Friday, July 29, 2011

Sixty-Seven Cents

When I was a kid I spent my summers baby sitting my little brother & sister and the kids of my mom & dad's best friends. Over the course of the summer I'd make around $300.

In 1990 my parents bought a 1972 Pontiac Ventura II from my great uncle for $500. It had 42,000 miles on it and ran like a dream.

That summer I forfeited my baby sitting earnings in exchange for that car. My first ride, and it was a TANK. The kids at school immediately dubbed it the 'G-Ride' and it ultimately won me the award for 'Best Car' in my Senior English class. Thank you Mrs. Blanchard.

I drove it to school and work and I could fill it up for... are you ready for this?...... $12.00.

I did some searches online for the average price of a gallon of gas in 1990 and came up with ranges from $1.00 to $1.25. Where I lived, in the small city of Pearl, MS, gas was around $0.67 a gallon.

I remember when prices went up to $0.72. I felt panic - OMG! How in the world will I be able to afford to fill up my car?!?

In 1990 you could fill up your car for less than $15 bucks and buy a movie ticket for $3.25.

Oh the good old days.

Then again, I was minimum wage was only $3.35 & working part time as a car-hop at Sonic wasn't exactly filling up my pockets.

Now, it costs an average of $50 to fill up my 2011 Jeep Compass and a movie ticket costs almost $10 bucks!

If you're wondering where this trip down cheap gas memory lane is coming from - thank Congress.

I normally try to stay away from reading about politics and the crap our government tries to pull because - for one it's just depressing, and two - well it's just depressing.

But lately you'd have had to literally live in a cave under some rocks to get away from the news that we as a country are BROKE. I don't mean brok'en', although we're well on our way there as well, I mean broke as in We Gots No Dollas.

Out of all the shifty stuff going on in our country that rubs me the wrong way, the economy is an issue that definitely pushes my hot button. And not in a good way.

According to Obama, if congress doesn't pull their heads out of their asses and come to some kind of compromise he cannot guarantee that medicare checks will go out. Social Security benefits may not get paid and soldiers may end up risking their lives for literally nothing.

Meanwhile movie stars are living it up in mansions.. some more than one.. and in multiple countries. Pro athletes are raking in millions for playing one form of ball or another and the people who run this country are happily cashing their fat checks while trying to figure out how to screw the rest of us out of our truly hard earned money.

I understand running the country is an important job - but I find it more than ironic that the people who are supposed to be making sure our government is truly 'For the People' can spend weeks in a room arguing over who to screw but not once mention 'oh HEY! We make a boat load of money - how about we take pay cuts and dump some of our over inflated pay checks back into this country we're running into the ground'.

In 1990 a US Senator made $98,400. In 2011 they make $174,000.

That is a $75,000 raise over the course of 20 years. SEVENTY-FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS!.

This is from If there is a newer listing I wasn't able to find it.

Salaries Legislative, Executive, Judicial
*as of January 2009

President .........................................................$400,000
Vice President .................................................$227,300
Speaker of the House ......................................$223,500
House Majority & Minority Leaders ...............$193,400
House / Senate Members & Delegates ............$174,000
Chief Justice, Supreme Court ...........................$217,400
Associate Justices, Supreme Court ...................$208,100
So let's do a little math. If there were only 1 person in each of these positions that's $1,244,100. 1.2 MILLION dollars a year in salary.

Let's go back to 1990 for a minute.

The Average National Debt in 1990 was $3,364,820,000,000.
The Average National Debt today - 14,293,315,...,... well hell, it's changing too fast to be able to keep up - see for yourself here.

According to the national debt has increased $12.7 Trillion in the last ten years. And according to the debt has in fact done nothing BUT increase since President Ford's term in 1976 - and it was $653.5 million then.

Needless to say in the last 34 years our country has done nothing but sink deeper and deeper into the red, yet political figures have steadily been getting raises, bonuses, cushy health plans and the like.

~~taking a second to breath myself into a calmer state.

Ok - I'm settled down now - well enough to continue any way.

I LOVE and am incredibly grateful for the freedoms and liberties afforded to me by living in the US - but as a whole - we are a lazy, whiny, greedy, gluttonous country that has NO IDEA how cushy we have it.

In El Salvador some families live on as little as $30 a month. A MONTH!

In many African villages children are lucky if they eat, and can't even imagine what it would be like to drink clean water.

In America - we pay celebrities ONE FREAKING MILLION DOLLARS to film ONE episode of a popular sitcom - which only takes about a week.

In America we pay a basketball player THIRTY THREE MILLION DOLLARS to bounce a ball for 4 years.

If you took a half of the salary of all top politicians, actors, celebrealitiesci and pro athletes in the US for 5 years and dumped it into a bank I'm fairly sure we'd cut a sizable chunk out of the nation's debt and I'm even more sure those people could still comfortably drive their Porsches and live in their mansions without feeling the hit.

GRR - I'm worked up again and have probably rambled from my original line of thought but the bottom line is - we HAVE all the money we need to get completely out of debt sitting right here in our own back yard.

I just hope us bottom feeders don't starve or end up homeless before the rich realize that the incline in their bank accounts and the decline of our economy are in direct correlation with one another.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

I Get it From My Momma

There were a lot of things about my mother that I didn't like.

She walked around the house naked when I was a kid. Totally traumatized me. Seriously.

She spent more time watching Falcon Crest, Dynasty and Dallas than being a mom.. to me at least.. by the time my siblings were born those shows had faded out so they got a little more parental interaction than I did.

She smoked. I hated that she smoked. I hated that we never had money for anything I wanted to do, but she always had money for cartons of cigarettes.

She was abusive - mentally, emotionally, physically. I can't tell you how damaging it is to a child to grow up feeling unloved by your mother. If I didn't answer the way she wanted, or questioned something she said she would just go crazy swinging her arms slapping me in the head. She busted my lip once. Pulled out some of my hair another time.

She was a mother, but she wasn't a 'mom'. Not until the last couple of years anyway.

There are a dozen or more things I could say but those were the main things that stand out.

Those.. and many many other events and memories of an unhappy childhood I have carried with me the majority of my life.

Some I'd let go, some I thought I'd let go but realized after she passed they were still very much a part of who I was and how I saw the world. Some we'd begun to work on sorting through and overcoming in the last few years.

Those have been the hardest to come to terms with since she died. The ones that we'd begun the process of working on, the wounds we were healing and the gaps we'd begun bridging.

I was for the first time in my life.. in my 30's.. starting to feel like I had a MOM.

And then she died.

The K├╝bler-Ross model says there are five stages of grief.

Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, & Acceptance.

I think I skipped the first and third stages.

I've known my mom was dying since she was diagnosed with emphysema over 12yrs ago. Her doctor told her then she had to stop smoking. She didn't. So I've never been in denial that her lifestyle and choices would end in death. We all die - she just knowledgeably chose to hasten her end by continued bad choices.

Having never had a true 'mother-daughter' type of relationship most have left me with little to bargain for. It's not like I was losing something I ever had. I was never a mama's girl. We didn't do things together, share secrets, confide in each other. We never had a relationship. At least not one I was going to miss.

Anger hit me hard. And in many ways.

I was mad at her for choosing smoking over her family. Mad at her for never being the mother I needed. Mad at her for all the bad choices she made in her younger years that had such a profound effect on me as a child. Mad at her for robbing me of the type of mom I could curl up on the couch with and tell about my day. The type of mom I saw my friends have... a mom that made them feel loved, and accepted.. a mom that let them know they were good enough.

I was mad at her for all the things she put my brother and sister through when they were kids. Mad at her for flipping out and acting crazy when her and my dad got divorced. Mad at her for making me take sides in the custody hearings. Mad at her for just not being able to get her shit together and be a mother. Mad at her for not standing up for me and knowingly allow me to live my entire life as the 'step-kid' to my dad and his family. Hell even to my own brother and sister. My step-dad married my mom when I was 4, but he never knew who I was.. he only knew who my mom made me out to be.

My brother and sister had a vastly different life than I did and I spent the majority of my life resenting my mother for that because she was the only one who could have done anything about it and she didn't.

I was sexually molested when I was 3 by a babysitter. I was angry at her for that. Your mother is supposed to be your protector. She didn't protect me.

I was mad at her for sleeping around when she was a teenager and getting pregnant from a guy who didn't want kids. My brother and sister got to have their dad... I didn't.

I was mad at her for playing the victim to my brother and sister and pitting them against me when all of her guilt finally starting hitting her.

The last year of her life my family pretty much turned against me. They couldn't understand why I wasn't all lovey gooey over mom. "She's dying & you're a heartless bitch!" I got that from more than one sibling on more than one occasion.

She wanted everything to all of a sudden be OK because she was sick, but I just couldn't snap my fingers and pretend we had the happy mother-daughter relationship she all of a sudden regretted never having with me. And because my brother & sister had a completely different relationship with her and were too young to ever see how things really were between my mom and I they didn't understand. They didn't get it. So in the face of their grief they turned on me and she did nothing to change it or tell them the truth of how things were.

Most of all I was mad at her for waiting until I was in my 30's to finally try and be a real mom to me then die when we were just starting to make headway. I was angry she wouldn't see the first home I made with my husband. Angry she'd never come visit us, or see how well we were doing. Angry I couldn't call her and let her know about my new job, or my latest accomplishment. Angry that for something as stupid as a cigarette she took so much from me. Angry that she took so much from herself.

Whew - that's a lot of anger.

Thankfully depression had a much smaller and short lived place in my grieving process. I'm not sure I would have survived the combination of a full depression on top of all of that anger.

It did hit me though. For a couple of months almost every little thing made me cry. It felt like a huge hole had been torn from my chest - and it was even worse because it was the hole of always missing having a 'mom' combined with the hole of losing a 'mother'.

Matthew & I started fighting - because instead of grieving I took all that I was feeling and channeled it into other places. Being annoyed at him forgetting to do something I asked became a 4 day nagging fest.

Being bothered by him leaving his pants on the floor turned into a full blown rage fest and tirade about how much of a slob he was.

Needless to say, the months since my mother's passing have proven that I still had a LOT of repressed anger and that my husband is a saint.

If you've ever lost someone, heck if you've ever just been going through something you know that it doesn't matter what someone tells you, or how many different ways they say it - until you are ready to deal with what is going on and process through it - nothing helps. And no one, not even you know when that moment will arrive, or what will trigger it. You just know that you do the best you can to hold on until it comes.

During the last couple of weeks I've watched several movies that had to do with the death of a loved one. Then Sunday I watched a movie called 'Life as a House' with Kevin Kline & Hayden Christiansen. Kevin Kline was a dad who was dying of cancer, and Hayden was a very very angry kid who had pretty much no relationship with his dad at all. The movie was beautiful and I HIGHLY recommend it.

I don't know if it was seeing so much of my life in the movie and being able to grieve and then heal with Hayden's character or what but something happened, my moment came.

And Monday I woke up Happy. Totally, completely, truly from the inside out HAPPY. Happy with my life, happy with my home, happy with my job, my husband... most amazingly.. happy with myself.

And instead of focus on all the things I never got from my mother, I started thinking about the things I did - hence the title of this post.

First of all I got fabulously gorgeous hair from her. No really - we have great hair.

I got strong healthy nails.

I got fantastic Indian cheekbones.

I got a brother and sister - that while they can be total asshats, I love more than life.

But more than physical superficial things..

I got my spirit.. my strength... my determination... my heart.

Some of my family may disagree on that last one, but ya know what - for the first time in my life I am completely OK with that. It's fine - they don't understand me...   to be honest they barely even know  me...

What matters is that I KNOW that I am an amazing woman who has an incredible future ahead of her.

And I know that for reasons good or bad, I owe a very large part of that to my mother.

Thank you momma... I love you.

Diane Beatrice Spiers Abshire
December 26, 1957 - February 5, 2011

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow

So, I've not blogged much in the last year, even less so since my mom passed away in February and I'm beginning to see that falling away from this particular outlet may not have been the best thing for my mental and emotional stability.

Blogging is cathartic for me. It's the way I 'get out' all the stuff I'm holding in and trying - but usually failing - to deal with. And the past year has been slam packed FULL of things that require dealing.

When Matthew and I became engaged last July we talked about how long of an engagement we wanted and both decided that about a year was right for us. We officially became a couple May 22nd so we were going to have that be our wedding date as well, which would have given us ten more months to live together, learn each other, grow as a couple and make 100% sure we were ready to spend the rest of our lives together.

Then my mom's cancer got worse and we - I - felt like we had to push things up to make sure my mom would be able to attend the wedding - which she did - and in spite of a ton of drama and stress from my family the wedding ended up being beautiful.

Let me start by saying I do not for one second regret getting married. I love Matthew with all my heart and have no doubts that I want to spend the rest of my life with him.

That being said - we were married in October then my mom passed in February and the stress of dealing with being a newly married couple, compounded with dealing with the loss of a parent has added an entirely new level of stress to our relationship, that to be honest, we haven't been dealing with terribly well.

Which brings me back to blogging. The only other relationship I've ever been in was with a guy who - in spite of his at times REALLY bad side - was my best friend. He knew what I was thinking without being told. He knew how I felt without me having to talk about it. He finished my sentences. Even if the issues in our relationship were 'about' him, I could talk to him without him taking it personal and getting defensive or angry. He could sit and listen to what I had to say and see it from my point of view.

Matthew, for all of his other many many wonderful traits does not share the same gift of intuitiveness that the only other love in my life did. And to be perfectly honest I'm having a hard time figuring my way around the difference.

One of the things that most attracted me to Matthew was his brain. He is fairly brilliant and has a knowledge base that just blows my mind at times. His thirst for knowledge surpasses mine and as I'm the type who wants to know everything about everything that's saying something. But with that brilliance comes a sort of detachment from the emotional. Don't get me wrong, he's not cold by any means. He is a very kind, funny, loving man - he just doesn't have that 'get me' thing that I thought every husband should have.

Maybe I've read too many romance novels, or maybe the one relationship I did have before set me up to expect things that were not the 'norm' in any potential future relationship to come. I just know that before we got married Matthew was my best friend.. and now... now he's my husband. And I love my husband dearly, but I miss my best friend.


It's funny how the process of emotional purging works. When I titled this post 'The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow' I had an entirely different subject in mind to write about, but something totally different came through my fingers.

I'd planned to write about my relationship, or lack thereof, with my parents as a child - and all of the grand realizations I'm coming to about life, and myself since my mother's passing.

Maybe next time....