Tuesday, July 30, 2013

My "Outburst" or Why I Hate Lynch Mobs

I hate lynch mobs, online or in real life.

Unfortunately I have had enough real life experiences with people determined to prove something that happened had conspiracy overtones when in reality it was nothing at all like what happened. What happened actually being a simpler explanation.

Back when I first moved to this rural backwater in the shadow of Washington DC my teenaged daughter met a young man, a goofy young man, a young man who had pissed off the local cop shop a number of times but was an essentially harmless young man. I had him in my home many times. I knew the kids well.

Towards the beginning of his and my daughter's senior year of high school he was arrested on the charges of statutory rape of the fourteen year old girl down the street from us. The town was abuzz with all sorts of gossip about him being a serial rapist, corrupter of youth, bad boy.

The story went that the victim's parents had come home at midnight and caught a rapist sneaking out of the house. They were unable to identify him, only seeing a slim youth fleeing out of the garage door. The girl fingered my daughter's friend and he was summarily arrested, without asking any of us if we'd seen anything or having anything more than the girl's word.

But I knew him, I knew the girl and knew that our other neighbor's son had been seen sneaking in and out of the victim's house late at night. The true culprit had laughed and carried on at school about someone else getting pinched for what he'd done and that the sex was consensual.

Did law enforcement investigate? Nope. Chris, my daughter's friend, could not account for where he was during the canoodling so to the slammer he went. Eighteen months later the girl recanted but refused to tell anyone it was the neighbor's son, Rocco, that had been in her bed.

Yeah, so the lynch mob in this town saw that an innocent kid served nearly two years for a crime he wasn't at all involved in.

Back in February 2012 one of my fellow worship team members was gunned down by a cop known for his over zealousness and excessive use for force in our tiny town. During the lengthy investigation time the town was buzzing with rumors,  many of them that reached me because I knew her all too well. People said Pat and the officer had been having an affair, that Pat was on drugs, that the cop was on drugs, one crazy theory after another. It was hateful, it was insane.

Once the officer was indicted for murder and this thing went to court it got worse. I was called for jury duty and it took an all day wait and some verbal sparring with the defense attorney to finally, mercifully be dismissed from the jury. One of the worse days of my life truly.

The NRA supporters showed up in town and tried a defense of Stand Your Ground, said that the officer was frightened for his life, frightened of this teeny tiny 54 year old woman? In the end the cop got 36 months for murder by the ignorant gossip-listening-to jury of his peers.

I've seen some online lynch mobs and even participated in a few, feeling after what a unfair nasty thing it was indeed. Tons of people piling up on someone clearly mentally shy a few sandwiches in their picnic basket.

But it's plain old vanilla wrong. I swore I'd never involve myself in anything like that again. 

So now I kind of hate myself,  I've been sucked into reading the Truth About Ruth blog and can see both sides of this thing. Someone or someones have put in enormous amounts of time and energy into this thing and the blog is well written.

If someone has been welfare blogging by lying they need to knock it off immediately.

Just not sure how helpful for anyones well being that this group behavior is.

Life is Like "The Spider" - Up, Down and All Around

Back during my fundy days I assumed that life was going to be smooth as silk if only I was a good enough Christian. Even if the occasion bad thing happened God would give me the grace, serenity, joy and love to get through it.

Now that I've been out almost six years I realize what a load of utter bullshit that was. Never in my life have I walked around feeling quite so guilty, unworthy and fearful of just about anything you could imagine. I had a panic attack once in those days while at Disneyworld because I was afraid of the loud noise the ride made and I felt guilty taking a high dollar amount vacation as a committed Evangelical Fundamentalist Christian.

If something bad happened my uncomfortable feelings of not being good enough or authentic or just plain old having doubts would land on me twice as hard. Instead of sucking it up and dealing with whatever the problem was I'd frequently be frozen in fear, like a deer in the headlights, able to do nothing and allowing the situation to get much worse. Or I'd do something preached as the 'right' thing that was completely the 'wrong' thing.

Example? When my daughter from my first marriage left her first husband for drug use and physically abusing her she came home to Fundy Me. I told her she could not stay in our home unless she agreed to go to church with us and sign a pledge that she'd not hook up with any guys.

I look back at that me and wonder why being right was more important to me than simply loving my hurting daughter where she was in that moment and welcoming her home to heal. Being gentle instead of judgmental and demanding. If I could rewind and redo I would because I finally realized that love is more important that religious rules.

Oh of course I had my little ecclesiastical cheering squad urging me to not back down, be a Good and Righteous Christian Mother (tm), forcing my older daughter back into the family to toe the line before God. I'd be saving her soul, they all howled. Living with a fear of man, fundy-man and woman, instead of my own conscience. I quelled my inner voice that pleaded with me to not be judge, jury and executioner, to be a mother and a healer.

Yet I know and knew then, that those I was around at the church were always happy to take those roles. For example, it came out once towards the end of our time in fundygelical land that we'd gone to the local firemans carnival that happens every late July. They whispered to me that it was a foolish waste of money that we're supposed to be handling like good stewards, it exposes your children to foolish time wasting things like the games and rides. We didn't go back to the carnival for some years after I was approached about it being inappropriate for believers.

Do they have wholesale gambling, two-headed freaks, prostitutes or the occult there? Nope, just the Tiltawhirl, balloon popping, pig racing and junk food galore. We never did more than let the kids ride a few rides, eat corndogs or funnel cakes and pop a few balloons. Harmless, harmless, harmless fun under a still summer nighttime sky lit with the garish shades of the carnival lights. A memorable evening with the few dollars we spent going to support the local volunteer fire department budget for the next year.

In the last few years Jim and I have started to return to that carnival once a year. I've concluded that I have nothing to feel guilty, unworthy or fearful of. I've decided instead of life being this continual drudgery and Bible babbling there has to be room for fun, for relaxation, for joy. Life is more like The Spider ride at the carnival than anything else.

We get tossed around side to side, whirled upside down, right side up. You get to feel your stomach drop to your feet and the giddy thrill of the high points. What it is not is a formula or a magic spell whispered out.

Another great thing about the carnival is the people watching. I always see the oddest folks and chuckle over their shenanigans. Walking through the surging crowds just watching people and the things they indulge in.

Three years ago Jim started a new family ritual at the fair and he continued it this last Saturday night as we were on the midway. He always plays the game that allows you to win a goldfish. He always wins one and it immediately goes into our rainwater reservoir tank in the backyard. We use that water to hydrate the garden and having goldfish eliminates the need to treat the water with chemicals to keep mosquitos from laying eggs in the tank. The fish eat the eggs immediately.

We have three carnival won goldfish, and one large koi fish given to me by a friend. Saturday night Jim managed to increase the fish population in our tank by another fifty percent by winning two goldfish.

Something that would never occurred if we were still locked into the million rules of fundamentalism that don't make much sense. The two fish are doing well, they've formed a bond and every time I look into the rainwater tank they two are swimming side by side and fitting in well with the others.

For the first time in my 53 years I managed to win a stuffed animal at the games, which is going straight to my grand daughter Bella.

I've come to see that joy and love are the two real fruits of the spirit and if that includes going to the carnival once a year it's perfectly fine. Even if you ruin your shoes in the mud.

I feel like I'm in my second childhood and I'm loving it!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Mothering


Yesterday I spent the day with my youngest daughter Laura. It was her 22nd birthday and she really wanted me to come up and be with her. I brought cake and presents and we went out to lunch and had burritos. A good time! Which led to me thinking about motherhood. Does it ever really end?

Laura is on the left in this picture. Laura and her friend are holding the baby bunnies.


I am thinking now that no, mothering never ends. Laura is pretty independent for the most part but she really wants me as a regular part of her life, which was something I'm not sure I was anticipating. Andy and Beth I hear from every now and then, but Laura is still my baby girl I hear from almost daily.

It's been interesting watching her struggle to balance college life with a steady relationship and the ability to do adult things, like budget her income and pay bills, plan a menu and cook. Things you must learn to be a good momma.

Back in late May Laura called me in a big panic, her boyfriend's dog had gotten into a wild rabbit burrow in their backyard and had eaten several of the bunnies and killed the mother. The bunnies were so little and young that they still had their eyes and ears shut. She didn't know what to do with the rest and it was all Help Mom Help!

Mom to the rescue! I packed up powdered kitten formula and the tiny baby kitten bottles I use when I foster motherless kittens plus the critter tote with a soft blanket at the bottom and left for Laura's house.



When I arrived Laura was still in that sort of frantic state, afraid of the bunnies, afraid to handle them, afraid they were doomed for death, afraid, so afraid. But once I removed the bunnies and started removing deer ticks and feeding the bunnies Laura and her friend instantaneously switched from fear to delight. I got to see the stirrings of nurturing and motherhood in each younger woman. It was fascinating for me to watch because I've been listening to Laura proclaim for years she's not having any children at all.

So is it a learned thing, motherhood? Or an inborn desire that must be activated? I'm not sure.

After leaving fundamentalist far behind I'd dumped the notion that women are created/born with the desire to nurture, mother, and care for. Now, I'm not quite so sure. I mean, it was obvious there in both young ladies, but not activated until I came on the scene to show them that the bunnies weren't frightening, they needed human help. Reminds me of the passage in the New Testament where Paul tells older ladies in the church that they are to instruct the young ladies. I guess that's still needed in this time.


I ended up taking the bunnies home to feed and care for since Laura had a heavy classload with finals upon her. After bringing them into our home I was surprised to see how into the bunnies and their care that Jim was, how nurturing and caring, how motherly. Not only Jim but my male cockatiel was the same way, he'd always come down off his cage during feeding times and be all over those little bunnies. Perhaps caring and nurturing is just inborn inside all of us, but the religious only attach it to motherhood instead of a universal desire to care for the less fortunate.

The bunnies didn't make it. They lived another 20 days before dying one by one. I tried everything, changing the makeup of the formula, giving them probiotics, increasing the feedings, consulting with local wildlife rehabbers and consulting with my vet. They were so young when I got them that I knew from my years of raising various babies that the odds were stacked against them. But I had to try. They would have surely died had I not taken them in. I had to try and give them a chance.

Please visit my other blog that deals with the dangerous theology of Fundamentalism & Evangelicalism - True Love Doesn't Rape

Friday, July 19, 2013

Drop This Heat Like It's Hot!

I've been looking back at some glorious photos of a blizzard we had one beautiful December around 30 months ago....

Kiki following me around on a midnight stroll during the blizzard

Snow falling silently at midnight

Still snowing the next morning

I could use a big dash of that this week. We've had temps in the high 90s with heat indexes up to 108. I have been hot, hotter than hot flash hot, hot enough to contemplate inventing underwear the approximate coverage of those magical Mormon underwear but made of a thin cooling system that would be solar powered. I bet I could sell a ton of undies like that... if they actually existed. 

Because I was hella stupid on Monday I spent most of this insane hot week inside, hunkered down next to the ac vents on the love seat, pounding down Gatoraid and reading. It feels like August here already and while I know it's almost August it feels like the dog days of summer.
 
Those three morning hours on Monday in the garden left me dizzy and sick to my stomach even if I was pounding down water like it was about to be banned. It wasn't enough, it took two days inside living on Gatoraid and ginger ale to feel something close to normal again.

The funny thing is I know I'll be craving the crazy heat of the summer once snow comes around again.

Spent today with my lung doctor. After getting my bi monthly treatments he started showing me his new federally mandated electronic medical records, knowing I'd transferred the entire three file rooms filled with medical files into electronic charts at the clinic I used to work at. I ended up staying and helping his lone office assistant and him with the new software since I know many different types of medical office software.

I don't mind helping him out. My doc has helped me out so many times, including not charging me a co pay since I'm a regular twice a month patient. I'd do just about anything legal for him. It was actually fun because we were gossiping about all the doctors we both knew!

After I finished up he told me I should set up and work as an electronic medical records consultant, he'd recommend me. 

So now I'm thinking that might not be a bad idea. Many of the area doctors know me from work or church and there are a lot of small one or two doctor practices that may be struggling like my doctor will becoming compliant with the Obamacare regs for switching to the EMR. If I did it I could decide how much I was working and go from there. It may be a stupid or a genius idea. I will have to give it some thought.