Friday, June 29, 2012

Public meltdowns!

Have you ever been in with someone who makes you feel like you have to walk on eggshells?  These kinds of people have hair trigger tempers and have no qualms about having meltdowns in public.  My husband's first wife used to enjoy saying rude and demoralizing things to my husband in public, knowing that he wouldn't react because he didn't want to make a scene.  She got away with outrageous behavior, and my husband let her get away with it because he was afraid of what others would think of the spectacle.  My husband would stand there sweating and blushing while his ex made an ass of herself.  It never occurred to him that he was not responsible for her behavior.

Recently, I read a book written by Heather Poole, a flight attendant with over fifteen years of experience.  In her recent book, Cruising Attitude, she writes of an incident she observed involving a fellow flight attendant and an unruly passenger.  The passenger was belligerent and rude and he told the flight attendant to "fuck off" when she asked him to sit down and buckle up.  After unsuccessfully trying to reason with the angry man, the flight attendant leaned over and whispered "Fuck you." in the man's ear.  He went ballistic.  She called the cops and had him arrested.  She waved goodbye while the man was dragged off the plane in handcuffs.

My point in relating this anecdote is not that I think you should resort to bullbaiting difficult people.  It's more that when you're in a potentially embarrassing situation with an adult who threatens you with bad behavior in public, you should just go ahead and let them act out.  I guarantee if the person freaks out, it won't be you who is considered an asshole, it'll be the person acting out.  A public meltdown is embarrassing, for sure, but you can use it to your advantage, especially if you have a cell phone that makes movies.  Stay calm, though.  You might even want to discreetly distance yourself and watch it as if you were an uninvolved, objective person.

Here's the thing.  Adults are responsible for their own behavior.  You don't have any control over anyone else's behavior but your own.  While it can be embarrassing or humiliating to be with someone who acts out in public, you have a choice as to whether or not you have to put up with it.  And someone who threatens to act out in public in an attempt to control you is someone you should allow to go ahead and hang themselves by their own actions.  It may seem like you're dying a thousand deaths when they act like jerks, but trust me, you're not the one that others think is a loser.       



Mandatory fun...

My husband and I went to a picnic held by the Army today.  It was actually kind of fun.  We ended up talking to one of his co-workers, who turned out to have a great sense of humor.  It was hot outside, but there was a nice breeze.  The food wasn't too terrible, either.  Beats the mandatory fun picnic we had two years ago before our move to the area where we currently live.  I got to make a Soldier blush because he was walking around with a fake Hawaiian lei on.  I commented that I could see he'd just been laid.

Just wish we could have done this tomorrow.  I'm ready for the weekend to begin.

ETA:  It was so hot yesterday... maybe it's better we didn't have the mandatory fun then!


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Unassisted births...

I am not a mother and will probably never be a mother.  However, yesterday, while hanging out on my favorite ExMormon site, I started a discussion about a woman who was depressed about being pregnant and had no health insurance.  Because she was depressed, broke, and not wanting to be pregnant, she was planning to have an unassisted birth at home.  Indeed, she was even considering foregoing a midwife's services.  This mom already has two kids, but both were born in a hospital and mom had the benefit of an epidural.  Mom was apparently going to "trust God" to make sure the baby was born okay.  At five months pregnant, she has yet to seek prenatal care.

I was interested in what others would think of this situation.  I have advanced degrees in public health and social work and have worked in maternal and child health, as well as with teen moms.  Teen moms, being young, poor, and clueless, would be more likely to be in the situation I described.  It was my job to help them get hooked up with services to help ensure that their baby was born healthy.

Anyway, the response to my query was interesting.  A lot of people seem to think that babies should be born in a hospital.  Like I said, I don't have any babies myself, but I have some expertise in public health.  Frankly, I think the last place a healthy person should be is in a hospital.  There are many exotic germs there and hospitals are typically very busy, noisy, regimented places.  Come in to a hospital and say good-bye to your autonomy because there are many rules.  Chances are, you'll be hooked up to an IV, cut off from food and drink, and encouraged to take a hit of Pitocin.  That's not appealing to me.  I would rather give birth in a place where I have more choices.

On the other hand, I totally understand that sometimes a medical environment is best.  Mothers who have high risk pregnancies or are carrying multiples... or even just first time moms who don't know what to expect might prefer a hospital birth.  My feeling, though, is that women should have a choice.

Of course, the mom I described in my initial post is depressed and, from what I gathered, is a bit reckless.  So what should be done about her?  Several people insinuated that the mom better get the right care, since she could be held liable if her baby suffered harm due to her choices.  At that point, I had to speak up.  One poster even said that pre-natal care isn't just for the mom, it's for the baby, too.  Duh.

My response was that to my knowledge, no mother is legally required to get pre-natal care or even show up at a medical facility.  Giving birth at home with no one around is legal.  And while I agree that pre-natal care is desirable, I would hate to see it become a legal requirement because that would come too close to treating pregnant women like incubators who have no rights until they give birth.  While I do understand that pregnant women are responsible for another life, the fact is that until the baby is born, it's part of the mom.  And the baby's rights cannot supersede the mother's.  Unless we start locking up pregnant women and forcing them to take care of themselves-- hell, unless we start locking up fertile women and forcing them to take care of themselves-- there's no way we can ensure that every unborn baby will get optimal care.  As it is now, many people feel perfectly okay about telling pregnant women what they should or shouldn't do.  Once the baby is born, some people still think it's okay to opine about a mother's choices.

I was so interested in this poster's assertion that the mother could be held responsible for a bad birthing outcome that I started searching the Internet for information.  Most of what I found indicated that while there have been cases of physicians getting court orders to force pregnant women to get medical treatment, the trend seems to lean more toward respecting the mother's choices.  While I'm sure it's frustrating for a medical professional to see a mother make choices that seem unwise, I think it's better to let competent adults choose for themselves.

Most moms will cooperate because they would rather do what's best for their kids.  I don't think we should make new laws dictating what pregnant women can or cannot do, just because a few of them don't want to get with the program.  Besides, sometimes doctors are wrong and push interventions that ultimately are not necessary or even dangerous.  I would be very upset if I went to a hospital for help and was treated like an incompetent or a criminal and was forced to take treatment I didn't want... it wouldn't make me want to seek help the next time I needed it.  So I think it makes sense to respect the mom's choices... and let them in on choosing their own medical care and that of their unborn child's.

Women have been having babies for thousands of years and even today, plenty of women give birth unassisted.  In fact, in many other western countries, having a baby in a hospital is not the norm, unless the mother needs medical treatment.  Giving birth is a very natural part of life and needn't be turned into a medical procedure.  That being said, I personally would not be comfortable having a baby with no one around to help me.  On the other hand, my choice may not be another woman's choice.

The bottom line is that we can't force protection on a pregnant woman.  We have to let the woman make choices for herself, as hard as it is.  As for the woman I wrote of, I hope she gets help for her depression.  She has two kids who need her and a baby that is going to be born.  Those kids deserve the best possible start in life.  But even as I recognize that they deserve a good start, I don't think it's my place to force their mom to seek a doctor's care.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

"Thanks for having me. Literally."

My birthday was yesterday. I turned the big 4-0. My husband and I have been on the road all week. He has business in the city where I was born and where my parents now live. Yesterday, I went to visit my parents. I hung out with my mom for a couple of hours while my dad slept. When it came time to leave, my mom said "Thanks for stopping by." I turned and said, "Thanks for having me... Literally." I posted about this on Facebook and a few friends thought my mom and I had a Hallmark moment. Actually, it was just a very silly moment... Kinda like when my mom had a hysterectomy and I lamented that my very first home had been demolished.

 I had a nice birthday. Hubby gave me a bag of Godiva truffles and a mushy card. My husband is the KING of mushy cards! I love them, though. He really is my better half... Much sweeter and more patient than I am, anyway. He also took me out to dinner and we had a fantastic meal. I ate guinea fowl for the first time. Unfortunately, I woke up in the middle of the night, in need of an antacid. Then I couldn't get back to sleep. We're going home tomorrow. I'm ready to go. I miss my dogs. I'm just glad our visit went off without a hitch.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Cancer Treatment Centers of America...

Maybe I shouldn't comment on this, since I am fortunate enough not to have anyone in my day to day life who is dealing with cancer.  I still sort of cringe whenever I see ads like this one...


These ads are on TV all the time, no doubt inspiring hope in a lot of people who are facing long odds against cancer.  After seeing one of their ads for the umpteenth time, I finally did some Googling and ran across this forum on the American Cancer Society's Web site.

This thread basically outlines experiences people have had with Cancer Treatment Centers of America. I couldn't help but feel sad and outraged for some of the people who looked into getting treatment from them.  I came away with the impression that these "treatment centers" really are all about the almighty dollar rather than helping people overcome cancer.

On the other hand, there were a couple of people on the thread who indicated they had a good experience... There were not as many positive responses as there were negative, but there were enough to make me wonder.


So what do you think?  Are these centers for real?  Or do they really prey on the dying by giving them false hopes?



I will say that Phyllis Ellis has become almost as ubiquitous on daytime TV as the Hoveround guy, Michael Leland...

ETA:  2017....  Check this out.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

False advertising in an old video by the LDS church...

Check out this cheesy video from YouTube...



This video is called On the Way Home.  It stars Robert Pine (of CHiPs fame) and was made in 1992.  I had never heard of it until one day a couple of weeks ago.  I was on the Recovery from Mormonism Web site and someone posted about how this video had a subliminal anti-drug message in it.  Since I love cheesy videos, especially if they have not so well hidden messages, I decided to watch this dreck.  By the time I was finished with it, I knew I'd have to review it.  Though this video is just 30 minutes long, I ended up writing a very long review indeed!

And then I ended up baring my testimony as to why this video is utter bullshit and full of false advertising.  The following is an edited excerpt from my review...



Why I don't buy the Mormons' mantra, "Families Forever"

I have never been a member of the LDS church. My husband, however, was a convert about fifteen years ago. He joined the church as his first marriage was failing. At the time, he and his ex wife had been married for seven years. She had a son from her first marriage and they had two young girls together. My husband was not very happy in the marriage, but he loved his family and didn't want to get a divorce.

His ex wife one day decided that she wanted to try Mormonism and said she planned to take the kids to church. My husband went along with it, because he knew there would be trouble if he didn't. Apparently, the church was very welcoming and seemed like the answer to their problems. My husband felt accepted and loved by the members. It seemed like a way to stop the inevitable divorce that loomed on the horizon.

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately for me), though my husband initially bought into Mormonism, it wasn't enough to save his first marriage. Within two years, he and his ex wife separated, even though they still attended church and had been to the temple to be "sealed for eternity" to each other. About six months after they separated, the ex presented my husband with divorce papers as they celebrated Easter at my husband's father's house. She later claimed that she had only meant to "scare him straight" and get him to change into the man she felt he should be. But he took her offer to divorce seriously and they split up in 2000. Now, in 2012, he has no relationship whatsoever with his daughters, who are now young women. They have shunned him and now consider their mother's third husband their "dad"... despite their real father's efforts to stay involved in their lives and despite the fact that he paid a generous amount of child support to their mother for many years.

If you watch On the Way Home, the overwhelming message you'll get is that joining the LDS church is a ticket to family solidarity, warm, fuzzy feelings, new friends, and good clean fun. The video presents a very appealing package, designed to attract people who are hurting, have experienced loss, or are in a bad place in their lives. But it does not present any of the negative aspects of church membership. Nothing is mentioned about your non-church member friends and family members who will not be able to attend your Mormon wedding unless they too join the church and become "temple worthy". It does not explain what happens if you ultimately decide Mormonism is not for you or how the church uses family ties to bind and gag its members.

LDS church members have a saying among themselves that they use when trying to get people to join their religion. They claim that members should always give potential converts "milk before meat". That means, they don't give converts any information that might make the church look bad or unappealing. They present only the really pleasant, positive, and heartwarming aspects of the church. For example, a member who is trying to recruit an adult child of an alcoholic might emphasize that the LDS church forbids its members to drink alcohol (or coffee or tea). If a potential convert has family that doesn't seem very cohesive, the member might emphasize the church's "family home evening", which requires families to do an activity together on Monday nights. If a family has experienced loss, the church member will tell the potential convert that Mormons believe families can be together forever.

But they don't talk about the less appealing aspects of the religion. No one wants to discuss some of the sketchier details of Joseph Smith's claims of how he founded the church. They don't want to discuss polygamy or the church's not too distant racist past and very recent homophobic policies. They'd rather not talk about the fact that none of the claims made by Joseph Smith are really verifiable; indeed, church members seem to go most on warm and fuzzy feelings and emotions (burning in the bosom), rather than facts, logic, or common sense.

In any case, my husband joined the LDS church and remained faithful to its teachings for several years. Despite his efforts, his marriage still failed and his kids still became very estranged from him. And while some might blame my husband for leaving Mormonism, the fact is, they were estranged from him before he left the church. In fact, their mother had a history of alienating her kids from their fathers. The church had nothing to do with it and did not stop it from happening! So much for "families forever".

Nowadays, we lead a pretty religion free lifestyle. We drink whatever we want to drink and watch whatever films or TV shows we want to watch. We take trips. We wear whatever we want to wear, especially when it comes to our underwear. We spend our Sundays sleeping in. We enjoy each other's company. My husband and I have a very solid and happy marriage, despite the fact that church members promised my husband he'd be missing out on "blessings" if he left Mormonism. Some might say that my husband traded in his blessings in the afterlife for happiness now... And who knows? That could be true. But we are happy together and our marriage has lasted for almost ten great years, already longer than the first marriage he had with his ex wife. And no, we don't have kids together and his kids apparently hate him and are hellbent on erasing him from their lives. But we do have beagles who love us and don't place any conditions or expectations on their love for us. They accept our love and affection without any manipulation or guilt trips. Isn't that the kind of love the Mormons are advertising with this film?

Our lifestyle, in fact, is a lot like the colorful happy montages in On the Way Home... without all the black and white bad memories.

Overall

I don't want to rain on anyone's parade. I know there are people who are delighted to be LDS and love their religion. And that's just fine. If you're getting what you want and need from your belief system, there's no reason at all to change it. You should always do whatever makes you happy. But I can state without hesitation that Mormonism is not the only path to happiness and Mormonism in and of itself really doesn't lead to the joy that this film would have viewers believe.


****

My husband and I have reason to believe that his two daughters, whom he had cared for and supported their whole lives, might have either gotten their last names legally changed or were actually adopted by their mother's third husband. I make a point of not looking up my husband's ex wife or his kids because doing so always messes with my peace. But my husband keeps an eye on his daughters because he loves them. And he was very upset when he told me that his daughters had finally dropped his last name in favor of their stepfather's.


Their stepfather came into their lives when they were children, though they were not so young that they shouldn't be able to remember their real dad. They used to love him. I actually witnessed that love when they visited us once in 2003. The girls' stepfather has been around for more than half of their lives, but he was not around when they were helpless babies who needed diaper changes and doctor's visits. Hell, stepdad wasn't even a legal adult when those kids were babies!


And stepdad, by all accounts, didn't have a job when the girls were young. Yes, he was always around the house, but he wasn't paying the bills. And, by many accounts, he wasn't even interacting with them. He was playing video games.


But my husband's ex wife, in yet another showing of her nasty, vindictive, vile manner, has apparently influenced those two dumb girls to dump the only people they will know besides their mother and other half siblings who have a biological connection to them. Their mother was adopted and, by my husband's account, has always had issues with being adopted. Yet she has apparently decided to visit that reality on her three oldest kids. Eldest son's father never lost his rights, but was not involved in the kid's life until the kid was a grown man and the ex wanted to cut my husband (the man her son called "dad") out of his life.


My husband, apparently a bad person for leaving Mormonism and an abusive ex wife, faithfully supported three kids. He did not fight for his kids the way I would have... But he was there for them in more ways than they realize. And they have thrown him away, in part, for a ridiculous made up religion that they don't even understand.


In all fairness, Mormonism was really just a tool. My husband's ex wife would have done this regardless of whether or not the family had gone LDS. However, when I see a video that promotes Mormonism as a magic cure all for ailing families, I can't help but think about how my husband's family was destroyed. Mormonism didn't stop the destruction. Indeed, it enhanced it. My husband's daughters think he's going to go to hell for "turning away from the truth". Only Mormonism isn't truth.


Let me make one thing very clear. I don't mourn my husband's daughters. If I never heard from them again, I'd be okay with it. I don't like them and fear that they are just as toxic and cruel as their mother is. But my husband is their father and he loves them and always will. It breaks my heart to see him hurt over what they did. It makes me sad that I couldn't give him another child and another chance to be the dad he really is, rather than the absentee sperm donor father he has been painted to be.


As a human being, I pity them for being so colossally stupid. I don't see how they will get to enjoy their "dad" forever. Their mother doesn't know what commitment means... nor does she have a real concept of what family is. And as long as she is in their lives, she will influence them to do dumb things. Add in Mormonism and its magical thinking and you have a disaster of epic proportions.


So yeah, On the Way Home, with its promotion of Mormonism does, to me, seem like false advertising. I don't like this film. I don't think it's harmless or "nice". I think it's dangerous for anyone who is troubled and looking for a solution. Mormonism destroys families.


Sunday, June 10, 2012

"Why don't you eat what you've got?"

I remember when I was a small child, my mom would fill up my plate at dinner time.  I'd eat a few bites and then want more.  My mom would look at me in disgust and say in her most peevish tone of voice, "Why don't you eat what you've got?"  Suitably chastened, I would then try to enjoy what I already had on my plate before accepting more.

Many years later, I look at super sized families like the Duggars, who are hellbent on having "blessing" after "blessing".  To date, Michelle Duggar has had 19 pregnancies.  She's had two sets of twins, fifteen single births, and two miscarriages.  She and her husband, JimBob, now have 19 living children, several of whom are now adults, but still sleeping in the same dormitory like bedroom as their toddler aged siblings.

The Duggars, who once lived a very humble existence with all those kids living in a tiny house, now live in a large compound.  They have a reality television show that has allowed them to enjoy things that would have been well beyond their means had they never been discovered.  Oddly enough, the Duggars claim not to watch TV... and yet TV has afforded them a luxurious lifestyle.

Since about 2004, this family has been on the airwaves and I have watched their ranks expand with each new pregnancy.  I've watched their clothing styles change from frumpy jumpers with lacy collars and polo shirts with khakis to name brand sportswear.  There are an astounding number of "blessings" in that household... and yet the Duggars still want more.

They claim that each child is a "gift" from God and they are happy to accept any "gift" God wants to send to them.  But I can't help but think that with each new "gift", they get the chance at another season on TV.  Last year, Michelle Duggar hoped to have her 20th "gift", even though her 19th child was born very prematurely and has had some significant medical obstacles to overcome.  I think about the cost of that 19th child Michelle Duggar had in her 40s...  That child--Josie-- no doubt generated huge medical bills.  A regular middle class couple with a child who had Josie's medical problems, would no doubt have serious challenges taking care of that child's needs.

Yet the Duggar family had 18 healthy children before Josie... 18 kids who no doubt also generate expenses.  Yes, several of those kids are now legal adults who can help out, but they still live at home.  They are committed to the "family business"... JimBob's side businesses and their TV show, which they have to keep on the air if they hope to maintain their lifestyle.  

The Duggars have become entertainers.  And they are presumably paid well to be entertainers.  Michelle Duggar's hyperactive womb has turned them into stars just for existing and being conservative Christians. A lot of people admire them because they seem like such a nice, wholesome, loving family.  But here they are, whoring themselves on TV-- a gadget they claim is too evil to use themselves-- and Michelle is encouraged to risk her life to keep having "blessings" to prove to everyone just how special and blessed they are as a family.  To me, it just looks an awful lot like greed and foolishness.

I tell you what.  I cringe when I hear that family talk about how every child is a blessing from God and that each child is proof of God's favor.  What about the many men and women who are infertile?  Does God not love them too?  I don't have kids.  I always wanted them, but I fell in love with a man who had a vasectomy with his first wife.  A vasectomy reversal has not been effective in making us fertile... and rather than spend thousands on medical or legal remedies in order for us to become parents, we opted to stay childless.  Does that mean that God doesn't love us?

I realize we're pretty lucky.  The desire to have children together was not that strong for us.  There are a lot of couples out there who don't have kids and go to great lengths to have them.  They endure expensive and invasive medical treatments or they set aside their privacy to allow social workers and lawyers to allow them to adopt.  And sometimes, those great lengths they go to aren't enough and they end up with nothing to show for their efforts.

I look at the Duggar family and others like them and I hear my mom chastising me.  "Why don't you eat what you've got?"  I want to ask Mrs. Duggar why what she has isn't enough.  She has beautiful children, most of whom are completely normal and healthy.  It looks like even her 19th child, Josie, will overcome many of her medical challenges.  Why isn't that enough?  What good is being a mother when your oldest daughters have to assist you in raising them?  What good is being a mother when you can't even tell reporters what your children's favorite colors are or what subjects they enjoy in school?  Why can't the Duggar family enjoy what they already share and so many people would love to have?

Just a thought that popped into my head this Sunday morning...

You are not special...

Yesterday, I ran across a news article about a very profound high school graduation speech given by a David McCullough Jr., a faculty member at Wellesley High School.  This teacher, whose specialty is English, was brutally honest as he broke the news to graduates that they are not special.  Using empirical evidence, this teacher told the young people that their whole lives, they had been sheltered, overprotected, and doted upon.  As I read this article, I couldn't help but cheer inwardly.

I grew up in the 1970s and 80s.  Back then, the news wasn't beamed into our homes 24/7 .  Parents were not so afraid to let their kids walk to the store by themselves, play outside unattended, or ride in the front seat of the car without a seatbelt.  Back then, kids didn't necessarily get a trophy just for showing up.  We had bullies, but there were no special laws protecting us from them.  In fact, we were often expected to handle bullies ourselves.  Of course, back then, we also didn't have the Internet, 24/7 news, or kids shooting up their schools.

I look at today's young people and I see kids who in some ways, have been exposed to much more than I was when I was their age.  And yet, in many fundamental ways, they have been exposed to much less and are less resilient.  My husband has told me that a lot of young people arrive at Army boot camp not knowing how to drive a car and never having spent a night away from home.  And yet, they know a lot more about sex, violence, and broken families.

I always wanted kids and I probably would have been fine as a mother... And yet, it makes me sad to think that today's mothers pretty much have to overprotect their kids or else be at risk of being labeled neglectful.  My own mom probably would have been visited by CPS if she were raising me today.

Anyway, I was really glad to see someone address the state of things for kids today.  I was glad to see someone tell these kids that despite the fact that they have been pampered and overprotected for so long, they are not special and are joining the ranks of many people like themselves.  It's the honest truth and one that more young people need to hear before they become adults.  There's a rampant sense of entitlement among so many today... It's good to know that someone had the stones to set them straight and let them know the real deal.

Those kids listening to that speech are certainly privileged and most definitely loved by their families... but to the world at large, they're like everyone else.  And it's up to them to set themselves apart and make others sit up and take notice.  It's up to them to achieve.  Because in real life, people don't get trophies just for showing up.


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Summer colds are the worst!

For the last couple of days, I've been struggling with a nasty cold given to me by my loving husband.  The last time I was sick was about two years ago.  I had forgotten how much it sucks.

When we were in Germany, my spouse started to feel crummy.  He's had the bug for two weeks and I thought maybe I would escape it, but then I started to feel icky Monday afternoon.  Within a matter of hours, I was sniffling, hacking, and feeling like warmed over poo.  The last two days have been pretty miserable.  I haven't felt like doing much, though I did manage to get some housework done yesterday.  I was hoping to get some writing done, but just felt too wretched.

Something's going around, too.  A couple of days ago, hubby and I were supposed to meet some friends for dinner.  I've known this friend since we were ten years old and she's now a career military officer.  She and her husband are going to their new duty station in Japan tomorrow.  Anyway, she called to postpone our get-together, because her husband is also sick...  We're supposed to meet up tonight, though.

I feel better today than I did yesterday, so I think I'll be somewhat functional...  I'm supposed to feel like this in the wintertime, though!


Monday, June 4, 2012

Monday morning already!

It's amazing how fast a couple of weeks can fly by.  A week ago right now, I was on an airplane headed for Washington, DC, sitting in a first class seat next to some guy whose fly was down.  Two weeks ago, I was waking up in Cologne, Germany, trying to figure out what was going to come next on our whirlwind trip to Europe.  Today, I'm sitting at my desk, drinking chocolate milk, and watching Dr. Phil again.

The cool thing about this, though, is that we have some things we're looking forward to.  Okay, I'm not really looking forward to June 20th this year, because that's my 40th birthday and I'm slated to spend it in the town where I was born.  My husband has Army business in Hampton, Virginia and because it's my birthday and my parents live in Hampton, I'm tagging along.  I usually like birthdays, but there's something inherently shitty about turning 40, especially when you're an overeducated housewife!

Also, I don't really want to see my parents that badly.  I know that sounds rotten, but we've never been particularly close.  I'm their fourth kid and was apparently an unpleasant surprise.  My dad has dementia and the last time we saw each other, he barely acknowledged me except to tell me I'd gained weight since he last saw me (and my silent response was that he'd lost brain cells since I last saw him).  He would only talk to my mom and my husband and kept calling me by my older sister's name.

My dad and I have always had a very complicated relationship.  He's an alcoholic and I had to deal with the brunt of his alcoholism because when I was growing up, he worked out of our home.  The stress of owning his own business led him to drink even more than he did before he left the military.  As a strong-willed and opinionated teenager growing up in that environment, I clashed with my dad a lot.  I don't want to say I don't love my dad, but I could say I don't really like him much.  He's never really appreciated me for who I am.  And when I did show talents and aptitudes for things he approved of, he competed with and criticized me instead of offering me encouragement.

But, once we get past my birthday in a couple of weeks, we'll have November to look forward to.  In November, we're going to spend a couple of weeks in Scotland... I still have to finish paying for the cruise we're taking, but I'm actually kind of looking forward to that.  Once we've paid for it, I can start planning in earnest the things we're going to do on either side of the cruise.  And then after that, I can start planning 2013's cruise from Rome to Athens.  Yes, when you're overeducated housewife with no kids and no real job, sometimes you can travel.  Especially when your spouse is well paid and in no danger of being laid off.  Wish we could have that kind of security forever, but retirement looms in the next couple of years.

What's really funny about the past couple of weeks is that my husband, who once was very skeptical about Space A travel, is now thinking of ways to use it to save us money on our travels.  We have already bought tickets to Scotland, but I imagine we could end up using Space A to get to Italy next year.  Hell, all we'd really have to do is get to Germany and find a cheap flight or train ticket south.

So I guess I don't mind too much that time is marching on.  I'd rather not be turning 40, but I guess it's better than the alternative.  And if I don't have kids or a stunning career, at least I have a loving husband, two cute beagles, and the chance to travel...    


Friday, June 1, 2012

Hard to believe...

a week ago, we were in Germany enjoying a great vacation.  It's taken most of the week to catch up with everything.  I have a feeling that within a couple of days, it'll feel like we never went anywhere.

Travel is one thing that really keeps me going.  I feel fortunate that we are able to travel as much as we do to the places we go to.  Now for a complete change of subject.

This morning, I happened to catch Dr. Phil.  The episode that aired this morning was almost refreshing, since Dr. Phil actually believed a man over a woman.  The subject was a grandmother who had accused her granddaughter's father of molesting his child.  The child's mother, wanting to do right by her kid, took steps to limit the father (her ex boyfriend) from seeing his daughter.

Meanwhile, the father, who now has a new girlfriend, sought Dr. Phil's help in clearing his name.  He swore he'd never touched his daughter in a sexual way and, in fact, was beside himself that he had been accused of such a terrible thing.

Adding to the controversy was the fact that grandma had never liked her daughter's ex boyfriend.  She was shrill and sounded emotional as she spoke about him and his alleged abuses, but never were there any tears in the woman's eyes.  In fact, to me she just looked angry.

Anyway, Dr. Phil arranged to give both the dad and the grandma polygraph tests.  The dad passed with flying colors.  Grandma failed, though she continued to insist with ever increasing desperation that her granddaughter had indeed been molested by her father.

I could not blame the father at all as he seethed at his daughter's grandmother, vowing to take legal steps to make sure the child had limited contact with her from now on.  Frankly, under the circumstances, I can hardly blame dad for doing such a thing.  Accusations of sexual abuse are very serious.  They can ruin a person's life-- take away their freedom or their livelihood.  Besides, any child who may have been reported sexually abused also stands to lose a lot.  He or she will have to endure interviews by CPS, invasive medical exams, and perhaps foster care.   While I would never tell anyone they shouldn't report suspected abuse, I also think that such reports should be given with extreme care.  They have the power to be very destructive and damaging, and not just to the accused.

As I watched this guy being vindicated on a daytime talk show, I couldn't help but feel angry for him.  As a father, he's going to be viewed with suspicion by a lot of people.  For some reason, when a couple splits up, the man is more often viewed with suspicion than the woman is... especially if there are children involved.  And a lot of innocent guys end up being accused of terrible things, often unfairly.  My heart ached for Dr. Phil's guest and his daughter, who no doubt has had to deal with the ramifications of her grandmother's misguided attempts to "protect" her.

It's good that this dad was vindicated.  My heart breaks for those who don't have Dr. Phil to run interference for them.  False allegations of sexual abuse are about as low as a parent or grandparent can sink when it comes to custody issues.  How dare anyone use a child to fight an adult's battle.