What an odd twist to an ordinary day…

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Mornin’ all.

Are you guys ready for a bit of intrigue?

Yesterday started as an ordinary day. I did my shift, made some sick ass Valentine’s Day cakes, contributed to the fond memories of three birthday parties in the greater metropolis area. You know. As ya do. Grabbed some groceries at the end of the work day, called salutations to a coworker who was sitting on a bench, then I made my way down to my car. As I approached, I noticed a bright Red Envelope tucked under my windshield wiper.

So it began.

At first, I wondered if my man placed it there, but almost immediately dismissed the idea. Not his style, folks. His MO of romantic surprise is to hand me a new power tool when I walk through the door, saying, “I got you something but I promise it was on sale!”

True story.

I put the groceries in the car and fired the beastie up. It’s winter still, and a 35 year old diesel can’t be expected to shift into high gear without a bit of a warm up. Hey, who can, amiright? I topped off the blue squirty juice in the windshield wiper fluid reservoir, all the while side eyeing the Red Envelope.

It has a heart on the front. Written in Sharpie, it’s not your standard heart. It’s got a straight line on the left, then the round heartiness of it at the top is sort of off centered, as if someone turned the letter “B” into a heart.

Slamming the hood with all the gusto a 35 year old hood latch requires, I grabbed the Red Envelope, got into the car, and then began an evening of intrigued wonder.

Inside there was a card. No cheap thing, either. A genuine Hallmark, with glitter flowers and cursive and hearts. “Happy Valentine’s Day,” it says on the front. I opened it up and a gift card and coupon booklet fell out. $25 to Chili’s and a coupon book from Friendly’s.

The mystery deepened. Actual money was invested.

“Who’s it from, Bethie?” you ask as you lean forward in your seat and munch your popcorn.

I don’t know. That’s why it’s a mystery. Aside from the “Hope good things bloom for you all day long,” stamped message from Hallmark, there’s a handwritten note.

“I hope you have a great day and enjoy a meal on me. -Cupid”

But wait, there’s more!

“P.S.- No strings just my good deed for the day.” With a smiley face.

Who is this Cupid?

Is it someone at work? I don’t recognize the handwriting, but I have not seen the handwriting of the majority of my coworkers. Is it a rando, someone spending their day imparting unexpected sunshine with an altruistic version of “Eenie Meenie Minie Mo?”

I have been driving myself nuts all night wondering. Analyzing. Guessing. Obsessing.

Someone put actual money into it. Whether a rando or a coworker, someone spent their own cash to brighten my day.

…or make me crazy.

Either way, well played, Cupid. I thank you, whoever you are.

I will say this…it took the edge off the winter blues for a bit. I’ve been going stir crazy the last week or so. I have a plasma cutter. A MUTHAFLIPPIN’ PLASMA CUTTER just sitting new in its box, waiting to be taken out to the back deck and used as a tool of simultaneous destruction and creation. And yet, the back deck is rudely covered in ice.

Fun fact: You can’t use a plasma cutter when you’re standing in or on water. It’s generally viewed as a very bad plan.

*sigh*

There’s a bottling up that happens when I don’t get to make things. It’s like when you try to stifle a yawn. There’s a tingle of frustration, a physical feeling that something is trying to push its way out, a building explosion that makes my hands long for the grip of a screwdriver and the vibration of a side grinder.

Are you a creative type? Do you understand what I’m talking about?

Maybe non-creative types get the same twitch when they don’t get to balance a checkbook or make a spread sheet for a few months. Maybe their hands itch for the sleek smoothness of a TI-84, and the smell of pencil shavings and graph paper in the morning air.

I gotta make something, folks. The cake decorating really helps, especially in the winter, but it’s just not the same as fusing hot metal together in the sunshine. I want to MAKE something. Really make something, with hands and sweat and swearing and grease and flux and sparks…and satisfaction.

Damn winter. Pfft.

I need another pick me up. How about I do something I’ve been saying I’d do, hm? Wouldn’t that be a nice change? Cue the dancers, fire up the band, because it’s time for a…

*** HEADLINE ROUNDUP ***

I’ve been gathering these headlines for about a month now. Some are good, some are pretty shit. But you know what? I hit “save” after I added them to the list for a reason, and I’m running with it.

You all know how this works. I snag a headline that grabs my attention, then present them to you with my deep and thoughtful insight.

…or sarcasm. Sometimes might be just a bit of sarcasm.

As always, I give you the headlines as written, in all their, um…shining glory? Yeah, we’ll go with shining glory. That card has made me feel a bit generous myself today. Ready? Then let’s do this.

– Alaska Airlines Flight Collides With Truck In Boston Airport

THEY HAVE FLYING TRUCKS IN BOSTON!??! Way to bury the lead, IBT.

– Alaska Airlines Flight Collides With Truck In Boston Airport

I don’t know what anyone was expecting. If they can’t drive properly on the ground, what makes you think a Masshole can do better in air? *ducks wicked fast tomato thrown from across the border* *fistbump my NH natives*

– Missle-alert Error Reveals Uncertainty About How To React

Wait. You mean that in a terrifying emergency with absolutely zero follow up instruction, people weren’t sure what to do? Huh. Odd.

– Hawaii Worker Who Pushed Button Reassigned After Bungled Emergency Alert

Yeaaahhh. Imma say that’s fair.

– Relatives of Martin Luther King, Jr. Critique President Trump

*crash* *scramble* *shuffle* Sorry. I wasn’t prepared for that gobsmacking breaking news feed and fell clean outta my chair. Just stunned here, folks. Give me a second to mop up the spilled coffee and come to terms with this new reality we find ourselves experiencing.

*deep, calming breath*

Okay. It’s real. It happened. We can’t take it back, just have to move forward. We can continue.

– Lawsuit: Surgeon at VA Hospital Left Scalpel in Patient for 4 Years

Did he? Or did the patient abscond with then conceal government property for four years in what he considered to be the perfect crime? Discuss.

– Statue Honoring National Anthem Found Sprayed With Red Paint

…we have a statute…honoring…a fucking song? #’Merica

– New Mexico Gun Shop’s MLK Day Ad Stirs Controversy

Top tip: If you own a gun shop, there are a few national holidays and days of observation that you probably don’t want to “celebrate” with a sale. MLK Day, Lincoln’s birthday, 9/11… Just calm yer tits and let the day pass. #HowToSucceedInBusiness

– Trump Comments, Infuriating Africans, May Set Back US Interests

As the kiddies say, Africa…I know the feels.

– Japanese City On Alert for Deadly Blowfish

*** BLOWFISH THREAT INBOUND TO JAPAN. SEEK IMMEDIATE SHELTER. THIS IS NOT A DRILL. ***

– Crisis Continues for Rohingya Muslims Languishing At Refugee Camps

Okay, I’m torn here. On the one hand, the situation with the Rohingya is not at all something to take lightly. If you are uninformed, Google, then get outraged. However, I feel like I have to take a second to applaud the old school wording of this headline. When was the last time you read “languishing” outside of a romance novel? Good form, CBS.

– Palestinian Leaders Urge Abbas to Withdraw Recognition of Israel

Uh, guys? Pretending Israel isn’t a thing won’t really get you anywhere…

– North Korea Scoffs at Trump’s “Nuclear Button”

Guaranteed this headline sparked a next level Rule 34. Google at your own risk. Remember, kids…what has been seen cannot be unseen.

– Hero Dog That Served in WWII Gets Posthumous Medal

Why. No, I really mean it. WHY? Who is this medal for, exactly? What purpose does this expenditure serve? Will it inspire puppies around the nation to sign up for service?

“Bethie, it’ll tell people in the future that we cared about the animals that served.”

We care about the animals we force to participate in wars they didn’t start, have zero control over, and will not benefit from the outcome in any way? Really?

“…*crickets*…”

Yeah. That’s what I thought.

– NH Mom Delivers Her Own Baby in Target Parking Lot

603 HARDCORE. #NHTough

– Syrian Boy Was Seen Gazing Into A Gym, Now He’s A Lifetime Member

This was in the “Good News” section. I guess it’s good news? I mean, it *is* uplifting.

No. I will not apologize for puns. It’s 2018. Welcome to the new world order.

– Man Resolves to Play Catch With Someone New Every Day in 2018

Um. You doin’ okay over there, Good News? Because you seem to really be stretching for these articles…

– 2017 Was A Record Year For Organ Donations

…yes, but let’s consider the flip side of this headline for a sec.

– Single Dad Who Looked For Kidney At Disney World Finds Match

I’m done. I’m done with Good News. They done lost their friggin’ minds.

– DIY Network Apologizes for Series After Star’s On-Air Anti-Semetic Slur

They filmed her asking if someone was going to “bicker” with her a bit and “Jew” her down. First, it’s dicker, you dumbass. Dicker, not bicker. Second, how sincere could this apology possibly be when the show filmed it, edited it, and approved it for air? They’re not sorry. They’re just sorry people were pissed. I know in this crazy world of social media, facts get jumbled. But, being sorry for the action and being sorry about the reaction are two totally different things.

– Crowd Mocks Grunting Tennis Player at Australian Open

*snort* I mean, boo. Not nice. Don’t do that ‘n shit. *snicker*

– Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Won’t Be Inviting This Person to Wedding

Me. It’s me. I won’t be invited. *sniff* It’s fine, really. I’ll probably be invited to something even better that night anyway.

– Proposal Would Widen Permissible Use of Nuclear Arms

WHOA now WHAT? Can I get a “HELL NO?”

– Americans Should Be “Sober” About Chance of Conflict With N. Korea: Tillerson

Hang on now. You’re talking about “widening permissible use of nuclear arms.” Our overall state of mind created utter panic when an accidental warning message was broadcast. People are literally begging the Poopypants In Chief to sit down, shut up, and let the grown ups run the country again because he won’t stop taunting a psycho. If we were any more sober, we’d be a walking Folger’s ad!

– Dems Flip Wisconsin State Senate Seat

You know what? With the state of politics right now, I can’t really pick on them for trying a bit of feng shui. Top tip: move the Rep. seats into the hallway for even better zen.

– The Latest: Ice Keeps Some Texas Schools Closed

You know the pisser about this headline? I can’t tell if they’re talking about actual weather or immigration enforcement squads. It’s Texas. Which is more likely?

– Japan Government Tells Broadcaster Not To Repeat False Missile Alert

BUT WHAT ABOUT THE BLOWFISH??!! Are they covering that up, too?!?

– Man Tries To Board Flight Wearing Everything He Packed, Gets The Boot

In hindsight, he probably shouldn’t have worn the fleshlight as a necklace. Think it pushed things over the edge.

– Camel Beauty Pageant Kicks Out 12 Animals for Botox

If you ever feel like your life isn’t going so hot, just remember that somewhere in the world, 12 camel owners wanted their camels to win a fucking beauty pageant so badly that they injected beasts of burden with botox. Puts forgetting to buy milk after work into perspective, eh?

– How A Dunkin’ Donuts Bag of Cash Led to Mayor’s Downfall

A bag of cash?? I’ve never once gotten anything but heartburn from DD! (I’d just like to point out that I avoided an “America runs on Dunkin’” politics pun. It might be 2018’s new world order, but I do still have a heart. You’re welcome.)

– Allen’s Next Movie May Never See the Light of Day

GOOD. Here’s a dude who MARRIED HIS OWN DAUGHTER. Is it really a stretch to think he may have done something with his other daughter? REALLY??

– Can’t Stand the Sound of Someone Chewing? Here’s Why.
Because it’s gross to hear the slurping and snarfling of you inhaling potato salad, Tina. Shit. Chew with your mouth shut already. #FuckingTina

– Newborn Baby Bear Cubs Found In Dumpster

I don’t know why you conservatives are surprised. That’s what’s going to happen when you cut funding for contraceptives while simultaneously promoting an abstinence only policy in schools. What do you expect these young mothers to do? #PillForBears

– Wade Admits Lebron Caught Him Watching Heat

I don’t blame him for being embarrassed. That movie sucked.

– Trump Accuses Democrats of Playing Politics With Memo

…but…I mean…that’s their job. Politics. That’s why they’re called politicians. IT’S RIGHT IN THEIR TITLE. My god he’s so damn stupid.

– Never Make These Mistakes When Frying An Egg

You don’t know me. You don’t know my struggles. #MyBreakfastMyLife

– High School Science Fair Project Questioning the IQ of African Americans Sparks Outrage

Honestly, exactly what the headline said. A kid did an entire science project based on his assertion that Africans, African Americans, Southeast Asians, and South Americans have a lower IQ, which is why they are not well represented in elite academic programs around the US. I just have to bring something up that wasn’t addressed in the articles I read covering the story. I did my fair share of science projects. Normally, the idea is passed by a teacher, and the project has teacher oversight through the course of preparation. Are they really expecting us to believe that no one on a supervisory level had any idea this kid was going to publicly present this project? Seriously? My eyebrow will remain dubiously quirked until the blame is shared by ALL involved.

– Olympics Unite Koreas for First Time In 65 Years, But Will It Spark Real Change?

Hm, good question…

– Seoul Protesters Burn North Korea Flag Before Concert

…aaand we can put that question to rest.

– Man Brings Wife’s Ashes to Eagles Parade: “She Was A Diehard Fan”

Oh boy. I don’t even know where to begin with this one. You know what? This will be our DIY headline. Insert your own joke.

– Oklahoma Woman Gets Reduced Sentence After Getting Sterilized, Per Judge’s Request

No. No no no no no. NO. This on infuriates me. It’s wrong on every single level. A judge has no right to dangle a lighter sentence over someone’s head if they get sterilized. It’s barbaric. It goes against everything we should be standing for as a nation: freedom and justice. This one move eradicates both. He used his power of authority to pressure someone in a tenuous position into following his personal beliefs. At the same time, this woman didn’t end up paying for the crimes she committed. There is no freedom in this act. There is no justice. This better not become the norm. I don’t want to live in North Korea.

– Trump Still Pushing For Tank Parade In Spite of Lack of Support

What part of “I don’t want to live in North Korea” are these asshats not understanding?!

– Hammer-wielding Man Attempts To Rob Intrepid Museum Gift Shop

The thought process that must have transpired before this crime is staggeringly entertaining to imagine.

– “Moody” Female Show Dogs Don’t Get Same Opportunities As Males

Did…did they just…but…they’re…DOGS…

I’m trying, but it’s physically impossible to sigh hard enough to express the proper level of exasperation. It’s making me light headed.

– OxyContin Maker Will Stop Promoting Opiods To Doctors

So now I’m not only lightheaded from the exasperated sighing, but I’ve developed a spasm from rolling my eyes too hard. I can’t quit on this note. I came here to find distracting chuckles, not knuckleheads furthering the annoyance. Come on, news. You gotta give me SOMETHING…

– Charities Warned After Oxfam Haiti Prostitute Charges

I can think of a missionary position joke…but should I? I need something better…

– Scientists Put 3D Glasses on Praying Mantises

Admittedly amusing, but not meaty enough…

– How Speed Skaters Go So Dang Fast

Gee willikers it’s getting better in a hip hurry…

– Observatory Spots Elon Musk’s Roadster Zooming Through Space

And here it is! We have a winner!

A guy put a test dummy in a muthaflippin’ convertible so it could blissfully zoom through space. One day, an alien may just find that car with that dummy. Can you imagine the absolute confusion if THAT is our first contact???

I found my happy thought for the day.

Thus concludes a Roundup for Sunday, February 11, 2018. Seriously, if anyone reading this knows who Cupid is, lemme know. I keep eyeballing the Red Envelope and wondering….

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I was stuck in a Bob Newhart Episode and I wasn’t even mad…

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Mornin’ all.

I was washing dishes the other day, putting off the biggest hassle on my “To Do” list for as long as I could.

I think I mentioned that we’re in a polar vortex of hell at the moment. Er, let me clarify: we *were* in a vortex. At this exact moment, we get a hiatus from the insanity for two days so that a Nor’easter can roll in and make everything worse. Don’t worry, that’s not going to last long. It’s supposed to be -25 again on Saturday.

Huzzah.

The plan for the day I was trying very hard to avoid was to try to spelunk into our Scary Beyond Reason basement to investigate a frozen pipe.

Hang on. Let me set the stage. I’ve spoken of the Basement That Must Not Be Named before. Calling it a “basement” at all is very generous. That word implies that there’s some sort of order, rhyme and reason to it.

Or, at the very least, walls.

We have under our house a pit. What was once a real foundation a hundred and fiftyish years ago has sunken, crumbled, separated from the walls of the shack we call home. At the deepest point, you can alllllmost stand up if you wedge your feet into the canyon carved through the center by a hundred years of spring runoffs coursing over the dirt…floor? Is it even a floor? Can you really call a mud slick a floor?

You see? You see what we have to deal with down there? Every time I consider our basement, I’m thrust into a pique of existential pondering.

The stairs leading into Golum’s Lair used to be stairs. Do you know what happens to wood when it sits in bog water for years? Because whoever decided to make this particular staircase out of cheap ass pine clearly did not. Each trip down now is a fun game of “Will The Top Bolts Be Enough To Hold Me If The Cinder Block Slipped?”

One day I won’t win that game and will have to play a sudden death match of, “Is An Extension Cord A Viable Substitute For Climbing Rope?” I’ll let you know the answer when the time comes.

A rotting staircase leading into the pits of despair. Those are the hassles ones faces if they can even get INTO the basement. All that only becomes a consideration once I navigate through the obstacles in my way just to get to the door. A large stack of car parts, an M&M display, boxes of paint, some pictures I’m going to graffiti…

What I’m saying is that it’s a process to get to the basement door, a death-defying feat to successfully descend the stairs, and an outright trial of fortitude to traverse the wilds of the deep to locate a frozen pipe in -20 degree weather.

But, I needed to. A frozen pipe can quickly become a burst pipe if not handled in a timely fashion. It was stupid that we let it freeze in the first place, because we damn well know better. We dripped all the other faucets in the house…we just forgot to do the same for the tub. Nothing else froze, and in -20 degree weather, that’s saying something. Still, our fault, our problem.

So I was washing up the dishes, mentally plotting how I’d go about getting into the basement to assess the frozen pipe situation when I heard some muttering. I shut the water off and called to my man, because I thought it was him. He hadn’t said anything, and I shrugged and went back to the suds. Once again, I heard talking. I listened for a second, recognized the voice, then got excited.

We’re talking kid on Christmas morning who heard a puppy’s yipping through the box that was wiggling around under the tree levels of excitement. I was, as we say around here, wicked fuckin’ excited.

“Hon, I think Jim might be in the basement!”

Jim is our unhandyman. He’s a rock bottom priced Jack of Few Trades that the landlords of our duplex have used for every repair in this place over the last decade and a half. I like the guy, he’s quite a character. But he doesn’t exactly deliver top notch work.

He doesn’t claim to, either, though. That’s a huge point in his favor. He knows he’s fast and cheap, and does work that you’d expect for the price. He makes no bones about the fact. I have to respect that.

Hon went out to see if Jim’s truck was at the neighbor’s. There was, indeed, a truck there, and we were talking about how we’d get into the basement to talk to Jim about the bad pipe when there was a bang on the floor under our feet.

“Hey guys!” came the voice. “It’s me, Jim! You know…the plumbah!”

I opened the door to the cupboard under the kitchen sink and called back through the hole around the drain pipe. “Well hi, Jim! I thought that was you down there! How’s it going?”

“Oh, fine,” he called back. “I’m wicked busy right now with all this weathah. Hey, yer neighbor’s hot pipe froze and I forgot which one a’these boilers is hers. Can you run yer hot watah so I can feel the friggin’ pipes and figure this shit out?”

Hon leans down toward the cupboard, joining the conference call in progress. “Not a problem,” he shouted, in case the connection wasn’t so good. “Hey, Jim, while you’re down there, we’ve got a frozen pipe, too.”

“Shit. Which one?” yelled Jim.

“Bathtub.”

“Hot or cold?”

“Both.”

“Christ. Okay, here’s what I’m gonna do. I’m gonna stick this propane heatah goin’. It’s got propane for four days. Give it three days and if yer watah’s not flowin’ by then, I’ll come back with my friggin’ Salamander and make this cellah a thousand fuckin’ degrees and thaw everythin’ out forevah. Sound good?”

“Sounds great! I’ll turn that water on for you now.”

“Thanks guys!”

I turned the watah on for him. In just a couple minutes, we heard, “Jesus that’s fuckin’ hot!” I shouted down into the redneck cellphone, “You find it, Jim?”

“Yeah, got it. Thanks! Stay wahm!”

“You, too!” We shut the door to the kitchen sink, thus ending our discount Skype session with Jim.

If you’ve ever wondered what the best part of winter in New England is, that’s it right there; shouting through the drain hole with unfettered glee because your neighbor froze their pipes worse than you froze yours, giving the landlords no choice but to call in the discount handyman who will muck around a -20 degree frozen shit pit so you don’t have to.

THAT is the joy of winter in New England.

You know you’re jealous.

Thus concludes a quick little Musing for Snowday, January Shitstorm, 20screwthiswinter. I got home from work yesterday and was able to take a hot shower. The propane heater worked! Jim didn’t have to make my cellah a thousand fuckin’ degrees. Too bad. Would have heated up these old wood floors…

Can’t tell if it’s the cold or the paint fumes that’s got me feeling sappy…

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Mornin’ all.

Guess what? The world DIDN’T end in 2017!

…um…at least…I don’t *think* it did. I’m holding my face over a hot cup of coffee (the only hot thing in the entire northeast right now) in an effort to keep the blood flowing to my brain so I can type through the -11 degree morning.

“Achem, Bethie. It’s already warmed up to -10.”

Oh. My b. Lemme just run and find my tank top and hot pants.

Anyway, as I was saying, I can actually feel the pitifully small amount of heat radiating on my shivering chin. I can sort of feel my fingertips creak over the icy keyboard that I can see sitting on the desk in front of me. I can hear dueling tv shows the kids fell asleep watching (probably before midnight, though none of them will ever admit it). And I can smell an odd aroma I think is coming from the bathroom wall that we’ve got a space heater aimed towards in an effort to thaw out pipes.

Side question: Can you get lead poisoning from inhaling melting paint fumes? Asking for a friend.

My point is, I think I am observing these sensory inputs. Maybe I am not. Maybe we didn’t actually make it through 2017 and this is some bizarre afterlife.

“Um, I think you should probably move that heater away from the lead paint wall.”

It might be asbestos. I’m not entirely confident I know what asbestos is…

“You’re experiencing some kind of reality, right?”

Right.

“And I’m here, too, right?”

Welllll….technically…

“Let’s just say we made it through and move on before the coffee ices up and we freeze our faces to the rims like jackasses, okay?”

…fair enough. I think we can say with confidence that we may have actually made it through 2017! And if we didn’t, we have no idea. So, happy 2018!

Everyone’s doing this “What I learned in 2017” thing on Ye Olde Booke of Faces. I actually kind of like that. I’m one of those super annoying people who thinks there is something of value to glean from every situation, no matter how shitty. In fact, usually the shittier the experience, the more valuable the lesson.

I learned many things in 2017. I learned that my boys are far more capable than the Mummy in me wants them to be sometimes. I don’t really mean that, of course. I want them to be very capable, independent men. But I still want my little boys. If you have kids, you understand. Teen Prime has taken on a very demanding position at work and is thriving, Teen Beta is in college and broke as shit (as any decent college student do), and Teen 2.0 is gainfully employed and killing it. The Littlest Pup is having himself a great school year, and is finding his voice in my often exuberantly loud pack. And though I still want to protect them all against the trials and tribulations of life, they got this shit. And it’s awesome to watch.

I also learned that 39 years is apparently enough years of carefreely eating shellfish. The Last Lobster was damn good, though. I put the sea bugs on a charcoal grill, right in their shells so they cooked in their own juices. Man oh man, if you want the best tasting lobster of your life, don’t boil it…grill it whole. If at all avoidable, I’d skip the Benedryl dessert, though. Bitter taste, groggy finish. Still, better than dying, soooo… 3.7 stars out of 5

I’m not really that bummed about avoiding Maine’s number one export. I only ate me some lobstah maybe once every 5 years or so as a treat. What does make me sad is that the shrimp toast I tried a couple weeks later yielded a very similar “lack of breathing” result.

Top tip kids: You want to breathe. It’s the preferred method for staying alive.

*sniff* I love shrimp. I guess they got sick of me killing their brethren and finally launched an effective counter attack. Touche, shrimpies. You have bested me in this contest of life, and I concede the match.

In fact, 2017 was the year of general body rebellion. Maybe it’s age. Maybe there’s a genetic component, which seems very likely when viewed with others in my family. Hell, maybe it’s just 39 years of not taking care of myself finally catching up. Whatever the cause, the smiting I took at the fins of The Shellfish of Justice was just the harbinger of things to come. What followed was a couple months of serious stomach pain, until I tried an elimination diet to see if I could figure out what was causing the issue.

“Um, Bethie? Maybe you should just go to a doctor.”

Ooooh, look at Ms. Fancypants over here with her “health insurance”. I don’t work enough hours to qualify for insurance through my employer, I don’t make enough to be able to afford the “Affordable Care” promised to me through legislation, and I make too much to qualify for state assistance. I tried to straddle it, but I’m afraid I am one of the millions of Americans that has fallen into the coverage gap.

If I thought it was something super serious, I’d go to the doctor even without insurance. In fact, my self diagnosis plan was:

– Google

– Trying the reasonable things found on Google in order to eliminate certain possibilities (no, that did not include drinking 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar every day, or eating a paleo diet that only kept the average cave woman alive for 35 years)

– Going to a doctor and working out the enormous debt later if steps 1 and 2 failed

They didn’t fail, though. I got a result, the pain stopped, so I really think it was diet related.

I’ve narrowed it down to wheat or dairy. I haven’t had either in many months now, and the stomach is much, much happier. It wasn’t the same reaction as the shellfish…it wasn’t like I was having an “oh shit I can’t breathe” moment after a cheese sandwich. But I was definitely in awful pain after nearly every meal. And since I cut those things out, I’m not.

“Do you miss that stuff?”

I enjoy not doubling over in pain when I eat far more than I miss pizza. It was one of those “I didn’t realize how truly awful I felt until I stopped doing it” kind of life changes. Here’s a surprise: I like not being in pain. I like it so much I don’t miss the things I’ve cut out of my diet.

It’s like when I quit smoking. I quit because I got the flu and couldn’t breathe. It was the first time ever that I couldn’t pull in a solid breath, and it was terrifying. I stopped smoking right then and there and have not once thought “man, I could use a cig.” Not a single time. That’s not a brag…that’s trying to explain how scared I was, how awful that experience felt. The same as sticking tweezers in an outlet, or trying to quick iron your skirt without taking it off first. You get hurt bad enough, you learn.

I’m just not a fast learner about some things.

I guess we’re down to my personal life lesson of 2017. It’s a big, emotional can of worms and there’s no way to say it without sounding like a total douchebag, so I’m just going to spit it out and give myself over to the dark side. I think in 2017 I finally learned that it’s okay to take care of myself.

“UGH.”

I warned you first. I’m going to sound like one of those annoying “it’s time for ME” people, and trust me, I’m not happy about it, either.

“I was only kidding, Bethie. You SHOULD take care of yourself.”

I’ve always had a difficult time doing that. In fact, I kind of perfected the opposite. When I feel bad, what makes me feel better is treating myself horribly. Maybe not always intentionally. Or maybe sort of intentionally with the comfort of guilt after.

I think a lot of people would understand what I mean by that, and if you’re not one of them, then I envy you. I truly do.

I had this realization in the middle of the grocery store health and beauty aisle when I was shopping for lotion. It was the third item on my list, right after “wheat free bread for stuffing?”. Yes, with the question mark, because just writing down such a selfish indulgence was hard for me to do. I found the bread, talked myself into buying it because stuffing is the only reason to eat turkey on Thanksgiving, and moved on to lotions.

My skin is having a very horrible time right now. I think some of it is the weight loss (no cakes, no cupcakes, no cookies, no cheese covered sammies…can’t argue with the unintended results of cutting that shit out), some of it is age, a lot of it is working in a dry bakery… I’m chapped all over my hands and lower arms, and my legs from my knees down. It burns and catches on my sleeves and pants and starts bleeding. I need lotion.

I need it.

And it was so hard to buy. I was honestly in tears.

It just…it hit me, ya know? You ever have a moment when you stop and legitimately ask yourself what the hell you’re doing? I felt so bad for shopping for the foods that won’t hurt me, and buying lotion which – I’ll say it again- I absolutely, without question NEEDED, that I stood in the aisle and started to cry. It wasn’t the four bucks for the damn lotion. I had that in my pocket. It wasn’t about the cost, that was only my justification. It was because I still couldn’t shut that voice up in my head that was saying I was being difficult, needy, high maintenance, selfish…

I can’t do it anymore. I can’t bleed quietly while I convince myself I deserve it.

I don’t know where exactly all these feelings come from. I’ve got some obsessive tendencies I honestly believe are genetic. You all know I’m a hoarder. I’ve made no secret about that. Cleaning out my dad’s place after he died and finding the most bizarre stashes of random shit led me to thinking about things from my childhood…I think he probably fought that beast, too. I also have other harmful tendencies that I would also classify as obsessive compulsions. Perhaps it’s an extreme version of the genetic mutation which allows for altruism as a means of advancing the greater Us. I don’t know. That seems like a can of worms for a different day. As with hard solipsism, it’s a brain exercise that has little to do with reality when you get right down to it. At the end of the day, this is the reality I am experiencing. It’s the reality I at least have the illusion of controlling. How I got here matters far less than what I’m going to do about it.

I have to start taking care of myself. I have to figure out how to do it without feeling guilty.

I’m gluten free. I don’t eat dairy. I’m a douche who covers herself with cocoa butter lotion.

*author’s sidenote: Cocoa butter is UH-MAZE-ING. I got this “healing therapy lotion” for “severely chapped skin” that burned so bad I was fighting back tears for almost an hour. Only after the hour in agony did I read the back of the bottle and found that it had acid and two types of alcohol in it. Who the HELL puts ACID in a cream you’re going to rub on severely chapped skin?!?! Psychopaths, that’s who. Absolute maniacs. After scouring the lotion aisle once again and discovering all the big names are run by horrible, uncaring MONSTERS who get their jollies by tricking you into rubbing your already beaten body with what equates to the classic tequila shot, I found one that didn’t have acids and alcohols in it. Cocoa butter, kids. It’s just cocoa butter. No acid that will sear your already damaged flesh. No alcohol that will continue to dry your skin out further. It just creates a soothing barrier between your tender cracked shell and the cruel, icy world. Learn from me before it’s too late.*

Listen to me. I’m becoming a person I always secretly mocked.

Part of me hates that I’m at this point in life where I realize that I’ve belittled those who treat themselves well because deep down I was jealous that they seemed to deserve being treated right and I didn’t. Most of me hates the fact that it’s taken 39 years to come around to their way of thinking.

We don’t know what happens after we die. People aren’t exactly clamoring to come back and let us know for sure. The one thing we do know is that we’re here now. We definitely have THIS life. I’m hoping for at least another 20 years. I don’t want to spend the future the same way I’ve spent the past.

It’s not really a New Year’s resolution. It’s a New Year’s revelation, one that really shouldn’t be. This year, I’m going to try really hard to stay this new and slightly uncomfortable course. I’m hoping that it’ll get easier with time. And I’m hoping I have the fortitude to keep taking care of myself even if it doesn’t.

Thus concludes the first Musing for 2018. This one turned serious on me. I didn’t intend for it to. I wanted to joke about the cold and maybe do a Roundup. Guess sometimes you just have to go where the winds take you. I do feel a Roundup beckoning, though. Stay tuned. The next one will be fun. I promise.

Does the thought still count if the gift is a can of baked beans?

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Mornin’ all.

It’s Christmas!

I love Christmas. Beautiful lights shining in defiance of the bleak winterscape outside. Glitter-crusted “Noel” banners turning walls into homages of tackiness in the best possible way. Candy snitched from the dessert buffet eaten in secret under the table with childhood cohorts while tipsy Gram makes a silly bet with even tipsier Grampa beneath the mistletoe. Bemused confusion around the tree when the designated Santa can’t seem to read Mrs. Claus’s handwriting while attempting to pass out gifts. Crumpled paper bombs aimed just right to bounce off an uncle’s bald spot. Shiny bow broaches to match curled ribbon wigs. The thrill and relief of seeing Dad light up with genuine happiness when he holds up what turned out to be the right gift choice. The gentle pat on the head a tired Mum with a filled heart gives her young daughter as she walks past on the way to help the aunts put back to rights the chaos of a successful holiday party. The feeling of love and joy and comfort and content when the day is done.

I *LOVE* Christmas.

This year, our celebration is going to be small. And delayed. Mother Nature decided that for Christmas this year, she would decorate with ice and snow. We just had an ice storm that turned our trees into those blown glass figurines that were so popular in the 80s. ‘Member those? Every upscale (or wannabe upscale) gift shop simply HAD to have a display of little blown glass trees, baskets, kitties with balls of yarn, and dolphins.

So. Many. Dolphins.

Anyway, she waved her magic wand and turned the world into kitschy blown glass. It was extremely beautiful, and utterly terrifying. There was nothing warm or welcoming about the trip into work yesterday. Apparently, my town forgot about the existence of road salt.

I made it to work, and it warmed up nicely during the day. It got warm enough to not only clear the roads, but dry them as well…which must have royally pissed off Mother Nature, because right now, we’re getting 5-8 inches of snow. The teens are all with their other families. The plan was for them to spend the Eve with the others, then come home for a prime rib dinner.

Yep, you heard me right. We are a roast-beef-for-Christmas family. No, I do not want to hear your debate on why smoked pig ass is the “proper” Christmas meal. And don’t even THINK of coming at me with the turkey bullshit. That was last month. Change the calendar page and get with the program.

…er…sorry. Let me pull back the curtain and give you an insider peek into another world: In the grocery biz, the discussion of Christmas meal meat is a topic best left unspoken. You’ll lose friends. You’ll be a pariah in the break room. There is literally no winning. If you like turkey, someone else will stand there at your counter and argue the historical importance of goose. If you like ham, someone will tout the merits of lamb. If you choose rib roast, you totally failed to understand the majesty of a crowned pork roast. Seriously, you can’t win.

Since I’m not at work, I don’t risk offending people on my team. I can say it here as loud as I want. I’m a proud roast-beefer. And this year, our store had prime rib on sale for $4.99/lb. That’s honestly half price. How could I pass that up?

Forget sugar plums. I had visions of rib roast. I planned on stuffing it full of slivered garlic and coating the outside with a thrilling blend of herbs and spices the night before, letting the succulent treat absorb and adopt an explosion of flavor into the velvetty, buttery, juicy meat. *heavy sigh*

And now, I must wait. Until when, we don’t know. If Mother Nature would kindly remove the iced stick from her ass, it might be tomorrow.

We’re here with the Littlest Pup. We’ll let him open his gifts from us today. I honestly don’t think I could stand it if he had to wait. I think I might just be more excited to give it to him than he is to get it. He’ll get his stocking. No, he doesn’t still believe in Santa. But *I* still believe in being “Santa”.

In our house, Santa just brings candy and silly dollar store items. My ex’s family liked to make all the big presents under the tree be from Santa, a tradition I could never get behind. Was Santa the one out there busting his hump to scrape up enough money to buy my kid the one thing he really, really wanted? No? Then why should he get the credit?

“Bethie, when the kids are older, it’ll dawn on them that it was you getting them the presents the entire time.”

And when they’re little, do you want your kids to think Mummy and Daddy only care enough to get them socks and underwear and superficial crap they didn’t even want? Bah. Get out of here with that bullshit. Santa’s cool and all, but right from the get, I wanted my kids to know that Mummy and Daddy understood them, knew them, listened when they said what they liked or hated. It’s more than just a present. It’s telling a child right from the very beginning that Mum gets him. Mum pays attention. It establishes an unspoken trust. Instead of “Santa’s watching”, I wanted my kids to know, “Mum’s listening.”

“I really think you’re reading too much into this.”

Maybe. Maybe not. There was just a very interesting article about the psychology of gift giving and the holidays that…

…you know what? It’s Christmas. I’m not going down the heavy route. I’m just going to say that I never, ever wanted an imaginary figure who was only “involved” in my kids’ lives for one day a year to be more trusted than I am. And I don’t care if that sounds selfish.

ANYWAY, I went a bit overboard with the stockings this year. I had too many dollars in my pocket when I walked into the store. Light up footballs, razors for the hairy teens, foam ball pop guns, retro board games… The very best thing I found was a set of dice.

Remember Yahtzee? Of course you do. It’s only the greatest dice game ever invented. I have no idea how many hours of my life have been spent rolling for that damn large straight, or how many times my older sister yelled, “YAH-TZEEEEEE” in our youth.

She had an absolutely rage-inducing knack for rolling Yahtzees.

“Wow, Bethie! I can’t believe they had Yahtzee at the dollar store!”

They didn’t. They had something a million times better: “Yacht.”

I shit you not, it’s a can of five dice with “Yacht” written on it. Just…Yacht. There was no way in hell I was walking out of there without one for each of my boys.

I am probably more amused by “Yacht” than I should be. It’s just so ridiculous. Bad knock-offs and weird “wtf?” gifts crack me up so much.

My man was feeling cheeky. He’s been threatening the boys with Barbies and My Little Ponies for years, every time they say “I dunno” when we ask what they want. This year, he went for it. One of the teens is getting not “My Little Pony”, but the dollar store version, “My Fairy Pony”.

I don’t know what it is that amuses me so much about these things. I think it’s the anticipated reactions. I honestly giggle at the thought of the face the recipient will make.

Take this offering from my store, for example. I was looking over the holiday gift basket display yesterday morning, and I was seeing what we had left to decide if I needed to spend my last $20 of holiday money. The baskets were neat, for the most part. There was a baking themed basket, full of baking supplies and a fun array of extracts and measuring spoons. There was a baby basket, with diapers, wipes, travel baby shampoos and such. The dried fruit basket was tempting, because it has some unusual snack mixes and nuts and fun-to-nibble items.

And then I saw it.

Folks, I am not kidding. If I could have thought of someone to give this next basket to, I would have bought it. No joke.

It was called “The Hearty Basket”. It contained an assortment of items that I have to believe someone chose by just randomly walking up and down the aisles and making a game of grabbing the first thing they saw.

The basket contained a box of scalloped potatoes, a box of instant oatmeal, a tub of panko bread crumbs, a large can of baked beans, and a jar of gravy.

Let’s just think about this for a minute. You’re at an office party. It’s a Secret Santa event. You’ve gotten your gift, a coffee mug with a print of Grumpy Cat saying “I hate Mondays” filled with what appears to be two year old Hershey’s Kisses that have clearly been knocked around the bottom of someone’s purse, and you’re waiting for the last schmuck to open their gift so you can get to the boozy portion of the party. A large, brightly wrapped gift basket is brought out and handed over to Marge, and people are oohing and ahhing while she excitedly tears into the cellophane.

“Tell us what’s in there!” come the eager pleas.

“I’m getting to it, hang on,” says Marge, tugging at a particularly troublesome bit of Scotch tape. “Okay, let’s see!” she all but squeals. “Ooh! We’ve got…baked…beans…?”

Maybe I’m low key a bitch, but just the idea of the utter confusion and bewilderment on Marge’s face… it cracks me up to the point where all day long I’d randomly chuckle.

Baked beans. Panko crumbs. Oatmeal. Scalloped potatoes. Canned gravy. I HAVE to believe that whoever put together this basket was picturing Marge as well. There is NO WAY anyone with any kind of sense at all thought these things would make a great gift. And yet, by doing so, they have created for me such a wonderfully amusing mental scene.

I have a kindred spirit somewhere in the store, folks. I must find this person and befriend them.

I hear the creature a’stirring upstairs. Last night I told him he couldn’t come down until 7 am. I was spent after a long week at work and didn’t feel like filling the fancy socks last night. He knew. He’s my kid, after all. He said, “Santa’s just going to get an early start?” I said, “You bet.” It’s 6:36 currently, and I’ve heard him go into the bathroom about half a dozen times. Ten bucks says he’s sitting on his bed right now, boring holes into the illuminated tire clock on his wall.

It’s snowing heavily, now. I highly doubt the elder kids will be able to make it home. The roast can wait another day, and we won’t have to shovel for a few more hours yet. You know what that means.

There’s plenty of time to kick his ass at Yacht.

Thus concludes a Christmas Musing for Christmas 2017. Everyone have a great day, no matter what Mother Nature has in store.

Ain’t no party like a manger party cuz a manger party don’t stop…

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Mornin’ all.

On the way to work yesterday, I noticed a chicken on the side of the highway. She was just standing there, looking across the road, feathers ruffling in the breeze of the passing cars. Was she considering a brave run to finally answer the age old question? Had she already answered the question and was thinking over her epic journey?

About a mile up the road, more chickens were standing in a field. They were huddled together, clearly planning. It added a more intriguing twist to the story. Did the first chicken escape? Was she lost? Were the others planning to send a search party? Or did I happen on a situation that was far darker? Did she escape? Did she know too much? Were the others considering their damage control options once the coop expose hit the papers? Or were they plotting something much, much worse?

Sadly, I’ll never know. It was a brief vignette in the story of my day that will never find resolution. And I just have to live with that.

So how are you? It’s been awhile. I’d “mea culpa”, but you all know two things by now:

1. I work in a bakery. It’s the holiday season. I AM an elf of Santa, one of the Forgottens. No one writes stories about Santa’s bakers. No one tells the heartwarming tales of busy little elves working their little fingers to the bone to make the wonderful cookies and cakes and pies you know and love from your childhood. We really need our own claymation special. Someone get on that.

2. It’s me. If you haven’t clued into the fact that sometimes I can’t write, then you have only been dabbling in this blog.

Anyway, let’s catch up.

My jury duty service is done! I never went in November, because there were no jury trials scheduled during the entire month. I told you I live in a fairly uneventful area. In NH, when you’re selected for district court petit jury, you get two dates. I had another shot at being a responsible citizen in December.

And STILL no one was naughty enough (or maybe their lawyers weren’t prepared enough) to have a jury trial in December, either. I got an email from the court saying I was not needed, that I would be removed from the pool for three years, and thanking me for my service.

You’re welcome? I guess?

I’m not going to lie, I’m a bit bummed out. Not about the cancellation in November, because of the timing. I did a happy dance and immediately texted my boss with a string of excited emojis to express my feelings. But I kind of actually wanted to be of service and participate in the process. Now that won’t happen for at least three more years.

Interesting thing to ponder… I live in a rural area. Even so, the county has a population of around 80,000. Let’s say half are kids. Let’s get crazy and say another half of what’s left are adults, but aren’t registered voters. That’s still 20,000 peoples’ names in this pool of potential participants. Three people in my place of work were drawn for the same jury duty. Doesn’t that just raise the eyebrow a bit? Seems a bit unlikely that it’s a truly random selection process. My place of work isn’t even a large employer in the area. Hm.

Turkey day went fine. It was pretty mellow here, but I did make one kickass feast. Toot toot of my own horn and all, but YUM. We did not shop Black Friday. We worked.

*director’s stage notes: Rocky-esque montage of devoted bakery elves, flash back and forth between happy, carefree holiday shoppers getting rock bottom prices and the elves sweating and slaving over dough rolling…end with placing sugar star on top of cake…is Survivor still around to do soundtrack??*

In other news, they may have found life in space.

“WHAT? Why haven’t I heard about this?”

Because the Cheeto in Chief is a slimey asshat and his comrades are being arrested one after another. Those stories take precedence. (Yep. I said it. Pun intended and I’m not at all sorry.)

Also, because it’s Russian cosmonauts doing the research and reporting, people in the US are very skeptical. Here’s the deal.

Cosmonauts aboard the International Space Station swabbed the outside of our shared tin can. They do this regularly. It’s astounding how much we can learn about our solar system, and, by extension, our galaxy by analyzing space dust. The swabs were sealed and sent back to earth for testing in labs. The swabs were found to contain seemingly foreign bacteria that “was not present” during the launch of the ISS.

To be clear, this is not the first time bacteria and tiny micro-animals known as tardigrades have been found in or on things from space. However, if true, this would definitely be the first time we’ve seen any kind of life accumulate and propagate on our equipment that’s in our orbit. If true, this could indicate that bacteria, LIFE, can and DOES survive a space journey and seed a new environment.

That’s the important part here…the potential that this bacteria seeded a successful colony.

This could potentially be a big step in understanding life on our planet. How we got here. How it started. Abiogenesis is a working theory with successful lab results, but it’s a theory that is not without serious explanatory obstacles. It’s complicated, it takes juuuust the right conditions. Maybe it really was as simple as commuters riding in on a cosmic train. Maybe it’s a combination of both. Maybe bacteria from space interacted with the organisms that arose from abiogenesis. It could be a critical corner piece of our very large puzzle.

…or, it could be a lie. You can’t accept one lab’s results. That’s not how science works.

Let’s run with it, though. That’s more fun. Now, if the scientists ARE being honest, there’s a twist in this plot. They gathered the samples and sent them to earth, where Russian scientist are purportedly growing colonies of this space bacteria for study. Scientists say it “seems harmless at this point.”

Let’s mull this one over for a minute. They found space bacteria and are growing it here. On earth. Right now. And it “seems harmless…at this point.”

Seems harmless. At this point.

I don’t know about you, but that statement doesn’t really instill confidence, does it? I believe I’ve played this video game before. It didn’t end well.

Scientists, please use extreme caution. The second it even hints at going awry, kill it. Don’t try to contain the issue. Don’t try to cover it up. Kill it all with fire.

Twice.

And one more ramble before I go play Mario all day in my jammies.

People are decorating for Christmas, a hobby I fully support. The more the merrier. Gussy it up and make it twinkle and I’m in!

However, one neighbor has…hm…how can I put this?

Lost their damn mind.

Picture this: Ranch style house built in the early 80’s. Small lawn, nicely manicured, free of dead leaves and last summer’s crunchy flower stalks. Decorative trees planted to match a new house have grown a bit too large, making the scene slightly awkward, as if a child has placed their Mega Bloc trees around their father’s model train set. Still, they’re kept neat and tidy, and it’s clear the owners are proud of the property.

The display began years ago, with a simple manger scene in the yard and string lights around the side of the house facing the main road. The manger scene was one of those light-up creches. It was a bit on the tacky side but not one of those Disney-themed abominations or anything, so it was well within acceptable standards.

The owners have added since then. Inflatables, which aren’t my personal taste but do pack a punch to a holiday display. There is a cool sleigh scene done in lights on the shrubs to the right, balanced by a waving Santa to the left. More inflatables joined the repertoire last year. It was a bit overboard, in my opinion, but…okay. I still understood what they were going for.

This year, though. *sigh* This year.

Have you seen those laser lights that are all the rage? Sure you have. If you get cable or watch YouTube, you’ve seen the ads. They’re basically balls with little cutouts all over them, and inside are bright lights. You plug them in, turn them on, and they shine a display on your house. Some are just dots, to give a starry effect, while others cast bright shapes, like candy canes or Christmas trees. They are a cheap and easy way to cover the entire side of your house with lights, and those ads are really working. Many folks in the area are using them this year, including the Neighbors of Questionable Taste.

“Bethie, if you just got done saying that many folks are using them, what’s the problem?”

The folks in question have replaced the baby Jesus in their creche scene with one of these contraptions.

“Oh no.”

It gets worse. You can set some of these devices to slowly spin, giving a dynamic display. You know when a dynamic display doesn’t work? When it’s radiating from the baby Jesus.

I think they were going for a “radiating with a holy light” effect. But it’s multi-colored. And rotating. And casts pictures of candy canes all around. Let’s be real here. Mary and Joseph are kneeling at a manger rave, and I don’t think those wise men are bringing myrrh to this party, if you know what I’m sayin’.

Don’t do this, folks. Don’t turn baby Jesus into a club kid. This is not the kind of “lit” you want your Christmas display to be.

Hey, I’m just looking out for you. I do it because I care.

Thus concludes a catching up Musing for Sunday, December 3, 2017. I’m going to not put on real pants or do anything productive today. Kids know how to feed themselves, right? This elf is taking a break. I’m coming for you, Bowser. Time to fire up the Switch.

We have to help ourselves. We just do.

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Mornin’ all.

This is going to be a quick one free from jokes. I actually just want people to think about it.

A dishonorably discharged former soldier dressed himself all up in tactical gear and went into a Texas church during their services. He did what anyone given these basic facts would expect him to do. Twenty-six people are now dead.

Thankfully, he’s dead, too.

The top trending hashtags and posts on social media are variations of “PrayersForTexas.”

This is a serious question. I’m not trying to be an asshole or be sarcastic. This is an honest question from one human being struggling to understand the world to another:

What are prayers supposed to do?

A man who was clearly psychotic already shot up people who were praying. They’re already dead. The worst has already happened to them. Their fates have already been sealed. What are prayers going to do for them now?

Are the prayers for the benefit of those left in the wake? The family members who have to deal with the horror? The people in that church who didn’t die will have the gut-wrenching images replay in their heads for the rest of their lives. They will watch their friends and loved ones die over and over and over in their memories every single day from here on out. What are “prayers” going to do for them, either?

If there is a god, he allowed someone to kill a house full of folks gathered for the sole purpose of praising him. These were his own people. These were the believers. Surely an all powerful, all knowing, all loving god could have easily stopped the series of events at any point along the way before any blood was shed.

Yet, the tragedy was not stopped.

What we’re left with then is a situation where if there is a god, he couldn’t help, or simply wouldn’t. Twenty-six people are dead. They’re gone. And they were taken in such a way that hundreds of lives are now utterly shattered. No god stopped it. No god prevented this from happening. No god intervened. And no god is going to help moving forward.

You know who could have stopped this?

Us.

Look, we have a serious mental health issue in this country, compounded by the easy access to mass murder tools. Every time something like this happens, it just highlights the fact that we’re doing fuck all about it. Maybe instead of praying and then going about our lives as if we’ve done something, we should ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING. I know it’s hard. I know it will bring up many uncomfortable and difficult questions.

The shooter in this situation was a known threat. He had a long, well documented history of extreme violence. We can’t just say “oh, we never expected him to do something like this.” Folks DID know. And they allowed him far more freedoms than he should have been allowed given his history.

What’s the quote? Something like…the freedom to swing your fist ends at my nose. We’re so afraid of infringing on the rights of severely mentally unstable people that we’re endangering everyone else.

With good reason, I’ll grant you that. We used to be utterly terrible to the mentally ill. Until the 70s and 80s, mentally ill people were kept in, essentially, cages. It makes sense that in our deserved guilt over our own actions, we’ve gone too far the other way. In many cases, we’re putting their individual rights over the rights and safety of the rest of the community.

Folks, I’m not advocating for the horrible treatment the mentally ill suffered in the past. We CANNOT go back to that. I’m saying there IS a happy medium. There IS a way to structure our health system to treat criminally insane people with compassion while still keeping the world safe from them. I believe we CAN figure this out.

WE can.

Us.

The ones we know for certain are actually here in this world, and who do, in fact, have the power to make things better.

This is not an anti-god rant. There very well may be a god. I don’t know. But he’s not here, right? He wasn’t there in that church. Of, if he was, he certainly didn’t stop shit from going down. If he was there, he was willing to let things play out as they would.

Maybe that’s the nature of any god that exists. Maybe there is a god, but he wants to just observe how we handle life.

Or maybe there’s no god at all.

Either way, the message is clear. We have to help ourselves. Even if you believe in god, our terrible history of mass murders HAS to be a wake up call that prayer is not going to fix things.

“Prayer gives me comfort.”

Then pray. If you want to pray, pray.

But don’t stop at the praying. It is not enough.

Say your prayer, then use that strengthened feeling you get as your motivation to make the changes we need. Vote for people who are pushing for mental health reform. Support hospitals that are researching new ways to identify and assist those on the edge. Speak up if you know someone is about to snap. Prove to those suffering in the wake of this horror show in Texas that you feel their pain, and you’re willing to dig in and help make sure this stops happening.

And for humanity’s sake, donate to make sure those poor people in Texas get the support and mental health services they need to heal. I cannot imagine life in their shoes right now. They are going to need all the help they can get. You can donate here:

https://www.gofundme.com/SutherlandSprings

This page has been verified as legitimate by GoFundMe, and all of the proceeds will go directly to the families in crisis.

#WeCanFigureThisOut #MentalHealthReformForTexas

Thus concludes my Musing for Monday, November 6, 2017. Think about it. Please. We need to.

What we need here is a plan…

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*cringes at squeal of office chair’s rusty wheels*

*picks cobwebs off monitor*

*blows dust out of keyboard*

Mornin’ all.

My day started with a dead body.

My cat got another mouse. She’s a very good mouser, and for some reason, she’s had a ton of opportunity to hone her skills already this year. I don’t think mice have much of a feel for real estate. It’s all about location, location, location, and the mice in this housing development did not consider the fact that we have a cat, and our co-duplexer has three. There are four friggin’ cats in this one little building.

Mice. Not the brightest animals in the natural world.

Anyway, I came down the stairs and the mouse was placed at the bottom, right where I’d step on it if I wasn’t already cautious from the last time I stepped on a cold, dead mouse with my bare feet. Kitty the Ripper was sitting next to the door. See, she knows I throw the corpses outside. She sat there and gave me a look, daring me to try and toss the body of her victim into the overcrowded graveyard known as the Back Bushes.

It got intense for a minute there, I’m not going to lie. She looked very proud of herself, too…until my man walked over and picked her up, nullifying an entire night’s plan with one swoop.

Never brag until you’re sure a giant isn’t going to come along and put you in your place. Just a life lesson for ya.

It’s Halloween today, and for the first time in almost 20 years, I’m not taking anyone trick-or-treating. Little Pup decided he doesn’t want to do it anymore. He said, “You know what I’d like to do? I’d like to sit on the couch with my own sack of candy and not be competition for the little kids.” I made certain he was sure of this decision. Honestly, I think I wanted him to go last year far more than he wanted to.

No more trick-or-treaters. *sniff*

I’m thinking of getting a bunch of candy and stashing it around the house with riddles as clues that he’ll have to solve to get the bounty. I don’t know. Is that still childish? Will he feel like I’m still babying him? It’s hard for me to tell. I am extremely immature. Surely even the youngest in the group has clued into that fact by now and will expect nothing less. Hm. I’ll consider through the day.

Guess what finally happened to me? I got called to jury duty!

“Bethie, you sound excited.”

I am!

“But…it’s…jury duty.”

Look, I’m 39. I’ve never been called to jury duty before, and, frankly, I *am* excited! I am dying to know what it’s really like.

“It’s boring as shit. That’s what it’s like.”

Maybe. But even that’s a story, right?

The timing is putting a bit of a cramp on my jubilee, though. We have a clusterfuck in the bakery at the moment, and we’re losing a key member of our team the week before I head to the hallowed halls of justice. And it’s right before Thanksgiving, the number one busiest week for a bakery. Any other week of the year, I’d be crossing my fingers that I’d be picked for a full trial. I’d love to participate completely in the justice process, I really would.

Stop rolling your eyes. I’m not kidding. It’s one of the processes in this nation that makes us great, and I’d honestly like to be part of something so important. And I will, too. If I’m selected, I’ll do my best to give my full attention to the trial. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t torn by the pressures of the other parts of my life.

Speaking of the other parts of my life, at work the other day, this coworker was a total…

………

“…you okay, Bethie? Stroking out over there? Did the swill you call coffee finally get to you? Do I need to call someone?”

I just remembered I have a stalker. A work stalker, who reads this blog as a lurker. Hi, Lurker. I guess I can’t really shit talk the folks I work with if one of them is creeping.

See, I suck at self promotion. I mean, I’m utter SHIT at it. What I *should* do is tell all my coworkers about not only this blog, but my books, too. You know. Make some sales. I should hand out flyers. Or…business cards? Do people still use those?

Bah, you get the gist. I should be yappin’ my trap about all of it in an effort to create a movement. Or something.

I just want to keep work separate. Does that make sense? I want to be able to come onto the internet and blab and blah and bitch and moan and be as stupid and immature as I want and not see a knowing look in my coworkers’ eyes after I do so.

“Then maybe you should have written under a pseudonym.”

That would have taken a level of foresight that I just don’t possess. Look at my life. Does it seem like I have ever demonstrated the ability to apply careful consideration to anything?? HMMM?!?!?

Besides, I’m not ashamed of anything I write. I’m not. I just want to go to work and make cakes and be bossy in real life, and keep that separate from being on the internet, where I talk about making cakes and being bossy. Makes perfect sense to me.

Maybe I could talk about my coworkers in a way that won’t betray their identities? Let’s give it a go.

Yesterday at work, I was trying to…uh…get coworker X to learn to make…um…stuff…

Shit. This isn’t going to work, guys. It’s a small department. Anything I say would be enough info for the Lurker to put two and two together.

The thing is, this story is more about me than the coworker, really. Okay, I think I’ll just go with this.

Yesterday at work, I lost my patience. I’ll talk a big game and vent here, but in real life, I’ve gotten to where it’s actually quite difficult to get me truly angry. Raising a passel of kids will do that.

…well, that or break you. You either learn patience, or you go insane. Since I already was insane, I learned patience. I will let it all heap up on me and, for the most part, I take life’s shit in stride.

Once in awhile, though, the wrong personality comes along and just presses the right button. And that happened yesterday at work. I’m not at all happy about it. I generally keep my cool way past the point where everyone else has blown their tops.

It was excuses instead of acknowledgment. That’s what did it. I was attempting to show someone a task, they didn’t listen, then spent an hour asking me for instructions every step of the way…on a task they’d already done four times before. It’s not like I was showing this person something for the first time. They just didn’t pay attention, or didn’t care enough to try. The final straw was when I noticed they missed out on a crucial part and asked them if they had done it. “Yep,” they insisted.

“Nope” was the correct answer.

I prodded. “Are you sure?”

“Yep.”

I was looking at the thing that was not done. I said point blank, “So you put *blah* into the *yadda*?”

“Yes.”

I picked up the *blah* that was not, in fact, added to the *yadda*. Instead of a “Whoopsie, my b,” they actually said, “Oh, you didn’t say to put the *blah* into the *yadda*.”

That was it, folks. That was the point of Bethie getting legitimately pissed at a coworker. They had wasted not only their hour, but mine as well. And instead of just owning the mistake, tried to put it on me.

I. Hate. That.

Look, if you screw up, that’s called being human. EVERYONE DOES IT. Acknowledge the error, take responsibility, examine where you turned left instead of right, then do your best not to repeat the mistake. However, if you screw up and then blame someone else, that’s called being an asshole. If you don’t take the time to recognize where you’re screwing up, you will continue to screw up. You will continue to make the same mistakes over and over. You will not grow as a person. You will always be that coworker that pisses everyone else off.

I have today off. I am forming a plan for tomorrow. I have to adjust MY attitude now, because I am not at all happy that I got angry. That doesn’t do any good, either, especially since when I’m angry, I pretty much just shut down. I’m supposed to be teaching this person, and I can’t do that when I let my emotions get the best of me.

I’ve got to namaste the hell out of this shit.

So today when I clean the house, I need to decide how immature I’m being for Halloween shenanigans with the Little Pup, while simultaneously mulling over how I am going to go about being more mature at work tomorrow.

I had a dream about opening a specialty roast shop last night. Like, a store that just sells fancy meat roasts. Beef, pork, goose… My man was the delivery guy. We had a planning session on how to meet demand for Thanksgiving.

NO JOKE. Straight up, that was what I dreamt about last night. In painstaking detail.

Now, does this seem like the kind of mind that can balance these two conundrums in the same day?

Guess we’ll find out.

Thus concludes a musing for Halloween ’17. Everyone have a safe and happy holiday!