Momma Mayhem

Social Filters Be Gone!!

Oh yes we did!!

“Yes we can”. President Obama’s campaign slogan and damned if he was right. In a historic move, President Obama signed the Health Care Overhaul that he’s been campaigning for since 2007. To this, I say “WOOOOOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOO!” It’s about damn time.

I know that many of my friends and relatives, liberal as they might be, are solidly against this measure, and for good reason. They’re tired of their taxes having to pick up the slack of the poor citizens of this country. They’re tired of seeing the blatant corruption of the welfare system by junkies, alcoholics, irresponsible parents, and those with a sense of entitlement, that they’re OWED by the system for whatever reason.

I don’t blame those opposed to this measure, for those reasons. The Gods know that there is rampant misuse of the system, and in many cases, stricter restrictions, harder compliances and harsher punishments need to be doled out to those who milk the system. And believe me, I’ve seen some of the worst of it, such as alcoholics who want to pay for their fix with their Benefit cards, and immigrants in designer clothes and enough gold to supplement the U.S. Mint buying filet mignon with Food Stamps. These people should most definitely be investigated, charged and fined. Unfortunately, the sleaze and fraud within the system itself denounces these actions, and makes it easier for those trying the fleece the American public to do so.

I consider myself quite lucky to have health insurance at the moment. However, I’ve been on the other side of the coin, as have many members of my family. I’ve been without money, insurance and a way to feed and care for my family. I’ve had to go the Medicaid route. It wasn’t pleasant. When you’re pregnant and sick and need a way to care for both you and your unborn child, the stringent measures applied to U.S. citizens are a far cry from what is freely offered immigrants from the moment they step off the boat or out of the plane. I was actually threatened by a Social Services employee that they would take my child away if I couldn’t care for him. This was when I had gone to this “counselor” for HELP, and had lived on macaroni and cheese for various stages of time in order to provide adequate nutrition for my child. I went without so that he could have everything he needed.

My sister, who struggles to make ends meet, has been repeatedly turned down for several different state-run medical plans because she “makes too much money”. She works two jobs to pay rent, utilities and food, and doesn’t have enough left over to pay for private medical insurance. And yet, she’s considered too prosperous to qualify for state medical. She’s had to shell out thousands on doctors and dentists in order to maintain her health, and if Gods forbid she ended up in hospital, she’d be fucked. There is no way should could pay for even a two day hospital stay without insurance.

What kind of sense does it make, that both my sister and I, who have paid into the system since we were teenagers, cannot get health insurance? Because I’m going to be in her boat soon. Come September, the health insurance I have through my ex will run out, and I know I’m going to have a hell of a time getting insurance, especially considering my medical history. I’m already freaking out because the gynecologist I’ve been with for 8+ years doesn’t accept ANY of the Medicaid plans. I’m going to have to start from scratch with multiple new doctors, IF I am able to get insurance. Obama’s Health Care Reform might make my life a bit easier in that respect.

I understand that many people, already under a financial crunch because of the economy, feel they shouldn’t have to pay more and get less. I get that. But until you’ve walked a mile in the shoes of someone without coverage, don’t assume you know what it’s like and what people can and can’t do without. President Obama is doing his JOB, making sure ALL Americans are cared for and have the means necessary to live healthy, productive lives. Think about that.

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What About US??

I know that that seems like a selfish phrase and, hell, it probably is, but these days, in this country, it’s every man (woman or child) for themselves. At least that’s the way it appears. (Just hear me out)

Yesterday, before I settled down to watch “Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief” with my sister and son, an advertisement ran, talking about how much money we, as a nation, have raised for Haiti. The campaign employed the likes of Meryl Streep and other celebrities to ask for yet MORE money for Haiti, claiming that the worst is yet to come, because the residents of Haiti still need much in the way of basic necessities, such as clean water and clothing. Hmmm.

It’s become a habit of mine to peruse the local headlines each day via Yahoo. After all, no knowledge, even it’s from FOX, is ever truly wasted. Today, I read several highly interesting articles that spurred more research and a blog. Today, there was an article that described the more than 9,000 runners who showed up at Central Park this morning to “run for Haiti”. They raised over $400,000 this morning alone for aid for the “shell-shocked” nation. There was also an article on the decline of the number of New Yorkers who have health insurance, and an article on the decay of many public housing complexes across the nation. I also remembered an ad I saw on the bus on Friday, and poked around the web until I found the statistics I was looking for.

The New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation has found a 14% increase in those New Yorkers without insurance since 2006. That means a jump from 396,000 people to 453,000 people in just three short years. This is happening as state funding continues to drop, and several “voluntary” hospitals have been forced to close their doors, leaving the public to heavily rely on city hospitals. According to WABC, “As a result of these and other factors, HHC’s projected expenses for the next fiscal year, which begins in July 2010, will exceed its total projected revenue by more than $1 billion.” ONE BILLION DOLLARS OVERBUDGET! ONE BILLION! But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

The ad I mentioned earlier was for the New York Coalition for the Homeless. It discussed the number of homeless children in New York (16,000 and rising). According the NYCH, there are 10,494 homeless families (not people, FAMILIES) in NYC. The total number of PEOPLE amounts to approximately 40,000, in New York City alone. Homeless shelters are short on beds, short on food and short on funds. There is simply not enough money to properly care for our homeless population, let alone try to help them to assimilate back into society. Sixteen thousand homeless kids and rising. Think about that… But wait! There’s more!

1010 WINS reports on the disaster and decaying mass that New York’s public housing has become. In many other cities, government housing equals low income housing for lower class people, those on welfare, the elderly on Social Security, etc. In New York, government housing has always been a long standing staple of the middle class, allowing them to live in the city without being priced out of their neighborhoods. However, in New York City alone, according to Harold Shultz, senior fellow at the Citizens Housing and Planning Council, “There are 100,000 apartments teetering on the edge and depending upon the way various winds blow, they could fall over.” Much of this is due to recessions. Landlords can’t pay for the bills, or repairs, or anything of the sort. 1010 WINS reports “The owners of the largest of the city’s affordable-housing complexes, Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, recently gave up the 11,000-unit property when they couldn’t make their mortgage payments.” The FDNY frequents these types of buildings, often to rescue those residents trapped in creaky elevators, and denizens of the complexes have been known to stuff steel wools in the cracks of their floors, to prevent both drafts and rats. However, many of these folks have nowhere else to go. They can’t afford to move, let alone live somewhere else. And very little is being done.

So what’s my point? I want to know why we, as a nation, can raise endless funds for the suffering citizens in OTHER countries (i.e Haiti), and yet our children go hungry, our friends and relatives go without basic health insurance, and our senior citizens live in virtual death-traps of apartment buildings. Hell, New Orleans STILL isn’t back to normal, even nearly five years after Hurricane Katrina, and New York First Responders are STILL suffering the effects of 9/11, almost nine years later. THEY are losing funding, and yet our celebrity elite is sending check after check to Haiti, and pleading for us lower echelon folk to do the same, when we can barely make ends meet for ourselves. If every member of the bourgeois in this country (and by that I mean our actors, singers, bands, sports figures, who make more than seven figures a year) donated ONE year’s salary to clear the national debt, we wouldn’t be IN this mess. So tell me how any of this makes sense?

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seven minutes in history

Seven minutes in history. The President of the United States provided seven minutes of commentary at the recent Duke-Georgetown basketball game. That’s a new one, if you ask me. Considering that our last President couldn’t even speak properly, the idea that Obama can commentate on a fast paced sports game like basketball is very pleasing. Obama’s presence even deterred a foul-mouthed chant from picking up speed, as one student nudged another with the words, “Dude, the President of the United States is right there.”

President Obama seems intent, despite falling approval ratings, on showing that he really is a “man of the people”. Rather than sitting in the luxury suites many politicians prefer, President Obama munched on popcorn in his front-row seat, sitting between CBS announcers Verne Lundquist and Clark Kellogg, and joined by Vice President Joe Biden, White House senior adviser David Axelrod and White House spokesman Robert Gibbs. He shook hands with people entering and leaving the arena, and, despite increased security, the game (and crowd) was lively and energetic. It certainly helped President Obama’s image to be seen there, mingling with the every day citizen, and proving that he enjoys such mundane activities as a night out to watch the game with coworkers and/or friends.

However, this is ONE basketball game. Participation in ONE sporting event does not a man of the people make. And while I realize that even the President of the United States needs a chance to decompress away from the job, wife, and kids, he really needs to get on the ball already.

Where is the change he promised? Yes, he HAS held to some of his commitments, like signing the Freedom of Choice Act, and pushing to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy on gays in the military. And I certainly realize that this economy needs more than one year and a charismatic president to regain its balance. It’s not like President Obama is a faerie godmother or a djinn that can grant wishes with a flick of his wand or a nod of his head. These things take time, and I’m more than willing to give it to him. Nevertheless, what does the everyday citizen do when there is a promise from their leader, in writing, and said leader breaks their promise?

As a New Yorker, I am absolutely appalled by the fact that the Obama administration is reneging on its $11 billion dollar promise to the 9-11 Health Bill. They are committing only to $150 million for 2011, a staggering blow to the thousands of 9/11 First Responders who are suffering from medical conditions due to their endeavor at Ground Zero.

John Feal, a 9/11 First Responder living in Suffolk Country, is now missing half his foot, not to mention other difficulties. He has a letter from President Obama promising his support for the 9/11 Health Care Bill and is devastated at this turn of events.

“I’ve been to 39 funerals in the last four years, including today. Brian McCauley, 42 years old. We’re talking about human life. At what cost do you put anything in front of that? Cash for clunkers? Bailouts for banks?” Feal said in an interview with John Metaxas of CBS News.

Over 830 people have died since 9/11, 300 from cancer alone. Many of the survivors have lost limbs; have pulmonary problems such as emphysema and COPD, or other medical conditions, and can no longer work. Their health insurance alone (if they even have it) is not enough to cover the overwhelming costs of the care they require.

These are the people who risked their lives to save others on a day when many others would have turn and ran. They threw themselves headlong into danger to save their fellow human being, and many remained, day after day, week after week, month after month, in the spirit of grace and compassion, and the hopes of bringing closure to just one more family. How can they be repaid like this? Their lives brought to a screeching halt and the government who promised its support turning its back in their time of need?

 Mr. Obama, you need to rethink this one.

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It’s NOT all in my head!!

This is a familiar refrain for those of us suffering from chronic pain due to such culprits as fibromyalgia, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, RSD, etc.

When you first start experiencing symptoms, you chock it up to many different things. “I overdid it at the gym yesterday”, or “I’m not getting enough sleep”, or “I need a new mattress (pillow, sofa, chair, etc)”. You try to come up with any and every reason you could be suffering debilitating pain and overwhelming exhaustion other than even entertaining the thought that you could be sick. It is only when your symptoms become overpowering and begin devastating your life that you try to figure out what’s wrong.

However, don’t expect a wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am blood test and – BOOM! – a diagnosis. It doesn’t work that way. Lupus is called the great imitator for a reason; it mimics many different illnesses and disorders. Nothing shows up in your blood test (or any other diagnostic test, for that matter) to indicate fibromyalgia. RSD is only now being recognized by the medical community, and often goes undiagnosed for years. Your doctor must evaluate you through a process of elimination with many of these conditions in order to find the correct diagnosis.

So now you know what it is you’ve got. Unfortunately, that is not the end of your trouble. Because these conditions are so rare and so new to doctors, there aren’t many treatment options available, and many that are often leave you lethargic, spacey, and as unable to participate in life on meds as you are off-meds.

For women, this can be much worse. Women are social creatures. They need the support of their loved ones to get through the flare-ups and the down-spirals. They deserve this, from their families, partners and friends, especially when you consider the many things that women experience that make these conditions worse. Pregnancy increases the symptoms of fibromyalgia, well into the third semester and beyond, and women with fibromyalgia are much more likely to experience post-partum depression. Menopause causes the same thing, making many women feel as if they’ve been beat up all over. Many of the symptoms of PMS are far worse in patients suffering from chronic pain disorders than they are for women free of these conditions.

Oftentimes, our only solace is the support of our families and friends. Sadly, many sufferers don’t get that support because their “support system” doesn’t believe them about the intensity of the pain they suffer, or the absolute gut-wrenching depression that comes with being unable to get out of the bed, play with your kids, spend a night out without paying for it the next day. They need physical proof that someone is sick, something in writing from a lab. They just don’t get it.

I’m asking you to try and get it. Just because your friend, lover, sister, daughter, mother isn’t losing weight, coughing up a lung, vomiting or exhibiting any other of the many indicators of illness doesn’t mean she’s not sick. Believe me, it’s not all in her head.

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What a piece of work is a man!

All in all, I’d say Governor Patterson has had a bad week. His poll numbers, for lack of a better term, suck. He’s been the subject of speculation concerning his fidelity to his wife. And now, his top campaign advisor has up and quit after less than a year with the job. This is a woman who worked on both Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential bid and John Kerry’s 2004 White House effort. This is a woman who has backed losing candidates before, and didn’t jump ship. And, despite early campaigning (TV ads began a year in advance of the election, in November of 2009), it doesn’t seem as if New Yorkers want David Paterson back in office. In fact, while Governor Paterson’s approval rating rises and falls, 60% of New Yorkers would prefer someone else to run in his place. What does this tell us?

This makes me say “hmmmmmmm”. Not because I disagree with this at all. Even though I’m a registered Democrat, I hope to Goddess that Paterson does NOT get into office this year. Frankly, the only thing that gives Paterson any credit in my eyes is that he has been a continuous supporter of LGBT civil rights and marriage here in New York. That is his only endearing quality. Many other decisions he has made since March of 2008 are as much the voice of inexperience as they are of delusional infallibility.

Granted, the fiscal crisis we are in is NOT his fault. However, some of the steps taken to defeat this recession ARE. Never before in New York history has education suffered so much. When I graduated last May, the hiring freeze at the Department of Education was expected to last two years. Now, with another $146 million being cut from the budget, our children will suffer even more. Even CUNY has had to cut back on spending because the funds just aren’t there. Lack of teachers, lack of materials, lack of space, lack of any kind of connection between student and teacher, lack of parent involvement due to financial strain on the family… these are just a few of the scenarios that are likely due to these budget cuts.

 And of course, the ones to suffer the most are the ones who have no voice. In wealthy communities like Belle Harbor, Queens, I doubt they’ve seen so much as a single cent loss due to these cuts, because the families in that area have the money and means to support both the educational and extracurricular programs they desire. In lower-income areas, however, where these special programs are needed most, these schools will not get the money they need to adequately educate and care for our kids. Can someone tell me what kind of sense that makes?

Governor Patterson’s website lauds how he “successfully negotiated an MTA bailout plan allowing commuters to avoid painful service reductions”. Really? Where the hell as I? Because the last time *I* checked, the MTA was once again cutting service, raising fares and eliminating essential programs like Student Metrocards and door-to-door Access-A-Ride service. If Patterson wanted to be REALLY proactive, he would haul in an independent financial advisor, complete with credible CPAs and have them go over the MTA’s books, both the organization itself, and the head honchos. Considering that the MTA is an association that a few years ago, indicated a SURPLUS, and who is now claiming destitution, I believe that something is rotten in the state of Denmark, and an independent auditor is just what we need to get answers.

I would love to be able to support this man as my candidate, as I do believe he has come a long way, and he was thrust into this position very suddenly (by Elliot Spitzer’s infidelities). However, the last two years have shown that his naiveté has cost not only current new Yorkers, but future ones as well. And I’m not alone. Top Labor Unions are clamoring for Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to run for Governor with the Democratic Party nomination. Polls reveal that he would whoop Paterson’s ass in a Democratic primary election. I don’t know much about Andrew Cuomo, so my question becomes, which is the lesser of two evils? And who the hell is running on the Republican ticket?

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Moregasm: Babeland’s Guide to Mind-Blowing Sex (A Bluestockings Event with co-author Rachel Venning)

How did you find out about sex? From your mother? Your friends? Porn? A book? School? For many women of my generation, we didn’t get the “birds and bees” talk from our mothers. Discussion about sex was taboo, even among matriarchal feminist families like mine. Personally, I learned from my friends and older cousins, but most of it was after the fact, after I needed to know what was happening to my body. I remember one vivid instance of going to my eldest cousin in a panic because I thought there was something wrong with me. I was fifteen and had been “dry-humping” with my boyfriend. When I got home, my panties were damp. I thought I’d wet myself or something. My cousin explained what “getting wet” was, and I felt like an idiot. And sure, I had sex, and I knew what felt good, and what didn’t, but I didn’t even know where my clit was until I was in my early twenties. What Moregasm is attempting to do is make sure my experiences become the minority among women.

Tonight, with co-author and co-founder Rachel Venning in the house, quite a large crowd gathered at Bluestockings on Allen St. to hear more about Babeland’s Guide to Mind-Blowing Sex. And what was stressed the most? Love yourself. Figure out what YOU like. Enjoy the journey. The big “O” is not necessarily the point. Sex is a study of sensuality, of exploration of the body. Allow your pheromones to mesh, and focus on your breathing. You can have amazing sex without having an orgasm.

The most important thing, of course, is communication with your partner. Ask for what you want, and tell them what you don’t like. Own your own orgasm. Masturbate so you KNOW what you like. No one knows your body as well as you do, and your partner knows that. And be sure the communication works both ways. Ask them what they like, and pay attention to non-verbal cues like muscle-clenching and increased breath rate.

Sex is so important to us, as a species. It gives pleasure, it creates life, it’s an expression of love, it releases endorphins and releases stress, and, well, it’s just plain fun. A large part of our vitality stems from our sexuality, and yet we seem intent on labeling it, locking it in a box and keeping it under wraps. Why? Who cares if you had a vaginal or clitoral orgasm? Did you enjoy the sex? That’s what’s important.

The point is to never stop growing sexually. You may be in a place now where you prefer a vibrator to a partner because you want to explore yourself. You may want to play with gender roles or explore your curiosity for the same sex. You may be in a place where you want to surrender all control to someone else and experiment with BDSM. What matters in enjoying the journey, not to orgasm, but to finding out what makes you tick along the way, like rest stops along the open road. So take the first step and start riding.

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If Portugal can do it, why can’t we??

On January 8, 2010, the historically social conservative Portugal became the sixth country in Europe to legalize same sex marriage. The bill itself won the support of the liberals in the country, and conservative president Anibal Cavaco Silva is not expected to veto the bill, but rather is expected to ratify it. If all goes as planned, same -sex couples will be able to wed in Portugal by April 2010, ironically enough a month before the visit of Pope Benedict XVI. 

Marriage between same-sex couples was first made legal in the Netherlands in 2001. Since then, six additional countries have passed legislation to recognize marriage rights for LGBT citizens. Spain is the only country in the world that recognizes same-sex marriage and heterosexual marriage under the same law.*

Today, January 11, 2010, in a Federal courtroom in California, Perry v. Schwarzenegger began proceedings about this same debate: the legality of same sex marriage. For the first time in the United States’ history, same-sex marriage will be mentioned, and debated, by the federal court system. Theodore Olson and David Boies  (who worked the Bush v. Gore 2000 opposing one another) are high-profile lawyers representing two same-sex couples who were denied the right to marry when Prop 8 passed. According to their suit, “This unequal treatment of gays and lesbians denies them the basic liberties and equal protection under the law that are guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.” (All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.)

Marriage equality statistics in the U.S. are changing fast and furious these days. As of now, five U.S. states — Massachusetts (2004), Connecticut (2008), Iowa (2009), Vermont (2009), New Hampshire (2009 vote, 2010 enactment), as well as the District of Columbia (2009 vote, 2010 enactment) — recognize marriage equality. Two states, Maine and California, had recognized marriage equality at one point, but passed ballot initiatives rescinding marriage rights for gay and lesbian couples. Meanwhile, one state recognizes civil unions between same-sex couples — New Jersey — and several states have domestic partnership laws that grant certain benefits to same-sex couples. These states include Oregon, Maine, and Washington.

On the flip side, thirty states have passed constitutional amendments or laws explicitly banning same-sex marriage. According to the National Association of Social Workers, prohibiting marriage protection to same-sex individuals denies them 1,000 federal protections and responsibilities granted to heterosexual individuals. Opponents of same-sex marriage have also been championing Proposition 8 in California, a statewide ballot measure that rescinded marriage rights for LGBT citizens in that state.*

Today, with the start of these proceedings to overturn Prop 8, one of the opening remarks from Prop 8 supporters: Marriage centers on procreation. and should not be “transformed into a private… relationship designed simply to provide adult couples with personal fulfillment.” However, Theodore Olson, in his opening statement, argued that the Supreme Court has described marriage as a basic civil right, one associated with the right to liberty and intimate choice. “In short, in the words of the highest court in the land, marriage is the most important relationship in life,” and that “by sanctioning marriage only as between a man and a woman, the state creates a societal atmosphere of non-tolerance.”

I believe “non-tolerance” is the key word in this statement. The fact is that this is not the first time this country has been divided concerning the issue of marriage. 70% of our nation was opposed to interracial marriage when Loving v. Virginia passed in 1967. As of May 2009, the disparity between those for and against gay marriage was not nearly so large as those opposed to interracial marriage! According to gallup.com, 57% of Americans are opposed to gay marriage, whereas 40% of Americans are in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage.

While I do realize that a majority of Americans are against this measure, there is world of difference between 70% and 57%! This proves to me that Americans are, indeed, more tolerant than they were forty three years ago, although “tolerant” may not be the right word, either.

Why should society “tolerate” one’s choice of a partner? Why shouldn’t society ACCEPT this? Who are we, to sit as judge and jury over who someome else loves and chooses to spend the rest of their life with? How will my sister and her girlfriend getting married affect the marriage of heterosexual couples all over the country?

Here’s the answer: it won’t. The fact is that LGBT couples tend to have longer, more monogamous relationships, and lower rates of “divorce” and infidelity, than their heterosexual counterparts. And all that nonsense that marriage is purely for pro-creation? One, that’s a biblical argument, not a legal one. Additionally, does that mean heterosexual couples who can’t or don’t want to have children should be denied the right to get married? Try passing THAT one and see how many people clamor for the government’s heads on silver patters! Furthermore, the children of same-sex couples grow up more well-rounded than some children who have parents of both sexes. There is NO scientific evidence that gay couples have gay kids! So, tell me again, how same sex marriage deteriorates our country and the sanctity of marriage?

*statistics courtesy of http://gayrights.change.org

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New Year’s Reflections

It’s New Year’s Eve. According to the Gregorian calendar, today we bid farewell to the old year and usher in the new. It is a time for reflection, hope, and realignment of one’s priorities. Some accomplish this with New Year’s Resolutions, others with spending time with those they love on this special night, set apart from time and space. Me? I write. I do other things as well, but on New Year’s, I always write.

First let me ask: where the hell did the first decade of the 21st century go? It seems like yesterday that the entire world was freaking out about the year 2000. Was the world going to end? Was God going to show up wielding a might flaming sword of justice? Was Y2K going to send our technologically-savvy society back to the Dark Ages?

Fortunately, none of these things came to pass. In the last ten years, we’ve become even more technologically advanced* than I ever thought possible. Now, theorists are claiming the world will end on the Winter Solstice of the year 2012. God, thankfully, has been left out of that prophesy, but where is She, when people are starving and fighting and dying?

Why are we, as a people, still so damned concerned about what everyone else is doing instead of paying attention to the collapse of our own lives? I am not a Catholic, but there is plenty of truth in the Bible that we would do well to take to heart, such as Matthew 7:5, “first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.” Why do we insist on telling other people what they’re doing wrong without taking the time to look at our own mistakes?

I am not just spouting rhetoric. I truly believe that we, as a society, need to reflect on our own errors. Just as George Santayana said, “those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” Do we really want a repeat of 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and this economic nightmare that the Bush administration got us into? No? Then we better wake up and pay attention.

This past year, for me, has been, for the most part, amazing, but as with anything, there has been good and bad. I graduated college (finally!), although that hasn’t been much of a help in obtaining employment! My son graduated elementary school, and we’re exploring the world of middle school together, which is interesting, to say the least!! I have had to watch my friends and loved ones go through unspeakable pain, haunted by the knowledge that there is nothing I can do to help except be there. I have come full circle with my ex. He is still one of my closest friends, and I’m enjoying building a friendship with his girlfriend. (She and I are more alike than he would care to admit!)There has been a plethora of new life brought into this world, beginning with Baby Shotz in January, and it hasn’t ended yet! Lori’s Jellybean is due in May and my Blueberry will make her entrance in late June/early July.

Most of all, I have found love, a love that I never knew could exist. His pain is my pain and I still want to kick myself for all those wasted months when I was swimming a river in Egypt. He is my best friend, my soul mate, my confidant, my stability. There is nothing about me that he doesn’t know, and he loves every part of me, physically and spiritually. His love has healed me more than anything ever could, and I can’t WAIT to see what he’s like as a father. He’s going to make an AWESOME dad.

All in all, 2009 wasn’t so bad. My sincerest wish is that 2010 is just as good, if not better, and that all my loved ones prosper, both physically and emotionally.

*seriously, ten years ago, would YOU have thought of Facebook or a Droid back then? In 2000, I still had a beeper!

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Yes, I’m on a roll)

Tomorrow it will be nineteen years since my father died. There are times when it seems like it was yesterday, there times when it feels like it happened a million years ago, and times when it’s as if it happened to someone else, in another lifetime. What’s more disconcerting to me is that in eleven days, my grandmother will be gone three years, and that seems as if it was truly yesterday.

I was all of thirteen years old when my father died. He was forty-one and he was gone in the blink of an eye. Unlike my mother and sister, I remember every moment of that night in vivid detail. I was sick for Christmas (so what else is new??), and everything seemed so normal that night. Looking back, I know it wasn’t and I know my father, whether consciously or not, knew he was going to die. When I think back on it, it’s like I’m viewing everything in high definition, with surround sound and surround SMELL. Everything is so clear, from the clothes we were wearing, to the sounds of the sirens, to the smell of snow on the air.

Somewhere in the midst of all the chaos that ensued after my father’s collapse, one of the Ya-Yas* managed to pull me aside and inform me that I needed to be strong for my mom and sister. Michelle was a baby, eleven years old, but still quite young. My mom was not then nor has she ever been “strong” (Sorry, Mom). You wouldn’t be either if you were abused as a kid, went from being dutiful daughter to being a dutiful wife and mother, and then your world was ripped out from under you at the age of thirty four.

So I had to be the strong one. That’s what I’ve been for the last nineteen years. I’ve always had to be. When Papa died in 1994, I had to be strong for Mom and Nanny. When Nanny died three years ago, I had to be strong for Mom and TJ. It’s only recently that I’ve allowed other people to be strong for me.

However, the fact that I’ve always been the rock has taken its toll on who I am. My mother has accused me of being cold. Others have accused me of being a bitch. One of the Ya-Yas* asked why I was so hard and unforgiving, especially considering who my father was. That man LIVED by “turn the other cheek”. I got sick of having my face slapped, both literally and figuratively.

Which brings me to my current dilemma. One of my cousins has gotten in contact with me, after a silence of three years. The last time I spoke to her was the day we buried our grandmother, and I swore to keep her out of my life after that. She has managed to piss off every single member of my family, except her mother, and we’ve broken ties with her. She has used many of us for her own means and lives as if she is entitled to an easy existence because her dad left her mom when she was four. Well, boo-hoo, baby. My father dropped dead when I was thirteen and I lived through the horrors of hell after that. So did my sister. Neither one of us have ever expected a hand-out. We WORKED for what we have, and we’re stronger women for it.

 There are two things about this whole situation that unnerve me quite a bit. One is that my cousin and I used to be thick as thieves, and usually in as much trouble. She took me in off the street, she guided me through my pregnancy with Thomas, she was always there. And then *POOF* she became someone else overnight. She became manipulative and scheming, and yanked her children away from me before I could blink. She stopped calling just to chat and only got back in touch with me several years ago because of a crisis. Against my better judgment, I helped her then, and got bitten for it. I don’t understand her any more and I’m tired of being used.

The second thing that upsets me about all of this is that she thinks she can just waltz back into my life. Her mother clearly told her I was pregnant (although I’ve made it clear to my aunt that I want nothing to do with her daughter), and now she’s texting me about the baby. This pisses me off, because:

a)      I do NOT have sucker tattooed into my forehead. Once bitten, twice shy, you know?

b)      Where the hell was she when Greg left and I fell apart? When I was so far down the spiral, I couldn’t see the sun? Only GOOD news brings her out of the woodwork??

I would LOVE to have my cousin back in my life, but not this spoiled, dysfunctional brat who happens to be inhabiting her body. I have enough drama of my own, thanks. I don’t need her bullshit.

It’s Christmas, my dad’s favorite holiday, a time of forgiving, and family, and miracles. How come I find it so hard to find compassion and forgiveness in my heart for someone who was once my closest confidant and best friend?

*One of my mother’s five sisters

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Conflict is a bitch…

So what started me on thinking that I needed a place to vent, vomit, rage, cry, et al was this morning. I had the weirdest dream about this guy I used to hang out with. (And no I’m not stupid enough to name names).

 In the dream, we were still friends, and I realized, that deep in my heart, I will always love the son of a bitch. I don’t want to, especially not after what he put me through, but, unfortunately for my soft-hearted self, there will always be a place in my heart for him. It’s not love in the way certain people I used to know implied that I loved him; that was simply passion talking, and we all know that passion eventually burns those consumed by it. However, in our own way, I believe we did love each other very much. The gods know that we knew more about each other than our significant others knew about us, and vice versa. For all I know, that love is what spurred him to hurt me so badly; he feared it.

 Am I still furious with him, with what he did? I honestly don’t know. I tried desperately to swallow that entire experience whole, without digesting what had really gone on, without taking the time to really understand the WHY. I was too caught up in the WHAT and the HOW the fuck I was going to get through it. I can look back now and realize more of what was actually going on during that time. Hindsight is always 20/20, and now that time has passed, I’m able to view the full incident more objectively.

 I do know that while I may always love him, I don’t want him back in my life. Ever. For all the times we shared, all it took was one incident, and my trust was broken. It would take several lifetimes to rebuild that which was torn apart.

 In all honesty, when I think of him, if I think of him at all, it’s with derision and disdain, which in some ways is worse than hate. I can’t truthfully sit here and say I give a damn what he does, or how he does it, because I don’t. As long as he stays out of my life, I’m quite content with my lot. However, it baffles me that I hold him in such contempt, and yet can acknowledge that I will always care for him. *sigh* Maybe its hormones.

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