All posts after 2/13/09 will be in chronological order, newest on top.
It's Early March Madness to Attack Jim Calhoun's Salary!
As we close in on the last few days before the start of March Madness, I’m appalled at the notion that the state of Connecticut would consider following Ken Krayeske’s suggestion that U Conn men’s basketball coach, Jim Calhoun, should have his $1.6 million salary lowered commensurate with the rest of the state employees’ decrease in earnings.
Krayeske is the law student at U Conn who initiated this debate and is now, I’m sure, enjoying his fifteen minutes of fame. Though I understand that the legal mind is apt to follow an argument to its logical conclusion, if this is a taste of the type of attorney Krayeske will be, I hope he never defends and innocent man!
Yes, Calhoun is – technically – a state employee so I’ll agree that, on paper, this looks fair. However, working as a head basketball coach for a top NCAA team is in another league entirely (pun intended) from the run-of-the-mill worker employed by the government.
I can think of few professions where one’s performance is as highly publicized as that of an NCAA men’s basketball head coach because there’s simply no wiggle room in sports…success means a winning season, end of story. Anything else is a failure.
I know this first hand, having seen six different coaches at my beloved alma mater, the University of Kentucky, in my lifetime. I’ll admit that I was a too young to actually remember the legendary Adolph Rupp during his last two years as head coach, but I’m positive my parents (both rabid Big Blue fans) watched and/or listened to every single game.
Since then, I’ve cheered five different coaches on their quest for another national title. Three of them pulled it off and it was quick ‘adios’ to the rest. Wildcat fans are a bit spoiled though, and have little tolerance for anything less than a season ending with, at the very least, a trip to the Final Four…though an Elite Eight appearance with a rookie team can be forgiven if the coach is well liked.
The average tenure for a Division I men’s basketball coach is a meager three and a half years. And in the SEC it’s only one and a half! When I think of Calhoun’s accomplishments during his 22 years at U Conn and his recent 800th win (only seven coaches have ever achieved this feat), I’m even more flabbergasted at Krayeske’s audacity.
How would he like to have a hoard of bloodthirsty fans judging his every move at work? Or how about having a litany of sports writers dissecting his opening statements to a jury or the choices he made in plea-bargaining?
Or how about managing a group of amazingly talented, usually egotistical young men, most under the age of 21, day in and day out? These kids are under immense pressure to outperform their peers in order to get the notice of the NBA, while still being held accountable for their work in the classroom.
Imagine asking these would-be superstars to sacrifice themselves and play as a team. I can’t imagine the finesse it takes to get a hot shot, 6’7” center to forego the easy layup and pass the ball out to the perimeter so that some 5’11” guard, who has no real future in the game, can shoot the three.
Connecticut Governor Jodi Rell even had the nerve to say that Calhoun’s response to Krayeske’s questioning was “embarrassing.” I wonder what she’d think if he took the $12 million the U Conn men’s basketball team brings to the university – largely due to his success as a coach – to another program?
Jodi should be reminded of the first rule in basketball – No Blood, No Foul – and just keep her mouth shut before she loses her golden boy. I, for one, would welcome him with open arms to the Bluegrass State since Billy Gillespie hasn’t exactly knocked my blue and white socks off these last two years.
I’d say that, for the right offer, Calhoun could “bleed blue” in Lexington just as easily as he can in Storrs. And since we used to pay Tubby Smith over $2.1 million a year, I don’t think KY taxpayers would say a word about Calhoun’s $1.6 million salary…. unless, of course, he had a losing season.
Obesity Barbie - Scare Kids Skinny!
I wonder if they thought about how it will feel when a chubby 13-year-old girl, whose self-esteem is already in the toilet, sees that ad?
She'll feel like a monster and I'll guarantee that will do nothing to motivate her to exercise. In fact, it would probably just make her even more depressed, sending her straight to the fridge for Ben & Jerry's.
There's no chubby child in the world who isn't painfully aware that they're not perfect and reminding them with ads like this isn't going to help. It just gives more ammunition to the playground bullies and further perpetuates the idea that beauty and health only come in one size.
The goal of ActiveLifemovement.org is to try to get kids off the couch, which is obviously a GREAT idea, but I think kids are more effectively motivated by the desire to be cool and belong than by scare tactics.
Their campaign would be more successful if it portrayed being active as the thing the "cool kids" do (no matter what shape or size) so that all the others would want to emulate them.
Instead they've done a fantastic job of alienating their target audience!
The Attack of the Melancholy Monster
This afternoon, at 2:38, I was attacked by the Melancholy Monster. The beast comes out of hibernation every year at this time, his favorite hunting season being the second week in February, when winter has lost its charm, Christmas is a distant memory and Valentine's Day looms large.
I had a friend who once said that every February she wants to dye her hair, quit her job and leave her husband. I laughed at the time but she's right. It's at the tail end of the bleakest season that change seems most desirable, especially for doing things completely out-of-character.
Whoever chose January 1st as the day for resolutions got it all wrong. It's not until the holidays have become a distant memory and reality sets in that we're actually motivated enough to do something about the things in our life that plague us.
For example, for some deep psychological reason that's unbeknownst to me, I've been living in what would constitute to my mother as a pigsty for well over a year now. It's only been in the last couple weeks that I've been able to start dealing with the mess. We always called it "gumption" when we'd get the necessary combination of energy, time and inspiration needed to accomplish something.
As my husband can attest, I've been with gumption for quite a while, and now here comes the Melancholy Monster to try undermine my plans. I have someone that's supposed to come help me clean my house tomorrow and I'm paying her with a wardrobe of my old plus size clothes. I've been on fire all week to get this done but now all I want to do it call it off and lay around all weekend.
I feel, so often lately, that life is just passing me by. I'm not living with a capitol L. I'm puttering away my days...just working and living....not doing much that brings me any real joy. I have all these words inside me and story ideas that don't get put down on paper. And I tell myself that I WILL write when I get more organized. Of course, I've used that excuse for everything from losing weight to having a baby. And still I stay locked behind the walls of sloth!
I have this vision of coming home from work to a clean house where the cubards are full of the right ingredients to make a nice, healthy dinner for Ro and me....instead of my last half-hearted attempt at dinner which started with boiling water to make a couple boxes of mac-n-cheese and ended up with us having macaroni with red sauce becasue I didn't have any milk!
How do I think I could raise a healthy, well-adjusted child in a home without milk?
Anyway, the MM attacked me when I got off the phone with a potential client who gave me the N-word. For those of you not in sales, that doesn't mean what you think it means. It means NO. No, I don't want to buy your product. No, I don't want to be bothered. No, I don't really even like talking to you on the phone so please just leave me the hell alone!
And after umpteen years in sales, I know the reason I'm taking this so hard....I don't have enough activity in my sales funnel to make up to a lost opportunity. I can't just say, "Oh well, that's your loss. I'm on to the next!" Instead, I felt it in the pit of my stomach, the same way I would feel it when a boyfriend broke up with like back when I was single.
It's almost as if that punch in the gut of disappointment opens me up and all the other problems and anxieties I have come pouring in....will I get fired if I don't bring in more revenue....will this small company I work for be able to stay alive in this economy....what will I do it we close and I can't find something else.....would I lose my mind if I had to ask, "Do you want fries with that?"
Soon, the anxiety soup simmering in the depths of my bowels reaches the boiling point and I have to concentrate all my energy on not freaking out. So I take a chill pill, focusing only on the bright side and the thing sI can truly control....like how many sales call I make. If I make more, I'll bring in more revenue and the company will be in better shape and I won't have to worry anymore, right?
And then the weight of the reponsibility for everyone's jobs comes raining down on my head like the shrieks from flying monkeys and I realize that the effort it took not to freak out a few minutes ago has left me feeling weak and depleted. It feels as if my veins are running with ice water mixed with a little bit of acid to give my whole body a good burn, while both my head and eyelids feel like they have a payload of bricks attached to them.
I now want nothing more than to lay my head down on my desk and let go. I know a sweet, sudden sleep will overtake me in minutes, granting me respite in this battle ground of emotions. But I know as well as I know my own name that should I give in and succumb to slumber's seductive song, my boss or one of my coworkers will become suddenly insistent on seeing me about something and there I'll be - caught sleeping at my desk like Homer Simpson, just without the doughnut crumbs sticking to my shirt.
So now I face another long Friday night when I need to be prepping the house for the cleaner. If I were a betting person, I'd lay money that I won't accomplish a thing tonight. I'll continue my procrastination until the very last moment so that I'm running around like a crazy woman just before the cleaner is scheduled to show!
What's the answer? A big cup of coffee maybe? Probably the safest beverage for me to consume right now. It's either go for the stimulant and try to hold on to a sliver of my self-respect as a productive human being, or go for the depressant, buy some beer or wine and end up feeling like a slug.
I'll let you know what I decide in my post later this weekend....
All posts below are from 8/30/08 to 10/24/08
Some other absolute favorite toys from childood...
September 2, 2008
My Long Lost Granny
As I was doing some research online, I found an old picture of a woman who not only looks like me, but seems to have a lived a life much like my own. I'm thinking about writing something about her.....
She was born in 1860, yet she was photographed with books on the table near her. This could have been a staged thing, but it looks as if she was a reader. I can extrapolate that into the idea that she's a woman who was smart, yet more than likely stifled, since women were second-class citizens for the bulk of her life.
Perhaps she was a school teacher. This works in well with her marrying late in life. She was a ripe old 25 years before she married, which was unthinkable in that day and age. It could also have been the kind of marriage where her wealthy father had a hand in it. He could be a successful shop owner, since Chesapeake City in Cecil County was (and is) such a small town.
Maybe her husband was a little below her standards, rough but wealthy. He could have had a fleet of fishing or crabbing boats. If she'd attended college (it was hard to find one within a realistic travel distance to the MD/DE border), then perhaps she was one of the first women to attend the University of the State of Pennsylvania (as it was known then) in Philly.
I'll have to change her name, though I like the idea of using her middle name, Duella, for her first name. I like Gilpin for the last name since there's a Gilpins Falls Bridge just down the road from Chesapeake City in North East. So, Duella Louise Gilpin will be have a figure in constant need of a corset, due to her love of the Gingerbreads her mother was forever baking (found the original 1800s recipes on an site called Cooking Frontier Style). Her hair would be a tawny brown, with natural curls that turned frizzy when the fog rolled in, which it did so many mornings on the Delmarva Peninsula.
I can't tell much from the photo but we'll make her eyes a light, golden brown which tilted slightly under straight, intelligent brows. She has a cupid's bow mouth with a natural downturn, especially when she was reading, sewing or was generally thinking "deep thoughts," a statement her father, Frederick, often said of his quiet studious only daughter.
Duella, or Dooie, as she'd been called since she was little, and her older brother William shared the exact same look of intensity when they were concentrating, though on the handsome, auburn-haired Billy, it looked strong and distinguished. When her brows furrowed and the edges of her small mouth turned down, it only accentuated her chubby cheeks, her most detested feature. But what Duella didn't know was that her round cheeks had the same glowing rosiness of a Renoir painting. In fact, I'm such a geek that I had to look up a Renoir painting that would give Mollie, a.k.a. Duella, some color.
But I think her husband will be from an immigrant family. Up the Delaware River was New Sweden, an immigrant community. Several Swedish families took their fishing trade south to Maryland and settled in Cecil County. Duella's husband will be Johan Classon Papagoya, a very tall, very large Swede. The first time he she allows her hand to be engulfed by his, she tactlessly tells him that his hands are so rough with calluses that they feel like the bottom of her dog Skipjack’s paws.
He looks at her serious face for a moment, tweaks her upturned nose and lets loose his booming baritone of a laugh, startling her nearly out of her skin and causing her to blush to the roots of her hair.
"Ah, Miss Dooie, a greater truth was never told as that which fell from your lips," he said, continuing to smile down at her, his blue-gray eyes twinkling.
As Dooie looked up at him, she noticed his stick straight, sandy colored hair was falling over his brow, exemplifying his need for a woman since he hadn't seen a pair of hair cutting scissors in far too long. But his smile was warm and genuine, his hands were gentle, and on pretty Sunday afternoons, when he escorted her home after church, she could feel the strong, ropy muscles under her hand and wondered if the sun would glint off the hairs of his arms the way it did off his head.
Duella met Johan late last summer, when he stopped by just after supper on a Friday evening to discuss his trade account with her father's store. Duella, along with her mother and father, were having an impromptu picnic with their dessert to escape the heat in the house. Having Apple Pandowdy and iced tea on an old quilt under the wild Osage orange trees that grew abundantly on their grounds made for a wonderful way to squeeze pleasure from one of the last few days of summer. Bill and his sweetheart Beatrice, though he called her Bee, were playing a half-hearted game of croquet, which had more to do with the chance to be closer to one another than sport.
The heat had been oppressive and both Dooie, Bee and her mother were in their lightest summer gowns, made of layered of floaty muslin and gauze. Dooie had begged her mother to have her new summer dresses to have the new "boat neck" cut for the neckline, which showed off a hint of her shoulders and made her neck look longer. The short puffed sleeves felt heavenly, though her mother thought them immodest for a daytime dress.
This particular evening, Dooie was dressed in a dress that was the palest of peaches, trimmed with brown silk ribbons. The narrower skirts of the day made lounging under a tree with a book a pleasure and tonight, she was as absorbed in her newest treasure, The Countess Kathleen and Various Legends and Lyrics, a book of poetry by the scandalous William Butler Yeats, whom she'd discovered while attending college a few years ago.
Johan strode into the back yard, his long legs almost awkward, like they didn't understand walking on a surface that felt so solid. Spending so much time on the water with his small fleet of fishing boats, it was no wonder Duella assumed he was nothing more than a drunken Swede, come to talk to her father about his past-due account, full of herring and pilsners from the bar at Harriet’s Hotel.
Johan had the decency to wear a jacket, though he was dressed a bit casually in a belted Norfolk suit of a brown and tan tweed. His tie, however, wasn't knotted properly whatsoever and he kept putting his hands in his pockets, then removing them to run one through his hair, creating even more chaos on the top of his head than before. Dooie returned her attention to her book, sitting back against in big wicker lawn chair she'd settled into after dessert, not planning to allow the stranger's presence to interfere with her evening plans to read outdoors until the fireflies were the only light left to see by.
As her mother served Johan a huge dish of Pandowdy, Duella noticed that, unlike many man, he smiled at her appreciatively and thanked her directly, causing her mother to blush slightly. The small Limoges dessert dish looked as fragile as a bird in his huge hands, though Dooie was impressed to see that he had decent enough table manners for a back yard picnic.
When he was done with his dessert - actually that would be done with his second serving of dessert, dashing Dooie's hopes for a late night snack with her bedtime tea - he stretched his large frame out on the colorful quilt, leaning on one elbow. Though they were sitting too far away for her to hear their conversation, his booming laugh told her that he wasn't here in regards to a bad debt. When Josephine, Duella's mother joined the men in their conversation, that notion was confirmed.
As the sun set and the light changed from a dappling to a more intense glow, Duella found herself squinting against its glare. Her frustration caused her to stand up abruptly, toss her book in the chair's padded seat and reach to turn it to face the back of the lawn in order to allow her to read through the intrusive sunset.
No sooner had she tilted the chair in order to pick it up, it was lifted completely out of her grasp. She looked up, her small mouth set in grim determination, her thoughts on how silly her father was to act so chivalrous. After all it was only a wicker chair and she was perfectly capable of moving it herself. She wasn't a dainty, wilting flower like so many other useless girls and besides she could....and then her eyes finished their journey upward to the head of the man towering over her.
The sun's orange and gold light was bouncing off his blonde hair, giving him the effect of a halo. The shadows on his face stopped her from focusing on his eyes properly, leaving only the whiteness of smile to cut through. Duella shivered as she looked up at him, her less-than-petite form completely hidden in his shadow, making her feel as if this big, loud man had gobbled up the sun along with his dessert and left the rest of the world with nothing but the coolness of shadows to live with.
To be continued.....
September 6, 2008
Hillary Clinton & Sarah Palin:
All Women are NOT Created Equal
It's no surprise to the people who know me that I was a huge Hillary Clinton fan...and a fan of a woman in the White House in general. I think it's high time there were more women holding political power, not only so that our gender, which makes up 51% of the US population is equally served, but also so that we take that crucial step toward true equality.
Until our daughters, and their daughters, can point to a woman in the oval office and say, "we truly are equal in every way," then there will always be a discrepancy in the power between the genders.
The ideal that we hold so dear - the one that says we are of a government who considers all human beings to be created equal - will never be an authentic one until we are both gender and color blind. And that won't happen until we can all say that there's someone "like us" in power. Until then, there's a subtle, though powerful, truth that whispers in our ears every day that says we're not as important.
So, though I’m disappointed – though not terribly surprised – that Hillary is out of the race, I’ve resigned myself to voting my party and casting my vote for Obama. I suppose it makes sense, historically, that a black man should be elected to the Presidency before a white woman. After all, they were given the right to vote in 1867, a full 53 years before women were allowed the same privilege in 1920.
This means that while typically uneducated, newly freed male slaves had the right to vote (at least on paper), there were women so intelligent and accomplished that they’ve become household names who still weren’t afforded the same privilege during their lifetimes: Louisa May Alcott, Susan B. Anthony, Clara Barton, Mary Cassatt, Emily Dickinson, Florence Nightingale or Harriet Tubman.
But hope springs eternal and I was delighted to see that John McCain made such a savvy political choice in choosing Governor Sarah Palin for his Vice-Presidential running mate.
And then I heard her acceptance speech….
I could run on for hours about how my brain felt like it would explode while listening to her smart mouth, but instead I’d like to discuss how her being a “pit-bull with lipstick” does not mean that she’s a good choice to be the leader of the free world, should that occur.
First, if she wants to use the fact that she’s a mother as a qualification for her ability to lead, she can’t pick and choose which child she’d like to highlight. Yes, she deserves respect because her son is on his way to Iraq and yes, I’m sure she’ll be a fierce advocate for children with special needs due to her own son’s Down’s syndrome.
But then again, the majority of Americans are proud of the soldiers fighting on our behalf, even if they don’t agree with the reasons they’ve been deployed. If nothing else, Vietnam taught us to blame the politicians for bad decisions in war-mongering, not the soldiers themselves. And there’s not a politician alive who would oppose the advocacy of children with special needs so having one doesn’t really change things.
On the other hand, her daughter Bristol, who’s still in high school and is too young to even vote for her mom, will herself become a mother in a short nine-months.
I wouldn’t dare go after this one, since I don’t believe that all the great parenting in the world can control what teenagers are likely to do, but it seems that the Republicans have decided that they’re the only ones who have “family values” of any kind, and that the liberals are nothing but fetus-killing, anti-marriage heathens. Therefore, I feel like this makes it open season on the irresponsible daughter of any Republican candidate.
Obviously, the Alaskan school system’s teaching of abstinence was ineffectual in this instance, and I’m sure in countless others. Would the teaching of the use of birth control have prevented this pregnancy? Could it have been avoided if the school had provided condoms or the birth control pill to its students?
Well, I certainly don’t think it would have hurt matters, now could it?
But I think the worst moment for me during her speech was when she spoke about her husband, “We met in high school and two decades and five children later, he’s till my guy!”
While all politicians, male and female, talk about their spouses, I can’t imagine ANY male candidate saying, “She’s still my girl,” and not have the statement bring up the question of his marital fidelity or lack of masculinity. But since we’re the weaker sex, I suppose we need a strong husband to help us though (hope you don’t slip on all that dripping sarcasm).
This makes me nearly sick at my stomach. If Sarah Palin was interviewing with me for a job and started talking about her children, giving me their names and descriptions, and followed it up by telling me how her husband is still “her guy,” I would be tossing her resume!
Her family – healthy, happy, or not – has absolutely NOTHING to do with her ability to do a job, which is what the Vice Presidency is – A JOB!!!
Hillary continually asked us to look at her resume for the job of President and I don’t know why the American people can’t accept that modern politics is, in fact, a long interview process that we use in order to determine if these are the people we want for the job of public office.
And since it’s OUR tax dollars that pay their salaries, why wouldn’t we want to choose the person with the most experience since they will be the one most likely to be effective in working for us, instead of the one that looks best on TV or seems like the one we’d most likely have in our circle of friends?
Here are some other ridiculous things she said:
“I accept the call (to help our nominee for president) to serve and defend America.”
- As a Republican, her party doesn’t even support a woman’s right to fight on the frontlines during battle. Therefore, this seems a bit hypocritical since, as a woman, she’s seen to be unable to defend anything where it counts.
“This is America, where every woman can walk through every door of opportunity.”
- Since Republicans are against Affirmative Action, I sure hope the doors she’s talking about are ones where women are actually welcome.
“People in small towns love their country in good times and bad and they're always proud of America.” - It was dissent that gave birth to this country. I always thought the idea that we’re free NOT to be proud of America – and be willing to say so in order to advocate change – is what made this country great in the first place.
“I guess a small-town mayor if sort of like a community organizer, except that you have actual responsibilities.”
- Let’s start with the fact that “Community Organizer” was Obama’s very first job out of college when he was 24-years-old and it was for the Developing Communities Project in Chicago's far South Side which is made up of white, black and Latino blue-collar neighborhoods.
- When Sarah Palin was 24-years-old, she was serving her community as a “plucky” sports broadcaster on KTUU-TV in Anchorage, Alaska. When Hillary Clinton was in her twenties, she finished law school at Yale, was appointed to the Nixon Presidential Impeachment Staff, taught as a law professor at the University of Arkansas and became the first female partner in a major Arkansas law firm, which is no small feat for a Illinois female to pull off in a southern state.
- As Alaska’s governor, Sarah Palin is responsible for 670,000 people. As an Illinois Congressman, Obama is responsible to 12,832,000. That’s 19 times the number of people, i.e. 19 times the responsibility.
- By the way, Sarah Palin’s experience is on par with that of Sheila Dixon, the mayor of my own little Baltimore, whose population is 637,500.
“I stood up to the special interests and the Lobbyists and the Big Oil Companies and the Good Old Boys.”
- Holy crapoly! Doesn’t she know that she’s seeking to fill the shoes of the Patron Saint of Big Oil’s Lobbyist-Loving Good Ol’ Boys?
On a lighter note, I couldn’t help but notice that the ex-beauty queen has adopted a style that harkens back to a blend of Holly Golightly and Jackie Kennedy, the poster girls for classic American arm candy. And while this is fine by me when it comes to Cindy McCain – a Republican First Lady is usually always seen as nothing more than an adornment for the President – that’s not okay by me when it comes to someone who will be visiting foreign heads of state.
Can you imagine how well she can negotiate with someone from an Arab or African country, where they think women should be hidden away in burkas and still perform clitoridectomies? Will they take her seriously in her Chanel throw-back skirts or would Hillary, who was continuously berated for wearing pantsuits, have proven to be more effectual? After all, as the saying goes, “who wears the pants in the family,” could apply to countries as well.
I put together these photo comparisons, some of whom are simply meant to be funny, but most I hope are thought provoking. Let me know your thoughts, thanks!
PS: I thought I would PUKE when she blew a kiss to her family during her speech! This was supposed to be a serious speech made to the American voting public, not a touchy-feely mommy moment!
September 7, 2008
I haven't been this upset in years!
Sometimes when I write a blog, I'll send a quick email to all my friends with a link to it so they can read it and, hopefully, let me know their thoughts. I did so with my blog about Sarah Palin, sending it to both the Democrats and Republicans in my address book.
Some of my responses were of the "You Go Girl" nature, while some were more in line with polite rebuttal to my opinions. For example, my friend Shelley said she was planning to vote against her party (she's always been a Democrat) especially BECAUSE she likes Sarah Palin so much. And I love that she took the time to thoughtfully lay out her reasons - some of which were very good - like the fact that the job of a governor is more on par with that of the Vice President than the job of a senator.
She also started her email like this: "Oh Kelly, Let me start by saying I love you so much. Now, I think it is funny how everyone takes things differently. Sarah Palin's speech was the deciding factor for me for who I will vote for. I thought she was brilliant."
On the other hand, I have a friend to whom I sent the blog link, whose husband replied with the above email, and let me say that I haven't been this upset in years! I knew that they shared an email address and that my friend - let's call her Michelle - isn't super internet savvy, so I assumed that meant that anything I send to her is more than likely read by her husband first.
Obviously, this doesn't give our friendship a lot of privacy, so it's usually on the phone where we do most of our communicating. Michelle and I are very different in several regards - she's a conservative while I'm a liberal...she's a UofL fan while I'm for UK...you know, the really important stuff!
But we're both Christians (we met at church), we're both chubby and we're both step-mothers. In fact, she introduced me to my husband. She and I have been through death, disease, distance and plenty of heartache. She's the true blue, best -friend-till-the-end kind of person that is precious for the following reasons - they're incredibly hard to find and, therefore, are more than worth fighting for.
The email her husband sent me was entitled "Emails" and said the following:
Please do not forward anymore e-mails to our address.
Oftentimes many of the items sent (jokes, blog info, politics, etc.) are very offensive and/or troubling.
I know that Michelle would welcome personal e-mail correspondence.
Knowing that Michelle is conservative, I never forward the emails that would she would embarass her. I only send along the funny things we all receive, hoping to put a smile on her face. So I'm fairly certain that it was my political blog entry, and/or the "large and luscious" artwork (some of which is of nude women!) on my blog's site, that he found offensive.
Of course, he may have also visited the blog's sister site, Kelligraphy, which outlines a novel I'm working on called "The Whore of Scrabylon," so that could have offended him as well.
At this point, I have no idea if Michelle is on board with this request or not. There's a possibility she could have been so completely offended by what I wrote that she no longer wants to receive emails from me, but I seriously doubt it. When the Clinton/Lewinsky scandal happened, she and I spent hours discussing it...and we were on opposite sides of the fence. We've always enjoyed challenging one another's minds in regard to politics and religion. Our friendship is so deep that we can broach these touchy subjects and simply agree to disagree when we have to.
But reading an email from her husband, asking me not to email my friend, has made my brain nearly melt in my skull. If he is trying to shelter her from my "bad" liberal influence, then he's up for one hell of a challenge. I believe that we, as human beings, are better served by spending time with people whose opinions differ from ours, if for no other reason than it makes us defend our own beliefs, which will ground us deeper in them or show us the error of our ways.
This was my reply:
I have to ask, since it's your signature is at the bottom of this email, is Michelle even aware of your request?
After knowing her as well, and for as long, as I have, I'm already quite sure that she and I are on opposite sides of the fence politically. But our friendship has always been strong enough that we enjoy listening to (or reading) each other's spirited opinions.
She's the one who first told me that when I'm speaking politically, I sound like "Julia Sugarbaker," who is one of her favorite TV characters of all time, as I'm sure you're aware.
When Michelle asks me, directly and specifically, to stop emailing her, I will gladly do as she asks. Until that time, perhaps she should have her own - private - email address. Another option would be that you refrain from opening emails which are clearly addressed to her.
I hope that she's not allowing him to control her or separate her from me, and if she asks me not to email her anything other than a hello-how-are-you kind of email, I will. But I hope she's ballsy enough to get her own email address and calls me to argue until she's blue in the face about how wonderful Sarah Palin is, just as long as she stands up to him and lets him know that she will not tolerate a husband who tries to influence or shelter her from one of her best friends.
September 28th 2008
A Conversation about Hillary Clinton
This is an email I received on my Sarag Palin blog. The reply I sent back is in pink highlight.
There are three big differences between Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton. First, Sarah Palin is likeable and Hillary Clinton is not.
Sarah Palin is more likable because she's savvy to what it takes to be a good TV personality since she cut her teeth as a beauty contestant and sports anchor, two endeavors whose sole purpose is to be likable. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, cut her teeth on building her legal career. It wasn't until she was put into the spotlight through Bill's political choices that she had to learn to pander to the masses.
Second, Sarah Palin is where she is in the world through her own efforts. Hillary Clinton is where she is because she is married to Bill Clinton.
Hillary Clinton's resume is absolutely stellar and had she not married Bill, she may very well have become a member of the senate on her own. I'm afriad her stint as first lady has hurt her more than it helped because we're at a point in this country where we're not sure what that role should mean. It evolved over the 8 years she had it.
But unfortunately, whether it's true or not (which we can never really know for sure), she will always be seen as hanging onto Bill's coat tails since he was the one who was the right gender at the right time to become president.
Third, Hillary Clinton is an angry, vengeful person who cannot be trusted with power because she will use it to settle old scores with people she perceives as having done her wrong. Whatever else you might say about Sarah Palin, there is not even a hint of her engaging in dirty tricks style behavior against her political opponents.
I'm not sure on this point because I don't know enough about it. But I'm sure that you'll agree that she had enough power with Bill to have settled scores had she wanted to back when he was in office. In addition, that there's no way we can know for sure what someone will do with power once they have it. And to be honest, what politician doesn't use their power in some way to settle a score or further their favorites?
It is important to be able to see through someone else's eyes. Barack Obama won the Democratic party's presidential nomination because the country is tired of the Clintons and the Bushes and does not want to live through another circus of improrieties the way we did in the 1990's. Hillary Clinton may excite true believers but she alienates everyone else and cannot win a majority of the votes in a presidential general election. Feminists make a huge mistake by hanging their star on this very flawed individual.
I completely agree that she would have a very hard time winning the general election as the presidential candidate, which is why I hoped she be the vice-presidential candidate. But that may have hurt the democrats as well since two underdog outsiders might be hard for some people to handle. It's almost as if it's a prerequisite that there be an old white man to "anchor" to if there's to be a newcomer on the ticket.
Also, it's a sad truth but feminists hang their stars on Hillary because she's the only candidate we have who might have been able to pull it off....name recognition, experience, etc. Feminists are a dying breed and I worry what this means for our society long term.
Will anti-feminists like Sarah Palin, who obviously measures a great deal of her self-worth in being a wife and mother, be successful in her quest to take away a woman's right to control her own life and body by making abortion in the case of victimized sex illegal? Will the republican's need for strictly defined family values create a place where households without two parents are seen as sub-par? Will it continue to be easy for a disgruntled student like the one at VA Tech to get the weapons he wants in order to take his rage out against innocent people? And will (my best friend's daughter) have to pray a traditional Christian prayer in school, even though she's Jewish, simply because Christianity was the religion of the founding fathers?
These are the reasons I vote the party, whether it's Obama, Hillary or Bubbles the Chimp on the ticket. Regardless of tax increases, big government, trickle-down economics or even the war in Iraq, these are the issues that affect people where they live. And I try to point out the anti-feminist ideals of people like Sarah Palin so that those in my circle of friends will see beyond her likability to her underlying political agenda.
October 19th 2008
In Response to "Feeling Sorry for Gen-Xers"
This was in response to a very well written post from 22-year-old David Meckelburg:
Next time, Mr. Meckelburg, you should “google” the age of the founders of Google before you insist that Gen-Xers (those born from 1965-1976) aren’t the reigning monarchs of the Internet. You stated, “I feel so sorry for Generation X. They started the Internet boom but would eventually lose out to the young upstarts from the next generation, the Googles and Facebooks of the world.” Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin were born in 1971 and 1972, respectively.
You mentioned that the, “1980s were probably the most stable decade this country has seen,” with the implication that this stasis was not only boring, but uninspiring compared to the radical 60s. Perhaps this blessed stability is why so many of that generation were able to find such early success. Here are a few more examples of those “do-nothing care-nothing kids” from Generation X who put their passion to work by founding:
· Amazon – Jeff Bezos (b. 1964)
· eBay – Pierre Omidyar (b. 1967)
· Hotmail – Sabeer Bhatia (b. 1968)
· Netscape – Marc Andreessen (b. 1971)
· MySpace – Chris DeWolfe (b. 1966) & Tom Anderson (b. 1970)
· PayPal – Peter Theil (b. 1967), Max Levchin (b. 1975) & Elon Musk (b. 1971)
· Wikipedia – Jimmy Wales (b. 1966) & Larry Sanger (b. 1968)
· Yahoo – David Filo (b. 1966) & Jerry Yang (b. 1968)
· YouTube – Steve Shih Chen (b. 1978) Chad Hurley (b. 1977) & Jawed Karim (b. 1979)
Facebook is one I’ll give you since Mark Zuckerberg was born in 1988. However, some would argue that his brainchild is just a redesign of the already popular MySpace. And though he doesn’t receive much credit, the critical start-up revenue for Facebook came from PayPal co-founder Peter Theil (see reference above).
One more thing: you said that, "my great-grandkids are going to be asking what it was like to live through 9/11." Obviously, nothing affected the American psyche - of both young and old - like the tragedy of September 11th since it was the first real threat to the perceived safety of the continental United States.
And you might want to remember, when your great-grandchildren ask, that you were only 15-years-old on September 11th (you mentioned that you were ten in 1996) so you were probably watching television at school when the attacks occurred. I was out on a sales appointment since we were three days from deadline for the launch of a new business magazine. But I was lucky that the only thing that affected was our start-up revenue.
Of the 2,996 people who perished on September 11th, over one-third between the ages of 25 and 36 and, therefore, members of Generation X.
October 18, 2008
Five Pound Persnickety
The recent hullabaloo over Dancing with the Stars darling, Cheryl Burke, simply boggles the mind. Just when I think pop culture’s obsession with “skelebrities” has sunk to its lowest, it’s now suddenly newsworthy when a size-4 athlete has to defend herself against bloggers and tabloid writers who attack her for gaining five measly pounds.
I admire Burke’s chutzpah in going on live television to defend not only her own graceful physique, but the healthy body image of all women, especially young girls. However, my initial pride withered when I remembered the advice my steel-magnolia-mother gave me about handling judgmental people:
“As hard as it is, you just have to ignore them. All they want to do is get a rise out of you. That’s why they're picking on you in the first place. So don’t sink totheir level. Be a Lady.”
Of course, being referred to as a “Lady” is one of the highest compliments bestowed upon a southern woman…well, that and the one that says she “eats like a bird,” though I never really understood that one.
So, I tried to ignore the vicious boys in my class who were so proficient in slinging insults it was almost an art form…really I did. But I finally lost it when I was 12 years old. It was probably due as much to the wildly fluctuating hormones of my newly begun menses as to the fact that I’d been raised to be both ladylike and assertive, though the two words are oxymoronic in Southern culture.
It was late in the school year and we were all slowly melting into sweaty puddles of sixth-grade angst. The only respite we received from the heat and humidity, not to mention the smell wafting from the backwoods boys who hadn’t yet been introduced to deodorant, was from a box fan that Mrs. Hicks kept in the front of the classroom.
While the circulating air did keep the temperature of the room just below that of the seventh level of hell, what little benefit it served was overwhelmed by the hypnotic droning of the fan itself. The ever-present white noise, coupled with the mind-numbingly boring lesson in diagramming complex sentences, soon had every one of us in a trance-like state.
The only interruption to our glass-eyed funk was the occasional squeak of Mrs. Hicks’ fast-flying chalk as it clicked and squeaked across the blackboard. That woman took the same delight in dissecting a plethora of prepositional phrases as if she were carving up a fat, juicy Thanksgiving turkey.
The dress code had been lifted due to the intense heat and I’d worn shorts to school for the first time since the previous summer so when I shifted in my desk, my bare legs stuck uncomfortably to the seat. The other girls, most of who were still sporting narrow hips and had yet to need a bra, could fold their thin forms up in their desks like they were lawn chairs.
I’d been wearing a bra for a couple years and was well into filling out a C-cup so instead of using my desk as a platform for showing off my contortionist skills, I suffered my claustrophobia as silently as possible.
Like a shark scenting blood in the water, one of the meaner boys in my class – let’s call him Eric Clarkson – recognized that it was the chubbiness of my legs that was making me uncomfortable. Within minutes, a paper airplane landed smoothly on my desk, with the words “OPEN ME” written sloppily on one of its wings. Looking furtively up at the board to make sure I wasn’t being observed, I carefully opened the folded paper airplane.
My lethally optimistic heart starting to pitter-pat as I thought about how the long-time object of my affection – a certain black-haired, blue-eyed boy named Alex Reed – had asked me to double check his grammar in the writing assignment we’d had last week. Maybe he’d finally sent me an I-like-you-do-you-like-me-circle-yes-or-no kind of note and I could finally doodle “Kelly Loves Alex” in my notebooks like the other girls!
Perhaps if I hadn’t gotten my hopes up, I would have reacted in a more civilized way. The note, of course, wasn’t from the ever-so-dreamy Alex, but from my long-time nemesis Eric. It said, “Hey Thunder Thighs, you shouldn’t wear shorts. Nobody wants to see your fat legs!”
Before I even knew I was going to say a word, my mouth opened and out came the words: “Well Eric Clarkson, I may have thunder thighs but at least I’m not a borderline retard who has to go to special classes like you!”
Not one of my finer moments, I’ll admit. Thinking back, I don’t know if there is as much cruelty involved in the struggle for survival between wild animals in the harsh savannahs of Africa as there is among ordinary kids in the classrooms of our American school system.
That day is one of only a handful of times I’ve knowingly said something so cruel to another human being. When I’m feeling especially masochistic, I remember each of them in detail, imagining how it must have felt to be on the receiving end of my brutal words. But then again, if we didn’t all take guilt trips, we wouldn’t get out as much, huh?
Everyone in our class knew that Eric was on the slower side of things, but I’d been privy to the truth about his low 80s IQ scores. We’d all been tested rigorously for a new special academic program. A few weeks before this incident, when the parents of the kids who’d made the program were in a conference in the cafeteria, my best friend, Tammy Holmes, and I decided to take advantage of our lack of supervision to snoop through Mrs. Hicks’ desk.
It was there we learned that to qualify for the special program, one had to score a specific number on our IQ test that put us in the “superior intelligence” category. Most of our classmates were listed as having “average intelligence” scores. To my surprise, most of them were kids I considered really smart, a lot of who graduated with higher GPAs than those of us with “superior” intellects. I guess hard work and tenacity trump intellectual arrogance and laziness, huh?
There were only a handful of kids who were labeled “dull” and right at the top of the list was Eric Clarkson. This was no real surprise because Eric had been attending special classes since we were young. And while this would have hurt most kids in the popularity department, Eric was immune since he was both athletic and attractive.
No sooner was the insult out of my mouth than I felt the slow burn of embarrassment start to fill my chubby cheeks. All eyes in the class were on me, including those behind Mrs. Hick’s bifocals, her outrage making her bug eyes appear twice their normal size. It was then that I felt the deep stain of shame that, like a burning acid, seeped out of my stomach and into my naive, sugar-n-spice-n-everything-nice young girl’s heart.
That good-natured sweetness I’d thought I was made of was tainted forever. I knew that I would always remember the first time I allowed my inner cruel streak out for a walk. And though part of my childish mind said, “well, he started it,” and even “he deserved it,” the metronome of my emotions swayed between the extreme satisfaction of revenge and life-sucking guilt.
Even though I knew better and, more importantly, knew what it felt like to be on the receiving end of cruel insults, I’d deliberately hurt another human being simply because he’d hurt me first.
I looked over at Eric to see him rolling his eyes to his friends about me, his expression clearly stating that he was too cool to care about something as unimportant as IQ scores, and I knew that I’d done exactly what my mother had warned me not to do – sink to his level.
Simply by responding I’d shown weakness, which meant…HE WON. By responding, I showed him that he’d angered me, which meant…HE WON. By responding, I let him know that what he wrote hurt me, which meant…HE WON. See a pattern?
So I can understand where Cheryl Burke is coming from in her desire to fight back against the bullies. There’s probably not a person alive who doesn’t get that. And though she wasn’t mean spirited in her remarks, she still gave them exactly what they wanted.
The solution is simple. I think that she – and, for that matter, all women – would be better served if we ignored those psychic vampires living among us instead of handing them even more power. Because, once again, as my momma said:
“All they want to do is get a rise out of you.”
October 22, 2008
America Wants Her Mommy
Imagine this….Little Johnny gets in a fight with one of the bullies at school and ends up with a black eye and a bruised ego. Who do you think Little Johnny wants to call? His Mommy of course!
Imagine this….Little Susie spent all her allowance on candy and now she doesn’t have enough money to go to a matinee with her friends. Who do you think Little Susie will likely turn to? Again, her Mommy!
Little Johnny will most likely get a kiss and stern talking to about the dangers of fisticuffs, but I doubt she’ll teach him how to negotiate an effective peace treaty with the playground tyrant. After Little Susie is lectured on responsible spending habits, she’ll probably be given enough cash to go to the show, but again, it’s doubtful that she’ll be asked to master the finer arts of budget analysis before she’s given her next allowance.
As I see it, the reason so many Americans have embraced Sarah Palin is because she’s an idealized version of the Great American Mother. Hell, it’s been her rallying cry from the start! I swear if I hear the words “hockey mom” come out of her mouth one more time I may have to tell her to “Puck Off!”
But more to the point…
Like Little Johnny, America is getting her butt kicked by middle-eastern bullies in a war that’s looking more and more like the New Vietnam. Like Little Susie, we’re broke to the point that the American Dream of homeownership has become the American Nightmare instead.
I guess it’s only natural that we long for a comforting, maternal figure right now. We want nothing more than to hear her say, “Gosh darn it, you’re a good kid and you just don’t deserve this. Johnny, how about I give you enough cash for a lengthy ground invasion of Pakistan? And Susie, let’s find you enough funding to stabilize the distressed credit markets so that we stay so deeply in debt we don’t notice the government is taking over our banks.”
I think the affinity for Palin is especially strong for those over fifty, since she so closely resembles the American idealized version of motherhood – Jackie Kennedy. And I have no doubt that this resemblance is being encouraged by Palin’s stylists.
Like Kennedy, she wears her hair in a modified Breakfast at Tiffany’s beehive almost all the time. She seems to favor the fashion icon’s choice for boxy little suit jackets. I’ve rarely seen her in a pair of pants, unless she was posing for one of those “wilderness girl in Alaska” pictures, and those serve only to further that Kennedy-esque, early 60s style since gender-neutral pants were worn only for recreation.
In the days before the Civil Rights Act and Roe v. Wade, women’s fashion was nothing if not ladylike and proper. Much to my chagrin, almost 50 years later, I think a lot of voters still measure a woman by how good she looks in a pair of peep-toe pumps than the practicality of her politics.
Fashion and frivolity aside, should the next presidential power be decided out of our longing for comfort and a familiar face? If that were so, it would seem Hillary would have been a stronger choice for the Democrats. After all, she’s been in the public eye for 16 years now. And she has a lot more in common with Jackie Kennedy than their status as former first lady. They both call New York home. They both attended an elite, all-girl college on the east coast. And they both stood by an adulterous husband.
Maybe all Hillary really needed to win the hearts of the American people was a pillbox hat and a box of Miss Clairol in a Deep Chestnut Brown?
October 24th 2008
"Putting Lipstick on a Pig" certainly costs a lot these days, huh?