In Order To Form A More Perfect Union

I have a problem. It’s a simple problem, really. The thing is, I love the Constitution. I mean, I really do. I grew up singing “I’m Just A Bill” and “We The People” from School House Rock every Saturday morning. A lot of men and women have died defending that little piece of centuries old paper that gives us the right to worship (or not) as we see fit, the right to bear arms, the right against illegal search and seizure, etc. Of course, because I love words, and I love writing, I REALLY love the first amendment to the Constitution; the right to free speech.

School House Rock

Unfortunately, in the US, as much as people like to say that we have free speech and how great it is that we can criticize the government without fear of reprisal (to a certain extent, of course), what most people really mean is that you can only say what you believe as long as its the same thing as what they believe. Otherwise, you’re ungrateful, unpatriotic, unAmerican. I disagree.

As I’ve said before, all of my brothers, my biological father, my ex-husband and my current husband have all served in the military. While they all had different reasons for why they chose to serve, the fact remains that they vowed to uphold all the meaning in that little piece of paper. So when someone dares to attempt to blur the line between the separation of Church and State, the VERY REASON of our country’s being, the thing that made a group of people leave their homes and find somewhere else so that they could have the freedom to worship how they wanted without the government intervening…well, that really pisses me off. It pisses me off because I have seen Fort Logan Cemetery, Arlington Cemetery, the Vietnam Memorial in DC, the Korean War Memorial in DC…in other words, I have a grasp of how many people have died so that I can sit here on my laptop and rant about the Constitution.

I cannot express how strongly I feel about not pissing on graves. That’s what all these movements to create a state religion, force mandatory religious assemblies in public schools, and stomp all over the first amendment are doing. The people behind those movements are pissing on the graves of the very people that gave them the freedom to follow their own beliefs, just as they gave me the freedom to follow my own. Those soldiers did not die so that someone could force my child to spend over an hour listening to a Baptist minister spew about hellfire and damnation, nor did they die so that I could be court ordered to attend church on Sundays. No, they died so that we wouldn’t have to do these things.

I am damned sick and tired of all the same people who are going off about their right to have automatic rifles without background checks trying to take away MY freedom to worship or not worship as I see fit. I don’t believe they need an automatic rifle to “defend their home” any more than they believe that children should be taught science in school because it might cause those children to actually think for themselves. I am damned sick and tired of people pissing on graves.

I understand how the second amendment can be interpreted to cover automatic rifles without background checks, really, I do. However, the first amendment isn’t really open to interpretation when it comes to the separation of Church and State, since it specifically ” prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances.”

It’s that first bit there…”prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion,” that I so love. All these arguments by doctors and pharmacists and companies who don’t want to provide birth control coverage to their employees under the guise that they don’t need to follow the law because it goes against their religion really need to read this thing again.

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Pour Me Another Shot of Whiskey

It has been a rough six weeks. Having a dental appointment once or twice a week, and being financially on the edge of disaster is exhausting. We were just about to have the second credit card paid off when we not only had to max that one, but the one that had been paid off and was sitting in a drawer for emergencies. I don’t mind being poor, but I hate being broke, and yes, there is a difference. Being poor means that you’re living within your means, even if those means are small. Being broke means there is NO money for extras of any kind, and even groceries are going on the credit card, which every financial consultant will tell you is a huge no-no.

So when the kids wanted to take me out for my birthday last night, even though I was tired, I was also excited and really looking forward to it. Aubrey got some free entrance tickets  from a friend, so that saved some, and since we’re gluten free, we couldn’t eat much from any of the food booths, so that saved even more. We ended up drinking margaritas and standing around the karaoke booth for most of the night. I had an absolute blast.

I love hearing my kids sing, and I especially love it when I get to show them off to the public. Matt sang the Joe Cocker version of “A Little Help From My Friends,” while Aubrey sang twice. Her first song was “Pour Me” by Trick Pony, and later on, she sang “La Bamba” in Spanish, which always blows people away, since she is so very, very, very white. The crowd was whistling and hollering for both of the kids, and one group of people even came up to me to say how great they were.

Aubrey had one guy ask if he could take a picture with her and if she had a business card (she had joked about making some up for the evening), and when she said she didn’t, he asked for her facebook page. While it’s hard to judge a crazy stalker from their cover, Aubrey pointed him out to me in the crowd, and he seemed cute if somewhat preppy. He hasn’t facebooked her yet, so nothing may come of it, but it gave her an ego boost nonetheless. Matt flirted with one girl, and had a couple of other girls that flirted with him, but he said they were just trying to get him to buy them beer.

I had a huge ego boost because I got carded for every drink that I bought, which was five different booths. No one believed I was 44, and all the signs said they were required to card anyone who looked under 30. Matt didn’t get carded (flashbacks to my 32nd birthday), but he’s always looked older than his age. Most everyone said I looked 22, which I don’t believe for a second. But I certainly don’t look 44…even I can admit that.

While Aubrey and I waited for Matt to show up, she decided to get a temporary tattoo from the Irish section. She ended up with a tramp stamp, but had them put it between her shoulders.

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She says she’ll never get a real one because it’s too much commitment, and besides, she’s terrified of needles. Can’t blame her on either point!

Of course, now that she’s sung in front of a huge (drunk) crowd, she’s dying to go to karaoke in Memphis and Nashville. I told her that A&R people don’t go to karaoke bars to “discover” people, but I know what she can do when she’s determined, so I’ll just stay out of this one. On the plus side, since Matt will have a degree in music business, I won’t have to worry about her business manager screwing her over…assuming Matt would ever want to be her business manager in the first place.

I never get a chance to go out on the town with both of my kids at the same time, so that made this birthday particularly wonderful. Even though I ended up trapped in bed today from being super tired, it gave me a little time to catch up on YOUR blogs, and I got some crochet work done. Not a shabby way to start out age 44.

It’s My Birthday Too, Yeah!

As usual, life did NOT work out as planned. In spite of our intent to make it to NIOSA last night, instead we are going to have to brave “College Night,” which means about 30,000 people in a space that’s about four square blocks or so (that might actually be a bit too generous).

So why did we not make it last night? Because of another dental disaster. Yesterday, my permanent crowns came in, and I had my appointment to seat them at 9:30am. No big deal, 30 minute appointment, in and out, right? Um…no.

It seemed like everything was going fine. The first two temp crowns came right off with no problem. However, when the assistant tried to take off the third crown, I just about hit the ceiling. Considering the assistant is pregnant, I’m really glad that I don’t have an automatic punch response, and instead, only jumped in the chair.

Assistant M. decided that Dr. S. needed to look at it; Dr. S. tried to remove it and again, I nearly hit the ceiling. She figured a shot or two of novacaine would do the trick. No such luck. 20 minutes later, I was still not numb, my mouth was throbbing, and I was holding my cheek and moaning like a bear in a trap. So she gave me two palatal injections…still not numb. Two more gum injections…nothing. A third palatal finally made it stop throbbing, but she said it still might hurt when she tried to remove it. I asked for the nitrous oxide. It may cost $40, but it is SOOOOOOOOOOOOO worth it.

Since I was pretty checked out on the N.O., Dr. S. and my favorite assistant, L. (although I love them all) worked quickly and got the crown off and the permanent crowns on. The problem was that we weren’t sure if it was my gums that were inflamed, or if I need a root canal on my 2nd molar. Because the pain was radiating throughout my mouth, I couldn’t tell if it was a specific tooth, my gums, or the injection sites.

While assistant M. tried to find a dentist with a CT machine that was open, I started shaking as my blood sugar dropped from the after effect of the N.O. They gave me a teeny tiny Coca Cola and a GIANT spoonful of Nutella. Now that is some serious dental service! If I knew I would get a giant spoonful of Nutella every time, I’d be begging to go to the dentist!

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Because we weren’t going to be able to go to NIOSA anyway, Aubrey asked when their next available appointment was so she could get her upper left quadrant done. Luckily for her, they had one at 2pm, which was just 15 minutes after they finished with me. We ran to grab some fries since neither of us had eaten any real food, and were back at 2:05. Not too shabby on the timing 🙂

They started working on Aubrey while I curled in a corner of the room, clutching my cheek and moaning (still), and fell asleep thanks to the klonopin that was still in my system. When I woke up, they said they had found a CT machine, but I would have to be there in less than an hour. Aubrey didn’t have any meds in her system, so she was able to drive.

After the 30 minute appointment that turned into an entire day at the dentist (from 9:30 to 3:30), Aubrey and I both wanted tramadol and sleep. Besides, we’d never make it down there in time to avoid the major crowds, so we just crossed our fingers and hoped for the best for today.

When we got home, I did some research as I was worried that because of my fibromyalgia, I might have developed trigeminal neuralgia as well, which causes serious pain in the mouth, sinuses, head, ear, throat, and teeth. After reading many articles, studies, and whatnot, I concluded that I don’t have trigeminal neuralgia, and instead, it’s just my plain old fibro that’s causing so many problems. If you (or someone you know) has fibromyalgia and has problems at the dentist, this article is extremely helpful and informative:

http://www.fmsow.ca/dsdental.htm

Fortunately, as my happiest birthday present ever, I woke up with NO PAIN at all! Which is why we are going to NIOSA tonight!! Woot! I’m hoping that tonight is like my 21st birthday, and I won’t have to pay for a drink all night. Probably not, since I’m now 44 instead of 21, but there’s always a chance. Can I just claim that I’m 22 twice? No? Oh well…

On another bright note, Aubrey and I have been working on her Style and Fashion blog, and she’s getting a bunch of positive responses. We plan to make a few videos on how to put on makeup so that it looks natural, beauty tips like dealing with emergency pimples FAST, how to shop at a thrift store, putting on a wig, etc… Obviously, that’s a lot, so if you’re interested in beauty, style, and fashion tips, check out Aubrey In Style.

Time to get up and get moving…it takes a lot of work for me to look presentable, and God only knows how many people from high school I’ll run into tonight. Unfortunately, it won’t be with my car.

Graceland, Graceland, In Memphis Tennessee

It always amazes me how life can move crazy fast. It seems like just yesterday Aubrey left for college the first time, and a blink since she came home at the end of the first semester. I knew she’d be going back eventually, but that doesn’t mean I’m that much more ready than I was the first time.

Oh, I know I said that I’d be fine this time around, and I will, but she is my buddy, my best friend, and one of my most favorite people in the world. The older she gets, the closer we get. She’s slowly let me see the grown up, decision making side of her…you know, the side that doesn’t necessarily coincide with what Mom would prefer. We generally agree on most things, although she tends to hold a grudge much longer and more viciously than do I.

This time around, going to school is HER decision, not something I pushed her into (which everyone accused me of, in spite of Aubrey saying she wanted to go). She has spent hours filling out forms, talking with advisors, registering for courses…all without my constant nagging (constant being the operative word, of course). I did help with her FAFSA, since I had to write the exceptions portion; the part where we can state any excessive expenses, like this year’s $20,000 in dental bills. Our dentist’s office staff said they would write a supporting letter if she needs one. Considering she is paying for this entire thing herself, she needs the lowest estimated family contribution she can get.

Fortunately for her, she has perfect credit. Fortunately for her, she lives with an accountant dad and a mom who is insane about building wealth while young, which is why she has perfect credit. Between her student loan payments and her credit card that our bank offers to college students (that she pays off completely every month), her credit report was full of beautiful green OK boxes under each month. That will be super helpful when she has to take out a private student loan for the excess over her government loans. Yes, the accountant dad thinks it is a BAD idea, while building wealth mom thinks it’s a good investment. The decision is up to her, since we are willing to pay for community college, but she feels very strongly about her school, and now that she KNOWS it is a fantastic education, she doesn’t want to go anywhere else.

Since Aub has everything she needs for college already, now the hard part is getting it back up to New England. We have to figure out what needs to go and what can stay, and we’ve decided to drive. I’ve long promised her a roadtrip across the country, so this is our chance. With the right music, ritual stops at Starbucks, and my Nuvigil, we figure we can drive about 800 miles a day, with a couple of stops along the way for touristy things. She wants to stop in Memphis and Nashville (yeah, Nashville is going to be at least two days, I’m sure). While we haven’t really discussed much about what she wants to do in these places (besides a whole lot of portfolio work along the way, which means a LOT of work for me), I’m sure Graceland will be on the list. I draw the line at going to Dollywood, though (especially since it’s not on the way), in spite of the SkyZip attraction. She’ll just have to find another place to fly!

We’ll be staying with my friends Leigh and Bill once again, as they are always willing to graciously open their hearts and home. Leigh suggested that instead of driving through DC, that we go straight up to CT and then we can take the train down to DC for a weekend. Considering we’ll have an entire apartment in a tiny station wagon, that sounds like a much better plan.

We still have a lot of iron out. We don’t even know when we’re leaving, and of course, all of these plans could be blown to hell depending on her financial aid. Actually, that’s not true. I’m sure we’ll be driving up there anyway, it’s just a question of are we driving up for school, or to move her permanently?

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In the meantime, there’s a lot going on, starting with tomorrow! It’s Fiesta time, and it’s been at least six years since Aubrey’s gone to Night in Old San Antonio. It’s the one thing she’s asked to do before moving, and there’s only a four day window. Since my birthday is Thursday (44!), we’re going Wednesday night. I’m sure I’ll be dying on my b-day after a night of fighting through the crowds, but it is my favorite Fiesta event and I’ve been saving up my energy. I know we will have a blast, and hopefully she’ll meet someone cute…entirely possible in a crowd of 22,000 people, right?

 

A lot to do, and I know I will blink and we’ll be in CT, but in the meantime, I’m going to try to live in the now and take each day as it comes. Hasta mañana!

 

 

Please Come To Boston For The Springtime

For the last week, I haven’t been able to write. I barely posted anything on facebook, other than sharing my usual political stuff. I was literally struck speechless by the Boston Marathon bombings. It hit a little too close to home (90 miles, to be exact), as Aubrey is returning to school in just a few months and will be just a train ride away from Boston.

Several years ago, I wrote a post called, “Starry, Starry Night.” It was a short post, so I’ll copy it here:

Tonight, as I sat at Starbucks and waited for Aubrey’s dance class to end, I felt warm and cozy. It wasn’t just because I was drinking my exacting and ridiculous personal recipe for the perfect mocha, or that I was snuggled under my New Year’s wrap, or that I was curled up in one of the big, cushy leather chairs. Those are all great reasons for that warm and cozy feeling, but tonight, it was because of the four police officers sitting at the table across from my chair.

I know what I’m about to say will likely piss a few people off, and for once, I really don’t mean to. Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of posts about the military, and how great they are, and how they are the reason we can sleep at night, yada yada yada. Before you get all riled up, let me say that all of my brothers, one ex-husband, and Ron are all ex-military, and they are all my heros (although I’m positive Ron whined through all six years), but while I highly respect the men and women who sacrifice everything out of patriotism to their country and in some cases, their fellow man, they are not the reason I sleep soundly in my bed (or on my sofa).

I feel safe because of the men and women who serve here, for way less money, and a hell of a lot less benefits than our military. They are just as willing to jump on a bomb, throw themselves in front of a bullet, or even kick an ass if necessary (and if no one is looking, because there are laws, after all). Yes, I know that the majority of them are ex-military. I’m not arguing that one is better than the other, just that I feel safe knowing that with the dialing of three little numbers, within minutes someone will be at my door, ready to charge. If I could dial up Fort Sam (which is closer than the local police station) and get that same response from the army guys, it might be a different story.

So while you’re saying thanks to all the people who have died for our country and our rights and our freedom, don’t forget to say thanks to the ones who die keeping us safe, not from some undefined “evil” around the world, but from the evil right here.

It was not the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marines who ended the manhunt for the second terrorist. It was the Boston Police Department, doing what they do every day…keeping the people of Boston safe. Most days, it is a thankless job, but not yesterday. Hopefully, that grateful feeling will last a while, especially when it comes time for the city to decide on pay raises for the police officers.

We are a nation of heroes, as evidenced by the aftermath of the bombings. While some people instinctually ran away, many others ran towards the bomb victims, in spite of not knowing if there were more  bombs set to explode. Strangers comforted each other on the streets while waiting for the first responders. Fire, Police, and Emergency Services rushed in and were amazingly organized, as they rerouted the runners, took the injured to tents or area hospitals, and most importantly, searched for other devices in the area. They then engaged in one of the most organized, thorough, and exacting manhunts ever seen in this country. Not even D.B. Cooper could have escaped the Boston P.D.

Yes, I freely admit (as I did in the above post) that many of those first responders were ex-military. However, they chose to continue to be duty bound to protect and to serve outside of their military enlistments. They chose to protect and to serve their own people; their family, their friends, their neighbors, and in the case of the marathon, thousands of total strangers. They chose to be “here”-oes.

I may physically live 2000 miles away, but my heart is in Massachusetts. I am grateful to the Boston P.D. because they made me feel safe while I slept in my bed. The owner of the boat where the bombing suspect was hiding dialed 911 and within minutes, the boat was surrounded, the owners taken to safety, and after a short stand-off, the suspect was taken into custody. Those three magic numbers saved an entire city from fear, and the nation from terror.

Today, I raise my virtual glass to the Boston P.D. Y’all rock!

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