Category Archives: Social Commentary

To Those Given Much

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked” (Luke 12:48).

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This past week I’ve received two messages from friends of friends looking for donations to fund medical expenses. Both of these direly ill individuals are young people, one in her twenties, one in his thirties who is married with two children.

These are not tax deductible contributions as far as I know, they are just pleas for help from others.

Sometimes I wonder where my money goes. I look back at my life and at all the frivolous things I spent money on when I didn’t think I’d ever have to be concerned about the steady flow of cash. Foolish, foolish me. Back then I tried to imagine how it could all be gone. Turns out my imagination wasn’t that good.

Someone told me once that money is merely another form of energy. I can’t quite wrap my head around that. I wasn’t raised surrounded by money, but I sure didn’t mind having a generous supply of it. Money represents security in a way. Freedom to a certain extent. But along with money comes responsibility and its own set of headaches. Mostly those involve how to hang on to the money you’ve got.

Recently I got caught by one of those traffic cams while making a right-hand turn on a red light without stopping. $158 fine. I was not happy. I’m a good driver. How dare the government grab $158 of my hard-earned money for such a small infraction. No one was hurt. I didn’t cut off anyone’s right of way.

But when you hear the stories of these gravely ill individuals fighting for their lives or even some semblance of a “normal” life, you know in a heartbeat they’d trade places with you and be glad to even drive a car again and gladly pay a stupid traffic ticket. They may not have the chance to have children or raise the children they already have. It sort of puts it in perspective.

Good health is a gift I’m thankful for every day. I am also thankful for my car, my job which provides me with health insurance at a reasonable rate, my family and my friends. I try never to forget how blessed I am and how miniscule many of my “problems” are in view of many, many others’ situations.

So I have a traffic fine to pay. Big deal. There’s money for that. So how could there not be money to help someone in genuine need? To those who have been given much, much will be expected.

Check out the links to Heather and Eric.
http://www.gofundme.com/cfqkdo
http://www.gofundme.com/cnvtzw

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Anti-Social Media

“Support polygamy.  More available guys for the rest of us.”

That’s a Tweet I didn’t post.  Couldn’t get the wording quite right.  I thought it was funny.  My daughter was appalled.  I said, “Look at it this way:  if some guy marries four women, that takes them out of the competition for the pool of men still out there.”  She said, “Yeah, but what about those four women?  Don’t you care about them?”  Um, not really.

I figure any women foolish enough to share a guy with several other women and any guy foolish enough to think he can keep multiple women satisfied deserve each other.  I’m not in the dating pool myself, but from what I’ve heard there’s a dearth of decent, heterosexual datable men and the competition for them is tough.  Anything, that improves the odds for the women out there looking, I’m all for it.

(This was an unfinished blog/thought when I accidentally hit the publish button instead of the save draft button, and now it’s already gone out as a FB and Twitter post so even though I deleted it to finish that unfinished thought at a later date, that left a blank page for anyone looking to read more.  At first I thought who cares, no one reads my blog posts anyway, but now I think there are no accidents so I might as well post what I wrote.  This is it. Me and technology, a love/hate relationship.)

When I Was A Bully

ajtillock2013 012Her name was Marie.  We were in first grade at a Catholic School in a small Midwestern town.

It doesn’t matter where we were or how old we were.  My classmates and I were bullies.  We weren’t just mean we were cruel.  I wasn’t friends with Marie, but I’ve never forgotten her.  She had red hair and freckles, that’s what I remember most clearly about her.  Why she was our target, I have no idea.  But every day as we stood in one line or another, if we didn’t cross our fingers in time, we’d catch Marie Mason’s* cooties.

I’d started first grade two weeks late after a cross country move.  I was at a loss, a very young six and nothing much made sense to me at the time.  Somehow I had to catch up and fit in and keep pace with all these other six-year-olds who knew what was what and who was who while I hadn’t a clue.

I desperately wanted to fit in and make friends, I suppose.  I wasn’t a confident child.  Not one with a lot of self-esteem.  Not a leader by any means.  When I look back now I feel like I was standing still while everything whirled around me.  It isn’t an excuse to say I just didn’t get it, but that’s how it felt.

I knew I was being mean to Marie, of course.  I knew we all were. “Marie Mason’s cooties.”  To the best of my recollection she was the only girl in class who had cooties.  It was the kiss of death if any of us contracted them.  It was beyond stupid.  Who comes up with this stuff?  Why did we pick on her?  I don’t have any answers.  I wish I could undo the damage our behavior surely did to Marie, but I can’t.

I wish I’d been braver at age six.  I wish I’d had some self-confidence.  I wish I hadn’t been afraid.  I wish I’d understood that “popularity” is meaningless.  I wish I’d had someone at home I could have asked about it, someone who had explained it to me or told me what to do.

When you’re six and you feel like you’re out there in the world on your own, you do the best you can because you don’t know how to do any better.  It isn’t that you don’t know any better.  I knew.  But I was scared.

I can analyze and justify my behavior now but there is no excuse or justification for the way I behaved then.

Does an apology fifty years after the fact mean anything?  I doubt it.  But I’ve found Marie’s address and I want her to know I’m sorry I went along with the crowd.  I’m sorry I didn’t stand up for her.  I’m sorry.  I’m sorry.  I’m sorry.

*not her real last name

visit me at http://www.barbarameyers.com

Follow my infrequent posts on Twitter @barbmeyers and @ajtillock

Don’t be a bully and don’t raise a bully.

#bullying

The Myth of “Happily Married”

There’s no such thing as happily married.  There.  I’ve said it.

There’s the illusion of happily married.  A pretense, if you will that we all buy into.  We are all convinced that our marriage will be different, better, happier, than that of our peers, our parents, or anyone else we wish to compare our relationship to.

Don’t ever believe you know what’s going on inside other relationships.  You only know what you perceive to be.

What there should be is two people capable of finding their own happiness without each other and then deciding to spend their lives together.  What there shouldn’t be is two people getting married and expecting their spouse to provide an endless supply of happiness to them.

Why do we expect to be happily married anyway?  What is this myth we’ve created over the last fifty or seventy-five years that if we aren’t happy in our marriage something is wrong with us (or more likely the fault belongs to our spouse)?  A generation or two ago—my parents and their parents and grandparents—no one probably thought about whether they were happy, married or not.  Who had time?  Divorce was rare in my grandparent’s era and uncommon in my parents.’   They accepted what was and resigned themselves to a future with the spouse they’d chosen.  They may have been less than content but walking away wasn’t the answer.  Even in my own childhood, schoolmates whose parents were divorced was relatively rare.

In what other area of your life are you compelled or expected to be happy?  Your career?  Do you know how many people hate their jobs?  You say, yes, but they can change jobs, so why not life partners?  Yes, why not?  I’m not happy with this job, I’ll go work somewhere else.  I’m not happy with this partner, I’ll find another.  What’s the difference?  What IS the difference?

What else can you be unhappy with?  A car?  A house?  A pet?  All expendable.  All switchable.  So why not spouses?

Why not dissolve a marriage?  Especially if there are no children involved.  Trading in a car doesn’t connotate failure in a choice so why does divorce?

I started out writing this blog with a conclusion in mind and a point to prove only to discover I’d talked myself out of it which surprised me.

After a discussion with my wise, married, twenty-something daughter, I became even less sure of the point I wanted to make.

We agreed that a divorce has less impact if no children are involved.

If children exist, you’ve created an obligation bigger than yourself and you owe it to them your best effort to maintain a family unit in which to nurture them to the best of your ability.  Your “need” to be “happy” comes after their right to a decent childhood.

Is it better if divorce occurs when kids are older?  I don’t think so because then it’s like they’ve lived through a lie their entire lives.

What if you marry someone and you realize you want completely different things in life?  Compromise is the only answer there, assuming you both want to stay together.  (Why didn’t you iron out these “big” life issues before you married?)

A “happy” marriage can only occur when two people who realize they are responsible for their own individual happiness decide they want to be life partners and that their existence will be enhanced by the constant presence of the other.

An unhappy individual is not going to magically discover another person who can “make” her happy.  That’s a myth.

“I want to make someone really happy.”  Those are the words of a woman in tears who just got the boot from television’s  The Bachelor.  Too bad for her.  She bought into the myth.

Romance novels always offer HEA’s.  Visit me at www.barbarameyers.com

Follow my infrequent posts on Twitter @barbmeyers and @ajtillock

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Fiscal Cliff My Ass

I am so sick of hearing about the fiscal cliff and paying my fair share.  I’ve paid my fair share, okay?  My whole life, I’ve paid my taxes.  Whatever was withheld and then some.  I’ve never asked for or needed government assistance.  I WORKED, okay?  My husband WORKED.  My kids WORK.  They pay their bills and that includes health insurance, or they go without.  So don’t tell me I didn’t pay my fair share.

Fiscal cliff?  Gee, what caused that?  Government spending.  They want to raise taxes to provide more revenue because they’ve run out of money.  Only problem with that scenario is the more money they rake in in taxes the more money they waste.  The ONLY reason for the federal government to raise taxes is so it can spend more money.  This is a case of physician heal thyself.  The federal government will never stop raising taxes to pay bills it creates.  When’s the last time you heard about cutting spending?  Or getting rid of duplicate government programs?  Maybe you heard about it in conjunction with sequestering which is when the government forces itself to make arbitrary budget cuts, probably because they didn’t raise taxes quickly enough to cover the expenses of a certain department. 

Idiots!  The only reason taxes go up is to increase the size of government.  Does anyone understand anything about how the economy works?  Think about this:  WHY does the government need to grow any more?  My reply is, “it doesn’t.” 

Raise taxes on the wealthy because they don’t pay enough in taxes.  I have heard this so many times I’m ready to puke.  This is something I actually understand because I am married to a man who worked fifty-hour weeks for thirty-plus years.  He/we made investments.  Look at it this way:  You get a paycheck.  Part of your gross income is removed from it off the top to pay for federal income taxes.  At the high end of the tax bracket you might be paying 35%.  More than a third of what you earned is gone.  If you get a bonus, it’s taxed.  If you use some of your net pay (remember you’ve already paid federal income tax) to buy stock (invest in a U.S. company that provides jobs for workers) and then you later sell that stock, you are taxed (again) if you made a profit (capital gains) of 15%.  If you die, your estate (all the wealth/property you accumulated by working hard and investing) is TAXED AGAIN at something like 50%.  Who does this affect the most?  The wealthy.  The people who worked hard, created businesses of their own perhaps, the ones who provided jobs for the rest of us, the ones who are ALREADY PAYING THE HIGHEST PERCENTAGE of taxes.  Yes, let’s penalize them AGAIN for being successful.  

If that doesn’t take away the motivation for anyone to work hard, acquire wealth, be successful, live the “American Dream” I don’t know what does.  Why should you?  Why should anyone when the federal government will come in and take it all away from you in one form or another? 

Meanwhile, how many?  Let’s all say it together:  47% of Americans don’t pay federal income tax.  They are the takers, some of them living on entitlement programs from cradle to grave.  Why not when citizens like you and me, along with the federal government make it so easy for them?

Homeless Girl

Earlier this week as I drove along through the shopping plaza parking lot on my way to work I passed a woman and a little girl holding a cardboard sign. I was almost past them when I glimpsed them and I couldn’t see what their sign said. It’s unusual to see such a sight in the rather upscale area where I live and work, so after I parked I hiked across the parking lot to find out why they were there.

They were gone!

In the less than a minute it took me to park and start walking back in their direction they had vanished. I couldn’t remember exactly where I had seen them. I glanced at the parked cars and in all directions, but they were gone. When I couldn’t find anyone else who had seen them, I began to wonder if I’d imagined them.

Later in the week when I got together with my song-writing partner, we decided to work on a happy song. Our session didn’t go exactly as we planned and we were both frustrated with our inability to write “happy.” I wonder if maybe we’ve seen too much of life.

I came home and wrote the start of lyrics to a decidedly less than happy song or maybe it’s just a poem, but so far it goes like this:

Homeless Girl Song (A Work in Progess)

I wish I could just disappear
I hope no one I know sees me here

But mommy says this is the only way we’ll eat
And tonight we’ll need a place to sleep

I stand by her side and hold the sign
She keeps telling me everything will be fine

I don’t believe her she’s said that before
Good thing for her I’m not keeping score

A man in a truck comes over to talk
He and my mom go for a short walk

He says something to her then gestures at me
She shakes her head sadly and then the man leaves
***

Visit me at http://www.barbmeyers.com
Follow me on Twitter @barbmeyers or @ajtillock or both

Blitzed by Bejeweled

On December 23rd I made the mistake of asking my daughter what game she was playing on her iPhone. “Bejeweled,” she replied. “Want to play?”
Frankly, she should know better than to entice me into something so addictive. I had been perfectly happy up to that point not knowing what Bejeweled was. Oh sure, I saw the posts of my Facebook friends and their scores of this and various other games. I’ve had my ups and downs with Facebook anyway and tend to hide my friends who do nothing but post their game scores, because frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn. And I’d much prefer they not know my pathetic Bejeweled scores, although whether I successfully blocked it, I’m not sure.
That first night I played long after my daughter left for the night. She kindly left her phone with me, but eventually it ran out of juice. Like a true addict I dug through her suitcase searching for her phone recharger, only to realize her phone recharges through her computer. I now am amused by the thought that even if I had been able to successfully recharge the phone, how would I ever have navigated through her apps to find the game on my own?
She later explained the game is available on Facebook and don’t you know I downloaded it ASAP. On Christmas Eve, long after gifts were opened and family had departed, I stayed up until 2 a.m. playing this ridiculous game that I don’t understand and am not very good at. Why, then, am I addicted?
I do believe we all have some form of addiction. For years I was addicted to crossword puzzles courtesy of my friend Sandy. Then, after my friend Lynn explained Suduko to me, I did those puzzles constantly. I still attempt the daily one in the newspaper when I have time. But now I’m on to something new and I have no idea why.
I justify it by telling myself it’s no worse than watching TV for hours at a time, which frankly, I do only if I’m reading as well or playing a card game on my laptop. Sometimes I even work out while watching mindless entertainment shows.
But now that I’m addicted to Bejeweled, I just sit in front my desktop computer and play again and again and again. I think I’ve worn out the hint button because much of the time I can’t see the big picture. I have this idea that the gremlins inside the game are laughing at me when they hint at a possible move. They are saying things to each other about me. “What an idiot.” “Man she’s slow.” “Why does she bother?”
These are all the things I say to myself. I don’t understand the coins system, the explosions, what makes all those extra points add up after the game is over. I honestly haven’t a clue why I can sit mindlessly playing such a ridiculous game while telling myself I could be doing so many other things with my valuable time. Yet there I sit.
Good thing each game is only one minute. My morning so far has gone something like this: game of Bejeweled; sip of coffee. game of Bejeweled; sip of coffee. Last night it went something like this: game of Bejeweled; handful of caramel corn; game of Bejeweled; handful of caramel corn. My daughter evidently has decided to encourage all my bad habits. Where do you think I got the big tin of caramel corn?
I keep thinking Bejeweled is a metaphor for my life: Most of the time I don’t understand what’s going on, yet I keep muddling through it, trying to figure out my next move. I receive helpful hints along the way although I’m not always quick enough to pick up on them. Just when I think I’ve got it figured out, a big sign is going to flash and tell me time’s up.

visit me at http://www.barbmeyers.com
#postaweek2011

Everyone Should Have A Son

Amendment to above statement: Everyone should have a son like mine.
The poor kid. He was the first, the oldest, our guinea pig because new parents know nothing, absolutely nothing about raising children. I look back at all the mistakes I made with him, the regret I have about things I did or didn’t do and it makes me sad. He turned out better than okay in spite of the inept parenting he received, which has more to do with who he is than it does with me.
I wasn’t a very nice mother when he was little. I’m afraid, if I hadn’t pulled back in time, I’d have followed in my own mother’s footsteps. Thank God that didn’t happen. When my son was maybe three, I’d spanked him for something, I forget what, and I thought I was becoming borderline abusive. I asked my husband how he could let me do that. When I apologized to my son I told him sometimes I just didn’t know what to do. He looked at me with tear-filled brown eyes and said, “Just be nice to me.” I don’t think I ever spanked him again. Who knew a three-year-old was qualified to offer parenting tips? But the truth is, at that young age, he made me a better mother.
After that when I thought I might lose it, the best thing I could do was send him to his room so I could vent my rage elsewhere. Yes, my children will tell you, I might have slammed a door too hard or put a dent in the drywall a time or two. But better to vent on inanimate objects than on them.
I don’t know now if I was the kind of mother my son needed. One of the biggest mistakes I made as a parent was giving my kids too much freedom. I didn’t ask enough questions and I didn’t follow my gut instinct when I should have. They made life-changing mistakes I will always think I could have prevented if I’d been tougher and stricter and less trusting of them as teenagers. But I can’t undo it now. Like most life lessons, once you learn them, you never need them again.
My parenting was a result of my own childhood. That feeling that I never got to do anything. That I was always told no. I didn’t want to be that way with my kids. So I said yes much too often and to their detriment. But they survived in spite of it, and I hope learned whatever lessons they were meant to learn.
When I say my daughter is a better version of me, my son and I have actually talked about how he is a better version of his father. He has the same intelligence, the same work ethic, the same drive and ambition. But in my son, many of his father’s sharp edges are softened. He has the kind of warmth that draws people to him. He’s interested in helping others see their own potential. He’s a natural leader who can lead with integrity and honesty. He’s not afraid to be who he is, but he doesn’t have to toot his own horn. He’s simply quietly confident.
When he was little, what I remember about my son is he never feared joining in. If I took him to a playground, he’d go play with the other kids. He was always doing something, often making up games for the neighborhood kids to play, creating goals and rules. I guess he still does that in a way, in his own life and in his career.
And he can write. He could always write. Oh, and like his father, he has such a memory. For facts, figures, things he’s read. Sports trivia. An almost photographic memory which I envy.
He has a natural talent for hospitality and for business. He gets what makes a business work, what makes it successful. He understands people, how to motivate them, how to discipline them without breaking their spirit. How to bring out the best in them.
He has said when he was in school, especially high school, he treated everyone the same. He wasn’t mean and he wasn’t a snob. Which is a good thing because he lives in the same area where he grew up and he runs into a lot of those same people on a daily basis.
He’s taken unconventional paths to get to where he is now, but I think that was what he had to do. He had to do it his way.
There’s nothing better than having a son you can be proud of. Someone you admire. A son you enjoy and who brings you joy just by being who he is. That’s why you want to tell everyone, “He’s mine.”

Created February 20, 2011, by Barbara Meyers

In The Eyes of the World

If you can’t be beautiful, develop a great smile

If you can’t be thin, be healthy

If you can’t be clever, be kind

If you can’t be famous, be humble

If you hate lies, speak the truth

If you’re filled with self-pity, learn to be thankful

If you can’t give advice, be the shoulder to cry on

If you can’t be funny, learn how to laugh

If you can’t be rich, learn how to give

If you can’t be successful, learn to be content

If you don’t understand, learn how to ask

If you can’t help, learn to stay out of the way

If you can’t donate, pray

If you’ve been wronged, learn to forgive

If you’re no longer young, share the wisdom of your years

If you wish you were someone else, try being yourself

If you don’t believe God did his best work when he created you, learn to believe.

#postaweek2011

www.barbmeyers.com

Job Opportunities Available

Federal Government Job Opportunities will exist for qualified individuals in the next election cycle.  You could be right for one of these jobs!  See partial list of preferred qualifications below:

College degree preferred but not required.  We are especially interested in those applicants with law degrees or who have held positions as instructors at well-established universities.  Entrepreneurs, CFOs, those with business experience in the real world, or anyone possessing an MBA need not apply.

For all openings, we prefer applicants possess the following set of skills and abilities:

Must be able to lie convincingly, especially to constituents and in interviews with journalists and other media personnel. 

The appearance of a stable personal life is important, but any hint of morality will disqualify you for this position.

Must be willing and able to spend taxpayer’s money irresponsibly.  Voters have come to expect this ability in their elected officials.  Maintaining this standard is paramount.  Fiscally responsible individuals need not apply.

Prevarication.  If you feel compelled to answer direct questions with direct answers, you are not what we’re looking for.

Previous experience at covering up wrongdoing on your part or the part of others is a must for these positions, although when necessary, on-the-job training is provided.

Must be willing to undertake frivolous travel at government expense. 

Basic understanding of economics, wasteful spending, bankruptcy, deficits and accounting is not required.

Some experience using the internet, e-mail, Twitter and other social media outlets is expected, but proficiency in this area is not required.

Preferred candidates will possess excessive amounts of hubris, ego, and immaturity.  Stupidity also a plus.

Applicants will find a sense of humor, especially self-deprecating wit, to be  a detriment.  Stiff-necked snobbery and an attitude of either disdain or condescension is much preferred.  The ability to be patronizing also a plus.

You are not right for this job if any of the following apply:

You are a team player who possesses the ability to compromise especially when it’s in the interest of the voters you represent and the country in general.

You are caring, intelligent, idealistic and believe you can make a difference.

You believe doing what’s best for the country should take precedence over your personal glory. 

Contracts run four or six years depending on position sought and are renewable at the whim of the voters in the state where you live.  Several of our Senators and Representatives have worked a lifetime in these positions.  If this seems like the career for you, we suggest you aspire to their standards.  

To apply please contact your local political party affiliate office.

Note:  If you have held other government positions, especially an unelected (appointed) position, please state so on your application.  Several such “czar” positions are currently available and require no experience or training of any kind whatsoever.  If you subscribe to the theory that it’s not what you know it’s who you know, you may step into one of these newly created positions immediately.

Occasionally I like to take a break from writing novel-length fiction.  If this made you smile, please like or comment.

You can always visit me at www.barbmeyers.com