Saturday, January 29, 2011

Everybody judges...

It always amuses me when I hear someone lecture another person about "judging others".  The fact is, everybody judges.  It's a survival tactic.  If people didn't have the gift of judgment, everybody would constantly be getting into trouble.  Indeed, a well developed ability to judge can lead to wisdom and power... or, at the very least, a somewhat happier lifestyle.

This topic comes up again this week because I have been househunting from afar.  As I search for new digs in our new state, I have to rely on photos and descriptions to judge whether or not I want to rent a particular property.  My husband and I are not just looking for a place to live; we are also looking to hire a landlord.  And like anyone in a business arrangement, we want to find a landlord with whom we can be mutually compatible.

Now... as it so happens, as I was looking at rental properties, I came across one priced at $1095 per month. There were plenty of pictures.  I could see by the pictures that the people who occupied that house were devout Mormons.  I don't know who actually owns the house, but I do know that the very religious wall art was an immediate turn off.  And I knew that we wouldn't be renting that particular property.  To be honest, I doubt we would have rented it anyway, but I have to admit the wall art was a deal breaker.

On the surface, perhaps that judgmental reaction I had makes me look like a bigot.  But think about this.  My husband is an ex-Mormon.  He left the church several years ago and now lives a lifestyle that goes against the church's teachings.  He doesn't do anything illegal, nor does he do anything particularly sinful.  He does love his coffee, tea, wine, and beer, though.  In fact, he brews his own beer.  It could very well be that the folks who own that house were just renting to Mormons.  It could be that the owners are LDS, but open-minded and only care that the rent check gets to them on time.

But based on our experiences with members of the LDS church, the fact that my husband went apostate could very well be an issue.  This is a church that famously sends many of its young people on missions around the world, hoping to convert others to their way of thinking.  Even if the house was just rented by Mormons, chances are good we'd get visits from missionaries looking for new recruits.  My husband has been there and done that and doesn't want to go back to it, thank you.

When I related this story to another person, he berated me for being judgmental and silly.  He brought up all the other religions of the world and the stereotypes that surround them.  He asked, "What about all the Catholics with crosses on their walls? Or the Jews with their stars of David?  Or the Baptists with their Bibles?"  Two can play at that game.  I asked him how any of those people might feel if they walked into a rental home that had murals of naked people painted on the walls?  Or pentagrams etched into the ceiling?  Or, say the homeowners were into kink and had installed a built-in dungeon in the basement?  Would we expect devoutly religious people to just accept those idiosyncrasies without "judgment"?  Probably not.

Chances are, if the folks who own that house are Mormons, they're looking for other Mormons to rent from them.  They most likely wouldn't be comfortable with my husband's beer brewing, especially since he still has a quad on his bookshelf.  They would probably want to be able to send their old friends by to check on the place and "return and report".  In short, they'd want to rent to the "right kind of people".  And as renters, we want to rent from the "right kind of people"... people who aren't going to be upset by the way we live our lives.

Besides... anyone who would set the rent at $1095 per month as opposed to $1100 per month is probably an asshole, anyway.  But who am I to judge, right?  

Friday, January 28, 2011

Yet another cruise related dream...

I don't remember this one as well as yesterday's.  All I know is that I was back on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship (don't remember which one) and we were all being herded to lifeboats.  But it wasn't because the ship was sinking.  There was a lady onboard from Cayenne, Guyana, I think... or Curacao.

I woke up to find my beagle licking my feet.

More of the dream is right on the tip of my brain, but it's not coming out right now.  I guess I'm too distracted by the review I just posted of a bottle of wine I got for free from Wine.Woot!  That... and this song by John Paul Young...

Today is shaping up to be odd.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

This morning's dream...

I think I have cruising on the brain.  This morning, I had sort of a bad dream.  It wasn't quite a nightmare, but it wasn't very pleasant, either.

I was on a Royal Caribbean cruise ship called Liberty of the Seas.  Oddly enough, I have only been on one Royal Caribbean ship-- Vision of the Seas.  But anyway, this time I was on Liberty of the Seas and there was a McDonald's on board.  I was feeling a bit grumpy for some reason.  The ship was very crowded and a bit trashy looking; it kind of reminded me of an airport or a shopping mall.  I ordered lunch and sat down at a table.  One of the McDonald's employees came up to me.  She was heavyset and had short, curly, grayish brown hair, but she didn't look to be very old.  She was wearing a uniform, and asked me if it would be okay if she sat with me.  I said no and she got very pissy.  I got up to walk away, and the manager came up and yelled at me for being mean to the McDonald's employee.  I shrugged and left the area.

Later, I was in a smoky, crowded bar, surrounded by trashy looking people.  I was sitting on a bar stool, trying to drink a beer, when ship employees started handing out karaoke books.  I happen to love a good karaoke session, so I was excited.  But then I realized that there was no way I'd ever get a chance to sing, because the crowd was so large and aggressive.  And some of them were pissed at me because I hadn't let the McDonalds employee sit with me when I was having lunch.  They were yelling at me.  I also recognized a guy I used to do karaoke with on a regular basis.  He was there to sing his usual Willie Nelson and Jimmy Buffet hits.

So I left the bar area feeling very peeved and upset to be on this crowded, dirty ship full of hostile people.  I don't know why I was feeling this way.  The one cruise I had on Royal Caribbean was perfectly nice.  I would sail with them again if the price and the itinerary were right.  Of course, now I prefer to sail on SeaDream, where we spend big bucks, but get totally spoiled.

I think I've got cruising on the brain because I'm thinking about booking one for June 2012, when I turn 40.

ETA:  I just went back and read my post from New Year's Eve... I sense a dream theme.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Pet peeve of the day...

My dear spouse and I are planning a cruise for our next anniversary.  We will be sailing on the SeaDream I, a small, luxurious, mega-yacht.  Because SeaDream Yacht Club is an all inclusive line, cruise fares are expensive.  Nevertheless, shrewd, savvy travelers can score discounts if they play their cards right.  One of the discounts SeaDream Yacht Club offers is for members of the U.S. military.  The military discount is only offered on certain sailings and usually at the last minute, but the savings are substantial.

Anyway, I was perusing one of my regular messageboards, when some dude asked if he would qualify for a military discount on SeaDream.  He said he was a civilian who had worked for the Department of Defense and eventually retired.  Now... I understand that everyone's looking for a deal.  And believe me, SeaDream cruises are heavenly, even if you pay full price.  To get a discount, especially if it's as much as 80% off, is definitely icing on the cake.

But--- HELLO--- Mr. DoD civilian...  if you've never served in the military, why in the world would you think you'd qualify for a military discount?  Yes, I know that the DoD and the U.S. military are pretty much married and work together all the time.  But there is a big difference between working behind a desk stateside and donning a uniform and deploying to a war zone for months on end.  There's a big difference between going through orientation as a civilian reporting to a new job and going through basic training or joining ROTC.

The vast majority of civilians who work for the government will never be shot at.  They will never have to say goodbye to their friends and family for yet another months-long deployment, hoping that it won't be the last time they ever see their loved ones' faces.  They won't be moved from town to town ad nauseam  at the whim of whoever happens to be in charge.  No... I'm guessing that a DoD civilian can spend years in one city, raising their families and reporting to work, probably while wearing their own clothes.  And they can do their job without having to submit to mandatory physicals or PT tests every six months.

So yeah, I understand that you worked closely with the military throughout your career and I'm sure you made valuable contributions, but that doesn't make you a servicemember.  And being a retired DoD civilian doesn't qualify you for a military discount because you were never in the military!  Try asking for a government employee discount.  Some companies do offer them.  And stop being so tacky, please.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

My life's not that big of a mess... at least not yet!

This morning, I went to one of my favorite online messageboards and read an interesting post by a frustrated stepmother.  It seems her husband's son and daughter, both of whom are adults with kids of their own, are still in child mode.

The son, who is 30 years old and a father and stepfather, recently asked if he could move in with dear old dad and stepmom because his bills are catching up with him.  Apparently, he found his drug addicted girlfriend in bed with his sister's drug addicted boyfriend.  Incidentally, son is still legally married to another woman, with whom he has two children.  He has another child with another woman, whom he managed to knock up while he was still with his wife.  Both his wife and his ex-girlfriend are on the rampage for back child support, none of which he's managed to pay.

Meanwhile, this woman's stepdaughter has four kids, three of which are by the drug addicted boyfriend who is screwing her brother's girlfriend.  This adult stepdaughter is very alienated and wants nothing to do with her father, unless he's willing to give her money or buy her gifts.  She sends him emails or calls only when she wants or needs something.  She claims that her dad only cares about his wife's children... all three of which are college educated and gainfully employed.  I doubt that dear old dad really doesn't care about his kids; however, with the way they treat him and their entitled attitudes, I wouldn't blame him if he did prefer his wife's more responsible offspring.

Moving on... the other day, I read an article about the Southwest Airlines pilot who held up a flight so a grandfather who was running late would make it onboard.  Apparently, this man's two year old grandson had been tossed against a wall by his mother's boyfriend and had suffered injuries so severe that he was on life support.  And that life support would be cut off within a couple of hours, whether grandpa was there to say goodbye or not.  I had to wonder if that poor boy's biological father was anywhere on the scene.  After all, he was only two years old...  The father's relationship with the mother couldn't have been over for that long.      

The older I get, the more some people seem to stay children at older ages.  Granted, I lived with my parents for a couple of years when I was in my 20s and trying to get launched.  But during that time, I had a job and paid my bills.  I didn't have any boyfriends or kids.  At the time, I thought I was missing out, having seen so many women my age getting married and starting families.  But now I realize I was kind of fortunate.  I had my education and some valuable life experiences before I tied the knot.  I had no kids with someone who was destructive or abusive.  Of course, I have no kids today, either.  Maybe that's a blessing.

Having been a stepmother for awhile, I've seen the pain that divorce can cause, especially when children are involved.  I was fortunate enough to not grow up the child of divorce, but I did grow up the child of an alcoholic.  And I sometimes wished my parents would split up for that reason.  On the other hand, I guess I'm glad my parents are still together, because they presented a united front in raising me.  I could never play one parent against the other because they always worked as a team.  Or, at least they worked as a team when an issue came up that they cared about.  Truthfully, I'd say I was pretty neglected when I was growing up, especially by today's standards.

Maybe today's kids are, in a way, being overparented.  How else can a 30 year old man with kids by two different mothers and a drug addicted girlfriend justify wanting to move in with his father and stepmother... and when he gets his last $800 unemployment check, says he's happy to have some money to spend, completely ignoring the fact that he owes child support and needs to hire a lawyer to take care of his divorce and other legal issues... and perhaps the custody battle that will ensue.

Somehow, I have a feeling this 30 year old man traces his problems to the fact that his parents split up.  And he may very well have a valid point.  Divorce is very traumatic for all parties involved, except maybe the judges and lawyers and anyone else who makes money off the divorce process.  While there are many people out there who put their kids first and do their best to make sure they grow up right, so many others turn their kids into pawns against the other parent or family members...  They don't teach their children any personal responsibility or help them mature.  These children grow up in the confusing position of having their opinions matter too much... and not enough.  They've been taught that their opinions mean a lot when it comes to laying guilt trips on non-custodial parents or extended family.  And they've been taught that their opinions mean nothing when it comes to where their loyalties should lie.  When those kids reach legal adulthood, quite a few of them don't seem to know what to do with themselves, possibly because they've never had the chance to think for themselves.  Growing up, they were too valuable as tools and soldiers in their parents' relationship wars to have time to come of age and learn how to be their own people.  

Add to the fact that the world seems to be getting a lot more complicated.  Maybe it just seems that way because we watch a lot of CNN or scan the Internet for the latest headlines.  The world does seem harder to negotiate and overwhelming, even if you've had a good family in your corner helping you learn the finer points of earning a living and getting by.  Some of these kids who are the products of marriages that didn't work out end up being very adult at a young age and savvy out of necessity.  And others, like the man and woman whose stories I posted at the beginning of this rant, seem to be 13 year olds trapped in 30 year old bodies.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Back to normal... until abnormality strikes again.

After last week's weird weather, things have finally sort of gotten back to normal.  The ice is 99.99% melted and kids have gone back to school.  The doldrums of winter are setting in.

I went to get my teeth cleaned yesterday.  I had to explain that yesterday's visit would be my last, since we have to move.  Too bad... I liked the practice fine and they are in the midst of renovating.

We've been looking for a new place to live.  Nothing looks particularly attractive to me.  The prospect of looking for a new home is not appealing, especially since we've only been in this one for just over a year.  I'll be glad when the whole damn thing is finished and I can relax.  Right now, I feel like I should be trying to get rid of stuff in preparation for the move.  And actually, that is what I should be doing... but I can't bring myself to actually do it.

Hard to believe in just a few months, we will be living somewhere else.  Moving sucks.

Friday, January 14, 2011

U.S. Airlines? I don't think so...

Yesterday, my husband brought the mail in and there was a strange envelope addressed to me.  It was the kind of envelope that looks like a paycheck... or maybe something from the IRS.  To open it, I had to detach the perforated tabs on either side and unfold the letter.

The letter said, basically, that I had "won" two round trip tickets to any destination in the continental United States.  The letter said that "U.S. Airlines" had tried to contact me several times without success.  To claim the prize, I had to call a number, or else lose my tickets to an "alternate".  I was immediately suspicious, especially when I saw the words "U.S. Airlines" in the letter.  There is no such airline.

I went online to see who else had gotten this phony scam of a letter and found that several blogs had been written about it.  It was also addressed on  Apparently, people call the number and talk to an operator, who tells them that in order to pick up the prize, they have to attend some "meet and greet" in a nearby city.  It runs for 60-90 minutes.  Even those people who agreed to hear the spiel have said that the meet and greets end up being cancelled.  Others who have gotten hooked up with the shady company that sends out these letters have said that it turned out to be a scam...  sort of like DirectBuy, but for travel instead.  The people want you to drop several thousand dollars on a time share or travel club, which turns out to be worthless.

So, I'm going to add my voice to the mix and say that if you get some strange letter in the mail that says you won plane tickets on "U.S. Airlines", you should probably just toss it.  Or maybe supplement your toilet paper supply.

For those who want to do more research, check out this link...  All these people got the same letter I did.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

And the ice is still sorta melting...

So this is what the ice looks like today...

Two days ago, it looked like this...

The melting process is painfully slow, because it's been colder than a witch's tit.  My husband was able to work yesterday and today, though he's gone in late both days.  We finally got mail yesterday and I think I might be getting a package today.  Actually, I kind of hope the FedEx guy doesn't try to come all the way down to our house.  The driveway is still very slick.

In the meantime, it occurs to me that we're already halfway through January and our next move is coming up very soon.  I need some kind of controversy to take my mind off this stuff.  I suppose I could blog about that shooting that took place in Arizona... but I don't have much to say about that, other than I think it's tragic and scary.

So I guess I'll just sit here and watch the ice melt...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Snow and ice, oh my...

Our area got clobbered by an ice/snow storm the other day.  I've seen a lot of snow in my lifetime, but it's weird to get it in the Deep South.  Naturally, things in our area have come to a standstill.  There's been no mail delivery or pickup, kids are out of school, and my husband is home from work.  Actually, he went to work yesterday, but was on his way home by noon.  And a trip that usually takes about 45 minutes took over two hours.  It was pretty slow going since there were many accidents.

I actually told my husband that he should stay home yesterday, since I knew the roads were going to be wretched.  And when he came home, he said the place was deserted and he didn't get much done.  Today, our driveway is frozen solid, as are the local roads.  A couple of the interstates were actually closed.

This is what it looks like outside...  Stuff is slowly starting to melt, but I bet it'll still be yucky tomorrow.

It's nice to have my spouse home today, though...

Friday, January 7, 2011

I love trip planning...

Ever since last April, when my dear spouse and I cruised in the Caribbean on the SeaDream I, I've been hankering for another cruise.  This week, we finally booked one.  It doesn't depart until November, but it's still great to have something to look forward to... especially since the following months are probably going to be a bit stressful.

Our cruise is going to occur over our 9th anniversary and we'll be visiting ports we didn't see on our first SeaDream cruise.  I can hardly wait.  There is nothing like having a trip in the future to boost my spirits, even if I still have over 300 days to go.

Aside from that, not much exciting has been going on.  I've just been waiting for the Christmas bullshit to be over with, doing a lot of writing, and reading a lot of books.  I'm sort of wearily eyeing all the stuff I'm going to have to sift through as moving time gets closer.  But no one has gotten me riled up enough to post a rant...  at least not this week.  With that said, I'm sure my next meltdown is on the way.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Well... that's another year shot to hell...

It's hard to believe that it's 2011.  Seems like yesterday, it was 2009.  I think the older you get, the faster time flies.  I remember when a week seemed like an eternity.  Now, the weeks fly by like so much crap through a goose.  It seems like yesterday, I was 19 years old.  This year, I will be 39 years old.  And I still haven't done some of the things I thought I would have done by now...

As a matter of fact, my life has not turned out the way I pictured it.  I guess there's really no point in picturing the future, because every time we plan something, God seems to laugh.  Or maybe there is no God.  Maybe life is, in and of itself, nothing but a grand illusion.

Anyway, I'm glad the holidays are behind us.  I'm ready for the new year.  And while I'm not thrilled about having to move again, I'm ready to get our next move behind us, too.