Category Archives: Venturing Out

Anxiety: the Brain Bully

A lot of my friends are writers or other creative type people.  By being a creative person and hanging out with similar folks, I have learned that with creativity comes mental illness.  I’m sure not ALL creative types are mentally ill, but I have yet to meet one who does not suffer from some sort of disorder. Seriously, I have never heard of a perfectly normal and well-adjusted writer, artist, photographer, or whatever.  We all have SOMETHING that makes us a little different.  Most of my friends have depression.  I feel for them as I have had depression twice in my life, once after my son was born, and then while going through my divorce. I actually thought about killing myself during my divorce.  So, I get the whole “depression lies” thing because it does.  It tells you that you are worthless and that you should die.  It’s a horrible thing.

I don’t have depression now, though.  Nope.  I have it’s twisted cousin – anxiety.  Anxiety lies, too, but more than that, it bullies. Anxiety pounds you with horror movie thoughts like that mean 4th grader used to throw erasers at your head during quiet reading time.  Anxiety doesn’t give you a moment of peace, even when you’re sleeping.  It wakes you up to torment you.  Here is a recent midnight chat I had with anxiety.

Me: [sound asleep and dreaming about kittens]

Anxiety: WHAT ARE YOU DOING?

Me: [Sitting up in bed] What?

Anxiety: HOW can you sleep at a time like this?

Me: Why shouldn’t I sleep?

Anxiety: Your son isn’t home.

Me: I know. He went out with his friends.  He’s 18.

Anxiety: He could be dead.

Me: He’s not dead.  Wait? IS he dead?

Anxiety: He could be.  What if one of his friends murdered him?

Me: His friends are nice. They wouldn’t kill him.

Anxiety: You don’t know that.  Marty killed Bobby.  They were best friends.

Me: Marty is a psychopath.  My son’s friends are not psychopaths.

Anxiety: How do you KNOW that? You don’t know.  Plus, he could be dead even if he wasn’t murdered.

Me: [listening to my heart race] Huh?

Anxiety: Maybe he was in an accident. Maybe he’s trapped in his car at the bottom of a lake.

Me: No. There’s not much water around here.  He’s a good driver.

Anxiety: It COULD happen.  Anyone could be trapped in a car underwater.  It could happen to you, your son, your husband, your mother.  Anyone.

Me: [having trouble breathing normally]

Anxiety: You need to save everyone! You need to get everyone you know one of those things that can break car windows underwater.  EVERYONE.  Go on Amazon right now and order a case of them.  You also have to get something so everyone can attach the window breaker to their belt loops.  Other wise, the damn tool could be floating around in the car and no one will be able to reach it and they will still die.

Me: Oh no!  I hate water. Why do we have it? It will kill us all.

At this point, I give up and reach for my iPad.  My husband continues to snooze next to me while I sign in to Amazon, magnifying the tiny iPad screen to accommodate my old people eyes.  I search for the glass breaking tool and then Google “escaping a car underwater” 5,897 times.  After reading several articles, spending too much money, and even watching some videos that make my palms sweat, I tire myself enough to go back to sleep about eighteen minutes before the alarm goes off.

So, what about you? Do you have anxiety? Does it bully you in the middle of the night?

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The Parents Behind Science of Parenthood

Norine and Jessica
Norine and Jessica

When I first met Norine and Jessica at Blog U in 2014, I instantly admired them.  Their blog, Science of Parenthood was, and is, the most unique blog I have ever seen.  Their clever cartoons put everyday parenting issues into a humorous and “scientific” format.  It is brilliant.  Now, Jessica and Norine are publishing a Science of Parenthood book.  In preparation for this exciting event, they agreed to an old fashioned Q and A session.

 

What’s Science of Parenthood all about?

Science of Parenthood started nearly three years ago as an illustrated humor blog. We use fake math and science to “explain” the stuff that puzzles parents every day. Things like …

Why are broken cookies “ruined?”

Why does it matter what color the sippy cup is?

Why can’t you put the straw in the juice box without your kid having a melt down?

Why will a kid whine-whine-whine for a toy, then lose all interest in that toy once they have it? 

Where the eff is my phone?  

We’ve come up with some pretty hilarious theories.

Our book, Science of Parenthood: Thoroughly Unscientific Explanations for Utterly Baffling Parenting Situations, is like our blog … but like our blog on STEROIDS! We utilized the blog to road test–perhaps we should say “field test”–material, and now the book contains the kinds of cartoons and writing that fans love to find at Science of Parenthood, along with all new cartoons, infographics, flowcharts pie charts and quizzes that we created just for the book. About 90 percent of the book is brand new material.

Divided into four sections–biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics–the book lives in the chasm that exists between our collective hopes and dreams and expectations of what parenting will be like … and the brutal, slap-you-upside-the-head reality of what parenting actually is. We cover all aspects of pregnancy, birth and the hilarious frustrations that come with early childhood (tantrums, picky eating, diaper blowouts, illness, sleep issues, play dates, toy creep, homework battles and encounters with crazy parents (not you, of course, we mean other parents). And you know what? You don’t even need to be a scientist to “get” it.

Our goal is just to make parents laugh. Because when you’re a parent, you NEED to laugh. Humor is a survival tool. After your tot has gotten the top off a jar of Vaseline and smeared every surface within reach–as happened to our friend Gail–or tried to “help” you paint a room and ended up covered in blue paint–as happened to Norine’s sister Shari–you have to laugh. Or you’ll end up sobbing. Or wearing one of those fancy white jackets that buckles up in the back.

 

Is any of the book autobiographical?

Pretty much all of the book reflects through our experiences as parents. Take the piece “Experimental Gastronomy: A Study in Potatoes” from the Chemistry section. It’s written like a scientific paper about an experiment in which a researcher tries to determine if a preschooler who likes French fries will eat mashed potatoes. Raise your hand if you can hypothesize the outcome (see what we did there?) The piece is completely based on Norine’s inability to get her five-year-old, who loves fries, to even taste mashed potatoes. Says Norine: “I tried everything! I even offered him extra chocolate for dessert, and he still refused to take even one tiny nibble.”

 

Why science? Are either of you scientists?

Not at all. We’re moms dealing with the same kind of crazy stuff everyone else is. Science just makes a great metaphor for the frustration, exasperation and humiliation that comes with everyday parenting. Think about Einstein and how he explained his theory of relativity: “Sit on a hot stove for a minute and it seems like an hour; sit with a pretty girl with an hour and it feels like a minute. That’s relativity.” Well, that’s parenthood too. One minute you’ve got a newborn covered in goo and then next, you’re watching teary-eyed as they skip into kindergarten without even a backward glance or a kiss goodbye. And yet, when you’re into your third hour of Candy Land on a rainy day, time seems to stand still. (If you haven’t played Candy Land with your toddler yet, trust us on this. The scars never really heal.)

 

Where did you get the idea for Science of Parenthood?

Our “eureka” moment came when Norine’s son, Fletcher, came home from school talking about one of Newton’s laws of force and motion: An object at rest stays at rest unless acted on by an external force.

Says Norine: “That instantly reminded me of Fletcher with his video games. He’d sit on the couch and play games all day if I didn’t confiscate the iPad. I jotted down, Newton’s First Law of Parenting: A child at rest will remain at rest until you want your iPad back. Later, I posted that on Facebook. It got a good response, so I started posting other parenting observations and giving them a math or science twist, like Sleep Geometry Theorem: A child will always sleep perpendicular to any adult laying next to them. Both of these are fan favorites and two of the very few cartoons we pulled from the blog to include in the book.

“As a writer, I’m always looking for new ways to tell stories. And in that eureka moment, it struck me that math and science make fantastic metaphors for telling the universal stories of parenting. Like scientists, we parents are always fumbling in the dark, searching for answers, wondering if we’re on the right track and second-guessing our methods. And because a picture is still worth a thousand words, I knew that these science-y quips would be a lot more popular on social media if they were illustrated. So I called Jessica and asked if she wanted to illustrate a book of these funny observations.

“Jessica was the one who saw that Science of Parenthood could be much bigger than a single book. She saw the potential for a blog and a social media presence and ancillary products. She quickly secured a domain name for us and created a Facebook page and Twitter feed. She began illustrating the observations I had already banked. Two weeks later, we debuted on Facebook; a week after that we rolled out the blog. Now we’re three years in, and along with Science of Parenthood, the book, we have mugs and magnets and posters featuring our images. Earlier this year we published two collections of humorous parenting tweets—The Big Book of Parenting Tweets and The Bigger Book of Parenting Tweets.  

 

Where can readers find Science of Parenthood?

Science of Parenthood is available for pre-order as a soft-cover and e-book on Amazon right now. (http://amzn.to/1DcVllh). When it’s released November 17th, readers will be able to find it on Amazon and in bookstores.

And you can always find Science of Parenthood on Facebook (www.facebook.com/scienceofparenthood), Twitter (www.twitter.com/sciofparenthood), Pinterest (www.pinterest/sciofparenthood) and Instagram (www.Instagram.com/scienceofparenthood).

 

About The Authors

Norine is the primary writer for Science of Parenthood, the blog, and Science of Parenthood,the book. A longtime freelance magazine writer, Norine’s articles have appeared in just about every women’s magazine you can buy at supermarket checkout as well as on The Huffington Post, Parenting.com, iVillage, Lifescript and Scary Mommy websites. Norine is the co-author of You Know He’s a Keeper…You Know He’s a Loser: Happy Endings and Horror Stories from Real Life Relationships (Perigee), Food Cures (Reader’s Digest) and a contributor to several humor anthologies, including Have Milk, Will Travel: Adventures in Breastfeeding(Demeter Press). She lives with her husband and 9-year-old son in Orlando.


The daughter of famed New Yorker cartoonist Jack Ziegler, Jessica is Science of Parenthood’s co-creator, illustrator, web designer and contributing writer. In her “off hours,” Jessica is the director of social web design for VestorLogic and the writer/illustrator of StoryTots, a series of customizable children’s books. Her writing and illustration have been published on The Huffington Post, Vegas.com, InThePowderRoom.com and in Las Vegas Life and Las Vegas Weekly. Jessica was named a 2014 Humor Voice of the Year by BlogHer/SheKnows Media. She lives with her husband and 11-year-old son in Denver.

Together Jessica and Norine published The Big Book of Parenting Tweets and The Bigger Book of Parenting Tweets earlier in 2015.

 

I can't wait to read this!
I can’t wait to read this!

Kim Davis, Mockingjay for Morons

Kim Davis, the mockingjay for morons everywhere, is back at work and claiming she will not approve any gay marriage licenses. She says she will not go against her conscience because as a Christian she cannot possibly allow two people who love each other to get married simply because of their gender. This makes no sense at all. Wasn’t Jesus all about love?

I’m an atheist, and I am not a Biblical scholar, but I have read the Bible here and there when I was younger. I was forced to go to vacation Bible school for a couple of summers when I was in elementary school. I had to study some passages when I was baptized as a college student. I attended a Lutheran school for kindergarten and first grade. So, I’m not totally ignorant about this Jesus fellow and his teachings, but some of his followers are.

I have friends who are Christians, and they are not idiots. So, I know it is not the religion itself that makes some people become jerks for Jesus. Jesus has been transformed into something different than the hippie like person I learned about years ago. Somehow, conservatives have managed to change Jesus into a gun toting, gay hating redneck.

It’s not limited to Kim Davis. There’s Westboro Baptist church, a church so hateful and judgmental that they even dislike Kim Davis due to her multiple marital failings and out of wedlock babies. At least they are pointing out what a hypocrite she is when it comes to being the overlord of traditional marriage. There’s Mike Huckabee, who claims that “Christian convictions are under attack” because gay marriage was legalized. There’s Ted Cruz who thinks, “It’s the job of the chaplain to be insensitive to atheists.” I could go on and on, but you get the point. There are a lot of idiots out there speaking for Christians, and these are the people who get the most media time.

I understand that train wreck television is entertaining. I admit that I watch all of the Bachelor shows. But when it comes to the news, the real, factual (we hope) news, the entertainment value should not be a consideration. The moderate Christians need to change this. They need to step forward and put an end to the tobacco chewing, mechanical bull riding Jesus, and bring back the loving and peaceful Jesus I heard about in Bible stories. Yes, I do think they are just stories, but like many other works of literature, there are lessons to be learned, and hate is not one of those lessons.

 

 

Messy Marriott, (Scr)Universal, and Darling Disney

My family and I just got back from a tour of most of the theme parks in Orlando. This involved me putting on A LOT of sunscreen, real pants and a bra, and leaving my beloved cats for a week. It is always tough for a hermit to leave home. So, I tried to book a homey hotel room. I failed.

Mythos was the only place we got our money's worth in Scruniversal.
Mythos Restaurant was the only place we got our money’s worth in Scruniversal.

We chose a Marriott Residence Inn because my husband is like a mega platinum Marriott traveler, or whatever they call them. Plus, they had a two-bedroom suite with a pullout couch in the living room (we took our 18 year old son and his girlfriend on the trip). Usually we love Marriott but this one was a train wreck. The stairwell had a melted candy bar on the floor for three consecutive days—and you can imagine what that looked like after three days in the Florida heat. In our room, one toilet didn’t flush properly (even after the maintenance crew came in to fix it), the tub was full of hair from who knows how many people and didn’t drain properly, there was a busted out window screen, and the garbage disposal didn’t work. Our room was only half cleaned at best on most days, and apparently towels and toiletries are on demand items—they took the used ones but didn’t replace with new. And yes, we did leave a tip every day. When we gave the person at the desk our list of complaints he said, “Well, this is a franchise so you can’t expect the same quality. The corporate owned ones are still top notch but the franchises are looking to just cut costs.” For real? Marriott needs to pull the franchise from this dirty place. To their credit, the hotel did comp us two nights—but remember the Hertz commercials with the slogan, “There is Hertz, and there is not exactly”? To quote my husband’s old boss, this was a “not exactly” experience.

One of the other reasons we stayed at the Marriott Residence Inn is because we were going to Disney AND Universal. So, we didn’t want to stay on property at one place or another and selected a hotel that was in between the parks. Both groups of parks have their good and bad sides. Universal has Harry Potter land, so that is why we wanted to go. It also has larger roller coasters, which my husband loves. The down side is that I had to rename them ScrUniversal because they love to screw you over.

Like most Type-A individuals, I booked this theme park vacation MONTHS ahead of time. When I went on line a few months before our trip to purchase Universal tickets, I was THRILLED to get a special deal. I paid for two days in Universal and Islands of Adventure, and got a third day free. This was AWESOME. Except for the fact that I didn’t think to read the fine print.

When we got to Universal on our first day, the ticket and finger print scanner told me our tickets were expired.

WHAT?!

Then, he pointed out the fine print. They had expired a month before. He told us to “Go to guest services and they might just give us a one day pass.”

My head almost exploded. I had paid $750-something (English major, here) for four two-day passes, and they “might just give us a one day pass?” I was going to hurt someone.

So, my husband did all the talking. He is our family spokesperson as I tend to be a wee bit unfiltered and totally too direct. Long story short, after waiting in line for an hour with all of the other people who had been screwed on this buy two get one deal they gave us three day passes for $40 on top of what I had already paid. OK. We were happy to finally get to enter the damn park.

Since we got a late start and didn’t get in until 11:00am or so, all of the rides had at least a 1,387 minute wait. There were signs everywhere announcing that express passes were priced FROM $39.99. So, my husband told us that he would buy express passes for the next day and we could get there early and ride everything without the need to pack a lunch and an air mattress to wait in line.

Guess what? Scruniversal strikes again. Notice how they said express passes were FROM $39.99? That’s because they are NEVER $39.99. On the day my husband tried to buy them they were $99.99 EACH. This does NOT INCLUDE your admission ticket. Bend over. If you want to get on a ride before YOU are 99, it’s going to cost you.

I get that theme parks are a business, and they want to screw grown-ups out of their hard earned money, but when they involve kids, I have a problem. This happens at Ollivander’s Wand Shop in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. When a group enters Ollivander’s a kid is chosen. Well, it’s not always a kid because my son’s 19 year-old girlfriend was a chosen one. That’s how I know what happens. So, the chosen kid is “given” a wand by the actor portraying the shopkeeper. Actually, the kid is told that the “wand chooses the wizard.” Whatever. So, at least five times, the shopkeeper and his assistant tell the kid, “this is your wand.” Then, when the little presentation is over, the kid leaves the room with the wand.

Wait. Does the kid actually get a free wand at Scruniversal? Nope. Not so fast, little wizard. The assistant grabs the kid and asks, “Where are your parents?” Then, she informs them that their child’s wand is $47 plus tax.  Now, what parent is going to say no after their little snookums was just told they were the chosen wizard and other such nonsense? My son’s girlfriend bought her wand, and my son bought one, too.

They try to screw you out of your belongings when you use a locker. Instead of having you take a key, or use a pin code, most of Scruniversal’s lockers use those biometric finger print scanners. This is the worst idea ever. Apparently, I would be an awesome KGB double agent, because my fingerprints are unreadable. Every time I used one, and I gave it three tries, I had to get an attendant to open my locker for me. I felt like I was back in middle school trying to get ready for gym class. I got the same panic and pit sweats. There was never a time I COULD open my locker via this magical finger print method. And it wasn’t just me. My son’s girlfriend could not open her locker at the Harry Potter ride. The finger print scanners don’t work for shit, Universal.

The kids loved dinner at the castle.
The kids loved dinner at the castle.

Going to The Magic Kingdom was a welcome escape from the messed up Marriott and Scruniversal. Yes, it was hot, and yes there were tons of people, but Disney is always delightful. This is partially because it is SO CLEAN. After all, they hire people who just sweep and empty garbage, all day long, in costume, and usually while singing. That is some attention to detail right there. That is why it was a surprise to see a Magnum condom wrapper on the ground when we were waiting in line for Splash Mountain. I guess that big drop at the end got someone REALLY excited.

Another thing I LOVE about Disney is that selfie sticks are SO banned.  The mouse clearly does NOT like selfie sticks. There’s a big warning sign on the parking attendant booths.  Then, you receive a flyer with your parking pass. Before you can enter the monorail, you get a thorough selfie stick search. Well, just your bags get searched. It’s not like Goofy is there in a cop uniform with big, rubber, mouse hand gloves yelling “BEND OVER AND SPREAD ‘EM, GARSH DARN IT!! YOU BETTER NOT HAVE A SELFIE STICK UP THERE!!!”   It wouldn’t surprise me though as they are damn serious about the no selfie stick rule. It’s great that they ban these things because they’re annoying. People already stop in the middle of walkways to take pictures of everysinglefuckingthing. It’s best not to encourage them to take MORE pictures.

But there are other things that should be banned:

Double wide strollers – Seriously, if you really must bring two children who cannot walk yet, will likely throw loud, screechy fits, and will never remember this super expensive vacation, at least use a normal, single row double stroller. I can’t tell you how many times I thought I would die or lose an appendage when some Starbucksed-up mom (yes, Starbucks has now invaded even Disney World) pushing two screaming children towards some poor bastard in a Mickey costume almost ran me over to get “Mickey’s” autograph, stop her children from shattering peanut brittle with their voices, or both.

Stopping in the middle of a walkway – People really think there is no one else in the world when they just HAVE to take a picture of a shrub shaped like Jiminy Cricket or a mouse ear shaped balloon. Move over to the side if you have to stop walking. There are other people who are trying to get to their next Fast Pass ride. You can schedule Fast Passes for free, by the way. It’s included with your admission. Are you taking notes, Scruniversal?

The Scooter Brigade – In all of the theme parks we visited, it seemed like at least a third of the visitors were in scooters. Yes, some of them were legitimately handicapped. Others seemed to be handicapped only by their sheer physical size, and hopped their obese bodies right out of their scooters to get on rides. It was so common that I told my husband that they really need to put in a scooter exhibit on “Its a Small World.” They could have little dolls from all over the world singing and scooter dancing to that horrible song that accompanies the ride. He replied, “That would work since I’m not sure if they are embracing cultural diversity or perpetuating racial stereotypes. Also, that song will haunt me in my dreams until 2027.”

We did have some good memories from Disney, like the princess meals we had. I booked dinner at Cinderella’s Castle because I’ve always wanted to eat there and because my son’s girlfriend is into all things Disney princess. I knew she would get a kick out of it, and she did. I have the pictures to prove it.

I love Snow White. I made the husband pose with all of the others.
I love Snow White. I made the husband pose with all of the others.

The next day, when my husband I went to Epcot and the teens spent the day at Hollywood Studios, we had an accidental princess lunch.  I booked lunch in Norway because neither one of us has ever had Norwegian food and my husband likes fish dishes. We have eaten all of the other cuisines in Epcot, so I wanted to book something different. Once we arrived in Norway, and saw the line of little girls in princess dresses, we realized that we were dining with royalty. I made my husband pose with most of the princesses, which they loved. And so did he. The fact that Epcot is not dry like the Magic Kingdom also made us happy. Norwegian food and Disney princesses go well with good wine.

Overall, it was a good trip. I know I have bitched a lot about things, but that is how I amuse myself. We made a lot of good memories, took pictures (minus the selfie stick) and had Mickey waffles for breakfast daily. We also walked 44 miles in six days so it was definitely a vacation where I felt no guilt eating whatever I wanted. However, the next time I go back, I will be springing for a Disney hotel, though. I feel lucky that I didn’t get bed bugs from the nasty Residence Inn.

I want to hear about your most recent vacation. Was it a theme park tour like mine, or did you read on a beach somewhere? Leave me a comment.

 

 

Murder Mystery Meltdown

On Friday nights, I usually change in to my pajamas at 5, order a pizza, have an extra glass of wine, and watch Shark Tank with my husband. Last Friday was a wee bit different. My good friend M had a couple of extra tickets to the murder mystery dinner here in my hometown. My husband and I like hanging out with M and her husband, so we were glad they invited us. Having never been to a murder mystery dinner, I thought it was a dinner show, meaning I could just sit there, shovel food in my face, and watch the show. It would be kind of like what I do at home in front of the TV only I would have to wear a bra, and not put my feet up. It sounded awesome.

At 43, I have the hearing of a 90 year-old, so before walking into the restaurant, I turned up my hearing aids. I wanted to be able to hear M and hear the show. This was my first mistake. Holy heck. From the time we entered the restaurant until the “crime” was solved, there was constant noise and “information” about the killer. The interaction never stopped.

Once I realized how noisy it would be, I turned DOWN my hearing aids and asked to see the drink menu. I said a silent secular prayer that this was a full liquor bar place and not a beer and wine only place. I did plan to order two glasses at a time if wine was my only option. One glass would not be strong enough for this hermit hell I was in. Beer is just weak bread flavored soda, in my humble opinion.

As an introvert, I lose energy when I am in a crowd of people. It’s almost like my light switch goes off and my ability to interact with people just shuts down. My switch flipped off about an hour before the show was over. I’m sorry, I mean about an hour before the murder was solved.

Not only was there a lot of listening and talking, but there was freaking homework! Seriously. We had to take notes and fill out a worksheet about “clues” and “suspects.” I was not allowed to write, “I don’t care. Can I just have my dessert in peace?” That is not a correct answer. They really wanted us to THINK about what had happened and who had a motive to kill the victim. I hadn’t heard most of what the suspects had said because the sound system seemed to have come from a 1989 K-Mart catalog. It also could have been because I’m hearing impaired.

Not only did I have to strain to listen to suspects, but also I had to talk to strangers. Strangers. I’m still recovering. We were supposed to actually get up from our table and circulate to talk to even more strangers. As the token introverts at the super interactive murder mystery show, M and I declined to do this. Our husbands played the game, though. This gave M and I a chance to catch up.

There was a theme, too. It wasn’t just a murder we were solving; it was a totally awesome, tubular murder from my high school years. That’s right. We were partying like it was 1985. I really enjoyed the 80’s theme, especially the costumes. I wore my cat Swatch (of course I have one), a checkerboard mini skirt, and leggings. Other people dressed in really authentic 80’s attire, including the murderer and her man.

The Murderer and her Beau
The Murderer and her Beau

The murderer was Cindy Leapyear. Get it? Leapyear instead of Lauper. I don’t remember what her motive was or any details because I had stopped paying attention an hour earlier. I think it had something to do with a romantic relationship with another character that looked like Joe Dirt. My husband got a picture of Cindy (not her real name) and her companion, who wore a plastic suit. I hope he had a layer of baby powder under that suit. It did not look comfortable. I spent the evening trying to figure out if he was Michael Jackson or Devo. He did win a prize for his costume, as I told him he would when I first saw him earlier in the evening. Cindy and Devo Jackson gave us permission to use their picture.

So, if you are an extrovert, and you love talking to people and being social, and doing a lot of thinking while you eat dinner, find yourself a murder mystery dinner to attend. If you are an introvert, stay home and watch TV. It won’t talk back to you and you can wear pajamas while you watch.

Atheism 101

Atheist Agenda
THE Atheist Agenda

Last week, I watched CNN Special Report: Atheists: Inside the World of Non-Believers. I figured it was going to be a serious, in-depth look at atheism. After all, the show has TWO colons in its title. That is serious. While the show was a pretty fair look at atheism, there are some things that just weren’t fully discussed. So, I would like to give you my take on being an atheist.

Atheist Agenda – Some religious folks think that atheists have some sort of agenda to take away religion. This is simply not true. Most atheists do not care if people worship God, or Tinkerbelle, or cheese, they just want God to stay out of their lives and government. In other words, atheists don’t want religion forced on them, and it is in many ways, like:

Worshipping Satan – The CNN reporter kept mentioning that a lot of people think atheists worship Satan. This is beyond illogical. Atheists do not believe in any supernatural being. So, the devil does not exist to them. If Satan does not exist, he can’t be worshipped. Atheists aren’t dark and scary. They would just rather have brunch than go to church. Think of them as your non-praying Belgian waffle-eating friends.

No Morals – I have had religious people ask me how I can have morals without God. This is scary because it tells me that the only thing keeping some people from raping and killing is a belief that there is an invisible man in the sky watching them.   It’s kind of like Santa Claus for grownups. I tend to think more like Katherine Hepburn, who said, “I’m an atheist, and that’s it. I believe there’s nothing we can know except that we should be kind to each other and do what we can for each other.” People without morals are called psychopaths, not atheists.

Angry at God – Now that we have established that atheists do not believe in any supernatural beings, we can probably do away with that whole, “You’re just angry at God” argument. Just like you can’t worship something you don’t believe in, you also can’t be angry at something that doesn’t exist.

Religious Knowledge – The CNN reporter said that she was shocked to see an atheist pursuing a graduate degree in religion because she couldn’t imagine an atheist being comfortable learning about religion. A lot of atheists enjoy reading about all sorts of things, including religion, but they don’t do it because they want to be persuaded to believe in God. Some religious folks think that an atheist just needs to go to church and read the Bible to be convinced.   The parents of an atheist college student in the documentary referred to their son as a dead man, and regretted not forcing him to go to church more. They believe that would have made a difference. More religious education is not going to make God real for atheists. God is just something that feels fake right from the beginning.

Some Splainin – Most atheists are confused and a little bit angered because the burden of proof seems to fall on them, especially in the USA. Why do people WITHOUT an imaginary friend owe an explanation as to why they don’t believe in an invisible supernatural being? This is especially evident by the fact that CNN felt it necessary to create a documentary to look inside the world of non-believers, like they are mystical creatures who must be studied behind glass. It’s really simple. Atheists do not believe in God, any god at all. They don’t believe in Jesus, Allah, Zeus, Jupiter, or any of the thousands of gods and goddesses. They don’t believe because there is no real evidence that gods exist.

 

I am an atheist. I have been an atheist my whole life, even when I was being forced to attend Baptist church by a family friend. I was still an atheist when I opted to get baptized in college because it’s what normal people did. I volunteer at the zoo. I work and take care of my family. I appreciate a good martini. I love Christmas trees and Easter baskets. I am a nice person unless you ring my doorbell and try to sell me something, including religion, or make laws to discriminate against my friends. Then, I’m a bit irritable.

 

Fat, Forty, and Falling

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I may have mentioned a few months ago in my Metal Mom piece that I live in a cookie cutter, Wisteria Lane type neighborhood. Everyone notices when something is not right.  When we first moved in, my husband was putting in a raised bed garden in the backyard. The president of the homeowners association came right over and asked us if we were building a “structure.” I wanted to tell him, “Yes, we are building a small home for our servants.” I didn’t say that because I’ve learned that most people don’t speak sarcasm. Anyway, since we got that kind of attention for a garden, I was certain SOMEONE would come to my assistance while I was on my ass in the middle of my driveway mumbling “fuck” and shouting for my son. Certainly, someone would notice a short, chubby woman CRAWLING up her driveway at 7:45am. Nope. Unless your mailbox is the wrong color or you are building a “structure” no one cares. I’m lucky that the dogs alerted my son to my little accident. As much as I hate to admit this, my favorite cats were no-shows.

Like an idiot, I attempted to walk down my icy driveway to get that last little bit of trash to the curb before the truck came. I just HAD to get that tiny bag of trash out there. The world may have ended if I had to hold on to it for a week. I walked down the driveway like a moron. Usually, I walk on the grass, through the snow rather than brave the driveway. My only explanation for my moronic decision is I had not had coffee. I remember noticing dog and human footprints on the sidewalk near my driveway and thinking about how it was good that there wasn’t too much snow so that this person could walk a dog. Then, my feet slipped out from under me and I slipped and fell right on my ass in an almost cartoon-like manner. It would have been funny if it didn’t hurt so damn bad.

I felt like I would not be able to get up and walk ever again. I hit the hard ground and I felt like my spine broke. It was cold, and I really wanted to get back to the house. I swore and then yelled for my son. Then, I got too damn cold waiting, but I didn’t know if I could get up, and I was afraid to fall again, so I crawled up the driveway. At this point, the dogs that were staring out the front window and barking had alerted my son. He came outside to pick me up and take me to the ER.

Obviously, this was a painful experience that would have been embarrassing if I were the type of person to give a shit about what other people think. I don’t think my neighbors saw me fall, and if they did they should be embarrassed for not helping me. I am grateful for this experience though because I learned how to be better prepared for sudden trips to the ER.

Hospital ME
Be glad you can’t see my pits or my legs.

First of all, shave your legs and armpits at least every other day, even in the winter, ladies. You don’t want to look like a gorilla in a hospital gown like I did. It had been a good 5 or 6 days since my last shave. Create your own visual here.

If you have Elvis Presley sideburns like I do (Yes, I am a woman), you want to make sure you keep those things waxed. I’m pretty sure the doctors and nurses were staring at the sides of my face and expecting me to start singing Viva Las Vegas at any moment.

Just wear real clothes to bed. Lucky for me, I had worn sweatpants to bed and I didn’t have to go to the hospital in my snowflake jammies, or worse yet, my Bud Light jammies. (Note: I think Bud Light is vile. The pajamas were purchased for a costume party.)

DO NOT tell anyone that pain pills make you nauseous. You will get sent home with Naproxen instead of REAL pain relief. Naproxen is Latin for “will eat your stomach but do diddly squat for pain.”

Have a son, and make sure he can drive before you decide to injure yourself. A teen son can pick you up off of the floor and drive you to the hospital. A teen girl would look down at you on the ground, roll her eyes, and tell you that she hates you for messing up her plans by making her drive you to the hospital. I love my son.

Don’t be a neat freak. I just couldn’t leave the last little bag of trash for next week. I had to go walking down my driveway to the curb like I was trying to get rid of a bomb. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

Try not to have a dog the size of a pony. My Great Dane almost knocked me down again when I finally got into the house. At least the cats didn’t try to hurt me more.

Be ready to pee. They are always going to ask for a urine sample. You could come crawling into the ER with a missing leg and a story about a man with a chainsaw, and they would say, “OK. We will take care of that gushing stub as soon as you give us a little urine.” What do they do with all of that pee? Are they like vampires, but they need pee instead of blood to stay alive. Oh, wait. They usually ask for that, too.

It’s OK to be chubby. I was so glad I had never been able to lose those pesky 20 pounds. My fat ass saved me from breaking my tailbone. At least, I’m pretty sure I didn’t break it, based on my symptoms. There’s no way to be certain, as it’s difficult to x-ray. Well, there is an exam they can do, but I don’t recommend it.

Say no to the tailbone exam. There’s no way to tell if you have a broken tailbone because that involves a rectal exam. There is no way to slap a cast on a coccyx bone, so why bother to be violated like this. I looked around when the option was given, and since there was not an open bar and a plate of roofies, I said no.

I think I’m going to go back to my original plan for avoiding winter injuries – just stay inside until May. If you MUST leave the house, bring ski poles with you and wear golf shoes. Also, wrap yourself in bubble wrap. It will keep you safe and it will make other people stay far away from you, except for those freaks who want to pop you.

So, have you ever fallen on ice? Were you injured?  

Any words of wisdom you can share with us?

Metal Gentlemen – Alone at Dawn

We always hear stories about rock bands that tear up hotel rooms and leave a trail of drywall dust and vomit wherever they go. There’s usually a pregnant woman or a STD outbreak, too. Rarely, do we know of any well-mannered, faithful, kind musicians who can rock a metal tune. That is about to change. Allow me to introduce Alone at Dawn.

I’m not being paid to write about Alone at Dawn, but I did give birth to the lead singer. My son has wanted to be a musician since he was in fourth grade. That is when he saved his money and bought his first guitar. Realizing that he couldn’t actually just play the thing, he asked for lessons. He has played one of his now many guitars daily for the past eight years.

When other parents ask about my son’s future plans, and I tell them he’s going to be a rock star. They chuckle, as though I said he was going to be Batman or Jesus. No, rock stars are actually real, and they are all kids with guitars (or drums) and dreams in the beginning. I seriously doubt he’s going to decide to be an accountant or a doctor now.

My son is the youngest member of the band, and it’s founder. He’s not even eighteen yet. He met, Will, the drummer in high school, and began writing music with him two years ago. Wyatt and Aaron, the guitarists, are both lucky Craig’s List finds who have become part of the family. You really can find more than threesomes and serial killers on Craig’s List.

I want these gentlemen, and they truly are, to be able to live out their dreams. They are all driven, focused, and all around nice guys. You don’t see that often in the world of entertainment. Plus, my son has promised me a Mercedes and a cathouse when he is rich and famous. By cathouse, I mean a no kill cat shelter, not a place for prostitution. So, if you want to hear some great music, made be awesome guys, and save some cats, please take a moment to watch Alone at Dawn’s Surroundings video. If you like it, please buy the EP, Peacemaker. Check out their Facebook page for more information.

AAD

Unsucky Holidays the Scary Mommy Way

ScaryMommyCover1I’m not sure what I did to Tom the turkey, Santa Claus, or the New Year baby to piss them off. I must have done something offensive because the shittiest things happen every holiday season. It all started twenty years ago, when my then fiancé, who became my first husband, threw me out of our apartment ten days before Christmas. I’m not sure why we got married after that, but anyway, the holiday suckiness didn’t end there. A few years ago, my father-in-law had a horrific accident while sharpening a gardening shovel (he is fine now). Two years ago, I was diagnosed with a DVT one day after Christmas. Last year, my husband had to have UPPP (in laymen’s terms – a melon-balling of the throat) surgery EIGHT days before Christmas. This year we had to euthanize our cat the week before Thanksgiving. Happy Frickin’ Holdays? No, how about HAPPY FUCKING HOLIDAYS!!

As you can imagine, I needed something to distract me from feeling like an evil pet parent after putting my sweet Morris to sleep. I needed to laugh, possibly drink a few cocktails, and eat delicious food.  So, it was perfect timing when Crystal from Mommifried, offered me a free copy of Scary Mommy’s Guide to Surviving the Holidays in exchange for an honest review. Crystal contributed a tasty and healthy Crock Pot cranberry sauce recipe to the book.

Since the book is full of humor and recipes, I couldn’t put Scary Mommy’s Guide down.  I read the whole thing in one afternoon, and there wasn’t any chapter I didn’t like, but, of course, I have my favorites. This is why I only have one kid; I always play favorites.

Before I could get into the funny stuff, I read Jill Smokler’s introduction to The Thanksgiving Project, a Scary Mommy Nation charity. Jill started The Thanksgiving Project in 2011 after reading posts in the Scary Mommy Confessions section from moms who could not afford to buy food. This made me a little teary-eyed, and a lot grateful for what I have. It also made me want to help, and if you want to help, click the link above for more information.

After I wiped my tears, I was ready to laugh. I NEEDED to laugh, damn it, and the wonderful contributors to Scary Mommy’s Guide did not let me down. My favorite humor piece was The Dysfunctional Family Drinking Game. This story made me laugh my ass off and want to go to Kathryn Leehane’s house for Thanksgiving. It also made me want a martini something fierce, but that is not unusual, especially considering the week I’ve had. I don’t want to give too much away, but basically Kathryn and her husband play a secret game involving liquor and their family’s bad behavior. Reading about it made me glad that I live nowhere near any of my family. I would have alcohol poisoning.

Speaking of cocktails, there are drink recipes in this book. Did I mention that I LOVE this book? Take a look at Sharon Green’s Seasonal Cocktails for Moms. There are enough recipes in her list to make you and your holidays merry and bright. If you are like me, and your nose turns red after two sips of any alcoholic beverage, you may also be able to replace Rudolph in Santa’s line-up.

If you’re going to be drinking, and you don’t want to barf all over your favorite ugly Christmas sweater (I buy mine here), you will need some food. In my chubby little opinion, all food should come in the form of cookies. I intend to make Jessica Griffin’s Show-Stealing Molasses Cookies many times this holiday season. Unlike 98% of the world, I am not in love with chocolate. I will eat dark chocolate in small doses, but for the most part, chocolate gathers in the back of my throat and makes me want to spit a loogie that would make a drunk, congested college boy jealous. Jessica’s yummy molasses cookies have no chocolate in them, so they are low on the loogie index. SCORE!

I could go on and on about this book, but it would not make sense to you because you haven’t read it, yet. So, stop reading this and head over to Amazon, or Barnes and Noble, or Simon and Schuster, and buy this book. Purchasing Scary Mommy’s Guide to Surviving the Holidays is a great way to help keep your own spirits up during the most stressful time of the year, and it is also a way to contribute to the Scary Mommy Nation. So, it is truly WINNING and I don’t mean that in a Charlie Sheen kind of way, even with all of the booze jokes.

Don’t F#$%ing Text and Drive!

Yes. I know. Everyone does it, right? I see people doing all kinds of crazy things while they are driving. I’ve seen people shaving and putting on make-up. Once, I saw a woman eating a bowl of cereal or soup. I couldn’t get a good look. The light turned green, so I couldn’t jump out of my car, bang on her window, and yell, “Just #$%^ing drive when you’re driving!” like I wanted to.

Horrific texting and driving accidents are things that happen to other people, right? I think all of us have our list of tragic things that will not happen to us. Until last week, my son being hit by a texting idiot was on my “not me” list. Then, I got “the call.” You know, the call you never want to get.

My husband was out of town last week, of course, so I was on single parent duty. My son and his girlfriend had gone to a movie premiere that she had tickets to. They took her car, a little, oldish, Honda. I knew they would be home at around 10:00, so I started getting ready for bed then. I washed the make-up off my face, brushed my teeth, put my night guard in (I’m a grinder), put on my pajamas, and took my Benedryl. I take Benedryl just about every night for allergies and sleeping. Lucky for everyone, I only took ONE pill.

About twenty minutes after I went through my routine, my phone rang. It was my son. I instantly got a stomach cramp because, like me, my son HATES to talk on the phone. So, if he wasn’t texting, something was wrong. I answered on the first half ring.

“Hello. Are you OK?”

“Mom, Um, I’ve been in an accident.” Hyperventilating noises.

“Is everyone OK?” I pictured him trapped in the car, and his girlfriend, a skinny little thing, dead.

He WAS trapped in the car. Both of them were because they were rear-ended by an idiot who was texting and the impact jammed the doors shut. My son’s girlfriend had hit the brakes to avoid a deer and the car in front of her, which had braked. The idiot behind them did not brake. She rammed into them going about 55 miles per hour. If there had been someone in the backseat, that person would not be walking and would possibly be dead.

Some nice couple came out of their house to help them. A man stopped to pull my son and his girlfriend out of the car window.   I wish I had thanked them all. I didn’t. I arrived on the scene about ten minutes after the call, in sweats and wearing my night guard. I immediately checked both of them for damage and noticed brown spots on my son’s sweater.

“Are you bleeding?” I asked him.

“No. I checked him first.” His wonderful girlfriend.

“No. It’s my cherry vanilla Coke from Johnny Rockets. It went everywhere.” My son.

That’s not all that went everywhere. His glasses flew off of his face. His girlfriend’s phone was found outside of the car. Her father had to climb in the car to retrieve some of her school things, carefully avoiding the glass from the busted in back window. Take a look at the pictures. It was a disaster.

So, what did the driver who hit them have to say? “I looked away for like half a sec.”

“For like half a sec?” Such casual language for such a horrific accident. I wanted to smack her so hard. I held back because I needed to be calm for my son, and because his girlfriend said, “It’s my friend from school!” I wanted to tell her that this person was NOT a friend. So not a friend. I bet the paramedics are sick of pulling dead bodies out of cars because of people like this friend who can’t wait five minutes to return a text.

I feel bad for my son, and his girlfriend, who are in physical pain from her actions, but I also feel bad for the other girl’s parents. They arrived on the scene in their work clothes, with their occupations printed on their shirts. I could tell there’s not a lot of free flowing cash there. So, totaling a car is definitely not an affordable thing. I hope her parents don’t buy her a new car. She doesn’t deserve a car. She deserves a kick in the ass, or fifty. I’m volunteering to do this for them, if needed.

She can never make this right. She can never do anything to make up for it. I do hope she has at least learned from this.  When she gets to drive again, I hope she just drives, rather than “looks away for half a sec.” I also hope she talks about this to everyone she knows. Her friends need to know that texting and driving accidents happen to real people.

My son and his girlfriend are OK for the most part. Both have neck and back pain. I’m told it could take years to really know what damage has been done. I’m grateful they weren’t killed, but I’m angry that the girlfriend lost her car, and both of them have pain because an idiot decided to take her eyes off the road. Just drive when you drive. It really can, and should, wait.

Is it worth it?
Is it worth it?