04 April 2014

A Busybody's Work Is Never Done

Apparently One Handful Of Busybodies* is outraged again at an advertiser embracing everyone. I really wish these dimwits would open their eyes and hearts to see that this big old world and the billions of people who inhabit it aren't here to embrace their dogma or be outcasts.

Nabisco and HoneyMaid's response is stellar. And, I love that the positive responses outnumbered the hate 10:1. Take that, meddlesome cows.*

*Inappropriately named handful of busybodies

23 March 2014

Forgiveness. Perhaps The First Step To Resolution?

Thanks, Joe Heller, for sharing what must be the right way to bid "adieu."

24 February 2014

Did a Truckload of Morons Spill Over on The Interstate?

Michael Sam: Talented. Football Star. Gay. Big deal.

As if we don't have enough religious-zealot-wingnuts trying to Super Glue® church and state together, we now have have another whackjob GOP lobbyist who thinks that the government needs to be a moral compass for the NFL?

There have been all manner of people on both sides of none-of-their-effing-business lobbing turds over the fence at each other regarding Michael Sam, likely top draft pick for the NFL, and the shining star of college football at the moment (All-American and the Southeastern Conference Defensive Player of the Year), because he came out and said publicly, "I'm Gay," after finishing his senior year at Missouri.

Whackjob GOP Lobbyist Jack Burkman
One vocal shithead/asshat/meddling fool is Lobbyist Jack Burkman. He thinks it's time for the government to get involved in how the NFL conducts business because, "Imagine your son being forced to shower with a gay man. That’s a horrifying prospect for every mom in the country. What in the world has this nation come to?”

THIS nation has to come to some conclusions about your stupid, baseless worries, Jack. For instance, A) you're gay and worried about being discovered checking out the other guys in the shower, B) you have tiny junk and are certain that "the gays," with all of their vast experience sizing up junk, would give you an "F" and tell the world about your shortcomings, and C) you've lost your delusional mind. Perhaps it's D) all of the above.

OK. That was a joke. Sort of.

But, Burkman is one of more than a few who are doing everything they can to push back the tidal wave of support for equal rights for everybody, including, in this case, me. Brian Kelsey (R-Tennesee). Eddie Farnsworth (R-Arizona). Cathi Herrod, President, Center for Arizona Policy.

These buffoons are using talking points perpetuated in the media by so-called christians (lower case "c" intended), who feel that their rights are being trampled because I am fighting for mine and finally a majority agrees that I should have them now. According to the Constitution, I should always have had them. But, that's another rant for another day.

You're a christian baker who doesn't want to bake a cake for my wedding because it goes against your beliefs? Fine. Why the hell would I want you to be a part of one of the most important milestones in my life? I don't want your bad juju anywhere near my bliss. So stick a cross in your window so the whole world knows your heart. I'll know exactly what I will do.

Oh, but wait. If you did that, others — "non-gays" — might avoid you too, because that, my friend, is a sign that you have no idea what being a Christian means.

Powerful GOP lobbyist drafts bill to ban gay athletes from playing in the NFL (via Raw Story )

Washington lobbyist Jack Burkman issued a statement saying that his firm, J M Burkman & Associates, is preparing legislation that would ban gay athletes from playing in the National Football League (NFL). In a statement, Burkman wrote that “We are…

27 August 2013

Never Doubt That You Can

I saw this today and felt like it was worth sharing. No other commentary from me needed.

Have a great day, folks!

21 May 2013

Hell, Mary! Where's Your Grace?

I started writing this several days ago. Yeah, you've heard this before.

ADD sucks. Anyway, I reread this and figured I'd let it stand, but now it's changing a little in context. You won't see that until a little later.

Thanks, for checking in and feigning interest.

The dishwasher was ready to be emptied this morning, and in the top rack among the sparkling glass and stainless steel were a couple of my favorite, well-worn coffee mugs. Looking at them, then studying the crowded cabinet where they reside, I had a thought about gifts and how the gracious recipient might deal with perfectly lovely thoughts that are incongruent with his or her design sense, decorating style or the manner in which he or she approaches a typical day.

I thought to myself, I wonder what other people do since I seem to fit in the group that has a house full of stuff that reminds me of those Sesame Street quizzes... none of this stuff looks like the other...

Is it graceful to throw said gift in a closet until one sees an opportunity to regift? Is it more acceptable pass things along to Goodwill after they've collected dust/been dusted for years? Would it be acceptable to donate it within days of receipt?

Usually for me -- particularly when it comes to items designed for specific uses, but are redundant because I already have the same thing in a style I've chosen -- I use the gift seasonally. Maybe it works well as an Easter brunch platter but looks out of place as a Cinco de Mayo chip bowl. Maybe, in cool weather, it works better as a soup mug than a coffee cup.

I read an article that mentions other alternatives for handling unwanted gifts "unless you need to keep the gift around to showcase it whenever the giver stops by your home."

Something about that sentence feels so slimy to me. I know we've all seen the situation unfold on tired sitcoms or heard acquaintances mention hiding something until said giver is coming to visit.

Why can't we just be truthful?

In the past, I've expressed my gratitude and sometimes have offered the gift back with the explanation that I'm switching things around or not using the article anymore. Perhaps the people to which I'm offering these things are exercising more grace than I, but I think I ought to at least offer before I consider one of the previously mentioned alternatives.

Then, there are other times when I've made a complete ass of myself, calling a set of dinnerware I'd been given "tired" in front of the person who gave it to me.

An esteemed colleague of mine has told me more than a handful of times, "just because you're tired of looking at it doesn't make it tired." Of course, this is in reference to the brand and brand guidelines I worked with him to create for a locally revered institution. And, he's right. The thought is applicable here, too, regarding the things we accumulate whether by choice or by gift.

Here is where the context of this post changes: this entry was meant to explore gratitude over arrogance, or grace, when it comes to maintaining order in one's mind versus letting others' interpretation of that place be a part of that order.

Being open. Letting others in.

Being grateful. Being flexible.

Finding beauty in things one may not have been drawn toward without the gentle nudge from someone who wanted to bestow their love in a physical, tangible memento....

I posted on Facebook several weeks ago that our eleven-year-old Boxer, Billie, has been diagnosed with degenerative myelopathy. Within hours of that post a very good friend called me to talk about how he and his husband handled the same exact diagnosis with their baby, Zara.

From what I know, and am now experiencing, it's an ugly disease very similar to multiple sclerosis.

Please, don't be offended by my oversimplifying of either of these maladies that follows. I am not a doctor. I am a complicated, but simple guy, a creative/art director by trade, who has worked for nearly thirty years to research then distill a message to its core and blast it out there for the three seconds' attention I may get from a passerby hoping to keep them interested in staying longer.

If you're still here, thank you. Apparently, I've done something right.

The simple explanation: the protective sheath around nerves deteriorates, making signals from the brain become lost before they end up where they should. In my Billie's case, this means she's losing control of the back half of her body.

In late October or early November, the best I can recollect, I started noticing that her hip/leg function had become a little odd. She was still getting around well, jumping on the bed, doing her normal things. But, as time has progressed, the things Dr. Carol told me to expect (during Billie's annual checkup in January) are coming to fruition.

First, feet dragging. We got rubber booties for protection on our vast concrete patio areas so she wouldn't make herself bleed a second time. As a bonus, they helped with traction on the linoleum and hardwoods indoors.

Then, it was knuckling over. Booties getting stuck on her bed. Doing the splits in the kitchen while waiting for a cookie. Legs getting crossed. Falling down. The look on her face as she fell and landed on her hip in a puddle today, in the rain, just about did me in.

But, she's doesn't appear to be frustrated, either.

I think I may have seen confusion in her face today, though. I try to be reassuring. I tell her "it's OK." I tell her, "go pee pee." She goes, even in the effing downpour that was our gift from the front that destroyed an Oklahoma City suburb. So -- really -- I'm not bitching about the weather in the wildest stretch of any imagination. My heart and prayers are with each an every soul in Monroe. I just hate to see my little girl suffer in the torrent just so she can "go pee."

Because Dr. McCutcheon tells me that Billie isn't in pain, I'm not going to have my usual sign that it's time to return this gift.

I'm going to have to look at this beautiful face one day, and decide when it's time to let her go without any indication from her that she's ready. This once fawn and black but now completely white face, the one that visits me in my office twenty or thirty times a day, head tilted like Nipper, ears up, waiting, that seemingly says, "I'm focused on you so I can be ready to respond gleefully when you finally get your ass out of that chair and follow me to the cookie jar (first) or the back door (last). I love you. Please come with me."

Billie, this gift, is as inquisitive as she's ever has been. For the past eleven years the curious, interested, full-of-life Boxer has been at her core. But, her body is not keeping up. Lately it seems as if the latter is in a wicked, hateful race to abandon her.

I suppose I've said all of this to say, "Grace? Yeah. I've got that -- most of the time." Do I fall down? Youbetcha. Am I now? I'm not sure.

So, I pray, God, give me the grace to know when it's time to express my gratitude for the extraordinary amount of time we've had with this blessed gift, and help me trust when it's time to let her be at peace.

07 April 2013

Happy Birthday, Nano

On what would have been her 95th birthday, I'm happily recalling fond memories of my grandmother, Thelma.

My first thought of her this morning was remembering that she gave us a wake-up call every day for many years so we wouldn't miss the school bus, largely because I would ignore my alarm clock and fall back to sleep. Being the eldest, I was expected to motivate my sisters and brother for the walk (or run) down the street to the bus stop at Becky's driveway where we would wait for (or chase after) bus #307. Unfortunately for her, the chore usually ended up on the shoulders of my more responsible, younger sister, Lisa.

Thinking of those phone calls helped me remember many a weekend spent behind the white picket fence at 1311 East Breckenridge, and how I often wish we could relive those days with her.

Once, when she was standing at the sink shaking a can of V-8 we told her that she was "shaking more than the can". She didn't find any humor in that remark and she made sure we knew it. I'm not positive, but at that moment we may have seen her weapon of choice for dispensing discipline and keeping order: the flyswatter.

Often, after having experienced that rare display of frustration with us, we'd hide behind her black sofa, the kind from the early sixties with silver threads woven into the fabric, to pout or perhaps "make her miss us." One of the long, hipster sofas with a slanted back, it provided a perfect "cave" between it and the wall for three little brats to find refuge.

Because we could be a hard-headed, determined lot, she'd usually come to the living room in order to coerce us out of our isolation, and ask, "Would you like an ice cream and a Pepsi?"

What child wouldn't want a sugar buzz? We'd follow her to her kitchen, where for as long as I remember a bird cage hung from just inside the kitchen door, with a little yellow inhabitant that wouldn't sing songs like Nano had hoped. Oh, it would chirp and make noises in the mornings, but for all of the "practice" with the 45 RPM Hartz Mountain canary records she played, Sunny never produced a song. None of the canaries named Sunny did.

Gathering our "rewards" from her white Coldspot, she'd position us around the kitchen table where we could sit and drink our Pepsi-Colas and eat our swirly chocolate or strawberry ice-cream -- the kind sold ten to a bag at A&P or Kroger in little plastic cups with cardboard lids and wooden "spoons" -- leaving space for her to start preparing dinner in anticipation of Papaw returning from his day at Pillsbury. And, more likely, where she could keep an eye on us.

To begin, she'd pull the snap-bead chain of the flourescent fixture on the ceiling. As it flickered to life, she'd fetch a paper grocery sack out of her pantry, carefully tearing it open so it would lie flat on the kitchen table. It was always fascinating to me, watching how she could peel a tomato, an apple, a potato or just about anything with that Old Hickory butcher knife, (one Papaw sharpened so many times that the blade, blackened with years and years of service, had become concave), skillfully leaving a long, unbroken ribbon of skin in a rumpled pile. Watching her with that same knife and a whole chicken was another experience altogether.

"How do you do that, Nannie?" She would just smile and wink.

Once the peeling was done, she'd set in motion the other tasks to put food on the table. And typically, boredom would send us kids back to the console television to watch afternoon cartoons in the living room. In a while, we could smell the fruits of her labor, often accompanied with the rhythmic hiss of the the Mirro-Matic on top of the stove.

After Papaw came home, they'd drink a couple of Blatz beers, no doubt purchased from Jesse Schook's Beer Depot on Kentucky Street near Barret Avenue -- with the foul-mouthed Mynah bird -- and Charms Blow-pops. He'd drink his from the bottle, but she'd pour hers into a glass and sprinkle it with salt from one of those orange and green "Indian" shaker sets.

It seems like I asked her why she salted her beer, and if I remember right, it was to get rid of the "suds." Truth be known, though, she salted a lot of things I would've considered "no-salt" foods until I tried them her way, like watermelon.

I haven't salted my watermelon in decades. I rarely eat watermelon for that matter, but I'd love the chance to do it with her one more time. Happy 95th birthday, Nano.