Monday, February 20, 2012

Faces of Death

Did you hear that Whitney Houston died?

Can you turn to any channel without being bombarded with that stooooooopid song that I'm so ridiculously sick of hearing. Yeah, she died. SO WHAT?!

I'm not trying to be callous to the extent that her family doesn't feel a real loss, but people die every day. In her case it shouldn't have been a matter of IF but WHEN. She was a train-wreck addict. They die every day. Her talent was gone. Her addictions killed her gift. She went from pop-diva to pill-popper. She's dead. Get over it.

I heard tale that they were flying the US flag at HALF STAFF for HER? Seriously? You're lowering our NATIONAL symbol of freedom for a drug addict? I'm ASHAMED OF YOU!

If you're going to lower that symbol that people are STILL FIGHTING FOR for that broke, talent-loss, drug addict then you should by ALL MEANS lower it for the men and women how have since died fighting for what it represents!

So, take a look, shall the faces of death. No, this isn't a review of the gristly videos of various ways to die that had a somewhat cultish following in my high school years. This is an actual post to look at the faces of the fallen soldiers. if you're so inclined to read about the men who have paid the ultimate price for our freedom in the war on terror. And, I'm not a proponent of the war. I hate war, but I support these men who are willing to place THEIR lives on the line for me... and for my family... and for you!

The heroes who have been lost so far in the year 2012:

Private First Class Caesar Cortez, 24 from CA
Lance Cpl. Osbrany Motes De Oca, 20, from NJ
Sgt. 1st Class Billy A. Sutton, 42, from MS
Corporal Joseph D. Logan, 22, from Texas
Corporal Jesse W. Stites, 23, from MD
Corporal Kevin J. Reinhard, 25, from NJ
Capt. Nathan R. McHone, 29, from IL
Capt. Joshua C. Pairsh, 29, from IL
Corporal Christopher G. Singer, 23, from CA
1LT David A. Johnson, 24, from WI
Sgt. William C. Stacey, 23, CA
Lance Corporal Edward J. Dycus, 22, MS
Bri. General Terence J. Hildner, 49, VA
Capt. Daniel Bartle, 27, from WA
Petty Officer 1st Class Chad Regelin, 24, CA
Tech Sgt. Matthew S. Schwartz, 34, MI
Senior Airman Brian Bell, 23, PA
Staff Sgt. Jonathan Metzger, 32, from Indiana
Private 1st Class Neil Turner, 21, from Washington
Private 1st Class Michael Pyron, 30, from Virginia
Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Wise, 34, Arkansas
Lance Corporal Kenneth Cochran, 20, ID
Corporal Jon-Luke Bateman, 22, OK
Private 1st Class Dustin Napier, 20, KY
Spec. Robert Tauteris, Jr. 44, Indiana
Corporal Phillip D. McGeath, 25, AZ
Spec. Brian Leonhardt, 21, Indiana
Spec. Christopher Patterson, 20, Illinois
Spec. Kenneth Benson, 27, Mass
Airman 1st Class Matthew Seidler, 24 MD
Master Sargeant Travis Riddick, 40, Iowa

These are the faces of the men who deserve the flags lowered on their behalf. I'm so sick of our over-sexualized, over-sensationalized, over-done, over-covered media giving so much air-time to shit that doesn't even matter.

She died.

Yeah, it sucks for her kid.

Get over it! Junkies die every day.

And so do people that actually are going out there and doing theier best for US... us here back at home and we owe them a huge debt of gratitude that we'll never be able to repay. Their families left to grieve without their loved ones are owed more than us flying our flags at half-staff for a junkie. I'm sorry. It's mean. I'm ruthless but by golly, someone has to put their foot down sometime. I've never been one to sugar-coat anything (other than my sugar cookies -- and they're quite good, by the way) and this is no different.

GET OVER IT! Give media attention and honor where it is DUE and DESERVED!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

That's Something to be Proud of

Music is powerful.

It can evoke feelings that you've forgotten. Feelings that you have long since buried deep within the fortress of your mind. You protect yourself from experiences of the past which have hurt you... or which haunt you... or which annoy you... or which leave your heart filled with pangs of emptiness from a devastating loss.

Speaking of music... did you know Whitney Houston died? (chuckle)...

You can be going through a rough patch in life, hear something on the radio and feel completely captivated that someone "got it"... they UNDERSTOOD!

It's amazing the clarity you experience when something you've suppressed is instantly brought to the forefront of your consciousness.

You're not only surprised that someone out there knows exactly what you're feeling or have felt, but also and potentially moreso, that they felt it and were able to write about it using such vivid imagery and in terms exponentially clearer than you would ever have been able to express. Words that immediately bring back that exact experience or feeling that you've been hiding or going through.

It's there. It's fresh. It's raw. It's exposed with a mere strum of the guitar and a few lyrics from an artist.

And this morning... it happened to me.

I've never danced around the fact that music is a great part of my life. I enjoy it. I sing it. I memorize it. It's part of me. I'm not sure I could function as a normal person without that outlet. I would fear the day of losing my hearing knowing that sounds all to familiar to me would soon begin to fade away until I no longer remembered their melody... Benji saying "mama", Josh's belly laugh, Drew's snicker... the birds... my fingers on the keyboard... the sounds of my grandmother's voice which -- although she's been gone years -- I can still hear in my head. I fear the day it would all be a memory. But I digress...

So, as I was driving home on this Valentine's day from dropping Benji off at school, I flipped through the channels on the satellite as I always do. Montgomery Gentry was on. I love them. Country music duo of two strong singers and guitar players. They were belting out a familiar song titled "Something to be Proud Of." Generally speaking, I could just sing along because the words are right there. I know them. I'm familiar with them. Only today, this song took on an entirely new meaning for me. I realize that the writer of this song... he got it. For me... this song is me... right now in life.

Read the lyrics:
There's a story that my daddy tells religiously
Like clockwork every time he sees an opening
In a conversation about the way things used to be
Well I'd just roll my eyes and make a bee-line for the door
But I'd always wind up starry-eyed, cross-legged on the floor
Hanging on to every word
Man, the things I heard

It was harder times and longer days
Five miles to school, uphill both ways
We were cane switch raised, and dirt floor poor
'Course that was back before the war
Yeah, your uncle and I made quite a pair
Flying F-15's through hostile air
He went down but they missed me by a hair
He'd always stop right there and say...

That's something to be proud of
That's a life you can hang your hat on
That's a chin held high as the tears fall down
A gut sucked in, a chest stuck out
Like a small town flag a-flyin'
Or a newborn baby cryin'
In the arms of the woman that you love
That's something to be proud of

Son graduatin' college, that was mama's dream
But I was on my way to anywhere else when I turned 18
Cuz when you gotta fast car you think you've got everything
I learned quick those GTO's don't run on faith
I ended up broken down in some town north of L.A.
[ From: ]
Working maximum hours for minimum wage
Well, I fell in love, next thing I know
The babies came, the car got sold
I sure do miss that old hot rod
But you sure save gas in them foreign jobs
Dad, I wonder if I ever let you down
If you're ashamed how I turned out
Well, he lowered his voice, then he raised his brow
Said, lemme tell ya right now

That's something to be proud of
That's a life you can hang your hat on
You don't need to make a million
Just be thankful to be workin'
If you're doing what you're able
And putting food there on the table
And providing for the family that you love
That's something to be proud of

And if all you ever really do is the best you can
Well, you did it man

That's something to be proud of
That's a life you can hang your hat on
That's a chin held high as the tears fall down
A gut sucked in, a chest stuck out
Like a small town flag a-flyin'
Or a newborn baby cryin'
In the arms of the woman that you love
That's something to be proud of
That's something to be proud of
Yeah, that's something to be proud of
That's something to be proud of
Now that's something to be proud of

Aren't the lyrics great? I know you want to hear the melody now... so, here's the video just in case you want to listen to it.

So, I'm pulling out of the preschool parking lot and driving down a wide residential street when I realized that I'd left the movie Cars on. It was the part where Mater is talking to Lightning McQueen when he is in the impound lot.

My name's Mater. What's yours?
You. You don't know my name?
Sure, I know your name..... is your name Mater too?

As I pull up to the railroad tracks to turn left, I hear nothing but the click of the car's blinker. I make my turn onto a two lane, tree-lined road in Colleyville. Million dollar homes are on either side of me. Sometimes I want to enjoy the peace, but today, I wanted to enjoy the tunes. I switched the satellite radio on and began my incessant channel surfing. It's a sickness. I didn't have to go far, however, and found Montgomery Gentry.

I turned up the radio and started singing along... only to get choked up. I felt my eyes begin to burn as they welled with tears. I could feel the flush of my face as it turned red. The sniffles were not far behind. I was moved.

I was moved because... in this moment... this song.. this IS me. And, I realized that I don't give myself half the credit that I deserve for what I have done or what I am doing. I think moms -- especially the ones that stay at home -- we don't. WE DO NOT!

I tried to continue singing the song but I simply could not. I didn't change the channel, however. I wanted to just absorb the message and let it resonate within me. This was fuel for my soul in this moment. I needed to hear this.

I have never asked my mom or dad if I let them down... but I do wonder. Who doesn't? I've never asked them if they're proud of me - though I'd love to know. I'd rather them tell me, however, because they felt compelled to rather than as a response because I asked a directed question. Unfortunately, I'm sure I will never know and I'll probably go to the grave resenting the fact that I won't...but I just won't and it's a peace I've made within myself.

I do make a point, however, to tell my children that I am proud of them because, you know we tend to do things for our children that we missed out on. And that feeling of knowing that someone is proud of you... it's powerful.

I love, however, in the song, he asked his dad if he was ever let down since he didn't go to college and such... and how his dad "lowered his voice and raised his brow". Can you not see this playing out in perfect sequence... raising his brow so that they can see eye to eye. Man to man. Perhaps his head tilted to one side and they stayed with their eyes locked as his dad spoke the truth. A beautiful image that stanza paints in my head.

Moving. What a moment to know how validated your life is... not because you need that to go on and live a happy life, but because someone you respect and look up to loves you not only for who you are... but mostly for what you are. Your core. Your heart.

I realize that I probably won't ever go to law school though that's been my dream. I've got a little guy that deserves just as much of me as his brothers do. I choose now and will choose in the future so long as I am able, to stay home with my boys to provide the kind of life I want them to have. And that IS something to be proud of.

Should I, however, have regrets for making this choice? I guess that's the only thing that troubles me because at times I do. Yet, when I realize that they know that I am a constant here at home for them... the lyrics ring true:
That's something to be proud of
That's a life you can hang your hat on
I do the best I can with what I have and, again, the song writer "got it" with these lyrics
And if all you ever really do is the best you can
Well, you did it man"

That's something to be proud of
That's a life you can hang your hat on
That's a chin held high as the tears fall down
A gut sucked in, a chest stuck out
Like a small town flag a-flyin'
Or a newborn baby cryin'
In the arms of the woman that you love
That's something to be proud of
That's something to be proud of
Yeah, that's something to be proud of
That's something to be proud of
Now that's something to be proud of
I realized this morning that I can still be the writer and photographer that I want to be. I can still learn to make fantastically decorated cookies if I choose to. I don't have to be in law school or an attorney because I chose a path that went in a different direction... and by doing that it doesn't mean that I've missed out on anything. I just chose to NOT miss out on so much more. And frankly, that IS something to be proud of.

Happy V-Day!

Happy Valentine's Day O' Dearest Blog. How I have missed thee...

I have had much to write about, yet I have let other distractions consume my time. Regardless of the cause, I'm here now... with you... to share with you...

It's Valentine's Day. Aren't you just giddy with excitement? This is one holiday I've never really had great expectations for, nor generally participated in. Granted, when I was young, my mom would get us a stuffed heart or some flowers or some thoughtful token which was appreciated. However, age I matured, I realized that it's just not me.

Frankly, I'm not one to really enjoy receiving gifts. I find it awkward and frustrating and, yes, while it is true that it's the thought that counts... it's easy to be let down if something fails to meet your expectations.

Flowers - red roses, the symbol of true love. Generally, I don't enjoy fresh cut flowers for the simple fact that you have to maintain them in order for them to live. If you haven't noticed, I have quite enough to "maintain" without worrying about flower that are going to meet an untimely my hand. It's stress. It's pressure. Why bother?

Candy - Also, I don't understand the whole chocolate thing. Why give a girl a 5 pound box of chocolates and then get pissed when she gains weight? YOU just gave her FIVE POUNDS OF CHOCOLATE?!

Dinner - Have you ever been to dinner on Valentine's Day? It's INSANE!?!?! Even with a reservation, you'll be looking at a one-hour wait for a table. The kitchen will be backed up... they'll screw up your order. It's a recipe for a nightmare. Again, why bother?!

Stuffed animals - Puh-leez, I'm almost 40. This shouldn't even be plausible that a woman my age wants a dust-mite collecting-made-in-China-overpriced bear holding a pink velvet conversation heart. So save your nickels.

I think Valentine's Day has a place in the hearts of children... and in new romances... and in the younger crowd, but for this chick... just smile. Be nice. Eat my food. Hold my hand. Be there. Be yourself. Be constant. Be steady. Be humble. Those are the best gifts for Valentine's Day... because those are things you can do EVERYDAY. Forcing someone to go above and beyond for the sake of a Hallmark-created holiday is just not my style, man.

But for those that do celebrate it, Happy VD! (ha, see, had to end it like that... didn't I?)