Another Indecision - 2008

The gleaming sun is beginning to rise and shine through the gray political clouds onto another presidential election. As a woman, I’m experiencing a strange inner obligation to vote due to the fact that women before me fought for the right. It wasn’t long ago that only white men could vote in any election (August 1920, to be exact.) After that, it was only white citizens, until African-Americans were granted the right in 1965. Now, our country will soon collectively vote and make more history. To me, it’s a scary thought.

This blog goes out to all of the readers who do not have a single earthly idea who they want to vote for. It seems to me to be an easy decision: if you’re Republican, vote Republican. If you’re Democratic, vote Democratic. What if you’re neither? Like probably many of you, both McCain and Obama have left a bitter taste in my mouth by continuously opponent-bashing and bringing up unethical pasts. Perhaps our “nation under God” should allow the Big Man to decide for us: “Ok, God. Here are both candidates. Strike one down with a mighty bolt and the other will be our leader.” Not voting shouldn’t be a viable option, so what in the holy constitution do we do now?

I’m so there.

I’ve noticed that many of us undecided folks always try to find solace in history’s lessons and then offer ourselves a very silly question: What past presidents performed well under the same kinds of conditions we are under right now? Our reasoning: whatever political party pulled us through then, that’s who I’m going to vote for now.

In the past, our economy has had several different recessions, all within ten years of each other. No particular party was in office for every recession’s conclusion – neither party can take credit or blame for historically ending, or starting, a single recession. A vicious cycle of recession and progression has shaped our nation for generations. In my opinion, the current recession will turn out to be no different than those of the past and will eventually end, having little or nothing to do with the President. Give it up boys; you’re not going to win this one with me.

In 2000, President Bill Clinton (D) delivered a surplus of federal funds to balance the budget at +$232.6 billion dollars (factcheck.org). Then again, Dwight Eisenhower (R) also balanced during his term in the sixties. A certain political party can’t balance the budget alone! A fully-functional, bipartisan government can certainly do the job; unfortunately, the kind of government we need, now more than ever, has not been seated for many years. One election will not instantly fix dirty government operations or the drastically unbalanced budget, so I would like to recommend another subject (and I don’t mean each other) for the candidates to spat and hiss about.

Although he never had a plan in place to end the war, Nixon (R) finally advocated the cease-fire of the Vietnam War in 1975, but not without previous uproar, demonstrations, and protests. When the Gulf War ended in 1996, President Clinton (D) was in office, battling a widely-televised political scandal. Neither president had a hand in ending the wars – they ended traditionally on their own. Here we go again: find someone else to tell it to, candidates. We don’t want to hear it.
Although I profess that I am certainly no expert on the matter, from the research I have chased down on both parties, I’ve come to a decision that (sorry, Grandma) neither party is superior to the other. In fact, I think both are a little smelly right now.

So, what about the Independent candidate for this election? Has anyone heard about him? Or does anyone know that the candidate for the Green party is a woman – two women in fact? The media shadow of the McCain and Obama campaigns has been cast into the world as a heavy cloak, practically suffocating other political parties.

Remember Ross Perot? I was just a kid when our country last saw him on an independent ballot. The candidate for the Libertarian Party reminds me a lot of Perot – Bob Barr. Sounds funny , isn’t it? This guy’s got it all – he was in the CIA from 1971-78, has appeared on every cable and network station speaking on public policy matters, was appointed United States Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia and served from 1986 – 90, and represented Georgia in the House of Representatives from 1995-2003. He has authored several political policy topic books concerning a wide array of issues, past and present. He’s mad as hell about the $700B bailout and is looking to fix up a lot of the unseen problems in the government. I admit - he sounds more promising than that Palin chick... www.bobbarr2008.org.

Cynthia Anne McKenney is the Woman Minority presidential candidate for the Green Party (www.gp.org). She believes in shifting the “war on drugs,” has been in Congress for ten years, and feels that everyone still does not have equal rights. She wants to stop wasting national resources and bring our country back to peace. I think she might have a decent chance if her message reaches all of the green, organic, and new-age save-the-planet population. Her running mate is also a minority woman. Her views and thoughts can be read on www.runcynthiarun.org.
How about Charles Balwdin, candidate for the Constitution party? He attended Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA where he earned his Bachelor’s and Master’s in Theology. He is a minister and radio talk show host, but I didn’t see any political experience on his resume. He’s obviously well-educated, which is popularly considered rare for a politician in public opinion. Perhaps it’s time for a fresh face? www.baldwin08.com.

And who can ever forget - or more concerning - will he ever give up: Ralph Nader. He again represents the Independent party for the third consecutive election. Well, I guess the guy deserves a chance, considering he was named by Time Magazine as one of the “100 Most Influential Americans in the Twentieth Century.” He’s had a hand in starting over fifty non-profit and reform organizations dealing with everything from automobile safety to congressional development. Considering his running mate appears to be about fifteen years old, it’s a good thing he’s been in politics for 28 years. www.votenader.org.

Decision 2008 doesn’t have to be a clothespin election! With new light on the subject, I encourage all of my fellow “undecided” citizens out there to do some research. Republican and Democrat parties are basking in the media spotlight, but this is not a popularity contest.


My Brain Curse

Halloween is almost here and the outdoor air feels like fall. The trees haven’t really started to turn yet, but undoubtedly will in the next few days or so. The time that I have spent blogging lately is miniscule – I believe that writing for a living is possibly hindering my writing for fun.

I’m not saying writing is not fun. Writing is the essence of life – all of the greatest works and themes of life are all in writing; historically beginning with the Bible and Ten Commandments and recently arriving at the screenplay for an embarrassment of the movie, "Saw V". The timeless fundamental lesson of all Kindergarten school children is reading and writing. Writing is the foundation of all of our lives, whether we believe it or not.

My business writing style is quite heavy – very technical and loaded with factually researched information. In fact, I believe that I could fall through the floor, straight into hell, if I were ever to initiate a business proposal by plopping at my desk and haphazardly beginning to write. I usually start with researching, putting facts together, learning from other people, researching some more, making an outline, sorting the facts… much like putting together a college research paper. The grunt work is never done for you, which takes the joy out of putting pen to paper, or finger to keyboard. The writing never starts with the writing.

Speaking of putting finger to keys, I haven’t been the usual magnificent typist lately, mostly because the analytical portion of my brain and the typing portion of my brain have been arguing feverishly. Don’t get me wrong, I feel that my typing skills are far superior to my handwriting skills, which doesn’t say much. In fact, I once took the online typing test and scored 72 words per minute. That’s pretty impressive, considering I only took one formal typing class in my whole life… in high school.The point is that my analytical brain is contemplating on what I’m typing, and when that doesn’t make sense, my fingers simply don’t know what to do. “Should we type something that doesn’t make sense?” fingers must be thinking to themselves, “Should we keep analyzing until we get it right? Should we just look dumb because all of the neurons on one side of the brain are all firing at once?”

My brain prefers the latter.

My curiosity about my sudden keyboard dyslexia and inability to type drove me straight to the know-all, be-all of world-wide-web information: google.com.I found several different sites that led me to several non-descriptive answers:

Reasons why typing may be difficult:

-long fingernails
-English as a second (or third) language
-learning to type on a typewriter
-poor formal training
-distractions or too much information flowing into and out of the brain

My encounter with several different websites directed me to a similar concept of talking and writing. Sometimes when you carry on a conversation while writing, you tend to write the few short words that are included in your conversation. The parts of your brain that fire during conversation are the same parts that activate during writing and analyzing. The commonality of both parts of the brain develops into devastating communication conflict with regards to simultaneously speaking, analyzing, typing or writing. Hmmm...

Go to www.typing.com to test your typing skills.

June 21, 2008 - An Interesting Stop

Saturday, June 21, 2008
An Interesting Stop Category: Travel and Places

Today I trekked down to good Ol'Chase City to visit my folks. I took Sherlock with me since Jerry stayed home. It started out as a nice day, with the minor exception that work called me four times in the 90 minutes it took for me to get there. The day was good, and I departed from Mom and Dad's house around three thirty.

So we're driving along, just me and the hound, when the gas light comes on. Mind you, it's not an uncommon occurance - like most of you, I put off filling up as long as possible. After the light came on, I pulled off into the closest gas station that I could find: McKenney.

Now, if any of you know where McKenney is... well... wtf. For those of you who don't, join the rest of the universe. McKenney is a patch of grass nwith a zip code. I pulled into the gas station and got out of the car. I looked around - a cemetary, a mobile home sales place, and a gas station. That's McKenney. There were NO cars in the gas station parking lot. I was sure they were closed, but I had to find a restroom pretty badly, so I walked up to the door. It was open.

When I walked in, it was like a scene straight from the vault of the Twilight Zone. Nestled in a haze of fried chicken and cigarette smoke were four tables, all full of people. Another four or five people were standing around socializing, and another few behind the food counter, serving up nachos, hot dogs and of course fried chicken. Two women stood quietly behind the cash register, cigarettes in hand.

Thankfully I noticed a bathroom, so I made my way to the back of the restaurant/store/gas station. The room grew quiet as I passed by.

I hurried in the bathroom, which had no mirror, no soap, and no towels. I couldn't get the water to turn on anyway, so I guess none of that really mattered. I walked back through the silent rest stop and outside. Still terrified, I pumped $20 worth of gas in my tank and slid back into the driver seat. The dog was still fast asleep in the back, much to my relief. I locked the doors and pulled away - totally creeped out.

I would like to make a public request that we as Virginians put the "town" of McKenney on the list of the ABSOLUTE MOST CREEPY PLACES ON THE PLANET.

July 16, 2008 - Legacy

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Current mood: blessed

I'm going to take a moment tonight to tell you all about my grandma. She was a strong woman with strong views and opinions. She loved her mother and father very much. She made a difference in her community, church, and in my life. She made herself known, wherever she was. She would never sit quitely while someone else spoke ill of anyone. She loved her children and grandchildren with a great passion. She was an Irish Catholic Republican, though a Baptist in her later years, thank goodness.

I loved her and miss her. Very much.

During the times that I found to call her and have a conversation, she would always ask two things: "When are you going back to school?" and "When am I getting another great grandbaby?" I had told her at one point in time that I wasn't sure I wanted kids, and she said that if I didn't, I needed to become a millionarie instead - she was sure that becoming a millionarie was the only other thing that would make me as happy. One is now an easy answer: I'm hoping to go back in August. The other? She may know the answer better than I do.

At her funeral, it took all the nerve I had to wait quietly in the chapel until everyone was gone, including my parents and sister, to practically crawl up to her casket and kneel beside her. I looked directly at her peaceful face and made a deal: "If you help me through when I need you, I promise I'll have that great grandbaby." I asked her to watch over my kitty Toby, who passed a year ago next month. I also asked her to put in a good word for me with God for a healthy baby or two. I then told her something that I never considered until I was kneeling there, smelling her perfume: that I would name my first girl after her mother, to help carry on a great legacy. I think I almost could see a smile across her face. It was the first conversation that she and I had that I felt like she agreed with everything I said.

When I stood, I felt like the entire world was right there - with me and her. In a flash, I was outside and she was gone. A part of my world had quickly crumbled and that moment was more devistating than her death.

That whole night, I lay in bed still smelling her perfume. I tried plugging my nose with my hand, burying my nose in my pillow and even making a pot of coffee so I could smell it brewing. Nothing worked. She was there. It freaked me out a little, so I went into my mother's room to see if she was awake. She was, in fact, and I explained the situation when she asked "Isn't it a little late in the night for coffee, dear?"

I chuckled and like a little girl, I sat on her bed and we cried together for a while. She told me the story about the day that her grandmother died and it was strikingly similar to the situation I was currently in. She told me that sometimes all you need to do to get a guardian angel is to ask for one, and she was sure that my grandmother would deliver. I had my doubts.

I somehow recovered from the most terrible week of my life and made it back to Virginia. Christmas came and went, so did New Years and my birthday. I got a new job and spring started to appear. I talked to my grandma sometimes, but I didn't give it the commitment and attention that she probably now deserved. I was trying to keep it out of my mind so I wouldn't have to think about how painful it was to lose her. Then, she made herself known.

I was driving from Short Pump on my way home from work. I decided to take the I-64, since it was early enough in the day that I wouldn't run into traffic. As I sat at a stop light, two cars in front of me, I reached for my cell phone to check missed calls. The light had subsequetly turned green and the other two cars in front of me had gone. I looked up, noticed the light was green and began to proceed. JUST as I started into the intersection, a car FLEW through across the intersection going way too fast. Before I had a chance to realize that if I hadn't been goofing off and not paying attention to the light I would have been a greasy spot, I smelled my grandmother's perfume. I smelled her just as plain as I did when I visited her on the 4th of July last year and just as I did when I leaned over to kiss her forehead at her funeral. She was there. That guy would have slammed into me, on my side, in my brand new car. She was there, just like I had asked.

I drove home calmly. As I was pulling into my driveway, I burst into the most violent tears that I had ever experienced. I sat in the car a few minutes, went into the house, and frantically and hysterically explained to Jerry what happened. I cried the rest of the night, thanking her and God at random frequent intervals. I couldn't believe what had happened. Indeed, I recovered from that too, and began talking to her more. I started noticing that sometimes when I tossed a thought her way, I could smell that perfume again. I woke a few nights ago and smelled her and thought to myself "Grandma, are you watching me sleep? Cause if you are, thats a little freaky to me." I laughed to myself a little and turned back over. More frequently lately, I've been catching a fleeting drift of that sweet grandma smell - and I didn't put two and two together until today.

Our lives (mine and Jerry's) haven't been the best on the planet lately. We've both been faced with lots of stress and unnecessary upset over the past few weeks. The situations causing the stress are out of our control and have nothing to do with our marriage, the house, or our pets or future children, so don't worry. It's just a time in our lives when things are going wrong. She's here. She's keeping up her end of the deal and she knows what's yet to come in a few years. I'm amazed at what's happening here - this is the first close person to me to pass in a very long time. It's the first time I ever asked for a "guardian."

I wasn't a believer when I looked at her face for the last time, but I'm a believer now. Now my only question is: In a few years, can Grandma control whether we have a girl or not?

August 11, 2008 - Could you be doing more too?

Monday, August 11, 2008
Could you be doing more too? Category: Jobs, Work, Careers

I looked into her eyes and felt myself turning red, inside and out. Her eyes, in response, stared blankly through my soul, just as they always had. I don't know what they saw, but I do know what they should have seen. Four months of "Get to work an hour early so I can leave." or "By not doing my job, I'm actually teaching you how by making you do it instead" was there, gleaming. She spent four months making me feel bad about myself, intentionally or not I may never know. Think about it – four months working for a boss that always thought she was better than everyone, that she always knew best, made everyone around her uncomfortable, and never, ever apologized. For anything. She spent four months "being an example," although I'm fairly certain that the example I got wasn't what she had in mind. She thought I was disappointed because I didn't want her to leave. I could tell.

I was mostly upset with myself because I thought about quitting and here it was - my big break – and I nearly missed out. I sat there, basically bursting into tears, thinking "My god, its over." It was really the beginning. Two weeks later, she was gone and the show was all mine for the next two years. What a show it was. All I can do is reminisce now. I'm not sure when I decided that I was getting out of the black hole of retail. It could have been when I was with Talbots. It could have been sooner, perhaps the day I handed over my store keys to the landlord. I should consider myself fortunate – it sometimes takes people years, even a lifetime, to realize that they could be doing more. I could be doing more.I often have quite a few associates ask me for advice on an array of topics. It's been part of my job as long as I can remember. For most of the problems, I can only say "From a sad/upsetting/outrageous/terrible event can only come good." It always seemed to work and it worked for me years ago. When I said goodbye to my old manager, I realized that there was a whole world of amazing experiences waiting me in my new store.

I learned to be the exact opposite of everything she was – I had discovered how to be a trusting, respectful boss and how to be more considerate of others. I learned how to be held accountable for what I had done. I learned how make a business happen. Most of all, I learned how work with people, not just the job.I'm not sure if I'm sad to say that the retail fire has gone out. After nearly ten years, it's finished as quickly as it started. Two weeks from today, I will have already completed a brand new day as a brand new person with a brand new company. It's an amazing opportunity and I'm eager to see where it will go. Most of all – it's not retail, and I'm not the boss.Some of you who are reading this must think that all I do is worry, obsess, dream, eat, sleep, and drink work. I assure all of you – when I'm at work, home is at home. When I'm at home, work is at work… unless they are calling me fifty times a day when I'm not there.

That's what retail management does to people… you can't help but wonder and worry and obsess over it all the time. However, I take tremendous pride in my work, and I consider major work events to be milestones – like remembering how good it used to be or how relieved I am that something new is about to start. What will I miss? The customers. The mall environment. Building a business and a staff. Starbucks and The Coffee Beanery. Ice cream from Dairy Queen every other day. Being the best at what I do. Teaching. The exciting drama of professional thieves! The mall Christmas Decorations all season. Santa and the Easter Bunny. Our brand new floor.What will I love to never see again? Everything else.

So I ask – Could you be doing more? Are you going to spend the rest of your lifetime wondering if there is something better? If this opportunity hadn't come along for me, I'm a little scared that I might have spent a lot more time wondering and waiting. Suspended in time, drudging to work every day, watching the clock for quitting time. Who really wants to do all of that, anyway?


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