Please Don’t Fix the Sidewalks

Please Don’t Fix the Sidewalks

I love having any excuse to go to St. Louis.  It is, without doubt, my definition of “home”, even though I moved away 30 years ago.  It’s where I was born and raised, and I am a walking stereotype of a South St. Louis native: I grew up in a little brick house in a blue collar neighborhood, I eat jack salmon and pork steaks, can spot a hoosier a mile away, still scream and shout for my beloved Cardinals, and know that asking someone what high school they went to will tell me almost everything I need to know about them.

So, when I got an email from my East Coast sister (I call her that so as not to confuse her with my St. Louis sister) announcing that her clan would be in St. Louis over the July 4 holiday, I immediately got my Happy Dance on.  While any excuse to go breathe in the comfort of The Lou will do, being able to get together with my siblings is one of my favorite justifications.

 

This visit seemed to be more poignant than most.  That may be due to my funk / midlife crisis / badditude, I’m not sure.  Yes, I’m still wallowing in my mood…my discombobulation….my glass-half-empty phase.   You get the picture.  I’m not spewing sunshine and positive juju over here.

 

As is my norm, I digress…..back to the visit.

 

We packed a lot into this 48 hour fun fest.  A walk down Market to enjoy the throngs of kids playing in the fountains at City Garden, and watching the beautiful horse drawn carriages give their fares an unforgettable view of downtown.  Strolled through Soulard early on Saturday morning (which is the optimum time to go, of course) while snacking on the best mini donuts ever.  Watched the parade down Market Street that kicks off Fair St. Louis.  Visited City Museum, and enjoyed the added attraction of a huge Hindu wedding that was being held there….watching children in beautifully elaborate clothes sneak away to go flying down a 2 story metal slide kept us entertained for a good half hour.  An evening with friends from grade school at a local bar…..and a not-so-subtle reminder of how quickly we’re aging as we abandoned ship when the alternative rock band started to blow our eardrums out. (The lead singer had a decent voice, though, so I might try to find an online recording by Butterfly Distortion…and listen to it on low volume before passing judgment)  A movie at the OmniMax, which is a domed screen (roof), and made me kind of queasy.  Pizza at Imo’s.  A drive through Tower Grove and Forest Park.  Dinner with my family at Bartolino’s.  An air show while sprawled on the Market Street green way.

 

It was all of those things and yet none of them that made this trip special.  It was walking along jagged sidewalks, the giant slabs of concrete having been rearranged by the roots of the massive trees that grow along the street.  It was driving down Loughborough and taking in the giant sycamores, a tree that doesn’t seem to show up in other cities very often.  It was the literal sea of Cardinals gear, even though there was no game at Busch Stadium.  It was opening the door to our hotel room in the morning to find a St. Louis Post Dispatch greeting me.  It was knowing before I even put my dimes in the parking meter at Soulard that if I wanted a watermelon, the best ones come from the vendor on the NW corner of the market.

 

For some crazy reason (blame the aforementioned funk / midlife crisis / badditude), those things comfort me.  They have existed for as long as I can remember, and I can count on them.  They remind me that no matter what changes in life, some things will persevere, survive, withstand….even flourish.  Inbev may have bought the AB empire, but those big ol’ horses in the parade?  Those were the Anheuser Busch Clydesdales, my friends, and they always will be. At a time in my life when so many aspects of my belief system are being challenged, listening to that vendor barking about having the sweetest watermelons is like being wrapped in a warm blanket.

 

I hope my own roots go as deep as the ones that have mangled those city sidewalks.  I hope they keep me standing straight and tall when push comes to shove.

 

Mostly, I hope I get past the point in my life when I’m trying to gain perspective and inner strength by comparing myself to an old tree.

 

Raging

Raging

So, you know those days when you just want to throw your hands up and say “F*@% it”?  That’s been me for the past couple of weeks.  There have been a series of events, some professional, some personal, and some societal, that have resulted in a loss of my generally optimistic and trusting nature*.

*This statement may, quite possibly, be sarcastic.

Bear with me while I give you some background, before I get to the real point of this post.  I’ll try to keep it succinct.  (Y’all know I ramble, right?)

Yesterday, an acquaintance phoned me, after a mere 7 or 8 years, to tell me that a former boss was mentally “down”, and thought it would be oh-so-helpful if I reached out to offer reassurance and friendship to him.  The former boss that went entirely on the attack when I resigned from his company.  The former boss that tried desperately to ruin my reputation in the industry and the community.  The former boss that tied up my energy and most of my retirement income in a frivolous lawsuit that took 3 years to get thrown out.  Yes, THAT former boss is depressed and is in need of his old friends to rally around him, and I should learn how to let go of past transgressions.

While that phone call was the proverbial straw, the advice that I should learn to “let go” was like a blow torch to dynamite.  I have been on what my grandmother would have called “a bender” ever since…eating and crying and hating people in general, and some people in particular.  I have been raging against an onslaught of dishonesty, disrespect, being taken for granted, and injustices to people around me.  Thankfully, I only rage in my head so as not to disturb others.

I call that “Catholic raging”. 

I sit and spew mental fire and cry and eat things I shouldn’t and make my dogs look at me funny and my husband get that exasperated face and say “What is WRONG with you?”  I am raging and loathing and sobbing as I type this.  If I didn’t need my hands for the keyboard, I’d be eating, too.  It’s not a pretty scene.

Because sometimes I get tired of doing the right thing.  I get tired of taking the high road.  I get tired of forgiving.  I get tired of being responsible.  I get tired of accepting bad behavior.  I want to throw my hands up and be helpless and let someone clean up my messes.  I want to get even and toss out paybacks like penny candy at a Christmas Parade.  I want to walk away silently whilst flipping the bird.  I want to be the sort of selfish badass that just leaves it all behind.

So, that’s where I found myself.  It’s a ridiculous, non-productive, unhealthy place.  Time to adjust sails and get my perspective back.

This is where the real point of this post starts, so if you’ve hung in there with me thus far, thank you.

I decided to focus on vacation, which is only 59 days away.  There is still so much to do:  menu planning, t-shirt making, beach mat blinging…it’s like a full time job, except I WANT to do it and I DON’T get paid, which I guess makes it the opposite of most full time jobs.  Whatever.

Steve, in his practical wisdom, and knowing that I am not in the best place right now, innocently suggested that maybe this isn’t the right year for the beach vacation.  Maybe we should put it off a year.  Go to St. Louis instead.  Something more low key.  Which made me cry harder, but at the same time gave me that much needed perspective.

When I was growing up, we took one trip:  The Great Anderson Family Vacation of 1969.  7 people in a Chevy Malibu.  My parents, my two sisters, one brother, and our parish priest.  Why did the priest go?  I’m not sure, but I think it had something to do with the fact that he was the one that owned the Malibu.  The Andersons didn’t have anything fancy like a car in 1969, ya know.  The priest may have also paid for the vacation, but I don’t know that for sure.  It still wasn’t a complete family vacation; one brother was God-knows-where with the Navy, and the other was on tour in Vietnam.

I have so many memories of that trip, and it is still the source of endless laughter at family gatherings.  Watching my Dad convince a deer to eat from his hand in Estes Park.  My sisters’ swimsuits, made by my mother, literally dissolving in the Great Salt Lake.  Freezing on Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco because we Midwesterners thought all of California was 80 degrees all the time.  Trying mint jelly on a lamb chop, and gagging on it.  Being besieged by window washers as we drove into Mexico from Texas.  A horse trying to roll over on my Mom during a trail ride.  My Dad digging through the trunk every morning to find the bottle of Karo syrup if I wanted pancakes, because I didn’t like anything else on them.  My Mom with a death grip on the back of my shirt at the Grand Canyon, because she didn’t want me to fall in.  To this day, my only memory of the Grand Canyon is what the backs of other people’s legs looked like.

It was glorious and awful and funny and hot and crowded. It was The Great Anderson Family Vacation, and it was the only one we ever had.

Fast forward 4 years.  Not exactly a vacation, but we were going to go to Six Flags, which had opened in St. Louis a year or two before.  It was a big deal to me, because I’d never been to an amusement park.  I had been to school picnics at St. Mary Magdalen and some other surrounding parishes, and the concept of something as grand as Six Flags just blew my mind.  I mean, what could be better than the Scrambler and the Round Up?  My Dad was taking his week’s vacation, and while it was sure to be full of house projects, like every one of his vacations was, we were going to go to Six Flags.

But we didn’t.  The day before Six Flags, on my Dad’s last day of work before vacation, he suffered a massive coronary while in mid-sentence on a loading dock.  Lights out.  It was over, and there would never be another vacation, or baseball game, or fish fry, or house project.

My sister and her new husband took me to Six Flags later that summer.  It was awesome.  Really.  But I will always remember that my Dad never made it to that park.

The beach can’t wait until next year, because next year isn’t promised.  THIS year isn’t promised.  A lot can happen in 59 days.

The good stuff should never be pushed aside while we wallow in the inevitable bad crap that happens in life.  That’s backwards.

I can’t walk away from my world whilst flipping the bird.  That’s not who I am.

I can’t throw my hands up and let my world crumble around me.  That would make me ashamed of myself.

I can’t go on the attack or retaliate against people who fully deserve retaliation.  That goes against the laws of Karma, and in case I didn’t mention it, I pretty much try to hold true to that belief system.

I’m going to stop crying, stop binging on carbohydrates, and stop being angry at everything that breathes.  I am going to work on beach bags and t-shirts and cruise Groupon hoping for a deal on hot air balloon rides.

I am not calling the former boss.  I’m a believer in doing the right thing, but I’m not a martyr.

 

 

My New Year’s Resolution: Ruining It For Everybody

My New Year’s Resolution: Ruining It For Everybody

I have a disorder.  Hell, I have many disorders…I love junk food, I have a grammar fetish, I’m a control freak, and those are just a couple on the top of a long list.  The disorder I’m going to talk about today, though, is my inability to see hoaxes and falsehoods on social media and not point out that it’s false.

I know, I know, I could turn this particular disorder into a full time, unpaid position.  There is no shortage of bullsnot on the internet.  Nor is there a shortage of people who think it’s perfectly alright to spread malarkey far and wide.  I’ve been told that if I don’t like something, I should just move on.  I probably SHOULD.  That doesn’t mean I DO.  Or that I WILL.  You post something that ends up in my newsfeed, you give up the right to bitch at me for commenting.  Agreed?

aaae8748d4ec334bd4cdab47d0dc2628

So what’s wrong with posting things that aren’t true?  There’s no harm in warning someone that women are being drugged with perfume samples, right?  I mean, it COULD happen, so best to get that warning out there up front.  Better safe than sorry, right?  And, Facebook COULD start laying claim to all of your photos if you don’t post that privacy statement on your timeline.  Your family Christmas pic may end up in the background of some pornographic film somewhere.  What about those poor people (likely young children) that won’t get the surgery unless we LIKE and SHARE so that Coca-Cola will donate $1?  No harm, right?

Wrong.  There is lots of harm.

  1. Malware.  If the scam takes you to another site (“CLICK HERE to demand an end to putting kittens in blenders!) that could infect your computer
  2. Scam.  You could be urging people to sign up for, donate to, or support bogus causes.
  3. Spreading Falsehoods.  There are multiple “warnings” put out on software programs that are authored by….ready for this?….competitors.  You could be ruining a company’s reputation by spreading lies about their product.
  4. Creating danger.  You know the one about entering your PIN number backwards if you’re being robbed at the ATM?  Do you want to be responsible for someone thinking this is actually summoning the police?  All those scary stories about women being abducted with perfume?  You’re giving crazy people ideas.  You’re helping to create copycat criminals for crimes that weren’t even committed yet.

This is where I beg you to stop, and you ignore me.  So, just fair warning that I’ll be vocal (what’s the written form of vocal?) this year.  Sorry.  Somebody’s gotta do it.

Just for starters, here’s a list of hoaxes and scams for 2017 that you should maybe avoid participating in or spreading.  Happy New Year from me.

  1.  Bill Gates is not sending you money.  Sorry.billgates
  2.  No company is donating money towards someone’s medical procedures if you LIKE and SHARE their page.  They may enter you into a drawing for a gift card (legitimate), but not holding someone’s life hostage.
  3. Jesus, God, or any other deity you may encounter does not expect you to SHARE if you love them.
  4. No one is giving away 50 RVs because they can’t be sold.scam-facebook
  5. Celebrity deaths will be reported on credible news sites, and it won’t be with a caption of “David Hasselhoff falls to his death in New Zealand!”
  6. Facebook can do whatever it wants within the Terms and Conditions you agreed to when you signed up.  The good news?  They’re not charging you for using your account, and it won’t be deleted at midnight if you don’t follow the link.
  7. “While you were sleeping, Congress quietly passed a law”…. Stop it.  Do some research.  Oh, and no one is implanting you with an RFID chip when you sign up for Obamacare, either.
  8. Clowns are not murdering people.
  9. You cannot charge an iPod with an onion
  10. Hercules was indeed the largest dog on record, a stunning English Mastiff that weighed 282 lbs.  However, the photo depicting him walking next to a horse and being nearly the same size is a photoshopped image, and not even a good one.  Seriously, how much do horses weigh?huge-dog
  11. iPhones are not waterproof, nor are they programmed to detect water and automatically shut themselves off.
  12. There is no Derbyshire Fairy.  I know, I know, I wanted to believe too.
  13. Obama’s social security number does not belong to Jean Paul Ludwig.  And, he wasn’t born in Africa.  (Even Trump knows this now.)
  14. There have been no discoveries of “hairy spider monkeys” on Mars.
  15. KFC has never served a fried rat, and the woman who claimed there were live maggots in her fried chicken was extorting money.  Seriously, KFC has enough problems by just being….well, KFC.  Don’t make it worse.
  16. Dearborn, MI did not implement Sharia Law.  Neither did the place in Texas.  Or anywhere in the U.S.  Again, stop it with the fear mongering.

If you want to do your homework before forwarding on messages via email or social media, there are plenty of sites to check.  If it’s breaking news, try to verify with a credible media source.  As rare as they may be, there are still some out there.  NPR and BBC are still widely regarded as accurate.  If it’s something that may be a hoax, check it against some of these sites:  Hoax-Slayer, TruthOrFiction.com, FactCheck.org, PolitiFact, Washington Post Fact Checker, ThatsFake.com, ThatsNonsense.com, and, of course, Snopes.com. If you’re one of those that believe that Snopes is not trustworthy, or has a left-leaning liberal bias, please know that I disagree with that, but I won’t fault you for using a different site.

In conclusion, I wish you all a happy, healthy, and TRUTHFUL New Year!

hoaxes-generic