Friday, October 3, 2008

5:00 Fridays

Today's cocktail is a bridge between donkeys and elephants. It's a shooter in honor of Sarah Palin. And it's called an Island Donkey, which is a nod to my blue brethren.

Island Donkey
1 ounce Cinnamon Schnapps
1 ounce Godiva Liqueur
1 ounce Coconut Rum (You know I'm partial to Malibu.)

Fill a tall glass or cocktail shaker with ice. Add chocolate liqueur and rum. Shake. Pour into a small glass like one of those old school juice glass or a large shot glass. Drizzle with Cinnamon Schnapps. Ready. Aim. Shoot.

This is as close to shooting as this girl will ever get. I consider my bar a shooting range.
5:00 FridaysSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Six Things You Really Wanted to Know About Me

My new pal DC Urban Dad tapped me to do this meme. You know I love to talk about myself, and I figure it's time for something light-hearted.

Here are the ever-so-simple rules:
1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write 6 random things about yourself.
4. Tag 6 people at the end of your post.
5. Let each person know he/she has been tagged.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Six rules. Six things about myself.

  1. I know all the words to Meatloaf's "Paradise by the Dashboard Light." Note that Mac Daddy loathes this song so I sing with extra gumption when he's around. Just for kicks I put it on repeat on my iPod when I really want to test his unconditional love and my irresistability.
  2. I have never been camping. Camping is not on my bucket list. Do not try to change my mind.
  3. I have a recurring dream that my teeth are falling out one by one. I only know one other person who has had this dream. It's been on my dream playlist since I was in college 20 years ago.
  4. I think American car companies do the suckiest job ever of usability and consumer testing. Companies that do not understand their consumers infuriate me.
  5. I have an 8-inch long scar on my left knee from when I got caught in barbed wire when I tried to escape boarding school at age 15. From then on my letters home had a return address of Foxcroft Penitentiary. No one found that amusing but me.
  6. I have an extra tooth in my mouth. Bird has the exact same extra tooth.

If you'd like to read more inane facts about me, go here.

Here are the lucky people I'm tagging. Please click and check out their blogs. They are all witty writers with a unique voice.

The Edge of Insanity
Sarcastic Mom
Crunchie Mummy
Backpacking Dad
Mom Who Drinks And Cusses
Six Things You Really Wanted to Know About MeSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Mother's Passing

The following is one of the first posts I wrote when I started Dirt & Noise this year. I've reposted it in its entirety. I began to write in hopes that my blog would be a tool to make the world a better place. My idealism manifested.

I am saddened and humbled and astonished to write tonight that Shannon Dodd, mother, wife, spark plug, faithful friend, and so much more, passed away last night. Her two boys are the same age as my Bird and Deal. Mac Daddy had tears in his eyes and asked, "How do you begin to explain this to children?" My heart is heavy, my eyes are watery, my soul is sad. Regardless what you believe, say a prayer for Shannon's family. And hug yours extra tight.

I don't know Shannon Dodd, yet I feel a certain kinship to her. She, like me, is in her 30s (not as FAR into her 30s as I am, mind you). She has two boys, so her house is full of dirt and noise too. Shannon has a lovely monosyllabic-named husband. She has an extraordinary close-knit group of friends. Our similarities end there. You see, Shannon is in the heat of the battle of a lifetime; she is fighting an aggressive brain cancer. Her noggin, her VERY BEING is being attacked by these horrid, cancerous cells.

Shannon and her family are fighting. They are in the ring for those two little boys, ages 4 and 5. And they are fighting for so much more. I was teary-eyed recounting the tale to my husband tonight. I can only manage to be but so poignant, if at all, in this post. My emotions are raw for this woman I don't even know. I know her story, however, and that's moving enough.

How do I even know of Shannon's plight, you ask? My boys are in school with some of Shannon's friends who are in the ring with her. They are busy at various command posts organizing a whole host of ways to support the Dodd family. For starters, there's a pancake breakfast fundraiser on Saturday, January 26 8:00-10:30 to raise money to help the Dodds manage mounting financial burdens. Though they are blessed with great health insurance, the bills still add up quickly. The emotional toll can't be empirically counted. Imagine the havoc illness wreaks on those less fortunate. No political jabs here, but simply an observation.

If you're in or around Raleigh, enjoy the respite from breakfast duty on the 26th and head over to 4801 Six Forks Road for pancakes, sausage, coffee, and juice. Tickets are a mere 5 bucks. Go to shannondodd.org to get more information. You can see photos of the lovely Shannon there too. And by the way, the $5 donation is not tax deductible since Shannon's friends are the organizers, not a registered, official non-profit. But hey, who's supporting the cause for the tax break? As a good liberal, I hate people who just write checks for the tax write off and not the underlying cause anyway.

Shannon has a remarkable group of friends. It's easy to call, email, drop by with a half-burned lasagna once in a while. Creating a whole grassroots campaign is another endeavor. What a gesture it is for these friends to show their love in a tangible way. I'm sure the lasagna, once the burned cheese was scraped off the top, was enjoyed by all, but nothing beats the display of friendship behind the scenes at http://www.shannondodd.org/.

In a world fraught with war, worry, and wariness, it is refreshing to know that everyday people live with a whole different set of virtues. Love, generosity, goodwill, and true, deep care are dancing in harmony before my very eyes. We should all be so lucky to live a life worthy of such a solid set of friends, admirers, and supporters. Friendship, unlike any I have experienced, is alive and kicking here in Raleigh. Shannon's cancer is in for a real ass kicking.

Join the fight.

Saturday, January 26
8:00 - 10:30
5 bucks (priceless since you don't have to cook!)
St. Mark's Methodist Church, 4801 Six Forks Road, Raleigh

Pssst. Pass it on.
A Mother's PassingSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Seeing Red: A Tale of Hostility

Sit down. Pour yourself a lovely but decidedly unelitist glass of pinot (grigio or noir, your call). Get comfortable. Put your feet up on your coffee table (that is, unless you ever eat off of it). I'd like to tell you a little story. A true story. It's autobiographic and it happened today.

I wrote recently about my struggle to be friends with Republicans during these contentious times. I received many comments that injected the voice of reason into my psyche. I appreciate those people taking the time to help me see the light and not fall into this my-way-is-the-only-way abyss I teeter on the cusp of. I also got some anonymous comments nudging me to try to understand the other side and be a true tolerant liberal. It's curious why some commenters are anonymous and others go out on a limb. But that's neither here not there, simply a sidebar in my head.

So today I thought I'd start implementing my new be-nice-to the-other-side philosophy. I wear my Obama button everyday. It's like my watch; I feel naked without it. I proudly support my guy and never making disparaging comments about McCain outside my home and my blog. I simply let my button do the talking. It's not my place to strike up political conversations in public or try to change any minds. Unless I am asked something specific, I keep my trap shut (hard to believe, but true). And when asked, I answer in a positive light. While I might disagree with McCain supporters, I do not pick fights. At five feet tall, 100 pounds, you wouldn't pick fights either; it's not in my best interest.

Since I mistakenly left my sunroof open last night during an unforecasted torrential downpour, I had to take my car to be steam cleaned and detailed. While hanging out in the waiting room, I saw a man walk in wearing a McCain/Palin button. Tall, fit, lanky even, jeans, khaki button down shirt, loafers, graying in that erudite British Literature professor kind of way. I smiled and waved hello. He smiled back, making eye contact and smiling graciously. There are few things I appreciate more than eye contact. I thought we were off to a great start. It wasn't hard at all to be pleasant to this guy. I felt my blue anger fade a few shades.

And then our conversation went something like this:

Me, pointing to my Obama button: "Hey, look at us each supporting our guy. It's great to be part of this process, isn't it?"

Man, whose eye contact and warm smile instantly turns to disdain: "He's an idiot and so are you!"

Me, astounded, left for speechless: "Um, really? You think I'm an idiot? You don't even know me. I was just trying to be friendly."

Man, about a foot taller than my five foot tall frame, poking his finger in my face, veins pulsing in his neck: "Yeah, you're both idiots. You're gonna be sorry! You're gonna be real sorry!"

Me, eyes bulging, gulping, flabbergasted, somehow maintaining calm demeanor (very much unlike me): "Sir, I meant nothing disrespectful. I was trying to be nice, just pointing out that it's good to be part of this exciting time. I don't care how you vote. I just think it's important that everyone does vote."

Man, grunting, walking away: "Well, you're stupid. He's an idiot. You've got something coming!"

Me, still cool as the proverbial cucumber: "It's a shame you feel that way."

Then I called Mac Daddy who bore the wrath that had been escalating inside of me. He dutifully listened and advised getting the guy's license plate number. That Mac Daddy, he's no dummy.

So the man gets into his car, revs the engine, guns it out of the parking lot. He turns back to glare at me and flips me off. Middle. Finger. Even the car wash worker looked at me and said, "I'm not voting for Obama but I would never treat you like that." I tipped him five bucks.

The man drove off in a double cab white pick up truck peppered with McCain and Elizabeth Dole stickers and a vanity license plate that said PRAYER. Central casting couldn't have found a better stereotype. If you see PRAYER cruising the strip, make sure you wear your Obama bling proudly.

This guy's ranting was not analagous to a Wisconsin fan badgering a dyed-in-the-yellow-and blue Michigan fan about an upcoming football game at Camp Randall. He was plain mean and disrespectful. There was no elbow nudging and bwah ha ha-ing going on in good fun. When we flaunt our political leanings, we owe it those brands to behave in a fashion that is becoming to that brand. It is our duty to represent that which we honor. I'm pretty sure Jesus and John McCain would not condone his actions. To be so brashly and unabashedly rude to someone is abominable under any circumstance. Even I, hothead left leaning opiner and whiner of the century, would never do what he did to me. Don't get me wrong, I'm not playing the role of victim here. I'm simply saying that that man did nothing to help ease me on my journey to understanding the other side. Granted, he is but one example. But his behavior is on target with other experiences I have had during this election season. Let me share a few real examples that have shaped my disdain, frustration, and utter lack of patience for the conservative faction. Take a look and you might start to understand my paradigm, for we are all products of our experiences:

  • A man who flipped me off and yelled anti-liberal sentiments to me while Bird and Deal were in the car with me (and obviously visible to the driver who was higher up than us).
  • A man who flicked his burning cigarette butt onto the hood of my car at a red light, again with Bird and Deal in the car. He was firing obscenities too.
  • A man who dangerously tailgated me and almost ran me off the road for a long stretch of two lane road on my way to see a client in Greensboro, fist raised in air, yelling god knows what at me.
I have nothing on my car other than an Obama 08 sticker. No negative Bush cracks or anti-McCain sentiments. Obama 08 has sparked such scorn for this mom with two innocent young boys in her car. My experiences are not in a vacuum. Others have recounted similar tales. This along with the rash of Obama yard signs being desecrated,, knocked over and stolen from people's yards. What gives? Is my experience really isolated? Am I wearing a target invisible to the donkey's eye?

This man's behavior was nothing more than childish. And rude. And unproductive. He represents the lowest of his kind. The kind whom I am certain John McCain would condemn.

So tell me, have you had similar experiences? I also want to know about the Left harassing the Right. Everything can go two ways, and I want to hear it all. Do tell.
Seeing Red: A Tale of HostilitySocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Help Kids Get Classroom Supplies. Please.

Bird has the privilege of going to a top notch school. Public school. He has a gecko in his classroom. And some pretty cool snails that require his teacher to have special snail certification. He has books galore, comfy nooks to curl up in, a microscope, dozens of Legos, crayons, markers, pencils, glue, glitter, construction paper, notebook paper, newspaper, bubbles, baubles, and building blocks. Those schools want for nothing. Well, the teachers probably want more money, and I cannot blame them.

Robeson County is North Carolina's poorest county. The median income is $13,244 (I could spend hours poring over Census data!). Now imagine feeding, clothing, protecting, transporting, and nurturing your children for that amount. And that's not to mention healthcare and insurance. Or god forbid birthdays and holidays. This is a place where parents hope their kids don't lose their baby teeth because the Tooth Fairy is flat broke.

I'd like to do my part to help those kids get a more enriching education. And to equip those dedicated teachers to give those kids every opportunity my Bird has in kindergarten. It's the least I can do.

Donors Choose helps teachers make requests for specific items they need to supplement their classrooms and curricula. I'd like to help out a teacher in Robeson County and I'm asking my readers to give a dime or ten too. Literally one dollar would help. Like with exercise and with voting, every little bit helps. In aggregate we are more powerful than as one.

Just click on the Donors Choose little widget thingee in my lefthand sidebar. It's fast and easy to donate. And it'll feel better than those warm fuzzy slippers tucked by your nightstand.
Help Kids Get Classroom Supplies. Please.SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend


San Diego Momma has a new prompt today. I finally have a free 10 minutes to participate. To recap her ever so stringent rules: Each writer has 10 minutes and no more than 250 words to plot something with her prompt. Today's prompt is the following scene set up:

“You are in a corn field, with your dog, when all of a sudden, a plastic…”

So there I was, in the corn field that looked more like a maze of dead maize than the luscious farmers' fields off highway 29 I remembered from back home. I was enjoying a bit of peace after study hall and inhaling some fresh country air that didn't reek of the foul stench of horse manure for a change. Living in a 100 year old house converted to a dorm with 35 other girls was a drag. Too much squealing, giggling, cat fighting. Whose idea was it to send me to that all girls boarding school anyway?

The headmaster's dog, Archie, had jumped the fence again and was at my side for a bit of company until Mr. Maddox started howling for him. I reached down to nuzzle Archie's floppy ears when out of nowhere, a plastic pipe tip flicked Archie square on the nose. He yelped, and I leapt.

Then came the tell-tale giggles. Swisher Sweets to end the day, apparently. The senior girls had been frolicking with their favorite friend "Mary Jane" and had indulged in some dime store cigars from their day pass into town earlier. As I was inhaling the shit-free air, they were inhaling too.
PROMPTuesdaySocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Monday, September 29, 2008

A Hurricane's Toxic Aftermath

What would you expect if your old uninvited pals Ike, Katrina, Hugo, and Andrew crashed your party? I suppose banshee wild winds, thrashing rains, upturned tree roots, toppled garbage cans, soggy sofas, tangled utility poles, and muckity mud would accompany them. The din of nature arching her overworked back and bellowing her tribal chant would make plugging your ears fruitless.

Reporters would show up in throngs doing man-on-the-street interviews. We'd all watch Headline News in passing at the gym and ooh and aah over the downed magnolia trees and dangling power lines. We might hear about some Red Cross aid hotline and sheltering of ASPCA animals, but after 48 hours something novel from Hollywood would capture our short attention spans. All eyes off those uninvited pals. All eyes off their innocent victims who didn't even want to attend the blow out.

The health and safety issues go unnoticed. Their overall scope completely neglected, misunderstood, nullified. The truth is, the aftermath of Ike has had long-term, devastating effects that go beyond traffic lights that swing with empty sockets. Have you considered what happens to the sewage, industrial pollutants, refineries, and such? We take our infrastructure for granted, expecting to see clear water run through our faucets as we mix formula for our babies and sip to quell out thirst in the raw heat. No fear of chemicals and waste crosses our minds. Clean water is an inalienable right, right?

So why don't we hear about the victims of Ike and their struggles with the most basic of needs? Read this to get some firsthand perspective. Put yourself in the shoes of those moms and dads who are tirelessly and fiercely protecting their families. And then ask why the media only tells us half the story.
A Hurricane's Toxic AftermathSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Friends in Low Places

As you know, this presidential election is near killing me. I have been helping in my little way for months now. This is my second presidential election as a citizen of a red state. My wounds have barely healed from 2004. Some are are reopening and oozing. I am used to living in bastions of liberalism. Madison. Chicago. Minneapolis. Washington, D.C. I never knew people who voted for George Bush (or at least people who fessed up to it). My parents have been staunch Democrats since they earned their American citizenship and the right to vote in 1988. I learned through osmosis, I suppose. Isn't that how we learn all of our values? And how we vote is primarily based on values, right? Well they are for me. My values are everything. They drive me socially, politically, economically. They define me.

I value my civil rights. And others' too. I value my body. I value the air I breath, the water I drink, the mountains I hike. I value the safety of the food I feed my family. I value the common good over the common greed. I value the education my sons get. I value literacy. I value curiosity. I value raising minimum wage. I value change. I value responsibility. I value global friendships. I value equal pay for women. I value parental leave and family medical leave. I value caring for the young, the elderly, the infirmed, the innocent, the voiceless. I value access to competent, caring physicians. I value the ground I walk on. I value the security of the roads I drive, the airspace I fly, the shores I wade. I value my country's global position. I value the lives of our soldiers and their kin. I value other creatures and their place in the ecosystem that sustains us. I value economic prosperity. I value the ability to put out a hand to help others lift their bootstraps. I value integrity, honesty, and advocacy of my elected officials. I value actions. I value freedom of choice. I value unhindered fun. I value guns being kept off my streets. I value the right to say what I please. I value universal access to healthcare, economic stability, education, and freedom. I value diversity. I value alternatives to oil. I value a solid, secure, sustainable planet. I value a future for my sons that is free of hate and vitriol and a draft. I value justice, peace, the American dream.

This is how my mom and dad raised me. These are their values I pass on to Bird and Deal. This is our legacy to my sons, first generation Americans.

How can I be friends with people whose values are not mine? People whose values stray so far from mine that a chasm the size of a galaxy separates us? What will be our common denominators? Our threads? How can we reconcile our differences in a meaningful way? How will we toast in shared joy instead of clash with animosity? How am I to stop all the judging, gagging, eye rolling, knuckle cracking, nail biting, heart racing, stammering, and gasping that I am not poker player enough to hide? How can I stop myself from asking, "What the fuck are you thinking? McPain is a disaster of EPIC proportions? You are irresponsible and downright un-American to vote for this vile ticket that will set women and our country and polar bears back at least 100 years. You are thinking with your short-term wallet instead of with your long-term portfolio. You disgust me with your selfish, racist, bullying ways. I have no respect for your pompous ilk. You care about yourself only with no respect for your fellow men, women, and children. Or animals for that matter. You think you have a right to define and play god. Your way is not the only way. You are a closed minded wretch who is a parasite on this planet. Your disillusionment is calamitous. I cannot break bread with you. I cannot trust you. I cannot stomach you!" With this I struggle.

Perhaps there would be some kicking, hair pulling, profuse cussing, elbowing, and pinching. Whom am I kidding? Fisticuffs would ensue, and I'd likely be on the bottom of the pile. I'm only five feet tall after all.

Do you detect some anger in my voice? Don't be fooled. It's fear.

I thought we hit rock bottom four years ago. I had no freaking clue that things could go ever deeper into the guts of hell. I still feel that our reality is surreal. McPain cannot possibly be happening. Those signs don't really read "Women for McCain." "Really?" I want to ask. "Because nothing about his policy is for you." I am filled with caustic anger that singes the soul. I admit to this. I just don't know how to escape it.

And so I plunder on. Canvassing. Writing. Calling. Blogging. Donating. I empty myself of this enmity through my written words and positive actions. So far I have not uttered words of ugliness, though you better believe I am thinking them behind my veil of "Hey, how are you? So nice to see you. Coffee? Nah, 9:00 doesn't work for me. Catch you later."
Friends in Low PlacesSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend