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photo by Sheri Dixon

Saturday, February 28, 2015

American Heroes

While everyone is singing the praises of Chris Kyle- American Sniper, I'm not so quick to join the choir.

Oh, not because I don't think he was a good American or a good sniper or a good guy- I'm sure he was all of these things. And his death was a tragedy, as all death is.

I do question the common sense of 'treating' PTSD with loaded automatic weapons...I think that's sort of a dangerous version of getting back up on the horse that threw you...and Chris Kyle's untimely death seems to lend credence to that line of thinking.

Yes, I've heard and read some of the articles and interviews from other American Snipers that are less than complimentary, but here's the thing. It doesn't matter. Chris Kyle is dead.

He came home, wrote a book, got himself killed, and had a movie made about him. Then, to top it all off, the Texas governor-elect deemed it necessary to give him his own holiday...Chris Kyle Day is a 'thing' now in Texas and will be every year.

You know what else is a 'thing'?

A literal shit-ton of Veterans in this country that are homeless.

They're homeless and sick physically and mentally because they went off to fight for something they were told was worthy and came back broken and shattered.

There's so many the VA can't handle them all. There's so many going un-handled that they are killing themselves off at a higher rate than the war is killing them. More veterans have killed themselves after coming home to the country they fought for than have been killed in (fill in the blank of your favorite current war).

They're getting killed in war and they're killing themselves when they get home and you know who else is killing them?

Police officers. *Remember when they were called Peace Officers? What the hell happened to THAT?

Seriously.

http://thefreethoughtproject.com/shocking-video-released-cop-killing-homeless-veteran-drunk/

Our police officers are killing our veterans. Are they twitchy and drunk and drugged up and armed and dangerous? (the veterans) They can be. Or not. Raymond Keith Martinez was not any of those things except drunk- a state of self-medication he kept himself in for lack of proper help and medication.

51 years old, drunk and loitering. Shot dead.

Nicholas McGehee- purple heart recipient. Shot dead.

Tommy Yancy- served in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as boots-on-the-ground service after 9/11. Beaten to death.

AJ DeVillina- a High Desert Marine. Shot dead. On Veterans' Day weekend.

Are these men not also heroes? How were their sacrifices any smaller than Chris Kyle's? Why is their legacy and story not movie-material?

What about Chad Littlefield- the veteran who was killed with Chris Kyle? Only because of his proximity to Chris Kyle do we know his name and story.

And Eddie Routh- the man who killed both Chris and Chad- he's famous too, or infamous...heading for life in prison because someone thought it would be a grand idea to arm him in a 'safe and controlled situation'. He suffered from PTSD- just another broken pawn on our empire gameboard.

It's not that I begrudge Mr. Kyle his Official Texas Day. I just wonder where the Official days of remembrance for all the others are.

I guess they all can't have their own day because we'd run out of days right quick. Maybe we could give them each an hour because

Every 65 minutes, a military veteran commits suicide.

Look at this-

http://www.pbs.org/coming-back-with-wes-moore/about/facts/

The story and movie everyone should be talking about is NOT the story of Chris Kyle. It's Raymond, Nicholas, Tommy, AJ. It's Eddie and every veteran who is homeless and jailed and beaten and killed and who kills themselves in despair and hopelessness.

We are failing them. They stepped up and served and we are backing off and letting them fall.

We're watching them fall, sometimes pushing them over the edge, sometimes killing them before they kill themselves. That is not the hallmark of a civilized compassionate nation.

Every 65 minutes another tiny light in our national sky blinks, wavers and goes out and no one even pauses to notice.

In the time it took me to write this we lost another one. Before I go to bed we'll lose two more. By morning another half dozen will be dead.

And on and on and on...our country keeping time in corpses piled up of those who served and were summarily cast aside.


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Less Than Inspiring

Yanno what I'm sick to death of?

Inspirational stories.

"What an awful thing to say! How can anyone be anti-inspirational story?"

I can. I can totally be anti-inspirational story because they are inherently cruel.

Oh, I get it. Overcoming adversity, surmounting great odds, rising above a humble perhaps even squalid beginning, yada, yada, yada.

Don't get me wrong- I'm not disrespecting those stories or those people because their accomplishments are worthy and to be lauded. What I *do* take issue with is that their stories are so often used as a weapon of derision for those who DON'T 'measure up'.

You know- the rest of us.

Try to talk about the difficulties of getting ahead in our society without the benefit of a beginning that includes the right neighborhoods, relatives or money and someone slaps up a story about the kid who makes a million dollars out of spunk and bootstraps.

Say something about a challenging- even life-threatening- health issue you or a loved one is fighting with, and BAM there's a heartwarming tale about a guy who beat cancer with a good attitude and sunshine enemas.

Natural disaster? There's the inevitable family talking about how blessed they are because they done found that baby up in that tree alongside the cat- both alive and well.

So what does that tell us? That the family next door who are all dead now weren't blessed? They somehow didn't pray right or well enough or went to the wrong church?

The thing about inspirational stories is that they celebrate those who do something that, given the exact same circumstances, OTHER PEOPLE CAN'T DO. They have some freak combination of luck, right place/right time, genetics, temperament and opportunity that the rest of us don't. Oh, for sure they work hard and go out on limbs and persevere sometimes to an extreme.

But they make the news because what they have done is SO UNUSUAL that it's remarkable.

If everyone really COULD do what they did, it wouldn't be inspirational- it would be mundane.

To hold up one of these stories and crow, "If THIS person could do it- anyone can if they want it bad enough" is cruelty pure and simple.

Because MOST people can't. Or for damn sure they would.

Tell that person who has worked two or three jobs at a time and never quite gets ahead that they just aren't trying hard enough.

Tell the person who is fading away with disease that they just need to take X miracle cure and have a better attitude.

Tell those people who lose loved ones to natural disasters that God needed more angels so he took their family up to heaven.

I have a better idea.

Why don't we support a society that doesn't make everything such a hard-scrabble for so many?

Why do we accept as normal people having to work 60+ hours a week just to stay clothed and fed and their family barely cared for...and then say, "Hey- I did it- my kid can too!" Isn't the whole point of life to make things BETTER for your kids?

There's not a damn thing wrong with looking at how things are and saying, "This is BULLshit! No one should have to work themselves to literal death. No one should have to feel responsible for the outcome (bad or good) of their own healing. No one should ever EVER have to think 'maybe if I'd prayed harder, suffered more, just had more gumption even though I bled bullets to get even this far'...no one."

in·spi·ra·tion
ˌinspəˈrāSH(ə)n/
noun
1.the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.


Instead of holding up a very few blazing stars to blind and shame us with their superiority, let's be truly INSPIRED to foster an atmosphere where success is not only attainable, but normal...and fill the skies with starshine.

PS- They were hunting hogs the other night. I heard the lead dog from afar, right through the walls of the house and over the sound of the TV. Rhythmic baying, deep and insistent coming closer, closer- probably down the creek bed. I went out onto the porch and was assaulted by the savage cacophony of the entire pack; lead hound over it all, but the high adrenalin growling, howling, barking, snapping of the back-up dogs; an assortment I knew even without seeing them- Catahoula and Pits and crosses of Mastiffs- everything big and bloodthirsty enough to haul a huge tusked feral hog to the ground.

My livestock guard dogs were frantic and answering them outburst for outburst with offensive fervor and I silently hoped there would be no physical confrontations between them.

Holding my breath in the aural primal hurricane, it inched up to our place, across it, and drove on through the night leaving only the sound of the early spring peepers in the creek, full moon peeking through the scuttering clouds.







Monday, February 2, 2015

I Got Nuthin' But Excuses

Well, that resolution lasted a good two weeks. Isn't that the average length of a resolution?

I been busy, ya'll.

Busy with the mundane workings of a lower-middle-class pear-shaped-middle-aged woman's life.

I've hit the wall. The wall that's right there after work has been tended to, the family is fed and clothed, the critters have been cared for and all that excess shit that yammers for attention is slapped into submission. The wall says, "Come to me- rest your head against my lovely vertical surface...smooth and cool and blank as a goldfish's eyes. I allow you to do nothing. Sweet, sweet nothing."

"My house needs cleaning".

"Nonsense. The house is fine. Your furniture is covered with a protective layer of dust and dog hair. All that mess will still be there tomorrow. Or the next day. Or the next day..."

"I need to write something- I need to blog, to dive back into my unfinished book(s), to come up with something that will result in a check in the mail or professional recognition."

"Ha. It is to laugh. You know no one reads anything you write. All those words you so carefully knit together? No one cares. Just let it go."

"I have so many projects that need done around the farm- I have to get out there."

"No one cares but you. Everyone else thinks everything is just fine the way it is. Relax."

So I lean on the wall and the wall is smooth and cool and blank as a goldfish's eyes. I doze with my forehead against the wall.

I hear the noises of my life. Little dogs barking. Boy playing music. Cat singing the Song of His People before puking. My dear-departed mother-in-law's grandmother clock chiming the quarter hour. The soft hum of the ceiling fans. Gomez brushes the hair from my forehead. "Caramia? You OK?"

He just had another birthday- 63 on Saturday. He's sexy and kind and makes me laugh when he winks. On accounta he's got just the one eye. I'm going to hell, I'm sure of it.

And it's OK. It's all OK. I have a job that's both challenging and flexible doing something I believe in passionately. Our little farm is my Heart, pure and simple. I'm surrounded by family both blood and chosen- Boy, Ward, Joe, Jordan...all here right now and close at hand and safe.

And suddenly the wall doesn't look so good anymore. It's smooth and cool and blank when I need squishy and warm and messy.

My life is squishy and warm and messy.

And it's OK. Even busy and scattered and demanding.

It's OK.

Everything will shuffle out eventually just the way it's supposed to. I'll try to do better at this blogging stuff, but no promises. In the meantime, here's something from a REAL writer. It's important and gritty, uncomfortable and brilliant.

Until next time, ya'll. Hug your family. Right now.

http://www.commondreams.org/views/2015/02/02/malcolm-x-was-right-about-america?mc_cid=0fc2917621&mc_eid=d461ac6f14

PS- Sorcha is turning into one helluva dog. She's smart and ridiculous and exactly the dog I need for this part of my life. I thank her every day for choosing me.



Monday, January 19, 2015

Damned if We Do, Damned if We Don't

I'm a woman. Granted, I'm an older woman who no longer has those 'parts' that get pregnant, but at one time I did. And three times I used 'em.

I really enjoyed getting pregnant, loved every minute of BEING pregnant, survived three natural childbirths (the last one at home), and was/am a passable mother. No one's in jail and everyone is normal-on-the-surface which is as much as you can ask.

So I'm past all that child-bearing mess, but still feel pretty strong kinship to those who are still 'in the trenches'. And those Sisterchicks are suffering.

Here's what we get from about the time we're three years old-

You can be anything you want to be

You are nothing unless you're pretty

Don't be stuck up

Don't be too easy

NO SEX BEFORE MARRIAGE

BOYS WILL BE BOYS

(That one always confused me- so who are the boys supposed to have sex with if girls have to remain virgins and homosexuality is wrong?)

If you get pregnant you MUST keep the baby

If you have an abortion, you are going to hell

Having a baby and being a mother is the highest and most blessed calling for a woman

DON'T ASK US FOR ANY HELP, YOU SLUT!

You're only worth 70% of what a man makes for doing the same job

WHY DO YOU KEEP ASKING US FOR HELP?

Stay at home with your kids if you love them

GET BACK TO WORK!

You are not really happy unless you're married. And Christian. And not a lesbian.

You are nothing unless you're pretty.



And now we're dying. We're dying at a larger rate than women in Lithuania and Bosnia, ya'll. Not from Ebola, or cancer, or being struck by lightening- we're dying in childbirth or complications thereof. The most natural thing in the world for a woman to do- we're dying of it.

http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2010/apr/12/maternal-mortality-rates-millennium-development-goals

Why? Are we really 'the weaker sex'?

Not at all.

So what's the difference between American women and say...women in Serbia?

Access to health care.

Here in the Land of Profit and Free Market, women are penalized JUST FOR BEING WOMEN- we are walking, talking, menstruating and birthing pre-existing conditions.

We're unstable and must be controlled. For our own good, of course. And (surprise surprise) it's the Red counties where women are suffering the most from regressive and restrictive regulations on their bodies.

http://www.addictinginfo.org/2015/01/15/republicans-are-killing-women-us-maternal-death-rate-climbs-female-deaths-rise-in-gop-counties/

But it's OK if it ends up killing us.

At least it's mostly not the pretty ones dying.

PS- My dog is destroying a plastic bottle. Methodically, intensely, turning it into a pile of unrecognizable shards. She is focused and serene. Biting hard is relaxing. I envy my dog.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

We Can't Afford It

The nation is broke, we can't afford to feed poor children, take care of sick people, house the homeless and comfort the old people. We can't afford to invest in roads, or schools, or new technology.

We can't afford it.

But we can afford the hell out of corporate subsidies ("We must take care of the JOB CREATORS!") We can afford to buy and send off drone after drone and bomb after bomb ("For FREEDOM!") and we can afford to do all sorts of other things as long as they don't smack of 'entitlements' or 'welfare' or 'socialism'.

Because that stuff's bad, ya'll.

That socialism stuff...just, *** I think I just threw up a little in my mouth.

Except it's not.

We have entire cities going bankrupt because of a capitalistic free market free-for-all that we're currently in the throes of. Oh, you hear that it's really because of the poor people...those lazy poor people...

So they come in and declare the cities bankrupt and put 'private consultants' in place. And yanno what they do? They part and parcel the whole shebang out to the highest bidder and completely ignore that THERE ARE STILL PEOPLE LIVING THERE.

Because they don't matter. They're just poor people. Those lazy poor people.

But what if? What if the poor people (who happen to live there) were given a voice and the power to effect their own change? What would they do to their city?

Well, it'd all go straight to Hell, that's what. They're poor. They don't have college degrees. They don't have business cards or ties or anything that would give them the authority and wisdom to know what's right for them, for their cities.

Or not-

http://www.geo.coop/blog/co-operative-revolution-reading-pa

This End of America the Capitalist Free Market...this may be what we have to endure- our 'labor' if you will, to get to the other side and onto our next phase of national life.

Maybe we can get it right this time and not be such douchebags to each other and the rest of the world. Maybe.

PS-
The sun came out today. It was glorious. I'm hoping to see it again tomorrow.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Too Big For Our Britches

We all heard it growing up- "Everyone wants to be an American!" "Everyone wants to move to America!" "America is the greatest country in the world!!!" We heard it, we absorbed it, breathed it, lived it, that belief oozed out of our very special little snowflake American pores.

I believed it till I grew up and started talking to people from some of those other countries, who were sort of surprised because, well, they LIKE where they are and wouldn't WANT to leave.

They don't want to be American.

"Outrageous! They're just jealous!"

Are they? What the hell of?

"They can't have GUNS there!"

Ummm...they don't WANT guns there. They are horrified at how often we kill each other by accident and by virtue of passionate moment. Horrified.

"They have high taxes there!"

Yep. They sure do. They also enjoy high wages, universal health care, free education THROUGH COLLEGE, short work weeks, long vacations, all sorts of goodies we don't have because we're too selfish/shortsighted/bullheaded/gullible to do otherwise. Because we're told that to be otherwise would be to give up our freedom.

So we're free.

Free to be underpaid.

Free to be sick.

Free to be uneducated.

Free to be over-worked.

Free to die at our desks because we can't afford to retire.

That's some Freedom there, boy howdy. FreeeeeDumb.

My favorite, of course, is "Well, sure those places can afford all that nice stuff for their people- WE take care of their security! WE protect the entire world!" WE saved all their sorry asses in WWII!"

Somewhere along the line we went from 'benevolent uncle' to 'empire-builder' without missing a beat; seamlessly, insidiously, relentlessly. We bring Freedom to the rest of the world...whether they want it or not. With sanctions and bombs and occupations and drones, we pound 'em with Freedom till they bleed and die, deliver enough Freedom to obliterate their buildings, their people, their societies.

"You sure do hate America! Why don't you just go live over yonder in one o them Scandinavian places if you love it so much?"

I don't hate America. I love America and it happens to be my home, my birthplace. I'm an American and know that the idea of America is still alive, still viable, and very much a good thing. We need to get back to that.

We need to stop being so damn afraid of ourselves that we startle, aim and shoot into the mirror, turn the gun when we hear a twig behind us and shoot ourselves. We're killing ourselves because we ARE each other.

We need to stop being so damn selfish and afraid that someone somewhere will 'get something they don't deserve' and just take care of each other. "judge not..." and "love each other" are direct orders from your Christ, remember?

We need to stop thinking that we are the best at everything and have the only ideas that make any sense and especially we need to stop looking down our noses at the rest of the planet like they're simpletons.

Because they're not. And we need to look at what's working in other places and not have a knee-jerk SOCIALISM COMMUNISM HITLER! reaction because that's just stupid.

We need to stop being stupid. But I don't know if we can.

http://www.commondreams.org/views/2015/01/11/country-crazy-inquiring-minds-elsewhere-want-know

PS- One of my friends lost her husband recently. Cancer. That's just the last of several in my little universe and every time it happens I think, "That could've been me. It so easily and quickly and nearly was me." It's going on five years since we almost lost Ward and I remember it so vividly- staring at my sleeping ten year old son and thinking, "What will I tell him? How can I do this alone?" I didn't have to...I DON'T have to. Ward's still here. Not 'by god's grace' but by his own amazing stamina and the skill of the medical staff Ward's still here. It's the little miracle I wake up to every morning and go to sleep to every night.And no matter what else happens every day...it's enough.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

You're Not the Boss of Me

I apologize if you were looking forward to more 'commenting on this here article' blogs and less 'crazy pissed-off old lady rantings' but if it's any consolation, todays is neither.

Because I had an idea. One of those 'just popped into my head and seemed so brilliant I'd never forget it but typed a few hints into my phone...just in case' ideas.

So many ideological discussions go South (or worse)over 'things I'm willing to pay for'. Things I want MY tax dollars to be put towards. Those kinds of things. Some people don't want to pay for anyone else's health care, or schools or roads, or bombs to send overseas to screw with other people's health and schools and roads.

In general, we're told that we all pay taxes for all the stuff we all need and we can't pick and choose.

But why couldn't we?

It's not like the tax forms aren't already confusing enough- just add another section. Right up there at the top they already ask if we want to donate to the campaign fund or some such (I dunno- I just skim over that, giggling).

So here's what we need to do- we need a section on the regular old 1040 EZ tax form, right under where it says 'taxes you paid last year and taxes you still owe' that breaks it down so we can choose.

Please denote what percent of your taxes you'd like to go to each of the following-

Universal Healthcare for all Americans

Infrastructure repair (roads, bridges, etc.)

Your local public schools

Elderly services

Veterans' services

Alternative energy investments

Community and public colleges

Put towards the national debt

Military spending

NASA

School lunch programs

Homeless relief

National parks and wildlife areas

Corporate incentives and subsidies

Please be sure the total is 100. TOTAL AMOUNT MAY NOT BE ZERO.



See? It wouldn't be that difficult and then everyone could give according to their own consciences. Everyone who wrings their hands about the national debt can work to pay that off, everyone who wants us to bomb the shit out of all those 'backwards sand-filled places' can give to that, all us bleeding heart liberals can give to universal health care and national parks, and so on.

Wonder how much would be raised for 'corporate incentives and subsidies' considering Americans now pay an average of $36 towards the food stamp program and over $6,000 towards corporate subsidies. Per year. Every single one of us. See?

http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/19844-food-stamps-are-affordable-corporate-welfare-is-not

Fine. I did end up bringing an article in here.

And all this time you thought the bad guys taking all YOUR hard earned dollars were those lazy-ass poor people. Oops.

The point is, WE should be deciding where our tax money goes. And obviously, our elected representatives just up and lose their damn minds once they hit the Beltway.

This could fix that. And my guess is that at the end of the day, the military and corporations would have a lot smaller budget than they do now- and what a shame THAT would be...

PS- Day before yesterday Alec and I ate lunch at a table outside What About Kabob's (a gyro place) and I had to take off my sweater because it was sunny and 71 in January. It was 21 last night. Fifty degree drop in 24 hours. The only saving grace is that it'll come up again just as quickly. Here in Texas winter lasts about a month or so...but just a few days at a time.







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