Peacemonger Mom

My son just enlisted in the military. I'm a peace activist. Why couldn't he have rebelled in some other way, like being republican?

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


I'm trying to get myself motivated to write more, and as part of that, I've decided that Blogger just has GOT to go. I've started a new blog over at wordpress. I hope to see you there.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Yellow Ribbons

I have finally succumbed to the stupidity that is the yellow ribbon. I know, I know, what good does it do for me to put a yellow magnet on my car? Exactly none, except to make some money for the folks in China who make the stupid magnets. My magnets are different, though (don't we always think that about whatever it is that we do? "I'm DIFFERENT, I'm not STUPID like those people, I'm SMART." Sigh). I eschewed the bossy magnets that say, "Support the Troops!" or "Pray for the Troops!" I've always disliked those. Of course you support the troops. Of course you pray (or think about, or send positive vibes to, or healing white light, or whatever spiritual thing you do, if you do that sort of thing) for the troops. It has always seemed a little...presumptuous to me for people to put that on their cars. Ahem, usually on their enormous, gas sucking and troop-endangering SUVs.

My ribbons, however, are different. Mine say, "Keep my son safe," and "Proud parents of a soldier." For some reason I have recently found myself embracing certain aspects of this experience that are decidedly militarized. Maybe "embracing" is the wrong word. "Drawing comfort from," is probably a better way to describe it.

I own a hoodie that says, "ARMY" across the front. I proudly wear the Tshirt that says, "My son is a US soldier." Because yes, I AM proud of TB.

I find this, at best, confusing.

I'm thinking about this, and continue to think about the physicality of motherhood and mothering - I feel like there is something there I am supposed to figure out, some sort of hole I am supposed to fill in.

Then again, it could just be me not wanting to think about the papers that are due, or my contrary and ornery class at Large University, who say things about Women's Studies like, "I don't really care about this, it doesn't effect me."


Yes, life, she is nothing if not entertaining.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Democratic Debate

Call me naive. Call me hopeful. Call me an idiot. Okay, call me a total geek. I cried watching the democratic debate tonight - not because I was upset, disappointed, or anything else. Hearing someone, much less THREE someones, three someones who have the power to make the change, say that there will be an end to the war, an end to the danger that my child will face - oh my, the lightening of my spirit. The possibility that there will actually be an end to this horrible war...I can't even begin to say how awesome this is.

I cannot wait to vote for one of these people. I would love to vote for any of them. It's an embarrassment of riches, it is. I love me some anti-war politicians.

Saturday, December 01, 2007


End of the semester. I'm scrambling, frantically trying to get the grading done. I'm reading my students' blogs (I'd link to my "real" blog, but...well, you know). I love what I do. I can't believe some of the things that the students have written in their blogs. I feel like Sally Field - "you like me, you really do!"

To be able to stand in front of a group of young women, and talk about things that are so important, and then to have them respond...OMG. It's incredible.

I decided to take classes in paralegal technology when I was standing in line (yeah, I know, what can I say, it was the 80's) to register. I just knew I needed a skill that would get me a job, a job that would pay, because I knew, even then, that my time with the Ex wouldn't end well. Hell, I knew that when I was putting the flowers in my hair for our wedding. I'm learning - slowly - to listen to that small still voice that speaks up and says, " DO know, don't you..."

I chose to be a paralegal because I had to make sure that I could support myself, and then TB. The gig at The Firm got me through so much, but that part of my life was about me. That part of my life was about what **I** needed, and what my baby needed. Now, I get to give back. And oh shit, this is about me too! Because I love this. I wouldn't stop doing this if they quit paying me.

I'm totally serious. But don't tell Them.

Hon and I have two completely differing concepts on teaching and what we are doing. He is in it for something other than the benefit of others - not that there's anything wrong with that. :-) He did his time taking care of others.

But what I'm doing - it's incredible, it's important, it's valuable. It makes a difference to these young women.

Do I sound like a total goob? Like a complete moron, just thrilled to be "doing good"? Well, that's just too bad, because I'm "slaving away" in the salt mines of the college world, talking to young women about things that nobody else is. I can't begin to explain how wonderful it feels to stand up in front of a group of people, and talk, and have them LISTEN. Okay, so some of them sleep. But I'm getting so much out of this - it's the best time I've ever had. It's not work, and I've been sitting on the sofa all day, grading, I'm still in my pjs and it's almost 8pm. But this isn't work.

Finding your bliss at the age of 40 is pretty weird, in a way, but then again, not so much.

I love my job. I love my life. If TB would just get transferred to someplace excellent like, oh, I don't know, the North Pole, I'd be thrilled.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Look Out Y'all, It's Gonna Be A Gullywasher of Irritation

Just how the hell does life manage to pull this sort of thing off, anyway? I'm going along, happy as can be that everything is working out well for all the kids (SILy and DQ are about to move out of our living room and into their own place, TB has managed to marry the young lady of his dreams, who probably now should have her own nickname...let's see...DILy seems to fit nicely, one because she's my Daughter-In-Law now and also, well, because she's a real dilly. Ha. Yeah, the humor, she is just pouring from my fingers today). I have had a couple of really great days at school, addressing really important topics with students that can have life changing repercussions for them - and I feel like I did it really well, too. The feeling that yeah, this is what I'm supposed to be doing was as strong as it's ever been. That isn't to say that I feel like I know everything I should know, or that I've done a bang up job all semester. No fucking way, y'all. Just that I felt like I was on the right track, moving in the right direction.

I had been dreading the discussion about domestic violence because I really hate having to talk about that stuff, and lemme tell you, PTSD is a real bitch. So I was not too hip on last week's discussion points for class, but hey. What can you do? But I felt like I did really well, and really hit it out of the park. I kept thinking that all of it, every bit of the awful time I spent with TB's dad, it was all worth it and I wouldn't trade it for anything, because it's what I draw from while I lecture about this topic. I could see the importance of my past in my present and my future.

But - and you knew there'd be one of those, didn't you? - but I'm just underwhelmed about going back to school. I'm not happy with my options here, and I can't seem to focus on a Statement of Purpose. Just reading over the suggestions for drafting an SOP make me gag ("Sell yourself! Think of your personal statement as a persuasive essay or sales pitch. Maintain a positive attitude throughout your essay..."). MAINTAIN a positive attitude?? How about GETTING a positive attitude that I might can possibly maintain? How much of this comes from a general desire not to go back to school? How much comes from frustration over lack of funds? How much comes from frustration over having children living in the living room? Children who speak baby talk, and take to their "bed" (i.e., my sofa) when sidelined by the dreaded and terrible illness, ALLERGIES? For which all manners of medication are summarily rejected, because the Delicate Flower that is her body cannot abide the harsh strength of a Benadryl.

Hmmm. I'm thinking that the move home of the children has a few small down sides to it. Loss of my sanity, being one.

I'm tired of not having any money. There's no way that we can live on what I'm making as an adjunct if I have to start paying back my student loans. I'm giving serious thought to a second job. A second job would, of course, mean that my trip to see TB and DILy would be postponed until...well, until time for him to go to Iraq, at which time I would travel to the base and wave goodbye to my child, wondering if he would ever return, or if he would return altered in ways I can't imagine or understand.

TB continues to mishandle his money, and in typical, guilty mother fashion, I have bailed him out again and again. Our credit cards are maxed out. We are down to our last few hundred bucks and it has to last us through the end of the month. We are living paycheck to paycheck (well, DUH, who isn't these days? Oh right, SILy and DQ aren't. They are SAVING MONEY). By helping TB, I alienate and anger Hon (rightfully so, because I have (a) trashed our own financial situation and (b) not been honest with him). Relationships become strained. Life becomes unpleasant. Weekends are not for resting or relaxing, but are instead long spans of time to be lived through and survived.

TB makes more money now than I do, and certainly makes more money than Hon does. He'll soon make more money himself than we do together. He's plowed through the first installment of his enlistment bonus. I'm contemplating selling plasma.

It becomes harder and harder for me to tell him no, knowing that any day now he could be called overseas, and I might never see him again. And I don't want to turn him down, I want to help him out, because that's what mothers do, isn't it? Help? And make things all better? I'm so frustrated.

And meanwhile, SILy and DQ sleep the days away, whine at each other, and in general make me very unhappy. I've never seen one person nap as much as DQ does. Well, unless you count SILy. All the whining and carrying on in various babyfied ways that is taking place in my living room is not improving my mood, either.

I have taken to reverting to behavior that worked for me when DQ lived with us before. I simply do my best not to be at home as much as I used to. Now when I am not in class or doing office hours, I am at the gym, or at the library, or the Local Tea House, with Handy Wi-Fi. When faced with the possibility of unpleasant interactions, I simply bow out of the equation and concede the space.

I miss my friends. I miss the life I had when I wasn't "making a difference" but was instead making a real paycheck. I miss the life I lead with Hon when it was just us two. I miss our house. I miss our yard. I miss home.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

"This Will Be Fun."

Amazing the strength of one little sentence, isn't it? I am currently in freak out mode (when am I not?) over the upcoming peace conference where I will be presenting a paper in an academic setting for the first time evah. So yeah, a little freaked out. Also, it will be in Newark, New Jersey, and I will be going alone. When I visited with Mom and the kids and we went to the beach, she commented a number of times on the changes in me - not least of which being that I am doing and saying things that she never expected me to do or say. I think this is a good thing, but I'm rather surprised at my behavior and plans too. I have never been one who enjoys the whole public speaking thing (odd choice of professions I've made, then, huh?) and to present a paper, in a city and state where I've never been? A little on the bold side for me, I think. Or at least my mom thinks so. And I do too, sometimes. Sometimes I'm really surprised by the changes these past few years have wrought in me.

I still keep my lip zipped around Certain People, although I know that Certain Person would be surprised, appalled, probably disgusted, certainly (I hope) embarrassed or ashamed, if she knew the hurt she has caused (and why I am so bothered) by her comments and awful Conservative Viewpoints (Homosexuality is wrong, bisexual people are faking, etc. etc. Republican Talking Points and Thoughts on the Apocalypse and the Book of Revelation Go Here, then follow up with vigorous eye and ear scrubbing by PMM). It's just really hard for me to keep my mouth shut with her, even though I know that nothing ends well with her - one cannot argue and win - there is no winning. There is only increasing decibel levels and increasing shrillness. It's just very difficult to enter into a conversation with her and think that you are going to even be able to successfully make a point. So I don't.

But her views on groups of people I care about are hurtful. Driving past a group of Latinos standing in line for a staffing company, she referred frequently to "them" and "they," then went off on a tirade about how her middle school was really rough, and it was because of all "them" standing around near the school, trying to get work, but she would always see all these trailers that "they" lived in with nice cars outside, satellite dishes, etc. Jesus, girl, don't you hear the poison that is spewing out of your own mouth? Aren't you ashamed that you are so xenophobic?

I know that what I do for a living and the subjects I teach are offensive/bothersome to her. She wants to argue with me, I can tell, but it's very difficult to argue with someone who refuses to engage you or your ideals. I just won't do it - we are in too tight of a living arrangement, and I am simply not up to trying to straighten out her pointy little mind.

Hmmm. I seem to have travelled very far afield from my initial idea for this post. I was going to write about how much fun the peace conference is going to be, and how educational, and how I was focusing so much on my own paper, and worrying about that that I had not yet reached a point where I could say, "Yippee! I get to attend this conference!" rather than "Shit, I've got to attend this conference, wow, I wish I could back out." Then I received a very nice email to those attending and presenting about various details, etc., and the writer closed with the sentence, "This is going to be fun."

I apparently need that pointed out to me sometimes. Although when one is swimming in a Kiddie Pool of Negativity, it is just to be expected I suppose.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Stress? What's That?

I seem to be running a real theme here. I am severely stressed. I have scurried off to my empty office on a beautiful Saturday just to get out of the house - not because I'm irritated with TG or SILy (we have had issues before - TG can be rather conservative in her thinking, and I have a tendency to, well, not. Obviously). Anyway, I had to scurry out of the house because I am really tired of having interpersonal contact. We are in a VERY VERY SMALL apartment, and there are the four of us, the dog, their two cats, and their fish tank. I am accustomed to making the morning coffee in the nude. I am not accustomed to keeping my bedroom door closed or having to restrict what I say to Hon. This, as does any sort of big change, has sort of thrown me off kilter.

Add to the mix that I have, again, screwed up our finances. This is becoming a running theme. First there was the credit card that I thought I was paying off, but instead, I sent a $600 check to a credit card with a zero balance on it. Yeah. That was great. Then there was the great drawing I won over Labor Day - $100 off our rent. Well, I had already paid the rent, so the manager says she will shred the check, and I can drop off another check. The first check never got shredded, our account was overdrawn (altho management has said they will cover those charges) and essentially our rent is paid through October and a little ways into November. In that I was paying the water bill as well, and it was almost one month behind (this whole issue of helping TB out with his car really did have ripples that I didn't anticipate), our water bill is now paid probably into the next year.

Adding to this incredible mess is that Hon's time sheet wasn't dealt with at work, and he didn't get paid via direct deposit, but instead via a paper check. Okay, fine. Well, that took a few days extra, and got sent someplace he didn't expect it to be, and thus, didn't look for it there. So yeah. That was neato. Then there was his financial aid. It took longer than we expected too.

So now the financial aid is in, the paychecks are in, all is good, right? Well, because of the issues with money (see long, drawn out barf above), I haven't paid on the credit cards, which we have essentially been living off for a while due to lack of funds over the summer due to the aforementioned assistance offered TB as well as me only teaching the one class so as to finish The Beastis (you knew I'd be able to blame some of this on that, didn't you!). SO! My phone has been ringing at all hours, repeatedly. I had no idea that credit card companies could be so horrible. I mean really. It wasn't like I was a year in arrears. It was ONE MISSED PAYMENT. At the end of the day, I would have 15-20 missed calls on my phone (what, did you think I was going to ANSWER those? Some of the messages they left FRIGHTENED me), and god knows how many calls I missed when I would just shut my phone off out of sheer frustration.

SO! Yes, there's more. So I sit down to try to pay off the cards, once Hon's FA came through. I work it all out, figure it out on paper, then do it online through our bank's website. Through my own stupid mistakes, I overpaid on the cards by about $400.

So we have a houseful to feed, and I've fucked the finances. Great job.