Fear and Loathing in the Divided States of America

As I was going through my documents on my computer, I came across this piece I had written the week after the presidential election.  I don’t know why I didn’t post it then, but here it is now…

 

So it has come to this.

After a year and a half of proudly supporting, promoting and doing everything in my feeble abilities to help Hillary Clinton take her rightful place among the Presidents of the United States, somehow she has lost to her opponent, Donald Trump.

To say that my emotions have run the gamut this week would be the understatement of the year.  How someone such at Hillary, who had the drive, the determination, the knowledge, and not to mention the experience to do the job, could lose the presidency to someone like Donald Trump boggles my mind.  I could be biased, however, which I’ll freely admit to being when it comes to Hillary.  You see, ever since Bill Clinton became President, I have admired her.  As the years passed and she became more involved in the political arena, I came to admire, respect, and yes, love Hillary even more.  In my opinion, she’s one of the greatest political figures the United States has ever, or will ever, have.  My partner says I seem to have a weakness for strong, powerful women in leadership.  That may be true, but I believe I come by that naturally.  After all, my unwavering allegiance to Her Majesty The Queen would be enough evidence of that… not to mention my absolute love, loyalty, devotion and admiration for my mother as well as my grandmother when she was still with us.

But let me get back to the point of this post.  There’s little doubt you have felt strongly, one way or the other, about either Hillary or her opponent.  If you say you couldn’t care less, well… let me be the first to say you’re lying.  What I can’t wrap my head around, however, is given the fact as to how divisive this election season has been, and given the blatant disregard for those around him, I’ll never in my life understand how anyone with a shred of self-respect or respect for anyone they love could have voted for her opponent.

You see, throughout his campaign, Hillary’s opponent vilified everyone around him who wasn’t white, conservative, and some would argue Christian.  He has called those from Mexico rapists, drug lords, and promised to build a wall to keep them out of his country.  He’s objectified women, demoralized minorities, ridiculed the disabled, and generally made anyone who isn’t exactly like him feel as though they are somehow “less than.”  Sadly, this behavior has brought out the same in his followers, who think it’s perfectly acceptable to treat others this way.  He based his entire campaign on propagating a sense of fear in his followers, and admonished them to loathe that which is different from themselves.

If you need to be reminded of just how terrible this man is, one needs to only think back to his campaign rallies held throughout this past year where his followers attacked, beat and berated those there who opposed his views.  To add insult to injury, he even promised to help pay their attorney fees for doing so (but I think we all knew that would never happen).  As if that wasn’t bad enough, the divisive rhetoric that spewed from his mouth was more than nauseating.  All this has fanned the flames of so much hatred that people are now fearful of what is going to happen to them.

I myself have been the victim of hate speech on social media by his followers, ranging anywhere from false accusations to veiled threats.  This coming from people I “thought” were my friends.  Never before have I heard such vile things come out of the mouths of people as I have this year, no doubt encouraged by this man.

Now I know some people will say that I just don’t get it, and that they aren’t like that.  But as you sit there and support someone as misogynistic, xenophobic, prejudiced and an all-around bad orange as this man is… well, keep in mind that my grandma used to say, “You’re known by the company you keep.”

That’s the main reason why it’s so hard for those of us who supported Hillary to accept the results of this election.  You see, it’s about much more than merely election results.  If that were all it is, you would see us accept this decision much more gracefully, knowing that it was all part of the process.  But this is about much more than that, and much more than being, as someone called me, a “sore loser.”

So what is this all about for us?  It’s about fear.  It’s about the uncertainty of not knowing if our basic human rights will be stripped away due to the prejudice of the leader, like in many third world countries.  It’s about the fact that hatred, racism, bigotry, intolerance – they’ve all effectively been given the stamp of approval by electing Trump.  Unfortunately, a vast majority of the people who elected him will never know what it’s like to deal with these things on a day-to-day basis.  Let me put it this way; if you’ve never been awakened in the middle of the night to find the KKK burning a cross in your yard or discovering your relative being lynched and hanged from a tree simply because of their race, you’ll never understand the threat of that kind of mentality being allowed to once again run rampant.  If you’ve never feared for your life because you’ve wanted to simply hold the hand of the person you love as you walk down the street but can’t because they happen to be of the same gender, you’ll never understand the fear of homophobia and gay-bashing being socially acceptable again.  If you’ve never been afraid to go to your house of worship to pray for fear it might be bombed while you’re there, you’ll never understand what it’s like to be on the receiving end of religious persecution.  With a Trump presidency, we face an all-too-real possibility that these types of crimes will dramatically increase, simply because of his followers believing that it would make their country somehow “great” again.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I know Hillary wasn’t perfect… none of us are.  But as far as what the candidates stood for, she was infinitely the better choice.  I wish those who bought into the fear mongering could have opened their eyes and seen that.

What really unnerves me about the whole thing, and makes me feel such an absolute sense of betrayal is the fact that it was the white “Christian” (and I have to use the term “Christian” very loosely here) masses that are the main group responsible for electing him.  Conservative Christians pretty much voted rank-and-file Republican, while most liberal Christians, I want to believe, voted for the best candidate for the job.  What I can’t understand is that Christians could see exactly who he was and what he stood for, all the while ignoring it and holding their nose and pulling the Republican lever, regardless of who it was they were voting for.  If you’re one of these people, I want you to remember what you’ve done while you watch the news of children being terrified of being ripped from their families due to deportation, or kids in school cafeterias being bullied because of their race, all because their parents and their new leader seem to think it’s somehow okay.  I want you to remember what you’ve done the next time you hear about someone you know being dragged by a chain behind a truck down a rocky road until he dies all because getting rid of one more person of a different race will make their country great.  I want you to remember what you’ve done the next time you hear of someone being tied to a fence post out in the middle of nowhere and left to die after being beaten half to death all because of their sexuality.  I pray none of this happens to someone in your family.

So what are you going to do, now that you’ve won?  Call for unity?  Tell us all to “just get over it,” and get along with the business of life-as-usual?  While I personally might not agree with the violence in the protests going on across the country, I can certainly understand why people feel the need to protest.  I’m sure you can too… after all, it’s the Trump supporters themselves who led the protesters by example.  It’s funny to me, though, how now that he’s won the election all the talk from his supporters has all of a sudden stopped being about brandishing arms and taking back their country, by force if need be, and are now asking for unity.  And you have the audacity and unmitigated gall to expect anything out of others different than what you’ve shown the world for the past year?  A call for unity was Hillarys message all along, and it was you who rejected that.

I don’t say that to advocate violence, but to simply drive home the point that it’s extremely hypocritical of Trumps followers to feel they can treat anyone they disagree with in any way they choose, yet cry foul whenever the roles are reversed, even slightly.  This is not the way Jesus, who you claim to follow, would have you behave.  You do not get to act like a petulant child all year and bully, threaten and mistreat everyone around you who disagrees with you until you get your way and then expect everything to be fine with everyone.

You have a chance here, albeit a very slim one, to prove to the world that you really can treat others equally.  I would highly suggest you act upon it.

 

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2016: The Annus Horribilis, vol. 2

In 1992, Her Majesty The Queen opened a speech with these words:  “1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure.  In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an annus horribilis.  I sometimes wonder how future generations will judge the events of this tumultuous year.”  I’m not sure about you, my dear reader, but I believe these words could also describe our look back at the aftermath of 2016.

I think this past year can be summed up in four words:  what the heck happened?!?  While I realize that my memory isn’t one for the record books, I don’t remember a year where we’ve dealt with more hatred, death, bitterness,division and all-around disappointment than we have this year.

On a personal note, this is the year I lost my last living grandparent. My grandma on my father’s side passed away on June 10.  Her health declined rather quickly in the last few weeks of her life, but I’m so grateful to have been able to see her and talk with her before she passed.  It will be I time I shall forever hold dear to my heart.

This year marked a milestone for me.  After over ten years at the same job, I made a move to another office.  So instead of being an oncology nurse, I’m now in pulmonary.

But enough about me, on to the rest of the world…

We’ve dealt with the Flint, Michigan water crisis, which started when high levels of lead was found in the citizens water supply.  Trying to fix it became no easy task, and to this day, the poor people living there are still having to deal with the red tape and other day-to-day problems this has caused.

The Powerball lottery reached a record 1.6 billion (yes, that’s Billion, with a “B”), and I didn’t win one red cent of it.Powerball Lottery

A bunch of redneck he-hanks in Oregon, led by some Jethro Bodine wannabe, decided they wanted to go live in a wildlife preserve to protest the government not letting them do whatever it was they wanted to do on federal property.  They became such a laughing stock by not thinking their little sit-in completely through and going on youtube or wherever asking people to send them supplies, that they were actually sent, get this… boxes upon boxes of dildos!  Eventually, their great leader was caught outside the compound with a few others in his car when they were pulled over for a minor traffic violation.  Things went from bad to worse when one of them got testy and decided he wanted to run towards the cop and throw a hissy-fit (or something along those lines, I forget) and get himself shot. Things went downhill from there.  Let’s just say they’re all in jail now, or on trial, or both.A pro-militia supporter holds a constitution while chanting

This year we saw a rise in police shootings in the black community, which brought about the Black Lives Matter movement to counteract the shootings. Then, an All Lives Matter movement started to counteract the Black Lives Matter movement.  Throughout the entire year I’ve seen my friends go back-and-forth with each other over who was right and who was wrong. Personally I think that having sunk to the point of needing either movement and not automatically treating each other as equals and having mutual respect for one another, is a sad commentary on where we are as a society.2015-09-04-1441395137-7049687-image3

A new game came out on smart phones everywhere called, Pokemon GO.  If I understand it correctly, you run around with your phone catching imaginary pokemons, and he who has the most, wins.  People were running around like they had lost their ever-loving minds, standing in the middle of roads, running onto others private property, and even falling off cliffs to their death trying to catch these things. I don’t know about you, but trying to catch some Peek-a-choo, Peak-at-you, Hoochi-hoo, Coochie-Coo, or whatever they’re called isn’t enticing enough for me to risk my life.  Thank you, but I’ll pass on this one.1-go-300x169-jpg

The biggest news, for myself anyway, is the vote in Great Britain to leave the European Union.  The “Brexit” vote, as it had become known, came as a surprise to practically everyone, since all the pollsters predicted the victory would go to the “stay” campaign. Ironically, it was only AFTER the results were announced the next day that Google declared there was a huge uptick in the people of Great Britain looking up, “what is the European Union?”  David Cameron resigned as Prime Minister, as well as other Tory leaders.  Theresa May was placed in the role of Prime Minister, all in a time span of approximately two weeks.Great Britain and European Union

The summer Olympics were held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, even though there were doom-and-gloom predictions of the city not being ready for them, due to being behind on construction of the proper facilities.  To add insult to injury, they also had to deal with the Zika virus outbreak, as well as reports of the water being unsafe to swim in.  For the most part, however, the games went smoothly from what I understand.  But of course, I didn’t watch them since I don’t keep up with the volleyball.maxresdefault

Samsung began selling the Galaxy Note 7 to much fanfare, only to discover once you got yours, it was destined to spontaneously combust into flames, burning you and everything around it.  Even airlines refused to allow them on their flights. Samsung eventually had to discontinue the phone, even after the initial recall to fix the problem failed. I knew it was hailed as the new hot item, but I think actually setting itself on fire is taking the idea of being “hot” to the extreme.160902161818-02-samsung-galaxy-burnt-phone-note-7-exlarge-tease

The closer we got to Halloween, the more we started hearing about these bizarre clown sightings, where weirdos dressed up in clown costumes would just stand in the edge of the woods near playgrounds, creeping out kids and parents alike.  If it was just an isolated incident, I could understand that it was most likely one sicko with nothing better to do than scare people, but it seemed to be happening all over the country.  Simultaneously. That just added way too many levels to the creepiness for my taste.download

One of the most unusual things about 2016 is the amount of notable people and celebrities who have died this year.  It seemed that it started in January, and never stopped.  Here’s a list of some who have died, although it’s by no means a complete list:

Pat Harrington, Jr
Most famous for playing Dwayne Schneider on “One Day at a Time.”  Died January 6.

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David Bowie
Iconic musician, actor.  Died January 10.

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Rene Angelil
Celine Dion’s husband and manager.  Died January 14.Celine Dion & Rene Angelil Arriving At

Alan Rickman
Actor famous for roles in “Harry Potter,” “Love Actually,” “Die Hard,” and others. Died January 14.alan2

Glenn Frey
Co-Founder of the band “The Eagles.”  Died January 18.635887447644481100-xxx-glennfrey-glader-hp2a5017-v01-78965680

Joe Alaskey
Best know for voicing “Daffy Duck” and “Bugs Bunny.”  Died February 3.020316-joe-alaskey-composite-getty-3

Maurice White
Founder of “Earth, Wind & Fire.”  Died February 3.maurice-white

George Gaynes
Best known for roles as the commandant in the “Police Academy” movies as well as “Punky Brewster.”  Died February 15.960

Angela “Bid Ang” Raiola
From the reality show “Mob Wives.”  Died February 18.960-1

Harper Lee
Author of “To Kill a Mockingbird.”  Died February 19.Nelle Harper Lee

Tony Burton
Played Apollo Creed’s trainer in the “Rocky” movies.  Died February 25.8bb103a0-3c0e-4fca-935f-beb470b8f0f4-large16x9_tonyburtonz

The Earl of Strathmore
Michael Fergus Bowes-Lyon, the Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, cousin to Her Majesty The Queen.  Died February 27.

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Joey Feek
Part of the country music duo “Joey+Rory.”  Died March 4.gty-joey-feek-cf_151214_16x9_992

Pat Conroy
Author of “The Prince of Tides.”  Died March 4.gettyimages-697790_wide-52f67899aee1aa239c59c58300242f10ca4e9dca-s900-c85

George Martin
Manager of “The Beatles,” often called “The 5th Beetle.”  Died March 8.george-martin

Phife Dawg
From the hip-hop group, A Tribe Called Quest.  Died March 22.tribecafilmfestival2011portraitstudioczmefy2dmkal

Garry Shandling
Actor most famous for “The Larry Sanders Show.”  Died March 24.gs_headshot

Jim Harrison
Author, “Legends of the Fall.”  Died March 26.28harrison-obit-master675

Mother Mary Angelica
Founder of the Catholic TV network, EWTN.  Died March 27.160327-mother-angelica_3328b036067ec2fc40d88a3c54c3ad7b-nbcnews-ux-2880-1000

Patty Duke
Star of “The Patty Duke Show.”  Died March 29.29906170001_4821895521001_4821837867001-vs

Erik Bauersfeld
Voice of General Ackbar from “Star Wars.”  Died April 3.admiral_ackbar_erik_bauersfeld_split

Doris Roberts
Actress who played the mother on “Everybody Loves Raymond.”  Died April 17.50942744CBS_CON025635067

Prince
Musician known for “Purple Rain,” “When Doves Cry,” “Raspberry Beret,” and “Let’s Go Crazy,” among many others.  Died April 21.prince

Michelle McNamera
Crime writer and wife of comedian Patton Oswalt.  Died April 21.160423102606-michelle-mcnamara-patton-oswalt-exlarge-169

Papa Wemba
Known as “the king of Congolese Rumba.”  Died April 24.Congolese singer Papa Wemba performs dur

Billy Paul
Singer best known for “Me and Mrs. Jones.”  Died April 24.billy-paul

Alan Young
Actor best known for his role in “Mr. Ed.”  Died May 19.21youngsub-obit-master768

Muhammad Ali
Award-winning boxer.  Died June 3.Muhammad Ali 1970

Anton Yelchin
Known as Chekov in the new “Star Trek” films.  Died June 19.anton-yelchin-2015-869x1024

Elie Wiesel
Holocaust survivor and humanitarian.  Died July 2.elie-wiesel-9

Miss Cleo
Famous for playing a Jamaican psychic in infomercials.  Died July 26.miss-cleo-dead1

The Duke of Westminster
Gerald Grosnever, the 6th Duke of Westminster.  Died August 9.Duke of Westminster death

Kenny Baker
Played the droid R2-D2 in “Star Wars.”  Died August 13.1_star10

Gene Wilder
Known for playing the title role in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” as well as characters in “Haunted Honeymoon” and “Young Frankenstein.”  Died August 28._90962477_mediaitem87811809

The Lady Chablis
Transgender performer made famous by the book, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil,” and played herself in the movie version.  Died September 8.ripladychablis2016-500x565

Alexis Arquette
Transgender actress.  Died on September 11.169768042_1473621270

Shawty Lo
Atlanta rapper.  Died September 21.

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Agnes Nixon
Creator and writer of “All My Children,” “One Live to Live,” and other soap operas. Died September 28.agnes-nixon-dead-ftr

Shimon Perez
Nobel prize winning Prime Minister of Israel.  Died September 28.166

Raine Spencer
Raine, Countess Spencer, step-mother of the late Diana, Princess of Wales.  Died October 21.Countess Spencer

Janet Reno
U.S. Attorney General under President Clinton.  Died November 7.janet-reno

Leonard Cohen
Canadian singer-songwriter.  Died November 7.1411561144285-cached

Robert Vaughn
Actor from “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.”  Died November 11.172582164_1478889790

Gwen Ifill
Co-anchor of PBS “Newshour.”  Died November 14.gwenifill

Florence Henderson
Best known for portraying the mother on “The Brady Bunch.”  Died November 24.agape_rg3_florence-henderson-horiz_s4x3_lg

The Hon. Margaret Rhodes
Margaret Rhodes, cousin and best friend to Her Majesty The Queen.  Died November 25.Margaret Rhodes

Fidel Castro
Former President of Cuba.  Died November 25.1420832283181-cached

Ron Glass
Actor best known for his roles on “Barney Miller” and “Firefly.”  Died November 25.

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John Glenn
The first astronaut to orbit the earth.  Died December 8.john-glenn

Joseph Mascolo
Actor best known for his role as super-villain Stefano DiMera on “Days of our Lives.”  Died December 7.

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Alan Thicke
Actor who played the father on “Growing Pains.”  Died December 13.2014-08-08-alanthickehs1

Zsa Zsa Gabor
Hollywood icon and socialite.  Died December 18.zsa-zsa-gabor-1

George Michael
Musician best known as the front-man for the 80’s rock group Wham!, and his later solo career.  He was known for having hits with songs such as “Faith,” “Father Figure,” “Careless Whisper,” “Outside,” and many others.  Died December 25.

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Ricky Harris
Comedian with a recurring role on “Everybody Hates Chris.”  Died December 26.58627e111500002300915fdc

Barbara Tarbuck
Actress best known as Lady Jane Jacks on “General Hospital,” as well as Mother Superior Claudia on “American Horror Story: Asylum.”  Died December 27.

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Carrie Fisher
Best known as Princess Leia from “Star Wars.”  Died December 27.carrie_fisher_2013

Debbie Reynolds
Actress and singer.  Carrie Fisher’s mother.  Died December 28.debbie-reynolds

While not a complete list, and I’m sure I’ve missed some, it’s astounding to me how many notable people have passed away this year.  I’m convinced there is some kind of cosmic serial killer on the loose in Hollywood.  I do hope they’ll catch this cosmic killer before he/she does anymore damage!

Since this was an election year, I would be remiss to not mention the election cycle we just survived.  The Americans just experienced the most bizarre election that I can personally remember.  Mind you, I’m not one to get into American politics, but this year was different for me.  To begin, the Republican party seemed to begin the election cycle with everyone who was a Republican running for President. Eventually, they whittled away their candidates until they were left with one:  Donald Trump.  On the Democrat side, they had Hillary Clinton running against Bernie Sanders for the nomination, and it was Hillary who won the nomination of her party.  In the spirit of full disclosure, I have to tell you the only reason I was remotely interested in the American elections was Hillary. I’ve been a huge fan of hers ever since her husband, Bill, was President.  Even in those days I wanted her to one day be President herself.  Don’t ask me why… I chalk it up to a “cult of personality” thing more than any stance on any issue.

Given the vile, misogynistic, xenophobic, fascist, nauseating and overall repulsive things Donald Trump said during his campaign about minorities, women, LGBTQ’s and anyone who isn’t a white, straight, Republican male, I couldn’t in my wildest nightmares imagine this guy would have a chance to become President.  During the campaign, videos emerged of his rally’s where people were attacked, thrown out, and bullied.  The man was endorsed by practically every hate group in the country, including the Ku Klux Klan, who said he was the candidate that “most embodied their beliefs.”  And yet, Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton in the electoral college, although she won the popular vote by nearly three million more votes. Now the orange hemorrhoid is about to lead the country for the next four years.

On the other hand, there actually HAS been some good to come out of this year.  I met some amazing people at my new job who are absolutely wonderful.  I had to buy a new car when my Mazda gave up the ghost, but so far, my new gray Nissan is running really well. We nicknamed it “The Gray Ghost.”  We’ve made plans to visit England this coming February, and airline tickets and hotel have been reserved.

So having said all that, here’s to the end of 2016, the annus horribilis vol.2. Let’s all hope and pray 2017 is somehow much better.  Lord knows, it couldn’t get much worse.

Misadventures in Physical Fitness

Poor Martha didn’t know what she was getting into.  She has been asking me to go to the gym to try this “Body Pump” class she’s been taking for months now.  I always refuse.  You see, I hate going to the gym.  As a matter of principle, I hate anything having to do with exercise.  It’s not that I’m lazy, but I figure if I’m going to put forth an effort to push my body to its physical limits, I need to see some immediate results.  For example, when I do any sort of manual labor, usually I can look back and see the results of my hard work at the end of that same day.  Not so with exercise… it seems it takes forever to see any results from that.  I guess I’m just a sucker for instant gratification.

My particular aversion to exercise is nothing new.  Since the days of gym class in junior high school I’ve been this way.  During those days I was one of the few who refused to “dress out” for gym class or any other such ridiculous thing that involved jumping around, sweating, and looking like some fool needing a heavy dose of Ritalin.  If it wasn’t for the academic aspects of that class, I’d still be trying to get a high school diploma at the age of 45.  Silly, I know, but sometimes the truth just needs to be told.

When I went to college, little did I know I would have to endure this nightmare all over again with yet another PE class.  As you can guess, I put it off as long as I could.  I think it was my first semester as a junior before I ever gave in and finally decided to get that God-forsaken class over with.  It wasn’t bad enough they made me go through the agonizing misery that only a sadistic, evil, hateful, spiteful, vindictive, deceitful Bush administration torture expert could conceive of doing to another human being; no, they had to add a swimming test to this class just to prove their callous hearts had no soul.

You see, I do not swim.  I don’t even go into wading pools.  With my luck, I would be the one you read about in the paper who drowned in his bathtub when he fell asleep.  So you can imagine my dismay at the announcement that we had to take this swimming test and actually pass it in order to pass the class.  Just as soon as class dismissed that day, I marched myself right up to my PE teacher with the bad perm and explained, rather convincingly I thought, that I could not swim and there was no way I would be able to pass this test.  Thinking that she would have mercy on my soul and just let me slide from this one thing since I had endured all sorts of humiliating things in the name of finishing college, I felt pretty confident that I would be able to talk myself out of it.  The only thing she would do, however, was give me an “Incomplete” for my grade and told me to take a swimming class the next semester and come back to take the test.  Can you believe that nonsense?  The next thing I remember were the paramedics reviving me with spirits of ammonia.

Time passed, and I had completely forgotten about any swimming test.  But like an old wise sage on the mountaintop, a college registrar forgets nothing.  I got a letter in the mail the next year stating I had an “incomplete” in that PE class to remove from my transcript before I could graduate.  Having a renewed sense of stubbornness and zeal to beat the system, I once again decided there was no way “they” were going to beat me in this thing that, in my mind, had become a full fledged war between myself and the dark forces of the PE department.

The very next day I sauntered myself into the office of the Chair of the PE Department to explain how there was no way I could pass such a test and how unfair it would be to force me to do something of that nature.  I think I used excuses like, “afraid of water” and other things that might not have applied to my particular situation just to make my case stronger.  Believe it or not, the evil little man behind the desk didn’t buy it… I would have to swim whether I wanted to or not.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, that didn’t sit well with me.

Not to be outdone, I made an appointment the next day with the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences to plead my case to someone who obviously had more sense than a simple PE teacher with an over-inflated ego.  But after 30 minutes of bearing my soul and laying it on the line, he proved he was no better than anyone else.  He agreed that I would have to take this test.  That idiot!

Well, that didn’t sit well with me either.

So the next step, obviously, was the President of the University.  Trying to get an audience with him, however, was like trying to get a peek at the Pope.  In no uncertain terms, the little troll of a lady sitting behind the desk informed me that if the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences had agreed with the PE Chair, there was no way the President was going to overrule their decision and I would be forced to take this test or not graduate.  I’ll spare you the details of the scene that ensued in her office… suffice it to say there were threats of calling security that just didn’t fit into my envisioned scenario, so I left.

So there I was, stewing in my dorm room, trying to figure out a way out of this mess that I had gotten myself into.   Still, admitting defeat was not an option.  They say it’s always darkest just before the dawn, and little did I know my “dawn” was getting ready to walk into my room in the form of Shane.  Shane was a good friend of mine from one of the organizations I was involved with on campus.  We started talking and I explained to him my dilemma.  He explained that since there was a completely new staff in the PE department from the time I had taken the class, he could impersonate me and take the test for me.  FINALLY… a light at the end of the tunnel!  The very next morning, we called and arranged an appointment for “Glenn” to take his swimming test.

When the day of reckoning finally arrived, we casually walked over to the natatorium, Shane having memorized and rehearsed all the information needed to convince the swimming instructor he was actually “Glenn.”  After about thirty minutes, Shane emerged and said, “Well, you got an A.”  Once our friends figured out what happened they couldn’t believe we went through with it… and actually succeeded!  Twenty-odd years later, that little incident is still brought up in conversation.  I guess that goes to show you there’s more than one way to skin a cat.

I suppose I tell you that story to give you a little background as to how humiliating it was for me to finally break down and tell Martha that, yes, I would finally go with her to this “Body Pump” class.  You see, I had gotten on the scales the week before and almost had a nervous breakdown because of the numbers that flashed before my eyes.  Never in my life had I been that heavy.  So I decided that something dramatic had to be done.  Little did anyone realize, however, exactly how much drama would be involved with this experience.

The day of reckoning finally arrived.  After work, I followed Martha to the gym where we met her husband who was also taking this class.  Now keep in mind, by this point I’m more nervous than a woman of ill repute in church about setting foot in a gym.  All sorts of terrible scenarios crossed my mind, but the worst was getting ready to become reality.  We walked into this place where everyone looked as if they’d been on a strict steroid regimen for at least two years.  When we got to the room where the class was held I was introduced to the instructor who was this twenty-something girl who looked like the Incredible Hulk, and here I was looking more like the Incredible Bulk.  This was not the start I had anticipated.  We picked out our weights, and I took the smallest amount possible (hey, why kill myself on the first day?).  Finding our place in the back of the class, we started with the warm-up exercises.  I should have known it would be all down-hill from there when the instructor jumped into the class without even a mention of how to go about doing these exercises.

So here I am, at least a beat-and-a-half behind everyone trying to figure out what the heck they’re doing.  About ten minutes into the class, my legs have turned to jelly, and my head is floating about 10 feet above the rest of my body from sheer dizziness.  Then, the truly unexpected happens.  We had to place this barbell over our shoulders for part of the exercises, and that’s when I must have pinched a nerve in my neck.  All of a sudden, I get the worst headache known to humankind.  In two seconds, I had convinced myself I was having a stroke right in the middle of the gym.  Everything blacked out, I couldn’t hear anything but my heart beating in the middle of my head, and I became so nauseous I was convinced I was going to toss everything I ever ate in my entire life onto the floor.   Surely, I don’t have to tell you that this is not how I planned to meet my Maker.  Never in a million years had I imagined my obituary would read something like, “Glenn died unexpectedly from suffering a stroke while working out and drowned in a pool of his own vomit.”  But struggle through, I did.  Before class was over, however, I did have to worship in front of the porcelain god in the restroom and make an offering of my lunch from earlier that day.

At the end of this class, I was so relieved the ordeal was over I could have kissed the ground when I left the gym.  Martha didn’t think it was as bad as I did, which only convinced me even more she must be a card-carrying masochist.  I was so nauseous and had such a headache when I got home, I immediately went to the medicine cabinet, swallowed two Percocet for my headache and shoved a Phenergan suppository up my backside as far as I could get it for the nausea.  Needless to say, I spent the rest of the evening in bed.

The next day, I was so sore it literally took me five minutes just to get down the stairs.  It even hurt to blink my eyes!  My headache was still there, and it would be with me for at least three more days.  I could hardly move.  When I finally made it into work, I wished the ten plagues of Egypt upon Martha all at once for subjecting me to such torture when I hadn’t done anything in life bad enough to have to endure this kind of suffering.  It was sheer hades on earth!

Eventually, the pain went away.  I forgave Martha for trying to kill me, but in no uncertain terms I let her know I learned not to fall for her evil tricks ever again.  The other day, she actually tried to convince me to go to a different class.  The look I gave her almost turned her into a pillar of salt.  The next time I get this crazy idea to lose a few pounds quickly, I can guarantee you it won’t be by going to a gym.  No, next time I think I’ll simply have my jaws wired shut.  Believe me, it’s a lot less painful!

Runway Runaway

I’ve been mulling over the idea of whether or not to write this particular post, due to the possibility of offending certain people. With that in mind, and not being one to back down from setting the ill-informed straight, here we go… and to “heck” if the guilty are upset.

Lately I have found myself being an attendee at a few weddings and funerals; two very different observances in the circle of life, but both extremely important. While attending these particular ceremonies, I have noticed (as one would over the last few years) that I need to remind my dear, precious readers of the importance of at least one very important thing.

What is that thing, you might ask? To put it simply, it’s HOW YOU DRESS!! Of course, there are other things I could discuss concerning how to conduct yourselves during these events, but for this particular blog entry, allow me to focus on this one particular subject.

There is hardly anything in our lives that are more important than weddings and funerals. They are, for the most part, once in a lifetime events for those who are the center of such functions (although I know there are those who marry two, three, four or more times… as well as those who “die,” but there’s a mistaken identity which leads others to believe the dearly departed is another person… or perhaps I’ve been watching too much Days of our Lives, you never know). In times such as these, it is extremely important to remember that those in attendance should have at least one thing for the person or persons you are honoring: that thing is called RESPECT.

For most of us, it pretty much goes without saying that you should dress appropriately for said ceremony, but unfortunately, it seems that it is becoming more common among some people to totally disregard the appropriate dress for such occasions. That brings us to the point that I feel I simply have to remind you of what is acceptable and what is not.

While I thought about discussing each event in individual blog entries, I decided to lump them together since it seems the offending individuals treat both with the same disregard for decency. When you are invited to a wedding, that should alert you to the fact that the couple thought enough about you that they decided to share their most important day with you and that you would, at the very least, wear the appropriate attire based on the time of day the wedding will take place. As a general rule, that would include a suit and tie for men, and dress for women. Based on what time the wedding is to take place and the venue, a quick Google search would tell even the the most ill-informed what would be the most appropriate items to wear to said event. But even if you’re too stupid to read subtle hints, I can assure you that shorts and a t-shirt will not be on the list.

The same rules apply to funerals. If you loved or admired the dearly departed enough to attend their funeral, even the most common of attendees should have enough sense to wear something appropriate for such a ceremony. I have attended funerals lately where people have actually shown up with t-shirts with various wording printed on them, jeans, shorts, flip-flops, etc. Since these people seem to have no frame of reference to base their poor decisions on, let me be the first to tell you that this is not acceptable. At the very least during a funeral, you should wear a suit and tie or dress, similar to the proper attire for a wedding.

Now before you get all huffy-and-puffy and try to blow somebody’s house down, I completely understand and accept that there are exceptions to every rule. There are some situations where other attire would be completely appropriate. For example, I recently attended a memorial service for a very dear friend who wanted his service at the beach, led by a friend who asked others to share stories of their time together, and they specifically asked people to dress casually, in beach-appropriate clothes. It was an amazingly beautiful service, and it reflected the personality of our friend who passed away perfectly. That, my dear readers, is an instance where it’s totally acceptable to show up in shorts, flip-flops, t-shirts, etc.

The same exception can also apply to something like a backyard-barbecue-styled wedding, where the bride and groom have asked those in attendance to wear casual, street clothes. I’m hoping you can see a theme emerging for the exceptions, but if you’re much too daft to catch on, let me spell it out for you: only wear what I would call “street casual” clothes to such events if you’re told by the hosts that it’s the preferred style of dress. Got it? Lord have mercy, I hope so.

Not only does dressing appropriately for said functions show respect for those you’re honoring by your attendance, it also shows respect for YOURSELF. One would hope that when you go to functions such as weddings and funerals, you would also show enough respect for yourself as to want to make an effort to look your best. It may seem counter-intuitive, but actually, dressing appropriately will help deflect attention away from yourself (even though that might be slightly traumatic to those who are actually narcissistic enough think they’re always the center of attention, regardless of the situation), and allow the focus of attention to be on the ones you’re actually honoring by being at their service. When it’s all said and done, after all, it’s about them and not you.

Don’t misunderstand my little rant here by assuming I’m suggesting that everyone show up in the latest Christian Dior or Vera Wang ensemble to come off the runway. Far from it. If you’re someone on a tight budget (and believe me, I know there’s more of us than those who can afford designer clothing), I’d like to point out that even Walmart carries clothes that would be considered appropriate styles for such events. So you see, dear readers, dressing appropriately doesn’t have to break the bank. If you don’t have at least one suit or dress in your wardrobe for such events, now you can go out and get one. You never know when you’re going to need it. Believe me, no one is going to know where you got your clothes or how much you paid for them unless you’re one of those crass people who shout that kind of information from the rooftop.

Keep in mind, all of this is simply my opinion, which I realize in some circles doesn’t mean anything. You might disagree wholeheartedly with what I’ve just said, and that’s fine. You’d be wrong, but you can disagree all you’d like.

So having said all this, please keep in mind that if you ever get the chance to attend my wedding or funeral, I would personally prefer you dress for the occasion. A word of caution, however; if you come to my funeral in flip-flops and t-shirts, I will jump out of that casket, snatch you bald, and have security guards drag you out and throw you onto the street for showing such disregard for my memory.

Got it? Good.

The Superstitions of New Years Day

It’s that time of year again. Christmas has come and gone, people have returned to work after the holiday break, some are returning gifts that weren’t quite right and we’re all gearing up to celebrate the arrival of a new year. In all the upcoming celebrations where we eagerly await the arrival of 2015, many of us automatically revert to honoring old traditions as a way to celebrate the new year. Most of us, myself included, never really think about why we do some of the things we do; we just do it because we’re supposed to.

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself why we follow certain traditions on New Years Day? Is there any particular reason why we kiss at midnight, why we eat certain foods that day or a plethora of other things we do? Most of these traditions started many years ago as forms of superstition and attempts to ward off evil.

I’ve never considered myself a particularly superstitious person, but many of my older family members are extremely superstitious, whether they’d like to admit it or not. I can remember vividly when I was a teenager my Grandmother scolded me rather harshly for attempting to wash clothes on New Years Day.

You better put those clothes back in with the rest of the dirty clothes,” she said, “you know you can’t wash clothes on new years!”

I remember being bewildered as to why she’d be so adamant about me not doing laundry, and even more bewildered as to why she’d think I knew not to do such a thing. She explained, “If you wash clothes on new years, you’re gonna wash the life outta somebody!” Therefore, it was forbidden to do laundry that day. I suppose it was a good thing I had clean clothes to wear the next day. My mother, who isn’t the superstitious kind at all, told me not to worry about it, that it was “just an old wives tale, and you know how Grandma can be about those.”

On that day, we’d always go to Grandma’s house for lunch, and as I remember, she always had black-eyed peas and collard greens for lunch. I never thought much about it until the conversation took place over lunch one year that eating these two foods were supposed to bring a person good luck throughout the year.

There are other traditions we follow that have origins in superstitions, and I’m sure we all know of at least three or four we could spout off without thinking about them. For instance, did you know that it’s tradition to kiss your significant other at midnight because it ensures the ties and affection will last throughout the coming year? All this time I just thought it was because it was a sweet thing to do.

As mentioned earlier, you shouldn’t do any washing or cleaning on New Years Day or you’ll wash away the life from someone that year.

Never start the new year in debt, so make sure all your bills for the month are paid before January 1. If not, you’ll be paying out money all year long.

Shouting and making loud noises at the stroke of midnight was done as a way to scare away the devil. So the next time you wonder why the crazy neighbors are outside banging pots and pans (well, here in the South anyway) at midnight, you now have an explanation. Hopefully, they’re doing it for traditions sake and not just crazy. But as a friend of mine says, “Honey, we got us a whole lot of crazy ’round here!” So if they’re still banging pots and pans past a reasonable amount of time, feel free to call the cops. I gotta get some sleep!

Make sure that you’re wearing a new article of clothing on New Years Day to ensure that you’ll get more new clothes throughout the year. There is also this odd superstition that some hold about not changing your underwear on New Years Day, but I’m gonna have to take my chances on that one. I’m not going to be caught dead in day-old undies!

There are probably a million more superstitions and traditions we follow. I have to admit I follow some of them myself; not because I believe in bad omens, but simply because I think it’s fun to do. In some way I can’t explain, it helps serve as a connection to our past. Or maybe I’m just sentimental.

To those of you reading this, what other traditions/superstitions do you follow during New Years Day? Why do you do them? Does it leave you with a sense of connection to your past and those older family members you have? Feel free to let us all know in the comment section below. I’m looking forward to reading what you have to say.

Oh, and before I forget, happy new year!