Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Shitting-Ass Woods Were On Fire

   It's been a while since I've posted. I can't help it, you've all become victims (or benefactors depending on how you view my ramblings) of my Dragon Age obsession. The new one is coming out in October, so of course, I've got to replay the old games and make sure that I'm happy with the paths my characters have taken. Well, that and the fact that I work and have all of my usual parenting duties. And my vacuum broke again and my computer is still being a fussy biatch, but I digress.
   A couple days ago, I was frying squash; a good old-fashioned Southern fry-up, and I was also baking cookies at the same time, because I wanted my daughter to have a treat, since I was having mine via the fry-up, which my daughter hates. And the apartment started filling with smoke, and my daughter is sitting there asking, "Mom, what are you burning?" Which is a fair question, especially when I am cooking multiple things. I am not the most skilled cook, and I get the best results when I do one thing at a time. But, since I was also frying, the oven was not unattended; I was getting grease burns like a pro, standing over my fry pan. But, even though I couldn't see fire, I could smell it, so I shut everything down. Nobody wants to deal with a grease fire.
   The smoke did not diminish, however, so I was looking around for a source of smoke, and I realized that the smoke was coming in through our open windows. Washington, my friends, has been getting 90 degree weather. And we've been dry. Washington does not like to be dry; we need some rain. In protest of the dry weather, the damn woods outside of my apartment had decided to start burning. Straight-up fire, and sitting in my apartment parking lot was a shit load of fire trucks and firefighters. I'd thought those sirens had sounded kinda close. Guess kinda close this time meant right outside my freakin' door.
   It was my day off; I had no plans to leave the apartment, no plans to even open the door, so here I am, in my ratty shirt that's super comfy, in my ratty sleep pants, my hair pulled back in a messy knot, and I'm looking at a drive way full of buff-ass firefighters..... and they are looking at me. SHIT!!! Are you kidding me? But that's not even the worst of it.
   The fire had started on the other side of the woods that are next to my apartment, so they hadn't reached my apartment, but the firefighters had hooked up all their hoses, ready for if the fire did reach this side of the woods. I look back in my house, at my daughter who is also in her slumming-round-the-apartment clothes, and I hiss, "Get dressed in case we need to leave!" Then I look back at my neighbor, who is also out gawking at the smoke-filled lot, and she's going, "That's an awful lot of smoke, my God." And we look at each other and shrug, and then I look at the firefighters, and I decide on of them needs to tell me if we need to get up out of this place. As much as I love my stuff - I don't want my daughter and I to die with it. We wanna live, dammit. So I ask one of the guys if we need to leave or something, and he says, "No, they about got it out." I guess that accounted for all the damn smoke.
    They all left after a few, which I wasn't thrilled about, because, what if that shit starts burning again? But I guess from the sounds of it, a heck of a lot of Washington is burning right now. They have things to do. I know one thing though, I'm not going to be happy until we get a real good Washington downpour. I want shit soaked. All this grass and underbrush is brown and crispy - perfect for burning. I want things to go back to being green and soggy, thank you very much. 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Bless Your Heart And Sweet Tea

   I recently took one of those facebook quizzes, something that I am constantly doing, that asked a series of questions and was supposed to measure how southern you were. My father's side of the family is southern, deep south, good old Mississippi folk, so I thought it would be fun. And I'm not really saying that the quiz wasn't fun - but a lot of the questions didn't match what I experienced living in the south. I don't know how anyone else feels about the quiz, but I'm pretty sure that the thing was written by a Northern person who was only familiar with Southern stereotypes. And there seems to be a lot of that up here, so I thought I'd set some things straight, but with the understanding that my viewpoint is just that - my viewpoint. When you talk Southern, what you need to realize is that you are talking about a whole section of a country, and southern Mississippi can be a lot different that southern Georgia and southern Texas and Florida (many of whom refuse to be classified as Southern at all. They are Floridians, dammit). They aren't all the same, no more than Washington is the same as Maine or California.
   But at any rate, we are going to start with Bless Your Heart. The quiz that I did take defined the saying 'Bless your heart' as something Southern people said to someone when they thought they were doing or saying something incredibly stupid. This may be true for some people, but personally, when I thought someone was being a moron, I always just told them to piss off. I've never blessed a person's heart in my life, and a lot of us don't use that phrase. But for those people that I've known to use that phrase, they've always used it in a more friendly manner. "Did you hear about so-and-so? Her mother was diagnosed with cancer. Bless her heart." "So-and-so's husband was laid off after working for that company for twelve years. Bless his heart." I can't say that I've ever heard this phrase used in the manner of an insult. Not to say that it doesn't happen, but that is not the main use of that phrase, so don't automatically think that this phrase is an insult.
   Now we are going to move on to the usage of ma'am. I use this one a lot, and it's not well received at times. Since when was ma'am an insult? Let me set this record straight - ma'am is not commonly used to mean elderly. When I call you ma'am, I am not saying "Hey, old lady." Ma'am IS a term for a grown woman. I was once told by someone to use Miss instead. Miss, folks, is a girl. Someone who is not yet old enough to be married, to be an adult. Calling a grown woman miss is an insult. Want me to treat you like a child? Fine. You are grounded. Go to your room and stay there until you've grown a brain. Maybe that's disrespectful, but frankly, you just asked for it. Literally. Calling a woman ma'am is no different that calling a man sir, and as a kid, in the south, we were punished for being disrespectful. Being respectful is not an easy habit for me to break, and honestly, I have both an attitude and a temper.  Sometimes I really need to be able to cling to that habit of being respectful in order to keep from going off on people when they aggravate me.
    We're also going to talk sweet tea here. We don't all like sweet tea. There are plenty of people who would rather have a glass of coke or coffee or water or whatever. But, personally, I love sweet tea. I make my tea by the half-gallon and I use plenty of sugar. However, I never drank sweet tea in the south, because they drink black tea, for the most part. Black tea is gross. My sweet tea tends to be green tea, or white tea, or rooibos tea, and they tend to be flavored specialty teas at that. The south may be known for sweet tea, but I think the north has the south beat when it comes to tea. That's a personal opinion there, but all I can say is Washington has Tea Madame Tea shop, and the south doesn't. That speaks volumes to me.
    All I'm saying, I guess, is that a stereotype is a stereotype, and perhaps when someone is telling you that every person in the south acts and talks the same way, maybe you should think about how likely that really is. I mean, how big is the south? How many states? Is that reasonable that every person in the south is a carbon copy? That all of those states have the same mannerisms and traditions? Not realistic, people. We aren't all the same, and when you make assumptions, you may tend to get angry or get your feelings hurt because you are placing what we said or did in a context that doesn't apply. And also - I know a few southern women who have virulent feelings towards tea, sweet or not.


   P.S. I have never sucked on a crawfish head. Mudbugs are gross. 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Don't Trust The Crows

   This morning, as I was leaving my apartment for work, I heard a strange thud over to my left as I stepped out from under my building's entryway. Looking over at the object that had thudded, seemingly from the sky, I noticed something rather alarming. The object was a bone. A largish bone, nasty, which some fragments of meat still attached.
    Then I heard the cawing. Already knowing what I would see, I still looked up, at my roof, at the two crows peering down at me - and the breakfast that had escaped them. I stared, they stared, and then they started flapping and cawing some more, and not needing any further signaling, I stepped away from the bone.
    I stepped away from the bone and I wondered; what the hell where those birds pulling up onto my building's roof and eating? That bone sure didn't look like any kind of a chicken bone. The crows have pulled chicken onto the roof of my various apartment buildings many times. Back when I was still living with my mom and my sister, our townhouse apartment that we shared had a skylight (a misguided attempt at being 'upscale') and one time a crow even had a chicken breast piece up on that roof, and he ate it over the skylight, so that we could all get a good view of him eating his fried chicken carrion.
    This bone didn't look like those bones, nor did all the other bones littering the ground around our building. I mean, sheesh. People were going to come by after the crows had left and they were going to think some messed up voodoo doctor/witch/blood mage was living up in that building. And what the hell kind of animal were the crows eating on up there??!! That's not chicken bones! Whatever animal that was - I somehow doubt that the crows scavenged it from the eyesore dumpsters. I think they went hunting.
    I looked at the crows again, still looking at me from their higher ground, and I realized that they had the perfect ambush spot for passersby, and I wondered if those were the bones of Fluffy the dog or Spooky the cat. Except they seemed a little big for a cat, so maybe Bruiser the dog was up there instead. And I wanna know - who's next? Are those crows going to be up on that roof one day munching on people? The way they were looking at me, I believe that they were at least considering the idea.
   So I did what any sane, rational person would do. I left. If those crows were fixing to decide to try a people hunt, I had no intention of being next. And now I know; and now you know. Don't trust the crows. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Maybe Marie's Not In A Good Mood (The Maybe Post)

   I dislike corn season. I mean, I like fresh corn as much as anyone, but I dislike being a checker during corn season. People don't like you to count corn. They have a cart full of the shit (and sometimes, this is literal) and they want to tell you something like, "I have one hundred", and they don't want you to count it. They get PISSED. Don't even think about the fact that counting out what you're buying is part of a cashier's job - just automatically jump to the conclusion that the cashier is accusing you of being dishonest. If I ran a business that sold items in quantity, I would want my employees to verify the quantity the customer had. But maybe that's just me; maybe the rest of the world wouldn't care if their employees were not doing their job to the fullest of their capabilities and the entire extent of their job description. Maybe a half-assed work ethic has become the new hot commodity in retail. 
   I also dislike customers who are douche bags. Full on, rude, I-have-no-respect-for-anyone-but-myself douchery. Fantastic. There is nothing like telling a customer that you're sorry, but you don't have any tape at your checkstand, and having that customer respond, "Do you even know what tape is?" Hmmmmmm. Maybe I don't know what tape is. Maybe, somehow, in my thirty-two years of life, I have managed to completely avoid all contact with tape. Or maybe you need to realize that this is a checkstand, and not the package counter at the post office, and that even if we did have tape, it would probably just be plain old scotch tape and not the packaging tape required to hold your freaking big-ass box shut. That's not exactly a donut box, dude. Or maybe I just don't know what tape is, and really, I have a full drawer full of packing tape.
  Banana peels; you do realize that when you hand me a banana peel at the point of checkout, you are now digesting the heaviest part of that fruit, and I can't correctly charge you. Same with apple cores, peach pits, and so-on and so-forth. I really dislike this. What am I supposed to do? Heimlich the rest of the fruit out of you and try to get the weight? Really, what am I supposed to do here? Just be like, oh well, you just stole from my company, and let it go? No big deal. It's just fruit. Maybe, if you were the only person doing that garbage. Do you really think you are the only person? Why is it, that when people want a snack, and they just can't wait until the shopping is done, why do they tend to choose the items that are sold by weight?
    To add to this list of things that I dislike; let's go with not being able to breath. Men! You don't need the whole bottle of Axe poured over your body. That's not sexy. Women are not passing out because of your inconceivable hotness; they are passing out because your cologne has defeated all the area's oxygen. And your poor, poor checker; that person can't even run away. That person has to try and hold their breath until you've moved on. Seriously, can't breath here. Maybe you don't need so much. Maybe, if you are buying cologne in bulk, that's a sign. Maybe, if you come through my line with five bottles of the shit, I'm going to grace you with Marie's-Ultra-Special-Glare-Of-Death - you know, on behalf of all of the people who have suffered. Maybe too much cologne should be considered chemical warfare.
   Maybe I'm kinda grumpy today. I dislike being grumpy, but hey, I'm human. Grumpiness comes to all of us. Probably, I shouldn't have gotten out of bed this morning, but I have responsibilities. I have things that need to get done. But maybe, after I'm done baking this box of Betty Crocker's cookie brownie that I just happened to find in the cabinet (how did that get there, I wonder?), maybe I should manage to refrain from eating the whole damn thing, because even though I like to eat my feelings, I know it isn't healthy. Or maybe I should eat the whole thing. We only live once, and maybe this brownie is the only thing standing between me and happiness. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

College - Worth The Cost Or Not?

   I've been seeing a lot about college lately; more specifically, the cost of college and student loan debt. There's a lot of heated opinion about college and about paying back student loans and the cost, and is college worth the cost of being in debt for the next ten years (or more).
  I can't say that I have an answer to that, for the population in general. For me, the holder of a BA in one field, an AA in another, and still working outside both fields, in retail, I say yes. Maybe I've bought into the hype; I don't know. Maybe ten years from now, I'll be pissed that I spent ALL that money on an education.
  But, my life has improved. From someone who started her higher education by getting a GED (meaning that I didn't even have a high school education, of course), I can say that I live better than I did before, even with the debt, which I do have. I am student-loaned out like a motherfucker, 40k biatch, and my student loan payments do constitute as my second largest bill (rent being first, food being third). I went to a community college for my AA, but remember, not only do I work as many hours as my job will give me, I've also got the single mom thing going for me, so I was getting a maximum of four hours of sleep. When I decided to continue on with my education, I looked for online programs, which tend to be more costly than regular old, run-of-the-mill college campuses. And I chose a different degree, which does account for some of the cost - this is for two separate degrees, even if I did transfer some of my AA's credits, there were still a lot that were just not relevant to my new field of study.
   My daughter's dreams improved as my education did. She went from wanting to be a cashier like mommy to wanting to go to college like mommy. Mommy is still a cashier, but damn it, she's a finely, over-educated one, and my daughter still wants to go to college, and mommy still wants her to go, even with her second largest bill being student loans. I've lived with no education, and that sucks big time; I do not want that for my daughter.
   But, in my value of my (costly) education, you need to understand, I lived a large part of my life with someone doing their best to convince me that I was stupid. Going to college, that was my way of dispelling that belief - one that I had bought into. So that is one reason that I still value my seemingly worthless education. Another - well, this blog isn't perfect. I try to edit out grammar and spelling mistakes, but I tend to only spend about thirty minutes on a post. They're fast things for me that I can pound out after work but before making my daughter dinner. If you are reading this, you may find a mistake or two, but in the large part, you are also benefiting from my higher education. Imagine the mistakes that would have been up in this post before Writing 101 and Writing 235 got their happy hands on me.
   I guess what I am trying to say is this: like everything in this world, education's value is relative. How much does having an education mean to you? How much will your life improve? You will probably go into debt, almost undoubtedly - unless you manage to pimp out your education with grants and scholarships (good for you if you can!!!), but people are perfectly willing to go into debt for things like cars - something that will probably not even last them ten damn years, and they do so because they think having a car will either bring value into their lives or ease hardship, or whatever. For me, education has brought value into my life, so while my debt can be a struggle, I manage. Because this was something that I wanted. Ten years from now, maybe I'll be pissed that I was so naive, so financially clueless, but right now, I don't think so. My self esteem has benefited, my daughter's goals have improved, and my writing has benefited. Who knows, down the road, what other aspects of my life will benefit, if any, but regardless, I think that higher education is still worth something, even beyond a salary. But that is something that everyone will have to decide for themselves, just like any other major life decision.