Halloween Musings

So I was thinking last night about the different people who came to my house for Trick or Treat. It was the usual smattering of kids dressed up as zombie athletes, Toy Story characters, Princesses and Lady Bugs. Some were so cute, I wanted to take a picture of them, and then I realized how creepy **I** would be for asking a couple of kids if I could take their picture. So I just told them their costumes were super cute and gave them a few extra pieces of candy.

Here’s where my perplexity kicks in. I have 2 categories of Trick or Treaters that I just don’t think deserve my candy and shouldn’t be at my door.

There were several parents who came with their INFANT child. Infant. Not toddler. Like in the 2-3 month age range. Not the “I dressed up my baby to go Trick or Treating with older sibling” type of thing. This is a parent, dressing up themselves, dressing up the baby that was born last Thursday, and going around with their pumpkin bucket or pillowcase in some cases, asking me to give candy to their precious newborn.

Now, this didn’t happen just once or twice. This scenario happened AT LEAST 4 times. Maybe there was an older sibling home sick. Maybe there were brothers and/or sisters at another house and hadn’t caught up with Mom or Dad holding little precious Minnie Mouse who might be flying around the neighborhood to get as much candy as she could while leaving the other kids in the dust.

As I opened the door to this scenario, seeing a baby so young she couldn’t even hold her own bottle or take a spoonful of rice cereal, I would look cautiously through my bowl for a piece of candy that would be appropriate for the little darling as she slept through all my cool decorations and flashing lights. “Hmmmm, I don’t seem to have anything age appropriate in here. Guess I should’ve grabbed a bag of Saf-T-Pops.” I said with a smile and laugh, not really sure what I’m supposed to do here. “Oh, she loves those Reese’s Peanut butter cups and Snickers” said the mom. I’m thinking really quickly, how do I respond to this? So I grab a Reese’s and a Snickers and hand them to Mom and say “I hope you enjoy this.” with a slight smile and just a hint of sarcasm. “Oh you know I will!” and off she goes.

Ok, so was the baby a prop? Was she even her baby? Did she borrow someone else’s baby just to get some candy? I start wondering if I should look around for someone saying a lady in a witch costume swooped in and took her newborn Minnie Mouse to score some extra candy.

Then we have the opposite case; the full on adult, going trick or treating for themselves. Seriously. I had a guy show up with tattoos, beard scruff, no costume and a pillow case. “Hey” he says. “Oh, hello.” I nervously respond. He holds out the pillow case and says, “You got the good candy” “Yes, um, I went to Sam’s Club, um, cuz I can get bigger bags that way.” I stammered. “Can you make sure I get one of each kind?” he asked. “Oh sure. Of course. Here ya go” as I’m trying to root through my bowl, making sure he truly gets one of each kind, wondering where Michael is in case I need him, hoping he isn’t casing my house as I’m looking into the bowl for each type of candy bar, wondering if my gun is still loaded from the last time I loaded it, trying to act like I’m not nervous AT ALL, this is all so totally normal and guys who look like they just got out of SingSing yesterday and now standing on my front porch asking for candy is sooooo something that happens every day that why would I even think twice about this being weird. Wondering if it would be ok if I just dumped my whole bowl of candy into his pillowcase and turned out the lights and just ended it. Yes, all of that went through my head in about 15 seconds. I hand him the candy and he thanked me and told me I have a nice house. “Thanks, have a good night and stay safe.” I said to him. He smiled and left. I closed the door and waited for Dorothy and the Tin Man to come up and ring them bell. Ya know, normal aged 4th grader-ish kids with Mom and Dad standing at the end of my driveway.

So how about this? If your child can’t eat the candy because they were born hours ago, or if your old enough to have just been released from prison, please skip my house next year. I love Halloween. I have some of my favorite memories as a child from Halloween. But let’s keep it for the kids. If you’re an adult, go buy your own candy, it’s all on sale for cheap today.

Now that it’s over

I couldn’t wait for Tuesday to be over. I was so sick of the ads taking over the airwaves on television and radio. I was sick of every post on Facebook being about the election or the candidates. I saw a meme that said “Now we can go back to posting pictures of dinner and cat memes”. Yes. Please. Some normalcy.

But that’s not what happened. Oh yes, the ads stopped (unless like me you had 3 weeks worth of stuff on the DVR and just when you thought it safe, BAM! A political ad from 2 weeks ago. Ugh!) Instead, it seems people are at each others throats more than before last Tuesday. People are in shock and upset and frustrated. I get that. I get protesting. I don’t get violence and destruction of property. I don’t get behaving exactly as you are accusing the other side of acting like. I’m naive and foolish. Cuz I truly don’t get it.

I’m not shy of my Conservative principles. Less Federal government. More states rights. I also have some dear family and friends who are on the completely different side on the coin. More government. More taxes. More control. We fundamentally disagree. And I respect their right to feel the way they do. I would fight for their right to feel they way they do. What I won’t do is fight them or anyone else because they disagree with MY principles. I won’t be looting a building or setting a trash dumpster on fire. I won’t be pulling a Hillary supporter out of their car and beat them senseless. I won’t be beating a poor precious dog because *I think* the owner is a Hillary supporter. Nope. I won’t do that.

And all of the people who are not discouraging it, all of the silence, all of the “I need a safe space and chocolate and therapy puppy and I can’t begin to take an exam in school and I have feeeeeeelings that need to be acknowledged and here’s a safety pin to show you tolerant I am of anyone different from me unless you disagree with me” people are in fact contributing to this. Not speaking out about burning couches in the street is a form of acceptance of that behavior. The key is “speaking”. Talking. And oh, maybe listening to understand instead of listening to respond.

I have learned soooooo much from my liberal friends and family. I embrace and cherish them and what they have taught me. I’m all for gay marriage and I will gladly stand up and defend that to everyone who will listen. Sadly, I don’t think I have influenced any of them to see my way of thinking. Not that they need to agree with me, just to understand why I think the way I do about certain issues. To them, I’m just wrong and am labeled all those words Hillary ticked off her list a few weeks ago. I think that makes me the saddest of all. That deep down, that’s what people who know me really think of me when they say “Oh she’s a *whisper* Conservative”. It reminds me of that scene from St. Elmo’s Fire where Wendy’s mom always whispers the “bad words” about everything. Remember the scene when Billy is on the roof? She says, “I knew it. *whisper* drugs!”

I wanted to blog last week, but couldn’t and wouldn’t because the feelings were too fresh on both sides. Trust me when I tell you, there are PLENTY of dear friends and family I have that vote R who did NOT even come close to voting for Trump. People on both sides were shocked and dismayed. I wanted to blog over the weekend and I just couldn’t. So here we are. 7 days later and there’s still burning in the streets. Please stop. Please allow yourself to find that common ground and stand firm, together. Realize we can have differences and that is what makes us unique. The world has enough hate. Let’s spread love. And peace. And light. WE are America.

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This is not an endorsement!

I just witnessed something in my local Publix parking lot. I wish I had been quick thinking enough to take out my phone and capture it, but as usual in those circumstances, I’m so slow on the uptake. I’m that girl who thinks of the perfect comeback line 15 minutes after the conversation is over. My ex brother-in-law and I used to laugh at the funny things we wished we had said to our former mother-in-law IF ONLY we were quick enough. I’m basically George from Seinfeld excited over the “jerk store” line in “The Comeback” episode.

Anyway, back to Publix. The story I’m about to relay is true, as improbable as it may seem. That’s why I wish I had video to prove it for all to see and not call me a liar. So please, don’t call me names. Ok?

I was going through the Starbucks drive through, getting my pumpkin spice frap, no whip on this most glorious of days in Florida and decided I wanted my moonroof open and windows down. So I had to pull into the Publix parking lot and gather all the various pieces of paper, straw wrappers, dry cleaner slips, napkins, etc so I could throw them away lest they go flying out of my car. Those who know me in real life know this is a real danger because, ya know, I’m not exactly a neat freak.

As I’m pulled into a parking space, I witness the following exchange by 2 older gentlemen; one is driving a Prius with bumper stickers all over it. Bernie 2016, Coexist, War is not the Answer, Peace. The other guy was driving a Ford Focus, no bumper stickers.

Ford Focus guy looks at the Bernie guy and says, “Sucks your guy got beat by a criminal.” The Bernie guy kind of smiles and shakes his head and says “Yea, she did on real shake down on him, didn’t she?” Ford Focus guy says, “You gonna vote for her now I suppose.” And the Bernie guy let out a loud laugh and said “Hell no! As a matter of fact look what I have!” and he pulls out his Trump bumper sticker and slap it over his Bernie one . They both started laughing and at this point, I’m feeling very weird and wondering if this some episode of Candid Camera, or is John Quiñones going to come running out with a microphone and camera crew. So as I do a quick survey of the parking lot and realize that I don’t see anything out of the ordinary, I look back at the two new BFFs and they’re actually shaking hands and exchanging names.

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Ford Focus guy and Bernie guy are probably heading off to some local tavern and having a tall cold one and talking about WikiLeaks and the latest James O’Keefe video. Meanwhile, I’m driving down the road with my sunroof open, windows down, drinking my cold Pumpkin Spice Frap (no whip!!), sunglasses on and I think, “Why didn’t you grab your phone and start recording that?!” So I’ll make you deal; next time I see Prius dude with Peace, Coexist, War is not the Answer and a Trump sticker on his car, I’m flagging him down. I’ll beg for an interview and pretend I’m with some highly rated and profitable blog. But in the meantime, if anyone in the area sees a Prius voting for Trump, let me know.

 

My Kitchen Nightmare

Before I dig into this post, I have a major “first and foremost” type of announcement: I am eternally grateful for my under construction kitchen. I am blessed beyond words to be living in a house that I love more every day, in Florida, where the sunshine is blinding and warms me to the core. What I am about to write does not take away one iota from that joy and gratitude. Not even a little. Ok? Are we all on the same page? No ungratefulness here.

When we decided abut 33 seconds after moving into our new house that the kitchen would need a major overhaul, we got estimates and ideas from several companies. After we settled on the new plan, worked with the designer and got our vision realized on paper and decided to proceed, we thought we had done well.

Michael and I had never done a major renovation like this. We never knocked down walls, and torn stuff out to the studs and rebuilt. And by “we”, I mean OTHER PEOPLE doing the work. It took us 3 hours yesterday to replace the front door hanging light. But that’s another story.  I think we were woefully prepared for what was about to happen.

We were prepared for eating out and not having a kitchen for weeks on end. We were prepared to grill out and paper plates and plastic silverware. We moved the Keurig to the back patio and took Ryan’s mini-fridge from his room to house coffee creamer and sweet tea.

We were prepared to pick out our new appliances and researched and did side by side comparisons. We like to do our homework and double check it and then put it down and come back to it to double check again. This is life with a man whose OCD has obviously rubbed off on me. We don’t like rash decisions. Especially important ones. Especially not ones that have lasting effects.

Suddenly, life has become a series of split second decisions, with no time to wait. Do we want these lights here or there? Do we want the backsplash to come over this far or stop at this angle? And my favorite so far “Pick a number and that’s where it goes.” coming from the granite guys drilling a hole in my beautiful countertop for the above-mentioned air switch. “Pick a number?” He gives me a look like perhaps I don’t speak English and says slowly, “Pick. A. Number.” Luckily our project manager was here and explained that its the distance from the faucet to wherever I want the air switch. Ah. Ok. I picked 7. Seemed lucky enough.

If picking granite, wall colors, backsplash, door hardware, light fixtures, cabinets, faucets, doors and flooring weren’t enough, apparently we were supposed to be prepared to tell the electrician where each outlet went and where the light switches should go.

They told us that a major reno project wasn’t for the faint of heart. What they didn’t prepare me for was to see how completely inadequate I am in making snap decisions. I just pray when this is all done, I don’t wish that switch wasn’t an inch to the left.

 

Election Sadness

This election, more than any other Presidential cycle in recent memory (although, admittedly, my memory might not be as good as it once was) is just making me sad. Sad. Hopeless. Fearful. And it has zero to do with any of the candidates running. It has everything to do with every day citizens.

We seem to be a country more divided than ever. Not just along party lines. Now there’s sub-categories and sub sub- categories. Racial. Economic. Gender. And more. I feel like I’m living in some version of the Twilight Zone where the sun rises in the west and the skies are yellow instead of blue.

I have seen friendships lost. Family turning on each other. Total strangers behaving badly towards each other. Each side digging in their heels, asserting not only how right they are, but how wrong the other side is. There is no compromise. There is no listening. There is only “I’m right and you’re so wrong that you shouldn’t be in my sight cuz you’re triggering me.”

::sidenote:: “Triggering.” Seriously? Seriously?!

Anyway, I was discussing my growing depression over seeing these displays of hatred toward each other, and I was reminded of a scenario that happened a few years ago. And I fear, I truly fear it is worse this time around.

In my small hometown, we had a school levy a few years ago. The economy was horrible. The school district was asking for more money, while cutting classes, bussing and staff to bare bones in an effort to demonstrate how dire the situation was. On one side, there were those who felt the district was not spending the money wisely. Spend with the students first and foremost. That’s what a school system is supposed to do. One the other side, they felt that cuts from state and federal funding, plus raises and healthcare concerns were the problem.

If you were not for the levy, you were labeled “anti-teacher” and you obviously hate them and the schools. If you were for the levy, you weren’t for the children or the seniors on fixed incomes who were barely holding on because they weren’t getting increases. If you were against the levy, the friends and family who worked for the district would no longer speak to you, defriend you on Facebook and/or Twitter, and suddenly wouldn’t return phone calls. If you were for the levy, you simply couldn’t wrap your head around how anyone could be against it. How? Why? It’s common decency.

As neighbor turned against neighbor, friend against friend, it escalated to threats of violence. I know, because I was on the receiving end of such a threat. Yard signs were stolen and destroyed. Police had to be called over things left on front porches and acts vandalism.

What does this sound like? It sounds like our little school district “levy war” as it was referred to has now exploded over the entire country. Yard signs are stolen. Vandalism and physical violence. Neither side listening. Or they’re listening just to retort. They aren’t hearing. But such is American politics, I suppose. We are a country made up of such vast backgrounds, each of us seeing through our own lenses. It makes it difficult if not impossible sometimes to see it through another lens.

I have my own opinions, based on my life. No one else’s. I can honestly say, I have not only evolved on some of my opinions based on level headed, non-screaming, productive dialogue, but I hope I have been able to do the same. From the displays I’ve seen, not everyone is willing to do that. That makes me sad. I hate seeing people lose friends, not talk to a relative, retreat to listening to msnbc or Alex Jones as their only source of information.

I’m open to dialogue. No name calling. No straw man argument. Just honest dialogue.

 

Hurricane Matthew

Looks like Florida is going to be hit with a major hurricane in the next day or so. The current Category 3 storm is expected to move up to a Cat 4 before brushing up the east coast of Florida. And that’s where it gets a little too close to home for me.

We had vacationed in a little known place called Jekyll Island, Georgia since 1977. My parents, brother and I, along with 3 other families and their children. We all crammed into small little rentals, sharing food, floor space and waited (im)patiently for the bathroom. As the years passed and we spent each summer on the island, the accommodations got better and “the kids” as we were all known, would look forward to reconnecting and spending time together on the beach and going in and out of our parents own respective houses. Many summers of hanging out from morning til night on the beach, or watching The Pirate Movie over and over and over, it became “our place”.

As my fathers retirement grew closer, he knew that’s where he wanted to be and bought a house there. It is a beautiful huge house, fitting for my parents. Room for our family, room for friends, room for making memories. Mom and Dad would be able to go back and forth between Ohio and Georgia as they wished, spending the bitter cold winter months of Ohio on the sandy beaches we all loved so much. They added rooms to the house, updated the kitchen to one right out of a coastal magazine and enjoyed themselves so much. It was a dream realized, almost 3 decades in the making.

So when I hear that this hurricane could be running right up the east coast, directly into the path of our island, it makes me a little anxious. I’m thankful that the renovations done had to be up to hurricane code. I’m thankful that my Mom is not there. I’m thankful for flood insurance and homeowners insurance. If something, God forbid, happens to the house, it can be rebuilt. It’s a house. It can’t take our near 40 years worth of laughter and tan lines. Of sneaking out, or being busted by island cops as we set off fireworks on the beach. Of finding my parents making out like high schoolers on the boardwalk and deciding if we were going to throw up or bust out laughing. Of singing still to do this day, songs from The Pirate Movie.

Be kind, Matthew. We have lots of memories to still be made there. “I want a happy ending!!”

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New Blog, New Name, Same Me

This is the post excerpt.

This is my all new blog. New name since I’m not in Ohio anymore. Same me. I’m just me, someone who likes to write about nothing. I stopped for a long time because life stopped me. No, I stopped me because life got too hard. And complicated. And discouraging. And scary. And instead of using this as a tool to help me, I withdrew.

Just when I thought of starting to write again, something else happened. Then something else. It was a very steady stream of near fatal blows for awhile. But now I’m ready. Something told me on October 1, that it was time to get back. Get back to what I’ve let slip, what I’ve been putting off, just getting back, ya know?

So this is the start. I’ll take it as it comes, you can read it as you go. And I’ll learn to channel the ups and downs in a more cohesive way than just stopping dead in my tracks and withdrawing. Thanks for sharing the journey with me.

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