This blog is ending. I'll keep it public because I can see from statcounter hits people still come to read my weird geekiness about the show DIG (on USA!). 

I, however, need a fresh start. I made a big change in 2015, and I have some smaller ones to work on in 2016. If you're interested in reading about that or whatever other strange randomness and/or melodramatic emo-chick crap comes out of my brain, you can do that here from now on:

Have a good one, y'all. May The Force be with you (unless you're involved with The First Order, and then...may a smart/tough desert girl and an ex-Storm Trooper on the lam smite the holy crap out of you).


nativity stress.

Stress. That's the word of the weekend and coming days, Internet. Stress. Things I still have to do:

*a million grades, which must all be uploaded into the system before I go home on Friday.

*a holiday chorus thing to chaperone.

*student gifts to buy and pull together, coworker gifts to pull together and hand out.

*my own Christmas shopping.

*still haven't paid my doctor's office because i still don't own a single stamp...why do they not have an online option?! this is 2015. 

*probably 10,000 other things I committed to and can't remember I said I'd do them until someone shows up expecting me to be ready and I'll be all: Oooh, yeah! I DID say I'd do that. Crap! Hold on while I scramble around here like a lunatic and get it together for you. 

Holidays are not my favorite. I like Christmas Eve. I like the candlelight service and the quiet when everyone's asleep. Other than that: pfffft. Stick it where the sun don't shine. 

C and I decided I'd keep Miss M for Christmas Eve and Christmas. He'll take her the eve before Christmas Eve so she can spend the day with him. Then I'll take her that night for candlelight services (aka: the one time Amy sets foot in a church) and the following day for Christmas.

She asked if we could, all three of us, wake up together on Christmas morning, and I started weeping. Because she's asked before, and I said no, but tonight it became real, that this would be the first time in 8 years we haven't been together on Christmas Eve and Christmas. Firsts are always the hardest, right? At least that's what I've always found to be true about the grieving process. 

Why is Christmas so big? I didn't feel like this on Thanksgiving. 

My vision is that, eventually, C and I will be the bestest of friends. He'll meet someone new and I'll meet someone new, and we'll all gather around a Christmas tree on Christmas Day - him, me, Miss M, the new people and any of their children they may have. And we'll sing "Welcome Christmas" like the Whos down in Whoville do it.

....but then this is coming from a person who really wants to walk around barefoot in hippie clothing, playing a tambourine, singing Mr. Tambourine Man. Free love. Free and gentle and all-encompassing love. But without the LSD. And I like to take daily showers.

In other news, I went with family and friends to a live Nativity the other night. I really like Nativities; I have two in my house. I'm an agnostic about the Nativity story - don't think it really happened, but I like the symbolism/metaphysical concepts. (I read the Bible metaphysically, not literally.) The Nativity, the birth of a baby who's going to save the world from itself, feels like Hope to me. And I like the idea of being born in a barn, surrounded by gentle animals and fragrant hay (and, yes yes yes...the pungent smell of manure. I can hear you out there correcting me - stop it. Stop crapping on my starry scene of Love and Hope!) And live nativities are fun because they have cute domesticated animals in them. Like a petting zoo, but holier.

At this live Nativity, there was no touching. And you took a hayride around the Baptist church's amazingly large wooded backyard, in which they'd basically re-built Israel in the time of baby Jesus. Except these are Baptists, so they don't really care about the birth stuff; they're more focused on the killin' and the resurrectin' stuff. Our hayride would stop at various points for the actors in the scene/stage area to recite biblical passages and also we'd listen to a Baptist hymn that went with whatever it was. Each of these lasted about a minute. But at the part Jesus is on a cross, that was 3 minutes. And the part where he escapes from the drainage pipe cave, and is lifted up 500 feet amongst the tall trees on a hydraulic lift? That was a whole 5 minutes, at least. Four and a half being him being slowly raised to Heaven, where he shall sitteth on the right hand of the LORD. 

My brother and I are terrible heathens. In addition, I'd like to note we ate at a Mexican restaurant beforehand, I had one Texas margarita, not even the big size, but I think they poured half a bottle of Tequila in it. Now I have some pictures of me and my kid and my niece and nephew and my friends' kids all making duck face selfies with a fake baby Jesus that we passed while waiting in line for 2 hours to see the real Nativity. And because this was Baptist, before we pulled away, we all had to pray but I don't remember exactly what about. I think there was a part in there about bringing the drunk heathens sitting on the middle row of hay, and particularly the one who encouraged the children she was with to do hip hop poses and duck faces with wooden cutouts of the Holy Family earlier, to repent and come to Jesus...but I can't be sure. The tequila was wearing off, but I wouldn't be sober again til the Resurrection. And so I did not close my eyes during the prayer though I bowed my head because I didn't need that kind of judgment from Jesus' people right then. I mean, I love historical Jesus (if there was one) a lot, but I don't think he was magic. I believe in a Something, but I don't think the Baptists would like my version of It. 

My brother is just a sarcastic ass, who is always looking for the jokey joke. Seriously, we can't take him anywhere. I didn't see them, but apparently there were apples at The Last Supper scene, and he swears Israel didn't have those in Jesus' time. And he cracked up when the shepherds messed up and you could hear them in their mics whispering about starting over. And he could barely contain himself at the resurrection scene because he swore if Jesus rose straight up out of those bushes...and sure enough, right on cue. Then it took Jesus like a whole 4 minutes to get to Heaven. Which, it seems he'd have been able to go a lot faster. I mean, he's dead/magical Jesus now. 

It's okay. We know we are not going to enjoy the fruits of Heaven because of our attitudes. Plus, we're Presbyterians.

Confession: I had a really long blog entry here about choices and consequences. But it was discombobulated and sort of preachy. But lately I've been thinking a lot about choices and their consequences. The Law of Physics says for every action there's a reaction, and that pretty much sums up choices and consequences. You make a choice, you get a consequence, so choose wisely. You choose to ask for something, be prepared for anything that shows up, so ask wisely. 

Maybe later when I'm on break and have had more sleep I'll dive into it some more. But for now, I need to go grade papers. Oh, and shop the Internet for a beginner's magic kit and something called a zoomer zuppie cat. But if the next two weeks go the way the last two weeks have, I predict I'll be wrapping up a lot of coal instead.


insomnia rambles.

Want some insomniac thoughts for your Wednesday (or whenever)? Here's a sampling of what goes on in my mind when unable to sleep:

1-Well, crap, y'all. I had to close comments again for awhile. Two people left me some thoughts about my holiday struggles. I'm not mad about them, but they weren't really what I needed to see at 3 AM when up with insomnia, thinking about my lot in life. (Both basically said I need to stop this foolishness and go back to my husband. One said do it for my daughter, she needs her father. Basically making a judgment call on me and my life without knowing me, him, or her, or the full nature of the situation. I have written copious amounts of other blog entries about it - had they read those and absorbed them, along with all of my other ridiculous inanity here, I bet they would have understood this is just how things work here and I'm a very this-too-shall-pass kinda gal. However, for now, I think no comments are best.) 

But you know. Such is the nature of social media and being open/vulnerable on the Internet. I hope this means my skin is getting thicker. I really, really want thicker skin. I sense it'll help me later in life. 

2- Mysteriously and without telling you the specifics (because this is the Internet), I got a message from a man the other day on the Internet. He was a stranger, and he wanted to take me on a date. He said I was beautiful. And then he said he changed his mind about taking me on a date, because even though he thought I was really pretty he could never date someone like me. And the reason he couldn't is because, politically, I lean left. And then he went on a really long rant about how leftie liberals are destroying America and the world, and we're the reason for all the bad things. And he concluded his strange rant with: too bad, because I'd totally sleep with you. Message me if you're interested.

Internet, you are a strange, bizarre world. 

(A) First, what? I bet he's a super fun first date. (I'm being sarcastic.) (B) Second, what?? Why would I want to sleep with someone who thinks I'm the source of all evil in the world? and (C) Third, what??? 

I'm not opposed to remaining single and alone for the rest of my life, if THAT is all I have to choose from. (But it didn't bother me; I really do think my skin is getting thicker. I just deleted and moved on. He'll find his Anne Coulter one day, and they will make hideous Donald Trump babies.)

I also think it didn't bother me because...you know what he really sounded like? One of those guys who gets all his information about how women work and how to get women from those misogynistic websites and organizations. You know the ones - they're the ones that tell men women are all bitches, and feminism is why. That you just have to keep your woman in the kitchen and let her know who's REALLY in charge, because that's what women all secretly desire no matter what they actually say. Women were created to be conquered. 

(uuuhhhh....NO. False. No, gentlemen. Not even remotely close.) (Unless you are Jamie Dornan...read further.)

3-I went to a former co-worker's retirement party yesterday. Sweet, lovely, amazing lady. Seriously. Like, Martha Stewart and Florence Nightingale and the Melanie Wilkes from Gone With The Wind, all wrapped up on one person. Breast cancer survivor. Artist. Immensely kind human being. The standard to which all humans should strive to be. Kind and creative and beautiful and lovely person. We were both on staff when the place opened, and so I have so so many memories she's attached to...lots of memories. 

The sweet lady who was our school secretary when I started there came, and she occasionally reads this blog (hi, M! If you're here!), and she came over and gave me the biggest, longest hug and let me know she understands how this is. Her situation was much harder, and far different than mine. Sadder. But it's all kind of the same, when you end a relationship. Even when it's the best thing to do. And she made me cry. Kindness and love always makes me cry, because my heart...my heart. 

Anyway. She told me to make my own memories now and to stay strong. What she said meant a lot to me. (Sometimes I think we are placed exactly where we need to be, at just the moment we need to be there, with just the people we need to be with. Don't you?) And I think people who are gentle and kind and non-judgmental are the best kind of people to be around. Also: hugs are nice. Way more helpful than anything else. Just be supportive when someone is having a hard time. Hug them. People need hugs and hugs are nice. That's all.

4-I've watched two movies recently that are about sex. Let's get the first one out of the way: Fifty Shades of Grey. Yes, I admit it: I watched it. But only for Jamie Dornan. And I will ALWAYS watching anything that Jamie Dornan is in now. Oh, Jamie Dornan. Beautiful Jamie Dornan. 

I haven't read the book. I refuse to read the book. The book annoys me. How many superbly amazing writers are out there right now, desperate to be published? And some fan fic chick not only gets pubbed but also becomes a famous millionaire on top of it AND Jamie Dornan stars in the movie version of her book??????? Goddammit, Humanity.  (There are some very talented fan fic chicks out there who ought to have this happen to them...not convinced E.L. James is one, but then. Confession: I refuse to read her book.) 


But the movie, surprisingly, wasn't bad. I think because Jamie Dornan saved it. My overall reaction: I would be totally okay with Jamie Dornan's "playroom." And I think Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith's daughter was nuts for leaving Jamie Dornan. At the end (I'm just going to tell you the ending...if this is going to upset you, quickly scroll past all this) (though I must tell you that if hearing the end of this story is going to upset you, you may need to re-evaluate your entire life).........................at the end, she tells him to show her exactly how he wants to punish her. She wants to understand his fucked up psychology. (Girlfriend, he's been slapping at you with whips and a cat o'nine tails for 2 hours. You need further explanation?) So he shows her. And basically, it's that he wants to paddle her behind. He told her exactly how many times he'd do it, and on top of that they weren't even that hard (I could tell they weren't very hard hits because when I was in 1st grade, I got paddled at school) (I know, I KNOW!! I know you want to hear that story, but it'll get us off-track...I'll come back and tell you it this weekend). 

At any rate, she gets SO upset about it. She walks away from jet airplanes, fancy cars, expensive dinners, and you know..amazingness. And a man who secretly loves her, just in a really fucked up way. 

The main problem I had with Jamie Dornan/Christian Grey is that he was too controlling. I have a big, big issue with people who need to control other people. If you need to put someone in a cage to make them yours, then they were never yours to begin with. Constantly calling her, wanting to know where she was/what she was doing, showing up at the restaurant and interrupting dinner with her mom without permission - that's the kind of shit that would end things for me. She loved all that; yet it was a paddling session that ruined it for her. His need to paddle her butt was just too much. But not all the "What was that? That's right: 'Yes, sir.'" and the you-belong-to-ME issues. 

Though I'd have kept the car, dammit. That was a nice car. (It's because I'm constantly terrified my car is going to break down on me and I'll have to put $2000 into it to fix it, and I'll be totally screwed.)

Also, there are really, really angry people out there who think this book and movie propagates domestic violence. I get it. On the surface, BDSM looks like a strange, effed up mess. I once hung out, reading for a bit, a submissive lady's website. I could never submit like that to a man...I could submit in a lot of other ways. But I would not be okay having a man tell me to clean this up or do your hair like this or I want you in black today. This raises my hackles and my latent anger issues really start percolating. But for some women, this works. I'm not going to judge them. Because I don't think BDSM is really about domestic violence, is it? Domestic violence is unwanted, unwelcome. People get rushed to the ER or die. In BDSM situations, everyone appears to be in agreement, there are safe words, and it's about weird psychological needs more than a need to own another human being because you can't handle your own shit. If this is what brings someone else peace and love, then it's not for us to say what's weird and messed up and what's not...right? I don't eat escargot because eating snails looks weird and messed up to me. Others think snails are incredibly delicious things to chew on. 

So - and this is probably going to garner me some more unsolicited commentary from Internet strangers stopping by (except they'll have to keep them in their brains because comments closed) - I don't have a problem with BDSM people in general. I think they may need some therapy maybe, but therapy isn't cheap and if this is what gets them from point A to point B to point C in life? Then maybe that IS their therapy, and so it is not for you or I to try to make them feel bad about it. We all have our own little vices, don't we? Some of us binge watch Breaking Bad whenever we get a chance, some of us eat too much brownie brittle (it's a thing now, did you know?), some of us use our credit cards too often and freely, some of us spend too much time thinking about Jamie Dornan...wait, those are my vices. But you understand what I mean, yes?

The other movie I watched was called Shame and it starred Michael Fassbender and Michael Fassbender's junk. Here's the thing about this movie: if you're watching it because you like Michael Fassbender (and who doesn't like Michael Fassbender??) and just want to see his junk and/or you've heard there's a really graphic threesome scene and you're all about those because yay threesomes? Then you aren't going to enjoy this movie. 

First of all, it's a long movie (about 2 hours). Second, it's a quiet movie, with really long scenes. God bless those actors, they all deserve an Oscar. I get nervous when someone won't quickly take my picture on school picture day; I can't imagine having a camera trained on my face for 200 minutes, while I'm supposed to just use my eyes to express my feelings. These are the kinds of scenes you'll watch in this movie. 

Also, the subject matter of the movie was disturbing. This is a story about fucked up people doing fucked up things. Fassbender's character wasn't erotic; he was a gigantic mess. The threesome scene wasn't erotic; it was a gigantic mess. I don't mean how it was directed, I mean what and why a threesome happened in this movie. Because this was a story about someone who isn't just occasionally cuddling with his inner demons, this was a movie about someone who consistently allows his inner demons to have their way with him in the most inappropriate of ways until, finally, they just throw their hands in the air and say "Fuck it!" and rape him. This is a movie about sex, but it's not the least bit sexy. Is what I'm saying. Fifty Shades of Grey was also about sex, but they really tried hard to make it sexy. This movie was just about raw human stuff. With really long, quiet scenes in which there was a lot going on. (It was Art, is what I'm telling you...Fifty Shades of Grey was a book-turned-movie. Steve McQueen's Shame is Art.)

Having said that, this wasn't a bad movie; it was really well-acted, directed, cinematography was gorgeous. Carrie Mulligan, you can SING, love. And Michael Fassbender can walk through my apartment naked anytime he'd like. Anytime. But not as this character. And also, Michael Fassbender can tell you his feelings just with his eyes, and that's nice. I think more people should do that - talk with their eyes. 

So here's what happened with these two movies and me: First I saw Fifty Shades of Grey, and I was all: hmmm...BDSM doesn't look so bad, not if you're doing it with someone like Jamie Dornan. Then I saw Shame, and I was all: Whoa! If Michael Fassbender's guy went to Jamie Dornan's playroom, somebody wouldn't make it out alive. So think I'm going to table that for awhile. A long, long while. 

(Unless I meet Jamie Dornan's Christian Grey and he takes me to Europe.)

5 - It is almost 5 AM now and my alarm is about to go off. Insomnia, I give up. I'm not even going to fight you anymore. I'm just going to let you have your way with me. Take me to your playroom, but let's not tell the Internet in case the Internet wants to judge us. 


holiday tears and swears.

This frickin' thing. Makes me cuss and cry. Every single year.

Miss M and I put up our tree on Monday. I so love doing the Christmas tree. Okay, wait. No. No, I do NOT actually love "doing" the tree. Actually, I cuss a lot and sweat a lot and every year I sit on the floor with pieces of it in my hands and go, "How the hell did I do this last year?" and "Why the hell are there so many goddamn CORDS?!" I've had the same fake tree for going on 12 years now. You'd think, at year 12, I'd be putting up this MF'er easy as cake. You'd think that, at this point, I could do it blindfolded, drunk, and with one hand tied behind me. But no. Every year: a lot of sweat, cussing, and tears. A lot of tensely barked words that send a 7 year old running to the bedroom to cry a lot and yell from behind a closed door that I'm a bad mommy, and Santa Claus is NOT going to bring me any presents this year because I said the SH word five times.

But then it's up, and I'm so proud of me. For the 12th year in a row!

But then we have to decorate it.

Tiny baby fingers turned into snowmen on a blue

Wasn't sure how that would go this year. Last year when I put it up, things were pretty sad. C and I were down to not only buying our own Christmas presents but wrapping them as well. The wrapping was a farce, because not only does sweet little Miss M love to unwrap her own presents, she loves to watch other people unwrap theirs. I was decorating and wrapping for the child, not for the spirit of the season - Baby had to have her Christmas. This year, I'm less stressed out (...for the moment), and I'm in slightly more of a holiday spirit (...for the moment). So I want the apartment to look Christmas-y. I wanted to have the tree up. 
Santa don't care about your excuses, Amy. Plus,
he hears you said the SH word five times.
So loved.

I have this thing for Christmas ornaments. I love them with all of me, to the deepest parts of my heart. Except for the few filler balls and some strategically placed fake roses for glitz and glamour, every single ornament on my tree has an important memory or meaning attached to it. Some have been going on trees literally since I was born - they have been with me my whole life. As I pull out each ornament from the box, I think about the year that ornament came into my life. I think about the person who gave it to me. I think about how that year felt, the circumstances I was in or my family was in, the good things and the bad things about that Christmas. There are decades and decades of memories on my tree, and every year at this time, I remember every single memory. 

Crucifix made from Israeli wood.
Just like the Romans did it.
(ooooh. Too soon? Sorry, bad joke. Terrible timing.)
Memories are important to me. And sometimes, as I pull certain ornaments out, I smile. And other times, as certain ornaments come out, I get teary-eyed. Just depends on my mood, the ornament, and the memories attached, but I always think about the person that goes with that ornament. Like, I have a thing for Buddhas and for crucifixes; these are all over my home. One of my most precious ornaments came from my friend Carol - it's a crucifix made from wood from Israel. Another is from my brother and sister-in-law - Miss M's first Christmas - who can believe she was ever that tiny?! Another is of me, C, and M on our first Christmas together. There are ornaments that are from Christmases with just C and me, before M. There's one ornament I was given the Christmas C and I reconciled after I left for 7 months. Bittersweet memory.

So I wasn't sure what would happen this year as each one came out. I mean, I know me pretty well, so I was aware I'd cry. I just didn't realize...I didn't realize what a cry fest decorating the tree would be this year. I had to stop and just sit with ornaments in my hands and on my lap, weeping over their memories. Buckets and buckets of tears until I was practically dehydrated. Miss M running back and forth to bring me tissues, saying things like, "Mom! STOP crying! It's JUST an ornament!! Santa will bring you MORE!!"

Happier times.

But it's okay now. The tree is up, and its lights and colors make me happy and feel peaceful in the dark nights of the encroaching winter, so I'm good...until I have to go pull out the house decorations this weekend and hang out with those memories for awhile.

Oh my god, Internet. That was ridiculously hard. I am haunted by Christmas memories. 

I mean, I even still put up all the extreme fisherman ornaments C has been given
over the years. And nobody in this house fishes.


tragic guns.

On my father's side of my family, guns are A Thing. My father's family is from the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, and for fun up there, the best thing to do is shoot you some Bambi. Or The Yearling. Whatever - go kill you something cute and fluffy, then drink a lot of beer. ...This may have changed since the invention of Netflix. And Netflix and Chill, which is a concept I just recently learned about. I am 85% naivete, 90% uncool, 95% old and 100% vulnerable to rabid wolves in the pack. Ought to get a gun, but I'm stubborn. I submit the following:

My great-grandfather owned a grocery store and butchered his own cows. He'd take his shotgun down to the cow pasture, pick out a good one, and BLAM. Then they'd hang it up from some ropes and butcher it. Right there in the dirt road, they'd do it. In fact, on the road to my great-uncle Calvin's farm, at the end of the little lane most of my father's family lived on, is an antique remnant of how people used to once upon a time kill cows, which is two poles in the ground, a pole across the top, from which rope would hang the cow while they butchered it. Very quaint, very 1930s.

Anyway, one day my great-grandfather took his 12-year-old son Joseph out to the cow pasture to shoot a cow for butchering to sell in the shop. While walking down the dirt road, my great-grandfather tripped and fell on his shotgun, which went off and instantly killed him. Right in front of my 12-year-old grandfather. 

There are some mumbled family rumors about how in the Sam Hill THAT happened; my great-grandfather was a seasoned, knowledgeable gun owner. Why'd he take the safety off before they got to the cows? (See where I'm going with this? Accidental suicide is where I'm going with this.) Which is horrifying, right? Why in the world would a father even do that in front of his 12-year-old boy? It didn't really seem like my great-grandfather's style. So nobody really knows; it was most likely a really big mistake, unless it wasn't. A tragic accident.

My point with this story is that guns are dangerous. Even the most very knowledgeable, seasoned gun owners can make a tragic, permanent mistake. My family has a history of tragic accidents with guns, and thus we are a testament to how very, very careful and respectful humans should be with tools they create, particularly when they create tools that are specifically designed kill other living things. Since sometimes they themselves may end up being one of the killed living things.

I was raised by a man who loved guns, who was raised by a man who loved guns, who was raised by a long line of men who loved guns. They were farmers and hunters and soldiers who used them to kill cows and deer and bring home meat for their families and sometimes killed other human beings when their government told them to. The key word here, I think, is KILL. Guns are tools, and they are tools designed and used to kill. 

Human beings, by nature, are killers. Some of us are conscientious objectors to it, and we get on Social Media and cry WHY??? WHY?!?!?! when killing happens. And yet, we still all do it, this killing business. We cut down trees to build houses and make books, and so we kill trees. You eat vegetables? Killing plants. I mean, it's just what we do. Survival of the fittest. We must eat to survive, we must have shelter. We are a smart species, we have evolved opposable thumbs and larger brains. But we are still very much cave people, in many ways; our main goal is always to survive the best. And we are not immune to the forces of Nature and other species that also want to survive. You go out in a tornado? That tornado will smack you in the brain with a large, flying object and kill you. You get in the water with Jaws? He's got big teeth he's going to use as tools to kill you. Circle of Life.

But this San Bernardino thing...Sandy Hook, Connecticut...movie theater shootings...gas station shootouts...crazy ex-husbands going after wives they abused...acts of passion...someone snaps after years of struggling with mental health and takes handfuls of other human beings down with them. The other morning I saw a local news story about a 7 year old who found her mom's boyfriend's hand gun in their sofa, picked it up to look at it, and it went off in her face, killing her instantly. The mom was interviewed on TV and was so very matter of fact about it. Guns are just in their home. It was a tragic accident. She said. Flatly.

Tragic accident. I know everyone handles grief differently, but the woman didn't even have a single trace of affect on her face; this sort of thing just happens where she's from. Just matter-of-fact: my kid was a tragic accident. Jesus Christ.

And yet. I was raised by a gun owners, so I get it, gun lovers. Yes, yes, yes. We're all going to be running to YOUR houses for protection when the Zombie Apocalypse hits. Be assured: I'll be the first one at your door, ringing your doorbell, hiding behind you as you shoot down the zombies. And also please know: there IS a part of me that would really like to go to a gun range and wear some big earphones and safety glasses and feel the sexy power of a Glock in my hands as I shoot at some paper person 50 feet away. I have girlfriends who swear that's better than having an orgasm. I mean...for real?! I can't even. And if that's the truth, then hell yeah. I think about having an orgasm with a Glock once in awhile. What warm-blooded girl wouldn't?

But you know what else I think about? I think about all the times my dad laid out his antique shotguns and pistols to clean them. And I think about how, every time he did, he described in careful detail exactly what a discharged bullet from one of them could do to a human body. And about how you never know if a gun is truly empty...you can never ever be sure, and that's why they have safety locks.

Tragic accident. 

I think about WHY my father would have these talks with my brother and me when we were children. I think about how our gun cabinet - displayed proudly and prominently in our foyer - was always locked but had a glass door on it. And I think about how, after my father died and my mom's house was robbed, that very gun cabinet's glass door was smashed in and every single shotgun in it had been taken out and carefully laid on the floor in front of the cabinet. The thieves had been considering, pondering...how to get them all out of the house? And in the end, clearly decided to leave them - maybe they were in too much of a hurry...or maybe it was just too risky to be seen walking out of a house with a bunch of long shotguns. I wish you could see, in your mind, what I am seeing in mine...the image of all of my father's guns carefully laid out on the floor, and not taken simply because there were too many. Had they been able to figure out how to do it, those guns could have been used for any purpose - robbing, maiming, killing. It was a chilling thing. They carefully laid every single shotgun out; they desperately wanted them. Just couldn't figure out how to do it quietly.

Tragic accident.

I think about WHY my father, a graduate of military college and an Army veteran of the Vietnam War, raised by Navy veterans of World War II who sat around and told lots and lots of War-Is-Hell stories to the point all my young father ever wanted was to grab a gun and go kill some enemies of the United States...I think about WHY my father would not only never teach his own son how to shoot a gun and kill a deer, but would also actively and vocally discourage him from going to war. From shooting another living thing. 

Tragic accident.

I think about the story my mother once told me about my father, who was in the throes of a very deep and gripping depression as he struggled with alcohol addiction and several bad punches Life hit him with...I think about my dad sitting on the edge of a tub with one of his pistols in his hands, pondering. And telling my mom, when she walked in on him and asked, that he'd just been cleaning it. But there was a stray bullet in the sink. 

Tragic accident.

I think about how, after my father died and my mother was cleaning out his closet, she found a pistol on the top shelf of that closet. I think about how bad it scared her just to touch it and that, later, she had the police officer husband of a friend come over to take it down. She wanted him to make absolutely sure it was unloaded before she put it in the gun cabinet. I think about how it wasn't unloaded. I think about how it had bullets in it still. And the safety was off. I think about how many times my father warned me as a child about guns that had bullets in them. And I think about how my father's father witnessed his own father die from a gunshot. And that my father hadn't bothered to put the safety on his own gun. That had bullets in it.

Tragic accident.

I don't want to take away anybody's guns. I know some people use them to go get meat for their family. I know some people use them for fun and pleasure and kinky simulated orgasms. I know some people are absolutely convinced that, every single night, there are like all these stealth ninjas with AK-47s lurking in their bushes and the only way they'll possibly be able to save themselves and their children is if they own an arsenal of guns. 

Yes, I totally get it, gun owners. And I promise, as the child of a gun owner and the granddaughter of gun owners, I WANT you to have access to guns. 

But can we agree that 7 year olds shooting themselves in the face isn't okay? Can we agree that people walking into crowded public areas and shooting at random is a bad thing? Can we agree that the answer is actually NOT to put MORE guns into the atmosphere, but maybe to be more careful about who gets them? 

(I know...I KNOW. This is where your hackles go up and you grab your NRA paraphernalia/talking points and start handing me inane little facts about people stabbing each other with knives and so maybe we should control knives better. Stop. Just stop it.) 

It's just. I just don't want anyone's mommies and daddies innocently enjoying a day at work to die just because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. I don't want that to happen anymore. And I absolutely don't want anyone's babies who are learning their ABCs and just starting to add and subtract to die. As a mother, I cannot even begin to tell you the clutches of fear and anguish this thought sends me into; I can SEE my own child in every single one of those Sandy Hook kids' faces...I can FEEL exactly what I imagine those mothers felt when they were told their little girl or boy was one of the children who didn't make it out alive. 

When I was growing up, we lived in Oklahoma and one of our neighbors in the back of us was arrested because he shot and killed another neighbor over a disagreement about which extra inch of yard belonged to whom. Did you know? Back in 1979, in Muskogee, Oklahoma, somebody once died because he dared to argue about one goddamn inch of grass. 

I'm tired of angry, vigilante assholes being given access to tools so they can play God. And I'm tired of people driving around the streets with guns in their glove compartments, flying into a momentarily psycho road rage, pulling out that gun and doing something stupidly blind and tragic with it. And I'm tired of reading news stories about drive by shootings because a lot of the children I work with deal with this, a lot, and their stories - always told in very matter-of-fact words with a very innocent and naive viewpoint on it - break my heart. And I'm just so fucking tired of guns and our passion for guns in this country. Why are we not as passionate about children living in poverty, why are we not passionate about children who go to bed or wake up with hunger? Why are we not angry and passionate about children who are homeless, living with adults who hurt them. 

But I get it. You love them, and the Constitution says you can have them. And god forbid we mess with a 226-year-old document that's been already been amended 27 times and is probably due for a few more.

A very large part of the problem is that we are a sick country. Our mental health care system is broken. Our justice system is antiquated, racist, and ineffective. We pour money into tax breaks for people who need it least and hoard help from people who need it most. We distract ourselves with dumb issues and pointlessness so we don't have to address the real heartbreaking ones. It's so easy to demand and defend your 2nd amendment right when you're not the one picking out clothes for your child to wear in a coffin.

How does it make me a terribly wrong and misguided person to want like just three more laws controlling how we distribute firearms that aren't designed to kill Bambie or The Yearling, but are absolutely designed to end human life? Why is it bad for me to say: cool, own your guns but why the hell do you need the assault rifle? Put the assault rifle back. 

Why am I the crazy one to want a few more laws that say: hey, you have to wait a little longer before you can have that semi-automatic...hey, you have to pass this mental health test before you can get that Glock...Oh, you want a gun? Well, sure but you'll need to pay gun insurance to own one, just like you pay car insurance...hey, you can have an AK-47, a Glock, and a shotgun in your house, but that's all.  Why do you need more than that? Are you building your own personal Army or something? This ain't Waco. 

I know there are gun control advocates out there who want A LOT of control. I am not one of them; I'm not saying: get rid of all the guns, America. I know there are assassin ninjas in your bushes and you're constantly being threatened by gangstas in hoodies. 

I just want babies to stop dying. And I want gun enthusiasts to acknowledge, goddammit, that if you own a gun, YES. There can be tragic accidents. Just please acknowledge they're weapons of destruction, and if you own one there can be tragic accidents. My very own gun enthusiast father did this all the time, and was almost a victim of it himself. And his grandfather certainly was. Stop acting like just because you practice at a gun range every other weekend that you're a freaking expert on guns. You are not a gun expert; you're a weekend cowboy/cowgirl. And so stop talking like you know EXACTLY what you'd do if a crazed gun man started shooting up the restaurant you're eating at; be real with yourself. Because you have no IDEA what you'll do, exactly, how you'll act until you actually go through one of those situations and god forbid you ever are in a situation where you have to go through something like that. Trained, skilled police officers will tell you they have to LEARN how to control themselves in those highly charged situations, and it is very hard. Stop acting like you think you're Dirty Harry and get real: owning guns makes you feel safer and more in control of a world you're actually quite afraid of, and admit they also maybe make you feel very bad ass. And please acknowledge that you probably have an issue that you might need to address if you keep needing to buy more guns, that two or three just don't seem to be quite enough for you. Even though you aren't a cop, a soldier, or a hired assassin. 

Guns are tragic. People are crazy. People love crazy, tragic things. We crave dangerous romance. 

Which is why the FDA regulates our foods and drugs. And our money is regulated. And how we build roads. And how many safety features our cars have; and now we have laws making us wear seatbelts, or fine us for texting or put us in jail for drinking while driving. And there are building codes so our houses don't topple down and crush us. And we pay good money to make sure we have police protection in case our guns don't stop the ninjas in our bushes, and for firefighters in case the bush ninjas set our homes ablaze. And I know all those regulations really chap some of your asses, especially those of you who love guns, because they're all examples of TOO MUCH GOVERNMENT. (And I also think you're totally missing the point while enjoying a longer and more comfortable life than people had in the Wild West you so romanticize.)

I just don't get why asking for some extra regulations on tools specifically designed to end life makes ME the crazy one. Jesus God, I only own knives and numb chucks.


learned things.

I think this picture would be an awesome resource for me when confronted with a problem:
just how BIG is it, really? Because I bet most of my problems usually fall between 0-2, but I react like they're
levels 3-5. Just breathe, Amy. And give it a level.
I've learned some things about me since separating from C in June. Some of the things are things I've always known are true about myself, but maybe are just an integral part of who I am; what makes me me (be they good or bad). It is what it is, que sera sera. Other things are things I've always kind of suspected, but know for sure are true now. And some things are new revelations. I submit the following learned things for the Internet's amusement/entertainment/connection/whatever:

1. My temper. I have one. Except it implodes rather than explodes. I have a hard (really hard) time expressing anger to anyone other than myself or my child. I was getting there with C before packing up and moving out; the problem with this was that my expression of anger was completely new for him and he wasn't sure how to handle it; he was used to being the one in the indignant driver seat, with me being the object of his indignancy. When the tables turned, it left the whole foundation of our relationship kind of wobbly. People who are used to being super stars don't like to know when they aren't being very, you know, super starry.

At any rate, I think it's healthy to express - explode - every now and then. Over the right things. My issue is I implode, and often over the wrong things. Or sometimes I explode over the right things and then give in to the other person's ridiculous need to guilt trip and apologize when I shouldn't. Or I implode over the right things when I should have exploded and I still end up apologizing. I am the most exasperating, exhausting person I know. 

I don't know how to change this, but I want to.

2. My impatience. One reason I'm kind of a crappy cook/baker is my lack of patience. Can't I just stick it in the microwave and have it come out looking like it does when the Four Seasons chefs make it? Stupid. It's just going to get chewed up, digested, and pooped out anyway.

I'm kind of the same way when stuck in traffic, standing in a long line, and anytime I have to set foot in Wal-Mart (omg, I hate Wal-Mart; it is the very definition of "necessary evil"). I wonder if I've always been like this or if it's a learned behavior? I'm having dinner at my mom's today and may ask (if I'm in the mood for a long list of other less than stellar things that I've been like over the years).

3. My intense guilt. I've learned, since June particularly, I really can't hang with people who do the guilt trip thing. Because listen: I do the guilt trip thing every single day of my life, on myself. Don't need yours on top of it. I've learned people who resort to guilt trips on other people are doing it for the following reasons: power and control. And they always create the very situation they're trying to avoid. Not worth it.

But lands, I'm good at guilting myself for everything. I wish I were more Bohemian. It's my ultimate goal in life to be a Bohemian. Seriously. I want to dress like a gypsy every day, walk out of my house barefoot and hugging my tambourine, kiss and love freely and with tremendous abandon, and not give a flying crap what anyone thinks or has to say about it. (In my estimation, I'm about 1/4 there...I think when I stop feeling the need to blonde over my grey hairs and perform major body hair removal will be the day I make to the half-way mark.)

4. My procrastination. Not too much to say here except: it's always been a problem, continues to be a problem, still working on how to make it less of a problem. Like, right now I owe $182 to my doctor's office but I haven't sent them the check. Have the money, have the check, haven't mailed it. Why? Procrastination. I pay bills online, I don't have stamps. Need to go take the envelope with the payment inside to the post office for a stamp. Been procrastinating. Had 90 days to pay the bill, and I thiiiinnk I'm at 120 days. I don't know. I've been procrastinating looking at the bills they keep sending me, asking for their $182.

It ain't pretty, but like my temper and impatience, it's who I am.

5. My overthinking. EVERYTHING. If it can be overthought, I overthink it. I'm talking about things like deciding which brand of mustard to buy, not even just the big stuff. I'm actively working hard to change this about me; if I'm going to exhaust myself over exploding/imploding angrily at the right vs. wrong things, I'm going to send myself to an early Type A person's grave if I'm also stressing myself out with overthinking. 

When it comes to overthinking, I've learned people who do this do it because they like to play psychic and/or armchair psychologists, two head games I happen to be most excellent at. Though I think I'm a better psychologist than psychic, just because I've been through so much therapy in my life. (In addition to Oscar-winning dramatic diva actress, I think my other missed calling is highly-sought after/self help book writer/frequent Oprah guest therapist.)

In addition, overthinkers create problems that were never there to begin with and it always, you know...creates a lot of problems. Every single time I've imploded angrily over the wrong things it's been because of overthinking. Every. Single. Time. And every single time I've ended up less than happy with the brand of mustard I've walked out of a store with? Overthinking was the culprit. Every. Single. Time. 

Personally I think there's a way to be existential about practically everything, and the key to it was written in a really annoying Disney song called Let It Go. The Buddhists teach this as the fundamental core of their belief system and it's why I always tell people I love Jesus and Buddha and so if I have to have a religion, I'm a Buddhistian.  I'm only talking about the not-crazy Buddhists, though, because did you know there are crazy Buddhists? Every single religion has crazy people in it, even the religions that teach their people to Let It Go. Because you know what human beings are really crap at (I've learned)? Being able to Let It Go. Also: Is that song stuck in your head yet? Hope so. Welcome to my world. 

At any rate, I think I'm getting better at Let It Go/Buddhistianity/not overthinking. The key (for me) (besides singing the song Let It Go) has been to just consciously remove my mind from whatever it is by saying: In one week, one month, one year this thing isn't going to matter. And then I remind myself until I haul off and kill someone in cold blood there are no good or bad choices, just choices, and that everything I do, think, and say will land me eventually where I'm meant to be, so just go with the flow, yo. Then I distract myself with something else to think about or do. 

That's worked fairly well for me so far, until the moment it hasn't. Everybody slips up now and then, though, I suppose. And I think the key to accepting that is to, um, not overthink it too much. But mostly, I've just adopted an "it is what it is" kind of attitude about everything. I firmly, absolutely believe we are put here to love and accept each other as is; that even the most heinous of us (yes, ISIS, I'm talking about YOU) are here to teach and learn from each other. I've met people I so deeply admire and strive to be just like, and I've met people I never want to imitate in any way, shape, or form. But the most important thing is to accept and love people as is. If I'm overthinking things I'm not able to do that and that's not who or how I want to be. 

(Caveat: if someone shows you they're deeply troubled and/or abusive and/or not right for you, it is okay to send them light and love from afar and not have anything to do with them ever again - you do not have to repeatedly expose yourself to something or someone that stresses you out, and this includes family members. It is okay to do this. Be loving and kind to YOURSELF first and foremost; doing this will make it far easier for you to extend love and acceptance to others. And if, for whatever reason, you find you're unable to extract yourself from a particular relationship at the moment, it is okay for you to keep that person at extreme arm length emotionally and stop letting them in so much, so far. It is okay to protect yourself. You can protect yourself and still be a loving, kind person. In fact, you'll be more loving and kind in the long run, because you take care of YOU first; that's the key to loving and accepting the world as is - put YOUR oxygen mask on first, then start helping others.)

Also I would like to note I get the overthinker trait honest: I come from a long, long line of overthinking females. Maternal side. It may be in my DNA. But I've heard you can even overcome that. If you think about it hard enough. 

Last, this has nothing to do with my learned things, although I guess they're kind of things I've discovered how I feel about after two-plus-decades teaching elementary age children. So can I express some thoughts about these pictures? I saw them on Pinterest the other day and I feel these are things that need to be addressed:

Who the hell has time for this AND to teach? I see stuff like this on Pinterest and just think:

somebody either doesn't have a social life or someone has a full-time teacher's aide. I see things like this and think: Holy crap, our fire marshall would have a fit and give us a ten page violation write up for that. The fire marshall is the elementary school teacher's nemesis.
 Although in fairness to the hard-working fire marshalls of the world, a friend of mine once

had a mentor teacher who'd always say sage things like "Cute don't teach." 

THIS is what she was talking about, exactly what she meant.

 This is what they want kids to do today when they read. As a writer, I do this with a lot of things I read - I highlight things that really move me or make me go WOW, I write notes in the margins about character development or what I think the theme here is or why the writer chose that phrase or whatever. Or just thoughts.

So making kids do this isn't a bad thing. But what age are we making them do it? Because I'm doing this in 2nd grade, and it's the hardest thing to frickin' teach. And whenever I find myself going: this is the hardest thing to frickin' teach, the thing I think I'm learning about 21st century/Common Core-centric teaching is that if I'M having a hard time communicating it to them and/or THEY'RE having a hard time understanding it, then it's, you know. TOO FRICKIN' HARD. Which means it's probably beyond their developmental level, which means it's inappropriate for their age group.

Also, sometimes I DON'T make notes in the margins when I read stories. Sometimes I just read a book because it's nice to just enjoy a good story. When did "just enjoy a good story" become a dirty thing to suggest doing in schools? Can kids have some down time? I mean, they're kids.

I'd put reading for enjoyment at a Level 0 on the How Big Is My Problem? list.


stupid romance advice: a PSA.

I saw this on Pinterest the other day, and am compelled, as a PSA for all (heterosexual, but I bet homosexual couples can relate to some of the ridiculousness here) couples but specifically males since that's who the list is aimed at, to address the most egregious items of stupidity on the following Romance Hack:

This mess. This whole 31 item mess. Let's just analyze what the hell is going on here, because I really think people who come up with lists like this are fucking it up for perfectly good people in perfectly fine relationships. Expectations are a hell of a drug, and they're always the reason you're unhappy, I swear it. 

The following are the items from this list I have the biggest issues with:

#3: I mean, yeah, if she knows you're in the room and it's possible you may do that. I mean, don't sneak up on her or anything. What if she has a hot curling iron in her hand? That's an ER visit right there, yo. 

#4: I think you'd really need to evaluate your girl and the nature of your relationship before embarking on this journey. Leave her text messages AND voice mails EVERY DAY?? Doesn't that seem a bit obsessive? I like to get text messages from my friends every day, and some times more than once. But if I don't hear from them for a day, then I don't lose it or anything. And I don't have a problem sending them a text message making sure they're okay. Maybe the girl can do that for you, too. (Here, my inner Gloria Steinem is showing.)

#5: I dunno. Really? Wrestle/Tickle war seems like something I do with my 7 year old or that I liked to do WHEN I was 7 years old.

#6: Wouldn't it depend upon the nature of the relationship you now have with your ex? If you're friends, just friends, and your girl is secure with herself and with her relationship with you, then this shouldn't bother her at all. There are these things mature relationships have called "trust" and "communication." When you have those two elements, it doesn't really matter who hangs out with who, when, where, or why. In fact, if you wanted to have sex with your ex and you're open and honest about it and your current girl is okay with it? Then more power to you guys. 

#7: Stupid. Just insipid and stupid. Scroll down below for my thoughts on #29. Who the hell wrote this list? I'm beginning to suspect a jilted girl, not a guy.

#8: Just make sure your notes are short and to the point and not too sappy. Nobody wants to start a day off with a lot of sap.

#9: Well, I mean, IS she your girlfriend? Have y'all had a formal "hey, let's be boyfriend/girlfriend" talk yet? If not, I'd hold off on #9 for a bit. If you have, and you're both in agreement you're boyfriend/girlfriend-level status, then this tip seems sorta well, duh.

#10: Okay. I'm down with #10. It's the single item on this list I'd without any reservation tell any man: Yes, do that. Oh my god, yes. DO THAT.

#11: WHAT?! No. NO!!! First, she is not an infant. Second, you're going to break your back. Are you kidding me?! This screams IMMEDIATE ER VISIT all over it.

#12: sigh. If you feel it necessary to do this, then you're either insecure and need to grow up, or you're with someone who's on purpose trying to MAKE you insecure and needs to grow up, or you've got some serious issues with ownership. You are in a RELATIONship, not an OWNERship. Act accordingly.

If, however, the guy is threatening your girl or a strange man touching her in her bathing suit areas, then by all means yes: get upset. Call the bouncers/security over. And as they're dragging that douchebag out of the establishment, scream all kinds of nasty names at him so you're her hero (without getting your nose smashed in).  

#15: Really? REALLY?? Somebody's mad at you, and you think kissing/hugging is going to fix it? No. Nein, nyet, non, nope. Stop the invalidation and just effing discuss the issue.

#17: I had the biggest, most visceral reaction to #17.  No, I will NOT hug a stuffed animal from you every time I go to sleep, because I am not 2 years old. 

Full disclosure: I do actually have a stuffed animal I SOMETIMES hug (for comfort) to go to sleep, but I've been hugging it since I was, why yes - 2 years old. And my Uncle Joey gave it to me for Christmas. And I keep the stuffed animal in a hidden place because it's just a soothing thing I have. But if given a stuffed animal as a gift by a grown ass man to a grown ass woman? No. Just NO. It's...NO. 

Jewelry is nice...if you're THISCLOSE to being married. Otherwise, it's too much/too soon and thus either really creepy or trying waaaaayyyy too hard. And if things go awry, it's the first thing going to the pawn shop, I swear it. T-shirts/sweatshirts sprayed with cologne...this sounds like something teenage girls do when they want attention from One Direction - write a fan letter, spray it with some body spray by Britney Spears, and kiss it with lipstick on. But for a grown up? NO. 

And giving a grown woman all of these things together?Oh my god. Listen to me, just do this: just take her out for a nice dinner and maybe a walk in a moonlit park, man. Hold her hand, have a deep talk about something that matters to both of you, listen to her, don't judge her, make her laugh, laugh at her jokes...I mean, is it just me? Does it really have to be this hard? If she likes flowers, get her some. If she likes live theatre, take her to a play. IT'S NOT HARD. Just...oh god, please. NO STUFFED ANIMALS.

#21. I LOL'd the longest at #21. "Kiss her in the rain (girls love this)." Hoo my. I just...I can't even. Listen, gentlemen: most girls, in the rain, are like: aaaggghh! my hair is getting wet! i'm going to look like a drowned rat!!! I hope my make up doesn't run!!! I mean, if it works out and you end up kissing in the rain, it's romantic, yes. But you know where kissing in the rain is usually romantic? Under an awning. Just make sure your girl isn't getting drenched when you kiss her in the rain. And don't - DO NOT - ever put in ( ) what girls love. You totally look like an amateur. And that goes for you too, missy, the girl who probably wrote this list.

#'s 23-26. Oh, of course! All girls love to listen to YOUR music. Why not do this: find songs you BOTH like. BOOM, instant connection. #'s 24-26, well, duh, Captain Obvious.

#27. But what if she wants $10 million? Or a 5 star trip to Fiji? This seems far too open-ended for a list of this nature: Here is exactly, precisely what will make your gal happy. This, this, this aaaaannnd...oh hell, just give her whatever she wants. (Like a one night stand with Channing Tatum?) 

#29 First, refer back to what I said regarding #6. Second, go meditate on #12. Last, sweet, dear gentlemen: if you are with a girl who has a problem with you hugging other girls, or with you hugging your friends who are girls, in front of her? You are already 3/4 of the way to a majorly bad break up. Probably because (a) you read - and buy into - lists of this nature, and (b) you got yourself a girl, and not a woman. A woman doesn't care who you're friends with, and she's secure enough with herself that she doesn't care who you're friends with. I like both men and women, and I think friendships with each kind have benefits. I would never, ever tell my partner who he can/can't be friends with. That's not a relationship; that's a guilt-trip prison.

#31 Just ending the list with (totally) said it all. (Totally.)