May 26, 2010

Kiss My 9-5 Ass

May 23, 2010
I've noticed over the past several years, especially with my generation, a trend toward denouncing the all-powerful paycheck in favor of Birkenstocks, sailboats, paint brushes, garage bands, bad poetry, and a level of starving-artist pseudo-pretentiousness that comes off more like laziness and disillusionment rather than novel and romantic. In this particular circle of people, we little sheep who go to work with our 9-5 jobs, our salaries, our 401(k)s, and our morning commutes are faceless, soulless names in what they perceive has become the boggy swamp of capitalist pension-chasers.  We've lost ourselves.  We've sacrificed our creative selves for money, sacrificed the id for the ego, sacrificed passion for ergonomic keyboards and paid time off.


No.  Wait.  I take that back.  If that is what some people want for their lives, who am I to judge?  If they are happy, isn't that all that matters?  If they can support themselves and any children they may have, what's the problem?

The biggest problem is that many of them can't support themselves.  Many of them truly have an attitude of entitlement and grandiosity.  They hold the belief that without them, our world would have no culture.  They believe the government should support them as they sit at home, paint brush, guitar, or pen in hand, waiting for the next masterpiece to flow from their enlightened brains.  They are proud that their children are fortunate enough to have parents who stay true to themselves without compromising their talent by joining the dog-eat-dogginess of the real world.

And yes, I know people like this.  I'm not pulling this out of my ass.

I guess my initial intention was to thoroughly rake these people over the coals and profess my superiority as a solid member of the Motley Fool club.  Now that I've typed all this out, I guess I really don't care what they do.  Do I think it's completely silly?  Yes.  Do I think their logic is twisted?  Absolutely.  Would I be able, as a wife, to respect and look up to a husband who can't puff his manly chest out, stamp his testosterone-laden existence upon the world, and not only bring home the bacon, but present me with an entire corral of fat, juicy little piggies?  Absolutely not.  Superficial? Possibly. 

I have a soul.  I have passion- shitloads of it!  But I also enjoy my nest egg.  I enjoy my medical benefits.  I enjoy my investments, the vacations I can afford to take, and not having to worry about being able to fix the transmission.

I ENJOY MAKING MONEY.  Is that a bad thing? 

I enjoy the satisfaction that comes with knowing I have a stable career that contributes financially to my family's current and future well-being.  

I enjoy having retirement savings.

I enjoy buying things.

I enjoy taking vacations.

My career certainly isn't something I'd do if I didn't get paid for it and neither is my husband's.  Does that mean we're soulless Orwellian worker bees with nothing culturally valuable to contribute to society?

Hmmm....I'm still not sure what my point is in all this.  Frankly, I feel the "starving artist" persona is a bit romanticized.  I just wonder how long an artist (substitute any culturally-driven, artistic form of expression) is willing to starve before they realize no one wants what they're producing?

May 24, 2010

Rolling Neural Black-Outs

May 24, 2010
The internet periodically fries my brain.  Between the constant influx of news, Facebook, emails from work, Crackberry test messages, stupid viral Youtube videos, and blogs, I feel like my body is rebelling.  At some point, I'm just going to stop caring about anything beyond my own property line.  I have 5 unfinished blog posts because my brain completely shuts off without warning.  It's like rolling black-outs in my head.  As much as I try to fight apathy, apathy seems to be winning.  Whoever says information overload doesn't desensitize people to global goings-on is a liar.  I just can't seem to rustle up any give-a-shit.  If my job didn't require me to be online for 8 hours a day, I'd just walk away.  I'm crossing my fingers and hoping I can do some walking away this weekend.  As for right now, I'm just fighting to stay engaged.

May 18, 2010

My Secret Humiliation

May 17, 2010
Right after Big Sarge and I got hitched, he found out his first duty station right out of basic training was going to be none other than the Land of the Morning Calm...and for some crazy ass reason, I was pretty calm about it.  You have to understand the kind of kid I was.  The word "no" just wasn't in my vocabulary.  The words "you can't" just didn't exist.  And I don't mean to say that in an arrogant sort of way.  I mean to say that in a very literal, very reckless, very "is that a fucking DARE?" sort of way- in the sort of way that would cause a 17-year-old girl to sell everything of value to her, apply for a passport, call the Korean embassy in Atlanta to find out how to get a visa, call Delta's 1-800 number (no Expedia back in 94, my friends) and hop on a plane to the absolute farthest place on the planet from the only town I'd ever grown up in.

Without ever even asking if the US Army would mind.

Mainly because it never occurred to me that they could dictate where I can and cannot live.

In my 17-year-old mind, South Korea wasn't a terrorist state, a communist country, or had any travel bans pertaining to Americans.  They offered a 1-year visa to those who were living there on business, or those who are married to people living there on business.  So, why in the world would I not be able to live there?  And what, exactly, did the Army have to do with anything?

It never occurred to me that I would be living only 12 kilometers from the MOST communist, totalitarian, human-rights-denying country on the face of the Earth.  For a year.  No, I never thought about that. 

So, I sold my trumpet and my computer (which came fully loaded with DOS and Pong) and hopped a plane.  Alone.  By myself.  And I had never been so excited in my whole 17 years on this planet......

.......Until about 10 hours into the flight.  While chain smoking in the back row (which was still allowed back then) and sitting next to a Korean lady who recited the rosary for hours on end, the wheels in my head started turning.  I looked at my watch.  I looked at my plane ticket.  I thought some more.

At this point, I started to cry my little baby girl eyeballs out.  Intellectually, this was the lowest point of my entire life.  The one time when my brain, with all its infinite power, completely failed me.

I actually added 13 hours to the arrival time on the ticket when telling my husband what time to pick me up from the airport. 

The most humiliating thing about this is that I really had to think and rationalize it in my mind.  At some point, it seemed logical to me that because South Korea is 13 hours ahead of Alabama, it would just stand to reason that the actual arrival time would be 13 hours ahead of the time on the plane ticket, right?  RIGHT?

By the time I landed at Kimpo International Airport, I was absolutely terrified.  I don't even remember going through customs or baggage claim.  The first thing I remember is heading straight for a pay phone and staring at the funny little drawings with the same glazed over look I saw my kid give me when I told him algebra was math with letters.  Once again, I had to call upon my infinite teenage wisdom to figure out not only how to use a Korean pay phone domestically AND internationally.......but how to do it really fucking quick.  Little did I know, Kimpo International Airport closed at midnight.  I had an hour to figure out what the fuck I was gonna do.

Called my Mom to tell her what was going on just in case my husband called her.

Called my husband's unit.  He's not there.  Back in 94, there were no cell phones that didn't plug into a cigarette lighter, ya know.

Hung up the phone.  Took a deep breath.  Tried to fight back the tears.  There was no way I was going to stand here in this airport, 8000 miles from home, and look scared.  Scared means vulnerable.  Vulnerable is NOT an option.

In retrospect, I really had several options.  First and foremost, go get a damn hotel room and chill the fuck out.  There were at least 4 hotels within walking distance.  Did I think about that?  Fuck no.

Second and even better, catch a damn cab!  What cab driver picking folks up from an airport doesn't speak English?  Did I think about that?  Fuck no.

I was terrified and spending all my energy trying not to look terrified.  That's the only thing I was thinking about.  You can't be scared. 

A nice Korean lady offered to let me stay at her house.  No, seriously.  She was desperately trying, in her most broken English, to tell me that I was more than welcome to chill at her crib until I could find my pimp daddy.  Scared, confused, exhausted, desperate.....I almost took her up on that offer.

All of a sudden, I turn around and see a nameless American hero in BDUs.  He taps me on the shoulder and asks if I'm lost.  Like he couldn't already see it in my eyes.  He asks if my husband is in the Army.  *Stunned silence.*  He asks at what base he is stationed.  *Stunned silence.*  He proceeds to guide me toward his Humvee and motions for me to hop in.  Which I did.  Ever so graciously.

Pretty much the second I crawled up into that big, topless, seatbelt-less Humvee, every single bit of terror was gone.  He started driving.  I felt the wind on my face.  And I became completely and totally mesmerized with the city around me.  I rode straight through the middle of Seoul that night in a Humvee with some soldier I didn't even know and all I could do was stare at the lights, the billboards, the skyscrapers, and the people.  It was quite possibly the most amazing thing I had ever seen.

But that's beside the point.  And I've already gotten way off track here.

Eventually, after 12 hours of phone tag and sleeping on a bench in an office somewhere on some nameless military base in Seoul, my other knight in shining armour finally showed up to collect his bride.  And off we went on yet another amazing, jaw-dropping, indescribable 2-hour bus ride through the Korean countryside to get to the base where we would be living.  I don't think I spoke a word the entire trip.  I was too busy staring out the window and wondering why I had allowed myself to be shoved into a little corner of Alabama for 17 years.  And at that moment, I fell in love with South Korea.  Even though I probably held the title of "Most re-fucking-tarded thing a kid ever did" for a good couple of days, I'm sure.

The End.

And it's 2:24 on Tuesday afternoon in South Korea right now, if anyone is interested.

And I redeemed myself 7 years later by taking my kids and my dog to live 12 kilometers from the most communist, totalitarian, human-rights-denying country on the face of the Earth.  But this time, I made sure to sit next to my husband on the plane.  And let him do most of the thinking.

The End.

May 9, 2010

Thank You, Momma....

May 9, 2010 

......for being the mother I needed instead of poisoning my soul with sugar, spice, and everything nice.  

.....for taking up for me when everyone else thought I was fucked up.  

.....for convincing me that everyone else really didn't think I was fucked up, it was just my own insecurities....even if it might not have been altogether true.

.....for telling me I was beautiful even when Ms. Peggy cut all my hair off and gave me an Afro when what I really wanted was a spiral perm.  

.....for letting me buy those cockroaches from the pet store and then telling me it wasn't my fault when they drowned in their water bowl.  But you probably should have told me that cockroaches don't need water bowls.   

.....for telling me I was the smartest kid in the world even when I sucked petrified monkey nuts at algebra.  

.....for at least pretending to read the hair-pulling amount of stories and poems I constantly dumped in your lap at the most inconvenient of times.  

.....for never, ever telling me I was too little.  

.....for taking a chainsaw and demolishing that stupid round hole so my square peg would fit, and helping me clear my own path instead of just handing me a map. 

I can't even imagine where I would be if I had any other mother in the world except you.  

May 2, 2010

Sixteen Years

April 30, 2010
Today, my husband and I have been married for 16 years. 

Today is your lucky day.  Why?  Because I have decided to bestow upon you the most important lessons I have learned about being married.

And if you're into numbers and all that junk, I have pretty much been married for half my life now.

And if you're wondering what kind of business I have giving out marital advice, you can just kiss my ass.  It's my blog and I'll give out whatever advice I want to.

And if you're wondering if I have any street cred in this department, did you read the part where I said I've been married 16 years?  Yeah.....

If you want to go back to the beginning and read about how it all started, clicky clicky mo' fuckers!

So, here's the deal.  My husband and I have one of those weird marriages where I'm constantly looking over my shoulder for someone to yank the rug out from under me.  You know the type.  We're the weirdos who grope in public.  He's the dumbass pussy-whipped sucker who constantly gushes about his wife to his coworkers.  I'm the anti-feminist June Cleaver bitch who cooks dinner from scratch every evening and turns the bed down for him before he goes to sleep (no, seriously).  He's the thumb-sucking puss-wad who gave up all control of the finances to his old lady, has a separate bank account, and proudly tells anyone who will listen that his wife gives him an allowance.  I'm the Gloria Steinem nightmare who actually fixes his plate, puts it in the sink when he's done, rubs his feet after work, and truly and honestly believes that he deserves it.  Yeah, it gets pretty disgusting around these parts.

So, anyway, I totally got sidetracked.  What was I saying?  Oh right, advice.  Take it or leave it.  Whatever.  Flush it down the toilet.  Laugh at it and say you know better.  Tell me I'm a nutjob.  Do what you will.  The bottom line is I'm married to a guy who licks my toes and gives me free reign over his paycheck.  Whatchoo got?

1.  If there are trust issues in your marriage, I can't help you.  If there are abuse issues in your marriage, I can't help you.  I have no experience with those things.

2.  "Some boys take a beautiful girl and hide her away from the rest of the world.  I wanna be the one to walk in the sun."  This is quite possibly my favorite lyric of all time.  Don't let yourself hide away.  Just because you're married doesn't mean you can't be a hottie little sex kitten.  Get your groove back, girl.

3.  You were together before the kids and you'll be together after the kids.  You absolutely have to learn how to compartmentalize your relationship, one in which the kids do not exist; one in which you're still boyfriend and girlfriend; one in which you're still horny teenage partiers and filthy joke-tellers and grab-assers.  You're seriously headed down the wrong path when you've lost your identity to "so-and-so's mom and dad."

4.  Mutual respect.  I can't say it enough.  He has to be your hero.  You have to be his queen.

5.  Learn how to think like a man.  Seriously.  I guess it helps that I was born with way the hell too much testosterone, so it kinda comes naturally to me.  I get the simplicity.  I prefer the simplicity.  Men crave simplicity.  That's okay.  He doesn't care what you're wearing.  He doesn't care about your zit.  He could give a shit about what color you paint the bathroom, as long as you're suggestively bending over while doing it.  Suggestively bend over frequently.  He'll be your slave for life.

6.  Don't make a stink about that god-awful tacky shirt.  Really, it's not that big a deal.  Just wait until he's at work and then toss it.  He'll never notice.

7.  If you're going to make fun of his eccentricities, do it such a way that it is actually funny and not emasculating.  And fully expect to get made fun of right back.  Be cool.  Laugh.  A lot.  Laugh at yourself.  Because being a total bitch when you're on the rag really is funny in retrospect.  And he'll make fun of you for it.  And if you have teenage boys, they will too.  Get used to it.

8.  If he's the kind of guy that works his ass of, goes to work at 4 and comes home at 6, and still finds the time to bring you flowers and make sure the kids have done their homework, say thank you.  A LOT.  And often.  And don't just say it, but show him.  Even if he forgets to tell you thank you, it doesn't matter.

9.  Be his friend.  If he wants to talk to you about stuff, be interested.  Don't just be interested, but participate in the conversation.  Engage him.  Ask questions.  Show emotion.  If your man wants to talk to you about something, take advantage of it.  Even if it's just how badly his morning commute sucked.  Sympathize.  Give him a hug.  He'll remember it, even if he doesn't tell you.

10.  Have sex.  A lot.  And often.  On the kitchen counter.  In the recliner.  On the couch.  On the bathroom counter.  In the front seat of the car.  At least 3 or 4 times a week, preferably daily.  Drop the defenses.  Have fun. 

So, I know a lot of this stuff might not be popular "Parenting" magazine advice.  A lot of it is easier said than done.  A lot of it might not work for everyone.  But it works for us.  We've come a long way in the past 16 years.  We've butted heads.  We've struggled for control.  We've hated each other.  We've worked our asses off to get where we are right now.  Every damn second of it was totally worth it. 

I'm a queen.  He's a hero.  I can't think of anything more perfect than that.