Friday, September 5, 2008

RNC Highlights from the Peanut Gallery

My whole being is over saturated with politics right now. I am sweating, bleeding, and drooling blue but seeing red. I could not bear to watch the Republican Convention. The two nights Mac Daddy had it on in the background left me unable to sleep with dizzying, paralyzing thoughts of my children's oppressive, right-wing future. Images of a King Kong size Sarah Palin haunted what fitful sleep I managed to capture. All snark aside, I am truly afraid. I am afraid that the constitutional fabric that weaves this country together is unraveling before my eyes and no amount of clear nail polish is going to fix it.

Since I am fed up, scared, frustrated, bitchy, and maybe a tad bit negative, I thought I'd post my friend KC's convention insights instead of my usual crazy liberal woman ranting. KC is more moderate than I am and tends to view the world with less criticism and snarkiness than I do. She is certainly a voice of reason and gives the benefit of the doubt, which is definitely not my nature. So here are excerpts from an email she sent me post-RNC:

"Did you watch the Republican convention last night? I watched some of it, in the interest of fairness. Here are some of my thoughts about Tuesday night's offerings:

It looked like a freakin' Klan rally. I think the only non-white person I saw was John McCain's adopted daughter. Not particularly representative of America. No wonder they're so hot to keep illegal immigrants out - they know the children of those immigrants ain't gonna vote for them! The notion of Internet voting must just make them break out in the screaming meemies.

Nobody cared much what George W had to say. What an embarrassingly lukewarm reception from his party's most rabid supporters!

Fred Thompson reminded me of a used car salesman. Lots of folksy chatter but not much of substance. The only interesting part of his speech was when he described McCain's injuries and torture in vivid detail. On PBS, they cut away to a crowd shot during the most gruesome part of that speech to a group of people who were LAUGHING. Some cameraman having a little fun, I think!

The loudest, most enthusiastic applause was for a Democrat (Joe Lieberman). Although the audience got really quiet when he started talking about the necessity of putting partisan politics aside to accomplish great things.

Republicans can't dance! Sheesh, how hard can it be to bop around to "Johnny B. Goode"? It looked like half the attendees were taking that opportunity for a potty break, they way they were scrambling over each other. The ones who stuck out just kept shouting "Go Johnny Go", even after the refrain was over, through the guitar solo. I think it's the first time half of them ever heard that song. Come on people, this is Chuck Berry. We sent that song up into space on Voyager as a greeting to anybody else who might live out there in the universe! What a contrast
to when they played "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now" at the Democratic convention - people were swaying back and forth, waving their signs IN TIME WITH THE MUSIC, and just enjoying being with each other. That's the America I can identify with.

I watched again last night to see what Rudy had to say and to watch a little of Sarah Palin. According to Guilliani, we are under attack RIGHT NOW and ALL THE TIME and we need a leader who is going to FIGHT THE BAD GUYS. Then he talked about the economy for about 30 seconds. And he talked so fast and so quietly that I could barely hear what he was saying! It was like at the end of a commercial when the super-fast-talker guy runs over the terms and conditions. And then it was back to FIGHTING THE BAD GUYS, this time by drilling in the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge. You want to know what the crowd started chanting? "Drill, baby, drill". I kid you not.

I watched several minutes of Sarah Palin's speech, but honestly, I had to turn it off. Something about her voice has the effect on me of nails on a chalkboard. Plus I kept watching her hair, trying to figure out what the heck was going on in the back. When I could focus on her speech,
it was mostly tearing down Barack Obama, which I guess is the role the V.P. is supposed to play, but so many of the things she said were untrue that I stopped listening. Oh, she told the following joke - Q. What's the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? A. Lipstick. Well, I for one don't want a lipstick-wearing pit bull in charge of my country."

I admittedly did not watch much of the 3 days of mockery, sarcasm, and fear fest thanks to KC, I feel like I was there.

And one last thing, even if you have had enough of Sarah Palin, I urge you to still read this and this. You'll be glad you did. Trust me here.
RNC Highlights from the Peanut GallerySocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

5:00 Fridays

I'm a bit obsessed with this year's election. Hard to tell, I know. I'm a card carrying Obama Mama and I want nothing more than a blue streak covering CNN's map of North Carolina come November 4. We have a Senate seat open and a heated governor's race this year. Women are running on the Democratic ticket for both races. An exciting time? A resounding yes! My worry is that both camps are running rather lame campaigns. They lack consistent and compelling messaging. There seems to be no positioning or personality. In essence, both candidates lack a brand. What they need is good old fashioned brand strategy. But that's just me the marketer talking.

I present today's drink in hope that my state will soon bleed blue. I don't care what shade, as long as it's blue.

Carolina Blue
1 oz gin (I'd use plain ol' Tanqueray here.)
1 oz Blue Curaçao (have lots left over from last week)
1 fresh lime (I repeat, not the cruddy fake stuff in a plastic lime-shaped bottle!)

You know the routine. Fill a shaker with crushed ice. Squeeze the juice from the whole lime into the shaker. Add the gin and Curaçao and shake well. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass garnished with a twist of lime.

Drink to a new definition of Feeling Blue!
5:00 FridaysSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Today I Learned of Suicide

I found out some heartbreaking news today from a long lost friend (praise Facebook for the reunion!). Our old friend Randy committed suicide.

It happened in 1995. I had no idea.

I left my hometown almost 20 years ago and have been back only twice in recent years. Not because I don't love it, I simply have no family there anymore. I still consider it "home." My so called formative years were spent there. I fondly recall our close circle of friends.

We were a mixed bag of kids who came from various cliques and backgrounds. A common sense of folly and intellect brought us together. We were smart (though not geekily so), athletic (though not in that annoying jock way...and for the record, I was not one of the athletic ones), and ambitious (college was a shared goal and expected milestone). We used to go swimming, have parties, devour movies, eat doughnuts, and dance. We laughed until our bellies ached (doughnuts being a contributing factor) and shed tears over the maelstrom of life's uncertainties and curveballs that come our way in our teens.

Randy was the most earnest and thoughtful of the gang, keeping a watchful eye on me since he was a few years my senior. His smile was grand and popped whatever funk bubble enveloped you. He was often the voice of reason among the rowdy grain alcohol experimenters and skirt chasers. His spirit was kind, mature, charming, and sensitive. And don't think for a minute that there wasn't a healthy dollop of mischief tossed in.

I've been out of touch with those old friends for decades now. Once in a while I catch myself grinning over a fleeting memory from back in the day. Back in the day when friends sat around til the wee hours talking about our futures, how unfair our parents were, the cities we wanted to visit, who was breaking our hearts, and where to go on the next beer run with a fake ID. Back in the day when friendship came with no obligations, judgments, or competition. Back in the day when we were young and foolish. Back in the day when we had not tasted our own mortality and no idea that we were anything but invincible.

Randy went on to teach high school history, he was a captain in the Army National Guard, and a volunteer at crisis counselor centers in town. On paper and in life he was accomplished and
admired. He would blush and say something self-deprecating if he read this.

I am deeply saddened for the loss of an old friend, even a friend with whom I had lost touch. My heart physically hurts from the news. I am not writing to seek answers, point fingers, or uncover regrets. I simply want to remember a friend who touched me.
Today I Learned of SuicideSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

His Future's Not Bright, Take Off the Blinders

I do not wish for a future like Levi Johnston's for my sons. The Republicans are saying "Life happens." In my world, Levi's situation feels more like "shit happens."

Take a look at Levi's MySpace page. He sounds like a typical uneducated, smart ass, punk, jock of a guy. Not the kind of gracious souled gentlemen I want my boys to become. I realize boys will be boys. The saying does not proclaim, however, that boys will be heathens. And if I had a daughter, hell if I'd want her to marry a guy like Levi. Take a look for yourself.

Excerpted from his MySpace page, Johnston boasts, "I'm a fuckin' redneck" who likes to snowboard and ride dirt bikes.

"But I live to play hockey. I like to go camping and hang out with the boys, do some fishing, shoot some shit and just fuckiin' chillin' I guess."

"Ya fuck with me I'll kick [your] ass," he added.

He also claims to be "in a relationship," but states, "I don't want kids."

His folks must be whiz bang proud. Yeah, I'm hip like the cool kids saying things like "whiz bang." I'm just happenin' like that, ya know.

I happen to know a few 18-year old boys. They are gracious, ambitious, polite, witty, and charming (not in an Eddie Haskell way). They have bright futures. The boys I knew when I was an 18-year old myself were as randy as the rest, but none would have sounded as egotistical, rude, and plain neanderthal as Levi Johnston. Nope, not son in law material for my girl (Granted, I don't have one.).

I'm simply saying that as a mother, I am appalled. Granted, perhaps naive too. When I read that MySpace page my heart jumped with a tinge of shame, worry, embarrassment, and even empathy for Mrs. Johnston. I am certain that she envisioned a different future for her son, as I do for mine. I am just struck my his seeming lack of empathy, brute ruggedness, and gross display of testosterone. What insecurity lurks behind all that machismo? I do not think those statements necessarily make the boy, but they sure lay one hell of a foundation.

Oh, and so much for not wanting kids. Is this guy really ready for fatherhood? I find it so unfair that we don't choose our parents. This child will come to the world with many strikes against him/her. Love is critical, yes. But what life lessons can a teenage mother and father impart when they have yet to experience life themselves? Cliche, perhaps. True, indeed. I write this without political motivation. I write this as a mother. As a 35-year old first time mother who still found herself floundering, hormonal, overwhelmed, awestruck, confused, excitable, moved, and impressionable.

Teaching abstinence in schools is plain irresponsible. The people who believe that teaching abstinence equates to taking the moral high ground might as well move to the lush savannahs of Africa and put their heads in the ground among a flock of ostriches.

His Future's Not Bright, Take Off the BlindersSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Kindergarten: Beginning or End?

I wrote about the unofficial start to kindergarten last week. Today was the real deal. Does today's milestone mark the end of a beginning? The beginning of an end? Is it an end of sorts or simply a new beginning?

Bird was a champ, even humoring me, posing for photos. He was silly, excited, anxious, and delightful. I think his Batman lunchbox gave him super special powers.

Me? I should win an Oscar for Best Performance by a Mother Dropping Her Son Off for the First Day of Kindergarten.

Mac Daddy, Deal, and I accompanied Bird to school. We drove separately since Mac Daddy had to leave to head out of town. The boys rode with Mac Daddy, leaving me with nothing but NPR to distract me. That was a tall order for BBC News Hour today. I silently wept to myself, not even wiping my tears with the back of my hand. Not the full blown heaving cry, but tears that trickle and sobs that whisper. Five years flashed before me in a nanosecond, which is about the amount of time it seems has passed.

I spend much of my time butting heads and wills with Bird and I admittedly threaten to put him on Ebay an awful lot (I have said that I would pay someone to take him. Mother of the year, material, I know). I even put him in time out on his birthday, but that's another story. However, at the end of the day, he is my kindred spirit. I feel his pains and joys like they are my own because he is me. I see myself in his every action, word, grimace, sneer, chuckle, pang, aha moment.

And so I wept for the hiccup of time I had with my son before he turns his wings to glide elsewhere. My wingspan no longer enough for him.

Bird positively galloped down the steps and hung up his backpack as if it were on the hook in our own mudroom. The kid didn't miss a beat. I ran ahead to dutifully fulfill my shutterbug responsibilities. I nuzzled my face into his hair and shed some more tears. Super silent this time, lest I project my anxiety onto him. Bird was hesitant to sit at his table at first, but one look at the gecko eyeballing him from the neighboring table distracted him enough to take a seat and stare back. We hastily gave our kisses, hugs, squeezes, words of encouragement, more kisses, and were on our way. I peeked through the forest of little heads and snapped a photo of Bird cracking up while cozying up to his tablemates. That kid lights up when he has an audience.

Cue Niagara Falls upon my feet hitting the sidewalk. Mac Daddy gave me a hug, said his requisite words of comfort, and left. Truth is, he didn't know what to do with me. Truth is, his world does not change. He'll still see Bird before work, after work, and for the random lunch date here and there. It is my world that changed forever today. It is I who grew the wings and sent them off to fly today.

I swallowed my tears, grabbed Deal up into my arms with an extra hard squeeze, and hit the gym. If there was ever a day I needed Jason to work my ass to a pulp, it was today.

I am not worried about my Bird at all. He will make me proud and have the guts and gumption to be and do more than I did.

And me? I'm anxiously waiting for 3:45.
Kindergarten: Beginning or End?SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend