Monday, September 14, 2015

A Rat Group Sexual Experience

Have you ever attended a meeting and come away saying to yourself 'What the heck did I just attend?' That was my evening at the HOA That Ate My Brain meeting this evening.

The treasurer's husband went on a rant that everyone hates his wife and harasses her. I was straight up accused of being the person that sent around the anonymous letter threatening to sue. Ha! If I was going to sue them I'd at least have the balls to put my name on the letter. In fact, I would have my lawyer write the letter with both our names on it.

It is becoming increasingly obvious that the decision to turn it over to a management company was the right one. The treasurer told a few big fibs about not being asked to turn over the records, which I know isn't true and lots of angry words were hurtled by her. She was deliberately insulting to my husband.

Me. I kept my cool, smiled and took meeting minutes. I need a drink now. There are some days I hate being an adult. Tonight was one of those times.

Again, NEVER move into a development that has an HOA unless you enjoy Exedrin headaches times infinity.

Furbaby Heartbreak New and Old

After an uneventful week of Jim working part time at our local newspaper covering sports and writing a fantasy football column while not substitute teaching and myself engaged in work, research for various folks and several hours of Spanish homework every day I find myself so rudely triggered yet again.

It's not the fact that last Sunday many of us at our church were left with a rather nasty taste in our mouths when one of the pastors rattled on and on and on about the need for everyone to donate money towards the new steeple on a week when tragic news and heartbreaking photos were emerging in the press about the Syrian refugees. Yeah, there are some of us there that would rather raise funds go to towards helping the Syrians instead of rebuilding the steeple.

It's not even the fact that I've had tattle tale family members sharing someone else business I have no wish to know. Nor the fact that a friend has been threatening suicide.

This morning when I came home from church I saw a discussion online at a place I frequent about pit bulls being dangerous and the original poster expressed a strong opinion that all pit bulls and pit bull mixes need to be registered and monitored. Why? Mostly because of the incident in NYC where a lady unleashed her pit bulls on an innocent stranger and the animals almost took the man's life.

It wasn't the claims that pit bulls are extremely dangerous that upset me. Pets only behave in the same manner that their owners do or do not train them. Owners are ultimately responsible for their animals, in all ways.

What happened was that a lady commenting on the topic told the tale of how when her child was born one of her two cats she'd had quite a while bit her as she held the baby. Rather that trying to figure out why the animal did this and was it a one time thing or was something physically wrong or emotionally wrong with the cat she decided to get rid of both cats. Okay. So that strikes me as a bit extreme, but a mother was afraid her child would be attacked by her pets.

Did she take them to an animal shelter or make any attempt to find someone in her circle of acquaintances that might be able to take the cats? Nope. She took them to the vet and had both cats euthanized.

I was jaw dropped reading her solution to a one time biting problem, and had to compose and recompose what I wanted to say to her. I had to take it down from a place of obscenities and wishing violence on her to simply telling the lady how awful her actions were.

A few people supported what I had to say but then it turned into an internet pile up like I figured it might. I never replied to anyone after my initial comment telling the cat killer how reprehensible her actions were and pointing out the alternatives. This was a a place where there are lots of people who used to be fundamentalist Christians and were no more. This is also typical behavior towards animals I have witnessed again and again among the more extreme Christian cults. You know if they cannot treat their own children with loving respect and care that it's too much to think that they might be able to treat poor defenseless animals with any loving kindness.

I've been disgusted and rattled most of the day, unable to move past the fact that people still treat pets like they are as disposable as a dirty kleenex.

For many years now I've done animal rescue, fostered animals, had my own precious pets and I just cannot wrap my mind around that sort of cruel treatment to a fur baby. I feel like puking.

When I attended my old church I'd encountered this attitude of animals being disposable and worthless more times that I like to think about. This goes well beyond some of them that were too cheap to get adequate medical care for their animals to a cruel indifference.

But what did I expect, some of these type people are the ones I'm hearing now calling for troops to go into Syria and flatten the place to solve the refugee issue. Killing never solved anything.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

The HOA Ate My Brain Once Again

We're dealing with a new HOA mess. Folks, if you can avoid moving into a community with a Home Owners Association please do so!

Ancient history. About ten years ago these two people took over our HOA as president and treasurer and have royally fucked things up. The president by sheer incompetence, but he did try to resolve some of the community problems after some of us started poking him with a legal stick to try to get action on the many legal issues we residents might be on the hook for.

The treasurer is just a nasty, nasty woman. She has refused to show anyone the books for almost ten years now. If you asked you get cussed out. She takes two to three months to cash a check for the dues. She monopolizes the clubhouse and pool use. Most everyone here hates her guts. It is very suspicious that she's been so secretive about the books.

By the time the president decided to try and straighten out the roiling rolling mess that our community has turned into most everyone has stopped paying dues, leaving no money for pool maintenance or to maintain the green swards of open grass, the playgrounds and common areas. Local attorneys have been advising most of the homeowners here not to pay.

A couple of weeks ago the president called me out of the blue after months of not hearing from him and asked if I would back him if he turned the entire HOA running to a management company. I sit on the board, so I had to be one of the people to sign off on it. I told him, sure, please do that, because it's what I suggested we do four years ago, let someone else run it that does not live here so that they cannot be accused of favoritism like some on the board have been charged with. I heard nothing else.

It was kind of sneaky because no one on the board consulted the treasurer at all. It was presented to her fait accompli. Predictably she's since had a huge explosion and cussed out many people on the board. She's also refused to give over the financials to the management company. But we all knew this was likely to happen since she has made everything to do with running the HOA so dramatic and filled with threats and cursing. No way was anyone going to give her any say in this decision.

A week ago Jim and I got a letter from the management company now handling all the dues collections, state compliance, bill paying, maintenance and architectural oversight. The letter simply stated that they had taken over and here was the info on paying the dues. Simple and to the point.

Yesterday the president came to our front door and showed us a letter that one of the furious residents had put in his mailbox saying he was going to sue the treasurer and the president for turning the HOA over to a management company. He was frantic for me to send out a community wide email saying the treasurer had nothing to do with the decision to hire the management company and that it was his decision alone.

I did it and put up an explanation of what was going on with bringing in the management company. So far I've not received this lawsuit letter addressed to me, but I anticipate it coming since I'm on the board and three members have received it already.

This is all sorts of silly and disgusting because the people now complaining that everything is now going to be legally and properly done don't even bother showing up for HOA meetings and have never volunteered once to help out with the many things that need to happen here. We're have maintenance and work crew parties to repair the fences around the community, paint the club house, deal with the landscaping issues and no participation from anyone in the community but the board members. We're the 5%ers here apparently.

The last place I saw a pile of adults acting this childish was at my old church. Le sigh. I guess as long as the treasurer doesn't show up on my doorstep and I have no more meetings to attend it's all good.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Protection, Projection and Maturity Levels

Did you know I was once approached to do reality television? Yes, it's true, happened about a year before I left my old church.

One of the causes I passionately supported back then was that I was over the top extremist against children's beauty pageants. I thought the entire world of Honey Boo Boo was one of the most disgraceful and dangerous for the safety of children there could ever be. I had a website, was frequently contacted for information by news organizations doing news stories on children's pageants and developed a database of information on why it was wrong.

I am still opposed to children's beauty pageants but now I have a more sangfroid view of the industry. It seems to appeal to the same folks that buy lottery tickets and chain smoke, so it's just another tax on poor choices. Who am I to try and take someone's hobby from them, even if the hobby is horrible for their children?

You know who likes to take away all personal choices from people? Religious fundamentalists. Which I am no longer. Just keep your hobbies and choices legal and I have no problem with them. As long as the only person you're hurting is yourself we're all good.

Back when I was still heavily involved with the church I was approached by someone on the staff of the television show "Wife Swap". We were invited to make an audition tape, look at the contract and possible be chosen for the show. We did the tape and then I took a look at the contract. The contract was all sorts of horrifying. Basically you were giving up your rights to your own image, how you were portrayed, what they could film, what they could do with the footage. The more I stared at the contract the more uneasy I  became.

Granted, since we were going to be the anti children's pageant people it's not like we were going to be portrayed as bad or evil. Likely we would have gotten the heroic edit. But... the more I thought about it the greater my sense of unease grew. Andy and Laura were 16 and 13 years old at the time. Laura into the Christian part of the whole Straight Edge movement, pretty fierce in her beliefs of purity and abstained from everything bad for you while dressing emo and loved punk rock. Andy was always the quiet child, a true introvert with quite the artistic flair for music and writing. Both of them were heavily involved with the youth movement at our church.

What I finally concluded was that even with the lure of filthy lucre (the payment was 50K if I remember right) that my desire to protect my children was even stronger. I never signed the contract or returned any of the paperwork to the production team, telling them in several phone calls that I could not do this to my children. Being a teenager is hard enough, but being a teenager on reality television would open both of them up to an array of criticism, petty harassment and other things I never wanted either to have to experience.

In the long run I knew I'd made the right choice even if it would have been nice to have the money to add to the kid's college funds. I haven't always made the best parenting decisions through the years but that one was a decision I got right.

This last month I've reconnected with a boy from our old church, who remembers my family and I much more than I remember him. I remember his momma, because she was one of the group that decided that those of us at the church who were divorced needed to be run from the church and removed from any position of authority. They also denigrated and mocked those of us that liked to go to the Toronto conferences. They also took the church's already stringent modesty standards to a new extreme, insisting all ladies wear head coverings. They ended up leaving the church after demanding the pastor force us out, we had a lot of divorced and remarried people at the old church.

They moved on to the local Mennonite community and tried to join. The Mennonites wouldn't have them and several of the ones pushing the hardest about divorce ended up divorcing.

The young man showing up at our new church is the first sign of hide or hair of the Head Covering faction.  So here's the rub, the young man has started talking to me about what happened. He's bitter and he's broken. I've talked to him many a long hour now and encouraged him towards figuring out what his own path is in healing, with a caution to avoid certain survivor groups because here we are ten years on and more and many of them are still stuck in that damaged state that wants to blame everyone else and not take the necessary steps to help themselves.

It's okay to be broken, to be in pain, to be confused, hurting and needy. It's not okay to stay there.

Dear nice young man (and everyone else who's parents failed to protect them), Your parents failing to meet your need or protect you isn't your fault. You didn't deserve it. You should have been loved, cherished and protected, but you weren't. I am so sorry for that, but you deserve better than to stay stuck in the trauma. I would never wish for you to stay in a place of hurting. Do what you need to do to heal, seek out those that build you up. We love you.