Wednesday, October 15, 2014

EEEEEEEBOLA!! Or, Please Pass the Popcorn

Yeah, I'm not freaking out.

I knew it was going to happen. How could it not?

"The New World Order", where travel is rampant, illegal immigrants flood our shores and our cities, everyone is mobile and busy and involved. You can make your products in deepest darkest Africa, and with an Internet webpage or even a Facebook account, you can sell anything to anyone. I can type this and hit "post" and suddenly you can read it in England, Australia, Russia, or China if you, too have Internet and the inclination. We are up each other's butts 24/7. We can order English toffee straight from England, Irish sweaters and china straight from Ireland. We can tell people off on pages that are read all over the world, we can tag or poke our kids and grandkids, we can communicate instantaneously.

So I moved to the back hills of Nebraska, because even I could see that this instantaneous and overpopulated sea of dreck and profit was going to wash over everyone, and the salt of ambition and greed would get in their eyes and blind them to the pitfalls. Friends of mine caught antibiotic-resistant tuberculosis, and invariably the first question out of the doctors' mouths was "Been around any illegal immigrants?" We are swarmed with people from all sorts of countries, carrying all sorts of diseases, and we pretend to ourselves that God is in his heaven, we have antibiotic wipes and soaps, we'll be fine, all's right with the world.

Guess where I get my food? My 60 acres. Guess where I rarely go? Places with a population over 2000. Guess Why?

Three months ago, I sent all of my children an email. It told them to pack their bug-out bags, to get paper maps and plot at least three routes to our farm, to never ever let their gas tanks get below the 1/2 full mark. To be ready to bug out, before the quarantines, the panics, the insanity ensued. To be alert and watchful.

Not because I fear the Ebola virus. But because I know that, when the shit gets even close to the fan, everyone is going to freak, to panic, to "when in trouble or in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout". Once the politicians can't lie any more, once the virus starts taking off and becoming widespread - even slightly or sporadically - suddenly, and without warning, people in power are going to freak. They are going to start demanding restrictions - on travel, on food supplies, on freedoms. This will cause the public's safety to decline rapidly. This will cause panic in the streets - because as usual the idiots will have waited until it is too late to do anything else. Suddenly trucks will stop bringing in supplies, suddenly people will be running to the hospitals for a sneeze or a fever, suddenly those who are really carrying the virus will be exposing tens, then hundreds, then thousands, running back and forth, like chickens with their heads cut off. FREAK OUT!!! Then the hysteria starts, then the looting starts, then the travel restrictions and the quarantines start, and those who never had any chance of getting sick will suddenly be throwing themselves or dragged into situations where they WILL get sick. Guaranteed. This snowball is already rolling downhill, and it is picking up all of the filth, twigs and pointy goathead-burrs of terror and misplaced power.

Me, I'm going to sit right here and watch.

Didja ever see the National Geographic's documentaries on "Earth Without People"?  Or Stephen King's "The Stand"? Yeah, they're wrong.  They make it seem like people will die off relatively peacefully, that most buildings will still be standing, that most infrastructure will remain intact. Oh, sure, there might be some trouble in the bigger cities - gangs trying to steal peoples' food and cars, trying to escape, even shooting some folks; it might be a little dangerous, but that will be brief, and the survivors will have plenty of remaining choices for their shelter and food.. This is a lie. The panic, when it begins, will be on a scale not even imagined by those who wrote abut the Black Plague, the Spanish 'Flu, or who lived through Katrina. Most cities will not be left standing; they will be huge conflagrations all across the countries, as the living try to get rid of the dead, as the looters destroy what they cannot take, as the dead and dying leave their propane heaters and gas stoves running until an errant spark flares... Dying people will be fleeing in fear, running into other dying people, causing massive wrecks and still more fires. Dying people will group together for survival, killing each other off wholesale, as they raid the remaining hospitals and grocery stores for one last drug, one last mouthful of food, before the disease or their neighbor kills them off.

 The politicians and other folks who have talked wisely about "population control" and 'thinning the herd' have literally no idea that they, too, are on the slaughter agenda. Like the kings and nobility during the plagues, they think that their money and position will save them. They are wrong. Even if they make it into the rumored safe houses and enclaves, most people cannot survive for long, locked away with a selected group or even alone. They can't stand themselves or each other for any broad length of time now; they will certainly run amok once the terror and stress of being encapsulated strikes home. The crazy comes out then, and, 2 years from now, there won't be a single survivor in those places, no matter how well equipped or supplied they are.  

Know who survives? Those who don't panic. Those who have a plan - a self-perpetuating plan - in place. Those who like being independent and don't mind being alone. Those who have prepared; who have been prepared, for months and years, for any eventuality - or none at all. Those who didn't bury themselves in the empty, mindless busywork of the cities, where nothing matters except tomorrow's paycheck and the next day's night out. Those who didn't spend half of their lives on Facebook and the other half texting their friends.

No matter how this plays out, I have a front-row seat to either the massive death and destruction of disease, or the massive hysteria and pontificating that results from the fear of it. And even if nothing happens at all - I've still got my cows, my chickens, the wood for my woodburning stove, my bullets, my guns, my already-canned garden produce and their seeds to grow more; my bees and my honey and even wax for candles. I'm comfy, thanks. Please pass the popcorn. The world is my stage, and I'm going to watch it all from right here... until the power goes out and the stage goes dark.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Thoughts on Marriage, Tigger, and Eeyore

My darling daughter married the love of her life this past November. We like him; he is smart, funny, and he really, really loves her - not the 'her' that everyone else sees, but the fiery, passionate, completely determined little girl we raised to become a fiery, passionate, intelligent woman. What drives her is a thirst for knowledge - and a determination to achieve, to become, to create. I love that in her. It's how I used to be and what I still - occasionally - strive to be.

I don't know how to tell her that marriage isn't always going to be that way.

When Mike and I were married, he was Eeyore and I was Tigger. We formed a contract about our marriage ( I had come out of an abusive marriage and was determined never to end up there again). Life was hard - we lived on $8000.00 a year, with 2 kids and one on the way. We fought and sought other jobs to keep the family moving steadily upward, both in income and in experiences. We had passionate sex, quite frequently; it was the expression not only of our love for each other, but because we rarely saw each other, due to our jobs.  Even when we worked together on the ambulance, we had passion - but we were so closely aligned that, depending on the call, one or the other would take the lead in the call, while the other supported. We didn't fight over calls, like most married emergency service workers did. We didn't have to. We knew each others' strengths and weaknesses, and the best one for the situation always took lead.

When Mike got hurt, all of that changed. His damage was not only physical, but mental and spiritual. The endless pain and the daily drugs took a toll on him that simply can't be explained. But, more than that - he had always defined himself by what he could DO. And suddenly - he couldn't do anything any more. Couldn't be a firefighter. Couldn't be a paramedic. Couldn't even hang blinds (his part-time job) or fix cars. It hurt to move. It hurt to not move. He became a mean, nasty, angry bastard, even occasionally violent.

It was daily painful for him to hear sirens and not respond; hard for him to even drive past the fire station or go to EMS base. He didn't want to be that soul-sucking guy who, unable to function, hangs around his old haunts, still trying to be a part of it all, and making everyone else distinctly uncomfortable. But yet, after 28 years in Emergency Services, he couldn't let go. It was tearing him apart.

So, yeah, part of why we moved was to give him a whole new life, away from the sound of sirens and car crashes, the smells of smoke and that copper-scented smell of blood and open guts and the occasional putrid gangrene, the cordite smell of gunshot wounds. At first he didn't want to do it - at all. He was scared of new things (always had been, which is why Tigger had to bounce him out of it). He didn't know anything about farming or farm animals, except our little backyard garden and the times we worked on Peggie's farm when she was out of town. He didn't want to let go of what was hurting him so badly.

So I made him. I forced him. I didn't give him a choice. I was hard and cold and mean and pushed him right out of his comfort zone, and into a whole new life. Those who truly know me, know what a hard-and-cold, awesomely brutal bitch I can be - and I was. On purpose. You see, to me, Tigger was a compleat asshole, always bouncing, pushing, demanding, and forcing people to go along with him... yet somehow it always turned out right, with Eeyore grumbling in the background, always looking for his tail, always seeing the dark side.

Now Mike works in all weathers, snow and ice, hail and storms, heat and tornado threats. He doesn't work long; he can't. But the animals are fed, the grass is cut, the chicken run gets built, the wood for the woodstove gets cut, all over time. He fences like a rancher, strings barbed wire like a pro. He has a lot of new tools - come-alongs, a 4-wheeler, a wood-splitter, a complete woodworking shop, etc - that most ranchers don't have, that make his job easier, and keep him able to do these things. I thrust him into a totally unfamiliar, hostile environment - and made him adapt to it. And excel at it, in spite of himself.

We haven't slept together in 8 years; mostly because we can't. I have a nice pillow-top mattress upstairs in my BR, and he has a hospital bed in his BR on the ground floor, where he sleeps in a  V  position.  There is no sex, and hasn't been for 8 years. Oh, there's occasional hugs and cuddles, but his mind and his body cannot feel those things any more. No pills and no injections or roll-ons can help with what the pain and drugs have dome to him, continue to do to him. My life is all about working to pay the bills, and planting things, growing things, and taking care of him. Yet - oddly - it is a good life now, with a lot of intellectual bantering and debate, and a lot of (partially-drug-induced) stories about cows taking over the world, subversive meaty terrorists plotting in every pasture.

This is not the marriage every girl dreams of, "growing old together", etc. This is not the Cinderella fantasy of marriage. This is two people who still remember what they committed to, and who are doing their damnedest to keep it alive, any way that they can. Sure, it would have been easier to say, "Screw this and screw YOU!" when he became not-Mike, became someone else entirely. And don't think that I didn't think about it - I'm not noble, and it was HARD to make the right choices, to do the move and everything else on faith, and believe - insist - that it would all work out OK.

How do you tell that to two fresh-faced, eager and happy people who have just started their life together? You can't. You don't dare. If they knew how agonizing it could be, they might never take that step at all. All you can do is smile happily and let them have their moments of joy - and hope that they will be strong enough to stand together when the hardships come.

Yes, I am still Tigger, bouncing happily thru life, pretending that everything will work out for the best, smiling and joking - and I am still that asshole underneath, determined to make things work out. Mike is still Eeyore, grumbly and dour, with occasional humor and smiles that peek out through the pain. Some days it's OK, and some days better than OK, and some days it's hard. But that's life. Real life, not the storybook world.

Friday, May 16, 2014

A Novel about Hardeeville? Not Happenin' - but...

When I left Hardeeville, Sal Arzillo wanted me to write about my experiences on Council and in City Government. I declined. I was planning on being too busy - and I still am. I reinvented myself and my life (not the first time, BTW); I have a whole new life now.

But this past week's election has driven people to call, email, and even PM me on Facebook. What are my thoughts on all of this? Well, my first thought was - Geez, leave me the fuck alone. What makes you think that I still give a shit? I scraped that dung off of my shoes six years ago, for Crissake. As my dear EMS partner always said "Happiness is Hardeeville in the rear-view mirror." Like the resurgence of shingles years after you've had chicken pox, the infection is still in my soul, though. I still love my friends that remain there, and want to protect and save them from what is about to be inflicted on them. But, of course I can't. It's why I finally gave up  - you cannot save people from themselves.

So here it is - in summation. Eight years ago, my BFF Rodney The Mayor and I pushed HARD for a redistricting of Hardeeville, to ensure that the locals would always have seats on the City Council. Sal Arzillo was one of the ones (Bronco Bostick and Bill Horton were among the others, and they convinced poor elderly and easily-led Brooks) who spoke out vociferously against it. They all insisted that the idea was stupid, that there was no way that the gated communities we annexed would ever get that big, they ascribed a hidden agenda to our attempts to make it fair. Basically they insisted that they wouldn't ever even entertain the thought that a Sun City or other gated community would ever have or want any representation on Council. Rodney and I simply shrugged. We saw the writing on the wall even then... that the foolish arrogant ignorance that was and is endemic to  Hardeeville was on the rise once again, and that nothing would stop it.  LOL. That's all you can really say. LOL, and shake your head.

They self-righteously used SLED to go after my 'brother', Jimmy Hubbard, who is one of the most decent, kind, and honest people I have ever had the pleasure to work with - as well as a good and sincere Christian, Shane Haynes. If Shane ever had a fault, it was trusting and believing that people were basically good and would always do the right thing. But - just as when, all those years ago, my beloved Jimmy was accused of child sexual abuse, and I made him get an attorney and fight it (including fighting his own backstabbing boss) and Jimmy was exonerated because of a lack of evidence - the damage was done, just as it was intended to be, and purely for personal gain on the backs of the innocent. The most recent newspaper stories about this trumped-up, self-serving witch hunt only illustrate the reality. 

Now the Council is made up of four representatives from those gated communities, and if you think that Bronco Bostick will survive the next mayoral election, you are sadly mistaken. Sun City and all of those gated communities - who pay the most taxes, who volunteer in the schools, who have made themselves aware of just how the city is run and where their money goes (and they proved it by 'outing' the most recently ousted Council members over their nonpayment of taxes), who not only can actually read and write and cipher, but who know how the game is played -  will put him out, just as they put the others out. Suddenly now Sal is screaming for redistricting. Go ahead and scream, Sal - you're outvoted and outmaneuvered.  

One of my callers wants to run for Council to represent the Old Town. I advised her against it. The fallout from what has been happening in Hardeeville is about to hit the fan - and she doesn't want or need to be anywhere near all of that. David Tedder, one of the most decent and smartest lawyers whom I've ever had the pleasure to work with (and that is saying a lot), refused to do something illegal for the Council, and was 'invited to leave'. Ted Felder and a host of others who threw their knowledge and expertise, as well as their hearts and souls, into the City, were 'invited to leave' as well (non-disclosure statements all around). Chief Nagy - a consummate professional, who not only led the police department with a firm and trustworthy hand, but who once helped me personally by resolving a very sticky law enforcement problem - was let go for doing his job as a professional who was not supposed to be swayed by belligerent elected officials. I am quite fond of Sam Woodward, but he has a long row to hoe and he wouldn't (at least under the most recent administration) be given the implements he needs to chop away at the roots of the problem. Expecting Sam to play dumb cop and good ol' boy, who winks at the infractions of those in power while over-enforcing against others, would have eventually been a sure invitation to ultimate disappointment.  I have nothing against Rose Dobson-Elliott; I consider her a good friend. I actually felt sorry for her when they hired her to become the sixth administrator (interim) in as many years. Things are going to be really nasty in Hardeeville for at least the next two years, with recriminations, accusations, and legitimate demands and outraged refusals. The residents are going to be looking for a scapegoat - and no one wants to be that.

I have to admit that I am chuckling over the 'latest idea' by Clementa Pinckney, proposing a redistricting of the school districts in Jasper County. So many people are up in arms, insisting that it is ridiculous, unnecessary, and that they will fight it tooth and nail. BWAHAHAHAHA! Knock yourselves out. Clementa is nothing if not observant. He too has seen the writing on the wall - first in Bluffton, now in Hardeeville, and soon to be in all of Jasper County. If you think that it feels as though, politically, you are slipping down into the increasing black gumbo beneath your feet - you're probably right. But it is a gumbo of your own determined and self-inflicted ignorance, and you deserve it. Ignore Clementa, ignore history, ignore everything that has been placed so plainly before you for the last six years - at your own peril. Wallow in your ignorance; enjoy it, scarf it down like manna - it's what you have earned, what you have demanded, after all.

The next two years will make for great newspaper copy, if nothing else. If you thought Sam Gregory's viral Facebook post (I even found it in Pennsylvania, of all places!) humiliated the citizens of Jasper County - you ain't seen nothin' yet.

Now, 'scuse me - I'm planting peas today, I have to put the queen excluder on the beehive to prep for the honey harvest in July, and I'm planning my trip to the John Wayne Birthday Celebration next weekend. A rodeo, shooting competitions, a real western-style barbeque, pie-eating contests, and free John Wayne movies all day. What's not to love? I am a real rancher now, a real Westerner - like so many before me, who scraped off the hysteria and mendacity of the East for the freedom and decency, the hard work and outright honesty, of the West.Yes, there is a real difference - sadly, most of my friends back there will never know it.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Ah, Mother's Day- You Reap What You Sow

Today, my nephew Joshua, who moved out here a year and a half ago, is taking me to dinner with his kids.

My own children are scattered all over the country, each doing what I raised them to do - follow their dreams. My nephew, on the other hand, came out here to get away from his ex-wife, his mother, his uncle, and all of the people who - in his words - were 'using him like an ATM machine'.

When he was 14, his mother - a completely unstable drama queen, liar, thief, and 'hurray-for-me-fuck-you' type of person, decided to leave her longtime girlfriend. She insisted that Joshua help her pack her pickup with, not only her own possessions, but hundreds of dollars' worth of valuable goods belonging to her soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend. They were caught and arrested - and Joshua's mom made him take the full rap for the thievery, because, as she said, "You'll get less jail time as a juvenile'. So she went free on bail (paid for by the ex-girlfriend) and her son went to jail for 6 weeks. Immediately afterward, she dumped Josh on us, because she 'couldn't handle him'. In other words, she had used him to the best of her selfish abilities, and now that she was flaunting herself and her obnoxiously gay lifestyle, she had no use for him any more. (I have nothing against gays - just drama queens of ANY orientation.)

This sweet kid was confused, frightened, lonely and angry. He took his anger and pain out on us - which we totally understood. We loved him anyway, and taught him right from wrong - mostly against everything he had been taught up to that point. When he left, to go live with his grandparents, he was still angry and resentful. He dropped out of school, and was dissolute, directionless, living for the moment, not understanding what or why.

But, suddenly, he had a personal epiphany. In his own words - "There I was, working as a busboy, washing dishes, and I remembered what you told me in the car when you had picked me up from cutting school (again). You said, "Do you WANT to be nothing and nobody, and wash dishes the rest of your life?" And I suddenly realized that you had been right, all along!" The kid went back to school, got a job working for the Ports Authority, cleaned up his act, got married, had two kids, and was supervising 50 employees when he was run over and crushed by a truck. After his wife (another drama queen like his Mom, also a drug addict and alcoholic) had stolen all of Josh's money, with his own mother's help, Josh's wife left him high and dry for another man, even dumping their kids on Josh, who was crippled and in need of help that no one would provide. His mother then told him that he and the kids could come live with her and her new girlfriend - and she took every last dime she could get from him, to support herself and her girlfriend. She even took out a second mortgage on her home, claiming Josh's income as her own.  Sleeping on couches, with no privacy and constant drama, poor Josh was in pain, confused, worried about his kids ever having a future. So I told him to get his ass out here and bring the kids. Packing what little they had in a battered old pickup truck, he drove out here with his children.

Now he has a brand new pickup truck, that he bought with his own money. He is renting with option to buy a house for himself and his kids. He is independent, tough, and making it on his own. His kids attend the local school - and they are fitting in to the local lifestyle of hard work, honesty, independence, and integrity.  They have a strong and stable family and home life. All we did was tell him in both word and deed that he was a good and strong, decent human being, who had a right to his own life, and to raise his children how he saw fit - without drama, without hysteria, without agony and cruelty, thievery and lies. We gave him with his children the foundation and home base from which to grow, and prove himself, and be happy.

Josh credits us with raising him and teaching him. He doesn't speak to or contact his mother nor his ex-wife in any way. They still try to wrap their tentacles around him, but he will have none of it. He is a free, independent, proud and happy father of two children who love and depend on him. Neither his Drama-queen, grasping, thieving, lying mother nor his manipulative, drug-addicted, drunken ex-wife have any hold on him any more - 1700 miles and a completely different world has put him back on his feet and made him a whole and complete man once again. We are very proud of him and all that he has done and become. We knew he had it in him - all he needed was a chance.

Yet his mother still whines "Do they ever think of me?" No, actually, they don't. "Do his kids know that I am their Granny?" No, actually, they don't. YOU did that to him, YOU made him that way. 
YOU did your damnedest to control, manipulate, steal from, use, criticize, and destroy him. YOU sit in your drama-infested world and wonder what happened, how people could hate you so much, why no one loves you or gives you the accolades that you feel that you deserve, simply by the act of giving birth.

I, on the other hand, get to have dinner, laughter, love, and an honest, decent relationship with a part of my family whom I cherish, and who cherishes me.

You reap what you sow.
Sucks, doesn't it?