I remember when

I sit here tonight in the quiet of the house with a heavy heart and fire inside me.  I have a plethora of feelings this evening and so I turn to this trusty place.  I’m staring at the blinking cursor as it mocks me when I can’t think of the words, but I know I have to write.

Do you remember where you were 15 years ago today?  The day before the world changed as we know it?  More importantly, do you remember what kind of person you were then? Who were you, what were your worries?  Did you lose your temper that day over something silly and mundane?  Were you a little too short with a loved one?  Were you a little too impatient?  Did you thank that nice girl at the counter who served you coffee as you rushed off to work, late because of the traffic?  Did you pass judgement on that person sitting at the end of that exit ramp asking for spare change?

I bet we all did some of these things 15 years ago today because none of us knew that tomorrow we would wake up and become someone different – that we would wake up and our country would be changed.  I remember exactly where and who I was 15 years ago today.  I was one week away from bringing into the world my daughter, The Middle, and I was as miserable as I could be.  I was impatient with anyone near me, I was short tempered, I was tired, I was swollen, and I was not the person I am today.

Like thousands and thousands of people, I watched horrified that morning as the events unfolded and despite going into labor and my mid-wife instructing me to stay away from the news, I watched for days on end as the aftermath unfolded.  It was devastating; we all remember how devastating this day was.  It was a sight I will never forget, it was a feeling I will never forget, and it was change in our country I wish we all would never forget.

You see, we’ve forgotten that part.  Every year on September 11th we all put that photo of the towers or the eagle that’s shedding tears on our social media pages and we promise not to forget, but do we actually remember?  Do we remember, as a country, what we swore we would never forget?  I do and I’m sure I’m not the only one, but not nearly enough people truly remember.  Yes, we remember the attack on our country. We remember the horrifying collapse of both towers and we remember the excruciating number of innocent lives we lost on that day, but do we remember the days that came after?  Do we remember how we promised to never forget that we are the UNITED States of America?  That when you attack one of us or some of us, you attack ALL of us?  Do we remember that at that time there were no black Americans, no white Americans, no brown Americans, no yellow Americans – we were AMERICANS.  We were UNITED.  We were one and we rallied behind our flag, behind our country, behind our law enforcement, behind our first-responders, behind our military and behind each other.

I remember when we became brothers and sisters of this country and we promised those nearly 3 thousand innocent souls and their families that we would never forget.  We also promised the assholes who killed these innocent people for simply being American that we would unite and rally behind our our flag, behind our country, behind our law enforcement, behind our first-responders, behind our military and behind each other.

Today we are no longer brothers and sisters of this country as promised; we are jaded, separated, and self-proclaimed victims of a society that has done nothing but afford us every possible opportunity for success and freedom.  Today we can claim to be oppressed and show disrespect to a country we all promised to protect 15 years ago.  Today we fight each other to the death rather than the enemy who murdered us for being American.  Today we make excuses instead of change, we no longer hold the responsible parties accountable for the demise of their own lives but instead blame a country who has done nothing but house ideals, morals, and opportunities for centuries.

I remember when we were the UNITED States of America and I pray it doesn’t take another tomorrow to remind us of the promises we made.

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You know what they say about opinions…

Yeah, I know you do.  It may be a different version for you, but here in the south the saying is that they’re like assholes…everyone has one.  Charming as that phrase is not, it’s nevertheless true both literally and metaphorically.  We’ll circle back to that thought a little later…

Mr. EMT and I (our whole family, really) are avid readers.  We enjoy a good story.  Our tastes differ drastically, but we work it out.  He has begged me to read some of his various favorites and I’ve never been able to do so before for fear of gut-wrenching pain searing me completely.  Mr. EMT reads a lot of non-fiction war books.   I did, however, succumb to one of his requests and read my first non-fiction war novel.  I read American Sniper by Chris Kyle.  Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock or living in North Korea, you’ve heard about it at least by way of the latest blockbuster hit if not the actual book.

The book was incredible, much better than I could have ever thought it would be.  I’m always worried these books will leave a huge whole in my heart because of the death that comes with war.  There were sad parts in this book, don’t misunderstand, but it was told so well and with such character that I fell in love with his words, his duty, his family, and fell more in love with our country.  Yes, it really was that good.  It gave someone like me who has never seen war or had to make these type of hard decisions an insight of what they do and what they go through.  It gave me a real count of what the family they leave behind struggles with while they’re saving the country.

Fast forward to the blockbuster hit, and well I just had to see it, of course.  It didn’t disappoint, at least not too badly.  I’ve always been a book fan before a movie fan, though I understand the need to change things for the big screen.  Going into this, I tried to keep that knowledge and understanding in the back of my mind.  I tried to be open minded about Hollywood telling the story that moved me.  I read about how Chris Kyle wanted Clint Eastwood to direct, how he was already speaking with Bradley Cooper about his book becoming a movie before his death in 2013.  After his life was taken his wife, Taya, stepped up and kept moving with the filming of the movie – making sure her husband’s story was told well enough to keep the pride flowing through his children.

Mr. EMT and I didn’t make it to opening night of the movie and instead went four days later.  This gave me ample time to Google reviews and read the outpouring support for this man’s legacy.  It also gave me time to read the disgusting comments made by people who criticized his job, the work he did for his country.

This, my friends, is where I will circle back to that saying about opinions and include one that I’ve heard for as long as I can remember – empty vessels make the most noise.  I have to admit that I was pretty well outraged at the comments I read by some of Hollywood’s elite and many, many other lesser known empty vessels.  My first reaction was, ‘How dare you’.  How dare you try to defame the name of a man who fought four tours killing the people who plot to kill us every single day.  How dare you try to take away the pride his family feels when they remember his sacrifice to this nation.  The comments about how snipers are cowards was even more upsetting.  These men and women train countless hours to be able to save us from our enemy’s wrath, the wrath that caused September 11, 2001.

After I calmed down a little (not too much, because I’m still violently disgusted in those who claim to be US supports/citizens who clearly are not) I realized that these empty vessels, these ignorant individuals obviously did not read his book, did not look further than the Hollywood movie, and therefore are fools with voices.  If they had read his book they would have a much better understanding of how very difficult it was for Chris Kyle to do the job he did.  He wasn’t a murderer, he was a protector and we are less safe without him in this world.

So, as the critics go on with their defamation of a hero and spew nonsense with their rights (freedom of speech, for example) that people like Chris Kyle fight to protect, I will know in my heart of hearts that these people are truly the ignorant, shameful, and absolutely are not Americans regardless of nationality.

The ugly truth, as I see it

Soapboxes – everyone has them and here’s one of mine…

 

I am sure, by now, you’ve heard of the horrific California shooting.  If you haven’t, please go google, I’ll wait.  The twisted individual who committed these acts of violence stated he blamed the ‘cruelty’ of ‘vicious and evil’ women for his actions.  Moreover he blames his virginity for part of his hatred and that women would refuse him was shocking to him.  This man was vile and insane.  He was a misogynistic lunatic.

As with each new tragedy where the sick bastard uses a gun, the discussion comes up about more severe gun laws, mental health connections, and the like.  I don’t jump on this bandwagon at all, but I admit there’s a flaw somewhere.  Is it with gun control?  Is it mentally unstable people who purchase the guns?  Is it society and the news media?  Is it parenting?  These are the recent questions and comments I see after these events.  So, which is it?  I don’t know I don’t have the answers, just questions and my own opinions.

The recent events in California have caused the state to fight to restrict guns for people who are suspected of having mental health issues.  One report mentioned where they would like family members to be able to go to the police to warn them and then the new law would prevent them from purchasing guns.  Sure, that’s one step, but is that enough?  Is that going to fix anything?  The asshole who committed these acts of violence did so with a gun, killing 3 and injuring 13 more.  He also killed 3 with a knife.  Here in my local town, a man was recently beheaded in his home and the same happened a few years back to a young woman on a walk.  In Pennsylvania a kid went on a stabbing frenzy at a school.  Last week a 16-year-old was arrested in Oklahoma after stabbing another student.  Yesterday a young girl lost her life when her classmate stabbed her to death.  My point is these acts of violence happen all the time and with any weapon of choice.  Maybe it’s not a question of the type of weapons.

Let’s touch on the mental health issue.  Currently, unless someone is involuntarily held in a mental institution, there is nothing a family can do to stop a family member from purchasing a gun.  How do you get mentally unstable people involuntarily committed?  It’s harder than you think.  While it varies by state, usually either a court or doctor has to do it.  If you go to a court you’ll be asked some questions and they will decide if they feel there is an immediate threat, then there must be a hearing, then that person can get a second opinion, if they are declared mentally unstable.  Do you see where this would be a bit of a snag?  The family of the idiot in California went to the police who did a ‘care visit’ and didn’t find him a threat.  Obviously, this guy was a threat and obviously his family knew, but there’s not a lot that can be done quickly.  Keep in mind if the person is mentally unstable, but able to manipulate, a court or doctor or police may never be convinced they need to be detained.  It seems to be a pretty fair assumption that this part of the ‘system’ is flawed.

Now, what about society and news media?  It’s evident that the news media is covering far more than they used to 20+ years ago thanks to social media and new technology outlets allowing news to travel quickly.  I think it’s pretty clear, also, that the news media will paint any picture they want about a victim, an assailant, a business, whomever and whatever.  The most recent, in my mind, is that of Treyvon Martin who was shown in media as a 12 year-old, not a 6’2” 17 year-old.  Does that make the loss of someone’s child easier? Absolutely not!  At the end of the day he was a 17 year-old kid whose life was over way too early.  Of course it’s tragic whenever a family loses a loved one no matter the situation, but the truth of the media painting a picture, is no less true.  The media needs to be held responsible for fueling issues that their stories ignite.  However, freedom of speech is just that – freedom of speech and painting whatever picture gets the most views.

Lastly, parenting…I see many flaws in this particular system.  Parents need to step up and do their damn job.  Technology is fantastic and it’s giving us possibilities never thought of 20+ years ago, but it’s destroying the minds of our kids at the same time.  Computers, Smartphones, Tablets, Video Systems, and Televisions are NOT responsible for raising your children!!!  I am a mother.  I have every one of those items mentioned in my home.  I also, however, have restrictions set on them at all times.  To name a few, there are time limits, there are rules, and there are limitations to the types of games and movies allowed to be played or viewed.  There are 4 and 5 years between my oldest and my 2 youngest.  What we allow our nearly 17 year old to watch and play has changed as he has, but all of our rules are set based on not only age, but on what that particular child can grasp.  Do I think violent video games and movies cause all the violence we see, especially in schools?  No, obviously not – but it’s a contributing factor and you’re living in a fantasy world better than mine if you believe differently.

Parents are lazy now.  Not all, maybe not most – but enough for our country to notice the difference.  I don’t think technology is to blame, but I think it’s a huge factor.  Even ‘ol Eminem says it plainly in one of his popular songs he made with Rihanna, ‘Love the way you lie’.  Remember that song?  It went viral, after Rhianna was bludgeoned by her then boyfriend, as an anthem to those in abusive relationships.  The line I’m referring to is,

“You don’t get another chance

Life is no Nintendo game”

Kids don’t think like that much anymore.  They are too caught up in extra lives for their games that they are losing touch with reality, with life and how precious it really is.  Parents aren’t doing a good enough job instilling a sense of fear, of awareness, of responsibility, of knowledge, of love.  Parents are failing their kids.  I’m not perfect, I’ll never claim to be anywhere close to it, but at least I recognize what the real issue is – and haven’t you ever heard…it takes a village to raise a child.  If our village and our parents are flawed, what happens to our kids?

When the Fat get going, America Fails

I wrote this one earlier in the year for Sudio Thirty Plus – I found today after shopping for sensible foods, it still applies.  Enjoy:

The husband and I have been together for nearly 20 years, since we were thirteen years old.  We’ve had ups and downs, and three kids.  Over the years our weight has also had ups and downs.  Unfortunately, we have lately had more ups than downs.  We tried the devil incarnate program called P90X.  We started with workout day one and decided to go the full day.  It didn’t end well for me.  A trip to the ER because of a workout is frowned on, in my book.  We quickly realized that this particular workout regime was for people who regularly worked out.

After weeks of healing, we tried a 30-day trial period at a local gym. With machines I still don’t know the names of and the sweaty, chiseled blondes that sprinted past me with arms puffed up like a puffer fish while their ponytail swayed tauntingly.  I could hear it mocking me as its owner passed.  ‘Like, OMG Becky, did you see that whale of a girl sweating profusely while walking 1.2 miles per hour.  Pffft.  As if.’ *eye roll* (yes, her ponytail had eyes, obviously)

Feeling much like a fish out of water or a whale on a sandy beach, I decided I should reevaluate our food intake as well as trying to figure out the large machinery in the gym.  We thought it would be best to cut out richer foods, switch to leaner meats, chicken and turkey rather than beef, raw veggies, and more whole, organic foods.  All the doctors of the world seem to condone this type of diet.  We head out in search of these foods, excited that we’re making such a positive change in our already budgeted grocery run.  Evidently, if one wants to eat healthy, lean, and whole you have to be a freaking millionaire or at least be able to budget $300 a week for groceries.  It was then, at the ridiculous prices of the food that’s great for you that I realized America’s problem.  We’re the fattest country because good for you food cost not only your arm and leg but your first born as well.  Or, you have to take turns eating.  “Sorry kids, there’s no dinner tonight, Dad made a sandwich.”

Can anyone explain to me why fresh food costs five times more than a bag of processed Cheetos?  I mean, it’s a plant.  It grows in the dirt. You go outside and pick it.  You put it in a basket and take it to a market and voila!  It’s a squash, people.  And if the posted sign is correct and all of it is community grown, it didn’t have to be shipped or trucked – you just had to drive it down the road.  That’s it.

Now my mind wonders to the crazy side of the spectrum and I begin to think that this whole ‘fattest country ever’ thing is a conspiracy to fuel the pockets of the doctors, gyms, diet plans, and insurance companies of the world.  ‘They’ don’t want us to lose weight and get fit; ‘they’ want us to stay sloth-like and eat cheaper junk food and visit the doctor every month for our failing health due to our excessively gargantuan backsides. Fat Fucking Fail America.