Welcome to the life of an American female. Aimlessly wandering the road of youth and adulthood, she shares her tales of growing pains, discoveries and ideas. There might also be a pinch of happiness, a dash of light, and a micro-amount of wisdom within. The author is not liable for any psychological damages you may incur while reading this blog.

The author put it best when she said, "My humor is like a good martini - extra dry and sometimes served dirty."

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Musings at Tractor Supply

I like Tractor Supply. I like the friendly people, the quaint knick-knacks for sale, and the smell of hay and horse feed. It feels like home. The other day, I had to buy some more dog food, so off to TSC I went. As I stood in line with a 40 lb bag slung over my shoulder, I couldn't help but notice the women at the front of the line...and the entire reason for the long wait that was about to ensue.

They were older women than myself...probably in their 50s. They had very plain, homely appearances, overweight with straw-like hair, and were dressed poorly in plain cotton...nightgowns? I can't be sure of the nature of the dresses, but they were old, faded, and not of a cut/material that would be considered appropriate public wear in most Southern households.

They had several items heaped onto the cashier's counter, and were apparently having some serious communication gaps regarding layaway. They had almost $300 worth of items, and were told they had to put about $73 down to hold the items. One woman looked at the other, a look of total incomprehension on her face and said, "Huh?" The other one practically shouted at her, "$73! You have to pay $73! You know, $60 more than you got! I ain't got it! You ain't got it! What we gone do?!" The manager, poor bloke, was apologizing for the wait, but he couldn't tear himself away long enough to open the other register or call back up, as they cashier had to constantly ask him to input his override code as the women would want to put this back or swap this item or that.

As it turns out, they still had a balance of $48 on a previous layaway that was due in September. "We gone pay that end of this month," said one of the women. The cashier tried to explain that they couldn't open a new layaway account with an old one still in the red. They were still arguing when I finally got checked out and left.

As I watched this display, I noticed what the women were putting on layaway -- Christmas gifts. "Awwww, how sweet," you might be thinking. More like totally unwise financial decisions. They didn't have clothes, boots, or even tools set aside. No, they had a cheaply made clock (full price), calendars ($20 each), and some other various things that certainly weren't worth the price they were...not paying? Paying later? However that works.

These women were clearly poor, perhaps not even operating on all cylinders, but this situation definitely served as some insight on how some people never dig themselves out of the financial hole they are in. Instead, they dig deeper.

These women could have found wonderful and personal gifts at Goodwill, the Salvation Army, thrift stores, consignment shops, the CLEARANCE aisle at Tractor Supply or like stores, yard sales...they could have even made something. Want a calendar? Dollar General, Dollar Tree, and Family Dollar has gorgeous calendars for $1-3 each, not $20. People love gifts, but they wouldn't love knowing you are suffering or facing a crazy debt just to get them a present.

It truly is about the thought you put into it. I know I have appreciated handmade goods, baked goods, and thrift store finds over the years because the item was something I loved and could use. I didn't care if the person spent 50 cents or $50.

Thoughts?

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Why I Refuse to Look at the Leaked Celebrity Photos

I'm sure you've heard about it. Recently, several well-known female celebrities were the victims of a hacking, releasing many of their intimate photos to the public. As far as I know, no male celebrities were targeted. Regardless, I was shocked and appalled at the sheer number of people that a) viewed the photos, b) went in search of the photos, c) shared the photos, and d) made particular comments about the photos.

Some people argued that "If they didn't want them out there, they shouldn't have taken them" or "Well, they should have known better than to keep them in the Cloud." Really? I have many pictures of myself in various states of undress. They are personal, but a hacker could, if they really wanted to, get them off of my computer. No form of technology is truly secure. We all have the right to take whatever pictures we want. We also have a right to privacy, and a right to expect others to respect our privacy. These hackers violated these women's privacy, and those of you that have viewed the photos and/or shared them have furthered that violation.

What disgusts me even more is the commentary following the photo leak, especially on male-dominated talk shows. They rate these women's bodies like meat in the supermarket, calling them "hot" or "surprisingly fit for their age" or "ugh, too soft, she needs to put her clothes back on." I have news for you. These women did not take their clothes of for you. They did not take these photos for you. You are violating their privacy.

Some may make the argument, "Well, many of these celebrities pose in swimsuits or even star in magazines or movies in the buff. So what? That is what they choose to share with you.

These photos being leaked and the subsequent viewing and sharing is a direct violation of privacy, as these celebrities did not voluntarily share them with you.

So for those of you that have furthered these violations, please, go scrub your eyes out with soap. While you're crying bubbly tears, kindly pray that you will never have a daughter and that if you do, no one will ever treat her like these women were treated.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Religion

I know I'm a grave disappointment to my parents as I don't follow their particular religious beliefs. I don't really take to any organized religion. I think they are highly flaws, rely solely on human leadership (usually male), and quickly become absorbed in petty things. So I thought I'd take to this blog and share some of my beliefs.

Science can neither prove nor disprove the existence of a being greater than ourselves. Although we have some indications of how we all came to be on this planet, there is no real answer as to what started the process or what started the process that started that process. The idea of nothingness is beyond our comprehension, as our world exists in the form of matter, energy, and space. Even "nothing" is full of "something" in our world. Therefore, it is not illogical to believe in a higher being, although I doubt it is as we have imagined. (I highly suggest watching Futurama Season 6, Ep 9 A Clockwork Origin.)

Some would argue that their holy book, their religious tome is the only Truth. Whether it's the Bible, the Book of Mormon (cue South Park), or the Qu' Ran, they are all flawed. Why? They were written by man. Each man claimed to have been inspired by a god, whether it was "God," whoever was around that tree for that Joseph dude, or "Allah." You know, the Mayans thought they had it right, too.

I think there's a little truth in every book. I think some people legitimately had visions and saw the future. I think they described it as best they knew how, and that usually meant giving it a supernatural twist, because what they saw was NOT natural for the time and place in which they were. Think about it. If you are living in the middle of the desert in say....82 A.D., and you have a vision of drones and nuclear warfare, my goodness, you have just seen the apocalypse. Better yet, if you lived in 200 BC and had a vision of modern fashion, you'd also have seen the apocalypse. It is the end of the world as you know it.

I believe you have to take those books with a grain of salt. There are many wonderful lessons and values in each of them, but they are not absolute.

I'll go on to say that I don't believe in heaven or hell as many think of it. Bear with me here.

See, I think we were given a gift. We were given a paradise. The Earth, many years ago, was beyond beautiful. We had so many interesting and wonderful (and sometimes deadly) creatures that roamed the Earth, and there was food aplenty. We were given a task -- don't screw it up.

When I see people sporting those "not of this world" stickers, I get mad. That is a delusional and destructive mindset. We ARE of this world. We are flesh and we are bone. When we die, we disintegrate back to dust and to ash. Our bodies should replenish the Earth with energy and matter that will cause other things to grow and flourish in our wake. Instead, we box our bodies in caskets and plastics and embalming fluid. We refuse to burn our dead for fear of "eternal damnation." We fill the Earth with cold boxes, depriving it of our nourishing wasted bodies.

Believing that we are not of this world means that we also can shed ourselves of guilt for using/tossing our plastics, littering, overusing, and wasting. Because, after all, this isn't OUR world, it's the world for the sinners, right? Wrong. This world is a gift. It is beautiful, and it can be paradise. We humans can do that. We were given the capability to make it a wonderful, peaceful place. Do we do that? No. We are making it hell. We are all guilty of making huge carbon footprints. We waste water, we use harsh chemicals, we overeat, overspend, and abuse the Earth.

Think of the places that are inhospitable to humans -- places covered in smog, places where you can't see the sun, places where it's unbearably hot or cold, where nothing grows...were they always that way, or can you trace their origin back to man's doing?

Our constant demand for more, our insatiable greed is destroying the air we breathe, poisoning the water we drink, and eroding the ground from beneath our feet.

If we could all make changes, no matter how small, and continue to grow and change to clean up our Earth, we could again have a paradise.

Think about it.

Earth could be our heaven, but only if we make it so.

Cue the quoting of religious texts in 5, 4, 3, 2....

Saturday, July 19, 2014

10 Things You Should Actually Expect...When You're Done "Expecting"

Of course, there are some things you just expect to happen when you become a parent. You expect to have an earlier bed time, an earlier awake time, and your house to be a little more chaotic. Other things might just take you by surprise...

1. Expect to become flakier. If you weren't good at keeping plans before, you might as well throw in the towel for good. Even the best laid plans can come to naught in the wake of a child. Baby's schedule gets off, nap runs late...stormy weather...teething fussiness...you name it. Some say you have to make a choice -- be a crappy friend and a good parent or vice versa, but I say good friends understand that your flakiness isn't a personal reflection on your friendship, but rather a symptom of parenthood. Flake on.


Take a nice picture? Never.

2. Expect to lose inhibitions. Silliness happens, and it's silliness that often makes your little one giggle. You think crack is addictive?? I kicked my crack habit the moment I heard my baby laugh. [Disclaimer: I have never done crack. I do not plan to do crack. I do not condone the doing of crack. Stop doing crack. Drugs are bad, mmmkay?] ANYWHO, you'll find that you'll do...well, just about whatever to hear that baby giggle again, even if it means shaking your head back and forth and making sounds like a dog that's lost its bark.

3. Expect to disregard modesty. Modesty? What's that? Haha. When your baby starts screaming in their bed while you're trying to shower, you don't care what you look like as you barge out to see what ails the tiny one. Wet carpet? It'll dry. Half-shampooed hair? Wear a ponytail. Guests scarred for life? That's what therapy is for. 

We can hang.
4. Expect to find yourself sacrificing your "mad money."  While we're totally house poor (as in, bills are paid, food is on the table, but no, I don't have the money to go out for the night), I do like to save up a little here and there to eat out for lunch or to buy something I've had my eye on for awhile. I've found those things are a lot less important than getting that cute pair of baby pajamas that are on sale, or that teething pacifier, or that adorable giraffe... I'll just eat beans and rice again for lunch, haha.

5. Expect that the public won't understand gender. Boys wear blue, girls wear pink with hair bows, end of story. If you're like me, you balk at these traditional ideals. I like to dress our little girl in all sorts of colors, and I don't put hairbands on her often. (They look so constrictive!) And not everything she owns is frilly...she even has a onesie that has Spock on it. (Live long and prosper.) We also use a "gender neutral" car seat and stroller, so of course everyone asks me how old my "little boy" is. Eh, we just roll with it. They mean well.

6. Expect more self-confidence. Okay, I'm afraid I'm losing you here. At least hear me out before you hit that little red "x." I get it. You carried a baby around for 9+ months (or less?), and your body shows it. Even if you've lost all that baby weight and then some (good for you, now pass me the chips), you may still have some evidence of that baby. Somewhere. Ok, fine, maybe some of you don't. I, on the other hand, am still sporting a kangaroo pouch (great for babies to snuggle into), stretch marks, the linea nigra (Google if confused), and huge boobs; however, I think my body is dynamite. I GREW someone in it. That is so freaking cool! So what if my hips are bigger than yours? I pushed a human through them. So there!

7. Expect to find your inner b*tch. There's no other word for it. Some call it your mama bear instincts, but that sounds too furry and cuddly. With that additional self-confidence comes a realization that all those people that were parents before you...well, it's a level playing field now, and  you have a little one to protect. It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks, says, or does, your number one priority is your baby. Sure, you can still be polite and as respectful as possible, but bottom line is no one's feelings matter if it means compromising your child's care. 
All the "firsts" are wonderful.
8. Expect (continued) unsolicited advice. Okay, so you thought all the unsolicited advice would stop once you actually had the baby, right? Wrong! It actually gets a little worse. And everyone wants to share their parenting stories with you...and they really want you to parent your child the same way, because that will validate their choices. Well, boohoo, they had their chance. They may have done a great job, they may have totally screwed up, but that doesn't matter. That was them and their children. This is about you and your child. So just smile and make neutral comments and excuse yourself from the situation ASAP. 

9. Expect little support for breastfeeding. Yeah, you're probably tired of hearing about this from me, but I had no idea how big a deal it was until I had my baby. We live in a money-centric society, so formula is the gospel. Don't let that discourage you. Your body fed your baby for 9 months...do you really think it can't do it after that baby is born? If you feel unsure, shy, or just need advice, don't just reach for the bottle because it's "easier," reach out for advice from a bfing mom. And if she doesn't help you, reach out to the La Leche League. (You can always email me at meghan.hunt@live.com and if I can't help you, I can put you in touch with someone who can.) 
For every tear, there's a hundred smiles.

10. Expect the ups and downs. It's not all rainbows and butterflies. There are late nights, early mornings, lots of body fluids, lots of tears, lots of laughs, lots of....everything. There's ups and downs every single day, but the ups certainly outnumber the downs. Hang in there...and if you're feeling particularly sad, reach out to a friend or trusted counselor. It shouldn't feel that way. :)

Happy parenting, y'all.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Book Reviews: 50 Shades and The Bees

Book Review: Fifty Shades of Grey etc. by E.L. James
 
I read this trilogy to see what all of the fuss was about, and mostly because a friend insisted there was a story. Indeed, there was, but it was entirely buried by poor prose and painful repetition. I like to joke that the movie had better not be anything like the book, or we won’t be able to hear most of what they are saying, for they will be murmuring the entire time. Seriously, did the author not own a thesaurus? Unbeknownst to many, George Takei makes multiple appearances, particularly in the sex scenes. (“Oh my.”) And what’s with people’s mouths making a perfect ‘o’? The author shows a lack of imagination, poor plot construction, and weak mastery of the English language.
 
The underlying story certainly had all of the makings of a great novel, but the drudgery one had to endure to get to it was almost unbearable. Might I also add that the character development was severely lacking, and the use of yet another “she don’t know she’s beautiful” lead female character in conjunction with the “oh-so-dark-and-handsome” lead male is a cliché we readers could certainly have done without. I must give some props (spoiler alert!) to the author with the small turnaround she made with the lead female towards the end of the series, letting her show her fighting skills and taking control of at least part of her life.
 
Book Review: The Bees by Laline Paull
 
After a droll journey through the Fifty Shades trilogy, I needed a breath of fresh air, and boy, did this book bring it. The Bees is full of beautiful imagery, such intricate detail that you can almost feel the sun on your face and smell the honey in the hive. Yet, for all the detail it brings, this novel is far from boring. There is mystery, betrayal, and an adventure unlike any other. The author clearly did her research, as her writing balances fantasy and reality so well that you could almost imagine it true. This is certainly a book I’ll be adding to my collection to be read again and again. If you loved Watership Down, you’ll certainly fall head-over-heels for The Bees.
 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Don't Date a Smoker

Seriously. Just don't do it. If you date one, you run the risk of marrying one, and you'll harbor resentment against their affair with those smelly sticks for the rest of your life...well, at least until they quit, die, or you get divorced. Or you start smoking from the stress.

I'm married to a smoker, and I'm convinced that my life would be much better if he quit.

1. You'll never get anywhere on time. Ever. When you get ready to leave, they still have to have a smoke for the road. Once you're past that, you more than likely have to stop by a store so they can buy another pack. Heaven forbid they should run out -- they'll be cranky as all get out. Never mind the face that their smoking makes everyone else around them cranky from the odor and inconvenience.

2. They're much more interested in when their next cigarette will be than they are enjoying your presence. You might think you're having a great time on the road trip, but they are just waiting for you to stop talking long enough so they can ask you to pull over so they can have a smoke.

3. They end up excluding you in their social life. This is especially true when you go to social gatherings. All the smokers seem to congregate together outside and exclude everyone else. If you are pregnant, have a baby, or a breathing condition, or just don't want to be around the cancerous stench, you better get used to enjoying your own company. The "cool" kids hang in the smoke clouds.

4. It costs a ridiculous amount of money. At around $5 a pack, my husband's habit costs him about $35-40 per week. If he didn't smoke, we could afford a date night. And believe me, we need a date night.

5. You stink. They stink. Everything they touch stinks. It's in their hair, your hair, their clothes, and deeply rooted in their fingers. It's disgusting. It yellows their teeth. Ew. Just ew. And cigarette plus coffee-breath? Just put your respirator on, NOW.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

On Shame (A Rant About Sex)

This is beyond sad. 800 babies found dead in a "home" for unwed mothers. If given proper support, these children and their mothers might have lived full, happy lives. Instead, pregnancy/sex was treated with such shame that hundreds of children died, and I'm sure the mothers suffered great mental distress.

Believe it or not, there are still people in the US that feel unwed mothers are shameful beings. No matter the fact that they were having sex -- there is no evidence of their "shame" until they become pregnant. Then they must be forced to feel the full effect of their "shame."

No matter if they are 12, 15, 25, or 30, they must carry this "shame" to term, and then they will be judged on their ability (or lack thereof) to care for the child. They will be judged for working poor-paying jobs that have long hours, and for putting their child in a crowded daycare. They will be judged for accepting WIC and/or food stamps because the money they make barely covers the bills. They will be judged for feeding their child formula because their job doesn't provide support for nursing mothers. They will be judged for feeding their child cheap, canned baby foods because they can't afford organic whatever, and they don't have time to make their own. They will be judged for the way they dress their children. They will be JUDGED.

But they can't have an abortion. That is "MURDER". You know, because having a child you can't provide for and that society will judge you for having is the answer. (More on that another time.)

Before you pick this post apart, I'll give you a few disclaimers. There are many single moms that choose to be that way. There are many others that didn't but managed to do a better job than many two parent homes. But it's hard. It's really hard. And hardly anyone is going to support them.

"Well, they shouldn't have gotten pregnant."

"That's what they get for having sex outside of marriage."

REALLY??????

We need a wake-up call, people.

We need better, more thorough sex education, starting at home and branching to the schools. Stop teaching children that their penises and vaginas are shameful parts of themselves. Private, perhaps, but certainly not shameful. (BTW, stop being afraid to call it a penis or a vagina. That's like being afraid to call your ear an ear or your breast a breast.)

We need more sexual health options available. Mail-order birth control, anyone? Not everyone has transportation to get to the health department every month for that free birth control. And we NEED birth control, and sex education. Why?

Because sex is a biological act. It is driven by primal impulses that are set in motion at the onset of puberty. I promise, no fireworks go off when you do it. No one hits you with a lightning bolt, either.

Ah, yes. That brings us to virginity.

You're not a virgin? Congratulations. You are? Good for you.

You see, virginity is really just a label. It doesn't change who YOU are. You are not "worthless" because you have had sex. You are not "worth more" because you haven't.

If you've ever read the Bible, there was little to no judgment put towards men for having sex. It's like a penis could be stuck in as many holes (so to speak) as it wanted to be, and the man was still "clean," unless, of course, he happened to do it with a woman on her period. THAT was, like, whoa, you're nasty now. Forever and ever nasty. A woman, on the other hand, was only worth as much as her virtue. Once she had lain with a man, it was all over.

Does anyone else see how crazy that is?

I have a daughter. I chose to have her. I was on birth control prior, and I'm back on it again since I don't want a second child right now. I hope to be upfront and honest with my daughter about sex, love, marriage, and all of the other relationship things that come up in life.

Do I hope she "saves herself?" Um...yes and no. I'd like for her to make her own decision, but I hope it's the same one I made. Sex is not just physical -- it's an emotional connection. It takes maturity to handle the feelings that come from it, as well as realizing possible consequences, such as pregnancy or disease. I hope she waits until she finds someone she has a connection with, someone she feels safe and secure with, and also feels that she loves. I hope she's listened to me and remembers potential consequences, and behaves responsibly. And I also hope she trusts me enough to talk to me if she needs someone to talk to.

Do I think she should wait until marriage? No. Marriage is a contract. It's a legally binding document that says you are two people willing to spend the rest of your lives (which none of us actually have any concept of) together, to incur debt together, and to be equally responsible for a household and/or children. A relationship, on the other hand, is two people committed to being together through thick and thin, etc etc. Many people identify marriage as a relationship, but it's not. The relationship should be before the marriage. Otherwise, we might as well go back to arranged marriages.

You truly can't know if you can spend the rest of your life with someone until you've crossed all of the barriers -- emotional, mental, spiritual, physical, and habitual.

Oi, it's time to stop all the judging nonsense and get back to living.