Friday, March 30, 2007

I Really Miss Dana

If I were to find out I was dying, I would call Dana.
Scratch that.
I would go to Dana, and make him talk to me. I would tell him that I know who he is and I don't forget, and I would ask him not to visit the sins of the father upon the daughter. I would tell him I never meant to complicate his life and I never wanted to add any trauma or stress to it. All I want for him is a simple happy life with no anger or sadness. I would ask him to see that I am a victim too, although not as much as he is. And I would ask forgiveness for the hurt I have brought him, no matter how unintentional it was.

Why do we have to pay for our parents' mistakes? We may be past the days of outcasted bastards but we still pay, be it with our reputations or just with our peace of mind. I have known so many people in my life, but there's one I would so love to know and probably never will. He has three children now, or at least that's what his email address implies, and I only know two of their names. I could find out from his brother, but I don't want to ask around about him. I don't think he'd want me to, and his are wishes I will respect until I die, although that kind of goes against my opening sentence, doesn't it. Well it's a complicated situation, full of conflict, so I suppose it's no surprise that I'm full of conflict too.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Chatlog 1

Jordan: Do you want to see your grand kids

Charlie: I have grandkids?

Jordan: You do?

Charlie: You're the one who asked if I wanted to see them.

Charlie: I'm 30 fucking years old. What grandkids would i have?

Jordan: No I meant in the future

Jordan: Do you want to live long enough to see your grandkids

Charlie: No! I shall ignore them.

Charlie: Of course I want to see them. You ask weird questions, you know that?

Jordan: Well I dunno. Do you look forward to being Grandma Chuck?

Charlie: I like being Auntie Chuck. Grandma Chuck will be just as nice.

Charlie: But I will make them call me Nana and I will always carry hard candies in my purse and let them drink coffee.

Jordan: and alcohol?

Charlie: Nope. That'll be just for Nana Chuck.

Charlie: I will pour creme de menthe in my coffee and let them melt ande's candies in their's and it will all taste the same.

Charlie: I better make sure my mug looks different though, so they can't fool my cataract-ridden eyes and take my hooch!

Jordan: eww cataracts

Jordan: Do you smoke?

Charlie: I do smoke. I will endeavor to quit though, when I can afford quit-pills.

Jordan: You should just quit cold turkey

Charlie: Cold turkey would end with murders, lots and lots of murders.

Death Pisses Me Off

I am obsessed with death. Not in a gothic Marilyn Manson sort of way, just in a running theme kind of way. I've known a few people who died, including my own father, and none of them has spoken to me since. That upsets me.

I am a product of my generation. I watch too much TV and read too many books. I escape reality at nearly every opportunity and I have learned something from those escapes. Dead people are supposed to talk to you afterward. They either become vampires or grim reapers or they just stick around invisibly and leave little signs to let you know they are okay. Sometimes, they appear in dreams, uttering the sort of sentimental crap they never said in life, because ghosts are inherently sentimental creatures, being dead and all. And if they can't get ahold of you that way, like if perhaps you don't dream or maybe have such nasty erotic dreams that they don't want to be anywhere near you in your sleep, they will find Whoopi Goldberg or Patricia Arquette or Jennifer Love Hewitt and have them relay a message. But so far no one has called me on behalf of my father, no mysterious attorney has handed me one last letter, entrusted to him to be delivered only upon my dad's death, telling me how much he loved me and how proud he was of me. And what few dreams I have had of my father have fallen into two basic categories: dreams where he faked his death and dreams where he hadn't died yet so I didn't know to ask or say the things I now feel the need to ask and say.

This world, or at least my little corner of it, has no permanence. It's full of second chances. Marriage has the option of divorce, pregnancy has the option of abortion, criminal records can be sealed or expunged, classes and work days can be made up if missed, everything has an escape clause or a do-over. But death, that's the one thing that has no second chance. When someone dies they are just gone. And most of the time there's no prophetic and meaningful last sentence to carve into a tombstone, no final reconciliation of petty disputes; people don't even put personal messages in their wills anymore, if they ever did. Maybe that's just something they made up for the movies. You know, "And to Susan, my loving wife. I leave you the summer home where I proposed."

I want to talk to Smokey. I want to tell him that whatever small milestone in his life was footnoted with my name, he played a larger part in mine. Even without the tragic and untimely death part, I would never have forgotten him. I wonder if he knew that a girl he hadn't spoken to in eleven years still thought of him fondly. But I can't ask him, although if the Catholics are right I will see him again someday.

I want to talk to my dad. I want to yell at him for fucking me so badly when he died. I want to ask him if he liked me. Parents love their kids but they don't always like them. Was I a person my father liked, independent of blood? Although, in the same vein, I'm not sure I want the answer. After all, his last words to me were lies, deliberate lies which served only to put me in therapy for a year, hopped up on so many anti-seizure mood-stabilizers that I couldn't have convulsed if I'd tongue-kissed a 220 plug.

I wish I'd known they were going to die. Two perfect examples of people who knew when their time was, two pivotal people in my life whom I would have dropped everything to talk to, and it never occurred to me to call them regardless of life expectancy. I should make a list of people I would regret not calling if they were to die tomorrow and I should call them. But I won't, because that's the curse of the living. We don't open up until it's too late. Maybe having the warning, the diagnosis or death threat or execution date, is the greatest mercy there is.

May God someday have that mercy on me.

Six Months Left

I got an interesting text message last night from my friend Anne. It was a plea for help with a psych paper and it posed an interesting question. If you found out you only had six months left to live, how would you spend that time?

I called her, rather than try to type out a decent answer with my thumbs, and gave what I thought was a pretty standard answer. After the initial nervous breakdown upon hearing of my own eminent demise, I would travel to all the places I think I'll have time to see, like Ireland and an ocean. I would make videos for my daughter including some for special occasions like graduations, her wedding day, the birth of her first child, etc. I would call people who had an impact on my life and thank them and write letters to the few teachers I remember fondly, something I should do now but don't. After giving my answer, I emailed Anne the Tim McGraw song Live Like You Were Dying. I thought it appropriate and was surprised she'd never heard it.

At some point in the conversation we drifted off topic. (I know, hard to imagine two old friends, both women, could possibly drift off topic, but it happened.) I gave her my theory on what should happen after I die and told her I want my friends to laugh at me. She seemed surprised so I explained.

I have done tons of stupid things in my life. There are a lot of stories that could be told about me after my funeral. People always tell stories about the dead, but they rarely do so with the expressed intent of laughing. The people who mourn me will have their crying time and will no doubt feel compelled to share their "she was a good person" stories all by themselves. I want them to know that gathering together to have a few drinks and laugh at the many times I made an ass of myself would be a way of honoring the dead that, in this case, would be endorsed by the dead. Tell my kid all the idiotic things I've done now that it can't ruin my credibility. I figure, between Tom, Jame, and Anne, they could pretty much compile complete list of my stupidities from age 13 to my death. Like the time I bought a new pillow, and the cover had some pattern printed on it. The first night I used it I drooled in my sleep and the dye from the pattern got pulled through the pillowcase and I woke up convinced I was bleeding out of my ears. And when I got into a very heated argument with Tom about whether or not New England was a state, and he had to pull up a map of the continental US to prove me wrong. Ahhh, good times. Too many people feel guilty laughing and smiling after someone dies. I want my friends and family to laugh and smile. I want everyone to gather together at my home, pitch in to buy a weekend's worth of food and beer and wine, and relate all the memories they have the decency not to remind me of while I'm here. If, gods forbid, I die before my children are old enough to know me as an equal, I want them to learn to see me that way when I'm gone.

I probably should call the people I'd call if I were dying, but how exactly do you express gratitude to people who may not even remember you? Anne told me that one of the people on my "In case of impending death, call" list is back in town. I want to look him up, but what would I say if I did? In my mind he's still 19 years old with long blond hair and a notebook of prophetic sayings. Would meeting him now, after life has gotten a chance to turn him jaded and cynical, ruin my nostalgia? I suppose there's a certain freedom granted to those who can make the call and explain that they're dying. Dying people have nothing to lose, and an instinctive exemption from societal rules such as "Don't call the leader of a long-dead Mountain Dew cult to say thanks for making my sophomore year fun."

But in case he ever reads this, Thank you Jeremy. No doubt you are one of the few people from my life I will remember even after the Alzheimer's sets in.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Another Boring Sunday

Sundays are so boring. My kid is playing outside, my husband is watching televised golf is some homo-erotic Tiger Woods trance, and I have just spent twenty mindless minutes skimming through the somethingawful archives. Two more loads of laundry and I'll have nothing to do until Ryan takes her shower and I assume my duty of reminding her of what she's supposed to be doing every five minutes so she doesn't zone out and forget that hot water has a shelf life. Basically my job during this time is to scream "Shampoo!" and "Soap up!" at appropriate intervals while resetting the dryer to make sure her towel stays hot. I'm such a nice mommy aren't I, warming her towel like that?

Sunday mornings always remind me of my grandmother. Not in a nostalgic home-baked cookies kind of way but rather in an insane octogenarian hopped up on sugar and Jesus kind of way. While other people may have fond memories of their dearly departed grandmothers I have none, for two reasons. One: she doesn't have the decency to dearly depart, and Two: she has never done anything in my presence which could form a fond memory. The reason Sunday mornings remind me of her are because she would always be the overnight babysitter on the rare occasion my parents went out. (Looking back, and knowing my parents from a more mature standpoint than I did then, I realize that their romantic getaways probably consisted entirely of stays in cheap hotels with piped in porn. My father was NOT a romantic.) Anyway, my grandmother, after a night of Lawrence Welk and Knots Landing, would forcibly wake me and my brother up and make us watch The Hour Of Power in an attempt to save our souls. All I really remember of the show was that it was outside and the guy, some preacher dressed like a gay choir singer, stood in front of a giant triangle, which seems even more gay, now doesn't it? I never listened to the words, mainly because my grandmother liked it and she was insane.

Here, to illustrate why I hate my grandmother, is a list of memorable things she has done or said during the years I have been unfortunate enough to know her, along with my age at the time:

1) Told me I would go to Hell if I didn't read Guideposts magazine every time I went to her house. I was 5.

2) Bent over, grabbed my foot, hiked it up farther than it ever wanted to be, and sniffed for dog poo before letting me in her door. This happened almost continuously throughout my childhood.

3) Tried to toss my elderly declawed decidedly INDOORS cat out the back door because she was convinced it was trying to watch her use the toilet. I was 7.

4) Flashed me her boobs in an attempt to convince me to be happy with a small chest, apparently using the argument that hers were huge and hurt her back. I'm still not sure how exposing herself in any way expressed back pain. I was 16.

5) Told me my boyfriend had "the pot eyes" while he stood only four feet away. I was 24.

6) Called me a whore on the street in front of my house. I was 15.

7) Told me, in a restaurant during lunch rush, that my infant daughter would starve if I didn't bottle feed her because my "boobies" were "too small to hold enough milk." I was 22.

8) Called me a slut in front of my daughter. I was 23.

9) Threatened to report me to authorities for bad parenting when she found out that two of Ryan's babysitters were lesbians. I was 24.

10) Told me it was unnatural for my white child to play with black dolls. I was 25.

11) Bought me underwear at a garage sale. Who wears used underwear? Who sells it? I was 12.

12) Accused me of robbing my nine year old cousin of her childhood by asking her discreetly where her mother kept the tampons. Apparently children have no need to know what "the time" is and by mentioning mine to her, I stole the girl's innocence. Funny thing is, I just asked which bathroom was her mom's; the kid was the one who asked if I needed a tampon. I was 15.

13) Accused me of introducing my daughter to witchcraft by buying her Harry Potter books, two years after she saw my pentagram tattoo. I was 30.

14) Told me I'd catch crabs if I didn't wear underwear. I was 29.

15) Kicked me out of her house for responding that you can't catch crabs if you shave your crotch. Hee hee; still 29.

16) Tried to be cool by buying me a grasshopper at the local VFW. I was 22 and nursing.

17) Attempted suicide to get attention, by sliding on her but down half a flight of carpeted stairs with a suicide not pinned to her chest with one of those oversized diaper pins with the pink plastic clasp. I was 18.

18) Accused me of being the black sheep of the family, while my cousin was in Leavenworth on federal drug manufacturing charges. I was 28.

19) Told me how nice my new friend was and that she seemed like she might be the good influence I so needed to have, then called her a horrible person when she found out we were sleeping together. I was 19.

20) Took my picture off the "grandkids table" and replaced it with a photo of Tom and Ryan. I was 29.

21) Faked a series of strokes to get attention. I was 28.

22) Refused to talk to the shrink when her neurologist, in response to her stroke-like attacks, wrote a letter to her family doctor asking him to cancel her Zoloft refills and let a psychiatrist prescribe all psychotropic drugs. "What does it matter what I did when I was a kid? Why won't they just give me my pills?!" I was still 28.

23) Introduced Ryan to frosted Cheerios when she had been perfectly happy with the plainer, healthier ones. I was 22; Ryan was 1.

24) Held it over my head that my cousin was so important at work that she wasn't even able to make it home for Spring Break when the rest of the family knew she was in rehab but wouldn't let me tell her. I was 25.

25) Tried to get me to listen to the tapes of family members' funerals that she sits and listens to at night. I was 26.

27) Convinced my aunt and uncle not to let me babysit their kids because I liked girls and would no doubt molest them while changing their diapers. I was 16.

28) Upon learning of my unplanned pregnancy, suggested that perhaps my uncle might want the baby. I was 21.

29) Called my father a drunk in front of me. I was, ummmm, birth to present.

30) Called my five young cousins together for an important talk and then explained that their parents were getting a divorce when they weren't. When confronted she explained by saying "Well if they aren't, they should!" I was 22; the cousins ranged in age from 8 to 16.

31) Fed my daughter baby food when she was past it because it was easier than cleaning up crumbs. I was 23, my daughter was almost 2.

32) Swaddled my infant daughter in a fleece blanket in July because "babies need to stay warm" despite all of the literature I had shown her saying exactly the opposite. I was 22.

I will no doubt add to this list in the future, but 32 things is all I can think of off the top of my head. Check back later for more.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Why Doesn't Anyone Leave Me Comments?

That's all; just why won't anyone leave me any comments? I don't require constant praise, but a little validation would be nice. Am I wasting webspace talking to myself?

Friday, March 23, 2007

My Computer Has Gone Insane

My computer has gone insane.

I don't know much about computers. Mine runs really slow and I have no idea how to fix it. I run ad-ware and spy-ware programs daily and I defrag weekly, but it doesn't seem to help. Someone told me once to reformat, but I found out that I would have to burn every single file I have to disc and that's just way too much work, and a lot of discs, so I pretty much just deal with stuff on my own at a dos-meets-dial-up pace and ask people how to do things as I run into them. Or I google walk-throughs and take whatever bad advice I find on complaint forums, because I have no way of knowing what is bad advice and what is the good and effective advice I seek. Finally, fed up with such incompetence, my computer has mutinied. It randomly pops up alerts to announce that scheduled updates have failed, I occasionally get an extra empty beige stripe between my address bar and title bar, and lately it has started changing its own wallpaper whenever I close or minimize Sims Pets. That's the worst.

I know I don't have a virus, because I run updated anti-virus software daily, as well as several free products (AVG, trend micro, etc) and because I have never heard of the G. Gordon Liddy computer virus. Yes, I know it's ironic since I recently had my daughter write a paper on Watergate, a paper in which I took a hit for screwing up Mr. Liddy's very name, and then published it to this tiny corner of the web. I think perhaps I am the victim of a Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy. (I like Hill, but it sounds a bit grassy-knollish even to me.)

I think perhaps high ranking Republican officials are angry at me for my Liddy faux pas and are insidiously hacking my personal computer and placing a very disturbing photo of G. Gordon Liddy, some out of shape older women in unflattering underwear, and high powered assault rifles on my desktop screen. To be honest, it's not a photo I am entirely unfamiliar with, as I recently came upon the frightening image at somethingawful mere hours before this first happened. How frightening is it? Check for yourself:

Yes, it is that horrible. It is apparently the cover of some disturbing calendar from 2001. Two thousand one! Where G. Gordon Liddy managed to find 1970s porn stars in 2001 is beyond me. Personally, I thought vanity and ego were such ingrained American traits that women who looked like this tried to avoid being seen publicly in only their Sears catalog granny panties. Although, disturbing as the photo is, I do appreciate the humor in any photo of Liddy breaking into a locked room.

I wonder, did they have scantily clad women with assault weapons at the Watergate break in? Because it would go a little way toward explaining the photo if the point were to use authentic period costumes.

Either way, I don't very much enjoy having my Sims-buzz ruined by this freak-show and his lazy-eyed girlfriends. Is the one on the floor supposed to be winking or does she have an ill-fitting glass eye, perhaps from being poked in the face by one of the guns? Oh my God, maybe she had a Grafenberg- stroke! Is that what I'll look like someday? And if so, please tell me there's a better term for it, because Grafenberg-stroke sounds a lot more like what caused it than the actual damage itself. Now that I think of it though, Grafenberg-stroke would be a great name for a band. Or a Marilyn Manson CD. But I'd hate to see the cover image.

Somehow I need to find a way to get this horrific government conspiracy / computer virus / practical joke by a secretly sentient computer with a bad sense of humor to end. And oddly enough I can't find any advice, good or bad, on any complaint forums.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

On Proselytizing Teachers

Check out this blogger's recent post. I don't want to re-write or summarize her post so I'll just direct you all to it and ask you to read it before the rest of this post.

Go on. I'll wait.

Done? Alright then. Here I go.

WHY is it so hard for people to separate their religious faith from the rest of their life? Why can't people realize that if they work in the public domain that it is just plain common sense to keep their religion to themselves? Wear a cross if you must, put a nativity on your lawn in the winter, but don't "God bless !" me when I pay for my gas. Wal*Mart took a lot of heat for saying Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas; apparently inclusion is anti-Christian now. But Wal*Mart should say Happy Holidays because very few of their Jewish, Muslim, Atheist, etc customers are going to have a Christmas anyway. I don't run around wishing people a Happy Barmitzvah unless I know they are both Jewish and also turning thirteen soon, because it makes no sense. I don't wish random people a Happy Solstice or Merry Samhain either, although I do say it to those I know it applies to. And since the ninety year old man in the scooter handing me a shopping cart with one stuck wheel doesn't know my religion it is presumptuous of him to assume that I'm Christian. The assumption seems to be that everyone either is or should be Christian and therefore the Merry Christmas greeting can be either a heartfelt pleasantry or a subtle way of saying that the other religions (or none at all) don't warrant any notice. And don't even get me started on the trend of the funny-yet-poignant signs on church lawns. I guess it's free expression but if I put a lit up letter-board on my lawn proclaiming that if you are "Finding Life A Little Dark? The Goddess Illuminates." I would definitely hear about it. But replace The Goddess with Jesus and you've got the sign in front of my local church this week. Last week it was "Jesus, Rarely Early But Never Late."

As for government employees, well they take on an extra responsibility, to not only keep
their beliefs silent but also any feelings they may have regarding other religions. And in schools, teachers have a greater responsibility because of the impressionable nature of their students and the captivity of their audience, and the authority they wield enabling them to censor students. So what it boils down to, in my opinion is this. The teacher can decide who to call on and how long to let them speak, an ability that can in effect censor any student who dares speak up against the teacher. Students are forced by law, unless their families can afford private schools or the time home needed to home-school, to attend public school and take classes taught by whomever the district chose to hire. Young children are placed daily in the care of teachers whom parents have to blindly trust. And we tell our children to believe, and in some cases to memorize, what the teacher tells them as fact. After all, a young kid doesn't know the difference between "2+2=4" and "Jesus is the only true god".

I attended public school for more than twelve years (nobody but me seems to count kindergarten) and looking back, there have been a few things I thought sounded preachy but didn't have the nerve to speak up about. For instance, my home-ec teacher went on an anti-abortion rant one day. I happen to be anti-abortion (for the most part, I do believe in moral gray areas), but I thought spouting of terms like "infanticide" and "babies torn to shreds in the womb" to be a bit much for a classroom full of fourteen year old girls.

I can also remember the sex-ed chapter of my freshman health class, taught by the boys wrestling coach. We were taught that STDs were (I am not kidding here) punishment from God for promiscuity and that if you only had sex with someone you loved you were somehow immune from the burning lesions of God's wrath. I agree, if all people saved themselves for marriage and went their entire lives with only one partner, the STD rate would go down. But here's the problem: catching diseases doesn't just hinge on your morality. You may love and trust your mate , but what if, when he was a young man full of urges and desperation, some hot little slut had gotten a hold of him? No matter who he is now, at some point he was a teenage boys with a box of tissues on his nightstand and boobs were hypnotic to him. So although you may love him dearly and trust him with all your heart, he may not have always been the same moral upstanding guy. He may not have been someone you'd trust at all. And what about cold sores? Little kids get cold sores; they aren't all sexually transmitted. But if you rub your lips and then touch your, uh, bits and pieces, you can give yourself herpes. Any cold sore below the belt is going to be recurrent and transmittable through sex. What did that little kid so to piss off God?

Now, to be fair, this particular teacher overstepped on more than just religion. I wish I had a daughter in his class now so that I could say things on her behalf I never had the guts to say on my own at that young age. He was, in addition to being the boys wrestling coach and the freshman health teacher, the sophomore girls PE teacher and one chapter in gym class was swimming. Now, for obvious medical reasons, there might be a week or so when girls don't feel like swimming. But he was having none of that; he just told us to wear tampons or flunk the class. I can remember fifteen year old girls who were completely freaked out because they found tampons to be a bit, shall we say, invasive for their tastes. But the grade for the quarter depended on it, so what choice did they have? Back then I just thought it was a little off, but now I wonder where the hell that guy thought he had any right at all to tell fifteen year old girls that their grades depended on putting anything in their vaginas. I wish I knew a girl in his class now. I would march down to that school and cause such a loud screaming scene that the police would have to remove me, and then I'd demand his immediate termination.

Can you tell that this guy still pisses me off?

Oh well, there's my two cents on teachers basically being dicks imposing their wills on students who have no choice but to hear it. And as always, I welcome comments.

Monday, March 12, 2007

When Did Committing A Crime Stop Being Illegal?

When did the word illegal stop meaning bad? I mean, illegal possession or illegal distribution or illegal production are all terms which imply crime, and with it the possibility of prosecution. But somehow it has become racist to argue that illegal immigration is bad. Why?

Very few people I know, although there are some out there, are against immigration. After all, this nation was built on immigration. Well, that and the genocidal destruction of the Native Americans but that's a bit off-topic. But this country also has laws, like other countries do, about how to go about immigrating. Maybe the laws are ridiculous and overly restrictive, but they are the law. And breaking a law USED to mean committing a crime, and committing a crime USED to mean becoming a criminal. But these days you get into a lot of trouble for calling an illegal immigrant a criminal. There are huge demonstrations protesting the prosecution of illegal immigrants and people who try to point out that breaking the law = criminal activity = being a criminal are called racists. But, aren't illegal immigrants from Europe, though not as common, also criminals? Aren't they all, regardless of race, breaking the law? And wouldn't they be prosecuted as well?

Illegal immigration isn't just about Mexicans running through the desert. It's also Asians arriving in California on cargo ships and Haitians sneaking into Florida and countless others from all over the world. And the one thing they all have in common is that they want to be here and don't want to follow the laws to do it. Now why should any country welcome people who demonstrate from the very beginning that they have no intention of following the laws? If I were a landlord and my new renter refused to pay his deposit, why would I let him stay? How would I be expected to assume that he would pay the rent after that?

I read about this town and I wonder why they are in trouble? As far as I can tell, they're just trying to pass local laws to enforce federal ones. People aren't supposed to employ illegal immigrants anyway; why not have a business license depend on it? Why not make it harder for the criminals to get away with the crime? If it's illegal for them to live here, why not make it harder for them to find a place to live? As for making English the official language, I don't know if they can actually do that, but I can see why they'd want to. It would at least make it easier for people to communicate, English being what most of the country has historically spoken.

See, what people often don't understand is that the U.S. doesn't have an official language. Canada has two, in some places anyway, but we have none. There is no policy stating that America is an English speaking country; it just tends to be one. And it used to be that immigrants came her to become Americans, to live the American Dream as they saw it. No one waved a flag as proudly as an immigrant on the Fourth of July. Sure, people talked about the old country and taught their children to cook the food from back home. But they came to be Americans and they devoted a lot of energy to speaking the language of their new home. But now it is possible for a child to be born in the U.S. and live a long life never learning English and face very little inconvenience. There's a division now between Americans who want to BE American and people who just want to live here but not claim the country as their own.

The funny thing is, other countries don't see us this way. No matter what language you speak or where your family came from to get here, if you travel to another country they will call you an American. Over here you may be Irish, but in Ireland you're an American and by definition NOT Irish. The rest of the world can see us in a way we can't seem to see ourselves anymore, as one unified group.

We should be one unified group. We should be one nation together and regardless of ancestry or origin we should identify as Americans regardless of what country our last name came from. For a lot of us, our ancestors traveled to this country from Europe in terrible conditions, on crowded boats with few belongings just for the chance to become Americans. What would they think if they could see what immigration is like now? Refusing to even enter the country by the law, stealing social security numbers, self-segregating into communities like tiny foreign countries where only the native language and customs are followed.

Now I (admittedly) can't speak for blacks. Those crowded boats were a whole different story. But after all of the sacrifice and determination it took over so many years to be recognized as full American citizens, I would imagine it to be difficult not to resent a little the migrant worker bitching about being treated like a criminal for trying to circumvent any immigration processes at all. Paperwork? Red tape? Waiting? I can only assume that to see someone complaining about those hardships would sting a bit to someone whose family was, only a few generations back, fighting to make the jump, to be ALLOWED to make the jump, from American property to American citizen.

I don't believe we should wall off our country and never let another immigrant in. Like I said, this country was built on immigration. But let's start calling it what it is when people break the laws: a crime.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Why Protect The Guilty

I've noticed a lot of news blurbs about sex offender registry lists, and the websites they're posted on, being unfair to the offenders, even violating their civil rights.

Do you know any sex offenders? I've gone through the state site here and found a few acquaintances and most of them didn't, in my mind, do much wrong. See, according to Illinois law, if a guy is seventeen and his girlfriend is fifteen they can have all the sex they want because they are presumed to be at about the same maturity level. In other words, they're both teens so neither one is really taking advantage of the other's naivete. But once the guy turns eighteen then the sex they've already been having becomes a criminal act, punishable by jail time and lifelong registration. The problem is that the legal terms listed on the offender lists don't make much sense to the average person. What is the difference between Criminal Sexual Abuse and Criminal Sexual Assault? And even if a person is able to decipher that the "abuse" charge is the current wording of what used to be called Statutory Rape, the registry often doesn't list the victim's age, or only lists it in a vague categorical sense (Victim between the ages of 13 and 17). Well if you're nineteen there's a bit of a difference between sex with a thirteen year old and sex with a seventeen year old. So I have my problems with the list as it stands; I think it should somehow differentiate between predatory offenders and college kids who kept their high school girlfriends. But I understand why we have the online registry lists, while apparently some people don't.

We have the list so that parents, like myself, can check every once in a while to see if maybe there's a pedophile living down the block, or to make sure that this weekend's sleep-over party isn't being held at the home of a rapist. Yeah, I know; the registry only shows the ones who've been caught so the chance is still there regardless. But it gives me a chance to at least keep my daughter away from a portion of the perverts out there and it bothers me when people get upset that it exists. I'm sure that it must be difficult to be a registered sex offender, to have your name and crime on a website anyone can look up at will. I'm sure it comes with some pretty extreme prejudice and even the threat of violence. But although I'm sure many pedophiles and rapists are fine upstanding people I also believe that all people are judged by their past behavior and actions and no one will ever convince me that sex offenders are the one group who should be exempt from that universal truth. And does the threat facing registered offenders from the general public even come close to the threat these people may POSE to the general public? My daughter is young; she can't help but look young and it is readily apparent to anyone who sets eyes on her that she is young. What is not readily apparent to anyone is whether or not the guy on the bench at the park wants to violate her. See, the predators want a level of anonymity their victims don't have, and I don't buy that.

It must be a bitch to have the cops at your door every time a kid goes missing or a woman is raped. It must be a hassle when your kids' friends aren't allowed to come over and play. And getting dirty looks at the grocery store when all you want to do it buy your food and leave must be pretty humiliating. But that's the price you pay for your sins. Having the urges is not a crime, and no matter how offensive those urges may be to the rest of society it shouldn't be a crime. Thoughts are not criminal acts; actions are. And once a person chooses to act on the urge to grope a kid or force someone into having sex with them, they take on the risk of getting caught and paying the price. All the dirty looks and restrictions are part of that price. And if it's hard to see your kids being told that their friends can't come over then do the right thing and move out of the family home. It's probably best that the children not live with a sex offender anyway.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Why The Little Guy Should Quit, And Other Thoughts

I'm a democrat, but even more so, I'm a Bush-hater. I laugh at anti-Bush bumper stickers, I felt the suffocating weight of despair after the 2004 elections, and I seriously wonder who besides the theocrats could possibly believe that the man is anything but dangerous to the future of this nation. He has proclaimed himself to be the voice of God, has proposed a constitutional amendment not only legalizing but forcing discrimination against law-abiding tax-paying U.S. citizens because his interpretation of his religion endorses it (Doesn't that same bible say that unmarried sexually active women should be stoned to death? I wonder then, about the fate of his own daughters.), has picked apart the meaning and intent of the Geneva Convention more than Clinton ever did with the word sex, and has managed to start not one but two wars (and then effectively abandoned the one against the people who actually attacked us). So yes, I'm a Bush-hater. And if anyone can tell me one thing he has done that may actually benefit this country, without throwing religious beliefs at me, I welcome and encourage your comments. And for the record, the war in Iraq doesn't count. Yes Saddam was a bad man and we got him. But the world is full of bad men and it's not worth, in my opinion, 2000+ American lives per villain to run around and dig them all out of holes. Kill Saddam, kill 2000+ American troops, kill Saddam, kill 2000+ American troops. The scales aren't even close on that one, sorry.

So imagine my joy when the Democratic party shows promise with not one but two promising presidential hopefuls. Yes, there are going to be people who will vote against them rather than for the name beside the hole they do punch, but for the most part it's Obama vs. Clinton in the primary. I know it; everybody knows it. But now the other democratic hopefuls are running around pouting that they're being left out of the spotlight. Hey! We finally have the spotlight! As far as I'm concerned the rest of the dems should take a cue from Vilsack and drop out and leave the primary to the main two. Then whoever wins should put the other on their ticket. Obama Clinton 08 or Clinton Obama 08. Either way it's the best chance we have of keeping this country out of the Bush followers' hands.

This country is fighting theocracies around the world, yet the conservative Christian right wants to make us one as well. When we fought the "Godless Communists" we didn't denounce religion, so why should we live by a centuries-old book while fighting injustices which are clear evidence of what happens when a nation lives by a centuries-old book? Islamic law or Christian law. They both boil down to interpretations of words translated over and over again and then twisted to mean whatever people want them to mean or think they should mean. Yes, there are passages in the bible warning of the evils of homosexual sex. But there are warnings just as stern against premarital sex and against adultery whether or not you're the one cheating (coveting ring a bell?), yet no one tries to push constitutional bans on single people having sex, or against allowing people to marry their former mistresses or male equivalent. And why? Because even though the bible mentions a lot of places you should not stick a penis, as well as times when not to stick it there, unless it grosses out the straight white male elite it gets kind of downplayed. According to the bible it's a sin to even jerk off about another man's wife. And yet, most of the sex symbols today are married and no congressman rallies against that. We all know that when you put Halle Berry in a catsuit and tell her to crawl around and purr with her back arched, very few male audience member are going to go home raving about how well she mimicked a siamese. No, those men are going to go home, pre-order the DVD, and stock up on tissues, even though she was married at the time of the filming. Well BAM, you're going to hell. You just coveted another man's wife; that's a commandment you're breaking and even the fags didn't make it into the top ten. But the Republicans want to jerk off about married women, and even the single ones want to get laid. But for the most part, they don't want to suck dick or take it in the bum so they pounce all over that as being an Abomination.

It bothers me that these people may once again choose the president. And it bothers me even more that the little guys, the Chris Dodds and Bill Richardsons, might actually take some votes away from the Big Two. Sure, it's just the primary now. But what if one of them decides to go Lieberman and run anyway? Independents don't win the presidency. This country may be ready to elect a woman or a black man president, but not an independent. Perot, Nader, they just took votes away from the other candidates. And the Democrats can't afford to lose any votes; didn't 2000 teach us that already?

Of course, the biggest fear would be that somehow one of these guys could actually win the primary. Hillary (although I still question her electability) has the closest thing to presidential experience a person can get without having been President or VP, and Obama has some sort of other-worldly charisma that fills stadiums and generates Beatlemania screams. Those two might be able to win over some swing voters, but an unknown senator from Delaware? I don't think so. My money is on an Obama - Clinton ticket.

And as for the whole "Obama isn't black because he's not a slave's descendant" thing that seems to have gripped the media lately: WTF does black mean anyway? I don't seem to recall too many black Americans arguing whenever Nelson Mandella was referred to as being black. And thirty years ago the black community was wearing African inspired clothing and Afros and naming their daughters Shaniqua. Why is an African man (second generation notwithstanding) suddenly not black? If you want to argue that he's not black, argue that his mother's white. That at least makes sense.