Wednesday, August 16, 2017

History on Repeat


I know I'm not the only one who feels like the world sucks right now.  That humanity seems so off course, it's inhumane.  Not only do we abuse each other, we've also desecrated our habitat; the environment.  And things only seem to be getting worse.  But are they?

There have always been natural disasters mixed with unnatural, unspeakable atrocities. There have always been wars, powerful tyrants and disease.  Pick any point in history and you'll see that it's always been a shit show.  Always.  And every generation has always been fearful for the next generation will inherit a world different from the one they had.  Which they will.

But, it's not all bad.

I mean most of it is, but not all of it.  They're always been people who give to complete strangers, who stand up for the voiceless and the sick.  Ones who fight for humanity armed with compassion and empathy.  Who seek cures for diseases and protection for the environment.  It's just so hard to find them.  Not because there are so few, but because they are reticent and don't seek recognition or rewards.   

There are two motivations for people:  fear and love.  Fear motivates us to protect ourselves from threats real or perceived.  Love encourages us to protect others from threats real or perceived.  They coexist and are intricately intertwined.   Not only is some fear healthy, it's necessary for survival.  And indiscriminate love is as ignorant as it is ill fated.  It sets us up to be taken advantage of.

Throughout history, these ideas have been doing battle for power.  Protect ourselves or protect ourselves as a society?  Whenever we make progress as a society, a backlash occurs and we retrogress  to some extent.  This is why history repeats itself.  But, that doesn't discount the growth and advancement of civilization as a whole.   

The thing we should fear the most is feeling disenfranchised.  Because the powerful prey on the disenfranchised. Thus, giving power to whomever sees fit to abuse it.  And some one will.  Some one always does. Just look at the history books.  

RECOMMENDED READING:  On Tyranny by Timothy Snyder

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Magnified


I was reading in my favorite chair in the bedroom when he approached and told me he had a surprise for me and asked me to stand up.  Don't most people get asked to sit down for a surprise?  Was he going to kiss me?  I mean, I know reading Dostoevsky is a huge turn on and all, but in the middle of the day?  With all the kids at home?  That's when he went down to the garage to get some tools. When he came back up, he locked himself in the bathroom where I heard him screwing around.        Then he invited me in.  To see the lighted, magnifying mirror he'd installed.

WTF WAS HE THINKING?

Sure, things had gotten bad over the years.  As my eyesight worsened, I began to need to wear reading glasses to pluck my eye brows.  And while the glasses make it easier for me to see the stray hairs, the frame of the glasses impede my ability to get to them with the tweezers.  I should mention that bathroom lighting is the worst for such a delicate procedure.  Every woman knows that there is only one place where you can see every single outlying brow hair.  And that's in the review mirror of your car.  Which is why I started plucking my brows in my minivan. Which might be why he bought this mirror for me in the first place.  Because it might be embarrassing when the neighbors see your wife walking out to sit in the car parked in the driveway in her pajamas to pluck her eye brows.   

But, have you looked at yourself with a lighted mirror at 5x magnification?  It's horrifying!  You can see every pore, black head, zit, age spot, wrinkle, chin hair and potentially cancerous legion, not to mention my moustache.  Since when do I have a mustache?  Why didn't anyone tell me how hideous I am?  My husband did tell me he originally ordered a mirror with 10x the magnification, but when it arrived broken,  he sent it back and got the more myopic option.  Thank god!  You can probably see the microscopic bugs on your skin with that kind of amplification.  And no one wants to be reminded that we are actually vile, disgusting creatures chock full of bugs and bacteria!  

I really do get that his heart was in the right place.  But really, getting a woman over 40 a magnifying mirror is seriously the worst gift you can give.  It really only magnifies all the things you hate about yourself.  Because that's what mirrors do.  I was better off seeing myself through the filter of my failing vision.  Which looks alot like the soft lighting in that Elizabeth Taylor White Diamonds commercial.   

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Unplugged


My relationship with technology can best be described as, "it's complicated".  So when I take an annual camping trip where I know I won't have any cell service, I'm completely elated.  But, also filled with a little dread.  What if something happens to my dad, my oldest kid I left home alone or our dogs in his care, and no one can reach me?  Also, what if someone posts something completely bizarre on my Facebook wall or tags me in a horrible looking photo and it stays up for days before I can delete it?

What'll happen when I'm unplugged?

I'll tell you what happens.  I tune into nature, that's what I do.  Watching the fish jump out of the freshly stocked lake.  Why do fish jump anyhow?  Well, I can't google it, but I bet they're trying to escape because they suspect they're going to get brutally murdered by some guy with a hook.  Then there's all those birds flying in formation like an intricately choreographed flash mob.  How do they all spontaneously know the next move they're going to do like people musicals always do?  All these wonders of nature, drowned out by my kids fighting about whose turn it is in the canoe next.  

Time I would've spent on my phone looking at photos on Instagram, I spent judging other campers.  Like who buys a pastel yellow tent?  It looks like it was meant for a puppet show.  A creepy, stupid puppet show, just to clarify.  Tents are supposed to be classic, neutral shades, like the inside of an Eddie Bauer store.  And what I mean by that is, completely boring.  Also, who brings their own porta potty camping?  The guy across the way from me, that's who.  The only thing worse than using the campground toilet is using one that looks kinda like a shower stall, but with nylon walls that illuminates the silhouette of the shitter who brings a flashlight with him to use it.  I didn't want to know this information, it was thrust upon me.  But, I do want to know who the hell thought that was a good idea and who the hell cleans that shit?  Now, back to the lady in tent the color of a lemon drop who's wearing silk pajamas to bed.  WHO WEARS SILK PAJAMAS?   Does she have a water bed in there too?  Hugh Hefner?  

While over at my campsite, my son brought an MRE from back when my husband was in the army.  Which was over 12 years ago now.  Never mind, that I packed all kinds of fresh food that I painstakingly prepped and cooked on-site, my kid wants a dehydrated, preservative filled meal that was packaged in 1993.  I did not typo that date.  He ate a 24 year old package of chicken and rice, which, I'm sure wasn't even "good" before it expired.  I know it wasn't good when he ate it because he offered me a taste.  And in my defense, I'd already finished the first book I'd brought with me and I'd judged all the surrounding campers, so there wasn't a whole lot left to do.  Except guard the peanut butter from the chipmunks and ground squirrels intent on stealing it from us.  Why aren't ground squirrels allergic to ground nuts like the rest of America is?  I was actually bored enough to google that, if only I had a connection.  But, I probably would have googled how to kill a pesky rodent with the least amount of blood.  Because the blood might attract bears.

The thought of bears did keep me up at night.  Did I put all the food back in the car?  Did I leave the caramel m&m's out on the picnic table?  Wait, did I bring them in my tent to hide them from the kids?  This is how I die.  Attempting to fight off a bear to protect my candy stash.  Sounds about right.  But, that didn't keep me up as long as the incessant owl hooting in the middle of the night.  Which, if you haven't heard an owl hoot in real life, sounds like a person trying to imitate an owl hooting.  And that person won't shut up for like 2 hours.  Finally, when it stopped, that's precisely when porta potty guy started snoring.

The next day, it started raining.  And it didn't stop.  It rained for hours.  Over 20 hours.  You know how the sound of rain makes you feel like you have to pee?  That guys porta potty right next to my camp site started to seem really appealing.  But not as appealing as peeing next to a tree in the rain.  Or in my pants in the tent.  Or getting eaten by a bear.  Although, I hope the bear would see that the lady in the silk pajamas is a much better option than me because she'd go down smoother.

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