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photo by Sheri Dixon

Thursday, February 28, 2013

AND DON'T PUT BEANS IN YOUR EARS

About a million years ago I had a horse named Mr. BoJangles. He was a great big ugly appaloosa. Seriously. He was not a pretty horse at all. I'd gotten him for free from my grandfather's secretary in exchange for going out and cleaning their 8 stall barn every Sunday.

He was 4 years old, over 16 hands tall and never been touched.

I adored him.

I was 15 years old and did all the basic groundwork with him- taught him to lead, and longe, and be groomed, and generally civilized. But there was always this little niggle of fear at the back of my head because he'd been 'wild'.

When I'd first gotten him they'd had to herd him into a stall and it'd been a rodeo just to get a halter on him.

Once all the groundwork was done, I had him sent to a trainer for 'finishing' which was really just a beginning- 3 months of very basic work under saddle.

At the end of the 3 months I got a month to work with him still at the trainer's.

I was very hesitant to hoist myself all the way up into that saddle the first time.

The trainer asked why and I told him because Bo had been wild.

"HAD been. This is a totally different horse now. Git up on him".

So I did. And it was fine.

We walked, and trotted, then the trainer told me to ask him to canter and I hesitated.

The trainer asked me why and I told him because Bo might run off with me...because he'd been wild.

"Oh, sure he COULD do that. Buy why would he want to?"

And that's the lesson I've taken with me through almost 30 years of working with animals in both veterinary practice and over 30 years as a small farmer.

Because animals generally don't overthink shit like we do. Unless they've been given a reason to think otherwise (abuse and/or neglect) they will pretty much behave and react in a sensible manner and according to their own way of thinking.

I always approach any animal, no matter who it is and no matter if they've always been friendly, with caution tempered by a generous dose of "Of course s/he COULD (bite, kick, scratch, kill) me, but why would s/he want to?"

That calms me down while leaving just enough alertness for the unexpected.

Expect the best from others, and they most likely will live up to your expectations.

Expect the worst from others, and they lose nothing by living down to those expectations.

Telling your toddler, "You may have some of this popcorn but don't put it up your nose" is an invitation to a visit to the ER. That kid probably never woulda thunk of that trick on their own, why the hell do we say stuff like that and then get angry when they follow through?

Which is why I've always wondered about those 10 Commandments.

They're an invitation to disaster and failure.

Killing someone? Why, I never thought of that, but yanno I'm pretty hacked off by what ______________ did- actually I guess I COULD kill him.

Adultery and coveting other people's shit? Well, I was pretty happy with my own stuff, but now that you mention it, my neighbor's shit IS better than mine is!

Really, this is God talking- doncha think he'da thought this out better being everyone's Father and all?

So in case he's listening (doubt it) lemme take this opportunity to do a little revision. On accounta the way they're laid out has not brought us any closer to perfection, but actually messed up our heads mightily- leaving us filled with ideas we never woulda thought of and simultaneously feeling like we'll never be good enough.

I know, I know- supposedly all you need to do is say (shuffling feet, eyes to the ground) "I'm sorry, dad. I'll try to do better..." but yanno that doesn't work.

Because of how his rules are, it's pretty clear that 'dad' is just waiting for us to screw up again.


1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
OK. This one's pretty much that whole 'jealous god' thing. It's not attractive in humans and even less so in a divine being and needs to be scratched wholesale.

2.Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.

Really? This is just asking for it. "Whatever you do- DON'T carve a golden calf. Seriously. Also don't eat the last piece of pizza in the fridge".

3.Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
For the ultimate Ruler of All, this one gets his feelers hurt awful easily.


4.Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
This one's cool. I'm all for a day off.

5.Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.

Also cool. Unless your parents were horrible abusive psychos. Then you should totally get a pass.


6.Thou shalt not kill.
See? How about "Thou shalt live life fully and joyfully and do thy best to help others do the same, rejecting violence in all relationships with others". Something to live UP to, not down to.


7.Thou shalt not commit adultery.

Again- "Thou shall love your partner and be faithful to them". Same message- very different delivery.


8.Thou shalt not steal.
*Sigh* "Thou shalt respect the possessions of others and be thankful for thine own". Why is this so damn hard?


9.Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
Really, if 7 and 8 were worded the way I have 'em, this one wouldn't even be necessary...



10.Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's.

Oh, for the love of...listen, god- if you hadn't made all that other anti-social behavior stick in people's heads, this would not even occur to anyone. You've been around forever, right? We're all your children, right? How could you miss that positive reinforcement will net you a million times more obedience than negative reinforcement?



You'd think a god would know that. Here's what I suspect.

God does know that. But he can't type or use a pen or computer.

It takes people who make up religions and governments to do that.

People are not inherently bad. People are herd animals and social animals and by that very definition are inherently good- for the continued benefit of the herd. We call our herds 'communities'.

One thing that makes me insane is not being able to think of a really simple word like "door". But that's not important here.

Another thing that makes me insane is the assumption that if "the shit hits the fan" everyone will run out and start murdering and raping and pillaging and whatnot willy nilly and happily because they will be 'off the leash'.

a) If you really think that you need to examine your own heart and intentions. Seriously.

b) Why would they? Why would normal everyday people suddenly turn into something they are clearly naturally not?

Case in point. Me as Exhibit A. I'm not a practicing Christian (duh) and the older I get the less I believe in a god of any sort.

a) I'm totally OK with that. To me, it makes life MORE precious and wondrous, not less

b) I have not one tiny intention or desire to do anything horrible to anyone. Even people who've done horrible things to me.

Maybe one of the things wrong with our poor sick society is not that we don't have ENOUGH god in it, but because we have way, way too much jealous, vengeful, negative damning religious doctrine in it.

Of course we're gonna be depressed and violent.

Why the hell not?

Monday, February 25, 2013

A Handy Test To Answer the Question "Why Don't They Like Us?"

Dear Avid Residents of the Gun Culture,

-After an awful gun-related tragedy, is your first reaction "Holy shit- now they're coming for MY guns" while everyone else is horrified and mourning?

-Did you follow that up by running out and buying up all the gun-related shit you could fit in your truck?

-Can you honestly look people in the eye and say, "Why yes- perhaps the lives of tens of thousands of innocent bystanders per year IS the price of freedom"?

-When there is a discussion about even the tiniest regulation on anything weapons related do you refuse to even participate without hollering "NO COMPROMISE- EVER!!!" and "MY guns never hurt nobody!!!" and "Why should *I* be punished for something someone else did?"

-Does this makes perfect sense to you-
"Iceland is nothing like America therefore what Iceland is doing to fix their financial problem will never work in America"
AND ALSO
"Nazi Germany was nothing like America therefore what happened in Nazi Germany WILL POSITIVELY HAPPEN IN AMERICA".

-Do you believe that even though machine guns have been essentially banned for almost 100 years, the gun ban of 1994 was in place for a decade, and neither of those events even came close to starting a slippery slope to disarming America, but THIS time it's a gonna happen. For realsies.

-You're an expert on your demographic's INTERPRETATION of the 2nd Amendment, which you
a) know by heart, except for that first part about "well-regulated" and
b) can quote the Supreme Court ruling stating that YES IT DOES TOO pertain to individuals, but you don't recall anything about the part of that ruling stating that the government can STILL BAN CERTAIN WEAPONS

-Were you supportive of the many gun clubs raffling off Bushmasters right after Newtown to raise money to fight gun control?

-Did you attend a gun rally on Feb 23rd- which was chosen because that's .223- the ammo used in the weapon that basically allows mass murder to be easy as point and shoot?

-Is any American citizen who favors looking at some regulations concerning weapons a traitor and deserving of having no say in what goes on in this country?

-Will you fight to the death for your guns? How about equal rights for minorities? Women? Gays? Or universal health care? Or against the corporate purchase of our voting process? The taking of US soil for foreign business ventures (Keystone pipeline)? The poisoning and endangerment of our food and water sources by corporations and industry? Did your stop nodding after the first question mark?

After reading through the above thoughts can you really truly wonder why more Americans are not on your side regarding this issue?

Thank you for your patience and your time, and here's a little song that may help you in future discussions on this matter-

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnt0RknIklI



Sunday, February 24, 2013

A Little Encouragement Goes A Long Way

Whoa.

There seems to be a tad of interest in the idea of a 'liberal survivalist novel'.

I spent most of yesterday and a goodly amount of time today writing and was encouraged, nay- emboldened by people thinking it was a fine idea.

And I realized something as I read what I'd already written.

It was technically correct and I like the stories and characters.

But it was rather timid.

Not 'just' because it's being told by a squishy liberal instead of a steely-eyed conservative.

But because us squishy liberals are notoriously nice.

Let the GOP get into power and what happens? They run roughshod over everyone else, smacking the Dems with rolled up newspapers and pounding their chesties and hollering, "WE'RE in power now and WE do what we wanna!"

Let the Dems get a majority and what happens? "We will make every effort to come to a bipartisan agreement as we reach across the aisle".

Then the minority smacks 'em with rolled up newspapers and does what they wanna anyway.

All those other books about survival after the collapse of the US of A?

Written by and for people who are absolutely aching and throbbing to use their shiny big weapons on someone. They are NOT shy about who they are aiming at, either.

Did I mention that at one gun show I attended they were selling targets with Obama's face on them? This is the audience we're looking at.

Kill 'em all and let god sort 'em out- liberals, minorities, wimmen, gays, corporations, politicians- ALL OF 'EM! Leave only the REAL AMERICANS alive!

*Hang on- just threw up a little in my mouth*

Remember the last election?

Remember when Obama won re-election?

That was awesome in so many ways, and I don't even like a bunch of what he's doing and I really truly hate some of it.

It was awesome just for the looks on the faces of those who voted Romney. I seriously thought several people on Facebook would need to be medicated they were that frightened of what was going to happen NOW! that the evil Hitler Obama was (RE)elected. Like he hadn't just spent the last 4 years warming the chair in the Oval Office and we weren't all speaking Russian or praying to Allah.

And the liberals said, "Gloating is beneath us- lets have dignity and grace and just be quietly happy and look forward to the mid-terms, we've got a lot to do still".

I called bullshit.

I told my friends that for 24 hours we need to gloat, crow, fucking point and laugh.

We earned it, baby.

And so the book takes a turn.

The right wing gun culture end of the world fiction is FICTION- but it's what they wanna hear and what they think is gonna happen and how they really hope things turn out.

This one is ours.

This one is ours because we are NOT squishy and we are NOT cowards. A lot of us are armed and most of us have seen hard times and violence of one sort or the other. We are well aware that some people can be bad but we don't hide behind our bunkers or our guns which takes a helluvalot more courage.

This one is ours because I'm sick to death of being told that I "think everyone will just hold hands and eat granola".

I know I'm gonna get nailed to the wall for it.

I'm gonna get called all sorts of names and I'm gonna be told over and over again that I'm unrealistic. That I don't know how the real world works. That I'm silly and childish.

And I'll just smile.

Partly because I'm a squishy liberal who is way too nice.

But mostly because those will be the same people who get all excited about dressing up like army guys and devour book after book about Zombies.



Thursday, February 21, 2013

Because There's Not Enough Shit to Argue About

The polarization of America continues to astound and sadden me.

Wait. What?

Liberal and conservative?

Black and white?

Christian and Atheist?

No no no.

None of that.

The Really important chasm-

Facebook and Twitter.

Lemme tell you- I was loathe to even look at either one.

I mean, seriously. Just the names were so weird, so frivolous, so inane that it hurt my brain just to think about it.

(Said the BLOGGER).

(To be fair- I didn't blog in forever, either. On accounta the idiotic name of the media and all).

But one day, someone said, "Hey! I've put a link up for your book on my Facebook wall!" and I was duty bound to join Facebook for the express reason of thanking them, and mayhaps doing a tad of marketing of my own there.

And here's what I found out.

While I was hopping back and forth into and out of 3 different discussion forums keeping up with online friends, all those people AND OTHERS were right in the world of Facebook- on one page. I've found old friends from high school (who I actually DO want to keep up with) and have talked more to my brother since joining Facebook than we have the entire rest of our lives.

I "like" all my news source Facebook pages and get friends' updates and news all day long...in one place.

Along with funny photos of puppies and whatnot.

Eventually I put up my own author page and am using Facebook ads as well.

Then...

...Someone said, "You should totally Twitter- it's an awesome networking tool".

Jeebus.

I asked people on Facebook what they thought of Twitter. The general consensus was that Twitter is for those who want to follow celebrities or people who THINK they have celebrity status. One comment was something like, "If you want to know the last time Brittany took a shit- join Twitter".

So I looked at Twitter and signed up for it. For the networking aspect of it, not the poop-tracking aspect.

Now, because of its format, Twitter is by force more streamlined, more concise. Where Facebook WANTS you to elaborate-

"How's it going, Sheri?" pops up in my status bar.

"Who are you with?" "Add photo" "Check in" are all prompts designed to make me put MORE stuff on my wall.

Twitter? 140 characters. That's it. Including any categorizing (#HASHTAG).

While I do have friends and family on Twitter, there is no "Here's a photo of my awesome food" to be seen, and little to no idle chitchat. Twitter is all business.

Or snark.

Twitter loves it some snark.

It's amazing how cleverly sarcastically bitingly bitchy some people can be in 140 characters or less.

And a big amount of that is aimed at...

PEOPLE WHO USE FACEBOOK

(An actual Twitter comment)- "One is a whiny online diary and the other a light-speed news source"

So I've gotta wonder, what the hell?

They're tools. You don't use a screwdriver to do a hammer's work (OK- that one time but that doesn't count) but you need 'em both to properly build stuff.

Why does one have to be 'good' and the other 'bad'?

I like Facebook for the sharing and communicating I can do with actual people in my life along with some newsy stuff and funny stuff

and I like Twitter for scrolling down thru news stuff- a few words to gimme an idea of what it's about and the link to the article if my interest has been piqued. Simple and awesome.

Also for being cleverly sarcastically bitingly bitchy.

So, even at my advanced age I'm fully engaged with social media. See?

Wait. What?

What the hell's a 'pinterest'.

Shit.





Monday, February 18, 2013

Wasting My Time

A while back I opined that the only way I would ever sell any quantity of books would be to write a survivalist, vampire, Christian romance, murder mystery, on accounta that's the stuff what's selling better than hotcakes on a cold morning.

So I've started.

And it's hard, because I'm wired for the Short Story. It's a good exercise for me and it's actually getting easier as I go.

The problem is that in the back of my head is that tiny, annoying little voice whispering, "You know- no one will buy this one...either".

Not because it's not a good story- I'm actually pretty psyched about it.

Not because it's difficult to read due to grammatical and spelling errors, because I'm pretty anal about all that mess.

But because when I stop to think about it, generally nudged to do so by other people who say, "Yanno..." there just doesn't seem to be a market for stories like mine.

I can't write gun porn. I just can't.

I can't write doomsday rape-the-dogs-eat-the-babies stories. I just can't.

I write from my heart, and my heart tells me that even though I've personally seen and experienced some pretty bad things in my life so I know damn well that bad things happen generally for no good reason, that the world and people in the great majority are good.

And I understand when I hear people say when things get really tough for whatever reason in the face and middle of a societal breakdown that good people have the capability of doing bad things in the name of "survival".

I also (sort of) see that there is a (tiny) segment of society that will behave in willfully awful ways if there is a lack of things like law enforcement and jails- things that keep them honest just by the threat of punishment. Although I think if things get THAT bad they'll be just as homeless and hungry as everyone else and will probably be busy finding, ummm...food.

But truly?

People are just as likely to behave in a spectacularly courageous manner when plopped into the center of chaos and disaster.

It happens all the time.

So what the hell?

Why the absolute craze for books that glorify the awful side of humanity, that idolize the very violence that tears apart families, communities and societies every single day?

Why the assumption, nay the hope- that "the end of the world as we know it" will be one big fat hairy shoot 'em up?

When something bad happens on a big scale, like a hurricane or tornado or whatnot, there is sometimes a small amount of lawlessness. IN GENERAL, people work together, help each other, do what they can for each other.

When I try to point this out, all I get is "NUH UH! BECAUSE KATRINA!"

Meaning of course, the disastrous episode wherein a horrific amount of people were all squished into the astrodome and all hell broke loose. Something about overcrowding, not enough food, or water, or toilets, or toilet paper. Also the mayhem outside the astrodome which was bad guys and/or the law enforcement- it's sometimes difficult to tell in NOLA.

"People are animals!"

Well, duh.

Of course we are.

Therefore we act/react the same as any other animal.

We have chickens.

Stay put- there's a direction I'm taking with this.

Most people keep their chickens literally cooped up- for their own safety and for ease of finding eggs.

They hate it.

No matter how large the enclosure, the chickens get nervous and aggressive and act in very anti-social ways. The roosters tear all the feathers out of the hens, the hens eat each others' eggs, the roosters fight and kill each other.

Compare that to our chickens, who have never seen a coop in their lives.

Do some get eaten by coyotes? Yep.

Do we have a helluva time finding eggs sometimes? Yep.

But.

Right now we have a ridiculous amount of roosters- 5 roosters and 8 hens. If they were cooped, they'd all be dead. Guaranteed.

Loose and left to make their own natural chicken decisions, they work out territories, and separate flocks, and respect boundaries, and all go into the barn and roost at night without issue.

The reason people in big snowstorms (every year) in the northlands and recently in Superstorm Sandy- people who were NOT herded into tiny enclosures and who could move as freely as possible, were out there helping each other and not going batshit crazy.

My point.

Is that when animals- poultry or people- are placed in stressful situations and allowed to work things out themselves, they pull together. When forced into even MORE stressful environs, they turn into sociopaths.

My point.

Is that while some sort of ginormous disaster could usher in a time of violence and destruction in only a way that clever humans can execute, it's just as likely to be

-initial confusion
-frustrated denial of not being able to go back to 'normal'
-re-organization and re-thinking shit
-carrying on

Seriously.

Now that's not a spoiler for my book. Because that's not all there is to it.

I'm just saying.

Is an actual happy ending so shoot-yourself-in-the-head boring that such a thing can never sell?

Is there really no interest at all in a future that doesn't include rivers of blood and the smell of napalm in the morning?

I mean, where ARE all the "liberal survivalist" novels?

Everything out there is written for the way far clinging to the very edge of the Right audience. And they're eating it up. Voraciously.

Which bothers me because they seem to WANT that to happen, they're PLANNING on it and they'll be HEARTBROKEN if they can't use up their 100,000 rounds of AK47 ammo on liberals and gays and "gang bangers" and illegals.

We're animals.

We gravitate towards a leader who nudges in a certain direction.

It bothers me that so many people are being nudged into the direction of violence. Are accepting it, embracing it and celebrating it. So if something DOES happen, how the hell do they THINK it's gonna go? And I'm sorry to tell 'em, but exactly .0000000001% of them would survive more than 24 hours in one of their fantasies.

I'd love for there to be SOMETHING out there that nudges in the other direction- something that says, "Yep. Some shit happened and we can't go back. Lets go forward...all of us and together".

Anyway.

I don't know when it'll be done, but I hope at least a few people buy it.

Or if you're looking for something to read right now, I've got a few other books already done. They can be found right here

<----------------------

Not because I write to make money, but because like it or not, the value of something is at least partially tied to dollars and cents coming in. And all I've ever wanted to be is an author.

Or a train engineer.

Whatever.



Saturday, February 16, 2013

Who Wants to be a Meteor, Anyway?

"I do not want to hand my children weapons and instruct them on how to watch out for themselves because it's dog eat dog out there.

I want to hand them a world that is on the mend, a society that is truly social, a civilization that is truly civil and those things do not come from burning people alive out of spite, or arming school teachers, or sending drones after citizens of ANY nation.

It comes from a people who are sick of being sick and tired of being scared and who have the courage to really change things instead of getting more entrenched in the same old shit that got us here to begin with.

Change is possible. But it means rethinking everything, everything."


That was how I ended my last post. And I feel I need to elaborate a little more on it because we're so divided, so polarized, that the reactions and responses and pat answers to the above are not what we need at all.

"I do not want to hand my children weapons and instruct them on how to watch out for themselves because it's dog eat dog out there."

Do I think if I teach my children that everyone is their friend and life always has a happy ending nothing bad will happen to them and they can just traipse along with their eyes closed? Of course not. The world CAN be a dangerous place. People CAN do horrible things to other people. But that's not what 99% of it is. The world IS a fantastically beautiful place and people DO behave in kind and self-sacrificing ways every single day and in places you'd least expect them to.

Humans have evolved to be social creatures- herd animals, if you will. We are safer in groups and can accomplish more in groups. We are hard-wired to NEED each other for security and livelihood and companionship. No matter how much we want to all think of ourselves as "rugged individualists" the hard fact is, most people who follow that course are
a) born with some sort of imbalance in their head and it's nature's way of getting them away from the rest of us for our own protection and
b) end up heading up into the hills or locked in an apartment somewhere and either eaten by bears (in the hills) or with a bullet in their head (self-inflicted).

Because it's NOT natural to be loners.

It's natural for us to be part of a community and work together for the common good. That's not communism or socialism, it's HUMANISM...because we're humans.

I will not WILL NOT teach my children to live in fear, and *I* will not live in fear. Have I ever been hurt? Oh, hell yes. To live in fear means that those who have hurt me and wanted to see the fear in my eyes have won. Fuck that shit.

I will love other humans and help other humans no matter if they can ever pay me back or do one thing 'for' me. Because that's what being human means.

I will look for the beauty that is always there- always everywhere and I will love Life.

"I want to hand them a world that is on the mend, a society that is truly social, a civilization that is truly civil and those things do not come from burning people alive out of spite, or arming school teachers, or sending drones after citizens of ANY nation."

How do we change that? Now that the drones are droning and people are armed to the teeth and the richest 1% have more money than the bottom 40%? How do we fix THAT?

Not overnight, unfortunately.

As trite as it sounds, we change it one day, one action, one person at a time.

We STOP rewarding violence and selfishness- stop looking up to people who amass great quantities of wealth merely for wealth's sake- we are so happy to judge the average person on their personal moral behavior but are called "commie" and "pinko" if we question the morality of someone who hides vast amounts of cash in overseas accounts to avoid paying taxes here in their own country. Call it what it is- criminal and selfish and then git after 'em. Don't allow it and STOP REWARDING IT.

Tell our politicians that it is NOT acceptable to wage wars without end, NOT acceptable to take food from children and old people and give tax breaks to the banks and corporations. Not. Acceptable. Vote- we have a system and it may be bent but it's not broken...yet.

Most importantly, we need to insist on liberty and justice for ALL Americans- not just Christian Americans or White Americans or Straight Americans or Gun Owning Americans or Conservative Americans- ALL AMERICANS. The more divided we are kept, the less likely it will be for us to ever become what we were supposed to be.

"It comes from a people who are sick of being sick and tired of being scared and who have the courage to really change things instead of getting more entrenched in the same old shit that got us here to begin with."

This is a hard one. Not the sick and scared part- we've got that down to a tee. And that's why it's hard. Because we've been told and taught that "those other" Americans are somehow...LESS American than we are. That if we want America to be in Her Glory we need to stifle anyone different from us...by force if necessary. Watering the tree of liberty with the blood of patriots and all that shit.

And just like the fact that there is a part of life that can be dangerous and a small percentage of people who can do awful things, the propaganda river runs deep- hip wader deep- with references to Nazi Germany and the dangers of socialism and big government and we all know how THAT turned out, right? without taking one tiny glance at all the countries that DO have socialized health care and their workers ARE treated fairly and they are NOT up to their ears in privately-owned weapons and they are actively IN a society that runs on much more of a socialist level than we do and they are JUST FREAKING FINE- nay, better than fine- they are flourishing and healthier than we are and live longer and the only ones who are in a shitload of financial trouble are the ones who got too tangled up in the US way of finances and are resorting to "austerity measures" that are totally not working because every single economist says they won't but our 'fiscal conservatives' are pushing us over that self-same cliff and DAMN I need to end this sentence.

The difficult and delicate part here is that all those folks who are buying up guns to stave off a government tyrannical takeover really truly believe it is the right and patriotic thing to do and think that those of us who think differently are not only idiots but treasonous.

But they're wrong.

And if they'd stop and think about it for one minute, they'd realize that IF they ever decided to actually take up arms against the government that would give the government the absolute perfect excuse to unleash the military on the citizens and proclaim marshal law. Which is what they're claiming to be trying to avoid.

The government doesn't give a rat's ass how many AR's anyone has. They have bigger. The government LOVES the Armed Citizens- the more paranoid the better. Those are the staunch 'fundamental conservatives' who are voting for the status quo times a bazillion over and over again. Small government? Bullshit. Not when you're regulating vaginas and marriages between consenting adults and making damn sure this country is a theocracy.

Why weren't any of the armed and treasonous tea party rallies met with militarized police force like Occupy was?

Well, the Tea Party likes to say it's BECAUSE they were armed- they were respected because they were armed. It is to laugh.

"Change is possible. But it means rethinking everything, everything."

It's because the Tea Party is not looking to change a damn thing- they want BIGGER government and MORE money for the corporations. The gun-toters are not looking to change a damn thing (obviously, by their cries of "NO COMPROMISE").

They're not a threat. None at all. They are fervently and rabidly protecting the rich and those in power to the detriment of their own families, their own communities, and themselves.

Files from the CIA are now showing that people in Occupy were referred to as "possible terrorists". Students, women, old people, working people of all colors and classes were detained, arrested, pepper sprayed and rubber bulleted. Public peaceful assemblies (remember that one amendment that comes before the second one?) were violently cleared out.

Did they hurt anyone? Steal anything? Were they armed and dangerous?

No. They wanted real change.

They're not gone, by the way. The parks are empty but Occupy is alive and well.

People like me are alive and well. And we want change.

We do not believe in a violent change- we will not instigate violence.

We do not believe that guns in and of themselves are evil. We believe that our current strategy of "the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun" is bullshit of the highest order. Our current Gun Culture is crippling and delaying the change we need by creating and rewarding a mindset of violence.

There is such a thing as Peaceful Courage. Peaceful Strength. Willful and Carefully Guarded Peace. True Community. It ain't for sissies. That's what we need to reward and encourage. Non-violent resistance.

It's the only thing that ever changes anything for the good. Ever. Return violence with violence and even if the 'good' guys win you've merely exchanged one group of bloodthirsty victors for another.

The meteor that just hit Russia made a spectacular and sudden hole in their landscape in a violent manner, killing and destroying in an instant all that was in its way. Other than a few scientists' excitement, it's safe to say that love for said meteor is sorely lacking.

The Grand Canyon took millions of years but is much more spectacular. It killed nothing in its path, and came to be so slowly yet persistently that by the time it was 'here' we never knew of anything else. And we love it.

Humans are community-oriented, herd-oriented. They like and need some form of order. If their society values and rewards morality and kindness for its own sake- not coerced by fear of punishment, they will be a moral and civil society.

For several generations (really- that's all) we've rewarded selfishness and greed and are now reaping what that wrought.

We don't need more guns, more violence, more punishment of victims, more division. But in our current mindset that's the most natural and protective thing to do.

We don't need a vengeful jealous god to strike fear into our hearts and MAKE us be good.

We need the strength and courage to need each other without shame, and to help each other without strings.

We need to be a human community, and violently reject anything less.

Non-violently, of course.















Thursday, February 14, 2013

Up In Flames

We were in the clutches of Houston and hospitals and hotels and all that mess during the whole Dorner episode of American history (still unfinished, of course).

So I admit from the git go that I don't have even all the information that we, as the viewing public is allowed to have.

We got it in fits and spurts while in the car or on the 'net or between episodes of "House Hunters International"- our main TV viewing when forced in front of a TV for lack of chores and outdoors to participate in. There was that one hour that we watched, horrified, unable to look away yet loathing every second wasted on "Toddlers in Tiaras", but we will not speak of that. Ever.

The murders Mr. Dorner is accused of are still being referred to as 'alleged'.

His manifesto was posted on Facebook- which seems an odd way to post a manifesto and also a really un-secure way.

His wallet showed up at the Mexican border AND in the burnt out cremains of the cabin.

Apparently his allegations regarding the LAPD were not unwarranted, and not all that unusual.

I was amazed that he never left California. With his supposed training and mindset, he shoulda been across the Canadian border within 18 hours of the whole shebang breaking into daylight.

Why would he mosey around California for days?

Ward and I never had a moment's doubt that it would have a decidedly UNhappy ending for Mr. Dorner. Not because he would end it all himself, but because the Powers That Be would make sure he never be allowed to speak in public (or anywhere) again.

The curse of knowing too much and not knowing enough to look the other way.

I am not for a second defending Mr. Dorner IF he did, in fact, kill anyone.

But I cannot get behind the whole, "He was a murdering psychopath- fuck him- he deserved everything he got and then some" crowd who are content to shovel the ashes of that cabin into the dustbin of time and move on.

Because they are still 'alleged' murders.

Because there really ARE things that are decidedly rotten in the Denmark of the LAPD.

Because our President used this weird and awful example and time to nonchalantly yet firmly state that he WAS going to set a drone upon Mr. Dorner's ass. An American citizen on American soil.

But mainly because I don't care if he had stood on the 50 yard line of the Superbowl and shot the person next to him square in the head (during the time the lights were on) and there were a gabazillion witnesses both at the scene and watching on TV leaving NO DOUBT that he committed said murder...

...the LAW states that he be arrested, booked, jailed, given a lawyer if he could not afford one, and receive a trial with a jury of his peers.

And that was not done.

Instead, the cabin was set aflame with direct instructions to do NOTHING to douse the fire. Some accounts state that 'someone' DID try to exit from the back door but was forced back inside. Inside the burning cabin. To die. On purpose.

Two wrongs never make a right. To return violence (alleged violence) with violence (horrible flaming violence)does nothing but weaken the entire society.

And the guns keep flying off the shelves of the stores, and the ammo is difficult to get for the demand, and that idiot LaPierre brays that it's not paranoia to be prepared for violence.

Violence is not the answer, violence is the problem.

Being armed to the teeth is not the answer; we now have an entire population who proudly own a shitload of high powered weapons they have no earthly idea how to use.

Fabulous.

Having the courage to stop this culture of death and revenge and suspicion will take more guts than anyone hiding behind a weapon (or 100 weapons) possesses. The weapons are a crutch that are keeping us from ever getting healthy as a society. They don't protect us; they divide us.

We've stopped depending on each other for security...we've got our guns.

We've stopped insisting on the law of our land for justice...we prefer vigilante solutions.

I want better.

I want better for myself and more importantly I want better for my children.

I do not want to hand my children weapons and instruct them on how to watch out for themselves because it's dog eat dog out there.

I want to hand them a world that is on the mend, a society that is truly social, a civilization that is truly civil and those things do not come from burning people alive out of spite, or arming school teachers, or sending drones after citizens of ANY nation.

It comes from a people who are sick of being sick and tired of being scared and who have the courage to really change things instead of getting more entrenched in the same old shit that got us here to begin with.

Change is possible. But it means rethinking everything, everything.

Otherwise we're just slapping a bandaid over cancer.





Saturday, February 9, 2013

Book Review "Damn You, Facebook"

So I was getting us all packed and whatnot for our week o' surgery that didn't happen but turned instead into a week o' cardiac shit down in Houston and I got an email from my blogger friend Annah. She said she'd written a little book and would I read it and if I liked it would I pass on the info to all my friends, family and any random strangers I met who were clutching a Kindle.

I told her I'd LOVE to read her book- she's smart and funny and gorgeous and fun and I read her blog whenever I need a smile.

So, like, every day.

I figured I'd read her book while I was in the waiting room for the 5+ hours Ward's surgery was supposed to be. Turned out I was in the waiting room zero minutes and the cafeteria about 20 minutes before they aborted that little mission and the rest of that day was pretty much a blur.

As was Wednesday.

And Thursday.

Thursday night I was catching up on interweb stuff and I said loudly enough to startle the boys "SHIT!!! I have a book to read!!!" and I smiled (even before opening it) because it's Annah's book and it was bound to make me smile.

And so it did.

Annah's a little wild, and a little irreverent, and she brings home any stray dog who crosses her path. So basically...she's me 35 years ago. If I had lived in Miami. And been Cuban. And gorgeous. Shut up.

Point is, if you want a fun little read that has illustrations...including NEKKID illustrations- this is it.

Seriously. Have I ever lied to you?

http://www.amazon.com/Damn-You-Facebook-ebook/dp/B00B6DONRG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1359390513&sr=8-1&keywords=damn+you%2C+facebook

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Just a Little Routine Surgery

So Alec and I were sitting in the hospital cafeteria, eating our lunch.

We were starving- Ward's surgery had been scheduled for 9:30am and we'd been in hospital since 7:30am- no food or coffee allowed of course. They'd finally taken him back at noon:30 and we'd hugged him, kissed him, told him we loved him, and my final admonition to him was, "NO FUNNY BUSINESS".

On accounta in the past, 'very routine and boring surgery' has had a way of turning out anything but.

He laughed and said, "No funny business" and the last thing we saw as he went thru the doors was his smile and thumbs up.

*Inserting that he's fine- this is not a buildup to a bad ending. You may stop holding your breath*

So Alec and I were sitting in the hospital cafeteria, eating our lunch.

Hilariously, I was telling him about the time in 2002 that the doctor in the cataract center had told me to go get some lunch and come back in 45 minutes and when I came back I heard sirens and thought "stop overreacting- we're right across the street from the hospital of course there will be sirens" but then the nurse came out and said, "Mrs. Dixon?" and I smiled and said "All finished?" and she said, "You need to come with me" and we went through the door and I saw Ward surrounded by EMT's and they were defibrillating him and intubating him...which is the reason I now never leave the building when he's having surgery, and why we were in the cafeteria instead of the million or so restaurants within 10 minutes of the hospital.

My phone rang.

Dr. Chambers, the surgeon, said, "Mrs. Dixon? Are you still in the building? I need to show you what we found".

Somehow we flew from the first to the fifth floor, dumping our food in the trash can as we left the cafeteria.

Now Ward has has brushes with death before. Hell, Ward has slapped death upside the head and poked it with a pointy stick before.

And on some level Alec has always been aware that dad is more fragile than the average bear- we've been skating this ice since Alec was two years old.

But this was the first time that Alec has been in the room when the doctor was laying it all out- it's always been cushioned by me after the fact. Even though he remained stoic and quiet, I know it shook him up- was a very real pronouncement to him that his dad is...mortal, and that's the kind of thing most folks don't have to process till they're into their 40's or 50's. He's two weeks shy of 13.

So what happened is that they were being very careful with Ward since he's had such trouble before, so instead of giving him versed as a pre-anesthetic, they gave him just a touch (2cc's) of fentanyl.

Which his heart didn't like.

So it went into arrhythmia. Dr. Chambers showed us the EKG read-outs. Pretty spectacular. So they scrapped the surgery.

Ward spent the rest of the day/evening in recovery while they tried to get his heart rate back up to normal, his blood pressure back down to normal and his heart rhythm back to normal. Dr. Chambers called in cardiac to come see him.

I hate cardiac.

When Ward was in ICU almost 3 years ago, the cardiac team changed every single day- no continuity at all, and 99% of them were abrupt, rude and pompous. I don't play well with that.

The cardiologist who showed up with 2 others did not change my opinion of that.

He looked at the EKG readouts and said, "Pfft. This is nothing. They should've kept going- once they got him anesthetized it probably would've calmed right down. This happens all the time- they just don't know any better. In fact, when they try this again that's what I'll tell them- just keep going- push him through".

Now, Ward says he was most likely trying to reassure us.

To ME, he was trivializing us AND disrespecting both the surgeon and anesthesiologist. I don't play well with that.

Then the cardiologist asked me a question, listened to the first 5 words of my response and WALKED OUT OF THE ROOM. Didn't say, "excuse me" or "that's good, thanks", just turned his back and out the door. I looked at one of the other doctors like, "What the hell???" and he shrugged apologetically and said, "I'M listening". Him I like.

I sent an email to Dr. Chambers telling him about Dr. Snottypants- that I don't like how he was unprofessionally rude regarding comments about his colleagues (who both have socks older than he does- and Dr. Chambers is HEAD of the oral surgery department) as well as his flippant attitude about 'just pushing him through'. I've worked in veterinary medicine for almost 30 years and the first and most important thing is- you can't fix dead. I don't appreciate being told that if Ward's heart is wonky all they have to do is CONTINUE giving him the drug that is causing it bacause PROBABLY it'll be OK.

This is not my car. This is my husband. You tell me that he'll PROBABLY be OK if you purposely 'push him through'? I don't play well with that.

Err on the side of caution. 200% of the time. Because I refuse to have to tell my son he's fatherless because, "Oops- I thought for sure that would work".

Anyway.

So they sent us back to the hotel Tuesday night.

Ward had an EKG and appointment with the electrocardiologist (the guy who does pacemakers and defibrillators) yesterday who ordered an echo for tomorrow and then a Holter monitor through the weekend. We can go home tomorrow after they place the Holter and then come back here Sunday for our Monday appointment where Dr. Karimzadeh will have a plan of action.

For the record, I love Dr. Karimzadeh and his nurse- they were both compassionate and patient; so the entire cardiac department is not pompous assholes.

Then they'll reschedule surgery.

Now that we're not scared to death, our family has reverted to our usual way to deal with the unimaginable horrors of the cancer hospital and our experiences there- humor.

When they let us go back to recovery to be with Ward, the first thing I told him was, "You promised me no funny stuff...you bastard" as I hugged the stuffing out of him.

Later Tuesday evening Alec said, "What have we learned today? We learned that it's not enough to merely not leave the building during surgery- we can't eat a sammich, either".

And today I looked at my shy, brilliant, quiet husband and said, "God- you're such an attention whore".

He looked at me, smiled and said, "I know, right? It's all about me, me, me."

The only scene I remember from the movie 'War of the Roses', an otherwise awful movie, was the scene the husband went to the doctor thinking he was having a heart attack. He looks at the doctor and asks, "Tell me straight, doc- am I going to die?" The doctor looks at him seriously and says, "Yes. Yes you are".

"But not today!"

I love that.

Today is sunny and warm and we're stuck here till tomorrow afternoon so we're headed to the park and the museum.

We're all fragile and we're all going to die, and my family is both cursed and blessed to be aware and reminded of that on a regular basis. We're all going to die.

But not today.






Monday, February 4, 2013

On a Wing and a Prayer

This is something I've wanted to write about for a while, but now is the perfect time.

Oh, sure- now is the perfect time because it's timely in that tomorrow my beloved Ward has (yet another) surgery and we're all scared spitless about it. *Spitless- it's oral surgery- get it?*

But that's not why it's the perfect time.

It's really the perfect time because I'm remembering that I wanted to write about it. Now, when I'm sitting down to write. See? Perfect.

So tomorrow Ward has surgery.

Not cancer- that's been gone for going on six years now.

Not a graft issue- this last (of three) grafts is holding perfect and strong, last week the cancer doctor verified that after the latest of his twice yearly scans. Said it was fully incorporated with the other tissue and no air pocket at all.

No, this is oral surgery to remove the roots of 6 teeth that have broken off- effects from the radiation he got almost seven years ago. The teeth are breaking off and his jaws are deteriorating. They have to get out the roots because they are both prime spots for infection and they hurt like hell. They started breaking off about a year ago- two at first, then started coming out more quickly and this surgery is a culmination of over five months of trying to coordinate doctors and tests and records and whatnot enough that my hair is a whole lot grayer and my frustration at having to second guess and think ahead for the medical professionals boggles me daily.

The point.

The point of this is that I used to accept the many promises we received of, "I'll pray for Ward" before any of our many surgery days with less than enthusiastic gratitude. I don't hate god. Truly I don't. You can't hate something you don't believe in.

So I thought things like, "Great. Prayer. That and $4.95 will buy me a small cup of coffee at Starbuck's." I assumed prayer was something people offered up when they didn't have the time or finances to offer up tangible usable things like cooking a meal for us or donating to the hotel/gas/living expenses while out of town fund.

Because most of the time we were extremely short on the concrete things of life and prayer seemed totally inadequate. There's no way I could offer up prayers to pay for our hotel, or put gas in the car, or get groceries with.

Prayer seemed to be "the thing you can offer when you don't really wanna do anything real".

But here's what I know for sure.

I believe in energy. Energy is a scientific, quantifiable substance. I believe in the direction of energy, and practice it myself- sometimes in bullheaded desperation but mostly (mostly) in a more orderly manner. I know it works. I've seen and felt it work.

And one day I realized that Prayer = Directed Energy.

Oh sure, there's a Middle Man in the form of the mythical Man Upstairs.

But what is 'prayer' other than thinking of a specific need and sending it in a focused way to its intended recipient?

See?

And I'm OK with it now.

I still don't believe in the mythical Man Upstairs.

However I believe with all my heart in the energies that = prayer, and our family will accept all energies, prayers, jujus, thoughts and whatever else you can send our way tomorrow.

Please address all the above to
Ward Dixon
MD Anderson Cancer Hospital
Houston TX

between the hours of 7:30am and 5pm, central time.

Because this is the first time he'll be under anesthesia since 2010 when he almost died from a routine operation that he'd had twice before and I gotta tell ya'll- I'm terrified.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Are You Sirius???

Yanno what I hate?

I hate when I buy a new car because the old car is eight years old and we MIGHT have to make a lot of trips back and forth to Houston sometime in the future so I buy a new car and the extra extended warranty to cover the entire term of the note and then a week before we DO have to start going back and forth to Houston some dumb bitch rear-ends that car at a stop light and it's in the shop getting fixed right at the time we have pre-surgical appointments and surgery followed by rechecks galore all in Houston- the very reasons I got it in the first place.

I hate that.

So we have this rental car while my new car is getting fixed.

It's a 2013 Chevy Malibu and we all hate it. It's too low to the ground and all of us are bumping our heads getting in and out (even ME). Poor Sparky is folded into the back seat like a road map. It feels too light and unsafe.

Actually, we don't hate EVERYTHING about it.

It has heated seats. Those are incredible. Which is weird because I HATE heating pads and electric blankets but LOVE the heated car seats.

And it has satellite radio.

Ward loves that.

So on our first road trip in the rental car, we turned on "politics" and "left" and waited for the shows we never get to hear...because on the entire spectrum of that whole "left wing liberal agenda slanted media" regular everyday radio, except for some intermittent stuff on PBS, the only talk shows on the air are fucking Rush, Bill and Sean, plus the whole Bethlehem's stable-full of preachers. And they're all batshit crazy insane hateful fear mongers.

They're also ugly.

But I digress.

So we were listening liberal talk radio. Stephanie Miller is awesome.
Thom Hartmann was OK, but a little annoying.
Ed Schultz? Unbelievable.

And not in a good way.

We watch The Ed Show pert near every night and enjoy it both content and host.

On the radio? Holy shit.

Ed hollers at his callers. He hollers at his guests. He sounds for all intents and purposes like Rush.

Wanna know the most disturbing parts?

The advertisements.

Not just the sheer bulk of 'em- 10 minutes of ads for 5 minutes of show- but the content!

How can a left-leaning station advocate a "child re-training program"- to turn your teen back into that adoring obedient toddler you loved and who thought you knew everything???

Script was something like "Has your child turned from a loving toddler into a surly, angry, argumentative teen? Wouldn't you give anything to have that obedient child back? We can show you how to re-train your child!"

(Voice from the back seat of our car- "OR you could just ask your kid what's bothering him and why he's so damn angry...") No shit.

How horrifying. I want my kids to learn to think for themselves, not be little copies of me. Sure that means some, most, possibly all of what they decide to believe in may not be what *I* believe in, but that's part of growing up, right? Why the hell would I WANT to keep my child...a child???

Equally frustrating was Ed himself in one commercial...hawking GOLD.

What the fucking hell?

The same goddamn advertisers on both sides of the spectrum.

I know, I know- they're not newscasters (there are precious few of those now), they're opinion commentators...all of them.

The difference (at least in our house) is that we take what the commentators say as a starting point- something to spark interest and a spot to start our own research in order to form our opinion on something. Do we end up agreeing with them more often than not? Yep. But we make sure it's true, first.

Those who listen to Rush et al seem to take every word as commissioned from God Himself and go no farther- it just gets imbedded into their brains as Truth. Because they're either not checking shit out or they flat don't care if it's complete bullshit as long as it fits their comfort zone of what they want reality to be. On accounta 95% of what spews out of right-wing-world radio can be debunked in about 5 minutes of fact checking.

So some of the satellite stuff is great, some is informative, and Ed- sorry buddy, but I just cannot listen to you on the radio. I'm sure he'll lose sleep over that.

The Classic Vinyl station totally makes up for it, though.

And the heated seats.

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