Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Chipmunk's Christmas

My husband and I are horrible, horrible people.

We decided to show the girls Alvin and the Chipmunks Chipmunks' Christmas today. Let me preface this with some back story: I ADORE this movie. I have watched it since childhood. It came out in 1981; as I was born in 1980, I have quite literally grown up with this movie. My dad had the soundtrack to it on cassette, and he used to play it to my brother and I during the Christmas season (this was a bargaining chip -- if we didn't do our chores or if we were fighting in the backseat, we didn't get to listen to it; smart parenting on my dad's behalf). We broke this tape from continual play. However, it fell by the wayside as I entered into my teenage years, and it has now resurfaced with the advent of my own two children thus far.

And now, Alvin and his cohorts have fallen prey to the inevitable: the vicious, merciless commentary of my husband and I. It started off innocently enough: my husband and I noticed a plot hole. How could little Tommy be so sick, and yet a simple harmonica completely cures him? This is what it sounded like:

Jeremy: I didn't realize that a harmonica could cure T.B.
Me: Maybe his mom had Munchhausen By Proxy.
Jeremy: Harmonicas don't cure cancer. *mimics Tommy's sister* What do you mean, Tommy won't make what through Christmas? Christmas cookies? Dyalysis? *mimics loving, sad mother* Because we can't afford Tommy's chemo. *back to his normal voice* I think Tommy's faking it to get a harmonica.
Me: Ever notice that the 80s seemed to have this vendetta against parental authority? Seriously, they blow off Dave and then it's up to the kids to save the day. It's saying that adults know nothing. That was a running theme throughout that decade!
Jeremy: You know, Dave is kind of a jerk.
Me: He's a stage dad. He's supposed to be a doofus.
Jeremy: What's with all the rampant consumerism? And they're always working -- aren't there child labor laws?
Me: It doesn't apply to chipmunks. Just don't tell PETA.
Jeremy: *snerk, mimics Tommy's voice* Mawmmy, now that I have a harmanicaw, we can get my lisssssp fissed for Chwismas!

All the while, Sophia has watched it patiently with tunnel vision. Molly's been relatively indifferent, but then again, she's only 10 months old. We are evil, terrible people, ripping apart a children's show like that. But then again, it brought it on itself.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


I first heard about what happened while I was at work this afternoon. Watching, my one coworker and I shook our heads and stared, wondering what happened and why. I first saw that the death toll was at 60, and that an unnumbered amount were injured. And then it just kept getting worse. The death toll keeps going up. It's unconfirmed, but there were children killed. Buildings are on fire, people are dead, and many more are injured. This is insanity at its worst.

The company that I work for has operations in Mumbai, and our entire floor interacts with the folks in India on a daily basis. As the night has worn on, one of the guys working late tonight has gotten in touch with the building that we all interact with, and he's been good enough to post updates on his Facebook profile so that we can see how our Indian counterparts are doing. The good news: they are removed from the carnage and safe in their building. The bad news: in order to remain safe, they have been instructed to stay in the building until further notice. Many of them just want to go home and get to their families. I can't imagine what they're going through, being in the same city and in such close proximity to something so violent and evil. This has to be absolutely terrifying for them. Were it me, I would want to go home and just hug my family like there's no tomorrow, wishing the whole mess away. As it was, I came home and hugged my children tightly, telling them that I love them. I'll freely admit that this has had me in tears. I don't like the idea of people dying violently, feeling isolated and afraid. I want this to end for them.

I'm not going to sit here from the comfort of my middle-class home and start proselytizing as to why this has happened. What matters right now is that this is happening, and good people are dying for shit reasons. Whatever the perpetrators' problems are, this should not extend to innocent people. Likewise, anyone who wants to start spouting, "It's only India" bullshit needs to keep his mouth shut. That's tasteless, and it dehumanizes people who have suffered through something traumatic.

Despite what's happened, I still vow that I am going to get to go visit that country someday. I want to wade into the Ganges and see the mountains. I will not let fear hold me back, no matter how grounded in reality it is. It's no way to live.

It's Thanksgiving, Dammit!

I like Christmas lights. Really, I do. But I have one general rule:


I quote Lewis Black: "I remember when Thanksgiving was Thanksgiving, and Santa wasn't poking his ass into it." On the way home from work, I have seen lights out now for the past four weeks. That's right: since before Halloween. Let the hot cider at least get cold, people!

Now, as I live in an area where we can get three feet of snow dumped onto us on or around Halloween, I can understand the logic of wanting to put your lights up before the big squalls. Rochester is dodgy like that. Ask anyone -- it can last from October until May (hence why we have so few April weddings up here). However, I am a woman of principle: just wait to put the damned lights up. One holiday at a time. As Christmas keeps evolving more so into a shopping contest, I'd rather not be reminded of the worst in people coming out.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Shock and Awe

Another election has come and gone, this one as hotly contested and explosive as the last two. The dust has settled and a winner has been chosen. I have to admit that while I have been a staunch supporter of Obama (and I am in absolute giddy, ecstatic, joyful shock at his win and the resolve of the American people to set aside race and focus on the issues), my respect for McCain grew after reading the transcript of his concession speech. He could have cursed the ground Obama walks on and belittled his fellow candidate while instructing his followers to rise up in disrespect, but instead, he choose the high road and reiterated the message that really matters: the people of the United States absolutely need to stick together.

We need to do two things in order to stick together, and both of them involve recognition. The Democrats need to recognize that the Republicans are smarting right now, and in their wounded pride and fallen hopes, they are going to need some time to come around; the Republicans, on the other hand, need to recognize this defeat graciously and accept that change is coming. No more name-calling and whining on either side; it's time to be grown-ups and fix the sandbox, or else the coming generations will have nothing. Remember when you were a kid and your teacher made you work with a classmate you couldn't stand? You still didn't care for that person after the project was over, but the job was completed because you put aside your differences, worked together and focused on what had to be done. This is the same thing. We can have our own values and personal likes and dislikes, but we need to work together or else everything will fall apart.

What do we need to fix? The economy. Our schools. The alarmingly high numbers of children being abused and then placed into a highly and dangerously flawed foster care system. Our healthcare system. The crime rate. Energy alternatives. Religious tolerance. Civil rights, including the rights of minorities, gays and women. Immigration. Personal freedom, including the right to privacy on all levels, bodily and externally. Middle Eastern wars. The sheer amount of lying that our officials get away with. This list is general for a reason. We need to list out what's wrong, find the cause, then fix the cause; no more of this mud-slinging, tunnel-visioned focus on what's wrong. Treating the symptom is not working; we need to go after the root cause itself. We have to accept that this might cost us in the short term. Frankly, wouldn't you rather have one expensive bill than multiple smaller ones that wind up costing you more money in the long run? It's the same principle of fixing a car... except that this is an entire nation. Given, it's a much larger scale, but the principle is the same. Either way, we have cut out all of the partisan crap and start viewing each other as equal human beings, or else we will never get out of the mess we're in.

These things are easy for me to say because the candidate I supported won. The previous election, I was upset and shocked that Bush won another turn. It would be incredibly easy for me right now to jump up and yell, "SUCK IT, REPUBLICANS -- YOU HAD YOUR EIGHT YEARS, NOW IT'S OUR TURN!" However, I'm not -- nothing can be gained by that except for further divide in a time when we need unity. There is so much beauty in this election: we had record turnout for voters; we have the first black president-elect; this is the first president in a long time that has come from extremely humble roots -- a single mother, a biracial family, a lack of old money -- that has used his drive and determination to advance. This is the American Dream. People need that. We need a representative that can speak eloquently, that knows the issues and listens to his supporters and opponents alike. We've already met half of a very tall order -- we got people to care this time around. People came out and voted because they wanted to be heard, and they got involved very passionately. Things can only go up from here on out.

Some folks are disappointed that Palin missed her chance to become the first female vice president, and possibly the first female president; some were upset that Hilary was passed over. I understand the plight of women under the glass ceiling. Years from now, we ARE going to get a female president, and when she's elected, she's going to get to serve in the White House because she is the best damn candidate out there. It's not about getting any woman in office; it's getting the right one in office. We will get her, I promise. When she takes oath, she won't be viewed merely as the historical first female president.

I can only hope that some can view Barack Obama the way that I do: he is the best man for the job. If you don't like him strictly because he's black or because he's a democrat, that is something you're going to have to come to terms with. However, if that's not your issue with him, please take a moment to focus on the positives. We've got him for at least four years, and unless if he does something incredibly heinous to get himself thrown out of office (although, I don't see that happening -- exhibit A, George W. Bush), he's not going anywhere. Listen to what he has to say -- give him your input. Let's usher in a period of American history where the people communicate with the leaders to get their needs fulfilled. Try seeing the world from someone else's point of view. Focus on the positive; foster hope. I have hope in abundance; you can have some of mine. And in the words of Walt Disney, keep moving forward.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


I've remained quiet thus far about the election, but I had to post this. Too many people are going to pass up the chance to vote today because they don't feel like it, and that just makes me sad.

Reasons why I'm voting:
1.) My rights
I like that I'm able to have a say in the way that my country is governed. Do our elected officials suck more often than not? Yes -- but at least we get to choose them. We don't live in a military state that's run by a dictator, and I'd like to keep it that way. I don't like someone telling me what I can and can't do, and if I just sit on my ass and let someone else run the show, I'm being lazy and proving to everyone that I need someone else to tell me how to live my life. I refuse to be a worker ant. Besides, I'm from Rochester, and my girl Susan B. would be pissed as all hell that I'm taking a dump on something she worked so hard for. To be treated equally and allowed to vote is a beautiful thing. Women haven't been fighting for ages for me to sit back and say that I don't care. This is my moment of cultural pride to be able to do this, especially as women have only been voting since 1920. For roughly the first 150 years that our country, someone like me had no say in the way that things were run. That's scary.

2.) 2000-2008
Consider this: for the past eight years, we've lived in an administration that has: eroded our sense of personal freedom as well as outsourced terrorism (hello, Guantanamo Bay); done more damage for race relations by discriminating against religions; forced a sense of puriticanical morality by seeking to stunt the civil rights of gays; wasted tax money by invading a country to take care of your daddy's axe that still needed grinding (as well as killed and scarred -- both physically and mentally -- scores of brave men and women); taken the country from the largest surplus to the greatest deficit in history; widened the gap between the wealthy and the poor while eradicating the middle class; placed female autonomy in question by threatening to overturn a judicial ruling granting women the right to decide what happens to their bodies in a symbiotic relationship.There's a LOT that I'm leaving out. I don't want a repeat or for things to get worse.

3.) My kids
The rules that are being made today are going to impact my two daughters, both under the age of three. Some people have the luxury of only thinking of themselves while voting. Some say that they flat out don't care about the educational system or healthcare reform because it's not in their backyard yet. I want to find a way to improve the quality of life for both them and their friends; children don't deserve to walk into a mess of a system, or do without because times are tough. That means placing the country in good hands. I'm vocal about everything that goes on in their lives; why not this?

4.) A sense of action
Do I like some of the candidates this year? No. I think that there's a lot better out there, and that our system needs to change. However, I will not be complacent and wait for change to happen without acting myself. That's like using the Jedi Mind Trick to regulate government -- fat fucking chance that's going to work. You have your right to free speech and tell me that you can make a decision and not vote, but that's not going to put your candidate in the White House. That's like rooting for one picture to win at the Oscars and then getting upset when it doesn't -- you had no choice and no say. Your opinion didn't matter. It shouldn't be that way for government. If you just sit around and wait for the right candidate to magically get elected, you are entitled to do so, but I am equally as entitled to call you a fucking douche bag. It's lazy and apathetic, two things for which I have no use. You're just wasting resources at that point. If you're not going to participate in one aspect of government, you shouldn't reap the benefits. It's called freeloading, Kato.

5.) My friends and family
I have gay friends, Muslim friends, Jewish friends, male and female friends, friends who are single, friends who are in debt, friends who are struggling parents. Some of this is a reflection of what I face, but some of it isn't. The issues this election impact my friends tremendously. Does the issue of gay marriage directly effect me? No -- I'm not a gay woman seeking to get married and obtain the same rights and equal treatment of my heterosexual counterparts. However, I know and love people that are, and so I'm passionate about that. When I was a kid, it didn't matter what a person was in terms of sexuality or religion -- it mattered if that person was nice and treated me well, because I was a lonely child with a lot of love to give. For all intents and purposes, these people are as much my family as the people with whom I share DNA. As I've aged, I've continued to feel the need to fight for the people that love me unconditionally. That means that it MATTERS to me if someone who thinks that homosexuality is a sin and Muslims are evil gets into power. I will fight for these people because I love them. That means making sure that someone who wants to demean them isn't chosen to be our fearless leader.

There are many reasons to vote, but please, just do it. Don't be lazy or apathetic. You ruin it for the rest of us that actually give a shit.

Monday, November 3, 2008