Friday, October 10, 2008

Camo thoughts

I am a veteran's daughter. My best friend is currently serving in the military. I have so many friends that wear a soldier's uniform that I'd bore you listing them all. So this post is not meant with any disrespect whatsoever. It is meant to make you think.

Recently I asked a former soldier why he quit the job after 12 years instead of going the distance to a pension. Idle curiosity, ya know, wondering why he'd get over half-way there and stop. It's a question I ask of a lot of military folk. Consider it an ongoing survey. I digress... He replied that all the money from a pension would never bring his fallen friends back.

Granted. But no money in the world from any source will ever bring those buddies back.

I've had friends die in automobile accidents. I still drive my car. I'll even trade this one in on another one someday.

I've had family members die in the hospital. I still go to the doctor. I even let insurance pick up the tab.

I've burned myself cooking in the kitchen. I still use the stove. In fact, I'm planning out dinner as we speak.

Point is, I found a real lack of reason in his reason for not finishing out the 20 years. "I found the love of my life and she didn't want to be an army wife" I would've nodded to. "I have other dreams and didn't want to put them on hold any longer" I would've thumbed-up. But "that pension money won't bring back my dead friends"? Well, neither will quitting the military.

Strange the things we say when we don't really think about what we're saying.

Sans Segue

Isn't it funny how time changes things we never think possible? Ten, twenty years after high school you run into someone you dated or had a crush on and think "oh thank god I didn't marry them!" Or you find out that that one person that used to make your life miserable and you swore you were going to learn voodoo just to put a hex on them turns out to be your best friend in the absence of peer pressure?

That didn't happen to me. Ok, maybe the first one did. But that's not the point. Without segue of any consequence, I bring you "why people are superficial":

I had a lovely conversation with a lovely lady the other day. We spoke of all that she had accomplished since her own graduation from high school. Names were dropped: Lexus, Mercedes, Stella McCartney. She explained how she and her husband labored to have a new home build for them. She regaled me with a tale of how they spared no expense with regards to marble floors and hard wood cabinets and top of the line jetted tubs. She complained at the cost of building a driveway. She lamented that her lawyer friends had it done for far less. She told me who all was at the open house they gave, and listed a bunch of hot shots that make her world complete. She continued to explain how disappointed she is that she didn't get a new car for her birthday, as hers is two model years old now.

It went on: past cruises, next year's planned trip to Disneyworld and how she wanted a safari instead but the kids.... I swear, this woman knew no bounds to how unhappy she was having everything she could possibly dream up.

Ergo my point. I've seen 42 of the United States. I've been to the Grand Canyon, Niagra Falls, Carlsbad Caverns, both coastlines, the Great Lakes, the Rocky Mountains. I've seen Canada, Mexico, and South Korea. I've been in the deep South and the Northernmost Mid-West. Chicago, DC, Atlanta, New Orleans, San Antonio, St. Louis, Denver, San Fransisco, Los Angeles, Honolulu. I've driven all but 200 miles of the original Route 66. I've got piles of photos, so what.

I've owned a Mercedes. 5, actually. All my German luxury cars were 1978-1984... the tanks. Man I loved those cars. The rode like clouds and handled like demon sports cars. I wouldn't give the taxes for a new Mercedes. Not since Crysler put its fingers in that pie. But I digress.

In this life, the things that have made me the happiest have been the small things that aren't worth anything to other people: snuggling with my son, walking hand in hand with my love, spending a day at the beach with my family, a dinner at a Denny's with good friends that was about the laughs and nothing more. No one talked about what kind of car they drove there in because my friends don't measure worth by the emblem on the front of their car. And I love them for it.

Chasing such superficial self-worth is stupid. No address is ever going to make you feel like a better human being for living there. It might make you feel safer at night, but that's about it. No job title is ever going to define you as worthy of character and moral fiber. No social status will ever make your kids love you more when you tuck them into bed at night. Now, tucking them into bed at night might make their eyes shinier when they look at you, as opposed to some nanny doing it, or no one tucking them in at all.

But we collectively chase ridiculous ideas of what is "successful". For me it's simple. A loving family and a group of friends that respect and love each other. German engineering not required.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Moms are Snobs

Well, the good ones are.

Good moms snub their nose a little bit at kids running around a restaurant with ketchup and mustard all over their face... cuz good moms wipe their kids' faces and teach their kids to wipe themselves.

They get upset when some kid on the playground goes unchecked for throwing sand in other kids' faces, and discipline their kid when he/she starts throwing sand back.

They think it's a little nasty when a toddler is waddling around in a diaper so full that it's obviously about to explode any moment, and the toddler's parent doesn't swoop in to change that thing.

Good moms know that as much as a child really wants to wear their new favorite shirt for 36 hours straight, it's not a clean shirt after the first day. And they make them change it.

They also get a little irked that other moms will sit in the corner and say "Now Jimmy, you need to share that crayon" instead of walking over to the child, taking it out of his hand, handing it to another child, and saying "Jimmy, this is called sharing. You give the blue crayon to Sue, and she gets to use it. You can use this red crayon."

Ultimately, good moms get accused of being snobs for their child rearing. I hope that every mom gets accused of being a snob.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Slant

Everything in life is a metaphor, if you choose to have the point of view to support it.

A sewing machine is a metaphor for stitching relationships together. A motorcycle is freedom, metaphorically. To some people their car is a metaphor for their sex life... or lack thereof.

Oddly, what means something today will lose meaning tomorrow. Emotions ebb and flow and the constancy of change brings about new meanings, new metaphors. Where all of this becomes bigger is in slant, bias, optimism and pessimism.

Today I felt completely out of whack, decided that the metaphor of the day was a water-weighted kid's toy clown punching bag. Cheap, gaudy, short-lived. Decide how you will how it might possibly fit. Point is, tomorrow my emotions will be something else entirely. Probably they will be influenced by media, political propaganda, and other peoples' opinions as they are dumped upon me. And sooner or later, all that will find its way here in some form or fashion for me to share my slant with you.

Today though, I'm gonna go punch on that vinyl clown bag and see how I feel after going a few rounds with a dummy.