Saturday, February 27, 2010

Fishing

I got a call at 4:50 this morning. I was already not sleeping well, after messing my ankle up last night, and as soon as my phone started to vibrate, I knew what it was about. It was my brother, Jake, calling to tell me that Grandpa died. It was not a surprise and after the increase in calls from my sister-in-law, Debbie, this week, with news of the rapid acceleration in his body’s attempts to shut itself down, I had a feeling this would be the night. Yesterday she told me about how he could not transfer from his bed to his wheelchair, and it was only days ago he was able to get around with a walker.

This man was important to me. My parents loved me very much, but between my father’s addiction, and my mother’s co-dependence and lack of maturity, my childhood was shaping up to be a nightmare. It was my grandparents who saved me from the more nightmarish aspects. I spent a lot of time, often with my cousin Deena, at their house. It was very much a home to us. In our matching nylon nightgowns, we watched a lot of cartoons, made a lot of Barbie dolls do a lot of silly stuff, took a lot of baths together and ate a lot of “good” food there. Unlike many of men of his generation, who treated kids, especially girls, like something to be left to the women, or to themselves, he was actively involved with us. He took me on his “rounds” when he went to visit friends around town, to the hardware store (and later Wal-mart), yard sales, donut shop, barber shop, insurance office… I tagged along, usually bored in the presence of old men, but I learned to occupy myself, and he always got me treats, and included me in the conversation at times.

I don’t remember how old I was when Grandpa bought the mobile home on the Embarras river (It looks like “embarrass” I know, but it’s usually pronounced by the locals as “ambraw”), about fifty feet from the water, up a steep, but walkable bank. The mobile home itself, elderly and so close to the water seemed at first a small, dank place. Grandma furnished it with old stuff out of Grandpa’s auction and garage sale hauls, and tidied it up. She stocked the kitchen, made sure everyone had bedding, and made a rustic but pleasant weekend home out of it. It was a beautiful bit of property- the trailer giving a clear, tree-framed view of the water, in a widening spot of the river, just past a curve. The trees bowed out over the water, as if they were trying to talk with their relatives on the other side. The land included the thick, green woods along the bank, and a field that was planted with corn or beans every year and in the sunshine sparkled and buzzed with the force of millions of tiny lives. My father traded a car or a gun for a rough, bright blue pontoon boat made from old oil barrels, and covered with cheap Astroturf, and my extended family spent every summer day there that they could, having weenie roasts and picnics, playing in the river and exploring the land. This is where Grandpa usually took me fishing. He had taken me fishing, on occasion, since I was in preschool, but this is where it became a normal thing for us to do together.

He had an aluminum boat, propelled by oars and one of a series of various sized motors. He would take me, a tense, clumsy child, out to the workbench in the large storage building he had built there to hold furniture and cars he bought at auction, and he would set us each up with at least one pole, and make sure I had my life-vest on properly. We walked through the small strip of woods between the building and the boat, and each time he would point out something to me; deer, rabbits, broken trees, and mushrooms. He would get in the boat first, I would hand him my pole, and he would laugh at me as I unsteadily stepped into the wobbling boat. He always reached out to help me if it looked like I was going to end up in the water, which was most of the time.

I have no doubt that of all of the people he fished with (almost all men, of course), I was the worst. For years he re-wormed my hook, only to have me get my line caught on one of the invisible underwater trees that had lost their bearings to the river. Usually I was given a bamboo pole, for its simplicity, and to prevent one of us from ending up with a hook stuck in their head from my uncoordinated flailing as I cast. I remember him, more than once, cutting my line when I got it caught on something and he couldn’t get it back, telling me to “be still.” I shut up and held my pole, with my line unburdened with hook or sinker trailing in the water behind us. I heard a lot of “be still” “stop that, there” as I fidgeted and thumped around, the aluminum bottom of the boat broadcasting warning of my nervous presence to all living creatures below. I liked the bamboo poles, but I loved the sound and the feeling of casting with a rod and reel, and I would beg him each time to let me cast with his, or with the one he had let me bring. If he was in a good mood, and not really attached to the idea of catching anything that day, he would let me. Each attempt of mine, even with his coaching, was followed by him swearing as he rewound fishing line that I had tangled, or attempted to repair the reel I had bent or broken. Several times, when I wanted to fish and he was too busy, or not in the mood, he directed me to an opening in the trees by the water, near a good spot for fish hiding in the tree roots, and told me to catch some dinner. I usually just caught roots. That was also where I got to freely practice casting, and I usually only got the hook caught in my fuzzy, sun-bleached hair. There was a time or two when I endured hook-removal and Grandma made sure I was up-to-date on my tetanus shots. That was just a part of being a kid in our family.

The excitement when I did catch something (and I did sometimes catch something!) was almost hard to take, and he shared it with me, acting as if each fish was the most beautiful fish anyone had ever caught, and cleaning it for Grandma (who was also very proud of me) to cook for dinner, even if it was the only fish, and a small one. If it was too small for that, he would keep it for bait for the trot lines he had installed. He would tell me what kind it was, and show me how different the coloring looked under water than in my hand, and tell me it was a good tasting one. The one exception was the time I caught a gar. It was a frightening thing, with a long snout of lethal-looking teeth, and I often worried about swimming in the river, once I knew they lived there. That fear was not helped by Grandpa’s live demonstration of the pain a catfish can cause with the sharp barb on its top fin, when he got jabbed while removing the hook from its gaping mouth.

As I got older, I lost interest in fishing. The usual high school, then college, girl concerns took its place. Our families started to break apart. The river bottom flooded, and Grandpa lost all of the merchandise stored in the building. My uncle’s ex-wife eventually moved down there with her new mate. Every once in a while I when I visit I drive by on my way to Ashmore, and wonder at how different the spot looks. Grandpa continued to fish on his own or with a male family member or friend, in different places, and sometimes I wished I were nearby so I could go too. Last year, even in his pitiful state of health, he took my brother’s young sons fishing. It was so easy for me to imagine them. I could see them making their way through the tall grass and brush, and I could imagine Grandpa, crankier than he was when I was a child, but still with his sense of humor, alternately barking, joking with and teaching my sweet, rambunctious nephews, while showing them his love in the most real way possible.

I love you Grandpa. Give Grandma a hug for me. I will miss you both for the rest of my life.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Boy>Girl>>>>Other

This semester has been the first time since I have been in school that I have felt...like a social work major.

So, this semester, I have three social work classes. I have been looking forward to starting my field work in the summer, so my mind has been more engaged with "what does social work look like?" sorts of thoughts than it was. Still, I have felt like I am doing, doing, doing. So much energy goes toward things outside of myself; papers, deadlines, kids stuff, processing future divorce plans and what I need to do to adapt to the changes... a lot of things. Things that make up my life, but don't really add to me feeling like a social worker, in the same way I feel like an artist, or a friend, or a mom. That internalization of the identity has been missing.

Tonight something happened that changed it. At the beginning of the semester, one of my professors gave us each a minor assignment. We were each to find an article having to do with some aspect of social work, write a page summary, come up with a couple of discussion questions for the class, and give a short, informal presentation. I have been keeping my eyes open for an article all semester, and even going out of my way to look at areas I am especially interested in. I looked at sex-ed, teen dating violence, domestic violence, and some others. I picked a couple of articles and carried them around with me for several weeks. They just were not calling my name. Last week I found an article called Bending Gender, Ending Gender: Theoretical Foundations for Social Work Practice with the Transgender Community. It is from the journal Social Work, and written by Barb J. Burdge. This article was calling my name.

I'm not really sure why I am so emotionally drawn to the GLBT community. I am not a very active part of it. Of course I am never sure what I am going to find out about myself, but I feel fairly sure that this is not some hidden part of me that is trying to come out. I have always felt, for the most part, safe to be authentic about my gender and sexual preference. It was not something I was ashamed of, even when it deviated slightly from "normal" because I was perceived as basically "normal." I never had to be ashamed. If I wanted to wear mens clothing, I did it. If I wanted to take an eyeliner pencil to my upper lip, or behave "like a man" I did it. If I felt so compelled now, and I had the time and energy, I would not hesitate to cross-dress. I really enjoy it. It never felt threatening to me. It was always empowering, or at least fun, in the same way it is fun to pretend to be anyone else sometimes. And beyond that, that play turned into a part of me. It allowed me to access something of myself that I might not have if I never felt the need to deviate from "the girl." To pretend to be someone different, you have to pay attention to them. When you pay attention to people, you become more connected to them, and usually to yourself if you bother to process your internal reactions to them.

Anyway, the thing that happened... I have been reading a lot of research lately, but this article was so much more thought provoking and interesting than anything I have read for quite a while. Then, while I was looking on the internet for pictures that represented aspects of the GLBT community and gender with which to decorate the CD's I will hand out to the class tomorrow, in a search for "transgender flower" I saw pictures of transgendered people who had been beaten. Beaten. Badly. Just for being themselves. How fortunate for us "gender appropriate" folks to have the privilege of walking around looking like ourselves without getting our asses kicked by bigots.

It seems to be my nature to cry at the drop of a hat when I have any powerful emotion- not just sadness. I have been pretty stressed lately. It's crunch time, and school is taking up time I would really like to be doing other things with, like eating more than once a day, and mowing the lawn, and washing dishes... Some things though... they make me cry so hard I feel like parts of my body are migrating to other parts of my body, and this was one of those times. It might have been facilitated by stress, but the focus was on the people.

Nature (or God, if you prefer) is trying to tell us something. It is giving us color, and beauty and variety, and we are turning out stingy little eyes and hearts away from it, in order to see what makes us feel like we are OK and normal. I guess my wish was that everyone played a little with gender. See what it's like to be something other than what your family and your culture told you to be. Become a safe place for other people to be themselves around you. Don't just talk about how much you love diversity. Be diversity. Try other people on. Not to be patronizing, or to poke fun at them, but for solidarity's sake, and perhaps for your own insight and enlightenment. Listen to them as if they know more about their experience than you do, because, I promise, they do.

I keep thinking that for me to be and show who I am is OK. It is a costume that expresses a side of me, and I am at will to take it or leave it. I can indulge or put it away for later, or just savor the thought. What if it was not fun though? What if it was who I really was, and I was not at liberty to be myself? What if I had to push it down any time I was with anyone else, even my family? How could I be happy? What would I resort to do deal with the pain? How would I live knowing that almost every place I went, I would have people around me who would like to beat me, or even kill me, because I feel like someone I don't look like?

Just some things to think about.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Sunny the Brave! hahahaha

This is a picture of my mom taken 7 or 8 years ago on one of our visits to Madison.





I did something last night that terrified me. I not only went to my friend Susan's Contra dance group, I waltzed with a man I have never seen before. I'll bet you had no idea dancing was such a white-knuckle event.

Dancing has a place in my family. My mother's mother loved to dance. She and my grandfather (who to my knowledge was not a dancer) divorced, maybe even before I was born, so I have no memories of them together. I still have a hard time even imagining it. My grandfather lived in a dirty, cluttered house with only his dry sense of humor to keep him company most of the time I knew him. My grandmother lived in a big, immaculate brick house with a thick necked, ruddy man named Bart. They danced at every opportunity. I used to love to stand in her huge closet and try on her pretty dresses and teetering dancing shoes. Bart passed on, or somehow passed out of her life, and she kept ballroom dancing until she met her husband (now deceased), Tillman, and I guess they just got too old to move that way, but it will always be part of my memory of her.

When I was a child, my mother loved to dance. Micheal Jackson's album The Wall came out when I was 11, and she tried to teach me disco moves, and we danced and laughed in our living room, next to the propane heater. Donna Summers's Macarthur park was another one of her favorites. I laughed, and I tried, but I always felt awkward and self-conscious, even with only her. My brother, it seems, got all of the physical grace and coordination between us. We went to barn dances at Lincoln Log Cabin State Park, and I bumbled through the moving lines and circles of people in period costume, college students and families, never feeling like a real part of the twirling formations. I remember laughing some, blushing a lot, and avoiding eye contact with people after I messed up, which was a lot.

After my mother went through the death of her father, a divorce from my father, and the other changes that took her to Wisconsin, where she is now, she became a ballroom dancer. I remember her telling me that she had always avoided it because it was her mom's thing. Grandma was a bit hard to take, and their relationship is difficult. It's easy for me to imagine why my mom distanced herself from her, since I remember often having the urge to shock or irritate Grandma because she was so fussy and prudish, and more than a little controlling. Mom took lessons. She went to dances. She sometimes went even when out-of-town visitors were staying in her apartment, much to the consternation of my brother and sister-in-law, who drove up to see her with their small children in tow.

I went to a dance with her once in a dance school where she took lessons, when I visited her in Madison. She danced the male part with me, and tried to teach me the steps. She promised that I would not have to dance with anyone but her but somehow in the middle of a rumba I was flung to a tall, skinny, serious man with a thick German accent. I felt cornered. I stepped on his feet or bumped knees with him every other step. I muttered apologies and each time he said in a monotone "Dat's OK." I held back tears. I sat out the rest of the time. It was fun in her living room with Mom and aunt Pati, but I wasn't ready for strangers.

Last night Susan snagged a couple of women who were not dancing at that moment, and showed me some of the moves in Contra dance. Some of them are the same as square dancing; do-si-do, allemande, circle right, but it lacks the horrific matching gingham outfits. My heart rate was up. I couldn't remember what was what. The idea of getting into the mix, and committing myself to a whole dance (if one person drops out, it messes up the whole thing) was too much for me. She danced a while and showed me how to do a Waltz.

The women, and sometimes even men, at these dances like to wear full skirts that twirl against their bare legs when they move. (Three cheers for men in skirts, I say!) Most of the night I watched. I made note of how completely un-feminine the one skirted man was. Sometimes I singled out a couple, and watched them for a while. I watched the group as a whole, colors and faces flashing and spinning, until I got overwhelmed. I noticed all of the different body types, and the way the flesh on most of the women's hips and rear ends jiggled slightly with their movements. I wondered about the relationships outside of the dance. I noticed the different ways people had of approaching each other- some easy and joyous, with the confidence of acceptance, some silly and theatrical (like the older guy in the bright pink t-shirt who danced himself around grinning and drumming on his taut beer belly until he found a lady to dance with), some awkward and tense with the ever-present fear of rejection even in a place where there is relatively little of it.

The symbolism in some of the moves, and in the principles and the very act of dance is almost too obvious to me. The term "giving weight" to your partner is loaded- the tension created by leaning away from one another while your bodies are held together by small areas of physical touch, by the intimacy of direct eye contact, and by the desire to be moving together is symbolic of the mutually agreed upon conflict tempered by intimacy and commitment that has been missing in my marriage from day one. Letting a man lead, trusting him even to guide me away from other dancing couples, is symbolic of several things that I don't care to go into right now.

it may be a clich├ęd comparison, but all of the things I want out of life are in some way represented in dance. Joy, health, companionship, intimacy, learning, success... I see people doing it and they look relaxed, and like the are having fun. They are enjoying the movement of their bodies, and (usually) laughing at their mistakes. They are looking into each others' eyes. The way people touch even people they have never met in such intimate ways- a man's hand on a woman's waist, their hands palm to palm, with still nothing being as intimate as the eye contact, is so sweet and human and moving, yet brings up issues of discomfort with my body, and physical contact with strangers, after years of barely being touched. It has a slight edge of violation to me. The pacing is faster than I can handle. The movements are, as I told Susan last night, very "mathy."

I will keep going. I will sit with it until I can make a commitment. I will keep telling men I am not ready to be their partner until I am ready to do so without being a nervous wreck, even if I seem rude. I will keep being there, amidst the beauty of the people, and their energy, until I have absorbed enough of it to join them.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Can I untie this knot in my throat?

I just finished writing a paper that I worked on all weekend, to the exclusion of all of the other homework I needed to do. I should feel relieved, but I barely do.

On Friday, a friend of my sons died. She was fifteen or sixteen. I think I might have sort of met her once, or given her a ride home, or seen her in the mall parking lot when I went to pick up Adrian. He is pretty private about his friends, especially the girls. He is pretty private about most things, actually. He holds a lot in. Or at least he tries, but nobody is really ever successful at that.

I didn't know this girl... this someone-else's-baby, but I feel broken hearted, and anxious, and full of despair. Part of it is watching my child go through this grief, and thinking about her family and friends, and the endless cumulative well of pain her death puts into the world- into the part of the world that touches my kid, and touches me. When I think about how she died, how she was pushed in the stairwell at school, and fell, and I think about how that is nothing. That kind of thing happens every day, and it's all it took to end her. One stupid kid having a little moment of aggression, or thoughtless playfulness, or a spastic need to get to class faster. A bump on the head. Just that. It feels like a fist around my throat.

And to top it off, It scares the beejeebies out of me that my kid won't let me know him. One thing that has always thrown me into a fit of depression, was when I felt that the people I was closest to didn't really know me, or want to know me, and they didn't want to let me know them. Really know them. Not in the way I know Adrian because I'm his mom, and I cried when he got his first haircut and the stupid woman messed it up, or I because I wrote his first words in his baby book. I mean the kind of knowing you get when someone voluntarily tells you how they feel, and what they want, and what they think, and it's even so much better when they want to know the same things about you.

I have spent the last couple of days perpetually distracted as I wondered what he was feeling and thinking. How well did he know her? Did he ever want to kiss her? Did he ever kiss her? Does he feel guilty for any real or perceived betrayals? Did they laugh together? What did he like about her? What made her special to him, and what will he miss? How were things between them when he last saw her? I wonder what he will take from this experience. Will he become more fearful, cynical and bitter? More closed off? Or will it open him a little bit and let him see how he is not alone. Everyone is hurting over this, even people who paid little attention to her before.

Tonight he is at a candle lighting ceremony, grieving with friends. I am glad he went, enough so that my anxiety about him getting into a car with another boy his age (one I don't even know) has taken a back-back seat. I hope it helps him. I hope it gives him what I can't.


I have tried to talk with him about it, but my throat tightens and my voice takes on the nasal, anxious quality that makes me wish I would just shut up, so I can only imagine what he is thinking. I cry. He is silent, or gives me one-word answers. He is very clear about shutting me out. He or I could die and I don't know if I could live with things being left in this state, yet there seems to be nothing more I can do about it. So, I just put my hand on top of his when I drive him to school, and tell him I love him. I just hope it sticks.

Rest in peace, Tiffani. I'm so sorry I never got to know you. I hope my son really did.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Simplest of Surgical Procedures!

Nothing is simple. Everything means something. At least in my life , it does.

About six months ago I went in to get my eyes checked. It was my first appointment with Dr. Tran, who had given Evan his first eye exam a few weeks prior. I liked him, so I made an appointment. Dr. Tran is a cute, young Asian guy with a pleasant, sincere demeanor. He is gentle, and from what I saw of him very professional in his treatment of his patients and staff. He is calm. Calm is good.

During that appointment he dilated my eyes and noted the appearance of what could be glaucoma. He established a baseline with a couple of tests and I made an appointment to be checked again in six months. He also told me that he could remove the wart from my eyelid.

"The what?!" I asked. "You mean the mole, right?" He informed me that what I had lovingly referred to most of my life as "my eye-mole" was a wart. This news slightly agitated me, but I took the six months between appointments to adjust myself to the idea of life without what he more gently called "the bump" today. Thursday, after receiving the great news that I do not have glaucoma (!!!!!) I made an appointment to go in today and have it removed.

You see, the eye-mole-wart-bump used to be cute. It was a small brown mole near the outer corner of my right eye, on my lower lid. I can't remember a time that it was not there. Most of my boyfriends liked it. I liked it. When I was twenty-one and in college, one boy in particular liked it. He was generally enthralled with my moles. I had a couple on my belly, a couple on the back of my neck, a sprinkling on my back, one under my left breast and a smaller, flat one on my posterior. "God, they are so sexy" he said, every time he got a chance to visit them. He said he liked the one by my eye because it reminded him of the others.

I have more moles, or skin tags as the doctor calls them, than I used to. Tiny ones have sprouted in the moist places under my breasts, in my armpits and in the creases where my thighs meet my groin. I don't appreciate them the way I did the originals, which have been on my body since my age was in single digits, at least. The new ones are a pain. I associate them with the age spots that are showing up on the backs of my hands, and the changing texture of my skin. These tiny flaps of skin sometimes get rubbed by the underwires of my bra and feel raw and sore. Once I cut one off with a razor blade because it had gotten caught on my bra so many times it was hanging on by a thread.

A few years ago, I don't know how many, I noticed that the eye-mole-wart-bump had gotten larger. It was no longer an adorable little bump. It had started to take on miniature cauliflower-like properties. It had lost its symmetry and started to hang down a little. It looked blobby upon close inspection. It wasn't something anyone else would really notice, since I had to put my nose an inch from the mirror to see the changes, but it bothered me. At some point it started to irritate me even when I could not see it, and it was visibly larger than it was when I was young. I could feel it sometimes, hanging there. It was especially a bother when I ran, or jumped. The shaking motion made it tickle and itch. Putting eyeliner on was more of a pain that it had ever been.

Today I watched with my one uncovered eye as the needle gave my lower eyelid two numbing shots. I saw Dr. Tran's latex gloved hands moving around so close to my eye that they were blurry as he cut the eye-mole-wart-bump off. I didn't actually realize he had removed it until he told me. The base was larger than he had initially thought, so he put two tiny stitches in. I kept watching as the yellowish-white suture thread moved around in his hands, twanging slightly like a tight-wire as he tugged the stitches securely. He was focused and careful. He scratched my nose for me with a q-tip when it itched, so I would not contaminate the area with my fingers.

As silly as it may sound, I feel a loss. This cosmetic feature, that has been on my face, and been a part of my identity for most of my life, is now in a small plastic jar of preservative, next to my typing fingers. It floated at first, but has now sunk to the bottom. I can see the bloody spot where it was attached to my body.

It hurts a little. It hurts physically, but mostly it hurts my psyche. It reminds me of a time that the men I chose to spend time with thought I was sexy. On the other side of that, it reminds me of how I used to need men to think I was sexy, because I really didn't. It reminds me of my grandmother- the one who gave me this genetic predisposition toward sprouting bumps. I don't think I would be here today if it were not for how much she loved me. I can't think about her without thinking about how I will always miss her. It reminds me that I am getting older, and the parts that were an asset at one time, are starting to become a potential liability. This day, during which I allowed the severance of a small part of my body, has come right after a weekend with good friends, during which I talked through more layers of letting go of my almost non-existent marriage. A little part of my identity is gone with the eye-mole-wart-bump, as is a bigger part of my identity as a wife and partner. Healing is happening. In place of both will be a bit of scar tissue, and a spot of normalcy and freedom.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Aren't normal mothers happy on days like this?


Yesterday was the last day of holiday break. I just took my kids back to school. I feel sad.

When the boys were little I would often hear mothers talk about how they couldn't wait for school to start back up so they could get a break. They would grab handfuls of their own hair while they ranted about how their kids were driving them crazy. Admittedly, my oldest has been the reason for plenty of my own hair-pulling, but I still never really got what those other moms were talking about. I miss my kids when school is in session. As they get older I miss them even more because not only are they gone all day, when they come back they are often occupied with things that do not involve me.

Over the break I got to remember what it is like to chat with Evan about whatever was on his mind. I never had to interrupt him so we could leave or because one or another of us had homework waiting. We had some time to play. We baked. I got to listen to Adrian laugh while we watched DVD's of the office. Everyone relaxed.

The weather this morning is appropriate for this grayness that I feel during these little transitions. The house is quiet now. There will be no sounds of World Of Warcraft today, or the putting sound of Evan playing the drums in Rock Band or the almost constant sound of cell phones receiving text messages. If I want to touch one of them, I have to wait until school is out. I might have to have a good cry.

I will put off thinking about how this will become a permanent state when they are grown, until it gets closer to that time. I will probably need help making it through that change.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

WE DO NOT WANT OUR YARD MOWED

This is what it says on our front door. It's one of those thermal-printed labels that are the modern equivalent of the dymo labels we stuck all over everything when I was a kid. Robert, in a fit of anger, put it there because he was sick of the yard crews looking for work who kept stopping at our house. Never mind that there was a reason they stopped at our house, but it was aggravating.

Now, nobody hates people who are not friends or neighbors ringing the doorbell to sell us things, or tell us about their (insert religious document here) more than me. I came so close to making a laminated sign to put on our door listing all of the people who are liable to be met with a large, rage-spewing woman if they ring the bell. I have not completely ruled out that option, as our cute little "NO SOLICITING" sign has been ignored. As far as I am concerned, they can all just jump into the fiery pit along with spammers, telemarketers and pushy car salesmen. If I had lived in the day of the Fuller Brush and bible salesmen, I would probably today be an aged woman who spent most of her adulthood in jail. I don't even like most commercials. Watching programming directed at kids especially pisses me off. I find it hard to believe that most people don't feel insulted by the crap that shows up between shows, and even in them sometimes. I love my DVR.

To further illustrate how much I hate being solicited, with few specific exceptions, let me tell you about the fitness center. I recently went to the new fitness center that opened up in my neighborhood a few months ago. I went in on the defensive, because the sales people at fitness centers are notoriously pushy. My jaw nearly dropped when the guy actually asked me if he could call me to remind me before the sale ended. I told him he could call me if he wanted to irritate me. He said he would not. I was even more surprised when the end of the sale passed (yesterday) and he did not call. I was tempted to join, in spite of the fact that the new-building smell of the place made me dizzy for the remainder of the afternoon after just being in there for 20 minutes. I so appreciated being treated as if I could decide on my own! The fact that I am so surprised by the experience is sort of sad.

I was thinking about it this morning. I was thinking about how our kids participated in so many fundraisers one year that our neighbors quit answering the door if any of our family members rang the bell. We could actually hear them walking up to the door to see who it was and walking away. I was thinking about how good it is supposed to be for the kids to go door-to-door...or at least that is the idea behind it, right? Why don't more parents object to having their kid put people on the spot so that their school can keep a relatively small fraction of the overpriced crap that they are selling? We stopped buying most of it. Now we just donate a little money to the cause, and let the school keep all of it. Even though we would cost ourselves more by buying, the school gets to keep more that way.

So, why this today? No idea. I was just thinking about it. I guess it is time for me to get out of bed and clean the bathroom now, before someone smells it from outside and rings our doorbell to ask if we need someone to clean it. I would be so tempted...