Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Tornado Brain and Remembering What Matters

Ok, so I can’t keep up with my own self.

With my head.

My appetite.

My emotions.

I don’t blog more because, frankly, every day there is something. Something to add. Something new.

So I wait until things settle.

But they don’t.

My God. They don’t.

My daughter’s activities are never ending.

My son’s activities are never ending.

My husband needs to have his space. Because that’s who he is.

And I love them all three. I want to experience all of their activities, be a part of all their needs.

But I love my friends.

I need my friends.

I want to do everything my friends have planned.

And it’s March.

Basketball interferes.

Because in March, basketball is EVERYTHING to me. Well, almost. Those three people, sigh. Basketball is number four in March.

And I need to call my mom more. Because she needs me.

And I need to see my grandmother more. Because I love her.

And I need to connect with my cousin the hermit more. Because I miss her.

But my country is in flames.

Donald Trump is my waking nightmare.

And I have to help. Have to keep working behind the scenes, in ways others don’t know I’m working. Being an activist, using my past connections delicately, prudently, to try and change things the next election.

I’m not sitting idle. I promise. You just don't know that I'm not sitting idle.

And I’m not exercising. Because I’m tired. Because I don’t care.

But I DO care. I don’t ever want to gain the weight back.

And it weighs on me.

So I’m on my second glass of wine tonight. Because it tastes good. And now I’m putting this on paper, so it’s an outlet. Like steam escaping from my new pressure cooker.

The pressure cooker that allowed me to make four different meals today that I can freeze. So that when I work late I can have something thawed for my family to eat.

They don't function the same when I'm not home taking care of things. And before you judge, I WANT to be home to take care of things. It is a way I show my family that I love them and I like it.

I'm a mix. A modern day woman, colored hair to boot, with the Greatest Generation's influence that leaves me feeling warm and satisfied when I cook for my family. When I'm THERE for them.

Because I’ve been working a little more lately, worried about my co-workers. We are a small crew and I’m just a part-time helper. But when several of us need time off there is no one else. It’s not my job to fix, but I care. I love my co-workers. I love my boss. I love the store.

Pause.

I just breathed for the first time since I started typing.

And in that breath, I thought of Rhyan Loos. And her fight. My niece Hannah and the fight she lost. My cousin Rachael and the roller coaster of fights she has lived through.

I thought of my friends, who are struggling in their marriages.

I thought of my kid's peers and their own personal battles, from divorced homes to self-esteem issues and a myriad of themes, many of which we all have a connection to.

I thought of relatives…who I avoid. Because it’s awkward…not traditional…forced, obligated, when I don’t know them. Haven’t ever connected. Because my “story” isn’t normal. Yet I feel guilt. For not connecting.

And I feel like a failure. Deep, deep disappointment over a goal I had set. A training applied to with Department of Justice that I was rejected for. Because of the employment gap that I wrote about some time ago. The gap for those of us who leave our careers to stay home with our families. I knew this would happen.

The gap reared her ugly head and is the reason I was rejected. I feel humiliated. Washed up. Fear that I would be unable to provide for my family if I had to.

I breathe again. Sigh. Let it out.

I know in my head, yeah, in my heart, that this is all normal. I’m normal. My doubts, fatigue, worry and stress are normal and actually far less than the worry many others shoulder.

I bring it around.

First World Problem.

We are healthy.

I’ll say it again.

We. Are. Healthy.

That’s all that matters.

I can breathe again, while feeling relief that I can sleep now...because I remember the most important thing. The one thing that none of us can control and the one thing that can destroy us.

We. Are. Healthy.

And I’m good now.

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Orange Rat

I recently shared thoughts on President Trump’s lies and why they don’t matter to a certain portion of our population.

On a cerebral level I guess there are psychological reasons for this. At least I hope.

There is a secondary issue related to this President about which I feel compelled to opine.

And I’ll do it as if I were talking to my friends over a beer.

I’m going to be mean.

I’m going to be hateful.

In short, I’m going to describe Trump the way another Trump would describe Trump.

It’s all my own opinion. And it’s NOT fact based. You want to vote based on your “feelings” America? Well here are mine, for those few friends who care to join me on this little word journey.

He is THAT guy.

Seriously.

Donald Trump is an obnoxious braggart.

He’s the guy who doesn’t get invited back to the Wednesday night golf club because the rest of the guys can’t stand him.

He’s not funny.

He’s not engaging.

He uses made up words and spends most of his air time boasting about accomplishments (always leaving out valuable details, like daddy’s money, who he screwed over in the process or who did the real work).

Nobody likes to hang out with that guy.

But they feel obligated to include him because he has a shitload of money and pays his fees.

Then they remember that he stiffed them on drinks the last five weeks.

Our Presidents have had easily recognizable traits that resonated with voters.

President Obama’s charming smile and wit are appreciated around the world. His comedic timing is notorious.

Michelle Obama’s mantra “when they go low, we go high” is one for the ages. As matriarch of the first Black family in the White House she carried the responsibility with a quiet dignity and leadership that leaves many Americans in awe and it is why her popularity is even greater than her husband’s.

President Bush is the guy I still, to this day, swear I’d love to have a beer with (or two or three). He too had an engaging, boyishly cute smile. This is a man who made the term “compassionate conservatism” a call to arms. And what’s not to love about a president who hands out nicknames to folks he trusts and loves?

Laura Bush was the epitome of class. Her background as a librarian and love of education was something every American could rally behind.

President Clinton’s ability to speak to any American, on any topic, and to do it in a way that even the most complicated international issue could be understood is a quality I’m not sure I’ll ever see again in my lifetime.

I once spoke with some Secret Service agents who said the hardest part of covering President Clinton and President Bush, Jr. was their relentless habit of ignoring schedules so that they could hang out in the kitchens of hotels visiting with the wait and cook staff. These men both respected blue collar workers.

The affection share by the Clinton and Bush families, particularly George and Barbara with Bill and Hillary, is known far and wide. The Bush’s call Bill Clinton the “black sheep of the family” because the international work they have done together to improve lives around the globe is something they deeply believe in.

And, probably, because they are nice guys and enjoy spending time together.

President Reagan’s Hollywood good looks and calming leadership are easy to identify as engaging. He’s still the father of all modern Republican Presidents. He tore DOWN walls. And the love he and Nancy shared with each other brings a tear to even the most ardent Democrat.

President Carter’s faith in God and desire to do the right and moral thing has never been in question and as the years go by his Presidential ranking continues to move up as history reflects more and more the positive things he did.

President Nixon is probably the only President we can easily point to whose personality left so much to be desired. And, yet, his qualifications for the highest office in the land were so monumental they more than adequately made up for the sweat, gruffness and nasty distrust of everyone in D.C.

In a nutshell, if we are to be honest, it is easy to see why these men were elected.

They had amazing qualities that shined on the campaign trail.

But Donald Trump?

He’s a dick.

He’s THAT guy.

He’s obnoxious and boastful.

He lies and inflates every story, every tale.

He brags about having sex with women.

He walks in front of his wife and doesn’t open the door for her.

His third wife, by the way.

His oratory skills are gross and he makes up words.

He repeats himself over and over and he pauses after he says something, as if, in his own mind, he’s thinking “wow, I’m so smart.”

He speaks in short, stunted sentences, like a child.

And he pouts. And whines. And blames everyone else around him for everything that happens.

He doesn’t like to learn or read reports.

He’s the only leader of the United States with the arrogance to bombastically claim he and he alone can solve every problem in America.

He’s impulsive and if a normal person tweeted the things he tweets they would have five followers: mom, dad, grandma, grandpa and wife. Hell, if he were an average citizen and tweeted like this even his own kids wouldn’t follow him.

He’s not funny. Ever. In fact, I’m not sure he understands what humor is.

And he never smiles. It’s odd. And a little creepy.

Definitely creepy.

Can someone find a photo of this guy rearing his head back in pure, unadulterated laughter?

His wife is creepy too. Find a photo of her laughing as well. Even better, find one of them together laughing. That might go a long way towards relieving the creep factor.

His sons are creepy, with oily hair….maneuvering behind the scenes like members of Slytherin, relying on nepotism to make more money off the White House.

Ivanka is the only bright star in this family and she seems oddly out of place.

I used to think, when it began to appear like he might win the Republican primary, that maybe Trump could be the Anti-Christ. Mind you, I gave up believing literal interpretations of the Bible years ago but there was something so horrifying about the things he was saying and his financial dealings that it gave me pause.

Then I remembered that the Anti-Christ is supposed to be handsome, charming, engaging and deceptively captivating.

Oh, and rise out of nowhere.

Unfortunately, for New Yorkers and contractors at least, it feels like Trump has been running around being an asshole for decades. There is very little “new” about him.

But the handsome, charming and, most notably, deceitful anti-Christ? That ain’t THIS guy. Trump hides nothing except for his taxes, debt and Russia connections.

He’s the guy the other Silver Spooners bitch about in text threads with each other because they can’t stand his guts but, based on social standings, they are forced to tolerate him.

He’s the guy the philanthropist millionaires hate inviting to charitable events because he’ll show up, grab every photo op available, eat the food, drink the booze, dominate pleasant conversation by telling tall tales that make him look good and then screw the charity by refusing to donate so much as a cent.

He’s the guy they all roll their eyes at as he leaves the room.

The fat ass with sagging skin, a shitty fake tan and bad breath who uses every opportunity he can to denigrate every woman (or man) he deems as unattractive.

In short, classless.

A bully who makes fun of anyone who isn’t him.

Humorless.

With a lousy personality.

I can understand voters being willing to overlook certain things when it comes to fundamental political beliefs.

What I’ll never be able to understand is how those same voters over-looked qualities they despise in other people.

Because Donald possesses a veritable trove of those traits.

The next time you listen to him, wait for it. Wait for something genuine, be it humor…or a maybe a sincere kind word for someone. Wait for a smile or laughter. The things that attract us to other human beings. The things that draw us to our friends or our partners.

In short, the things that give us joy in life.

This guy, THAT guy, is missing them.

He’s a James Spader character in an ‘80’s movie.

He’s the opposite of the full package.

He’s the anti-package.

Wrapped in orange cellophane.

When The President Lies

I am no longer an optimist.

The entire argument surrounding facts versus lies in the political and media arena has become some sort of surreal nightmare.

I’ve read several research studies this week that resulted in findings deeply concerning. In a nutshell, the findings show that a percentage of humans are likely to reject any form of contradictory information to their initial beliefs. Even if that information is based upon factual, cited and documented research.

Factually, Trump lied when he said crime "is out of control and rapidly getting worse." Crime is actually at an all time low in this country.

Factually, Trump lied when he said illegal immigration is at an "all time high and they are pouring over our borders." While immigration rose rapidly in the years before 2009, it has leveled off. In my own home state of Kansas? Immigration has declined since 2009.

Factually, Trump lied when he said there were record numbers of people at his inauguration.

Factually, Trump lied when he said President Obama’s birth certificate was a fraud.

Factually, Trump lied when he said he won the biggest electoral college win ever.

Factually, Trump lied when he said there was an immigrant terrorist attack in Sweden.

Factually, Trump lied when he said President Obama was behind public protests of him.

Factually, Trump lied when he said there has been a dramatic expansion of the federal workforce recently.

Factually, Trump lied when he said he would release his tax returns.

Factually, Trump lied when he said he wouldn’t take vacations if he were President.

Factually, Trump lies when he uses terms like “tens of millions” and “biggest ever” and “record breaking”. And words like “unanimously” when referring to, say, border patrol agents supporting him. All terms easily fact checked, by basic numbers and statistics.

Factually, Trump lied when he said he won environmental awards.

Factually, Trump lied when he said over three million votes in the last election were illegal.

Factually, Trump lied when he said he received a standing ovation larger than “Peyton Manning’s after a Super Bowl” at a small speech given to the CIA.

Factually, Trump lied when he said President Obama wire tapped Trump towers.

He lied when he said the New York Times has lost subscriptions because of its coverage of him.

He lied when he said he and the Mexican President “agreed” to cancel their meeting.

He lied when he said our military is woefully underfunded and falling apart. In fact, we are 34% of the entire world’s military spending and nearly three times greater than the closest nation, China.

He lied when he said past Presidential administrations had unfairly prevented Christian immigrants from entering the United States.

He lied when he said China was devaluing its currency.

He lies with numbers.

He lies about political opponents.

He lies damn near every time he takes to twitter.

And it doesn’t matter to his supporters.

Let me explain how a rational person is able to remove themselves from the politics and differentiate between a flat out lie and the truth.

Just to show that as a registered Democrat I can differentiate between the truth and a lie independent of my political party…. when President Bill Clinton looked into a camera, shook his finger and said “I did not have sexual relations with that women” HE WAS LYING. His political party affiliation doesn’t change that. Nor did my political party alter my deep sadness and hope that he would tell the truth all those years ago.

Now there is a difference between parsing data and relaying information to play into a narrative. Politicians do this all the time. All politicians do it, left/right/middle.

But a bald faced lie is a different story. A bald faced lie is what President Clinton said to the camera on that sad day back on January 26, 1998.

Bald faced lies are what Donald Trump has been feeding Americans for well over a year. He has created a culture of lying within his administration as well. Kellyanne Conway lies with mind boggling ease. Sean Spicer lies. People take their direction from the top of the pyramid, after all.

Research has shown that, in fact, the MORE we try to show facts to those who are the most ideologically committed to a way of thinking the more they will ignore those facts and deny them.

Research has further shown that doing so ACTUALLY REINFORCES those false beliefs.

So when President Trump is shown to be lying? Or that he and his campaign have connections to Russia? When we point these things out with supportive evidence? Even if some of the evidence is being gathered by our own intelligence agencies?

We are just reinforcing the lies for a percentage of the voting electorate.

Yeah, I know. It sounds crazy. But I’ve never professed to understand humans. We are the only living creatures who go out of our way to destroy our environment, other humans and everything good around us because we glean pleasure from the suffering of others.

Buckle up kids, it’s going to be a long ride.

Accept that there is a segment within our American communities that will continue supporting him…no matter. This same segment will pivot to blame President Obama or Hillary Clinton or anyone else they can every time evidence points towards Donald Trump doing something unethical or lying.

He said it himself. He could stand on New York’s Fifth Avenue and shoot someone and not lose voters.

Which just goes to show, he actually does know the difference between a truth and a lie.