Facts of Life: Love and Some Other Stuff

Gentlemen, this post will not lower testosterone.  It is not a diatribe about feminine woes and does not have the makings of a Hallmark Channel original movie. Still, you may want to avert your eyes.

Go ahead, read it; you know you want to.

At the tender age of eleven, I wasn’t prepared for womanly time. I mean I literally wasn’t prepared, and I needed to be. In fact, my entire indoctrination into the sisterhood consisted of a single sentence, “Don’t let anybody get in your pants.”

Yep, that was it. Everything else I had to get through osmosis, and of course, TV. The first time I was kissed by a boy, he leaned in and his “package” brushed my thigh. I jumped back and said, “Do you have Life Savers in your pocket?” He laughed at me and said, “Yeah right.” Stupid, I know!

I was well on my way to becoming a statistic, and not a good one.

I knew lots of things. I could take care of a baby and keep house like an expert. I knew love thy neighbor as thyself and other useful testaments to domestic tranquility, old and new, chapter and verse. Yet it never occurred to me that “Love thy neighbor as thyself” implicitly states that we should love ourselves. That sounds selfish, and isn’t selfishness a sin?

I did not know that I  was wonderfully  made, that my value was far above rubies or that I was worthy of, not a hot fudge sundae at the Dairy Queen, but to be loved as Christ loved the church. Once I became aware that making decisions for myself was my birthright, I started asking some questions. Turns out I’d been given only enough information to make me decent wife material. And quite frankly, that pissed me off.

I’m over it now, but oh, it would have saved us all a lot of trouble if somebody had just given me “the talk.” You know, the one that says your body is going to turn into one mother of a of freak show for the next, oh, probably 50 years and there’s nothing you can do about it. If you’re lucky, you’ll have 10 days out of every month when  you won’t feel like ripping your hair out, lasering everyone else off the planet or breaking a dozen Hershey bars into a half-gallon of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, standing over the sink ladling it into your mouth and washing it down with a bottle of Cabernet. Oh, and watch those calories girlfriend.

Something along those lines would have been WAY more helpful than “Don’t let anybody get in your pants.”

Pat Benatar says love is a battlefield. Elithe Hamilton Kirkland says love is a wild assault. Englebert Humperdinck says love is a many splendored thing. Donnie Iris says love is like a rock. I think it’s probably all of those and more. Two points about love which we all can agree, we need mothers who love themselves for who they are and girls need their fathers. My hope is that readers will see that I was able to make a case for this in Summoning the Strength without writing about heaving bosoms or throbbing manhood!

“Fathers, be good to your daughters.

Daughters will love like you do.

Girls become lovers who turn into mothers.

So mothers, be good to your daughters too.”

For The Love Of God – What Is Wrong With These People?

I cannot say that getting “the belt” on occasion when I was growing up didn’t make me try really hard to be a good girl. Try as I might however, I can say with absolute certainty, that the boards of education wielded by Miss Sutton, Mrs. Ferguson, Mr. Morton, Mrs. Garnet and some mean bitch whose name I’ve blocked out, did nothing but make my ass smart make me a better smart-ass.

Mr. Morton’s paddle was nicknamed “The Whistler.” The sucker had holes drilled in it!

The Whistler

Yeah, I got paddled in school. A lot. Not in private with a same gender witness, but standing out in the hall in front of God and everybody. That was the S.O.P. and everyone accepted it. I’ve told the stories about getting my mouth washed out with soap and getting busted for going into the teacher’s lounge and buying a Coca Cola to share with my so-called friends.

I was a good girl, really I was.

This Dallas Morning News article written by Jacquielynn Floyd brought a story to my attention that hit a little too close to home for me not to comment on it. Plus, I am full on board with her brand of sarcasm. It’s a hot topic, for sure. Just like all of the other loaded, politically charged, dumb-ass topics that surround our public school system. Getting twisted into a knot over what people should believe is a stupid waste of time. Believe whatever you want. But when my tax dollars are being spent to supposedly educate the brightest and best of the future, damn it, I want my money’s worth and paddling students is NOT the biggest bang for my buck!

Teachers do not have time to mess around with students, who for whatever reason, can’t pull it together long enough to learn something or at least shut up so everyone else can. BUT – and that is a big but – whether you believe sparing the rod spoils the child or that corporal punishment is borderline abuse or an ineffective, outdated method of punishment, public schools are NOT THE PLACE for it. Teachers need better options. They need administrators who are visible, available and capable of maintaining discipline with a better response to disruptive behavior than making a student bend over and kiss their ass goodbye.

The Classic: High Impact – Optimized Grip

Child abuse, neglect and despicable, unspeakable acts committed against children are not a new development and our response to them has NOT improved enough. We must do more. You cannot beat sense into people. Obviously beating the devil out of them doesn’t work either.

Crazy Love

Grilled sea bass, chile guajillo rub, pickled cabbage, avocado, chile morita remoulade, cilantro on flour tortillas.

Statistics show that our love affair with food has turned all kinds of Jerry Springer dysfunctional. Said another way, there is nothing wrong with healthy appreciation of the yummy delicious bounty the earth has to offer, but set down the fork and step away from the table for gods sake!

I love food; the aroma, taste, texture. There is one restaurant/book review blog that I follow and I always look forward to her posts. She makes me want to visit all the places she reviews. (The good ones anyway.) I’m no Paula Deen, but I enjoy cooking, and like most Americans, I can be one equal opportunity glutton for the sweet, savory, crunchy, creamy, juicy goodness of just about anything set in front of me.

I DO NOT eat liver. OMG ***parenting tip*** It is WRONG with a capital WTF to tell a kid if they don’t finish their dinner of mashed potatoes and internal organ designed to filter impurities from a cow or chicken that they will have it for breakfast. I do not care if you purée it, drizzle it with chocolate ganache, garnish it with oysters and call it Pâté de foie gras Orgasm, I’m not touching it.

A couple of years ago we took a trip to St. Louis to revisit the place we fell in love. It was a quickie trip. We only had a weekend to spare for such an extravagance, and so, we decided to go Union Station, where we had our first date, stay at the Marriott, and look for two restaurants we’d seen on the Food Network. A soul food diner on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives called Sweetie Pies. The other, a BBQ joint featured on Food Feud and touted on that show as having the best BBQ in St. Louis, called 17th Street Bar & Grill. Now you’d think with a name like 17th Street Bar & Grill that it would be located on 17th Street. But nooooooo! As it turned out, it wasn’t even located in St. Louis! They do have four locations. ALL of which are across the river in freakin’ ILLINOIS.

So, we didn’t go there. Even though we know exactly where O’Fallon is, since that’s where we met, but I was too pissed off after walking from the hotel to 17th Street and then searching up and down the street for BBQ. GAHHHH! We did go to Sweetie Pies. The food was excellent. NOTE***The location where the Triple D episode was shot is the NEW location and not the actual “dive” location we found. Still the food was exactly as advertised; good soul food served cafeteria style.

Lessons: Don’t believe everything on TV and check your facts before you go.

Here at home there is no shortage of restaurants; especially Mexican restaurants.  El Chico, I mentioned in an earlier post is one we will definitely visit again. The food and the service on our first visit sealed that deal. We also go to a local institution called Esparza’s. It’s an old house on a semi-residential street. The food is standard Tex-Mex fare. The margaritas are killer. It’s usually crowded, but we’ve never waited too long for a table. There is another place we go about once a month called Mi Dia. We’ve taken out-of-town guests and my husband’s co-workers/+ones there for appreciation dinners. It is tough to get in on a Friday or Saturday night. They don’t take reservations and then suddenly they do and then they don’t again, unless you’re a party of eight or more. It really depends on who answers the phone. But once you get in, yeah, it’s worth it. I suggest a late lunch any day of the week. The quality of the food is exceptional. The professional, attentive servers suggest menu items, pleasantly accommodate requests and make the experience worth the wait and the price. Ask for Samantha, Ivan, or Tommy. Each have served us and are superb. The bar offers  flights of tequila for the connoisseur of such libations, from a tower, really a tower, of options. It is above average in cost, better for special occasions than say, a night out with the family. Actually I’m just trying to clear out the crowd and shorten our wait by saying that. Hey, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

Those are my top three pics. Each has its own appeal. For my money, these choices for Mexican food win hands down. Mi Dia is my favorite. In preparation for our Italian vacation, last weekend I ordered this margarita. Only one…blast off! Yeah, it’s that good.

THE INFUSED ITALIAN Tamarind & Vanilla infused Patron Silver, Cointreau, Luxardo Amaretto, lemon juice, agave syrup

Show Me The Love

The opposite of love isn’t hate. The opposite of love is indifference. This idea came during a conversation with a friend about recognizing the exact moment we stop feeling the destructive inferno of emotion about a person or situation that has cost us something precious within ourselves. I try not to use the word hate in my writing. Not for any reason other than it doesn’t have a place in my life. I believe in focusing on the positive. I also believe there cannot be a true appreciation of it without the ability to discern it from the negative, and that ability, comes from both positive and negative experiences.

Half of all marriages reportedly fail. The reasons for this staggering statistic are innumerable. It’s interesting to me how often it is claimed that love and hate are the culprits.

“He loved his job/car/hobby/mistress(es) more than me.”

“I hated the way she always complained about not getting enough of my time/attention/sex, oh wait, she never actually complained about that, hmmm, oh it was money, yeah, she said we never had enough money. She doesn’t have to complain about that anymore.”

“We fell out of love. We loved each other; we just weren’t ‘in love’ anymore.”

“I hated how she nagged me to share my feelings and be more like Janet’s husband/grow a pair and be more like Derrick at the gym/ take out the trash/ take her on a vacation/ take some Viagra. Well one night, I walked into the kitchen, pulled a beer from the fridge and after I ate the dinner she prepared, I told her I thought for dessert I wanted a divorce. Take that you old bat!”

Those are excuses more than reasons. There are plenty of valid reasons for ending a relationship. It’s interesting that many of the same reasons why marriages fail are the same reasons why so many businesses fail. Of all the different relationships, personal and business, I have ended over the years, it wasn’t hate, but indifference that was the reason.

I’m not a perfect person. Duh. I try to limit my excuse making, but I can come up with some pretty creative excuses. So, when I hear excuses like “we’re really short-staffed” or “it’s been crazy busy,” “the economy has…”, or the absolute worst, “that’s our policy” masquerading as reasons for poor service, I think to myself, COME ON! You can do better than that.!#$%@

Why not try something like, “We love that you’re here in our store/restaurant/dealership/digital customer interfacing module, spending your disposable income so that our owners can maintain their habit/child support/lawyers and still make payroll. We hate to take your money without so much as a glance in your direction or the slightest intention of actually serving you. We’d love to just get you in and out of here, but hate to see you leave without asking if you found everything alright, even though we really don’t care if you did or not. We love it when it’s time to go on break, we love talking about when we will be going on break and what we did on break. We hate that you are so needy.”

“The service is what the service is.” That is a real statement given to us once by a FedEx customer “service” employee when we issued a complaint. It has become one of the phrases we use when we find that we have been given “the business.”  I’m not an expert on many things. I guess I just don’t have the dedication that being an expert takes. But I know customer service. Not the “she’s one tough customer” kind of customer service, but the genuine, quality is job one, follow-up, follow-through, make ‘em fill the basket AND sing your praises kind of customer service. CRM was my job and I can say with 100% certainty that businesses large and small may fail for reasons of competition, mismanagement, unreasonable expectations, deceptive business practices, greedy bastards, distribution channels that cross the Bermuda Triangle and El Niño. They don’t fail because of hate. They fail because of indifference.

Friends With Words

After the TSA foreplay, but before I line my tray table with mini bottles of Bacardi and settle in to watch Sense and Sensibility for the millionth time on my iPad, here’s something to think about:

Alcohol is dehydrating and has been known to cause pregnancy.

Let me not to the marriage of true minds…

Okay, I’ve patiently waited to break the staycation habit and now the sky’s the limit! I just need to remember that once I’ve chatted up every stranger within ear shot, re-read the 172 pages of Summoning The Strength, surfed inflight infomercials, Jean-Claude Van Damme classics, easy listening channels and taken a nap we’ll still have four hours of flying time. What am I going to do while streaking across the sky, breathing a lean mixture of oxygen, jet fuel, and farts?

I could try this:

1) Pose a question beginning with who, what, when, where, why or how

example: What if I…

2) Create a list of verbs that would complete the question. One word for each letter of the alphabet, excluding the letter X because unless you’ve got some kind of MacGyver/ninja warrior/word genie mad skills, there are no verbs I know of that begin with freakin’ X.

example: Reveal Pretend Hope Zoom Accept Search Break Vanish Yield Forgive Leave Question Expect Measure Keep Illuminate Understand Joke Treasure Decide Offer Grab Need Create Wait

3) Use as many of the words as I can to develop a coherent thought in one sentence. All punctuation is acceptable. Verbs can turn into nouns or other parts of speech, but must stay in their original form/tense.

examples: What if I…

Pretend to understand the purpose of this life, wait before I decide to offer the first thing I create and yield to alternative ideas because I need to know there is hope that others won’t think my writing is a joke or question what they can expect from me as I reveal my search for a way to keep my sanity, learn to forgive and grab a measure of satisfaction before I leave the planet and zoom toward the light to accept my treasure or vanish, take a break and illuminate the earth from the heavens?

Here’s another one: What if I…

Expect nothing, question everything and break down the barriers others create because they need to pretend they aren’t vulnerable while they decide whether to accept me and reveal themselves or yield to the temptation to make a joke and keep moving so I don’t vanish with their dignity, making it so they measure every relationship against the one that managed to zoom away with their heart, refuse to wait for, search for, leave room in their life for, ever treasure another relationship again or understand why they can’t forgive themselves for allowing the offer of hope that they would ever illuminate another soul grab them by the balls?

And a third: What if I

Understand it is a treasure to be able to pretend, create and joke in order not to vanish completely into the mundane minutia of life while we search for a project that can grab our attention or wait for an offer to reveal itself and illuminate our journey to what’s next or, at least we can hope, to keep us busy until that big break we expect to come along…

You get the idea. Creating different sentences using the same word list can strengthen your writing chops or make you lose your mind. I’ll let you know what happens. :)

Peace to you, friends!