You know that email you wrote? Telling someone how absolutely and completely wronged you are by their cruel, thoughtless and idiotic deeds? You know that one? Don’t send it.

When I’m writing a howler, I very deliberately leave the “TO:” line blank.  That way, I can’t even mistakenly send it.

I’m definitely composing that ferocious email. I’m carefully going back and editing that email to hone all the barbs until they are quite sharp. I am ensuring that it is fully TO THE POINT and that no one could mistake my intention. Then I’m walking away. I might delete it right then. Or I might see it in my drafts folder later. I have never sent it when I saw it again later.

I, like you, need to get that righteous anger out of my system. I can’t imagine a scenario in which I need to put it directly into someone else’s system, just for one simple reason.

Nothing good will come of it.

I’m not motivated by making something bad happen. I personally get nothing out of exacting revenge. Ugliness I lavish will likely

  • escalate
  • screw me over
  • not make a whiff of difference in the other’s behavior
  • damage a relationship that I want (or need) to maintain
  • All of the Above

Hence, no good will come of it.

I’ve been contemplating rage-quitting Medium over the cycle of hurt and outrage that is brewing on that platform. But rage quitting feeds that shit cycle. So, if I’m leaving the platform behind, I will just pick up my keyboard and leave. Without a public fuss.

I was watching a clip from a TV show where grown men in suits and ties were calling each other names, being mean and dismissive, yelling over each other and, I dunno. It definitely was not civil. It was remarkably angry. It included glowering.  It was dysfunction dyscussion.

Is your goal to make some afraid? To force an error? To slam the door in someone’s face? To punish? To hurt? To win at any cost?

Let me be clear. I used to be much meaner. It just doesn’t work. Not for what I want, anyway.

Three Things

First thing, I am over American Idol. It’s on now. And I really don’t care. Didn’t vote once. Missed a bunch of shows. Don’t care. Boring. [Like another “news” story on how Hillary doesn’t have a shot, but that she still gets coverage like it matters. Ron Paul is still running for the Republican nomination, but he doesn’t get airtime. Must be ageism.]

Second thing, I wish I could be Chef Ramsey sometimes. Number one, he is world class in his profession. Number two, he just lets it go in the kitchen. He calls people donkeys because they are acting like donkeys. He tells them–in a forceful fashion–when they are screwing up. If he is disappointed, people know. And then he recognizes excellence in the next breath. I bet he gets hoarse, sometimes. I sure would like to call the donkeys by their real names, sometimes. And yell, sometimes. [Okay, in the non-reality T.V. world, it’s not always so good to speak your mind. Unless the campaign is all reality T.V. anyway?]

Third thing, [House spoiler] was too sad for me. I am struck by the calm of people who know they are dying. I used to think that it was a TV or movie drama thing–people looking serene, knowing that their time is almost over. But it really is like that. And we really have to let them go. In TV, though, we can go back to an earlier episode, and the ones we cared about are still there. So, I cried.

Take Her, Not Me

Not too far on the heels of my adulthood, I started joking with my folks that they didn’t do so bad. I mean the cops never brought us home. Mom and Dad were never called by Officer Krupski to come down to the station to pick us up. Never booked or in a lineup. Maybe not a high bar, but certainly a marker of “not so bad.”

Yesterday, the cops came for my mother.

She has been suffering from depression and anxiety since my father died in June. She was sometimes unable to control her anger. It was loud. She was feeling like she couldn’t trust people. At the same time she didn’t feel that she could trust herself to make decisions–despite being perfectly capable. She wanted someone else to take control. She couldn’t stand being out of control. She fell and went into a nursing home for recovery.

The hospital provided an opportunity to address her mental health. Working class people don’t seek psychiatric care. Maybe, just maybe, we might see a priest. People who see therapists are weak or can’t control their families. And people would find out. There is a stigma. You can take medication for high-blood pressure, but not for debilitating sadness.

In the hospital, my mother started taking medication that made her feel safe to try. She went from saying “I can’t” to “I can,” from saying “me, me, me, me” to asking about other people, from blaming everyone else to helping other residents learn the ropes of the nursing home.

When she moved into her senior apartment, she was full of hope and potential. She was everyone’s favorite, including mine. Phone calls were balanced. When for years she hadn’t asked about me or my family, now every member of the family was addressed and caressed. She would talk lovingly about my father, remember to ask about the football game two days ago, and tell me that she felt so close to me when we spoke.

She fell in the grocery store. She was still a little wobbly, but was helping out one of her friends from the apartment by returning her bottles. She was off her meds for the two-plus days in the hospital. In that short time period, us Sibs saw a return of the anxious, self-oriented, suspicious mother. We knew then that the medication was critical to her self-reliance and success. To say nothing of our own selfish needs to have a mother that we liked.

Me: Is it wrong to want her on the medication?
Sib: Better living through chemicals is not a bad thing. Do you think she is happier when she acts unhappy??

About two weeks ago, phone calls became litanies of anger and distrust.

Me: Your mother said, complaint, complaint, complaint.
Sib: Well your mother said, mean thing, mean thing, mean thing.
Me: She was getting so upset.
Sib: She is so hard to talk to now.

Then the light bulb went off. She was going to crash again. And, again, we couldn’t do anything to stop it. Only her kids saw her paranoia and anxiety, and that it was getting worse. Monday her doctor did not see any reason to change her meds. She wasn’t complaining to him and didn’t show any increased agitation. So the train wreck that we were watching was set into motion.

And the cops came for my mother yesterday. And the paramedics. And the ambulance.

And I realized that my mother isn’t suffering from being old. She is suffering from mental illness. And I also realized that she has been suffering for decades.

Me: Remember that time when we were like ten, and mom was locked in the bathroom and we were begging her to come out because we were afraid that she might hurt herself?
Sib: And when we would come home from school and she would be screaming at Dad like he was messing around with her sister.
Me: And we were like ten and twelve and we called Auntie to see what really happened? Now that was a family rift.
Sib: And when you moved out, I would come home and she would scream the same scream at me. Like every day?
Me: And we thought she was a bitch. But not like she was sick. Do you think that Dad was masking her behavior? And when he left, there was no one left to shield her?
Sib: And Dad took the brunt of her anger. We saw that.
(Both a question and a statement) She has been very sick for a long time.

So when the cops came, my mother told them to take my sister, not her. Her daughter was the bad guy. But the professionals could see that there wasn’t a bad guy in the room. Just someone very sick. And someone watching her mother get strapped onto the stretcher who was very sad.

Unidentified Flying Object

A bird dropped into the house this morning.

Yes, dropped would be the way I would describe it. I must have been awakened by the bird flying through the attic space because I definitely saw it Harrier into the room. Thunk! The dog also noted the appearance of another animal in the house. He also helped with the awakening-thing.

At first I didn’t know that it was a bird. I thought that it might be a squirrel, or maybe one of those rat-fink raccoons that have been known to burrow underneath the eaves and climb their plump/fat selves on the gutter causing the gutters to pull away from the house. Oops, I digress.

Anyway, I saw something fall into the room and then the dog went after it as it whizzed across the hallway. It was smaller than a raccoon, also it was a few feet off of the ground. “A bird!” I surmised.

Then it was in the dog’s mouth. “DROP!” I bellowed. (well, maybe more like screamed, I can’t say for sure.) The dog is amazingly obedient. I saw him fighting with himself. He knew he had to obey orders from the Alpha (me), but dear lord, he had a live animal in his mouth.

“DROP!” I repeated. (re-screamed?)

The bird flew to one window and clunked itself. Bouncing off, it raced to the other window with the dog in pursuit. “Don’t eat the bird!” I ordered.

The bird was, once again, in the jowls of the commando dog. The dog looked at me. “Dammit,” he telepathed. “This is my job. I am supposed to chase birds and return them. Also, I can save you.”

“LET THE BIRD GO!” He did. And the bird raced around as I tried to get the window open. Success, but the storm window was in the way. The bird was to the next room. The dog, once again, made a grab.

“DROP!” I wailed as I got the window in the bedroom open. There was fresh air. The bird was in the corner, next to the armoire, and the dog was going back for another go. I grabbed the dog by the collar and dragged him into the next bedroom.

“There’s a bird in the house, and I need you to keep an eye on the dog.” The 12-year old looked up from his covers. Like he didn’t hear the entire commotion. I bet he was hoping he could skip church this morning if he feigned sleep.

“Okay.” I left the dog in his room and went to see about the bird. I could see the tail sticking out from under the armoire. And he was breathing at about 2 zillion breaths per second. I tried to say something calming, and the 12 year old walked in. The dog, hot on his heels, trying for another mouthful.

“Okay,” I said again. “You watch the bird, and I will let the dog out.” I took the dog downstairs, put him in the room of the 15-year old with admonishments to “STAY THERE,” and went back upstairs.

The 12-year old was spying on the bird under the furniture. “He crawled all the way under.” We waited, prone. What to do next? The wind was coming in the room.

12-year old: Let’s get some bread and throw it out the window.
Me: Hunh?
12-year old: He’ll chase it.
Me: It’s a bird not a dog. They don’t do the same thing.

Whooosh! The bird saw its chance and was out the window.

I was relieved that it could actually fly, after the mouth treatment by the 85 lb. yellow dragon.

It flew to the tree outside the house. Caught its breath for a few minutes then flew toward the spooky church across the street. Three more birds like him streaked after him. I guess they were interested in his story.

I hope he discouraged them from finding out for themselves. I sat down to a cup of coffee. And fed the dog.

Blinded Me By Science

I hate science fair.

I used to think that I liked it. That was when we were at a school that didn’t have one.

I used to think that Science Fair was to learn about science, do something with your hands and brain, and then learn to communicate about your findings. Be creative. Have fun. We didn’t do science fair at my school. I thought it would be great.

Wrong! Wrong! Wrong!

First, science projects are lame. My favorite science was chemistry. Blowing things up. Burning chemicals. Seeing the colors. Smelling the esters. Building a distilling apparatus and having some powdery substance at the end. Or, even better, separating liquids. Connecting the Lewis Dot Structures. It was a wonderful, hands-on thing.

But you look for science fair projects and they are in two categories–boring biology projects or building things.

The first is–well–boring. Growing plants. Growing germs. Growing plankton. Nothing blows up. Great for little kids.

The second has a huge cool potential. Except that if you are building something–like a circuit–you might actually learn something. And that is NOT the purpose of a science fair project.

A successful science fair project has four main ingredients.

  1. A graph. You need to measure something so you can graph it. You can’t measure something you build.
  2. A hypothesis. You need to work the Scientific Method. This is the Holy Grail of science fair. #1 is directly related.
  3. A teacher. The teacher has to be of no help, patronizing, mean, and anti-intellectual.
  4. Much yelling. There are absolutely NO good science fair projects. There are no projects of any interest whatsoever to the kid. No matter how you try to sell it.

So after not picking a project, complaining about the lack of support from #3, and refusing to do work. And after going around and around through crummy web sites with science projects perfect for 7-9 year olds when we need an high school honors level project AND a middle school project. And after going through all the ideas with potential and recognizing time and again there was nothing to frickin’ MEASURE, the science fair projects have been selected.

The abstracts have been written. The high-level procedures have been done. Some of the materials have been ordered. After all the shock and awe to get this far, it seems like we should be done.

But then you look at building the experiment, trying to control the insurgent students (aka the 15-year old and the 12-year old) who at times seem intent on sabotaging their own best interests, and a look at the additional resources–time, brain, and materials–required for success, I almost feel like pulling out now. But no, I need to be fully committed to see these projects through their bitter ends.

Maybe I should shut up. At least our experiments have a good chance of success–it could be worse.

See related Science Un-Fair.