Disneyland Family 5K -2014

Disneyland Family 5K -2014

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Gun Control, "Quit your crying before I give you something to cry about" and Kids.

Gun control was back in the news this morning.  With the events in Boston, this hot topic had cooled off a bit, until the Senate failed to pass something-or-other related to gun control.  The President called yesterday a "shameful day" in Washington.  It caught my eye, briefly, when Good Morning America reported on it.

Those who know me well may know that I'm a Democrat, although I don't consider myself to be overly "liberal."  I do have some interesting discussions with my "conservative" Republican husband, but for the most part, I remain outside of the political realm.  I don't volunteer for candidates and I don't always vote party lines.  I like to think of myself as a "common sense" voter.  If it makes sense from a common sense perspective, I support it.

A man's right to legislate or control what I, as a woman, gets to do with my body?  Doesn't make common sense.  I don't support it.  (Some may raise a religion-based argument against my position, but that is between me and my G-d and is nobody's business but my own.)

The government's right to tell us who can or cannot be married?  Doesn't make common sense.  I don't support it.  We love who we love and just because it doesn't fit in someone else's definition of "love" does not mean that the government should get involved.  (Some may raise a religion-based argument on this one as well, but who someone loves is between them and the person they are with and if there is any religion involved, that is between them and their G-d.  Nobody else's business.)

Now.... the government's right to control gun ownership.  This one, I'm not sure I can wrap my head around it.  I understand the emotions behind the movement and I understand the concept, but I'm not sure that this path is the appropriate one.  I will start by saying that I have not read the proposed legislation, so I cannot speak with any authority in that regard.  But I do have some "life" experience to help with the common sense review of the issue.  First, I do not believe that the Founding Fathers anticipated automatic weapons when they drafted the 2nd amendment.  Second, I do believe that the 2nd amendment has been severely bastardized (on both sides of the aisle) to support people's views of gun ownership.  Third, no matter how hard you try, you cannot legislate evil.

Someone posted something on Facebook last week which referred to prisons.  Convicts do not own guns in prison and have no access to them.  Yet you have to look no further than your television, to "gritty dramas" based on real life stories, to see prisoners fashioning shivs or other weapons out of tooth brushes or nail files or whatever else gets smuggled in (or brought in lawfully.)  I repeat - you cannot legislate evil, and for those who are intent on causing mayhem or harming someone else, you will not be able to stop it with gun registration.

I think the NRA is a little over the top.  I grew up with guns in and around the house.  We lived on a farm where the nearest emergency services were at least 20 minutes away (assuming they did not hit a deer enroute.)  My dad had a rifle or two which he used from time to time to chase away the latest pack of roving wild dogs, or whatever else was threatening to get too close to the house, and one uncle has told me stories about Dad standing in the back yard looking into the trees and shooting at birds (something left over from his time in Vietnam, that I will never truly understand), but largely, although we had guns around, I did not see much of them.  There were handguns as well, but again, not within my reach or line of sight.   I don't think that legislation such as that proposed these days, would have affected us all that much, but at the same time, I don't think that my Dad would have been overly supportive of the NRA, and I might even go so far as to say that my Dad is not someone that the NRA would be interested in having among its membership.  (I could be wrong, it has happened before....maybe)

I've shot guns.  I've been to several ranges and shot various hand guns and automatic rifles.  Do I think that the average American citizen needs access to some of these weapons?  No.  Do I think that the average American citizen who does not have a criminal record, who has learned how to properly handle the weapon, has registered it, and wants it for protection should be denied access?  No.  Do I think that the gun control laws will prevent the "criminal element" from obtaining weapons in the event that they want to do harm to someone else?  No.

The school shooting was incredibly tragic and I hope that I never have to endure anything like what those parents went through.  But I believe that Washington's use of those parents to promote legislative change is wrong or at the very least, misplaced.  I also believe, to some extent, that the families' trust in the system - at least in this regard- is also misplaced.  The person that did the shooting got the guns from his Mother's home.  She had lawfully purchased the weapons and registered them.  Did she keep them appropriately locked up?  No.  But would the kind of proposed changes regarding background checks and registration prevented those guns from getting into that boy's hands?  That is my problem with the "gun control" issue. 

I think, at least on some level, we have to focus more on the individuals and less on the weapons in their hands.  For example - were their parents around when they were growing up?  Do they have social problems or mental health issues that need to be addressed?   Have they spent most of their awake hours sitting in front of a video screen, playing games that feature bombs going off or people shooting each other?  This is where our energy may be better focused.

I am not sure if there is a "common sense" response for the gun control question.  I'll keep you posted on that one.  But in the meantime, stay away from my body and get the heck out of our bedrooms!

"Quit your crying, before I give you something to cry about!"  Some of you may giggle a bit when you read this, hearkening back to your childhood and possibly a parent or grandparent saying it to you.  Unfortunately for me, I remember hearing it quite a bit.  I also remember learning at a very young age, to tamp down those emotions and to hide my tears.  I'm sure there were lots of times that I was scared of something or upset about things, but I remember being afraid to cry around my Dad.  I also remember crying while watching movies and reading books.  I don't think that I was over sensitive, but I think I used that as an outlet, because I was not allowed to cry about "real life."  I remember in 1st grade, watching the Velveteen Rabbit in class.  I was so upset that I cried (hiding behind a folder), sitting at my desk.  The teacher was worried something was wrong.  It is possible I was letting out emotions from something else, but I cried.  (I still can't watch that movie - to this day it chokes me up.)  As I got older, I stuck with that process, of crying at movies but not at real life.  I don't remember crying when my Dad died (although I do remember my sister commenting on it, and Grandma Wolf telling her that it was o.k. that I wasn't crying, that we all grieve in different ways.)  I remember standing at his grave site just trying to squeeze out even the smallest of tears. 

While speaking to a therapist a few years ago, she commented on that and asked why I thought I never cried over things in "real life".  I did not have an answer for her then and I don't have one now.  I have made some progress in that area and do find myself getting choked up more for "real" things and less at books and movies.  But I also still find myself trying to tamp it down, worried that someone will give me "something to cry about."

I mention this because it popped into my mind on Monday afternoon.  Rob and I were walking into lunch when he asked me if I had seen the news about what was going on in Boston.  Some of my family was there for the marathon and my Uncle and Cousin had run the race.  He mentioned that he had heard on the radio that there had been bombs and when we got into the restaurant, they were watching the news.  I immediately got choked up and worried.... and then immediately tamped it down.  I think somewhere in the back of my mind, something said "this is not the time or place.  Hold it together."  So I did.   As events of the day unfolded, I heard from my family and learned that they were o.k. and already out of the immediate race area.  In watching video and news reports, I kept getting emotional and kept tamping things down.  At some point, I might implode from all of the emotion I have suppressed over the past few days.

I think that it is o.k. to cry.  I don't think that as parents, we should stop our children from crying, because sometimes, that is the only control over the situation that they have.  We, as adults, may not understand why they are crying (recall that cute blog post from a dad, of why his 3 year old is crying), but that is their way of telling us that something in their world is not right.  For little ones who can't talk, it may be the only form of communication they have (other than a giggle, of course.)  So who are we, as parents, to stop them?  My older daughter sometimes creates tears, when she is in trouble and thinks that she is supposed to be crying.  I usually put a stop to that.  But she is also sensitive and cries during parts of the Lion King, and parts of shows that might be emotional for her.  I try not to make light of it, because she is still figuring out those emotions and how to express them.  I also dread the teenage years and puberty, but that's a blog for another day. 

In a way, I feel like my emotional growth was stunted because I was not able to cry at "life" as a kid.  I am trying to keep that in mind as I wander this "adult" world, telling myself that it is o.k. to cry (even in front of other people) when something horrible and tragic has happened, or when I am upset or worried, just as much as it is o.k. to cry because the movie I am watching is sad.  (And we all know that boys cry when their favorite teams win the World Series or the Stanley Cup or whatever other sporting event is on.)  

So, go ahead and let it out.  And let your kids cry.  Unless, of course, they have been screaming for 2 hours - and then start hiccuping - and then make themselves sick because they won't calm down - and then you have to take your car to get cleaned, because they got sick all over it.  But that's another story for another day too.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Monday's Mental Meanderings.... on Thursday

I've had some of these things on my mind (or on a piece of paper that has gotten crumpled up in the bottom of my purse, but survived nonetheless) for a few days or even a week or two, and am finally getting around to chatting about them.  I like the sound of "mental meanderings," because my mind really does meander around sometimes.  And Monday works better than Thursday.  So here we go.

Insurance and Medical Bills:  ARGH!   I am amazed at how much hospitals and doctors charge for things.  I took K to the emergency room last month.  Don't worry, she is fine.  But she woke up after being asleep for several hours, coughing.  At one point, she made a strange noise, almost like she was choking.  I picked her up, turned her over and did the "baby Heimlich" on her, to make sure that there wasn't anything blocking her airway.  Rob and I were both a little worried.  She calmed down but still sounded like she was having trouble catching her breath, so I took her to the ER.  At 11 at night.  The place was empty when we walked in, and we probably would have been taken right back, except the intake person said that the computers were having trouble.  So we sat for a bit.  Then a nice tech (I don't think he was a doctor, not sure if he was a nurse) took K's blood pressure and asked some basic information.  He said we'd be taken back "soon."  About 10 minutes later, the nurse called us back.  By then, we had watched several people come out and 1 or 2 people come in.  A few questions, some data entry, another BP check, and the nurse turned us loose back into the waiting room.  I'm not sure what happened in those few minutes we were "in the back," but the room had exploded with people.  We found a seat and sat down.  I had brought my iPad to keep us both busy and we read Winnie the Pooh and played a few games.  About 20 minutes later (it could have been longer, I'm not even sure,) we were taken back to a bed and told that the doctor would be with us "soon."  At some point, a doctor came by and listened to her chest and asked a few questions.  He was with us no more than 10 minutes.  He did not order any tests or x-rays, no labs or any other "work-up."  He talked to us and used his stethoscope to listen to her breathing.  (By this point, she had calmed down quite a bit and was content to play on the iPad and watch the boy across the way with the broken arm.)  The doctor left but told us to stick around because "registration" needed some information.  A woman came by with a rolling computer and took our insurance information and address.  She mentioned that the hospital bills separate from the doctors and so had to input the information twice.  She finished up and we were told to go home.

Last week, I got a bill in the mail from the hospital.  Considering we were in the ER and waiting room about an hour, and saw the doctor only for about 10 minutes, we used no resources of the hospital other than the chairs and bed (for about 20 minutes), no medicine, no labs, no machines, nothing, how much do you think we should have been charged.  Nope.... it was more.  The bill that was submitted to the insurance company was $760.  Are you kidding me ?!?!?!?!  For what ???  I honestly have NO idea what they base those charges on, considering the hospital did NOTHING.  I am floored!  Also, keep in mind that we have not seen a bill from the doctor yet. (The registration person told me that they bill separately.)  I cannot wait to see what the doctor will charge for 10 minutes of his time.  I am just amazed that someone came up with these charges and sent it out with a straight face.  Seriously.  By the way, the notation on the bill just says "emergency room general."  What is that supposed to mean? 

I won't begin to pretend that I understand hospitals or doctors or how insurance works.  I do know that I pay a lot of money during the year, so that my out-of-pocket costs are lower when we visit the doctors.  I am sure that everyone has their hands out and that it takes money to run a hospital.  But what exactly was I paying for?  Maybe the nurse's time to check K out.  If that's the case, what is her hourly rate?  Maybe I am paying some money towards the cost of the bed that she sat in.  But if you divide the cost of the bed by the number of patients who sit in it, over the life of the bed and take into consideration the depreciation over time, that could only be pennies.  I think circumstances like this may be at the heart of the move for socialized medicine.  I can only wonder how families who barely make minimum wage or who live below the poverty level (and these days, there are many in this position) could afford a trip to the ER, particularly if they don't have insurance to defray some of the expense.  I can only sit and shake my head.

SMASH - The Voice of a "new" generation?   I'm a Smash fan.  I'll admit it.  I was sad when I heard that the ratings were going down, I was sad when I watched the first few episodes of this Season (not as good as last season) and I was really sad when it moved to Saturday (surely a death knell for the show.)  The story line for Karen is interesting - although I must echo her father's questioning of her decision to drop Bombshell to work on Hit List.  Would most people in her position, clawing their way to the top, do that?  I doubt it.  That question aside, I find her male counterpart to be a more interesting character these days and have to wonder what the writers are thinking, in the way that they have written him through the first 1/2 of the season.  He is whiny, unappreciative and downright rude in many situations when he should just be grateful. 

Someone gets you an opportunity to write a song for a well-known and famous performer?  Great!  Someone decides that they may not need your song?  O.k., well, keep it and we'll try again next time.  Nope, not this guy.  He goes and gets wasted and then barely makes it back in time to comb his hair when plans change again and his song is put back in.

Someone brings in an award winning director to listen to your work?  Wow, that is awesome!  Let me take some time to really listen to what you are saying and take advantage of this opportunity?  No, not him.  He pouts and sulks because the director says something he doesn't like and then is rudely dismissive and walks away.

Is this the "voice" of the newest generation?  Is this a sign of the times?  Are we to be subjected to "kids" who think that it is o.k. to spit in the face of opportunities that us "old" people would once have killed for?  Yes, I realize that it is a show.  But how often does life imitate art, or art imitate life?  The writers are getting these attitudes from somewhere - or are creating a form that the younger generation will think is o.k. to adopt, because they saw it on t.v.  (Although some might argue that in this show's case, no one is watching.)

How many of today's youth have this sense of entitlement, a sense that the world owes them something, and if they are not handed exactly what they want on a silver platter, they can toss whatever they are given out the window with yesterday's trash?  How many want what they want and want it "now"?  When did this attitude become acceptable in today's world?

I've said it before and I'll say it again.  I've worked for everything I have in my life.  I picked myself up by my bootstraps and made a life for myself.  I've known what it is like to write a check at the grocery store, so that I can eat and pray every night that it doesn't get processed before my next paycheck.  I've known what it is like to pay all of my bills and have $5 left to last 2 weeks until the next paycheck.  I don't regret any of it and I don't begrudge those who may have had it easier.  But I do take issue with those coming up through the ranks who believe that things should just be handed to them without any hard work, because someone once told them they were "talented."  In Smash, Jimmy believes himself to be a great songwriter.  Yet when Karen tries to introduce him to someone who can help his career, he fails to see the opportunity and instead gets upset when that person is unable to meet, but wants to reschedule.

I have to remain hopeful that his story is more of a cautionary tale than a statement of the norm.  I have to believe that today's youth know that hard work is still a "good" thing and that the world is not going to do them any favors.  I have to expect those who come to me for a job to understand that I will expect the same hard work from them that was expected of me as I was working my way up.  Maybe I'm delusional.  I guess we will have to wait and see.

More Random Thoughts- I recently figured out that Jillian Michaels is my age.  Aside from the fact that she could absolutely kick my butt up one side of the street and back down the other, that just struck me as odd.  I sometimes look at others around me and see all that they have accomplished in their lives and careers and wonder what I missed.  That is not to say that I don't recognize the success I have had in my own life and career, but I wonder... was there an exercise video out there for me?  ha!  Seriously though, it is funny to me to think that she is the same age, because she comes across as such an authority figure.  She yells at contestants to motivate them and she speaks with such wisdom about fitness and health, that I guess I assume that she is "older."  Maybe that is because I still see myself as a "kid" and don't think that anyone would look at me as an authority figure.  I'm not sure on that one.

"Um, yeah, I mean."  Can we all PLEASE agree that sentences, whether spoken or written, should NOT begin with "I mean."  I love Adam Levine and came to appreciate Christina Aguilera on the Voice, but the comments that start with "I mean" are driving me nuts!  Where did this come from?  Who said that it was o.k.?  Did you all skip your high school english classes?  Maybe I am just lucky that I had teachers who taught this kind of stuff, but really, we need to get back to the basics here.  Maybe these celebrity judges can hire themselves some elocution help, because it is really, really getting annoying.  Do they realize how ridiculous they sound?

I had more to chat about, but as I look at the clock, I realize that the morning has gotten away from me and I must get some work done.  It doesn't help that I spent about a 1/2 hour looking at old videos from my high school basketball playing days.  But that is beside the point.

On a completely unrelated note... a very, very good friend of mine has had a rough road in her life.  I won't go through the details, but suffice to say that she has had more bumps than anyone I've known, combined.  Yet she has this incredible spirit and desire to overcome, both for her own sake and for that of her son.  Her son was recently chosen to participate in a group of high school choir and band performers, to tour Europe.  She is furiously trying to raise money so that he can go.  If I were anywhere close to home, I would be doing more to help.  Having had the opportunity to see some of the places he will see, I truly believe that he should go and see the world.  If you are interested in helping, message me or comment and I'll get you more information.

Now, I really do have to get some work done.