family

I should know better by now

Sometimes we expect more from others because we would be willing to do that much for themAs the awesome singer/songwriter Emma Wallace once said, “Pumpkins don’t turn into a coach anyhow. But I still grow ‘em in my garden patch, though I should know better by now.”

The same thing can be true of family. I should stop expecting anything, but sometimes, it’s hard to realize that people that are supposed to care just don’t.

My son just turned 16 this past Sunday. He had a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese because he loves it. Pictures of the events, showing him enjoying himself, went live on FB.

My sister saw the images. She even commented on one, noting how much fun he looked to be having. But she didn’t say happy birthday. 

No one in my family did.

I admit, my family is pretty small: I only have a sister and a father, and I’m not exactly close with my father for various reasons, but just because I’m not close to him doesn’t mean that he can’t at least try to reach out to his grandson. His first grandson. His older grandson. He didn’t. My sister didn’t.

I don’t even ask for presents for him, although that would certainly be nice. But a simple “happy birthday” on FB, in a text message, or even during a phone call would make a difference.

Sending a card, I think, isn’t too big a deal either – a stamp costs less than $.50, and if you go to the Dollar Tree, you can buy a cute birthday card for $.50, too. A dollar. Spend a dollar. I don’t think that’s asking for a lot, really I don’t.

The problem with all these things, though, is that they all expect the person on the other end of the situation to set a date in their phone or write a date on a paper calendar. That’s the effort I think is lacking. The simple act of remembering.

So, it’s another year of nothing.

Nothing.

I should know better by now.  

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When is fettuccine alfredo not fettucine alfredo?

What vegans think food looks likeWhen it’s a raw vegan fettuccine alfredo.

So here’s the thing – raw vegan food is…not real food.

According to the well-known, well-researched, amazingly trustworthy source, Wikipedia, “raw veganism is a diet that combines the concepts of veganism and raw foodism. It excludes all food and products of animal origin, as well as food cooked at a temperature above 48 °C (118 °F). A raw vegan diet includes raw vegetables and fruits, nuts and nut pastes, grain and legume sprouts, seeds, plant oils, sea vegetables, herbs, mushrooms, and fresh juices.”

Had I know in advance that the “restaurant” I agreed to go to served only raw vegan food, I might have to question my mental health in making that decision. Instead, I just knew it was vegan, which is somewhat acceptable. I’m a vegetarian, and I like some of the ideas behind veganism, but I’m not down with the idea of raw veganism any more than I’m down with the ideas of breatharians.  (I worked with a breatharian, but more about that in another blog…)

Their menu claimed it would be actual food:
Fettuccini Alfredo – served raw veggie noodles. And it comes with cashew butter with some lemon juice (or so they told me).

Then they brought it out. And I wanted to cry.

How the hell was that fettuccine? Or alfredo?

Trusting to the wisdom of Wikipedia once again, we can see that “Fettuccine Alfredo…is a pasta dish made from fettuccine tossed with Parmesan cheese and butter. As the cheese melts, it emulsifies the liquids to form a smooth and rich sauce coating the pasta. In other words, it is pasta with butter and Parmesan cheese (Italian: pasta al burro e parmigiano), one of the oldest and simplest ways to prepare pasta.”

As I stared at my bowl of not fettuccine alfredo, I was reminded of a paradox I’d heard:

My grandfather had an axe that had been handed down through the family, and he finally handed it off to me.

Unfortunately, after many, many years of use, the handle broke.

I brought the axe to a hardware store, and I got a new handle attached to it.

Then, a few years later, the axe head broke, so I brought the handle to the hardware store and got a new head.

The question is – is it still my grandfather’s axe?

And is it still fettucine alfredo?

 

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“O bed! O bed! delicious bed! That heaven upon earth to the weary head.”

bed image meme credited to iFunny.comMe at 8 PM: I definitely need to get to sleep before midnight tonight.

Me at 10:30 PM: Fell asleep taking a bath, but avoided drowning by waking myself up with my own snoring.

Me at Midnight: I should totally go to bed now, but I’m almost done dealing with the checkbook and the bills.

Me at 1:30 AM: This episode of “Lock In” (county jail edition) is almost over…

Me at 2:15 AM: Damn, I’m not even tired!

(Title is a quote taken from Thomas Hood, Miss Kilmansegg – Her Dream.)

 

 

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Ah, the romance of Valentine’s Day!

sad apple by sophisticat at morguefile
Sad apple says he’s sad because he hates Valentine’s Day

It was yesterday that I realized that I don’t care about Valentine’s Day.

Give me any other holiday, and I’m good to go. I even like Easter.

But Valentine’s Day? It has some kind of messed up messages.

Dear Lonely People –
Feel even lonelier! You’re welcome!

Dear Couples –
Go out to a restaurant that’s super crowded, completely unromantic because of the crowd and the noise and the insanity, and if it’s a really “nice” restaurant, you’re probably paying jacked up prices for a limited menu. Once you’ve suffered through a dinner that is probably not exact the best thing you’ve eaten because the wait and kitchen staff are totally overworked and underpaid, go home exhausted and in a bad. And, hopefully, drunk. Collapse into your bed.

Ah, the romance of Valentine’s Day!

And here are some memes to keep you happy.

vday meme1Valentines Day meme _4

vdaymeme5vday meme3

vdaymeme6vdaymeme7

vday meme2

(Unfortunately, I did not find any attribution for them, so if they’re yours, please let me know so I can fix that ASAP.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I’m an asshole

judge ornament - morguefile - davidpwhelanI caught myself being one of those people

You know what I mean, right?

Those people?

That’s right.

I caught myself being an asshole.

I was at Target. I was in a hurry. And Target – being Target on a school day around 2 p.m. when all the moms are trying to buy their groceries before their kids invade their houses again – well, Target was overwhelmed and understaffed.

In front of me was a woman, cart full of baby stuff. She had a super-nice Michael Kors bag, and she was using a WIC card to buy her baby stuff.

I jumped to the conclusion that she didn’t deserve the bag, that if she had the money for the bag, why was she on WIC?

Okay, I told myself. Maybe it was a gift. Maybe she got it from a thrift store. Maybe… Well, maybe it wasn’t my business in any way, shape, or form.

Just because she is getting help doesn’t mean she doesn’t deserve some fun and some luxuries. It doesn’t mean that she should be punished and constantly struggling.

Why shouldn’t she buy a Michaels Kors purse? Why shouldn’t she buy Starbucks? Why shouldn’t she buy fancy dinners at steakhouses?

She isn’t any less worthy than anyone else.

If I could assume that she didn’t “deserve” her purse, why couldn’t I instead assume that she did “deserve” it?

Why couldn’t I assume that she worked hard – maybe harder than me and everyone else I knew – and that she was just screwed over by life? 

I hope she uses her WIC for all those necessary purposes and spends some of her income on nice things for herself. I hope she has a fun night out. I hope she has a good, reliable car that she doesn’t need to worry about. I hope she can take days off work and go to the beach, bring her daughter or sons or daughters and sons.

I hope that other people aren’t assholes like I was, and I hope that if they are, that they catch themselves, too, and that they remind themselves that it isn’t their business, either. 

Writing Stuff

Keep Starving

Ad for "Starving Writers" to write for freeSometimes I foolishly check out Craigslist to see if there are any writing gigs. I know better, but I do it anyway. It’s kind of like going to Applebee’s and thinking that you’ll have a good meal. Hope is eternal and stupid.

But sometimes you find something that makes it all worth it.

This particular ad is a double whammy.

First – it’s actually called Starving Writers. I suppose that’s honesty in advertising because if you submit to it, your compensation is “published.”

I’m not sure about you, but the last time I tried to get coffee by telling a barista that their compensation is that they practiced their coffee-making skills, they didn’t give me the coffee I ordered. They were even a wee bit annoyed that I had gotten them to make the coffee and then refused to pay actual money for it.

Second – they tell you that “it doesn’t cost anything” to submit your work to them.

After I finished making a little altar to worship their absolute kindness and generosity, I tried this with a contractor. I told them that I wouldn’t charge them to give me a quote on doing work around the house, and I wouldn’t even pay them for their work once I hired them. I’m not sure what their problem was, but they refused to even come to my house! I don’t get it. Why weren’t they totally appreciative of my willingness to take their work for nothing?

I’m 100% behind writers helping writers. Getting the names of other writers out in public, championing other writers’ work, reviewing books that you enjoy. These are all ways to help out and get writers the audience they need and deserve.

As someone who ran a small press for almost 10 years, I paid my writers. I didn’t make any money. I bought a few stories each month – $25 for short stories, $10 for flash fiction.

The stories appeared online, and once a year, I created a print anthology. Each author got one, plus the option to buy more and sell them. I finally turned a profit on an anthology, “Loving the Undead. An anthology of romance…sort of.” It wasn’t a huge profit, but it encouraged me.

I kept the press going until I couldn’t pay my writers anymore. Due to some health issues, I couldn’t work as many hours and couldn’t afford it. But I didn’t ask them to work for free.

Writers need to support each other, and that means in all ways, including financially. Buy their books, buy their anthologies, subscribe to their Patreon accounts, and join in on their Kickstarters. Writers do this to earn a living. They need to pay bills, just like everyone else.

[I do want to mention that I am also completely behind the idea of anthologies and books that are published for fundraising for various purposes. I organizations who make money from charity anthologies. They often get big name authors to help champion their cause and raise awareness. That is very different.]

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A Bug Named Sue

Bug Off - Image by Mel Candea via MorguefileNow, I’m not saying that you *have* to applaud me or give me an award. I’m just saying that I deserve your applause. And an award.

There was a bug.

A little beetle-looking bug. Brown. Some legs (I’m guessing there were six? Isn’t that the standard for bugs?). Wings. But wings that were not yet unfurled. Let’s name it Sue.

I only saw Sue because the cat was chasing her. And failing. Failing hard. The cat would run up to Sue. Sniff her. Sue would put on a burst of speed and escape. Then the cat would run up to Sue. Then sniff her. Then Sue would put on a burst of speed and escape.

The race lasted for the length of the kitchen. I watched it, breathless, hoping to see the Sue lose the…battle? That might not be the right word for it. It was more like a baby learning how to crawl and falling asleep mid-movement.

Sue survived all the way to the table. The cat gave up. Well, more than it already had. And Sue was just sitting there on the tile. Looking sad.

I made a deal with Sue. I wouldn’t throw a massive book on her, and I’d put it outside to live out the rest of her little beetle life, but only if she let me sweep her from the tile and onto the dust pan with the long handle that kept me from bending down and getting too close to her without her showing me she could fly.

I figured a verbal agreement was better than no agreement at all, and got the broom and dust pan.

Sue refused to get into the dust pan at first, but the second time, she let me sweep her up and calmly sat there – a little oval of brown in what could be a sea of blue, but was really just some cheap plastic.

Sue held very still as I walked the dozen steps to the back door, and she didn’t jump into the air and attack me with her wings. She just chilled out on the dust pan as I opened the door and stepped out onto the cold concrete of the back patio.

Apparently Sue had gotten comfortable in the relative safety of the dust pan, and she refused to get off it. Without a cat bothering her, I guess she didn’t feel the stress to move. Or maybe Sue hated cold weather, too.

I had to tip the dust pan and gently swat at Sue.

No, I didn’t kill her!  She upheld her end of the deal, so I upheld mine!

She finally slid onto the ground, and I’d like to think that Sue nodded her little beetle head in appreciation for all I’d done for her.

So, hold your applause, for now. Once I finish getting the trophy engraved, there will be an awards banquet. But Sue will not be invited.