Ya Think?

I found this on AOL's ticker:

Libra (Sept 23-Oct 22)Your traits: diplomatic, idealistic, easygoing, creative and sociable. Your gregarious and trustworthy nature makes you well-liked by all.
Compatible jobs: Your sense of justice and interest in people make you a strong candidate for positions in
public service, philanthropy, law and medicine. Libras' imaginative nature also lends them to careers in the arts.
Famously successful Libras: Mahatma Gandhi, Jesse Jackson, Eleanor Roosevelt

Wide-Eyed Idealism

I've had a bug up my arse for the past few weeks about something.
To be quite honest, it had me so pissed of I couldn't speak about it.
I think I finally got enough distance from it to calm down a tad. However, this past weekend, a conversation brought it back to the front of me wee cranium.

What pissed me off so was a segment on the Today show about 'Alpha Moms'.
I mean...are you kidding me?
It went on to speak about how Alpha Moms are a new marketing target because they make big bucks and they have money to spend.
I'm sorry, but I feel a little queasy when I hear the words marketing target about any group.
Maybe this rubbed me the wrong way because, well, it's just wrong.
Maybe it rubbed me the wrong way because I'm not in that group.
Or maybe. Just maybe it rubbed me the wrong way because it's just another way to divide women and begin a whole other round of Mommy wars.

The conversation that got me thinking about all of this again was between my stepmother, Eileen, and I regarding how the whole feminist/women's movement seems to be falling apart.

I began a long-winded dissertation about how we have this long history of fighting each other and not being able to come together for the greater cause. If you look at the suffragettes, and all they fought for...the vote was won for us and then we fell apart.
And while there may have been pockets of forward-thinking women, it wasn't a movement anymore.
Then fast forward to WWII and women began to feel empowered again. And while we didn't organize, necessarily, to fight for our rights to work outside of the home once the GI's came back from fighting overseas, there again, was a pocket of forward-thinking women who
found new worth in these jobs and wanted to keep them.
If you move on to the next decade, women in the 50's had one role. Or were supposed to have one role. Homemaker. If you failed to do so, or you had any inclination of something else, you were one to be pitied.
And who was doing all the poo-pooing and nay-saying? Yes, the media. But mostly other women. Despite the fact that many of them, deep in their hearts, were longing for something else, as well. But it was not to be spoken of.

Then Betty Friedan opened the floor to discussion. There were the words, in black and white. That we can have more than just what our biology dictates. And the feminist movement began with that little book The Feminine Mystique and a little thing called The Pill.

And while the feminist movement made great strides there was huge in-fighting. We women could not come together for one common goal. While we all wanted the same things, we had to drag each other through the mud to do it. We had to separate ourselves. We had to fit in nice, tidy little compartments. Where likes went with likes - there were categories and subcategories of women.

What is curious to me is that how, a gender so great at nurturing and caring, at reaching out and feeling, can be so mean to each other.
Why is it that we have to take what makes us alike and use it against each other to separate ourselves from each other?

I refuse to participate in the whole fight regarding working moms vs. stay-at-home moms.
It's a ridiculous fight. It's a fight that should not even exist.
A mom is a mom.
A female is a female.

It really does burn me up and make my stomach turn to hear things like: Alpha Moms vs. Beta Moms (what is this Brave New World?), Mommy wars, The Feminine Mistake, marketing targets, The war between the Working Mom vs. The Stay-At-Home Mom.
We are falling for these sad, media/socially driven wars. We somehow forget to see them for what they really are. Splinters.

I feel lucky that in my blogging dealings, the women I have met are all so beautiful and supportive of each other.
And I would love if we could come together as a societal group so unified in just being women who want to be recognized because they are
Who, at the deepest recesses of their minds and hearts, really do all want the same things.

**I ran into William again last night. I'll post about that later.



This past weekend has found the Casa de Ravioli simmering down from a whirlwind of activities. I won't recap all of the mundane details of it all. But I will say:
(cue dramatic string arrangement as heard in the Mastercard commercials)

*Dinner with friends on Saturday? Good.
*The beach on Sunday with the kids, Daddy, & Mommy spending quality time together? Good.
*Memorial Day activities? Good.
*The mood and temperment of the kids after getting home past 10 almost all weekend? Horrible.

But we had a great weekend. I really have nothing of import to discuss today. I did my scheduled ride this morning with Jen. Which was superb. And I just thought I'd share some photos......

Gracie imitating what I was doing: trying to get her to smile during the Mother's Day photo shoot.

Ravioli doing the Ravioli Shuffle at the wedding of a coworker/friend a last month.

This was how I got Ravioli to swing dance with me. I socked it to him. Kidding.

I was doing the Napoleon Dynamite dance and I got caught in the act. It just so happens to look like I punched Rav right on the button.


Sunday Morning Song of the Moment

Today is starting out a bit rough.
We were out late last night with the kids enjoying dinner with another couple at their house.
And as I type, we are packing up to head down to one of Delaware's beaches and then stopping in to visit my Dad, Eileen, and my brothers at their beach place on our way back home for dinner.

I got thinking about all of the times as a little girl, during my summers off, that my Dad & I would jump on his Harley Superglide and ride to the beach. The feeling of closeness and freedom. The wind-blown cheeks and hair. The exhilaration. I miss riding.

So for all of you ladies (and gents) that love the feeling of the open road via the backseat of a Harley (or any other motorcycle) this one is for you.
Unknown Legend by: Neil Young


Spinning Out The Old Legs

Usually I struggle with trying to come up with things to blog about. And today, even after the last post, I had a bunch of things to share.
At this late approaching hour in the evening, I'll be damned if I can remember any of them. I can only remember one. One.
If I'm like this as I approach 30, imagine what I'll be like in my 60's. and 70's.

I just wanted to share just how terrifically terrific my yesterday was.
See, I haven't saddled up on the mountain bike since August 6, 2006.
I've been pretty depressed about it actually.
And I mean, really depressed.
I was going by myself a lot last year.
And man, that got old. Really quick.
Something that I had come to really enjoy in a relatively short amount of time lost its luster. And I was really upset by it.

However, a few weeks ago, my BFF's daughter asked about going. We tried arranging our schedules and it just wasn't coming together. BUT. We finally got it together and went out for a pretty fantastic ride.
The weather was absolutely gorgeous.
It felt wonderful to be back in the saddle.
It felt great to get out there and ride the trails with someone.
And to smell the sweet air and fresh dirt.

My BFF's daughter, Jen did a fantastic job. I was so impressed with her. She was pretty scared at first. But halfway through, her confidence picked up and she was actually trying some technical things.
We've made plans to do it again on Tuesday.
I absolutely can't wait.

The only thing I forgot about was being saddle sore.
My lady pieces and what-not are screaming at me right now.
I almost feel as though I've given birth again. I have to sit down so gingerly. Sudden movements leave me wincing in pain.
I also feel a little tight and tender in my neck and back.

But it's the good kind of pain. Barely noticeable....but reminder enough of a great time, getting exercise and enjoying the scenery...the air hitting your face, sailing down hills, and grinding up other hills. The tell-tale bruises left behind on your legs from god-knows-what. The fluid feeling of rolling along...just you and the bike.

Have I mentioned that I absolutely can't wait until next Tuesday?

Of A Small Bagged Lunch

Wednesday night, in between Rav getting home from another long day at work - post maternity offender and my road trip with Cracky McCrackster, I needed to run out for a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk. As I was pulling out of the parking lot of the store and heading for home, I happened to see, sitting on a bench in front of an elementary school, a person. And next to that person, a cart.
Once again, there is nothing in the car. Besides the loaf of bread and the milk. This does not make for a practical "meal". I head home and quickly whip up a sandwich, grab a bottle of gatorade, a banana, some crackers, and some cookies and a paper towel. I place it all in a brown bag and head back out the door.

My error? I knew that Rav would not be pleased about what I was doing. So I didn't tell him. I just ran out the door stating I'll be back in a minute.

I pull in the school parking lot and he is still there. Tiny thing he is. Much like the tiny woman a few weeks ago at the shopping center.

I approach him & he appears to be sleeping. I say Excuse Me? as I approach him. He opens his eyes and sees what I have in my hands. I tell him that I have some food inside for him, if he's interested. He says, Yes, that'll be fine. And he pats the empty space on the bench next to him for me to sit the bag lunch down on. And I do.
I tell him that I saw him at the store just a few minutes ago. That I wanted to help him however I could. So I ran home really quick and made him a sandwich and gave him what food I did have. I apologized for it not being much as I hadn't been to the grocery store for awhile........(and then I felt so, so small. I wanted to grab both of my feet & stick them into my mouth). He looked at me, shocked and said You did? You ran home to make me the food? I just smiled and said Yes.

This time, I'm better prepared for questions. I ask him if he has a place to stay. He tells me that his money just ran out.
(Our state gives out motel vouchers to the homeless).
He says he did have a car that he was living in, but he lost his car & he couldn't afford the gas anymore.
I asked him about shelters.
He says that he has a hard time making it all the way into Wilmington in time to make it before they close their doors at 4:00 p.m.

On one hand, I felt terrible even asking these questions because I can offer him no solution.

He tells me how he has a niece that lives nearby, but she leads a crazy life. And then he says My problems are my problems. I don't want to bother people. I've got to make my way.
I nod my head. For I know to try to tell him otherwise is fruitless. The man is well into his 50's or 60's.

He asks me what religion I was brought up in. I tell him that I was raised Episcopalian. And that I haven't been to church in quite a long time. But I try to do the right things. If I feel something in my heart, I try to do it.
Then he looks at me in his slow, underwater movements and says Well, you worked it out with me today. I was here. You were over there and saw me.
Again, he's making me smile. This gentle, quiet man.
I said, I'm Tabitha, by the way.
He says, I'm William. If you see me around, you can call me William.
He tries to say my name and has a hard time.
I say, A lot of people just call me Tab.
He chuckles and says, T-A-B?. OK, Tab.

He then starts talking about how he tries to save his money so that he has a place to stay during the cold, winter months. And that he just does what he can when the weather is warmer.
I listen to what he is saying and take in the realities of his years....the tides that bring him in and push him back out.

We part ways and this time, I leave feeling a little better about the whole thing. Better than I did the last time. As best as I can feel, anyway. Leaving him there to sleep wherever he can.

I come home and fill Rav in. And he's pretty upset.
He's worried about me just walking up to someone who will become violent or pissed off at me for offering something.
He warns me of the dangers of what I am doing.
He understands that I want to help.
But again, fears for my safety.

I really don't know how to reconcile his sensibility and my desire to do something. After years of wanting and never doing.
On one hand, I feel like a teenager being told no to do something and saying The more you tell me no, the more I'm going to do it anyway.
I'm just naturally rebellious that way.
That too, is a genetic predisposition.

I apologized to him for leaving and not telling him where I was going. And I said, Next time, then. You're coming with me. Would that make you feel better?

And what I don't say, and maybe I should is that I'm of the mindset that these things happen for a reason. There was a reason that he was there and that I saw him.
And that, I just can't shake.


Alternate Universes and a Sensibility Tug O' War

The past 48 + hours have been completely bizarre. I almost feel like I have been wandering around in an alternate universe.

Let me set the stage first by saying that every month, my PMS symptoms intensify. And I really need to get to a doc. I feel like every month, I'm presented with a test that I always fail. I get sick. Very sick. Each and every month. Sick as in, it is leaving me unable to function.
So, that sets the stage just a bit.

Let me start, also, with mine & Rav's late, late, late night on Tuesday. Rav works the second shift on Mondays & Tuesdays. He called me late into his shift on Tuesday to say that he would be late. He & some other officers had to take in an offender to court for an active warrant. And she was claiming that she was having a miscarriage. So, this wasn't going to go smoothly. He said he would call after they were done at the JP Court.
Fast forward to 11:30 (his shift was over at 10). He calls me from the hospital. He tells me that the woman started flipping out in court. She urinated herself and said her water was breaking. Rav & the other officers take her to the ER. The offender is giving the hospital staff the run-around in regards to her due date, how far along she is, etc. So, they (Rav, other officers and offender) were just waiting for the doctor to do the test to determine if she had, in fact, urinated herself or her water did break.
Long story short, Rav finally got home at 2:30 a.m.
And this seems to mark the start of everything weird.

I have to back up just a bit.....to get to the weird part that involves me.
Last week, on a particularly beautiful day, I went outside to wait for Connor's bus. I was pruning some of the plants in the front yard. I was working on my fern hanging baskets. At the same time, I see a woman walking down the street. And I really didn't think much of it. She yells something. She yells again. This time, I realize she's talking to me. She walks up my driveway. Compliments my ferns. And then asks is she can use the phone. I give her the phone. She makes a quick call.
I ask if she's OK. She says Yes. It's just that my legs hurt. I just took my medication. Can you give me a ride? Just to the corner.
My pulse quickens. It's not that I don't want to help her. But I have one kid inside of my house. I have one that I'm waiting for. And I hate to say it, but my judgements got the better of me. Because see, she looked a bit.......questionable.
I tell her hat I can't leave. My daughter is inside & I'm waiting for my son to get dropped off. What I was leaving out was that Rav was upstairs with Gracie. In my heart of hearts, I was hoping that this would turn her away. She then asks to sit down. So she sits on my front step.
I look over at her & say If you can wait a few minutes. I'll take you to the corner. But I have to wait for my son to get home.
She agrees.
Connor gets home. I deposit him in the house. I shut the door quickly.
We get in the car, I drive her to the corner. And now the corner turns into the next street over. The next street over turns into the next street over from that one. I drop her off at a house and leave.
To be perfectly honest, relief at the fact that she's out of my car. And relief that I'll probably never see her again.

Boy was I wrong.

Last night, Rav & I begin the slow descent into veg-ville. We're both exhausted from the late night of the early morning hours we had kept due to maternity offender(more so him than me, but as he wasn't home & in bed, I couldn't sleep). Our front door was still open as it was not quite dark yet & again, an especially beautiful evening.
We're just entering deep veg mode when there is a slight knock on the door.
Rav gets up & I hear her voice. She says to Rav Is the lady of the house in? I think to myself God, she's good. She's got every line for every occasion.
I'm sorry, but I thought once Rav saw her, he would prevail. He was so good at lying to the little boys next door when they came a-calling. I thought surely I'd be off the hook. He says Yes, she is.
I swear, my bottom jaw hit the ground. My eyes were big as saucers. I figured at this point, he was just letting me lay in the bed I had made.
I go to the door & she starts with her usual. A compliment.
Then she goes into some story about how this guy says she has to be in by 9. She told him no it's 10. She needs a ride. Can I give her one? Oh, here's the guy. He's following me. Your ferns are so pretty. Can you give me a ride?
I tell her to hold on a minute. I come back in the house & am in full panic mode. There is no way out of this one. And I can't think of any good reason - for myself or for her - to tell her no. I just cannot.find.the.words.
I grab my shoes, I grab my cell. I deliberately leave behind my purse (I'm terrible, I know).
I take her back to the same house.
Now let me stop there and explain that when she approached my house last night she was wearing jeans. And the fly was WIDE open. I will spare anymore details.
So, of course........no one is home. She asks to use my cell. She makes a few calls. And she locates who she is looking for. Just a few minutes away. She tells him (HIM) to stay there, she's got her "girlfriend" with her & we'll pick him up.
Again with my jaw to the ground and my eyes as big as saucers.
We begin our drive.
By this time, it's taking way longer than Rav would've expected. I know that he's a bit peeved to begin with. I'm trying to be vague on the phone with him.
I get off the phone & promise to call him back in two minutes.

We get to the house. She gets out. I get a glimpse of the guy I'm to give a ride to. He's drunker than drunk. The woman who answers the door at the house says straight away to my "girlfriend", He's being an asshole.
I roll my eyes. And say to myself Oh, hell no.
I begin backing out of the driveway. But there is a bunch of traffic & I can't back out in time.
My new "girlfriend" is yelling at him, there is a bit of a scuffle. She gets him to the car & deposits him in it. He reeks. He's trying to be charming. Again, with the compliments. My new girlfriend tells him Be nice. She's straight.
Again, with being out of my element.

I fly as fast as I can to get these two anywhere. I just want to be back in my little, messy, kid-filled house.
I drop them off. And now he begins with wanting to "repay" me by kissing me. On both of my cheeks. I chuckle.
And as I drive away, relief washes over me that, for now, this is over.

I get home & recall the events for Rav, who is shaking his head at the whole thing. And then I say to him, We can't keep the front door open anymore. Because in a few days, she'll be back.

I need to find a way to stand my ground. What can I say to her?

Let me wrap this whole thing up by saying the whole dynamic is a bit much for me right now. And the reason is this: I've always had a hard time saying no. My mom & I have been on "the wrong side of the tracks" for our fair share when I was growing up. Not only that, I've always been a safe person for people. In school, I was always picked to be the buddy for the kids who need help, the peer counselor for the spec. ed. - which I totally enjoyed. But honestly, being in 6th grade and having someone see you have the capacity for something you don't even know you have yet is a tad overwhelming. The list goes on.....teachers felt safe with me to entrust me with these tasks of fostering a safe relationship with others. And I'm not complaining. It's just that I've always had this role. But with this role, I never learned to be politely assertive. It's a weak point.
Now add to this, a dash of law enforcement in Rav. He sees the ugly parts, the scary, unsafe parts. He has seen needles pulled out of body parts where they were kept for safe-keeping. He has seen weapons and drugs and violence on a regular basis. He just wants me to be safe.
And I want me to be safe too. I'm straddling a fence between my caring, underdog fostering and sensibility.
And I'm not sure which one of me is winning.

**I've deliberately left out the story of me making a bag lunch for a homeless man I saw yesterday before my road trip with my new girlfriend and the discussion that started between Rav & I. Because, quite frankly, this post is way too long as it is. I'll have to get into that another day.**


We're Marble Rye

A husband and wife arrive, albeit 15 minutes late, to the Family Fun Picnic for their daugther's preschool.

This large party, which is bejewelled with a bouncing castle, a big, inflatable obstacle course that leads to a huge inflatable slide, a "train" ride, face painting, juice, goldfish, and pizza - is to mark the end of the preschool year.
All of the preschoolers and parents converge on the school to say goodbye for the summer.

The husband and wife feel the excitement in their son. It has travelled through his veins and jumped into theirs. They're happy he's happy. Their younger daughter, however, is a little bit more leery of the sheer number of people and amusements. She thinks it's a trap of some sort.
At two, she's already a little hardened. By what? Her parents are not sure. So, she's content to cling to either one of them. They hand her off at regular intervals. The time it takes for their arms to feel as though they are made of lead from the weight of their youngest is all of about 15-25 minutes. And holding something that heavy, in one position can make her feel like dead weight and make the time she spends in their arms seem infinite.

They look around and smile politely at the strangers. The strangers whose own children have shared an entire school year with their youngest. And little more than hello has been said all year. So, it was unlikely that little more than that would pass between them on the very last day. And really, it was OK by them all.

The oldest child of the couple had already flown. He was not about to subject himself to the awkward hello's and pleasantries. He has social issues of his own. And quite frankly, was more than happy to be an anonymous face in the crowd while he waited in line for one of the various inflatable amusements. Life doesn't get much better than this, when you're 4 and 3/4 years old.

The husband and wife team were counting down minutes for this to be over. It's not that they were having a bad time. It's just that there isn't a lot for them to do at these things. And seeing the cars in the parking lot, the clothing some of the mothers were wearing, it was quite obvious that this was not their usual crowd. They were, to be brutally honest, a bit out of their element.
The wife looks over at the husband, thinking how smoking hot he looks. She smiles a kind, warm, loving smile and says to him:

Did you ever get the feeling that in a loaf of white bread, we're a slice of marble rye?

And he chuckles. He knows exactly what she's saying. He couldn't agree more, actually.


Thereby The Grace

I blog a lot about Gracie.
I sat and asked myself why the other day.
The other day, after she heard me say fuckin' in the car.
And in her sweet, toddler, song of a voice say FUCKIN'!!
We all burst into laughter (totally inappropriate, I know).
The look of joy (and new found respect) for his sister, lit Connor's face up like a million stars.
Rav, trying to be the rock, stifled laughter while telling Gracie That's a bad word. Please don't say it.
And me. Me laughing so hard, I'm trying desperately to hold my bladder. And having to pull the Land Rover over because I'm laughing so hard I can't see the road.
And in that sweet, song of a voice again: FUCKIN'!! That's not a bad word. Fuckin'!! That's not a bad word. Fuckin'!!!! (repeat chorus 5 more times).

I finally pulled myself together enough to say Truckin'!
Rav chimes in with Pluckin'!
Connor adds in Duckin'!
See, isn't this fun!? We're rhyming!
Fuck is a word so overused by moi that I didn't even realize that I had said it. It has become a part of my vocabulary like the word the has. Deb, I know you would be so proud.

Anyway, back to Gracie. I've been thinking a lot about her as she approaches three. And, Connor will be turning five and heading off to kindergarten. And I'm sure I'll be panic-stricken over that. But right now, my mind is weighted down with thoughts of

Gracie, who has a fire inside of her.
She also has a heart full of love, of passion (yes, I can see it already), of care and concern, of good, of songs. Oh, god. That girl is full of music.

I get her.
I look at her free spirit, her independence, her wild abandon.
And I see what I must have once been.
Before the seas of my life weathered me and made me soft and rounded. Yet hard like a sea stone or piece of driftwood.
I get her.

I see a girl. Untouched by age, hurt, faded dreams, time. She is free. She has a wide, open road. She is all that I once was.
And so much more.

I see the joy at the discovery of a new song that hits her in just the right spot. I see her dancing in her car seat - head bobbing from side to side - as she has learned to feel the music. I smile and well with pride, when she hears Forever Loving Jah and looks at me and says Who is this? And I reply Bob Marley and the Wailers, honey.

I know what that feels like.

I see how fragile I once was. In the little body that stands before me, I have a mirror. A mirror that looks at me everyday with wide, expectant eyes and an open heart, a thirsty mind. A mirror that reminds me to tread with care, to love like there will be no tomorrow, to play music, to be silly, to laugh, to lead her down roads that weren't as bumpy as mine. But roads that will, indeed, leave her wanting more and hungry for what is around the next bend. Roads that are open only for her. Roads that might be lined and littered with people telling her she can't, she shouldn't, she's female.
And on those roads my voice will rise even louder to say She can, she should, she IS female.
Roads that will give her voice. Her voice to stand strong, to say exactly what she should and exactly what needs to be said, a voice to soothe, to heal.

I know that my dreams might not ever be made a reality.
She may never turn out to be the person that I see budding before me.
It could be trick of the light in the mirror.
And I do hope, on one hand it is.
Because in her I can see all that I could have been.
In her I see what I am. What I was.
And see what I have left undone, but that she may pick up and run away with.

As long as she is given a chance.
To be.
That's the most that I, her mom, could ask for.


Sunday Morning Song of the Moment

There were only 2 requests for songs, so I feel I have to honor them both.

Jen R. asked for Somewhere Over The Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwo'ole. Very nice choice.

And Jen from One Plus Two has asked for Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. Another great choice.

Have a great day everyone and enjoy!



I have nothing that I can think of to blog about.
Saturday is going to be a bit hectic.
It will consist of work in the morning.
Followed by a wedding shower.
All this while poor Rav is forced to take both kids to a birthday party for one of Connor's classmates.
Then more work all day on Sunday.
I'm afraid I might have to skip the song for the Sunday Morning post.
If you have any suggestions for a song, I'll make it a request-a-thon.
Give me your suggestion and I'll pick one.
Because, quite frankly, I just can't think anymore.

Narcissus In Wide Open Laughter

Within the past few years or so, I've realized that I don't have many recent pictures of myself. And even fewer that are good.
Since having kids, I find that most of the time, I am the one behind the camera.
And that is pretty OK by me.
But there aren't many where a sweet moment has been captured with me in the picture.
And that does leave me longing a little.

If you walked into my mother's house, you'd see plenty of pictures of the kids. My cute, lively, little kids. There might even be a picture or two of the kids and Rav. But rarely, very rarely, do I ever make the snapshot. Like I said, I'm OK with that.

Now, I don't consider myself to be a vain person. But the thing that sort of gets to me is that, the handful of pictures there are of me aren't great. Most of them, my face looks funny. In fact, the most recent pictures of myself I don't even recognize the face starring back at me. There are (laugh) lines where there were none before, there are cheeks that are a bit chubbier than I am accustomed to. I have changed and barely have any evidence to prove it.
What is even more sad is the fact that, there is little evidence of me caught in a moment. A moment that happened and a moment where I look like myself, a moment that has caught me making the right face.

Jen said in a comment a few posts back: i think that's how i picture you, head back in wide open laughter.

And when I think of me, when I'm in my element, that's what I see. But like I've said, I have very few photos to prove it. So, here are a few. A few that I knew I had. And the only reason that they exist is because A) They were taken on the day to beat all days. and B) The guy was paid to take pictures of me.

So, Jen....I think this is what you might have been picturing.

And no, I was not drunk. Not even a little buzzed. These shots are probably a photographer's worst nightmare. Who wants to stare down someone's pie hole? But they are me.

This week, I've been trying to be kind to myself. And share parts of myself I don't always get to. That's the deal with this post. It's a tad vain. I know. But there is beauty in each of us. And we don't often stop to appreciate it.


You Cannot Reason With The Unreasonable

Remember I was saying yesterday how I love the fact that I love to share? And one of the things I love to share is my home. I need to make an addendum to that statement.

I love sharing my home with friends.
I've come around to sharing my home with my kids.
They're growing on me.

I do not like sharing my home with furry creatures.
I've had a bat make it's way in to my first apartment. Twice.
Yeah, I wasn't a fan of that at all.

I've lived with a mouse or two.
Quite unhappily.
I absolutely cannot stand mice. I've discussed before on this here blog how my fear of mice is of biblical proportions. I cannot possibly or adequately convey the depth of loathing I have for those nasty, dirty, disease-carrying creatures.
I don't want to hear how "cute" they supposedly are.
They're disgusting.

I recently - and without permission - have found that I am housing, quite possibly the largest ant farm in the history of the world.

First it started with a little black ant crawling on the kitchen counter.
Look, kids! Look at this cute, little black ant all by himself. Isn't he so cute? He's so little!

Then it continued with two to four ants crawling up the wall in the bathroom.
Thought to self: They're ants. It could be worse. It could be a bat. It could be a mouse. I'll take a couple of teeny-tiny black ants any old day of the week and twice on Sunday if that means I never see a demon rodent ever. Move along little ants. I need to do my movement in privacy!

I believe that message was taken to heart by those two to four little ants. And rather than taking a meager little crumb and feasting on that for awhile, they took my little bargain and decided that was an open invitation to not only visit, but to be that annoying, unwelcome, and over-staying their welcome guest(s).

They're everywhere!
And I mean everywhere.
There's usually not that many of them.
But what is really getting to me is that there is not one room in my house that is off limits.

Rav at the end of his rope with them said to me the other day You know, a little ant here or there is no big deal. But what's really getting under my skin is that they're everywhere. It's one thing to have ants in the kitchen in larger quantities. But this scattered business is just really getting on my nerves.

I've tried reasoning with them. Despite the fact that I'm afraid in the winter time there will be a trade off, which will entail sending in a demon rodent in place of a few little ants now. But still, I've bargained with them.
Listen. I'll let you take that lone, wayward Cheerio and that little piece of Pringle, if you will just.keep.out. Tell your friends.

Rav has set traps. That seemed to work for half a minute.

I've sprayed.
Then I sprayed.
I sprayed.
Did I mention that I sprayed?

They just looked at each other, point at me and the spray bottle, and laughed collectively at me.

Last night, I had a dream about them.
It's hard to believe that with all of the things going on in the world, I have become obsessed to the point of insanity over this:

And not only that, but I've been singing The Ants Go Marching in my head every time I see one for about three weeks now. And it's the Barney version.

Clearly this whole situation cannot be good.


She's Laid Down The Gauntlet - It's On

Jess is right. It's a great idea for a meme. I've already invited Jess to start. But I will tag Pippa, Deb, Jen (of course - I know how much she loves to do memes), and Chani. Please, lovely ladies, share with us what you love about yourself. And tag as many or as few as you would like. We all need to wrap ourselves in the arms that wrap others so lovingly.

Room Inside For Me

I was recently asked to reflect upon the things that I love about myself and the things that are unique about me.
I can't help but feel a tad like running head first into a brick wall.
See, I don't think I've ever thought about it.
And truly it isn't something that I would typically blog about.
But the person asking me to do this is quite special.
And I know there is a pretty good reason that she has asked me to do it. And she cared enough about me to ask me to do it.

The thing(s) I think I love about myself would probably be that I'm not what people would expect. I'm very short - all 5' 1" of me. I used to be pretty thin. Before Gracie got ahold of my body, anyway. And I've always looked rather young. I'll probably get carded for some time to come, though the crow's feet around my eyes may give me away pretty soon. I think what people would expect from my compact package is a limp noodle, a wee maiden, a demure, quiet, lamb.

But I think I'm pretty strong. Physically. And I do thoroughly enjoy manual labor. I like dirt. I like working in dirt. I like being sweaty. I like working until my hands and fingers burn from fatigue. I like a challenge. I like working at something difficult and getting it done. I like operating heavy equipment. I drool over brand new Bobcats and tractors are sexy.

I also am a bulldog when it comes to something I believe strongly in. I'm passionate, steadfast, and stubborn. I'm animated. I am full of life. I am sunshine. I am light. (Despite what you may think or what you have heard.)
And I love that about myself.

I love that when my friends or my family need advice or are having a personal crisis, they call me. They open up and they count on my opinion/thoughts. They know that I will always be there to listen.

I love that I am an open book. I have nothing to hide. I love to share. Be it my thoughts, my experiences, my food, my home, my belongings, my emotions. All of it.

I love that I am in love with the world.

I love that I am perceptive and that I can feel what someone else is feeling. I love that I can see through things to what will happen, what someone will say, what someone will do. I'm not going all out and saying I'm psychic. But I just know things. And I love that my ability to feel what other people are feeling allows me to have the wide-open heart that I do. I love that I want to fight for those who can't fight for themselves - or who just need a cheerleader.

I love that I know how to embrace dark times, as well as, light, happy times. The dark times leave me feeling washed up, but that is when the biggest and best changes occur. I love that I can take them for what they are, make my way through them, and move on to enjoy the good.

I love my name. I used to hate it when I was a kid. But I have come to love my name. And I love that my Dad named me. Because I know that it means something to him. (And no, he didn't choose it because of Bewitched).

This was really, really hard for me to do. And I'm not sure that it came out the way I wanted it to. It's not eloquently written like I wanted it to be. It's just me. In black and white. But these are the things that I love about myself.
I really needed to hear myself say them.

(I almost feel like Stuart Smalley)


Watching A Rose Bloom In Reverse

Her small body was almost lost against the backdrop of the shopping center. And despite wearing a black hooded sweatshirt that was in sharp contrast to the tan of the stucco buildings, she was as close to being invisible as one could possibly be. She was slight, sitting there on the bench. Next to her mounded cart. She almost appeared to be folding in on herself. Like watching a rose bloom in reverse. She appeared to be trying to make herself even smaller than she already is.
But I saw her.
And I couldn't take my eyes off of her.
I looked this way and that. To my left. To my right. To see if anyone else noticed her as I drove my car. Guiding it to a parking space as quickly as I could without harming any number of shoppers. Shoppers who washed up in this shopping center. Just like she did somehow. Just like I did.
I am frantic to find something inside this child-ized vehicle. Anything that she might be able to make use of.
Not even pack of crackers.
After I focus my gaze straight ahead, disappointed that my kids are too old for me to lug around the 5 million snack-laden bags anymore. I look up and I see a Five Below store. I exhale and say to myself It's better than nothing. I'll find something in there.
I scan the snacks that, to a 5 year old, are heaven. But to an adult can barely constitute food.
I find some snack size fig newtons. A box of Ritz crackers. I grab some slim jims. A cold Ginger Ale. Two bottles of water. And a pack of eclipse gum. It checks out at a mere $8.19. That hardly seems like it's enough.
I fish in the bag for the gum. I slip it in my back pocket and I make my way.

I make my way out of the store. Toward her.
I am shaking. I feel so scared. What if I offend her? What if I can't find the right words to say?
As I approach, I'm quite certain that I am the only person that has seen her. People walk by. And they don't see her, this tiny little lady sitting on a bench. I'm wondering if she is a ghost. A ghost of all those I may have walked by before in a different, self-involved life. I have a flash of when I was in Santa Monica some eight years ago. I walked in for breakfast at a McDonald's and was astounded at the number of displaced souls. And beyond taking note of how uncomfortable I felt, I did nothing.
Still I walk on. Despite being so nervous, so sad, that I feel sick. But what is a little case of the jitters compared with being invisible?

I walk up to her. I look her straight in the eye. I smile. A lame, nervous smile. But I smile. I say I have a few things for you. If that is OK.
Oh, sure. That would be fine. She says.
There are a couple bottles of water, a soda, some crackers, figs, slim jims. I know it's not much.
I reach out and rub her small arm as I talk to her. As I look down, while she inspects the treats, I see around her neck a gold chain. A gold chain with three "rings" on it. Each with a different birthstone. Is she a mom? Is she a grandmom? Surely, she is at least one of these things.
She looks in the bag. She smiles a brilliant smile. And her eyes are full of light. She thanks me.
I tell her Happy Mother's Day.

She smiles and says Happy Mother's Day to me.
I smile at her and look her in the eye. Trying to find some way to make this right. And there are no words. No bags of snacks that I come at her with that will do that. As I open my mouth to speak, all that comes out is Take care of yourself, OK?
She agrees to this lame, pedestrian advice.
And I walk away.
When I walk away, I feel like something isn't right. I feel like I've left something behind that was left in my care. I feel like I've left my mother, my grandmother, or my child there. No matter how many steps I take away from her, I can't shake this feeling that I shouldn't be walking away. The distance between her and I has done nothing to stop my heart from breaking. From feeling her small shoulder under my hand, seeing the eyes full of life and light. Her necklace.

I walk away and beat myself up inside for not sitting down next to her. For not spending a minute and ask her her name. To tell her mine. To ask if she has any place to stay tonight.
I wonder how she managed to make it to that shopping center. How long it's been since she has eaten. How hot she must be sitting in that blazing sun in those thick, heavy clothes. How loaded with belongings her cart is. How can someone so little push that heavy cart?

How no one else seemed to care.
How they could walk into Old Navy and DSW like she wasn't even there?


They Didn't Have You Where I Come From

Today is a special day. Today, I, Rav, will choose the Sunday Morning Song of the Moment. But first, I have a few words to say (and if you know anything about me, then you know that I can never say just a few words). I try to show my appreciation for my lovely wife, the mother of my children, everyday. But I know that I often take her for granted. I don't always "get" what it takes for her to do what she does everyday, and still greet me with a smile when I walk in the door. We made the decision that it would be best for Tab to stay home with the kids, and not work. This was the best decision for our children. They get from her, what they would fail to get in a daycare. I am not knocking daycare, but nothing beats some good 'ole home grown mommy lovin'.
Prior to meeting Tab, I had a vague idea that I would like to get married some day and have children. Tab has discussed that we met at summer camp, so I won't go into that. But I recall that the first time I met her, what I wanted became crystal clear. I knew that I wanted to be with Tabitha. The first time we kissed, I had a clear picture in my head of us getting married. I knew, without a doubt that she was the one.
Once you get to know Tabitha, she is a lot of things, more than she may seem at first glance. Tab is sensitive and empathetic. She is kind and caring. She has a heart that is just so great. She sees things in a way that I wish I could. Everyday, I am thankful that we met and that I was able to convince her to date and then marry me. Not that she had much choice, after all, I did hit her over the head with a club and drag her to my cave.
Tab, I can never show you how thankful I am that you are here. I can never show you how much I love you. But I will spend the rest of my life trying.
To all of you mothers reading this I also have a few words to say on behalf of men. We will forget important dates. You will open that present and look into the box, and oh yes, it will be an iron. A nice iron, high tech and all that, but an iron none the less. We will smile, as you open that box, in anticipation. knowing that you really needed a new iron and quite pleased with ourselves that we found this totally awesome iron. Despite what may be in that box, an iron in my case, it was put there with love in our hearts and you in our minds. We do appreciate you for what you do and thank god that we decided you wanted to stay home instead of us, because we would have gone crazy long before now. We love you all.
Without (much) further ado, the Sunday Morning Song of the Moment today is a song by the Dixie Chicks called "Lullaby". This is a sweet song which is beautiful and has touching lyrics.
The video was made by someone and posted to youtube. It uses a lot of the same images over and over, so just sit back and listen, and watch if you want to.


What I Really Want

Mother's Day has always sort of bothered me. As do my birthdays. I have a hard time being celebrated in that way. Yet, I really do want to be celebrated. It's a long story as to why. But I think it's a genetic dispostion.

Mother's Day though, always seems to be this big build up. The likes of which seem, by design, to be a big let-down. When the calendar rolls around to that day, I half choke on it like this dry, lump of sand in my throat and accompanied by a looong, slow roll of the eyes. And yet....
The other half of me wants a day. A day that is a little sweeter than all of the rest. A day that isn't a big build up and isn't a big let down. Just a nice day.

A few weeks ago, Rav asked me what I wanted for Mother's Day. I told him nothing. Which, is pretty true. I mean hell, does he want to hear about the 2 week vacation I would like to take that we can't possibly afford right now? Because that's what I really want.
But seriously.
I have the little herb garden I wanted.
I have my music.
I have the iPod.
I have the computer.
I have, have, have.
For all that we think we don't sometimes.
Then, after a quick second I said to him, On second thought. You know what I would like to have?
I heard the chuckle and the brief catch of the breath coming from my Rav.
What's that? He asks.
I would like you to call T.L. (he is a coworker of Rav's who is also a photographer).
Ask him how much it would cost to do a family portrait. I've wanted one of the four of us for so long. I feel so bad we have a lot of really good portraits of you, me & Connor. That's what I want. A family portrait.
I hear and feel the relief wash over him. OK. Sure. We can do that.

Calls were made. A place was decided on. A date was set. And a more than fair price was handed to us for a full photo shoot.

So, this Saturday the family Ravioli will be heading to a beautiful park. A beautiful park that is tucked away in the hills (snicker, snicker. Because if you've ever travelled in DE, you know there aren't many) in the northern part of our state. The park that was to be the site for our wedding. But is still so special to us anyway. And in that park, we will attempt to have a portrait taken of our family.
I can't wait.
In other news, I want to thank you all for your kind words in my last post. I took your advice and called the area manager. We had a bit of a heart-to-heart. She set me up with a store that will be a better fit to my situation.
And not only that....my hopes are no longer dashed. As I am now heading to Chicago. For blogher. With the lovely, Deb. We both needed something. And I think this will be it. I can't wait.

Help Me Help You

One of the things I think that I inadvertently gifted myself with over the years, is a vast work experience. I've done many, many different things. I've worked for large corporations, I've worked for small, private businesses. I've worked in retail, clerical, HR, payroll, teach preschool, nursery (as in a large, privately owned garden center), and a printing department at the U of D. I've got to taste what I like and don't like about different aspects of each, the large and small for the good and the bad.

Most of these jobs were pretty set on working a schedule or set hours. They frowned upon missing work. Which I totally understand - to some extent.

Rav has been lucky in this job that he's been at for the past 2 and 1/2 years to have a relatively flexible schedule - and tons of time off.
However, when he is at work, you never know what will walk through the door. And most of the time, if you have something planned, that means that an offender or other crisis will walk through the door 5-10 minutes before you planned on leaving...and therefore cancels out the plans you've made.
This can be problematic for me to some degree.
See, we're in a pretty tight financial situation.
We don't have money for many extras.
We have managed to live without credit cards. We simply can't afford the extra monthly payment. So, if we don't have the money, we don't buy it. Sometimes it sucks, not having that to fall back on when you really just want to have a date night when things are a little tight.
I think that in about 10 years, we'll be thankful for sacrificing right now. But in the meantime, it stinks.
prolematic for me because from time t0 time, I have had a part-time job to help ease the burden a bit. But it was never reliable. The U of D didn't always have a lot of work coming in, so therefore I couldn't depend upon it to help ease our budget.

I recently got hired by a growing, privately owned nursery that serves as an independent contractor for a large chain of home improvement stores. The area manager seemed to be excited to hire me based on my (small) amount of college education and experience in the horticulture. I told her the days I could work - which weren't many. And still she seemed excited.

Truth-be-told, I began to panic. I know how crazy things can get with Rav's work schedule between court hearings, and unexpected things popping up at work. It is almost equivalent to asking an ER doctor to be home on time. It just isn't going to happen. Especially when you need it to. I felt guilty for committing to this, knowing that there will be days, I'll have to suddenly call out. It has been my experience that employers frown upon that sort of thing.
I felt that the best thing to do was just lay it all out there and resign. Before I have even started.

Yesterday was supposed to be my first day. I was to start at 3:30. Which means that Rav had to leave work at 3. No later.
I get the call I knew was coming all day. At 2:40 p.m. It's Rav from work. He had to lock someone up who had an active warrant. He didn't know when he'd be home. So, I made the dreaded call. That I wouldn't be able to make it on my first day...that I appreciate the opportunity, but I better back out. I hate to commit to something that I simply can't fulfill.

The area manager calls back and sounds genuinely disappointed that I'm backing out. And then she says I completely understand. I lived that life for 25 years. My husband was a cop. I know how that is. And especially when you have little ones. Before you decide not to do this give me a call back. Let's talk about this. Maybe we can come up with something else.
I almost hit the floor in shock. She understood. And she was willing to work with me. This was something that I had never really experienced before from a supervisor.
And in a way, it spoke volumes about how I need to give people a chance to help me. That my own misconceptions about things can get in the way.


Weird Speak

I know everyone has cute kids. And I know other people's cute kids say things cute and/or funny. But nothing compares to the cute and/or funniness of your own semi-sometimes cute kids. Here's a brief list of my kids' weird speak:

If he asks for worm noodles with stinky cheese, he is asking for elbow macaroni with Locatelli (Pecorino Romano) on them.
If he is asking for stretchy noodles, he is asking for angel hair pasta.
If he asks to go to the green store he is asking to go to Target (because the greatland on the sign is in green, nevermind the fact that Target is known for Red).
If he asks to go to Mimi's Wal-mart, that is the Wal-mart in the hick town of Elkton near where my mother lives.
If he asks for brown ketchup, he is asking for A-1 steak sauce.
If he is asking for a black cookies, he is asking for Oreos.
If he asks you about your bumbos, run away with your arms across your chest, for he is inquiring after your Ta-tas.
If he asks for chicken meals, he is asking for chicken nuggets.

Mank You - that would be (surprise, surprise) Thank You.
Pick-a-minkle - that would be Periwinkle from Blue's Clues.
Bub-ohs! - that would be bubbles.
Yinoculars - Binoculars.
And we can't forget her eye-talian speak when she says, Ah bump-ah my head. Which is eye-talian Gracie speak for "I bumped my head".
If she asks to listen rolling up the wall, she is asking to listen to "Back to Black" by Amy Winehouse.
Watch baby kids sprout - She wants to watch PBS Kids Sprout.
I have a buzzy in ah-my head. - She has a fuzzy in her hair.

I know these things are nothing special really. That every family with a kid running around in it or had a kid running around in it at one time has this type of thing to share.
But they are my kids. So that sets them apart. And it makes me smile.


The other night, Rav & I watched that movie, Jesus Camp.
Holy Moses, Batman. That's scary, scary stuff.

In fact, I'm reeling from it. We both went into this knowing that we'd have issues with it. And quite frankly, we were expecting to have to shut it off 1/4 of the way through it.
We were strong.
And we watched the whole freaky thing.

There are simply not enough words to describe the fear and astonishment upon watching this.
Despite the fact that I have a close family member who belongs to that branch of faith.

I don't want to risk offending anyone who may (or may not) be reading this.
And I certainly don't want to give anyone the impression that I denounce religion all-together.
I guess I shouldn't really care what anybody thinks. At least, that's what people tell me. But the thing is, I do.
Really the fact of the matter is, I'm so scared by this documentary that it has temporarily paralyzed my mind. Rather, my ability to speak. Because my mind races with several hundred thoughts, but I just can't find a way to get them out.

All I know is this: Based on what I saw from this thing, this documentary.....Global Warming is the last thing we should be worried about (though it is something that I feel is of utmost importance, so for something to bump that is pretty big). There is a large - very large group of people out there that are doing here to our children what we claim to be defending ourselves and the world against in other countries. And they are hell (or heaven, not sure after seeing this) bent on spreading a pretty un-Christian message, of recruiting children pretty damn early, and brainwashing a huge amount of people.
We are and will be forced to fight an irrational, self-righteous, and tenacious soon-to-be enemy within. I shouldn't use the word enemy, because that makes it sound like War.

We've been on a kick of watching documentaries.
Supersize Me freaked me out a bit.
Fahrenheit 9/11 got me thinking.
Born Into Brothels made me want to fly to India and rescue children in droves.

But this. This just has taken hold and won't let go. This group, this movement has grown to numbers I had no idea, so quickly, so silently - almost undetected. And maybe it's me with my head in the sand. I knew it was out there, as I've said someone close to me is in it.
I don't know how this nation can do a massive deprogramming.
I just don't how we could find a way to stop this thing.


Sunday Afternoon Song of the Moment

I'm a little late pulling this one together. As I have been out of the loop, with finding new music lately, I'm pulling an old one out and dusting it off.

I've talked in-depth of my love for Bob Marley & the affectionate, warm memories that the music conjures up - the fact that these songs were my lullabies, basically. My dad played Bob non-stop. And I believe I am all the better for it. We watched documentary videos about Bob that my dad had in his library. I haven't seen those videos in years.

I still listen to these songs frequently. On a daily to weekly basis. I never tire of them. They balm my soul, they make me happy, they make me think, they make me feel. These songs course through me, like my blood through my veins. That is how much they are apart of me.

When I decided to search for this song on Youtube (thinking it would not be difficult to find), I almost felt as if I were cracking open a sacred time capsule of sorts. These videos are so sacred - the fond, happy memories that are wound up and tied to them. And when I played this video, which I haven't seen in an excess of twenty years, I was all chills, on the verge of tears, and smiling like I haven't smiled before. I remember this video/song vividly. I remember thinking how serene, happy, and genuine Bob looked. I remember thinking that if I could go anywhere at that moment, I would love to be transported to that video. To be near him, to feel his smile upon me like sunshine, to giggle and laugh like I never have before. To feel the peaceful, joyful childlike, blinded love and concern that was synonymous (in my mind) to Bob. In a safe, little place where we could all feel happy and beautiful for our likes and differences. Because, well, we all are. To feel childhood. If only for three to four minutes . The childhood that I had to leave behind when my family fell apart. The childhood I had only when I was with my Dad.
These songs, these videos will always hold the nearest and dearest part of me. And the endless hours listening and enjoying with my Dad.

Oh, and besides the shots of his beautiful smile. My favorite part is the end. Where he's dancing his signature dance...and leading the children. Like the pied piper. To a better place.

I hope you enjoy today's song. Is This Love by: Bob Marley and the Wailers


When Horizontal Parenting Goes Awry

It's Saturday morning. The weather is beautiful. And we're all lazing about. Taking the day in stride. Rav & I are trying to decide what to do with the kids today. He is horizontal on the couch. I am vertical in the computer chair - which is not much of an improvement over the horizontal position. We leave the kids doing this:

They are coloring peacefully together. Connor even referred to them being twins. All seems right with the world. Rav & I decide to take our conference upstairs to the private confines of the bedroom. It seems our agendas were different. I wanted to get down to the business of deciding our activities for the day and well, Rav wanted to get down to busy-ness. Determined CEOE ( Chief Executive of Everything) that I am, I was not having it. So, he relents. And we just lay in each other's arms and not making decisions. Just enjoying the quiet moment together.

Hmmm. It is very quiet. And then........

Connor & Gracie come bounding up the stairs. There is electric excitement in those heavy footsteps and lilts in their voices. And I know we're in for it.

The view from the horizontal parenting position:

What is that square with the lines on his belly, you ask?

Skeleton bones, Connor replies.

I know Jess at OTJ would be so proud of our horizontal parenting skills.

As I type this Rav is bathing the fruits of my children's artistic labor off of their bodies. And probably wondering where in the hell I am.

Maybe we should take the kids to an art museum today.

Tabba's Take on My Sister's Keeper

This is what has been keeping me away from blogging. Well, this and the beautiful, sunny, warm weather we are (finally) experiencing here on the East Coast.
A friend lent this to me and I promised I would read it as soon as my classes were done. My last class ended last Thursday and as soon it was over, I picked up this book.
I'm sure many of you probably have read this one already. I'm slow to keep up with books (as evidenced by the books that are in my sidebar - and have been sitting in my sidebar for what, like 6 months now?).
Reading the description of the book on the back cover, I was like, meh. But this book kept me engrossed from the first page to the last. Not many authors can do that. Not only that, I get sick of the same old, depressing stories. And while this book was rather sad, it also tackled a current-day moral/ethical topic. Jodi Picoult could weave words and write raw, human emotion like none that I have read recently.
Lastly, I'm a sucker for a cheeky, precocious female character. This book did not fail to deliver that in Anna, the main character.
This all being said, I really do hate book reports. As you can probably tell by my awkward, meager writing of this. But the book was too good for me not to share my thoughts about it with you. I can't imagine Denguy rushing out to buy it - or any other guy for that matter (although, I'm trying to talk Rav into reading it. I wouldn't label it as a "chick" book, but rather a book about a relevant social issue), but I do recommend it.



Last week, there was a story on our local news station about an 18 year old "man" who murdered his girlfriend's 3 month old baby girl. The baby girl was left in his care while she (the girlfriend) worked. He brutalized that baby. He panicked. And left.
The girlfriend came home, found a blood stain on the bed. And no one home. No boyfriend. No baby. She panicked. I believe she called the police and/or the hospitals in the area. A short time later, the baby was found dumped somewhere like a tattered, tired mattress or an old, shredded tire.

You hear stories like this all of time (sadly enough) if you watch the news on a regular basis.
And when I heard this one, I shook my head, felt sick to my stomach, and said to Rav, "I feel absolutely no mercy for someone like that." To which he replied, You shouldn't.
I think he saw through to what I was really trying to say which was I wish that I could find it within myself to have the capacity to show mercy to this young man, who probably has never had mercy bestowed upon him.

And this is what has gotten my wheels turning about mercy.
And how I like to think that I am a compassionate and forgiving person.
But at the root of it all, I must not be.
I have come in contact with what I believe to be closet sociopaths who probably can't help themselves - or they are at the very least chronic assholes. And though they are quite obviously ailing and hurting, I cannot find it in myself to forget. Let alone forgive them entirely. I cannot find the well of mercy that I know is buried deep within myself.
Quite frankly, if they are not the sociopaths that I think them to be, and if they have any ounce of human kindness, the punishment I hand over by withdrawing from them is nothing to the punishment they inflict upon themselves.

It is quite difficult to define and discuss mercy without bringing religion into it. And the only way I really can discuss it is by using the modern English definition which is to say that mercy involves compassionate behavior on the part of those in power and authority over another. Pardoning someone. It is wisdom tempered with compassion. In the Qur'an, Allah says, "My mercy prevails over my wrath". And in Mahayana Buddhism, mercy is the special kindness shown to those who suffer.

Mercy is offered by a government, a governor, a policeman (authority) to an offender.
Mercy is granted by a citizen to someone who has damaged their property by not asking for restitution.
And we can get into a whole gamut of things like mercy killing or mercy drugs....but that is not what I intended here.
It can also be something as simple as walking around the block with your two children in their wagon, on what is supposed to be a lovely spring evening, who are fighting with each other, screaming at each other and a stranger/neighbor sees/hears you threatening your kids with your teeth clenched and as "quietly" as possible that they need to stop or you're going home, from where they sit in their front yard and yells Wait! We have something for you. We love to spoil other people's children.
And they walk out of their home with two lollipops which now occupy both sets of fighting hands and yelling mouths.
They have bestowed mercy. They have something (lollipop). You have nothing (a lame threat).

It seems that mercy is a distribution of power. Power that many (including myself) are reluctant to give. For whatever reason, when we feel we are wronged we often lack the wisdom to look beyond ourselves. We lack the wisdom to, rather, search deep within the other person and the circumstance and past the act. Instead, we wrap ourselves in our blankets of anger and power. Despite the fact that you (not you or we, but rather a collective) have been the recipient of mercy along your journeys. Despite the fact that you are no more or no less worthy than anyone else. I think many of us are so reluctant to give it because it possibly "costs" you something. We, at times, feel that we have so little control over various things in our own lives/world. And given the chance to execute mercy, we choose not. And this is especially true of those who have suffered (and we all have in varying degrees). Those that have been so degraded, minimized, and treated so poorly. The only ounce of dignity that they think they have left is within the power they think they possess over another. And some of us just choose to dangle our power, in an attempt to elevate ourselves while we kneel and dig our knees into someone else's back.

It's all about claiming these small little victories for ourselves. The world outside our homes (and even inside of some of our homes) can be so cut-throat. And we are no longer teaching ourselves and our children mercy. And we lack the wisdom to carry it out.

Now granted that when we're talking about bestowing mercy on a criminal, that could mean giving them life in prison rather than the death sentence. But the thing is, has anyone offered that criminal any mercy way back the line? When it really mattered to them? Some of these people are so incredibly broken to begin with. And if I were to ask Rav about offering his clients mercy, he would probably feel like, "What's the point?" When he sees destructive behavior time and again. - Though I know he does offer it in varying degrees, to the best of his ability.
In the end though, that's not up to our ultimate judgement. That is up to someone/thing else.

I think about the mercy that is bestowed upon us everyday in regards to the sun continuing to shine despite the thick layer of toxic cloud that hangs in our atmosphere. The fact that the trees continue to grow and produce oxygen despite the fact that we harvest plentiful forests, farmlands and greenways. Not to mention pollute the soil. The fact that we are able to eat and drink despite the fact that we continue to pollute drinking water and the soil our crops grow in.
We are repeat offenders.
Just like many that are behind jail cells.

I'm still struggling with my instant feeling of rage against that young man who committed that sick and brutal crime. And quite frankly, while what he did is horrible, I am not in a position to offer him mercy. Rather I need to keep in my mind my own feelings of rage and to quiet them. I need to stop and think wisely. I am sorry though for whatever wrong that has happened to him to force him to make such a horrid decision. I am not saying that we should all play victim - and not take responsibility. Quite the contrary.
But what I'm slowly trying to come to grips with is that handing over mercy is not necessarily handing over power to someone else. At the basic root of it all, it's simply sharing something. And we should give each other the chance, when we can...to see what that person will do with it. If they will take it for the gift it is and pass it on to someone else. (I am constantly reminded of the Bishop and Jean Valjean). In the end giving it should not be looked at something that will hurt us or take away from us. Instead we have done well by offering it to someone who needs it. And save the everybody's bill comes due part for the higher power to do that.

This is all a great lesson to me. And I thank you for letting me try and work it out on here. I'm not even sure that I've touched on anything that I had intended to. Maybe this is just a starting point.


Hang Tight

Look, I can't take the pressure. I'm out of school for now. And I'm giddy with freedom. My head is spinning because the weather is nice, there are things to be done outside. Then there are so many books to to be read. There are two quilts that need finishing. And one very important post I've promised to write.
About mercy.

So, have mercy on me. I've been slacking here. I've been enjoying my free time (maybe a little too much). Just hang tight. Though I can't imagine you're dangling on the edge of your chair waiting for me to write this.
It's just that I made a promise. I have to keep up my street cred.

Yeah, like I had any to begin with ;)