Monday, February 18, 2013

Twas the Night Before the Iraq War....

In the lead up to the Iraq War I had dinner with my dad.  Among other things you can always count on my dad for consistent, steady, every-man sensibility with frequent flashes of brilliance that out-pace his education or experience.  He just gets it.

Knowing this, I asked him what he thought about the prospect of getting into a war.  He paused and thought for a moment.  He then said "If these guys think that this guy has these weapons then we have no choice."  I agreed.  To a point.  I responded, "But Dad, I don't think these guys have even thought about how we are going to get out.  This will be another Vietnam."  No lie.  That is what I said.  They should have called me.  Maybe I should have called them.

You see we never had a plan for how to get out.  "You break it you own it" was apparently too esoteric for President Asshat.  There was no plan to get out. No plan to aid the troops when they got home. Hell there was no plan to aid them while they were there,  you know, the troops "we had, not the troops we needed."

Those troops, this nation, the Iraqi people could have used an OUNCE of the outrage spilled over Benghazi.  Why is it that our outrage is always misdirected?  You want to see a Congressional hearing convene in record time?  Have some flash a nipple at the Super Bowl.  Have a bunch of overpaid athletes juice up.  Orchestrate a fake war that kills and maims  hundreds of thousand of people and the silence will be deafening.

Just when we started to step beyond the shame and atrocities of the Vietnam War - we jumped right back into a quagmire.  On the surface it just looks like self-flagellation but it is really all about the money.  The only economic power the wealthy in this country possess lies in their ability to wage never ending war.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Never Forget Who You Are

I live in the same county where I grew up.  Delaware County, just south east of Philadelphia.  Like any other part of the country (yes including the so-called mythical Main Line) there are areas that are nicer than others - places you would love to live, places you wouldn't want to be alone at night and, yes, areas where I wouldn't take a house for free - yes, just like on the Main Line.

I am proud of where I grew up.  Upper Darby High School has always had a bad reputation for tough kids and drugs - I was there for four years and never saw any of either.  I was too busy working my butt off in classes that were part of a top notch honors program.  Three of my teachers in high school had Doctorates.  But people in Radnor and Lower Merion seemed to love to look down on us as "Upper Dump." I never understood it but I do now probably more than ever.  People like to pretend.  They pretend they are more important than they are and pretend they have more than they do.  Everyone is trying to be something they're not.  The saddest part is what they are trying to be ain't all that great.

I recently had someone take a jab at where I live and it hurt. They do not think highly of the community in which my family resides.  Not high-brow enough. Not affluent enough.  Too "working class" perhaps.  They apparently view it as low class - or perhaps it's just that they have a very high opinion of where their family lives. But I am OK with that I suppose.  They can have it - I'll stay where I am.  People can think what they want and view things how they see fit. As my grandmother would say "that's why they make chocolate and vanilla."

If you remember around Christmas time, in the wake of Sandy Hook, people were doing "26 Random Acts of Kindness."   I knew I wasn't going to be able to swing 26 so I decided to do just one.  I delivered a Christmas cactus and some chocolates to the doorstep of the house where I grew up in Upper Darby.  My parents moved away many years ago.  The neighborhood is much different now.  The houses aren't maintained the way they used to be and the lawns are no longer manicured.  The community of two and three bedroom row homes was never a rich neighborhood by any measure - I just never remember "poor" being a word you would use to describe it.  I certainly never felt poor.  Poor might be a word I would use to describe it now.  As I placed the gift on the doorstep and walked away - I felt sadness - not shame - but real sadness. Many people have it hard - harder than I can possibly imagine.  I also felt a sense of relief that my parents had been able to move away to a bigger house with a garden for mom and a shed for dad.

I also felt a sense of pride to know that no matter what happens I will never allow myself to get so far away from there that I fool myself into thinking I am something I am not.  I guess all I can hope for is to surround myself with like-minded people that understand: it's not about what you have, it's about who you are.

Monday, February 4, 2013

The Best Thing To Ever Happen To You

The single most important decision a woman (yes a woman - sorry guys but it just isn't the same for you) can make is whether or not to have a child. Read that again - notice I did not say that having a child is the most important thing a woman man will ever do.  Because I do not believe that.  But the decision itself places a woman on one path versus the other.  It literally changes, no, forever alters, the trajectory of her life. As much as we want to think that we can "do it all" and "have it all" - we can't and it is irresponsible, even self destructive, for us to think we can, whether we have children or not. 

Among women that are contemplating having or not having children there is the recurring theme of "regret." "Will I get to the end of my life and regret not having children?"  Does it matter?  If you live your life the right way there should be a heaping pile of things you regret, a big list of things you never got the chance to do.  Those piles have to be big, those lists have to be long - if they are not then you never fully embraced the possibilities and opportunities that abound. If you get to the end and somehow convince yourself that you "did it all" I'm sorry but you are kidding yourself...or your bucket list sucked. If you get to the end without regrets you didn't try hard enough.  If you get to the end without enemies then you probably never stood up for anything either. In that case who cares if you had kids or not?

There are two main paths in life for a woman - one with children and one without.  And each is peppered with feelings of happiness and joy and pain and loneliness and, yes, regret.  There are plenty of  "couldas" and "shouldas" on both paths. Plenty of time will be spent envying women on the other path but most of the time you will not be able to imagine your life on any path but the one you are on. It's your path. No one else's.

I once had a friend say to me "Isn't being a mother the most wonderful thing in the world?"  I paused and thought "Seriously?  I want to blow my brains out most of the time." So I forced a smile and said "Oh isn't it just great?" Bleh - I was faking it and, honestly, she probably was too.  You see there is this  strange competition among mothers - no one talks about it so this is all on deep background. We are all trying to see who can make it look effortless. It's not. Anyone who does make it look effortless is medicated, heavily. 

Is this where I have to say that I love my children and can't imagine my life without them?  I love them.  They make me crazy. And no I can't imagine my life without them - primarily because I can't remember my life without them. So there, in case you were about to call child protective services.

When are we going to stop thinking that women were put here to reproduce? And for God's sake when are the mommies going to stop making women without children feel like they are missing out on "the best thing that could ever happen to them?" What, if you don't have kids then, sorry!  No best thing ever for you!  Bullshit. Small aspirations from small-minded people. If I have children am I now prohibited from searching for the best thing that will ever happen to me - does it have to be my children?  If I keep searching for things that make me happy and make me feel fulfilled does that mean I don't love my children?  If I happen to go on to cure cancer do I still have to say that my children are my greatest accomplishment in order to satisfy some silly Mommy archetype?  That is flawed and holds us all back.

So here is the big reveal.  Motherhood is not, and never was, the answer to anything. Don't think a child is going to give your life meaning.  You give your life meaning and purpose. Never stop looking for all the greatest things that will ever happen to you - collect as many as you possibly can.