Sunday, November 25, 2012


two separate but connected thoughts rambled across my brain this weekend. the second was today. i was at the gas station by my house, the place i go when i need, well gas. or milk. or smokes. or a diet coke. you know. that place. its my neighborhood gas station.  i'm a creature of habit.

i primarily shop on the southside.  i go to the same blockbuster. the same butcher. the same hardware store. the same grocery. 90% of the time. in most of these places, they at least recognize my face.

what crossed my mind today is that i know roughly a dozen or so people who live on the southside. like within a mile of my house. probably more than a dozen. and in the 8 years i've been in this house, the number of times i've crossed paths with any of those people, is nil. like it never ever happens. like ever. (sorry. im listening to swifty, i cant help it!)

how is this possible? its not like we are teeming with options over here. i mean. on top of the places i drive to, i walk alot. i walk the park and the neighborhoods surrounding my house. how am i not running into anyone?

so there was that thought.

the other was a conversation my sister and i were having at thanksgiving about dating. in general, neither of us partake in that particular ritual.  and i mean that in the sense of, being set up, or going on line and setting up some sort of dinner. drinks. coffee. etc. time with someone you have never met before.

there was a 7 month period, 6+ years ago where i did a little of that. mostly people i met on myspace. maybe a half dozen of those over a 6 months period. the problem is, within less than 5 minutes i know if i want to spend even one more minute with that person. 99 times out of 100 its going to be a no.

now i realize how that sounds. but its true.

at this point in my life, well i'm even more selective than i was 6 years ago. the bar is set pretty freaking high. add to that, that i'm, well me.  i have low thresholds for, quite a few things.

my sister is pretty much the same way. so we clinked glasses to someday living together and having 100 cats.

so what does one have to do with the other.

its really freaking hard to meet people  it just is. if i dont run into a single person i know, who live and shop in a few mile radius, then what are the odds i'm going to run into someone randomly that makes me go "huh, thats interesting".

and the percentage of people i find really really compelling in a "wow, that might be something to take a look at" way? low.

well i can understand why so many of my really amazing, wonderful friends are single.
i can also see why most of them are totally ok with it.

Friday, November 23, 2012

nature vs. nurture

i find it fascinating how things present themselves and how we view them and what sort of weight to apply to them.

a friend asked me last night, about the concept of nature vs nurture.  and while my belief system goes so much farther than that simple concept, there are some interesting points to examine in that simple scenario.

from as early back as i can remember i was drawn to the darker elements. i grew up in an urban working class neighborhood and there was a various and ever changing cast of characters. the hippy neighbor who dried seaweed on her porch. the hispanic family across the street. the pot smokers and the drunks and for awhile a prostitute. there were the familys who lived there awhile, like mine and my couple best friends. and the transitory ones who moved in one summer and were gone the next.

the kids in my neighborhood, when i picture them in my mind, are the kinds of kids who are wise and older in their eyes. we had a swagger and a bravado. we grew up with working parents and often very little supervision. in the summers we lived at the park and ate free sandwiches provided by the city.  we made plastic lace keychains and crafts out of tongue depressors. we got in fist fights, climbed trees. snitched cigarettes from our parents and smoked them behind garages. parking lots were our playgrounds. dumpsters our treasure troves. we were outside from sun up to sundown, thats just what you did.

there is something you learn about life, and people when you grow up in a time and place such as the one i did. you learn to read people and situations.

the walk to the park was about 6 blocks and you had to pass a whole lot of houses from point a to point b. most houses were nice. but here and there would be a house that you crossed to the other side of the street. you develop a certain antennae. you learn to read people, not based on how they look, but on how their energy is. i've tried to teach this to my kids. you meet people and you get a feeling right off. and when your antennae goes off, and you get a bad feeling about someone, no matter how they look or who they are or weather or not you are "supposed" to trust that person, listen to that antennae. but i'm not sure its the same if you arent listening to that, all the time.

but using that knowledge, there were people i liked to be around. there were homes my parents had concerns about me being in. i remember my mom asking me if my friends mom smoked "funny cigarettes". she did. all her friends were pot smokers and i loved them.  they seemed so care free and relaxed and fun. no one hurt me. no one tried to influence me. we had to leave the room when they were smoking but we'd hang out with them while they'd listen to music and listen to them talk.

these are things i didnt think about much as a kid. it was simply, life. i remember a night there were gun shots right across the street. sometimes he hispanics liked to get a little squirly at the holidays with shot guns, but this was different. my dad came into our room to let us know it was nothing to worry about, the prostitute across the street was just shooing at her john, she missed. nothing to worry about.

fast forward to high school. one night we are hanging out at a house. somewhere off broadway no clue whose house. it was a mix of hs people. and adults. men and women in their 30s, 40s. career partiers who dont think its odd to be passing around joints and bottles with teenagers. the men who leer openly at 16 year olds in mini skirts. and i remember very clearly thinking "these are my people."

i was told from a very early age how terrible drinking was. i was cited examples of relatives who's lives were destroyed from it. a common theme was "do you want to end up like uncle larry?"  Uncle larry being the flagship of failure. the problem was, I LIKED uncle larry. yeah, he was a drunk. my dad repeatedly had to bail him out of jail. pick him up from the hospital after he'd get rolled.  for awhile uncle larry stayed with us. i'd sit up and watch tv with him. usually drunk from a night out. he'd say "you shouldnt drink kid". and id say "yeah i know. but i do" and he'd say "yeah, i know" and he got it.  it was simply. my nature. it simply could not be contained.

so with my nature being so evident and my will being so strong, it would seem like the obvious path was one of complete self destruction. and that was pretty much the plan. live hard, die young. but there was something in the way i'd been nurtured, that kept reigning me back in.   i fought it i fought it hard. at somepoint in my late teens, it occurred to me that i had a choice to make.

and i met this beautiful boy. he was dark and moody and brooding. he drank alot, played hard and had the same live fast attitude i did. but he was also extremely intelligent, well read, well spoken and deep. and he came from a nice family in the burbs. i remember thinking very clearly, we will live fast, but we will pull up and out of it and settle down and live like normal people this can be done!

and thats sort of what we did. we moved to the burbs, had a couple kids. tried to live like grown up people. tried to meld.

but that dark part of my nature is still there.  i still prefer dark dive-y bars. i'd rather sit and talk to a career alcoholic than a ceo. there is still a part of me that could easily be a barfly, who could live a nomadic life, making my family from people along the way.

but thats not the choice i made. i chose to live a different life. that belies my nature to some degree.

choices, free will.

that doesnt answer the question of nature vs. nurture. but i dont think we can be contained or defined by either. we simply have a path, and free will. and all the dna and all the coaching and direction we get along the way only change or influence us to a certain degree.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

lazy no good piece of shit.

you know what i'm sick of hearing? "well where do i get in line for my free money?!" because obviously since President Obama has been re-elected not only has the world gone to hell, but we get to resurrect this tired mantra by "those guys". yeah, they say it. i said it. get over it.

so here is a little story. once upon a time there was this strapping young man and he got a job at a Dairy. yes, a dairy. its a place where you get your milk from. you see all this milk gets packaged up and put on trucks and people drive around and deliver it to your store. crazy right? well this 20 year old kid had never dreamt of making this kind of money, it was glorious. the only down side was, well milk is fucking heavy. i mean, have you ever grabbed a gallon of milk along with all those bags of groceries and by the time you get to the door you are like "damn milk is heavy". Well put 4 gallons in a crate. and then stack 6 crates up on top of each other. then fill a truck full of those stacks of crates of milk and spend 12-15 hours a day taking them up and down ramps, stairs, hallways. do it in the rain. and the snow. and the sleet. and the hail. do it when you have the flu. do it when you have bronchitis. do it while your wife is in labor. because you are the milk man. and no one cares what else is going on. the milk has to be delivered.

sometimes your milk stacks fall over. sometimes the milk cartons break and get all over the place. the floor is slippery. sometimes you fall. sometimes you fall in the truck. sometimes you fall on the ground. sometimes you fall off the lift of your truck. sometimes you fall off the dock. sometimes you get hurt. sometimes you get hurt so bad you are black and blue. but the milk has to be delivered and you cant take that hit to report you are hurt. so you suck it up. you're young. you're in your 20's. you heal. you think...

you come home at night exhausted. you peel those wet socks off your feet, take a hot shower. play with the kids. kiss your wife. fall into bed. and do it again. day after day after day after year after decade.

somewhere down the road, after thousands of miles spent driving and hundreds of thousands of pounds of milk later, your back is fucked up. and you go to the dr. and they do xrays. and take mris. and schedule you and schedule you and schedule you. and no one really has an answer for why you cant sit. or stand. or lay down. without severe pain.  and they keep sending you for tests and you still dont get answers and your 3 months of disability (and your insurance) are winding down. and you beg for faster appointments. beg for answers. no one gives a shit. you are now, unemployed. and broken.

you have to be insurance free for 6 months before you can apply for insurance through the government. medicaid. it takes months, almost a year to get qualified. to supply all the necessary paperwork. by the time you have insurance again you have fallen. multiple times. fallen in the street and crawled to your house.

now you start the process all over again. and finally get a surgery. but guess what. your fucked. because your nerve damage is so bad now, from that disc that ruptured during your long wait. you are now, permanently damaged.

you will no longer go camping with your sons. you will no longer go hiking. you can barely sit through a movie. but you cant really afford movies anyway. you walk with a cane. you sometimes fall down because your nerves dont tell your legs what to do properly. you are never, pain free. ever.

Now. I fully recognize that there are things in this story that could have changed some outcomes. my ex husband could have sought medical treatment every time he got hurt. (he did visit a back dr many times over many years and received treatment along the way)  We could have saved better in our 20's. Instead I chose to stay home and raise our children. so money was always tight. we figured we'd save better when the kids were older and I went back to work. and then we got divorced. i really fucked us both with that one . . . he could have.  what? come up with 30, 40, 50K to pay for the surgery himself? yeah, i suppose if we had planned for that that would have been a good idea. we wrongly assumed thats what we had paid for health insurance for all those years . . for the one off cataclysmic event.

My kids receive government money. my ex husband receives government money. I dont know how much. it is based on his payments into the system all those years he was working. i do know he lives mean and lean. i also know that for over two years we were all hanging in there by a thread. i know there are strict guild-lines on how the money can be spent, and he keeps every receipt for every penny that is spent. if i use any of the money for things like clothes, or shoes for my kids, i have to make sure that receipt ends up with him so he can make sure that when he is audited, he can account for every penny. ...

i know he will never take a vacation. he can neither afford it, nor can his body tolerate it. he will never do a lot of things my strong, hardworking husband could once do.

so when you ask me. when you with your able body asks me where you can get in line for your "free money" - because you think thats a funny way to say you arent happy about our president . . .  its worse than a slap in my face. its a slap in the face to MY FAMILY. to the man who worked his fucking ass off so i could be home with my children. a PRIVILEGE.  one we never took lightly.

you can say "if you need money - get a job!" I ask you. what job? what job would you suggest for him? He can not sit, stand or lie for extended periods of time. like an hour. you have a job he can do? HE WOULD FUCKING LOVE TO WORK. He would love to not be stuck. He stays as active as his body lets him. What job would you suggest.

he is one. one of millions of stories of people who genuinely and truly and need help.  do we hate them so much. do we rue them so much, all of them? you can say oh no. i didnt know about your ex husband. i mean the OTHER ONES.

fuck you.
just fuck you. if you cant have some empathy for humans and trust that maybe, just maybe there are people in the world that you cant even begin to relate to. then fuck you.

Friday, November 2, 2012


In January. As a way to keep from going mad, I made a project list. Things I wanted to do to the house. For the last three years, most of my efforts had gone into, what I will now refer to as Chris's house. Not that i did much to it. I was simply rarely in my house.  It was time to re-nest. 

I'm writing this out, not because I want accolades. But because I want to see it. Not just the scratched off list, which in and of itself makes me feel pretty damn good. 
There are a lot of emotions that I feel about this year so far. And this list of things accomplished, encompasses them all. 

Empowerment. Fear. Pride. Anger. Exhaustion. Sadness. stubbornness. And a little peace. 

I've shared some of these with Chris. He's still my biggest champion. That doesn't keep me from occasionally muttering, or yelling, "fuck YOU Ochs" from time to time. 

Productivity is my therapy. My way of controlling the chaos of my mind and my emotions. If I push hard enough, do better, am stronger, accomplish more, then I will somehow be worthy. And in the process my house looks a little better, piece by piece. 

As of November 1, I'm putting away the power tools. Stowing the tool box and slowing down for the last two months of the year. This is for two reasons. One, even simple projects cost money and the holidays are coming as well as tuition dues. Time to start squeezing pennies. Secondly, I'm aware that running at 120mph all the time doesn't bring healing. I'm heading into the holiday season and I dont expect it to be easy. This will be my first holiday season completely single, since the 80s. Yeah I know, boo hoo, poor me. Regardless, I'll sink into the smith family traditions me and the kids carved out years ago. And we will continue with the sm/ochs traditions, hopefully with  Kc and Bear. And I'll look forward to 2013 as a year of fresh starts and  less pain in my heart. 

And a whole new year to work on the house. 

Accomplished- 2012

Cleaned and purged basement
Switched Harrison and Taylors rooms. Purged and repainted
Replaced back door knob/lock
Bunny re-homed
Red room purged and converted to man cave
Created white trash garden, city version
Built two new garden beds in back drive
Hung lattice in back yard
New perennials planted
Painted kitchen nook
Installed new to me dishwasher
Installed new sink and faucet
Hung new sconces in living room
Removed carpet from living and dining room, stained and conditioned wood
Purged my bedroom and closets
Purged dining room and living room
Scraped and primed garage

Goals for 2013

Redo kitchen. Rip out carpet. Repainted cabinets. Countertops. Floor. Walls. 
Make curtains for taylors room and man cave
Paint living room
Paint fireplace
Paint garage
replace wood trim in living and dining rooms
New flooring in downstairs bath
New cabinet & sink in downstairs bath