The Birth of A Verbal Assassin…

This is the first in a series of papers that I have been writing for school.  For my English class, I was required to write a paper about a positive change in my life.  For me, it was this, my blog; it was you, my readers; it was my voice.

 

The Birth of a Verbal Assassin

            It was a day like any other.  For most people.  For me, it would be remembered as the day that it all changed.  I grew up as a daydreamer.  My parents would tell me I was lazy.  My teacher’s would say I had potential, if only I would use it.  I would stare blankly, letting their words bounce off my invisible force field, never reaching their target.  While they were diagnosing me, I was writing my stories in my head, page after page, book after book.

It took me years for my stories to make it out of my head, and onto paper.  I started small, a creative writing essay, maybe a poem here and there.  When I was in grade school, my stories would always have a big star on them when they were handed back by the teacher.  Once I got into middle school, my teachers would look at punctuation and dangling thingies, by high school, my stories came back with more criticism than praise.  The final straw didn’t come until college.

As a college freshman, I was so excited to see creative writing offered as part of the curriculum.  I thought I was finally at a point where my stories would be praised and revered and quoted and used as examples of excellence to the students that came after me.  I knew I was a literary genius, and finally, someone else would realize it too.  I could hardly wait until our first assignment.  Little did I know how wrong, and right, I would be.

The year was 1993.  The home computer was in its infancy.  College papers were either hand written or composed on a typewriter.  If you were lucky, maybe even a word processor.  Mine were written on a typewriter, and not even an automatic one.  Since was the going to be the paper of all time, I was careful.  I typed slowly, determined not to mar my genius with correction fluid.  I labored for days to make it perfect.  I read, reread and read some more.  Finally, after a week, I was ready.  It was time to turn the masterpiece in.

At the time, it seemed like months before the papers were graded and returned.  I was probably closer to two or three days.  It didn’t matter, because when I got it back, time stood still.  A “D”.  I got a “D”?  The hastily scribbled note from my professor read “Poorly written, terrible content, be thankful accountants don’t need imagination.”  My eyes teared instantly.  I was devastated.  Were my parents and teachers right in the beginning?

I would get the answer almost a decade later.  They were wrong.  And so was that English professor.  But I wasn’t angry, because thanks to that professor, I would launch my dream, in the form of a blog, The Verbal Assassin.  I developed a sharp tongue, a sharper wit, and my voice.  My voice, my rules.  As a parent, I should say the best moment of my life was when I held  my first child.  Yeah.  Whatever.  I love my kids, but eventually, they will grow up and they will find their own voices.  Not the Verbal Assassin.  That was mine.  It will always be mine.  I give it life, I make it breathe.  I am its voice.

That is my legacy.  I learned to write for me, the real me, not the person my instructors thought I should be, but the person that I actually am.  And nobody can grade that.

 

 

A Verbal Assassin Grows Up…

I know, I know, say it isn’t so.

Don’t worry.  I will still act like a 2 year old in some circumstances.

Lately, I have been in kind of a funk.  A funk that I put myself in.  It all started when I got my feelings hurt. I have had them hurt before, but this time, I realized a few things.  I learned that I was tired of crying.  I learned that I deserve better.  And most importantly, I learned that sorry is merely another word in the dictionary, unless there is sincerity behind it.

I am not perfect, heck, most days, I am far from it.  But I am a good person.  I am a good wife.  I am a good mother.  And I am a good friend.  I don’t make anyone compete for my love and attention, I give it freely out of love and friendship.  I don’t make anyone beg for my attention.  I don’t make anyone justify why I should care about them.  I just do it.

At least that is the sort of person I always thought I was.  I always thought I was fairly low maintenance.  I always thought that I was a good enough.  I always thought I was worth standing up for.

And I am.  I am good enough.  I deserve to be cherished as a wife, mother, and friend.  I don’t deserve the tears, or the heartbreak.

To quote Eleanor Roosevelt, “No one can make your feel inferior without your consent.”

Well, no one has my consent.  Whether the intention was to hurt me or not, saying sorry doesn’t give anyone permission to do it again.  I am taking my life back.  From this moment on, to stay in my life, the relationship becomes a two-way street.  I am not giving my heart anymore.  I have spent my life trying to earn the right to be in people’s lives, but never requesting it in return.  

Those days are done.  

The Verbal Assassin and The Bus Monitor…

The following is my opinion.  You are not required to share it.  Heck, you are not even required to keep reading.

I am sure everyone has read the recent drama, involving a 68 year old bus monitor, and several middle school students.  If you don’t know what I am talking about, simply Google it, or do a search on YouTube.

The upshot is this.  A 68 year old woman in Greece, NY was working as a bus monitor, when a group of middle schoolers were taped harassing her.  The students called her fat, called her names, and even poked at her.  The video has been viewed by almost as many people who watched Tommy Lee and Pam’s home movies.  Once the video went viral, a fund was set up for her, with the intent that she get a good vacation.

Did I donate?  Nope.  Do I have anything against anyone who did?  Nope.  Do I have an opinion on this?  Natch!

First of all, let me say that the little brats involved would not have lasted 3 days in my household.  Because once I found out that one of my spawn had behaved this way, the outcome would have been different.  Basically, once my son (or daughter) woke up from the withinaninchofyourlife beating that he or she received, said spawn would then be required to sit next to the bus monitor for the rest of his or her school career.  Yes, my child would be that bus monitor’s bitch.

That part of my opinion always gets cheers.  The next part, not so much.

This video did not sicken me.  It did not make me feel horrible for that bus monitor.  It made me angry.  It made me angry that children would behave that way.  It made me angry that not one child on that bus stepped in.  It made me angry that the bus driver didn’t notice what was happening.  And it made me VERY angry that the bus monitor just sat there, and let it continue.

Yes, I said it.  I place some blame on the poor, elderly bus lady.

I don’t need to justify why I am a cold hearted bitch, but I will anyway.

To save time, the role of our bus monitor will be referred to as BM.  The children will be playing the role of LB (Little Bastards).

First of all, BM had been a school bus driver for 20 years.  She has been a bus monitor for 3 years.  You do not have to have been around teenagers for more than an hour to realize that, with the rise of child abuse laws, and political correctness, teenagers these days are little shits.  Not every one of them, but the majority of them.  This was not BM’s first rodeo.  She had been driving a bus back when the Columbine tragedy occurred.  She had been driving a bus during an unfortunate era, one that has seen the rise of self importance, and the decline of, well, most things.

I understand that BM is 68 years old.  She works part time.  She is, for all intents and purposes, a public servant, which means she is also underpaid.

But (and I know you were waiting for that), she WAS paid.  She was paid a crappy salary to do a crappy job.  And at that, I feel that she failed.  She did not do her job. Which was to get up, have the driver stop the bus and make the LBs call their parents and explain why they needed a ride home.

For those of you still reading, those who have not indignantly scrolled to the end to leave an undoubtedly nasty comment, I shall explain.

It is always easier to play armchair quarterback, Monday morning quarterback, whatever you would like to call it.  It is much easier for me to say “If it had been me…”.  Maybe BM felt safer just sitting silently.  Oh, wait, she didn’t do that either.  In the video, you can see where she plays in to the LBs, thus dragging it out.  And then one of the LBs actually pokes at her. What the hell?  Once one person has touched another person, in an unwanted manner, that is ASSAULT.  Period.  And STILL she let it go on.  She failed to do her job.  Which, in part, was to prevent or stop such behavior.

Then there is the ‘vacation fund’ set up for her.  Does she deserve it?  I don’t know, that is not for me to decide.  Nor is it any of my business.  It is not MY money, and if everyone out there wants to give her THEIR money, yay for them.

Here is why I did not, and will not donate.  What happened was unfortunate.  It never should have happened.  Even more unfortunate is the fact that it has happened before, and it will happen again.  Heck, it is probably happening as I type, and as you read.  The cries of outrage sicken me more than the act itself.  Every day, someone is bullied and someone is bullying.  Why are we all shocked and sickened over this one incident?  Because she is an elderly woman?  So what.  And by so what, I mean so what?  Does her age make bullying worse?  At what age is it OK to be bullied?  At what age is it better or worse?  I am almost 43, and I still get bullied at my age.  Is it OK for me to be bullied because I am too old for the kids menu, but too young for the seniors menu?

What the LBs did was inexcusable (or if you are the school district where it happened, it is uninexcusable).  Should they be held accountable?  Ab-so-fucking-lutely.  They should be taken to the nearest senior center and sat down with a large stack of bed pans to wash.  Should I give my money to BM because someone was not nice to her today?  Maybe.  But I am not going to.

Bullying is a disgusting part of life.  It should not exist.  But it does.  And let us all be honest, it always will exist.  As long as there are differences in age, sex, class, salary, social standing or anything else, there will be a form of bullying.

I really wish, to the center of my heart, that this was an isolated incident.  But it wasn’t.  It wasn’t the first time.  We know that because we already have thousands of anti-bullying campaigns going on around the nation.

It wasn’t the last.  We know that because we already have thousands of anti-bullying campaigns going on around the nation…

The Oatmeal and The Army…

I have always said that I have seen and heard it all. That nothing could amaze me anymore. Surprisingly, I was wrong. Even more surprisingly, the source of my amazement came in the form of an attorney, and a Sergeant Major.

Let’s start with the attorney, but to do that, let me first introduce the players. We start with Matt Inman, the creator and artist behind The Oatmeal, mix in a little FunnyJunk, stir in the possibility of a lawsuit, and viola! What you end up with is a Kool-Aid that tastes good, and is very entertaining. I highly recommend you head to Popehat, and read Part I, Part II, Part III, and finally, Part IV.

If you are still reading this, you have had a giggle or two at The Oatmeal’s response, you have been amazed at the amount of money that the Bear Love Good, Cancer Bad campaign has raised, and you have been floored by the reaction of the potential plaintiff’s attorney.

This has been a learning experience for me. I have learned that not all lawyer-at-the-bottom-of-the-sea jokes are that far off base. I have learned that, contrary to every history class I have ever taken, apparently Walt Disney was the root cause of World War II.  I have also learned that no matter how hard you try, sometimes douchebaggery trumps philanthropy. Hopefully, that last thing is a lesson short lived. So far, Indiegogo is standing behind The Oatmeal and not removing the fundraiser like opposing counsel had requested.

Carry on Matt, may your Oatmeal will continue to feed us, long after the dust settles.

As promised, there is the Army…

Recently, the new Sergeant Major of the Army released the proposed changes to the Army’s grooming standards.  Some of the changes are common sense. Women can’t have talons on their fingers. Soldiers cannot have mutton chops. Blue and green hair is out of the question. Want to gauge your ears in the Army? Too bad. Don’t even get me started on the proposed regulation that would prevent soldiers from growing any facial hair, even while on leave. B Daddy has a very strict no shave policy while on leave.

And then there are tattoos.

Let me get this out of the way by saying, yes, joining the Army is voluntary. Yes, it is an employer and there are rules. If the SMA wants a regulation stating tattoos cannot be visible while in uniform, okey doke.

HOWEVER.

To The Army Times, SMA Chandler made the following comment. “…the Army says you are part of the same organization. We all generally look the same. And we do not want you to stand out from the rest of the Army.” Really? While he does go on to say “Yes, we want you to set yourself apart and do great things and so on, but that does not mean tattooing yourself or doing other extreme things that draw attention to you, the individual”, it is a sentiment that I disagree with.

Let me take on the role of conspiracy theorist for a minute. It may start with tattoos, but where does it end? Why should we stop there? Let’s have a cookie cutter army. Let’s have Hitler’s blond hair, blue eyed army. Wait, if we are going to have them all identical, then we can do away with promotions and awards. No more ASVAB tests, because everyone is the same. No more performance evaluations. Wait. Will the women be gone? Or will they get their own army of cookie cutters?

I know that I sound extreme. And I am sure most people think it is simply because I have so many of my own tattoos. But it isn’t. I am not in the Army. And when I start a new job, they either hire me with the tattoos, or they don’t. However if they DO hire me, and I excel at my job, I don’t expect to have to defend being the person that they hired in the first place.

Basically, the Army opened the door. They let people in with tattoos. They held the door open as soldiers got tattoos after they joined. I just don’t see how the Army will be able to close the door at this point.

Let me close with one last rant. As an Army wife, there are a few things that people say that completely irritate me, and unfortunately, SMA Chandler said one of those things. In his Army Times interview, he said “You chose to join the Army, …The Army didn’t choose to join you.” To me, that is just another way of saying “Just suck it…”

Maybe I should just get The Oatmeal to cartoon my response. Or maybe I should ask that wonderful attorney to sue for me. Better yet, maybe I should just grab my husband and go check out our new counter tops… Yeah. I pick that one too.

An Open Letter to the Mission…

I am the granddaughter of a retired Lieutenant Colonel. He was in the Army Air Corps, and worked in the Pentagon. My mother trick-or-treated with Secret Service escorts, because she was trick-or-treating with Julie Nixon Eisenhower. I grew up calling my grandfather Breezy, because that was what everyone called him. It was his call sign and his nickname, even in the Pentagon. I grew up learning that the length of the gloves you wore to dinner were dependent on what uniform my grandfather was in.

I am the granddaughter of a medically retired Sergeant, who is now deceased. He retired legally blind in one eye, and when he passed away in his 80′s, the shrapnel that was embedded in his eye was still there.

I am the niece of a retired Command Sergeant Major. He was my hero when I was growing up. Since he was 10 years younger than my mother, he seemed more like an older brother. He joined for his first tour just to please my grandfather, the COL. He stayed in past his 20 because he was good, very good at his job. He was part of a special unit that was responsible for knowing every spring, pin and lever in the guns that would be used by the Army Marksmanship Unit.

I am the daughter-in-law of a retired Corpsman, and the granddaughter-in-law of a Merchant Marine.

I am the wife of an active duty Sergeant, mother-in-law to an active duty Specialist, and friends with so many other active duty and retired soldiers, that I cannot count them all.

I don’t say all this because I think I should be afforded special treatment, that I think I deserve special treatment. I say this because I want you to understand that I understand the needs of the mission.

My family has fed the mission since the 1930′s, and it continues to feed it now. Fallen sacrifice to the needs of the mission have been high school graduations, the birth of babies and grandbabies. We have lost friends, family and loved ones to the mission.

And my husband and I? We have given the mission 2 years of recruiting. We have given it two deployments in Iraq. We have gotten orders, only to have them canceled at the last minute. We have had orders come 9 days before we are slated to leave a post.

This is our life. It is his job. We walk into this with open eyes. The Army has taken care of us, so we don’t mind feeding the ever elusive mission.

The mission seems to find us, no matter where we go. But when we want to give even more to the mission, we are denied.

I don’t expect a response from absolutely anyone. I simply want to be heard. Because right now, I am feeling disappointed in the same organization that we love and take pride in.

The Army is supposed to be a family. It is not supposed to a corporation that is about black and white. We are no longer identified by our rank and serial number. In theory, we are supposed to be human. We are supposed to have an Army Family Covenant. And the Army is supposed to be human.

Why then, would decisions be made that are not in the best interest in the mission, based on a flaw in the system? Why does a machine punch out an answer, with no human touch? Why would the mission turn away a soldier, with the only reason being a retention control point?

Here is my case. My husband was accepted into the US Prime Power School. It is not an easy school to get into. It is even harder to pass. His class will graduate MAY 2012. In November, we were given our assignment to Schofield Barracks, HI. From past experience, we knew that until we were boots on ground, the needs of the mission could change our orders. We decided that until he attended the levy brief, we wouldn’t do much in the way of preparation. However, some stuff had to be done earlier than levy, such as getting the animals ready, since their preparation would take 120 days.

Fast forward to six weeks prior to graduation. Per HRC, my husband needed to extend to accept an assignment to Hawaii. Not a problem. As a self-described lifer, he was waiting for his window open to reenlist anyway, so extension was not a problem.

Enter the new promotion point and retention control point changes. These changes were made prior to HRC getting the assignments. Yet five months after receiving the assignments, after money spent on our animals, after selling our second vehicle because the army wouldn’t ship more than one vehicle to Hawaii, after EFMP screenings, after all of this, we get the news.

HRC regrets to inform us that since the RCP for an E5 was dropped to 13 years, my husband could not reenlist or extend past his 13 year RCP. Which left him at 32 months. Which is 4 months shy of the required 36 month commitment to accept orders to Hawaii.

And, they regretted having to inform us that this was non-negotiable.
I was stunned. They were turning away a dedicated soldier. One that they just spent the last year training to work on $40 million generators, simply because he was 4 months short, and then they refused to let him reenlist. They are worried about him getting to his RCP and having to kick him out. Yet, he is willing to sign a six year contract. Does that not show the dedication and commitment to the Army, and to the mission?

In fact, does this decision to hold him back from his assignment and to prevent him the ability extend or reenlist, does this have anything at all to do with the needs of the mission? No. Perhaps it is that the Army has it’s focus on force reduction, especially those that have barely hung on, that it is allowing a computer, a mere button, to make the choice of who goes, who stays, who moves, who does anything. When in fact, every soldier and every situation is not the same. Some things cannot be decided by a computer. They need to be looked at by humans. Those who we trust to run the Army. Because they are supposed to be Army Strong. We are all supposed to be strong, Army Strong.

It is getting harder and harder to remember why we are here. Why we have sacrificed for the mission, over and over.

I do have selfish reasons for not wanting our assignment to change. My daughter, son-in-law and grandbaby are there. This sudden change of orders has caused a turmoil that has reached farther than just us. We counted on the Army. Now we feel let down by the Army. And that is something we never thought we would feel.

I am not writing this because I expect anything to change. I am writing this because I want to be heard. I want someone to realize that sometimes there needs to exceptions, that we are not only committed to the mission, but that the mission needs to be committed to us as well.

Plz Read Mai Blog. K? Thx. Bai.

Today I was at the local shoppette, waiting in line and browsing the magazines to see if Brangelina was adopting a 73rd baby, and lo and behold, there was a book that caught my eye. TXT-pedia – Your Guide to Understanding Texting – Guaranteed to Help You Send a 300 Word Text in 100 Characters or Less.

OK, I am not sure where to start here. The fact that you have to read a book in order to learn how to read a text message. Then there is the fact that if you send me a 300 word message, I am fairly sure that I don’t care how many characters you use. As a general rule, I usually see something shiny out of the corner of my eye and by the time I have read the first line of your text, I have lost interest in whatever you have to say. And my final WTF (see, I can be taught), why the hell are we selling books that teach people how to spell incorrectly?? I see a whole new line in the “…For Dummies” series.

I should have realized what the world was in for when I started chatting online, and saw for the first time “A/S/L”. And then we started to amuse each other, which caused us to LOL. And then you could play wavs in your private AOL chatroom, and that caused us to ROFL. Then we realized we could play nasty wavs, and we started LMAO. Well, I LMAO. You laughed your own off. And if anyone out there says they thought that it would end there, STFU, are you kidding?

Because someone decided that just jumping on the internet at every waking moment was not enough. Now we needed to have electronic social media leashes. It wasn’t bad enough that you couldn’t prove that you were home with the flu, because your boss could GPS your phone, no, now we had to learn a whole new way to type poorly.

And it isn’t even just the acronyms. We actually change the spelling of the words. “You” became “u”. “Your/You’re” became “ur”. And IDK know if it even matters if you meant your or you’re because apparently the Laws of the Interwebz don’t require you to actually use the word that you mean. Now, those examples are one thing. They sort of make some sense, since it is kind of like an abbreviation. Kind of.

But we have yet to cover my pet peeve in the world of texting. IMO, it is just stoopid to change the wurds by simply spelling them wrong. Especially if it makes the original word longer! “My” has become “mai”. Not only that, but now LOLs have been changed to “lulz”. FFS. Really? Does it really surprise ANYONE that autocorrect spits out some really random crap? Some programmer made it so that if you were going to text like a moron, then you probably wouldn’t even notice that you just asked your MIL if your FIL still used bondage. And for the record, that one was really not my fault. Vonage. I meant Vonage. BTW, if you want to laugh until you cry, you really should check out http://www.damnyouautocorrect.com.

In the meantime, I am going back to the tried and true acronyms that actually make sense and don’t look like a SNAFU. We already know that our kids are FUBARed, so BOHICA people…

But first, I am off to text my BFF Rose.

Kthxbai!

Occupy This…

We have all seen it. Occupy This, Occupy That. It is in every newspaper, on every channel and all over the internet. What follows is my opinion. You can like it, you can love it, or you can agree to disagree.

Here is my take: Call whine-one-one, someone needs a waahmbulance. This is my story, I can be as immature as I want. I may even throw in a neener neener at some point.

I agree our economy has gone to crap. Our country is divided. And who, exactly, is surprised by this? This is not news. We were divided over slavery. Over equal rights for women. Over abortion. Over global warming. We have always, and will always have, something to separate the masses.

We, as a country, do need a change. We can blame it on Wall Street. We can blame it on the President. We can blame it on the Donkeys and Elephants. The Haves. The Have Nots. Or we can fix our OWN lives. Yes, someone has more money than me. Maybe he worked harder, invested smarter. Or maybe he is smart enough not spend his annual salary on shoes. (Even if they are really, really cute shoes.) What I am trying to get at is, if we want change, why are we working against ourselves?

It seems rather simple to me. If I want to improve MY economy, I don’t ditch work, call in sick, or quit my job to go sit on the street and complain that someone has more money than me. I know it is not as simple as that, but you know me, I can reduce the war in Iraq to bullies and Legos.

There are complaints about taxes. And those complaints will never go away. But I am slightly curious as to why we have people occupying the streets to protest the economy and taxes. Do the not see that they are creating a vicious circle? Sit, complain, riot (I know, not in all cases), draw large crowds of upset people. Then what happens? Our already strained system has to pay overtime to police officers to attempt to maintain peace. Our businesses suffer because there is no one working the drive thru at Burger King to sell the Whoppers. Because he is on the street complaining that someone has more money than him.

I will never pretend to understand any of this. And don’t try to explain it to me. As I watch, the only change I see is people’s view of our country. The morale sinking. People complaining they have no reason to love this country anymore. Their pride gone.

Well, THIS I can fix. I can give you back that pride. Go to an airport, find the USO and see a soldier, clinging to his family, waiting to reboard and head back to war. Find out when a flight of returning soldiers is coming in, and sit there and just watch the faces of the families waiting. Watch the faces of everyone there when the banging on the door begins, the fake smoke comes out, and Springsteen starts blaring from the speakers.

Go to a school and watch mom or dad coming home and surprising their children. Heck, you can Google that and see as many as you can stand to watch. While you are Googling, look up The Fallen Soldier’s Table.
Ask the small child of a soldier when holidays are. We all know Christmas is December 25th. But for many military families, it falls on a different day. When mom comes home for R&R. When dad is not on patrol and has a minute to open presents via Skype. For instance, last year, we celebrated Chranksgiving. The first week of December was the only time we could assemble most of the family and so we combined the holidays into one.

And if you ever thought it was impossible to cry with pride, do this one thing. Watch a Fallen Soldier as he comes home. The streets, lined with people. Children waving flags. Police directing traffic, although they don’t need to because everyone stops to watch. Other soldiers saluting their fallen friend, while trying to hide their tears. Military spouses, there to comfort each other, friends they have never met. Strangers saluting, crying, waving, cheering for this amazing, courageous person.

The U.S. military has been called the nation’s largest legalized gang. Spend some time with a Veteran. Of any war. Listen to his stories. My grandfather is a Lieutenant Colonel (retired), who served in the Army Air Corps. He is in his late 80’s and can recite names and ranks of those he flew with, those he lost and those who made it through. And he will tell you, it is not the nation’s largest gang. It is the nation’s largest family.

Next time you want to play hooky and occupy some place, occupy a VA hospital. Occupy the Disabled Veteran’s Association. Occupy the USO. Since you have that time to spare, go occupy someplace where you can make someone smile. Someplace where you really can make a difference. Someplace that makes you wonder why you ever questioned your pride in this country, and reiterates your pride in yourself.

Pick your battles wisely. Fight them effectively.

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