Monday, February 28, 2011

Valentine's Day

Oh, that one day in February that brings so many expectations. I work in a grocery store, so the 14th of this month I rang up tons of chocolates and flowers and cards that will be eaten and wilt and be tucked away into underwear drawers. I didn't get flowers for Valentine's, and while I was mildly disappointed (the boyfriend will insist that I was hysterical. Don't listen to him.), I got something much better.

For my boyfriend, we'll call him Mox from now on, I got him a very unique gift. One thing about Mox is he LOVES bread. Good bread, fresh bread, etc. So, I called up a local bakery in his town and paid for 8 loaves of bread for him to pick up whenever they baked them fresh. A really cute, sweet, thoughtful gift that was out of the ordinary.

Well, the day came and went. Nothing. Weeks went by with no talk of a gift. I was saddened. Soon, we planned for him to come up a day at the end of the month (Mox lives about 2 hours away). He kept assuring me that he had the gift under control; my sister and parents kept telling me to dump him. By way of some unusual circumstances, we got to be together much sooner than planned, and we had a whole weekend together. Through some hint dropping, I didn't know if he was getting me an iPod or supermarket flowers. He's really vague.

The first thing we do is head to Wal-mart, where we pick up some Magic the Gathering playing cards. It's a game in which you are a sort of sorcerer, and you battle other sorcerers. Cards determine your powers and army and stuff; it's really complicated and taken very seriously by those who play it. One 12 pack of YooHoos and 4 games later, I'm addicted. I even beat him my very first game(with help and him going easy on me). I can't wait until we go to a local game store and buy more cards. It's too much fun.

The next day, we get up sort of early and I soon fully realize what his next plan is: teaching me how to roller skate. I had mentioned how I wanted to learn before, but there are a few problems with this. I hate pain, and I am entirely uncoordinated. After 2 hours, we are unsuccessful. I'm too scared to let go of him, and I keep losing my balance. Four year olds whiz past us at inhuman speeds. However, that Mox was patient enough to try and teach me means a lot. Also he didn't mind me frantically clutching at his arms and back and chest and shoulders every time I thought I might fall (which is every time I moved.) Before we left the rink, he raced with some of the other rink patrons and came in third. I got to gloat to the moms of the four year olds that it was my boyfriend who came in third. I was so proud.

Over all, the entire weekend was amazing. I got to spend time with my favorite person in the world, and I came to appreciate him more. Valentine's Day shouldn't be some obligatory chore for men to buy ridiculously priced arrangements, and be condemned to the dog house if they don't. It should be a celebration of that one person that you really think is neat. You can't put a monetary value on love, and we shouldn't let ourselves as consumers try to. Leave the paper valentines with overused phrases to the school kids. Instead of generic flowers and candy that, yes, I would have appreciated anyways, I got an experience that I will always keep with me, and a hobby to share with my dear Mox. My parents don't understand the significance of those playing cards, but to me, they are better than a thousand valentines.

One Thing After Another

After spending a beautiful weekend with loved ones, I was brought back down to Earth quite rudely. Driving through my hometown, I noticed that all of the prices at the gas stations had gone up at least twenty cents. After making it home and trying to my boyfriend stay at my house as long as possible, I settled into my room for a peaceful evening. The first thing I noticed when I turned on my 3 year old Dell laptop was that a corner of the screen was darker than the rest, this on top of the fan making scary noises constantly. So, we start Monday with a head full of worries.

I drive to my community college, fail the homework assignment due to minor details, and pass the quiz with flying colors. I really hate Microsoft Office 2007, and this class just makes it worse. It's been storming heavily, and I'm driving home on the interstate when I hear this grinding sound which soon becomes a loud roar. I'm decelerating. The entire car is shaking. After glancing around and making sure there were no tornadoes attacking me, no 18-wheelers bearing down on me, I pull over and turn on my hazard lights. Call up my dad, ask him to pick me up, wait. Let me give you background info: Firstly, I know absolutely nothing about cars. Secondly, about a year ago, my younger sister punctured the back right tire while driving around in the yard while the tire was already flat. She was 14, and most people are pretty stupid at 14. However, both my mom and my brother have knocked the transmission out of the car by racing over speed bumps, so I really don't know what is going on with my car. By the time my dad gets to the 20 year old minivan from my house, he kicks me out of the driver's seat and we drive home with a flat tire. No transmission dragging behind us, just a flat tire. I've been calm this entire time, but once I finally get home, I call up my boyfriend in hysterics. It was a bit of an ordeal, and my family was just so proud of me for not flipping out; I had to boohoo to someone. Needless to say, my boyfriend is a really nice guy.

The point of the story is this (I promise I have one): family is what gets you through. The government is bearing down on us, everyone is broke, jobs are scarce, times are hard. There's no way we'll be able to get through this alone. As much as my family drives me crazy, they still love me, and for the most part I love and tolerate them. Mostly tolerate. And as many times as I've probably driven my boyfriend crazy with my emotions and tendency to cry and freak out, he still loves me and I love him. Things will get better, but until they do, we need to help each other out, starting with family. We're here to serve, so let's start with those closest.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Sorry, Babe, Our Love Won't Pay the Rent

Happy late Valentine's Day, everyone! Now that the joyous celebration of consumerism and chocolate is over, let's get down to brass tacks. 

While St. Valentine didn't bring me flowers, he did bring me LOTS of more hours scheduled at work. For probably the first time since I began working at my local grocery store, I got a full twenty hours in, and I already have it all spent in my head. For a few brief days, I was hopeful that the economy was turning around and that I would have a steady source of income from now on. Then came payday, which is also schedule day. I had gone from having 26 hours to 7. Seven hours at minimum wage, with taxes taken out, is not even $50. That will put some gas in my tank and pay for some Taco Bell, but it won't get me a hair cut, fix my tire, pay my car insurance, pay for a new tag, or allow me to save any money. This is okay, if you're 16 and you just need money for the movies. But when you're 19 and your parents are stretched thin too? This is pushing it. 

So, I've decided to start hunting up a second job. First place I look is Craigslist, and it's not hopeful. I emailed around a dozen people, but some of the ads were older, so I'm not too optimistic. In the next few days I will probably apply to every place I visit, whether I want to work there or not. 

To make matters worse, the company my father worked with for years has finally gone out of business, after laying him off around Christmas. A contracting company, they can no longer get work because no one is building because no one has money. And yet somehow, the unemployment rate has lowered! The national rate has lowered to 9%, and yet no one around me can seem to find jobs. How is this happening?

Well, the thing about statistics is this: they lie. If there's one thing I learned in that god awful stats class I took in high school, it's that you can make numbers do anything you want them to. This percentage doesn't include the people who have simply abandoned looking for a job. And also, things like this happen:

Since I started working at my place of business, they have steadily hired a new cashier every month without firing any. Everyone's hours have been reduced, and by hiring people they deprive existing employees of hours and wages. How can employers expect you to be available, when they only schedule you for 7 hours a week? If you pick up a second job, you are considered inconvenient. During the Christmas season, I juggled two jobs. Was it difficult, two jobs and school and trying to maintain relationships with my boyfriend and my family? YES. VERY. Was it necessary, because the economy is so bad that my family has been slowly paying for less of my expenses? Absolutely. 

At the same time, prices of food and fuel are expected to shoot up. College is already too expensive for the common man; your choices are student loans, or getting smart enough to work towards a scholarship, or being poor enough to get financial aid. At this rate, people my age are going to be so focused on merely trying to survive that getting an education will be impossible, and we as a nation will suffer. 

Questions? Comments? Testimonies?

Next blog: the evils of the Public School System  

Saturday, February 12, 2011

No television is good television

Siblings. Some of us have them, some of us don't. I happen to have six of them; two brothers, four sisters. The oldest is like, 34; the youngest is 9. It's the youngest of them that inspires today's post.

Part of using the family minivan means chauffeuring younger kids around whenever they want to go to a friend's house. Melanie* just had to get to this other kid's house as soon as possible; my mother demanded that I drive her. Being the obedient, loyal, loving daughter that I am, I whined until I was forced to relinquish my constant facebook access (I'd already been forced out of my room at this point). I use Melanie to get a few extra minutes in while she begs my mom to allow her to take a Wii game with her. My mother refuses, and then kicks us out. Wearing my boyfriend's sweater, gym shorts, and Melanie's flip flops which miraculously fit me, I drag myself out to the van and somehow manage to get her inside of it after 3 minutes of locking and unlocking the door. You know how when you try to open it and unlock it at the same time, it doesn't work? Yeah. 

Finally, we get to the girl's house. She lives a bit off the beaten path, and her grandparents live next door. Melanie gets out and notices that the grandmother's dog has wandered into the friend's yard. 9 year old collects the yappy thing and hauls it over to the other house, a good 100 yards away. I am content with petting the friend's HUGE chocolate lab, after trying to convince Melanie to ignore the yappy dog. Finally, she comes back and asks me to call her cell phone because she's dropped it somewhere along the way. Thinking this wouldn't take more than 5 minutes, I didn't bring my phone.

We search. There are three dogs running around. Dog presents everywhere. It is cold, I am underdressed, and these flip flops are not my friends. Since when does a 9 year old need a cell phone? Since when does a 9 year old need anything that's electronic, except maybe a game console? Kids these days are being taught materialism and consumerism at such a young age, it's gross. Ten years ago, I played my brother's N64 and with Barbie dolls and I read books. This friend of Melanie's? She's been held back a grade, has a cell phone and a facebook account, and I don't think she knows what a book is. Melanie has trouble putting words in alphabetical order, for crying out loud! When did the social hierarchy of 8th grade trickle down into these elementary kids? 

The public school system doesn't need to sell anymore cookie dough. We don't need winter formals,   spirit week, or pep rallies. We need kids who know how and like to read. Kids should be able to do simple math, write papers, and form grammatically correct sentences. One of my favorite hobbies is to find the profiles of 12 year olds and send them to my college age friends; the writing style is always the same, and they always say the same thing. More than half of the kids we encounter sound like they copy and paste their "about me"s, and they are all equally poorly written. Here's an example:

Got a problem solve itt cuz i wont waste my time with u kaaye ? thankks buhhh bye .


How do we get cell phones out of their hands and put books in them? I'm afraid that Bill Nye and the Magic School Bus will no longer captivate these kids who have been saturated with dramatic television like the overly glorified Teen Mom mess. The only thing I know to do is to make sure my own children aren't as exposed to the sickening media induced plague effecting today's youth. 

There's a lot more I want to say about today's media and what kind of entertainment is being thrown at children, but I'll go more into depth on that later. 

*I don't think my mother would appreciate me putting out info on my nine year old sister, so names have been changed. 

Friday, February 11, 2011


I've decided that war and terrorism is a bit narrow, so I'm expanding my blog to contain information on current events as well. With that little announcement, here's the latest in parenting:

Mouthy kids murdered by mental mom! Try saying that tens times fast. We've all mouthed off to our parents once or twice, haven't we? I know I have. I remember very clearly saying the f-word in front of my mom; she backhanded me so hard, she busted my lip. I'm not trying to say she's some horrible monster of a mother. but man, that sure did look bad in pictures. So yeah, most of us have been rude to our parents a time or two. Does this necessitate death? I think not.

This Florida woman premeditated and killed her two teenage kids. Her husband? He's overseas, fighting a war. Her family? In Texas. It's hard enough having myself and my teenage sister with both of my parents here; with my dad gone, it's enough to make any person crazy. It's said that the grandmother called police and told them that her daughter was depressed. What kind of police check up on a depressed person? I'm convinced that the grandmother knew. Why didn't she do something to help?

And this article wasn't where I first heard the story. Fulfilling my roles as dutiful and charming cashier at my local grocery store, I noticed the story on the front of a slightly-more-reputable-than-a-tabloid magazine. Inside were details from the daughter's friend, about how the son was addicted to pornography at age 13, and how the daughter flaunted revealing clothing in front of her mother, taunting her and bragging about how she was too old to wear them. Uh, 13? Pornography? This reminds me of a similar case, in which an 11 year old girl had too much internet access, and gave the masses her teensy jailbait body.

What kind of parent doesn't regulate what their kid is exposed to? That's just reckless. I'm old enough that I can view whatever content I want; however, on our t.v. and our computer, my mother has installed restrictions and firewalls to block access to adult material. These parents that are not paying attention to their children are responsible for what they do, whether they know about it or not. Jessi Slaughter's parents were responsible for her actions, not the forums that trolled her. Julie Schenecker was responsible for her children's behavior, no one else. That 20 year old who drank 4lokos and shot himself, and now the parents are suing the company? Yeah, it's their fault for not teaching their kid to be responsible.

I recently read an article that warns against new parents baby-proofing their homes; instead, they should put some non-important items around, but teach the baby that some things are off limits. These parents should have done exactly that. These kids didn't appreciate life, their parents, or mature behavior, because they had been "baby-proofed". I'm starting to think that Tiger Mom has the right idea.

Questions? Comments? Testimonies?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

How about some global politics with your poptarts?

 I work at a super market. Cashier. The environment is friendly and laid-back, except for those days before Thanksgiving and the Super Bowl. While buying their weekly meal deals and postage stamps, these sleepy denizens of my small town aren't really thinking about what's going on outside of the county. And I, being the eccentric wonderer that I am, ask nearly everyone that comes through my lane their opinion of what's going on in the world at the moment.

Recently, it's been a lot of, "Have you heard about the protests in Egypt?" Most people have no idea what I'm talking about. Out of the probably 200 people that bought their bread and butter from me, only 2 or 3 had any idea of what I was talking about. As I glued myself to facebook every night, I saw a severe lack of posts about anything really related to current events. What was the deal here? I checked local and national news outlets; all of them had excellent coverage, both on t.v. and the internet.

My conclusion was that the people around me just weren't caring enough. Even after a provocative facebook post, only 3 people responded and could accurately discuss the riots with me. The people around me were so absorbed by football and ice cream sales that they couldn't even bother noticing that their fellow human beings were fighting for their rights and lives in another country, not too terribly far away. What happens when the riots are in Europe? In South America? When they start in our own country? It's all a little too close to a mixture of 1984 and Brave New World for me. Part of our country is still in this sedated mindset that revolves around college sports and alcohol and partying and casual sex; most pop songs embody clubbing and forgetting about your troubles by drowning them in hard liquor and hormones. The older populace, my parents included, is wondering when the world will start to burn with the unquenchable flames of Hell. When will the economy balance out? When will the government stop intruding? When will you get a hair cut?

Over all, I'm sensing that the newest raise in gas prices will bring some attention to the problem. Due to all the rioting in Egypt, the Suez Canal that transports so many of our goods, including oil, has been delayed. I noticed that my favorite shady gas station, yesterday a bargain at $3.94 a gallon, has joined the rest of the city to hit $4.01. Sure, that's only 7 cents, but knowing my customers, they will notice it immediately. I've had a man literally scream at me over a 29 cent coupon for some peanuts; if that's enough to get someone riled up, surely the gas prices will, and hopefully bring some much needed attention to the state of the global economy.

How 'bout them Egyptians?

So here's the thing guys and gals. I love terrorism. No, really. Actually, I really like studying it. Learning about it, researching it, determining why it happened, and telling other people about it. It's not just terrorism, though. Any act of rebellion, war, violence, anarchy, tyranny, revolution, martyrdom. It all makes for very nice reading material, imo. In this blog, I plan on linking great articles on what's happening in the world of violence, but occasionally tossing in macros of kittens lined in glitter. I mean, I am a girl.

And, to kick things off, here's a link to all you need to know about the current Egypt's military:

For those who don't really know what's going on in everyone's favorite Bible setting, it took me a while to really put everything together. Between the mixed signals I'd been getting from news sources and other blogs, I really didn't understand why exactly citizens of Egypt were so darn mad. To add to my confusion, no one on Facebook was contributing any kind of information on the subject, which led me to believe it must not be that big of a deal. But it is a big deal. The people of Egypt have been calling for the downfall of their dictator president, Hosni Mubarak. Finally, after all the riots, deaths, protests, and police brutality, it is rumored that Mubarak will be handing over his power. The people have been calling for a more civilian-run government, as opposed to the military-ruled version that has been in control for the past six decades. Riots have been happening on and off since the 70's, but the events that have transpired since January 25th make these seem insignificant. To complicate matters, almost a quarter of Egypt's population is under the poverty line; 40% of women and 17% of men are illiterate. And on top of all of this, Egypt is one of the U.S.'s allies, and receives millions of dollars in aid every year. The price of our food and our gasoline have the possibility of skyrocketing, which will destroy the already fragile economic recovery. All in all, the world is in a pretty unstable place right now. I'm pretty glad I didn't take out any student loans; one more thing to worry about, right?

Questions? Comments? Testimonies?