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Sunday, March 30, 2008

What is a friend, really?

I've thought about this the last few days, given I wasn't a very good friend to someone recently. I've thought about how I am with my friends, and how they are with me and while some come up pretty well in the thought process, I have some who didn't.

I'm the kind of friend who gives 100% all the time. I try very hard to not be narcissistic and I want to be there for my friends in a profound way, hoping they know this is the kind of friend I want to be. Sometimes I fall short, sometimes they fall short, but overall I have a pretty decent group of people around me.

It can be extremely difficult to be my friend. I have a short temper when my feelings get hurt, even if what I'm being told turns out to be a falsehood, but I am also extremely quick to apologize. I always mean it, too. See, I hate apologizing since it means I've screwed up. That's a tough realization to make, that it's you and not the world, but I get there most of the time. All I ask of my friends is that they love me in spite of myself as I love them in spite of themselves. I am choosy when it comes to my friends so once I make one, I don't like to walk away for any reason, feeling they are an extension of me and my life.

However, with this latest episode in my life... I awoke yesterday morning with a clarity of thought that helped me get past this whole thing of the last few days. This person professed to be my friend, even going as far as telling another how important my friendship was to him, and then walked away when I showed my temper. He knows my feelings get hurt easily. He also knows I have MAJOR abandonment issues related to my dad and my husband (who has cheated on my so many times...) and when I was presented with alleged "evidence" he wasn't being a good friend to me, well, I blew. True to form, I didn't stop and ask questions. I didn't talk to my friend first to find out... I just blew.

I know I was wrong to do this and it didn't take me long to come to that conclusion. I apologized almost right away, both in an e-mail and then with a phone message when he didn't answer his phone (I kind of knew he wouldn't. He's traveling and he's pretty peeved at me.) but I did apologize, twice, and both were pretty sincere apologies. My friend hasn't called me back to tell me he got the messages, though I know he has. I haven't heard so much as a "Kiss my ass" about it so I began to ask myself what kind of friend he really was after all? I mean, I have to accept the shortcomings in him but he doesn't have to accept mine? In my book, being a good friend is what I said earlier, loving them in spite of their shortcomings.

With my friend, he has a great deal to accept about him, which I won't delineate here. Suffice it to say he tries to keep things on a superficial level most of the time. Occasionally he'll sprinkle out some nuggets about himself but for the most part, he's an observer. But I know this about him and I accepted it, allowing him to choose his comfort level in the whole thing.

I've had my issues related to being his friend. See, he has a job that basically requires he lie for a living. In fact, the more he is able to fool those around him, the better he is at his job. There were rumors swirling he was using and manipulating me for the sake of a class he was taking and that was rough on me. Then there's the whole he'll tell other people how important I was to him and say nothing to me. I had a hard time trusting him all along. Then I finally let go and decided he was worth the risk and I got hurt, again, but something said about him.

Anyway, though my friend has chosen to cast me aside, I decided yesterday that it was his choice. I can't MAKE him remain in my life and I can't MAKE him see the reasoning behind anything I do. As hurt as I am by his lack of caring, I wish him well. I'm not angry with him nor would I ever be. He's still a good man who is going through a rough time right now. While I'll probably never see or hear from him again, I hope things turn out okay for him as he goes through life with his shields up and ready.

I found this quote about friendship and I feel it's apt for this situation:

"True friendship is a plant of slow growth, and must undergo and withstand the shocks of adversity before it is entitled to the appellation."- George Washington, (as above)

All I can say at this point is this...

This is just my two cents.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Some people can't see the forest for the trees...

I just finished reading an opinion piece written by a columnist at the New York Times. If you click on the title of this blog entry, embedded is a link that will take you there.

I'm sure this Gail Collins believes everything she says in her article. I mean, she wrote it and she seems to be filled with just the right amount of self-righteousness required to do something like this, however, she's a liberal sheep.

As I read the article, I'm guessing written to inflame those reading it, filled with what is supposed to be numerous reasons WHY we shouldn't vote for John McCain, I was more and more positive it was he I was going to choose come election day.

Here are some of the high points:

  1. The theme for his mortgage speech this week was basically McCain to Homeowners: Drop Dead. It was, he said sternly, “not the duty of the government to bail out and reward those who act irresponsibly.” The good news, he noted, was that out of 80 million American homeowners, only 4 million are in the tank, while everybody else is “working a second job, skipping a vacation and managing their budgets” the way Countrywide Financial intended them to.

    Really? What a concept, taking responsibility for your actions. I mean, my husband and I have a mortgage. I became ill and couldn't work. We got behind on our mortgage payment and borrowed against his retirement account through his work to catch it up. We're paying it back, little by little, but we took responsibility for our own mortgage and didn't ask anyone for help to solve the problem. We were literally on the verge of bankruptcy and we are fighting back all by ourselves. It never OCCURRED to me to ask anyone for help. On the same page of the "opinion" piece is a link to an article with the headline, "Clinton Calls for $30 Billion for Home Mortgage Crisis". Huh, imagine that... What are the odds a Democrat would call for the American people to take financial responsibility for the rest of the country, people who made an irresponsible decision to take out a mortgage they couldn't afford only to fail against it later?
  2. He did, however, leave the door open for some vague, amorphous, undefined aid to good homeowners, as opposed to irresponsible ones who ... did something irresponsible. Like taking that vacation.

    WOW, this one REALLY throws me. Gail Collins almost sounds angry that the people having a financial crisis, losing their homes because of their inability to pay their mortgage payments, should be permitted to show MORE financial irresponsibility by taking a vacation, almost as if it's their due. My husband and I haven't taken a vacation in years! Mark works for a government contractor and his vacations are traveling with work around the country. My son and I went to Colorado last October but it was so I could do an article on Cripple Creek (read: a WORKING vacation). Not only do we not have the money to take a vacation, we don't have the time. Believe me when I tell you, this is a hard one for me because I LOVE to travel around the country. I LOVE to see the beauty that makes up the United States. All I have to say on this one is this: Based on Gail's viewpoint, these people may lose their homes due to the heartlessness of the government but at least they'll have a nice tan while they live in a cardboard box. Geez, the stupidity of this argument...
  3. McCain then suggested that the federal government ought to do something about getting regulations off the back of the financial markets and concluded with a call to reduce the corporate tax rate. It was not exactly a rallying cry for the masses.

    Didn't Reagan prove in the 80's that the "trickle-down" theory actually worked? Didn't the 80's show greater financial gains for the common man? If the corporations are making more money, they're creating more jobs with better pay and they are taking better care of the ones they already have. Why do Democrats cling so tenaciously to the idea that we all need to be poor, eating cat food, in order to be good Americans? I have a truly hard time buying into that every time I see Hillary in one of her Chanel suits with her $500 haircut and "God knows how much she paid" makeup. Every time I look at the aforementioned headline where Hillary wants $30 BILLION dollars to bail out the mortgage companies I almost palpitate. I know my soul dies a little bit. $30 BILLION!!!!!!!!!!!! That's more than Wal-Mart makes in a year, isn't it? Tax and spend, tax and spend... you gotta love Dems for that. At least they stay true to themselves as the decades pass one into the other.
  4. McCain also favors privatizing parts of the Social Security system, an idea so deeply unpopular with actual people that it never flew in Congress, even when the Republicans were in control and the nation had not yet deduced that the president was permanently out to lunch.

    Hmmmm, since when is it unpopular with the people? Maybe it's unpopular with Gail and her crowd, you know, the ones who go to the Russian Tea Room for lunch and spend about $50 a person each time they do it. With the common folk, the ones who eat bologna sandwiches for lunch because that's what they can afford (okay, maybe a bag of chips so they can say, "All that and a bag of chips") WANT Social Security privatized; not just some of it but ALL of it. In the 70's, Dems made Social Security their private slush fund and the result is the quagmire we have now. The EASY fix for Social Security is to take it out of the General Fund again and allow it to be a self-standing, self-sufficient fund that it once was. Oh, no, the Dems can't have billions of dollars taken away from them for the good of the common man! Why, they might not NEED the government to take care of them in their old age. They might *GASP* be able to take care of themselves! I say if anyone is out to lunch, it's Gail Collins. Her liberalism is almost suffocating it's so thick.
  5. And at bottom, his economic vision makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. He’s going to keep the Bush tax cuts, continue our $3-trillion-and-counting war in Iraq and decrease corporate taxes. And how is he going to pay for it? By getting rid of pork-barrel earmarks. And I am planning to remodel my house by purchasing a tube of Elmer’s glue.

    WHAT?!?!?! Get rid of pork-barrel earmarks? Why that's just crazy talk! How DARE a president want to do away with pork-barrel politics! My friend Gail here asks how McCain will pay for his "economic vision". How about NOT bailing out the sub-prime mortgage lenders and using the $30 BILLION Hillary asked for? A good site for finding out just what our Democrats are up to, why they don't want to do away with pork-barrel earmarks, visit The Pork Page. Now, I don't want to mislead you... Republicans are just as guilty of this as are the Dems but it's a REPUBLICAN asking to do away with it.
  6. But give the man credit for telling it like he thinks it is. So far, he’s only alienated the homeowners, retirees and vacation-takers.

    Um, let's see. I own a home and he hasn't alienated me. I agree homeowners should be responsible for their actions. My husband is a military retiree and in a short 20 years or so we should be considered actual retirees. I'm not offended that I should take care of myself. That's our goal, to not rely on the government to take care of us in our golden years. We also used to be called vacation-takers and while it bothers me we can't take vacations like we once did I also realize we're doing what we need to do and sacrificing what we need to sacrifice in order to take care of our business. Not alienated there either because this isn't a forever kind of thing. So if I fall into two of the three groups and I'm not alienated, and I can be considered pretty average, then who's Gail talking about really?

Okay, I guess I've exhausted this subject enough. The bottom line, for me, is this: I was lukewarm about John McCain before reading this article but now I support him more. He's financially conservative (read: he wants to reduce government spending) and he believes people should take care of himself. Now if he can just come out against amnesty he'd be the perfect candidate.

But who am I? This is just my two cents...

Friday, March 28, 2008

I guess my mood has been morose here lately

Have you ever done something you're so ashamed of you can't shake it? I'm still feeling horrible about the argument I had with my friend just before he left here. I finally left him a phone message apologizing, knowing he wouldn't answer my call, but I still feel terrible.

Another friend of mine, one I can count on to not pull any punches, but in a nice way, told me once I had explained the whole story to him, "Wow, dude, you really suck." He was also the one who told me I should call to apologize. He reasoned that I had the time to leave the crappy message in the first place therefore I should take the time to call and apologize. I finally got up the nerve to do it and it didn't help me feel any better at all. I've been out of shape since it happened and I'll probably stay out of shape until either enough time passes or I get a call back.

I hate it when people I care about leave and I do this but I really went overboard on this one, my heart was hurting that much. The saddest part of all of this is I have no one to blame but myself and my temper. I've lost a good friend all because I couldn't control any longer what I was feeling and I let it out in a negative way.

“Whenever a man does a thoroughly stupid thing, it is always from the noblest motives.”
Oscar Wilde (Irish Poet, Novelist, Dramatist and Critic, 1854-1900)

Thursday, March 27, 2008

The military ruins families

Embedded in the title of this blog is an article in Rolling Stone Magazine. Okay, it's a little too liberal for my tastes but it illustrates very well just what the military can do to a soldier, or airman, if given the proper motivation.

Before I go on, I want to make sure everyone knows I'm not anti-military. I am extremely PRO military for the good it can do a young man or woman with little direction or chance in life to make themselves a better person. My mother used to say it was a great way to run away from home, and it is, it's just not what it used to be.

I am thinking of this the last couple days as an extension of my last post, where I say goodbye to a friend. He is in the military and I don't want to identify him because he could be anyone in the military. His story isn't unique by any stretch of the imagination. For the sake of this post, let's call him "Steve".

Steve has been in the military for nearly 20 years. He is a member of the guard from his home state and has practically grown up in the military; it is so much a part of his life. Steve has been here at the Army post near me training and going to school to enhance his skills as they relate to his job and he was here over a year, I think. I recall his telling me not long ago he hasn't been home since sometime in 2006, other than the random leave and Christmas break. Recently, all Steve's classes ended and he's on his way home now, however he knows he's going to be deployed not long after he gets home, as does his wife. He's so close to deployment (his latest of many...) he's not going back his job yet, staying with his unit until he gets his orders. His wife called him last week to tell him he had to choose between her or the military with the bottom line being she wanted a husband not phone calls and letters coming God knows when. Of the ten-plus years they've been married, he's been home for just three of them.

Steve chose the military.

Like I said earlier, Steve isn't unique. My husband is retired from the military, as was my dad. Both of them had to be confronted with an ultimatum of losing their families if they didn't retire. Now, Steve doesn't have the option to retire but as a guard member, he does have choices as to when and where he deploys. (Guard and Reserve members must stay in the military longer than 20 years to retire since they are part-time members. My friend theoretically could leave the military but after investing so much time, that's no feasible any longer. He's in it for the long haul now.)

The military has always been transitory in nature, with people being moved every three years or so depending on where the military needed them. That's the nature of the beast and it's always been that way. I can show you hundreds, nay thousands, of military brats who can't really call any geographic location home because of the moving that goes along with being related to a military member. But we're told, "Your country needs your loved one so you need to support them." while the military member is told, "We need you and no one else. To give your country less than 200% means you're not a patriot."

Here's the reality of the situation:

The military must be prepared, at all times, to replace someone should they leave the military, either of their own volition or through involuntary means. Steve's choice of the military over his wife and child is choosing a fair weather friend. His wife will probably divorce him, since she's not one given to flights of fancy and is probably just that sick of having her husband gone all the time. While it might take a while to replace Steve, she will. The woman he loves will be married to someone else at some point and his child will be raised by another man who is there for them. I guess that's okay, isn't it? I mean, Steve's a patriot right?

Yes, Steve is a patriot, I don't know you could find a more ardent one, however he's paying too much for the whistle.

There's an old tale told of Benjamin Franklin, one he oft told to help illustrate just how important it was to him that he support this country's cause of freedom. When he was a small child, his family had a frequent visitor who would empty his pockets of change and give it to little Benjamin. Finally a day came when a friend of his showed him a shiny tin whistle. It played a beautiful tone and Benjamin wanted it very much. His friend offered it to him for all the change Benjamin had gotten that day from the family friend. Benjamin thought this was a great idea and gave his friend about a dollar's worth of change for this whistle. When he got home, he couldn't wait to show his father and the family friend what he had bought. When they saw the whistle he'd paid so much money for, they all started laughing since the same whistle would have cost no more than a nickel had he gotten it from the tinman. Benjamin was crushed by this, the knowledge he'd paid so much for such a small thing. As an adult, he used this lesson when he was faced with a choice of paths in life. Was the choice worth the cost of that which he held dear?

When confronted with the cost of choosing liberty over all he held dear, he decided it was worth it. In my friend's case though, I feel he's paying too much for the whistle. There is not as much as stake as there was with Benjamin Franklin. My friend is giving up his family, the only family he has in the world, for a military that will continue to go on without him because he's just a warm body, a cog in the machine. He's not even really a name to them, just a number.

Again, the reality is this... the military doesn't give two shits for Steve. Once he's gone, he's gone and they'll leave him bewildered in the wake of their departure from him. But he's the kind of soldier the military wants. He's willing to sacrifice it all for the sake of his country. He's willing to choose the military over his family. But if you knew Steve, this would astonish you since he's a guy who's firmly entrenched in his love of family and God. Though he wasn't raised in the Deep South, he epitomizes the values of the Deep South where the values of God, Family and Country are of the utmost importance. The order of importance might change from time to time but it's always these three. The military has so effectively brainwashed him he's forgetting all his years of raising and abandoning his belief system, one he held so dear for so long, all for the sake of "serving his country." Steve is an extremely good man, with an extremely good heart and were it not for the military and their rapid brainwashing of him, I believe nothing could pull him away from the life he's carved for himself back home.

Also, given the long deployments, divorce rates now for the military is sky-rocketing. See, even though Steve is faithful to his wife (and he is...) he's an aberration. There is so much adultery happening in the military, whether it's the members cheating while deployed, or their spouses. The military is a lonely life... I'm not saying ALL military members and their spouses cheat on each other, but it happens enough that it's almost expected.

I am saying this with just the right amount of authority because it happened to my father, it happened to my husband and it happens to military members every day, once they leave the military.

My oldest son was in the initial ground invasion of Iraq. When he came back from his eleven month deployment there, under the harshest of conditions since he was part of the group that got things going there, he suffered PTSD in a severe way. I tried to talk to him about it and he couldn't talk to anyone. The military ingrains in these people that to seek help is a sign of weakness. It was only at the end of his time in service he finally said to me, "Six months ago I counted on these guys to keep me alive and now they couldn't care less about me."

Last Sunday, I had Steve and another military member at my house for a cookout to say goodbye since they are leaving. I accidentally knocked over an empty glass and they jumped ten feet in the air. Wow... The lives of military members are changed irreparably and the military doesn't care.

Sadly, Steve will never see this. While I had him in mind the entire time I wrote this, it could be anyone who knows the ravages of war. This could be any military member who has had to sacrifice so much for a country that cares so little.

Next time you meet a military member, thank them for their sacrifice. I can guarantee they've sacrificed more than any one person should have to...

But who am I? This is just my two cents...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I said goodbye to a friend yesterday...

Um, okay, not yesterday but a couple days ago. And my friend didn't pass away, he left to go back home, which is a good thing. I'm happy for him that he's going home, but I'm sad he's gone, because this person could make me laugh faster than anyone else can.

However, true to form, I did what I always do when someone I care about leaves me, probably for good, and that's to pick a fight so I can tell myself, "Damn I'm glad they're gone..." Those of you who know me know I'm the product of an alcoholic parent who treated me badly in my growing up years. I love my dad now, but I can remember times I would lay in bed and wish he would die so I could get away from his daily hell. Now that he IS dead, I miss the heck out of him because I learned to deal with his abuse and forgave him for it. But, I think I'm going off the path here... Children of alcoholics tend to suffer abandoment issues so it's not odd I would do this. I know this about myself, that goodbyes don't come well to me. I was going out of my way to avoid my usual "let's pick a fight" thing...

However, I had gotten through the goodbye part without incident because of his coming to the house Sunday. I said goodbye, I told him I'd miss him (at which point he pushed out of the hug, but I think that's more his need for space than anything else) and we went our separate ways. It was a nice send off with some good memories, some of which still make me smile since my friend is as funny as he is (which is really a defense mechanism but since he's so funny, it's easy to forgive him that). And then he came in Monday morning due to a military delay... So much for my good intentions. We parted on a bad note with me sending him an e-mail Tuesday apologizing but I don't know he'll ever see it and if he does whether he'll forgive me or not.

I got all emo today when I was given a harsh reminder my friend was gone and spent a good several minutes crying my eyes out. Thank goodness my co-worker knows me well and she made me go to the ladies room to get it out of my system. When I returned, she promised me she'd give me a couple more days to sulk and then she would utilize her "slap-a-ho" system of recovery.

Anyway, I just wanted to put this down, that I miss my friend, knowing I'll probably never see him again. I don't know he'll ever read this given he's got a job that demands more time than he has in a day, but here goes - my friend, I miss you and wish you well in this world. If anyone deserves a break, it's you.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

John Adams - A great new mini-series

I'm impressed, and being an aficionado of America History, that's saying a lot.

This past weekend, I watched parts 1 & 2 of the new HBO mini-series, "John Adams" starring Paul Giamatti and Laura Linney.

To be honest, I don't know I've seen Paul Giamatti in anything like this and I wasn't sure he could pull it off. But he did, oh my goodness, did he pull it off.

The acting, the sets and the realism in this mini-series is not to be believed and I highly recommend everyone watch it.

The title to this post has a link to the official HBO website, which has the individual shows on there for viewing.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

US Air Force Airman snorts cocaine?

This is so much stuff and nonsense I don't even know where to start.

Last month, someone named "Military Classified" posted a video on youtube that shows some misdeeds of some airmen stationed at RAF Mildenhall in England. On the site, and in news interviews, the poster says he wished to remain anonymous because he rents to military personnel.

BULLSHIT!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm declaring shenanigans on this whole thing and here's why:

1. Falsehood #1 The poster says he went to the Air Force with the video and they weren't interested. WRONG - they would have been extremely interested in something like this, if for no other reason than to cover it up.

2. Falsehood #2 The poster wished to remain anonymous because he rents to military. UM, dude, these were taken in and around your building. Anyone there would recognize it as yours and stay away anyway. You rent that building to military like I rent the Taj Mahal for parties.

3. Falsehood #3 The poster says he got it from a former tenant who was with the 100th Security Squadron. No flippin' way. If this were true, the "former tenant" would have turned it over to the Air Force himself or destroyed it himself; he wouldn't have given it to an obvious terrorist sympathizer (read Military Classified's posts on Youtube and you'll know what I mean by this).

4. Falsehood #4 This is backtracking a little back to #1 but, if this guy really rents to military personnel, why's he doing something like this, which makes them look bad, which could lead to a decision to stop allowing single people to live off post, which could hurt him financially?

5. Falsehood #5 I watched the film on youtube and while I DID see a bunch of kids get stupid, dancing and drinking, I DIDN'T see anyone snort any drugs. The kid who is pretending to do it doesn't even do it convincingly. How this was seen as doing so is beyond me.

6. Falsehood #6 Again, the film... First of all, it's edited. Second of all, all conversation is blocked out by an American rock song (why not British? It's done by an Englishman after all...)

I could go on but you get the point. This is propaganda plain and simple. The guy who posted this RAF Mildenhall film to the site has nine other films and they're all propaganda. Remember last week, the film showing soldiers abusing a dog? Guess who posted it?

I'm guessing the main stream media doesn't take this very seriously either since it hasn't made the main stream media, probably to the chagrin of the poster. Stars and Stripes has an article about it but that's it...

This brings to mind the point I'm always making to my kids about independent thought. Don't be afraid to have one. Don't allow the media to make your decisions and form your judgements about anything. Don't be like most of the world; don't be a sheep and blindly follow...

Just my two cents.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Wow, has it really been that long?

I wish I had a good reason for not posting in a while, but I don't. I DO have Rheumatoid Arthritis, which had me laid up for about three days until I received my Remicade infusion, but that was three days, that was last month, and that didn't prevent me from posting here either. I guess I haven't seen anything in the news, or in life, lately that riled me enough to post here.

I will mention I have a new article out about Cripple Creek, CO. I went there this past October taking my son with me. We had an amazing time and the views are exquisite, to say the least.

The link for my latest article is HERE. The photos are mine, the writing is mine, and this is an article I'm rather proud of, if I do say so myself. Mark, my husband, who NEVER shows any emotion for fear he might allow someone to see inside him, told me it was the best work he'd seen me do. I don't know about that (okay, it might have been that good) but I think it's pretty darn good.

Wish I had more to say, but I don't. Wish I could discuss the political stuff going on right now, but it's really getting on my nerves how childish ALL the candidates for President are being. It's all become one big school yard tantrum. The lesser of the evils are all that's left in the pre-presidential electionm field and, once again, I'm disappointed in the choices.