Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Swhy-not (or... Swine Not)?

There sure has been a lot of talk about the Swine Flu. The alert level has been raised and news channels are asking if a global outbreak is imminent. As I understand it, there are about 3000 confirmed cases of the the Swine Flu. It has killed about 150 people. Am I wrong to be blase about this? It's the FLU. The flu can kill you if you don't catch it. Diabetics are especially susceptible.

There are two "probable" cases in Columbus. It will be a few days before we know if it is confirmed as swine flu. I had to take Jack to the doctor today. He was running a low grade fever, not sleeping, no appetite and coughing/sneezing. Now I am wondering, by taking him to the doctor's office, could he have possibly picked up something worse? Well, that is always a possibility, but is the swine flu really worse than any other kind of flu? It doesn't seem like it, other than it is really contagious. So I guess that is why I'm not really panicked.

The most "interesting" theory I have heard comes courtesy of my certifiable sister-in-law. She thinks that it is now small coincidence that Obama just left Mexico, where the swine flu originated. HER theory is that Al Quaida released the virus while Obama was in Mexico and he brought it back with him. So there you have it. That's how they're gonna get us - Al Quaida is sending the pig bug home on Air Force One with The Prez. Of course, she also swears that she saw on CNN that one of the president's body guards dies of the swine flu. Like I said, she is certifiable.

So here is my question - why are we more concerned about a flu that has killed 150 people than AIDS, which has killed millions over a period of decades? Is it because it isn't in our backyard? It isn't infecting OUR kids (anymore)? Where is the panic and outrage over that epidemic?

My delusional mother (who is purchasing a handgun because she feels the government is out to get her) thinks i don;t understand the history. She believes things like Cholera and the Bubonic Plague have killed more people than AIDS ever has and that the swine flu is comparable to those other plagues and THAT is why the government is panicking - they know we are due for an "Outbreak" type of situation that kills millions worldwide. That is my mom's theory anyway.

I don't have a theory yet. Just lots of questions. I don't blame you for being cautious and I don't blame you for paying just a modicum of attention to it. I'm not sure what to make of it yet.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Not My Tale to Tell...

My sister, 10-year-old nephew and parents traveled to Akron yesterday to visit my "grandparents." Please note the sarcasm implied in the use of the quotation marks. I believe there are certain obligations and responsibilities that come with being able to call yourself Grandparents, with a capital G, and my father's parents have fulfilled exactly none of those in the past ten years (at least for my siblings and I) , thus the text dripping with sarcasm. Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

My nephew is 10. My sister had only been married 6 years when she divorced. Catching the point of my "grandparents'" discontent there? How dare she besmirch their good name? Yeah, well. I have always referred to these people as excellent Catholics and horrible Christians. Their treatment of my father, CERTAINLY my mother ad most seriously my sister and nephew pretty much drives that point home. There are a long list of moral atrocities I could list here. Things you just don't do or say to family. But I won't. I will say that Dad's Mom wrote a horrific letter to my sister about 8 years ago, damning her for all eternity. I don't think any of my dad's other family knows about said letter, so they think the family estrangement has been our decision. Basically, there is the back story.

For reasons that are still not clear to me, my sister, parents and nephew went to visit these folks yesterday. Let me be clear that my dislike of them is only out of allegiance. I really have no personal beef, except that you just don;t treat people like that - especially family. So I thought it was pretty big of my sister to try to forgive.

Interestingly, nothing happened. The report all around is that everyone in Akron acted as if the last 10 years had not happened. How do you look at my gorgeous, intelligent, loving, kind and thoughtful nephew and not die a little death that you have voluntarily missed 10 years of knowing this fantastic kid? I don't know. It may have to do with the fact that I don't believe that my father's parents actually have souls.

My aunts - my dad's 2 sisters - are another story. I really don't know what to make of them. I truly don't think they know the letter ever existed. But why would they not ask what was up? Why would they not show support when our family was clearly in crisis? I really don't know.

So this is clearly not my tale to tell, but I am up to my neck in it. I have spent a decade of my life actively disliking this entire wing of my family (cousins excluded, got nothing against them) out of solidarity. What happens if those to whom I am bound decide to call a truce? How do you untrain yourself from such a strong distaste? How do you learn to like people you decided - long ago - were poison to your family? I just don't know. I just don't know.

Here is what I do know: If that is the way it shake out, that is what I will do. I will hop back on the Bratta train just as quickly as I hopped off. Out of solidarity. Like I said, I have no presonal beef with these people (other than my aunt calling me a piss ant when I didnlt tell her I was engaged and dad had to tell her...bygones, right?). But I am already struggling with how to automatically become a family after 10 years of distance, a decade of chosen banishment. I think it is going to be an interesting year.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Bucket List

I got a note on Facebook the other day. A list of activities that I was supposed to check if I've done. The thing is, I had no interest in doing probably half of these things. Many of them involved going very fast or very high. Two things I am not fond of - especially in combination. Some of them involved travel to places I have no interest in going (because I don't like the food or the government. I know, I know...).

So, I thought I would start my own Bucket List. You know the premise - things I would like to do before I kick the bucket. I thought I would start keeping track of them. Not bcause you particularly care, but because it might prove helpful for me one day to have them all in one place. So, here it goes.

1. See Jack happy, healthy and successful.
2. Take in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade with my family.
3. See La Boheme at The Met.
4. Spend a month in New York in the fall just taking in art in all its forms.
5. Visit Italy for an extended period of time.
6. Travel to Israel and actually feel safe.
7. Grow really, really old, fat and happy with my husband.
8. A week in California wine country.
9. Write a memoir.
10. Make peace with my past.

Ten seems like a good starter. Have things you might like to share? I'm looking to grow the list and overflow my bucket :)

Blog Envy

I don't think of myself as a competitive person by nature. That could be an admittedly biased view, but I am just putting it out there. I do like to have an especially tasty dish at a potluck and that, as my friend M. puts it, may be my one "thing."

I must admit, though, that recently, Blog envy has entered my consciousness. My friend J., who was my editor in Charlotte is, in fact, a superior writer. Her blog, Welcome to My Momplex, has almost 40 followers. I am guessing this is because she a) as already mentioned, is a superior writer and b) writes about more interesting things than her 20 year internal struggle with her grade school nemesis.

I realize, of course, that this is not a competition. This blog - ironically - started as a way to let said Momplex author know what was going on in my life without writing her e-mails that took three days to read. (Side note, J and I only worked together in Charlotte for six months, and have now been friends for over 10 years. Funny how fate works out, huh?)

My question to all of you out there in the blog-o-sphere is this - how does one build a readership? How does one grow your following to almost 40 people interested in what you have to say on a daily basis?

Now I will address what my friend T. - she of Momakin fame - has called "Comment Crack." Sooooo aptly put, friend. (She, may I add, also has a nice cache of followers. But I'm not supposed to be counting, right?) It is funny what I put out there that I think will engender a lot of debate among friends, or at least commenting. It never does. It is the post that is the throwaway that ends up with either a silly string of comments that I love or thought provoking notes from friends, some of whom I wasn't even aware stop by at all. Ahhh, the Comment Crack. So addictive when you get a taste, and yet something you cannot - or at least should not - force.

So I will continue brain-dumping, as I used to call it in my pre-baby life in the workplace, and you all do with it what ya please. I'm glad you stop by and happy you read. :)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Turn it off...

1. In the afterlife, will everyone be judged by the effect their offenses had on others, or just by the fact that they committed said offenses? It certainly would be interesting if you were held accountable for what someone else becomes because of you.

2. Who are we going to get to fill the Resolutions Chair for Sisterhood next year?

3. If I don't get rest tomorrow, the next day is Wednesday and Jack is going to, almost literally, wear my ass down into a puddle.

4. I wonder if she even thought about the note or if she is just laughing. Probably just laughing. People have the capacity to chance, but rarely do. I hope her kids are mocked. No, I don't. Yes, I do. A little. No, really, I don't wish that on any kid, even hers.

5. Why is the dog dreaming about running? This dog NEVER runs in her awake hours, why would she save all of her running up until she sleeps?

So ends a brief list of things that were running through my head as I tried to fall asleep last night. I wish the brain came with a "power down" mode. Don't you?

Monday, April 13, 2009

A Message a Long Time Coming

So any of you who have read this blog for at least a few months know of my emotional angst over my childhood tormentors locating me on Facebook. I made the mistake of asking Annie's older brother - a truly nice guy - her whereabouts (I know, I will admit it - honestly hoping she was a boozing homeless woman somewhere. I am glad to hear this is not the case, though). Her brother told Annie about my inquiry and took this to mean I would now like to be her friend. Wrong assumption.

The contact I have long dreaded was made yeasterday - Easter of all days. Jodi M. I will let my reply to her "Friend Request" speak for itself. This is the actual message I sent her. By hitting the send button, I think I am finally free of the demons. Or at lest starting to be...

Jodi -

You have got to be kidding me. Do you have any idea how much in therapy you, Erin and Annie have cost me over the years? You three made a sport out of making my life absolutely miserable for at least three years, and I hope it gave you at least as much pleasure as it did me pain.

It has been over 20 years now, so I suppose I should let it go. And I think I can actually say that with this e-mail and the ability to say my peace as an adult, I will. You three - and I have always thought of you as the ringleader - changed me profoundly, for better or worse. I'm still not sure, twenty years later, whether to thank you for that or not.

I am many things these days - a busy mom to a three-and-a-half year-old boy, a happy wife and what I consider to be a successful woman. What I am not, and can't imagine how you figure I could be, is your friend.

I wish you no harm. In fact, I wish you well. I also wish you, Annie and Erin would just leave me alone.

Chris Zimmer