Not a Tea Party, a Confederate Party

This piece is fantastic, it starts off a little slow, but hang in there!

The Weekly Sift

Tea Partiers say you don’t understand them because you don’t understand American history. That’s probably true, but not in the way they want you to think.


Late in 2012, I came out of the Lincoln movie with two historical mysteries to solve:

  • How did the two parties switch places regarding the South, white supremacy, and civil rights? In Lincoln’s day, a radical Republican was an abolitionist, and when blacks did get the vote, they almost unanimously voted Republican. Today, the archetypal Republican is a Southern white, and blacks are almost all Democrats. How did American politics get from there to here?
  • One of the movie’s themes was how heavily the war’s continuing carnage weighed on Lincoln. (It particularly came through during Grant’s guided tour of the Richmond battlefield.) Could any cause, however lofty, justify this incredible slaughter? And yet, I realized, Lincoln was winning. What must the Confederate leaders…

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bad food

I was talking to my mom today about yummy new recipes, and she told me that she’s cut out canned soups in her cooking because they have too much sodium. It got me thinking about the fact that I don’t really have any recipes to share with her because all of mine either have lots of sodium, or came from her! 😦

So I think I need to try (once again) to make a conscious change in the way I cook and eat. I did go pescatarian for a while, but I actually found that I ate more processed foods when I wasn’t eating meat, which I think is worse than eating meat in the first place.

So I’m thinking about phasing out our processed foods and getting more into whole foods, which have way fewer (bad) fat, calories, and sodium. I went back to the 100 Days of Real Food blog, and I feel like I can do it this time. Lisa has a defined set of rules that she follows, and I’ll try to stick with them, but I also need to phase this in, so mine will be a little different:

1. Meatless Mondays and Whole Food Wednesdays – I’m going to start slow, by implementing these two days to see how we fare. Baby steps.

2. No groceries with more than 10 ingredients – This will be tough, our pantry is always WAY more full than the fridge, and I’ve got to change that. To start, I’m just not going to get highly processed foods anymore, we’re going to phase them out as we go. Lisa’s rules call for no more than 5 ingredients, and I’ll get there, but I want to do this gradually.

3. No special stores – I’m not going back to shopping at Sprouts or Whole Foods. I’m a Navy Wife, and dammit, we shop at the Commissary! I’m not sure how well this will work, but I want to at least try to get everything from there.

So. Here we go again. Don’t blow it, self.

fuck ’em

I’m so sick of people brushing me off. I’m sure it happens to everyone once in a while, but it’s really started to pile up and I just can’t take it anymore.

I don’t want or expect to be the center of anyone’s life. I don’t think I’m “special” and I don’t want people to treat me that way. I simply want to be afforded some common curtesy and respect. Is that really so much to ask from people who are supposed to be your friends? I’m sick of being taken for granted, if you don’t want to see or hang out with me, fine. Don’t. Don’t bother putting out this illusion that you like my company. Don’t ask to be invited to my goddamn wedding. Don’t offer to support me and then flake out. I’d really rather be left alone than be surrounded by people who obviously don’t think I’m worth their time. I go out of my way to do nice things for people, support them, and make sure that they know that I care and will be there when I need them. So why does it seem lately that I’m in a bunch of one-way relationships with people?? A one-way relationship isn’t a relationship, it’s me making a fool out of myself because for some reason, I like to make people feel valued, and they like to make me feel like crap.

I can’t wait to go back to work and start meeting new people, I really hope I can gain some new friendships and hopefully find people who don’t do this shit to me. I haven’t been this angry at anyone but myself in a long time. Except the anger is also towards myself for somehow giving people the impression that this is okay. I deactivated my Facebook account because I simply can’t deal with anything anymore. The fake people, “frienemies,” and the jerks who must think they’re so much better than I to think that they can discard me like trash. Fuck ’em. I don’t need people like that in my life. It’s goddamn poisonous, and I’m tired of it.

My Vow of [Internet] Silence

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So, I’ve found that I’m a lot braver on the Internet. Like most people, I am a lot more comfortable expressing my opinions, confronting others, and getting into arguments (constructive or not, though I try to stick to the former). The problem is, 99% of the people I’m Facebook friends with, or follow on Instagram, I know in real life, and sometimes I get keyboard-in-mouth syndrome…

After I got out of the Navy, I got way more into politics (my fiancé and I concluded that this happens because most vets have more time on their hands and nothing better to do than watch CNN/FOX/MSNBC all day), and I began expressing that opinion, and “challenging” (read: arguing with) my friends who posted things I didn’t agree with. Which happened a lot. I love my friends, but a lot of them were posting really radical, propaganda-based garbage and basing their opinions of politicians from them. I personally am a political moderate, I lean towards conservative on some issues, and think more liberally on others. I thought (and still think!) that those that have more moderate views of how our government should function are the ones who are the most reasonable, those with the best chance of making everyone equally happy (or at least equally unhappy…).

I’ve lost friends over conversations about the things they post, which sucks because I really tried to make it clear that I didn’t have a problem with their opinion, I had a problem with how they came up with it! Which I still think is okay, but I admit, I got snarky. A lot. And when you get snarky, people tend to get snarky back, and it gets ugly.

About this time last year, I took a break from Facebook. I didn’t log on, I deactivated my account, and I had no access for a week. It was interesting, not having contact with people, and not checking it every five minutes like I do when I’m bored. I thought about doing that again, but I don’t think I really learned anything from it, except how else to occupy my free time.

So this time, I’m keeping my account active, I’ll still log on and see what my friends say, but I will not “like” or comment – on anything. I need to teach myself how to observe without commenting, kind of a 21st century version of an active listening exercise. I want to control my impulse to throw in my two cents all the time. I want to give my poor friends a break from my incessant commenting (positive, constructive, encouraging, or not). Most of all, I just want to know that I can do it. It’s easy not to comment on stuff when you can’t even access your account, I need to know that I can see (and by that token hear) a conversation going on that I may be really interested in, but not join in. It’s gotten me into trouble entirely too many times, and I end up feeling like a total ass.

So, to any of my social media friends reading this: I’m still here, I’m just being creepy and reading everything you say and not commenting on it 😉

i don’t wanna sell my jeep!

I love this thing...

I love this thing…

 

I have this predicament that is twofold:

1. My Mum is coming to visit this summer, and the boy and I only have two-door cars, which makes going anywhere a huge pain in the butt.

2. We’ve been talking babies, and I need a car that a car seat will fit in, and that is safe.

😦

It makes the most sense that I buy a new car, since someone refuses to drive anything but a sports car, and as I’ll be the one with the baby most of the time.  A friend of ours did bring up a good point, however: why is he driving a car that I can barely get in and out of, it’s so low??  I brought this up to him and he said he kind of felt like a jerk, but not enough to get a higher car.  Seriously??

So now I’m faced with selling my beloved Wrangler, and just the thought of it makes me want to cry.  I love this car, it’s fun, it’s cool, and it is just so me!  Were I to go with my head, I would get a Toyota Rav4 and be done with it, but my heart keeps saying “get a Wrangler Unlimited, then you can have your Jeep and a back seat!” :/

2013 Rav4

I mean, it’s not a bad-looking car or anything, but it doesn’t really scream “fun and alternative,” and I’m trying to be as fun and alternative as I can be before I start getting told that I’m too old for that kind of stuff.  I just had an appointment to get my whole outer upper arm tattooed, for crying out loud!

But the Rav4 is the safest midsize SUV, tied with the Subaru Forester, and it just makes sense to get one for baby purposes.  That, and the Entune navigation system is pretty much everything I’d ever want with an in-dash system, it comes with Pandora!  The MyGig system in the Jeeps (if they even put them in as part of a package anymore, I wasn’t seeing it on the Jeep site just now…) is just kind of “meh”…

I was thinking about just putting my Jeep up on Craigslist for like $20,000, a few more grand than it’s worth, and then see what kind of offers I get on it, but then what if someone says “here’s $20k, I’m taking your car”?  Then I’d be stuck with no car, and this dilemma as to what car I should get next!

This sucks! 😦

I thought that maybe I’d just hold off for a couple more years, get through this summer, and maybe the next, then after the wedding, I can see if my ovaries are screaming for a Rav4 or if my heart is screaming for another Jeep.  With my luck, it’ll be both and I’ll explode.  But then I remembered that my Mum’s coming and how much of a pain in the butt it was to get the three of us anywhere last year.  Plus, I just got pre-approved through Navy Federal for a 1.49% car loan.  That is an awesome rate, and if I put the $20k from the Jeep towards a new Rav4 or another Jeep, I’d have less than $10k to finance…

So what do you all think I should do?  Do I hang on to the Wrangler I’ve got until I can put it off no more and get a “sensible” (bleah!) car?  Or do I trade it in for a 4-door Jeep that isn’t exactly the safest vehicle, but it’ll take a car seat?  Or, do I decide that now’s the time to grow up and get the Rav4, taking advantage of that awesome rate?

the true role of a mother

One of my favorite books is Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells (most of you probably recognize it from the movie with Sandra Bullock that came out in 2002.  While I also love the movie, and thought it was a fantastic adaptation, they missed one key aspect which I found to be as important as it is mysterious: the way Siddalee idolizes her mother, Vivianne.

Vivi and Sidda during their reconciliation in “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood”

Now Vivi, while obviously loving her children, was an incredibly selfish woman, and most likely would have done best without having had them in the first place.  This is partially due to the loss of the love of her life, Jack Whitman (Teensy’s brother), during World War II when Vivi was an adolescent.  Losing a love like that in such a horrible way would make anyone turn inward and only show darkness to the world.  But because it was 1950’s-60’s America, she was still expected to marry and be the perfect wife and cook.  So though Shep Walker loved his wife dearly, and though Jack’s death was no fault of his, Vivi came to resent him, and at times, the children they had together.

Sidda, the eldest, worshipped Vivi.  She wanted to be just like her mother, and thought that all of the “vivi-” words in the dictionary were coined specifically for her mother’s existence (in fact, I seem to remember a part in the book when Sidda proudly spouted this childish belief to a friend at school, who told her it wasn’t true, and promptly got in a fight over it, she believed it that deeply).  The one term she couldn’t understand was “vivisection,” and it frightened her that such a thing could be named after her mother, so she asked Vivi about her relationship to vivisection, to which she replied, years later:

“Do you remember how horrified you were as a little girl when you found the word ‘vivisection’ in the dictionary?  Came running to me in tears, remember?  Well, I’m not a Goddamn frog, Sidda.  You can’t figure me out.  I can’t figure me out.  It’s life, Sidda.  You don’t figure it out.  You just climb up on the beast and ride.” – Page 47

Now I don’t know if I simply have a lot in common with Siddalee, or if every little girl goes through this phase, but I worshipped my mother, too.  I wanted to be just like Mumma.  She was smart and funny, and even though I don’t think she knew it, she was (and still is) absolutely beautiful.

Her skin was always dark, dark.  I never understood how a white person could get so dark, but in the summer, she looked so out-of-place in Maine, where the only tans people got were from working outside all day.  But Mumma worshipped the sun.  As much as Vivianne was the Moon Lady’s daughter, my mother was the daughter of the sun.  To this day, I really can’t understand why she ever left California.

That was another thing about Mumma, she had been everywhere.  I think that was part of the reason I grew up to join the Navy, I wanted to see the world, like my mother.  I just wanted to be her.

She had a million friends, most of which she would meet down at the Readfield Beach with kids in tow, and we would all swim in the lake and hunt crayfish, dig up clay for sculpting on the little docks, and when we were old enough, we would swim out to the big floating dock with all the “big kids” and try to act like we belonged there.  My brother was always with me, he would play “shark,” grab my foot underwater and scare me, and when we got into splashing fights, he would surrender by showing the white bottom of his foot (I remember one time when he stepped on half of a clam shell and got a nasty cut on that soft white arch, and I was scared by the way the blood turned the water red).  Only once, the whole day we were at the beach, would my mother go in the water, and that was to swim the perimeter of the swimming area, marked off with orange buoys.  When Nick was old enough, he would swim with her, and they would race around the swimming area with long, sure strokes and powerful kicks (Mumma always said Nick and I inherited her “soccer thighs,” but her legs were beautiful).  I would watch from the beach or in the shallow part and just stare, wishing so badly that I was big enough to swim with them, jealous of my big brother and the fact that he had known my mother longer, knew her better.

I was terribly jealous of Nick.  He was older, and therefore better at everything, which was especially hard because there was no competition: I was more than 6 1/2 years younger than he.  We never even went to the same school, though there was at least one year when we rode the bus together; and while I tried to act tough and cool, I was terrified, all I wanted was to sit next to my brother and be safe with all those “big kids” all loud and rowdy.  But all Nick wanted to do was get away from me.  He would sit down, and I would sit next to him, so he would get up and move, and I would follow him that way until the bus had to leave, and I was stuck all by myself.

It seems like I was usually alone.  It still seems that way.  I don’t have my mother’s way with people.  My expectations of my friends are just as high as my own expectations, and no one seems to be able to take it for very long, though it certainly isn’t their fault.  I had a few friends, but I was never anyone’s best friend.  The two that came to my house most often came for the horse barn, I now know.  My mother told me this when I was older, and it crushed me.  No one wants to hear that their company is only appreciated for the things they have.  Mumma never had that problem.  She was always the life of the party, and she was the best hostess.  She wouldn’t rest until she knew everyone had everything they needed, and then she would join in enthusiastic, raucous conversations that always left people rolling with laughter.

The stories she had!  Her father breaking his shovel on the igloo she and her brother built for an entire winter, winning her first dog at a fair, her first job cleaning coffee urns, when she thought “scratch” was an actual ingredient and her roommate had to teach her to cook, living in Canoga Park (when I found out that’s where The Runaways got started, I flipped out, I was so excited), her pregnancy with Nick (in bikinis until 9 months), her pregnancy with me (gained almost 60 pounds and couldn’t reach the keys on the register at Mario’s).  I love listening to my mother’s stories, I still hear a new one from time to time, and the old ones are still just as amazing to me.  I wish my mother would write a book.  If I thought she would sit still long enough to give an interview, I would write it myself.

Everything about my mother is greater than I.  She’s just too big, not physically, God no, she’s a tiny little thing, I’m always frightened of hurting her when I go to hug her.  No, her personality is just too big.  It was impossible for me to grow in her shadow, so I would try my darndest to reach the light, usually to a glare, or, on occasions when I tried too hard, a swift crack in the mouth.  It wasn’t my fault, but neither was it hers.  It’s just too hard to be a baby sapling in the shade of a massive Redwood, I just couldn’t keep up.  Nothing I did was special, either because Nick did it first, or because it just simply wasn’t special to begin with.  I know my mother loved me (loves me), but sometimes I look back and sigh at the amount of energy I expended trying to get her attention.  I think that’s why I try too hard now, and why I’m so hard on myself.  And why I get hurt so easily.  I think my baby sapling wounds are too deep, and refuse to heal.  I don’t know if it’s because I needed more attention than the average child, or if it was because my mother couldn’t spare the attention of the average mother, but I always wanted more.  I would have followed my mother anywhere, I just wanted to be in that warm glow that she always had, even on her bad days, when she had no idea.

My mother’s favorite color is orange, but her color, her actual color, is a warm yellow, just before it gets to orange.  My mother is the color of the sun.  The sun on the cool waters of the beach.  We live on opposite sides of the country now, but we talk weekly on the phone, sometimes for hours.  I miss my Mumma terribly, but I know that if I ever need to feel her hand on my cheek, I have only to drive down to the beach on a sunny day, and feel the dichotomy of the sun and the sea breeze on my face, and I know she’s there.

the navy should study business more carefully…

So I’m in the middle of my Business lecture (relax, it’s online, I’m not in a classroom, sheesh…) and it just occurred to me that while Business and Military structure are very similar, the military (or at least the Navy) seems to be missing some key points, and it’s because the Navy isn’t interested in keeping sailors happy.  Because it’s the military.  So that gives them the ability to just treat us like shit, and then wonder why the “good ones” leave.  Well Navy, let me tell you why:

Business Concept Number 1: Equity Theory (aka: the “it’s not fair!” syndrome)

Equity Theory states that people want to be treated fairly (*gasp!* no way!) and that workers (or, in our case, sailors) expect that rewards will reflect individual contributions.

Let me say that again: INDIVIDUAL CONTRIBUTIONS!

This whole “one team, one fight” garbage that we got shoved down our throats since freaking P-days is so over.  For those who have no idea what the hell I’m talking about, it’s like this:  You have a division of 10-30 people or so, and one of them messes up.  Like bad.  Like, your whole division looks like crap because of this one dude.  So, instead of Chief punishing Seaman Timmy individually, oh no, he punishes the whole damn division, because “you guys are a team!  You succeed as a team, and you’ll fail as a team!”

Fuck that!

I don’t want people to think I’m awesome when Seaman Timmy does something cool, I want them to think he’s awesome, because he earned it!  Likewise, if he’s an ass-hat and screws up, why the hell should I get punished?  Most likely, I wasn’t even there, and had no way of “correcting” (read: kicking his ass) him.  I never understood this.  Even when it was explained to me, and it was.  A lot.  The best I can offer is that for some reason, the salty old dogs think that it’s actually an exercise in “team building”.  Let me tell you why: because back in the day (before my time) there was a little activity called “fan-room counseling” where, after the division got reamed for Seaman Timmy’s stupidity, they would all take Seaman Timmy into a  fan room (less the Chief, who totally knew, but he didn’t “know”) and commence to beating the shit out of him.  Why?  Because he caused the entire division to get punished, and they’re pissed, and now he knows just how pissed they are.  I’ll bet Seaman Timmy won’t make the same mistake (or any other mistake, for that matter) again.

Barbaric, you say?  Totally.  Effective?  Totally.  But now, we have a “kinder, gentler Navy” and we’re not allowed to hit each other, so what happens?  Seaman Timmy knows he messed up, but he lacks the mental capacity to understand how pissed off everyone is at him, or, he’s just that much of a jerk that he doesn’t care, he might even get a rise out of it, because nowadays, the division can do nothing.  Nothing.  There is literally nothing we can do.  The leaders say “train him,” but Seaman Timmy is just a perpetual failure, and now he’s got a shit-eating grin on his face, you think we can (or want to) train him?  GTFO…

The other side of this is when Seaman Timmy is a perpetual fail, but for some reason he goes from Seaman to First Class in the absolute minimum amount of time.  Why, you ask?  Evals.  Seaman Timmy has somehow convinced his Chain of Command that the sun shines out of his ass, so they give him the best collateral duties, the best evals, and the most time to study for exams.  Meanwhile, you have Seaman Johnny, who is an excellent worker, autonomous, and incredibly smart, but he gets average evals, the shittiest jobs, and no time to sleep, let alone study.  Want to know why?  Because he’ll do it.  They Chain of Command knows that he has the initiative to do it himself, so they don’t throw him so much as a bone to help him out.  Seaman Timmy simply won’t succeed with so much help, but they need him to, because it makes them look better.  So on paper, Seaman Timmy looks like a better sailor, even though he’s a fatass that’s out of weight standards, and keeps having babies and buying cars because he’s a goddamn idiot intent on fucking up his life (yes, baby, that was for you, I probably hate Fatty more than you).

So.  Navy.  Y’all need to figure out that the term “sailor” is not a collective term for everyone that can be treated as a whole.  A “sailor” is a person.  A person that has a need to feel valued, or they’re going to leave, or worse, stay in and just not do a damn thing.  I did it.  When I got fed up with this crap, I finally just stopped doing anything.  I slept about 14 hours a day! All I did was stand watch, I refused to do anything else, and I didn’t care who it affected, because I had spent all those years before killing myself trying to get stuff done so that I could be seen as valuable.  But I wasn’t.  As soon as I realized that I was necessary but not important, I bailed.  And I know a lot of other people who did too, and I’m sure there will be plenty more that will.

You can’t kick everyone out for losing their motivation, so maybe you should adjust how you treat them.  Individuals are important, and if you can’t figure that out, the Navy will become a defunct enterprise.  You can be as advanced as you want with your weapons, technology, and tactics, it’s not going to mean a thing if no one wants to enlist because you treat everyone like hot garbage.