Warm Wishes For 2014

I wanted to write something clever and enlightening for this post. Lines like, “Good Riddance!” and “”Don’t let the ‘Auld’ hit you in the ‘Lang Syne’ on your way out!” came to mind. But every year has it’s highs and lows. The worst part was losing people with whom I’d become close.

I never intended to get so personally involved with people on the internet. Honestly, what a pleasant surprise.

As I look back on 2013, I have to acknowledge the incredible people who have crossed my path and made my life a little more interesting and a lot more fun. I am especially grateful for the friendships and connections I’ve made through twitter, tumblr, and of course, wordpress.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy new year’s eve, and that 2014 brings much happiness into everyone’s lives.

Happy New Year!

WTF! No… seriously, W – T – F?

When I created ADignorantium I set a few guidelines for myself. Two of the most important are, I don’t bully and I don’t use language that I’d be embarrassed to let a grandmother read. Don’t get me wrong. I do plenty of cussing at home. Some of my favorite words have only four letters. Lately though, it’s been difficult to maintain the latter. The political climate has devolved into a childish temper tantrum, and I am pissed!

I am so friggin pissed I could spit nails!

I never truly understood that expression until those unbelievably shortsighted tea party republicans decided to put the screws to the United States. I can’t even put thoughts into words, I’m so angry. This is not how America works! We don’t allow a few extremists to shut down the entire government  Do we?

Instead of passing a clean appropriations bill, house republicans attached an ACA rider that doomed it to fail. The unrelated provisions guaranteed the bill would not pass the senate. All they had to do was pass a continuing resolution (CR) that was clean of extraneous nonsense, but they are blinded by their hatred of anything Obama.

Truth be told, I’m not exactly thrilled with every bit of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), but it’s a good start. It’s a step in the right direction. When you’re not happy with something, you don’t fix it by killing it. And before you throw “corporate exemptions” at me, those exemptions were concessions to republicans. If you want to get rid of the exemptions, you write a bill, separate from the appropriations bill, and send it to the senate. But that’s not what they want. They want to undo the healthcare law. After trying and failing to repeal the ACA forty two times, they try this stunt!?

Now the government is shut down. National parks, museums, and landmarks are closed to the public. Millions are now without work.

  • Don’t they understand that a government shutdown affects more than government employees?
  • Don’t they know that everyday Americans like hotel staff, bartenders, waiters, and store clerks depend on tourism to make a living?
  • Do they even care that their stubbornness will have a negative effect on the economy?

There is no doubt in my mind that this bullisht is racially motivated. I wasn’t sure at first. I just chalked it up to politics as usual. But after six years of stubborn resistance, there can be no other explanation.

So now I owe some very good friends an apology for all those late night conversations about “race in America” in which I was so certain that things had improved since my father’s generation. Apparently, I was wrong. I was wrong and it sickens me. I am so f*king ashamed of my own country. MY OWN COUNTRY!

I’d like to think we’ll remember. I want to believe we will carry this rage with us to the voting booth. I know I will. But America has a short memory span. We are more worried about Miley, Kim, and Kanye than we are about what our local politicians are up to. More Americans know the names of the Real Housewives than who their representatives are.

So why am I surprised when this isht happens?

~end rant~

Thanks to all for bearing with me. We now return to our regularly scheduled blog.

My favorite chef’s knife and I had a fight. The chef knife won. :\

The mercury hovered above the ninety degree mark on Sunday afternoon. The humidity was quickly approaching oppressive. It was Mother Nature’s way of showing us what she had in store in the coming months.

With summer on my mind, I got to thinking of the watermelon that’s been sitting in the fridge this last week. It was past time to slice that puppy up and enjoy the cool sweetness I knew awaited me.

I took out my favorite knife and prepared to go to work.

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My favorite knife is a ten inch work horse.
I use it for everything.

Now, I’ve had that chef’s knife for almost two decades. She and I have created many a memorable meal. She’s got a good weight, with a nice balance, and her handle fits my hand well. When I’m prepping dinner or chopping veggies, she’s an extension on my arm.

But today I was careless.

After I cut the watermelon in half, I placed the knife on the table so I could set one of the halves aside. This would ensure that the half I wasn’t working on would be out of the way.

The knife fell off the table.

I stepped back to let the knife fall.

But my hand was close enough to the blade that it made contact.

I watched in slow motion as steel sliced flesh.

Time was a blur.

  • Cold water.
  • Rinse the cut.
  • Wrap the cut.
  • Apply pressure.
  • Examine cut. (Probably needs stitches.)
  • Call neighbor. “I need a ride to the ER.”
  • Rinse cut in water again.
  • Dress cut.
  • Drive to ER. Sign in. Wait.
  • Answer questions. Wait.
  • Triage nurse. (Check blood pressure, temperature, and pulse.)
  • Wait some more.
  • Examination. Needle. “Ouch!”
  • Wait. “Feeling no pain.”
  • Clean laceration.
  • Sew it up.
  • Take pictures of cool stitches..
  • Here’s your bill. Off you go.
  • Home.
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Waiting for the shot they gave me to make my finger go numb.
Listening to the kid in the next stall brag about his sprained ankle.

I really want to thank the triage nurse for informing me that ACME has “Pre-Cut” watermelon for $4.99 lb. I thought that was very considerate of her.

And in case you’re wondering, the watermelon was fine. No, really. It was delicious! ;p

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Four Stitches?? That’s all I need?? Just Four Stitches?? :\

…and yes, I will most certainly use my favorite knife again.

Dad wasn’t perfect, but…

My Dad wasn’t perfect, but neither am I.

This August will mark the ten year anniversary of my Father’s passing. He was 62 years old.

My Dad struggled to make a comfortable home for us. Along the way, teaching me never to be afraid or ashamed of the work you need to do in order to put a roof over your head, or food on the table.

In the 1970s, the economy was much like it is today. Dad was often out of work. On weekends you’d find my Father at flea markets, selling items he found at the curb on trash nights. He knew the Bulk Trash Pick-Up days of all the local municipalities. These were the days when you could put large items out on the curb for trash collection. You’d be surprised what people are willing to throw away. My Father was able to support his family like this for nearly a year. Though he hasn’t picked trash since the 1970s, he continued to buy and sell flea market items to supplement his income until the end of his life.

By the way – There is nothing wrong with picking through trash in order to support your family. The alternative is to resort to crime, or lose your home.

I’m proud of my Father for that. I credit him for my work ethic.

In August 2003, my Father had a heart attack. It was his third. His Doctors moved him from the smaller Delaware County area hospital to a larger Philadelphia area University Hospital in the hopes that access to more resources would help him recover more quickly.

Though cutting edge, the care wasn’t as personable as his local hospital. My Dad was not happy. Against my Stepmother’s wishes, he petitioned his healthcare team to relocate him. Though my Stepmother tried to keep my Father where he was, the Doctors relented. By the end of the week, my Dad was relocated to his local hospital.

I talked to my Dad on the phone that Saturday afternoon. He was concerned that I might be mad at him for choosing to return to the smaller hospital. I told him I wasn’t angry with him. I believed that he would receive better care at the larger University Hospital, but he is entitled to have his wishes met.

“You’re my Father”, I said. “I Love you.”

“I love you too”, he replied, and hung up the phone.

I didn’t give it much thought. But when the phone rang at 11:00pm, I knew. For some reason I just knew what I was about to hear. It was my Stepmother. My Father had just died.

After hanging up the phone, I got dressed and left my apartment. I didn’t want to be alone. The obvious place for me to go was a local watering hole that had been an important part of my life for almost two decades. I didn’t go there to socialize, or get drunk. I just wanted to be surrounded by people.

Through several interactions with people who knew my Dad was in the hospital, I processed this new information.

One acquaintance, who knew my Dad from the flea market circuit, revealed several stories told to him by my Father. Apparently, my Dad held me in high regard. He bragged to everyone he knew about every accomplishment in my life, no matter how small. The stories contained such details that I knew he wasn’t just telling me what I needed to hear.

My Dad was proud of me. I had never heard him say it. Just like, until that day, I had never heard my Father say I Love You. It was the first time I remember hearing my Father say I Love You to me. I was 38 years old, and I had never heard those words.

I spent the next few weeks in a fog. On one hand, I was sad. On the other hand, my Father’s last words to me were, “I Love You”. How was I supposed to process this?

I believe my Dad knew he was going to die. I believe he wanted to die close to home. I also believe his last words to me were intentional.

Whether true or not, my Father’s last words to me were, “I Love You.” Nothing can ever change that. And I will hold onto that for the rest of my life.

After all, my Dad wasn’t perfect, but neither am I.

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My Dad smiling affectionately at my Grandmother (his Mother) during a family gathering.
My Grandmother never sat down. In this photo, she was probably setting out dessert and pouring coffee after one of her many delicious Sunday meals.
I got my love of cooking from her.
I miss them both.

Note: This post originally appeared on June 2012 at ADignorantium.tumblr it has been updated to reflect the passage of time.

Some Serious Questions For Conservatives

Why do conservatives use the word “Entitlement” as if it was a bad word.

They’re called “Entitlements” because the people who receive them worked hard for and earned them as part of an agreed upon contract with the United States government. Money is taken from our paycheck each week as insurance until such time as we either retire, become disabled and cannot work, or the worst case scenario, a disaster happens and we need help.

Entitlements are not handouts. Entitlements are not charity. Entitlements did not tank our economy. Corporate greed did. So why do you want to punish the least of us just so the wealthiest can have tax breaks?

Conservatives claim to be for limited government and keeping government out of our private lives.

How does amending the constitution to ban same-sex marriage limit government or keep the government out of our private lives? How does one person’s marriage affect yours? Is the foundation or your marriage so fragile that it would crumble under the weight of another couple’s happiness?

Conservatives claim to be for fiscal responsibility, yet they are largely against paying for birth control. Does it not occur to them that tax payers will undoubtedly foot the bill, through welfare, for eighteen plus years of childcare for many of the children that result from unplanned pregnancies? Compared to that, contraception is cheap.

There’s nothing wrong with conservative ideas. Personal responsibility is important. Responsibility to our community is even more important.

Ensuring that companies provide a living wage so that families don’t have to rely on food stamps is the responsible thing to do. A family that can’t afford food isn’t self sufficient. Isn’t that what conservatism is all about; being self sufficient? A family that’s not self sufficient cannot contribute to the economy.

If families aren’t contributing to the economy, the economy doesn’t grow.

One more thing.

As our country experiences extreme weather powerful enough to bring about the destruction of whole communities, more and more people are going to find themselves in need of some kind of assistance, be it food stamps or welfare. These people are not deadbeats. They aren’t looking for handouts either. Yet many conservatives want to reduce these life saving safety nets because of the cost. Are these the “family values” that conservatives claim they hold in such high regard?

The United States of America is a vast and wealthy country populated with people of many different faiths and from every walk of life. In order for us to have a strong country we must look out for one another. United we stand. Divided we fall.

I must have been a serial killer in a past life. It’s the only possible explanation. :\

Murphy’s Law, as it relates to medical issues, seems to apply even more so on weekends, when most hospitals run with minimal staff.

A new kidney stone joined the party on Friday evening. Thankfully the pain isn’t that excruciating “death would be better” misery that often accompany these things. If it was, I’d have to spend a weekend in a hospital room attached to a morphine drip waiting for Monday. Surgeons generally don’t work on the weekends.

These painful little gifts from hell show up frequently enough that I’ve become a pro at recognizing their calling cards; lower back and flank pain followed by endless trips to the restroom, where I can be heard screeching out a passable Robert Plant impersonation.

I drink an average of two to three liters of water each day. That’s significantly more than before my right kidney declared war a few years ago. Unfortunately, hydration only tells half the story. There are other factors that determine your propensity for kidney stones. Though technically not hereditary, if your father had kidney stones, chances are you will too.

Due to my history of kidney trouble, this will probably not be my last tango with these microscopic menaces. So I’ll keep drinking water, eating a low sodium diet, and wondering what the hell it was I did in a past life that Karma deemed it necessary to torture me so.