, or return an important call, ask the hostess if there is somewhere private that you can spend 5 to 15 minutes. (Note: if you need more than 15 minutes, you should go home and deal with your situation there rather than burdening your hostess.)
For absolute certainty, under no circumstances should you segregate yourself from the party with your party-crashing friends and leave the area of the home that you claimed looking like a frat house after a night's debauch. If you are in an area of the home without the host and hostess, make sure that you pick up the trash and deal with it. You are an adult, and you are not at your mother's house. Pick up after yourself. (This assumes that you are not at a black-tie affair with waitstaff. The people who need this advice would not be invited to such an event, and therefore the rules of etiquette involved with such shall not be addressed here.)
Another issue: Uncomfortable social situations. You have a duty to your hostess to be polite to the other guests. Let us suppose that someone that you find to be objectionable is at the same party as you find yourself. You must not forget that that person, however vile you may find them, has the approval of the hostess as do you. You are equal in this neutral location. If you respect your hostess, you must at all times be polite. If you find that civility is impossible, you are duty-bound to remove yourself from the event so as to preserve the harmony of the hostess's event. You should not bait your adversary, but "be above the fray." Let the person imagine that they matter not at all to you, that they are not on your radar. Be polite, but not fake. Do not pretend that "everything is all right." This is insincere and flatters you not at all. Remember that your hostess's comfort is all-important and that she would not wish for your discomfort. Do not let her think that you were in any way discomfited. This is your duty. Be polite, but don't delude yourself that you must needs form some close relationship with the person(s) in question. Be polite, but distant.
And now, the question of children at social functions. Certainly children are a fact of life. They can be a welcome addition to any party. However, this too is a matter for the hostess to decide. If the hostess indicates that children are not appropriate to an event, this is the final word on the matter. You must either arrange childcare or decline the invitation. Do not drag your children to the event and burden your hostess with the necessity of their entertainment and feeding when it wasn't planned.
If children are deemed appropriate, go ahead and bring yours, but remember that you have additional responsibilities. First and foremost, your hostess is not your babysitter. You have a duty to watch your children in her home, just as you watch them in your own (we hope). If they are playing in an area away from you, you should check on them regularly to make sure they haven't breached private spaces of the home or damaged goods or property. You should teach your children manners, including "please" and "thank you" and teach them that they are not animals. If your child eats in another person's home, the least you can do is make certain that they do so in a way that doesn't drop crumbs on furniture, grind grease into carpets, or spill soda. Now, that is not to say that accidents won't happen where children are concerned (and the odd adult for that matter) no matter what you do. Accidents happen. However, as a guest you must attempt to avoid these scenarios and act suitably mortified if an accident does happen. It is the right thing to do.
There are two more things that must be considered about children at social engagements. First, if they are deemed acceptable, then you must realize that they aren't acceptable for the entire duration, necessarily. Now, if the engagement is an event that will conclude before normal bedtimes, you can safely ignore what I'm about to say. However, if the party goes on late into the night, you must realize that there is a limit to a child's welcome. Suppose for a moment that your child's normal bedtime is 8 p.m. If the party is slated to end at 9 pm, you can safely bring your child and take him with you when you leave.
However, if the party is open-ended or not expected to end until the wee-morning hours, you should respect the hostess and other guests and remove your no-doubt cranky child to his own bed. If this means getting a sitter from 9 pm until whenever you arrive home, so be it. Under absolutely NO circumstances should your child still be awake and at the party at 1 a.m. in the morning, unless your "child" is 18 years old.
What's the big deal, you ask? It is simple. As a party moves into the late hours, the greater quantity of liquid refreshment that the adults have imbibed. As we are all aware, liquor makes for loose lips and children will be exposed to coarse language and ribald discussions of a graphic nature, or they could be. Your hostess will not want to be responsible for your children being exposed to this. Have the decency to take your children home, even if it means you miss the end of the party. (Taking your kids home, putting them in their pajamas, and bringing them back is outre if it is not a slumber party.)
The second issue involving children is an expansion of the idea that your children are your responsibility. A hostess may provide babysitting services for her guests, but this is highly unusual. However, this weekend I encountered what can only be called the hijacking of a baby-sitter. One smart-thinking couple knew that the party would go all night, so they arranged for their baby sitter to come near the end of the evening to put the children to bed and watch them while the party continued. But I found myself horror-stricken for the hostess, the baby-sitter's employer, and the baby sitter.
It was "decided" that the sitter could watch all of the children and keep them outside. (Good luck with that suicide mission.) These children were so plentiful and of such varying ages that keeping all of them anywhere without an organized activity was going to be impossible. Did any of the other parent's offer to pick up part of the baby-sitter's tab? Not a chance, though this is the only polite thing to do.
Did anybody think to consider the untenable position that this put the baby-sitter in? Two small children is a significant responsibililty. 10 is a nightmare. She wasn't expecting this much work, I'm sure, and no doubt found her job suddenly more than she bargained for.
And the poor hostess had to look on while her house was being abused and her friend was being taken advantage of. What could she do? She couldn't tell these people that it is their duty to watch their own children, could she? She couldn't suggest that people offer to share with the expense of the baby-sitter, as that would be rude.
I tell you, sometimes it feels like there is very little civility left in the world. The fact that I needed to point out these etiquette blunders drives me batty. I realize that I may hold myself to a higher standard, and I have been informed that there are things that bother me that don't bother "normal" people. Indeed? Fine. But I know that I am not alone out here, cracking Emily Post's whip at the heathens of Wisconsin. There are limits to what is socially acceptable and you should never burden your host and hostess. At least, not if you want to be invited back. Sound off in the comments if you want to add to these rules of etiquette or ask an etiquette question.
Week 14 is here and I'm feeling pregnant. I'm still fitting into my clothes, but I am aware of a tightness in my lower belly and I feel twinges at odd times. The second trimester is supposed to very exciting developmentally. This month, for example, the baby will grow to a lenght of 6 inches! Hands & arms, legs & feet are all developed and hair is growing. In fact, baby may even begin reacting to sound this month! Here's what the experts have to say this week...
Our baby is a whopping 3 1/2 inches long and is 1 to 2 ounces. S/he begins to practice inhaling and exhaling movements. The eyes and ears continue to move and develop, the neck is still getting longer, and the baby's chin no longer rests on his/her chest. The hands are becoming functional, and the baby is beginning to learn to move/use them (probably more reflex than anything). At this point, our little one is receiving all of his/her nourishment from the placenta.
I was sick this morning, but it was the first time in several days. All in all, things are developing well. We still lack a name for a boy, but have plenty of time for that.
The latest in the "Take Two" short stories have been posted. For those of you unaware of what this is all about, it is pretty simple. Christina lines up bloggers to write 1000-word stories based on a short opening/introduction/scene setting. Each of the five bloggers then tell the tale as they imagine it. It is amazing to see how five people can come up with five such different and gripping stories. You should check them all out! This week we have stories by...
I will try to update the links, but it may be Monday before I get around to it. I have a trip to make to the Chicago suburbs (helping Mom paint), then a mad evening of Karaoke, followed by a lot of sleep. So, as usual, posting will be non-existent this weekend. Christina will have updated links though.
Oh, and consider yourselves warned. I'm participating in next week's edition of Take Two. I've had my story written for nearly two weeks now. I'm really proud of it, but fear it sucks and nobody will like it. Ah, the fragile ego of a budding author....
The headline on this story by MSNBC, Man faints, dies after seeing wife's epidural, had me laughing before I read the article. I mean, it totally plays to that stereotype, right?
But then I read the article, and it was suddenly not so funny.
LOS ANGELES - A California woman is suing a hospital for wrongful death because her husband fainted and suffered a fatal injury after helping delivery room staff give her a pain-killing injection.
Jeanette Passalaqua, 32, filed the suit against Kaiser Foundation Hospitals and Southern California Permanente Medical Group Inc. in San Bernardino County state court last week.
In June 2004, Passalaqua’s husband, Steven Passalaqua, was asked by Kaiser staff to hold and steady his wife while an employee inserted an epidural needle into her back, court papers said.
The sight of the needle caused Steven Passalaqua, 33, to faint and he fell backward, striking his head on an aluminum cap molding at the base of the wall.
Jeanette Passalaqua delivered the couple’s second child, a boy, later that day. Steven Passalaqua, however, suffered a brain hemorrhage as a result of his fall and died two days later, the lawsuit said.
When it comes to my epidural, I'll be seeking qualified medical professionals. Wow.
Sisters, Sisters, There were never such devoted sisters
My sister is without a doubt, my very best friend. She understands me like no one else in the world. I know we are both on occassion very real pains in the ass to each other, but we love each other anyway.
My sister is my cheerleader, my confidant, my psycho-analyst. She knows what I'm not saying without being told.
Anyway, this paragon has generously offered to throw baby and I a shower. I am delighted! However, since the life of a secret agent/super-spy is often unpredictable, not to mention the pesky detail of her "living" overseas, she has drafted two of my good friends to be her state-side liaisons. Isn't that smart?
The funny thing is, neither of these friends of mine have ever met my sister. They've chatted with her by email, but never met her. So I find it humorous in the extreme that they both have independently have told me that "she is just like you" and "she wrote me the funniest email I've ever read".
What can I say? The apples from a tree all taste alike, I guess.
Anyway, how cool is it that I'm having a baby shower? Neato burrito and cool beans, man. It is going to be tea party themed. 'Cause we're classy chicks.
Friends are so very important to a person's mental health. For example, the other day I went to two good friends and shared the details of my crisis. Both managed to help me feel better and assure me that everything was going to be okay. Sometimes a friend just has to listen as you talk and figure things out for yourself. That's what being a friend is all about.
And then there are the sorts of friends who go way above and beyond the call of duty. For example, a pregnant friend of mine had a mishap yesterday. When a mutual friend called mid-day just to check in, my pregnant friend shared the story of the mishap.
This very good friend became concerned about our young mother-to-be. She questioned the way Mommy was "sounding funny." Unfortunately, she was geographically unable to do a more thorough check herself. But, a good friend doesn't just let it go. Oh no. She called in a pair of two more excellent friends of ours who work in the little burg where we all live to see if someone could go and check on our pregnant friend. Excellent friend #2 went over and determined that Mommy was having contractions. So she called her husband (Excellent friend #3) and he drove Mommy to the hospital since her own husband was unavailable.
Wow. Just really wow. That's what I call friendship. I have to recognize these three because even though they didn't do it for acclaim, but for friendship, they deserve recognition. We don't recognize good deeds often enough in this world. I'd like to see that change.
So, for Acts of Kindness and Friendship Above and Beyond the Call of Duty, I do hereby proclaim my very good friends (who know who they are but probably don't want their names on the internet) the first ever recipients of the Villains Vanquished Excellent Friend Award.
Applause, please, for these superior examples of what real friends are all about.
They are still triage-ing the victims of the London terrorist attacks, but already I'm thinking. And, yes, maybe this discussion is totally inappropriate at this juncture, but I need to pose the questions anyway.
Tony Blair, staunch military ally that he is, gets a lot of crap from his electorate for the global war on terror and specifically the war in Iraq. If ever a man has stood firmly behind his beliefs, it is Tony Blair...at least in this respect. And you have to admit, that for a politician, this sort of conviction is courageous. I mean, it is most certainly the road-less-traveled for politicians.
Now, I have no doubt that had these coordinated attacks taken place in an American city, there would be a great hue and cry, calls for retribution, etc. When Americans are attacked, we tend to circle the wagons, come up with a plan, then go out and kick ass and sort the bodies later. It is part of our national identity. "Don't Tread On Me" is the national ingrained motto. We are not (usually) appeasers and apologists when our own blood is spilled. Which is not to say that we don't have our own subset group that would fall into this category, just that it takes a while for the pain to subside enough for this group's rhetoric to be loud enough to be heard.
My question is what this attack on the homeland will do to the British mindset. From what I understand, by and large, they side with the terrorists. So will victimization at the hands of terrorists send them the way of most Americans, or will they take a page out of Spain's book in the wake of the Madrid bombing?
I don't really know. I realize all of this conjecture is a bit in poor taste, but I'm curious. It could be very important.
Yesterday I had an emotional crisis. It had been building for weeks, but the damn finally broke and I started listening to my heart. I cried. I didn't sleep last night. But I came to a decision that will impact my little family's happiness for the years to come.
I'm not particularly proud of the way it all came about, nor am I unaware that a large part of the situation is my own fault. I can only say that from here, things will be better.
Rest assured that the baby and I are well and that my husband does not want to kill me.
The people of Great Britain are reeling today from the terrorist attacks on London. My soul cries out in pain for the victims and their families. There can be no consoling them, their lives are changed forever.
All freedom and peace-loving people mourn today. Terrorism is a blight on this planet that must be stopped at all costs. If we bow to this latest transgression, as Spain did, it will only hand a victory to the criminals. We must fight on.
Look, I know it is a lame title, but gimme a break, 'kay? I'm up to my eyebrows in crappola here, with a list longer than my arm of things to do. Now adding "pluck eyebrow strays" to bottom of said list.
Guess what? I'm freakin' irritable today. Somebody, anybody, CALGON: Take me away!
Here's the deal kiddies. I'm trying to sell my house, looking to buy another, stressing about all things baby, designing a kitchen, and attempting to preserve my marriage. The last is at issue because Prince Charming has the week off of work. Egad! He's driving me insane!
The man is a workaholic! When I get home from work, usually, I relax for a few minutes before I start in on my chores. (Sometimes I never get to the chores. I can admit it - I'm a reasonable person.) But yesterday when I got home, he was all about dusting and cleaning the kitchen and cleaning the return air registers. The man can't manage to get all the toothpaste down the drain in his sink, but clean the return air registers? No problem.
My weekend taught me one thing about myself. I'm a prima donna. It's true! My standards are too high. There are people suffering abjectly all over the world, and I'm all hung up on my own comfort, the comfort of my husband, and that of my unborn child. I'm like J Lo insisting on Butt Cream X or Britney making people sort out only the green m&m's for my personal consumption.
I, just like the other prima donnas, shall not apologize. I am aware of the problem and that seems to me to be a good first step.
Let's see...what else?
Since I'm not going to be feeding your brain today with anything good, check out these links:
For my part, I have to admit that I certainly could have become a bridezilla. It is in my nature as a control-freak, anal-retentive, detail-obsessor. However, I don't think I went 'zilla. I didn't have time. I had to move, find a new job, and plan my wedding all from out-of-town. I had to negotiate a peaceful compromise between my parents and please The Charmings. Oh, yeah, and I couldn't spend more than $1500 if I wanted Dad's cash gift for eloping.
That's right, Dad bribed me to elope with cash for a down payment on a house. However, The Charming's were not going to let us elope - swearing they'd follow us to Tahoe or Vegas or Jamaica - so the romantic elopement was out. My father, who really is the best in the world, agreed that if I spent less than $1500 of my own money, had less than 50 guests, and didn't let anybody else give me away, he'd consider it an elopement - or close enough for him.
Quite rightly he was offended at the very notion of shelling out an arm and a leg for something as fleeting as a wedding. I'm so glad that he did. Our wedding wasn't any fabulous extravaganza or anything you are likely to see in a magazine. But, we were married on Valentine's Day and broke ground on the new home we built a mere 5 weeks later. We moved into our first real brand-new home in July, having only been married 5 months. How many non-Paris Hilton types can say that?
I didn't spend much money. We did the cooking ourselves. My dress and the liquor for the event were gifted to us. It is hard to go diva when you are knee-deep in potato peelings. My maid of honor picked her own dress. All in all, there was no bridezilla stomping, storming, or destruction. For heaven's sake, I handmade turtles for favors!
It doesn't have to be that way either. I know that all brides want their day to be beautiful and magical. But too many seem to lose the real magic in a wedding: we you look into each other's eyes and pledge your life and love to each other. That's the magic. Everything else fades. Anybody who tells you differently is selling something (probably a wedding vendor of some sort).