I love you, but….

I truly believe that my husband is my other half. No one, not my ex-husband, former boyfriends, friends or even family have seemed so close to me in my entire life. We are very similar, but with enough difference to keep life interesting. We genuinely enjoy spending time together, he’s my best friend and my first choice of who I want to hang out with, always. That said, because he is so much like me, there are times he gets on my last good nerve. These times don’t happen often, but this weekend it happened.

My husband is smart, well read on so many topics and loves to debate is his point, often to the “death”. I love his passion and while 90% of the time we are on the same side of the debate, the times we aren’t, watch out. Again, being we are so similar, I too have great passion and we will get into heated debates. Nothing too serious and without fail at the end of the day we can put anything aside, because nothing is more important than our relationship. This weekend the debates were more with his mom, which is where his passion comes from. I woke up yesterday asking if he had apologized to his mom yet, as I really felt he crossed a line. He had not and had no intention of doing so. I let it go, as I was in no mood to ruin my Sunday with carry-over drama from the day before.

This got me thinking about the shit we let go for the sake of the relationships in our lives. Not just with a spouse, but we all make allowance for those people closest to us, allowances we would not afford a stranger on the street. My husband’s mother is a perfect example. While I feel he owes his mom an apology, not because he was wrong, but for how he handled himself, I am typically on the opposite side of her in most of the time. We don’t have the same views on many thing, yet it doesn’t keep me from loving her and having a wonderful relationship. When she pushes me too far, I tend to physically remove myself, as I don’t want to be disrespectful and the debates are usually nothing so personal that I feel I need to cross a line to make my point. There have been friends I have fallen out contact with because we were on the opposite side and I couldn’t let it go any longer. Maybe it is due to the changing political climate over the past several years, but what was once water cooler talk seems to have a far greater personal impact than it once did. I don’t completely cut everyone out of my life who doesn’t see things the way I do, that is not how mature adults act. You have to find a balance.

What is your line in the sand? What are the things you can’t let slip, no matter the stakes? I have a few, but this isn’t really about  what pushes me to the breaking point, but how I handle it when I’m there. I do not like confrontation, I don’t know many people that do, other than my husband upon occasion. Since I will do pretty much whatever it takes to avoid confrontation, often my first reaction is to give the benefit of the doubt. To excuse a comment or behavior as an isolated slip in judgement. The second time, well, as the saying goes, fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me. That is when I will make every effort to talk to the person about how I feel and how their behavior is affecting me. If there is open and productive dialogue, even if we can’t come to an agreement, I can agree to disagree and move on. I have said my peace, they know how I feel and should things escalate in down the road, they know where I stand. However, if my attempt to have a mature discussion is met with defense and devolves into an argument, well I have no problem cutting my losses. I’ve gotten to a point in my life were I don’t need to be “right”, I just need to be heard and if someone can’t hear my side, well, whatever relationship I thought I had with them wasn’t at all what I thought. Yes, it hurts to walk away from friend and even family member, but there is also very freeing to have that weight lifted, because as time passes you come to realize what a burden those relationships can be.

So, you can love someone with all your heart and still be annoyed with them, doesn’t mean you don’t love them, you may not like them in that moment. And you can let go of someone you thought you loved when you start not liking yourself for what you put up with to keep them in your life.

Rich people problems

I will start by saying, I am not rich. I have never been rich and unless I happen upon a winning lottery ticket, I will never be rich. I have a nice life, a wonderful husband, a lovely home with all the comforts I could want or need, my dream car and enough extra cash to have fun. Would having more money make life better? Hmmmmm….maybe not better, but surely easier at times. However, if one were to chat with my rich friends, your answer would be a resounding NO, life is very hard for the poor little rich girls in my world… bless their hearts.

First up, my friend Jane. It’s been a while since I posted about Jane and her nightmare blended family life. One reason for that is Jane has been on vacation for a month. That is no typo folks, she has been on vacation for a MONTH. And not just any vacation, but she spent a month, sans her step-kids (and for the most part her husband as well), on Martha’s Vineyard, the summer destination of many well off New Englanders. Jane is a transplant from the northeast who happened to land in the south and marry a rich southern gentleman. To keep her sanity, Jane has to flee the sugar sweet life she feels disconnected from and spends weeks on end where she feels comfortable and at home. I’m not hating on Jane for being able to take a month off and stay in a wonderful house on the beach eating seafood and sipping wine at sunset;  I would do that in heartbeat if I could. What I am hating on is the fact that less than 12 hours after returning home she is not only complaining about everything, but she is sick. Yes, sick, her thought is the stress of returning to her blended family life is making her sick. Insert eye-roll here.

Apparently one of Jane’s childhood friends who she spent some time with while away hurt her little rich girl feelings. I should mention that Jane did not grow up with money, far from it. She was poor, not even middle class, but welfare poor, most of her life before meeting her husband. The friend in this story had money growing up, so this is a rich girl on rich girl “crime”. Seems Jane’s childhood friend, after a few too many glasses of wine, told Jane she was being showy and rubbing it in how wonderful life is, while not realizing how her friend is struggling. Now, let’s keep in mind this friend lives in a house her parents bought her, so no mortgage and has no real bills. She works making a decent living, so there is no “struggle”. Jane was hurt, which I guess I can understand, but come on,  Jane talks about what she has and how much money they have spent on Dick’s kids ALL THE TIME. I don’t think she realizes how much she does, I don’t think many rich person realizes how much they actually talk about their wealth. I tend to ignore it when she brings it up to me. My friendship with Jane is not based on what she has, but who she is and the common thread of being stepmoms.

I was at a loss as to what to say to her, other than to point out that maybe that friendship had run its course, simply knowing someone since you were 12 doesn’t mean you will friends as adults. People grow and change. I also think there are those people who tend to like to have friends who are in a lesser role than them. Be it rich people with a poor friend, skinny people with a chubby friend or the happily coupled with the forever single friend, they like having that person they feel looks up to them due to them being able to achieve that which the other person can’t seem to. In this case, the friend was always rich and Jane was the poor friend. Now that Jane has money as well, the playing field is level and the friend doesn’t like it. Jane serves no purpose to her any longer. So, I say be done with her.

The other poor little rich girl is a friend who complains about how hard it is to have the fabulous life she has. Today she actually whined about how all she wants to is float in her pool. Are you kidding me! I am at work, in an office, she works from home, when she wants to and travels, voluntarily, for work monthly. I suggested she cut out the travel, as that has to be exhausting and means being away from home. She want to convert her home work space into a guest house of sorts so she can have live in help to watch her dogs when she travels aboard. And she is not  talking vacationing, her plan is to buy a second home  aboard where she would spend a good part of her time.  She lives in one of the most wonderful of southern cities, so her life seems like an endless party, nothing one would  have sympathy for. She also didn’t grow up with money and unlike Jane, she and her husband have busted their asses to have what they do. I don’t begrudge them anything, I just had to laugh that on the same day both women came off as complaining about their wonderful lives!

No matter how close you are to someone, you never know everything that is going on in their lives. Unless they are a chronic complainer, most people only share the better parts of their life with the world, so any complaining can seem  over the top by comparison. In both cases the fabulous lives they share by be far from the whole story. I hope their lives are as great as I assume, as both deserve that. I guess I wish they and other with a more charmed existence would be more mindful when they “complain” about their lives being hard. For now, I will continue on with my middle class life, without month long vacations, floating in my pool or traveling the world and try not to complain about it….too much.

I will never be like her

This statement could apply to many people in my life, both past and present. When dealing with difficult people, its near impossible to be thankful for them or the effect they have on our lives. In the moment we just want the interaction over, for the negative energy to leave our personal space, for a calm to return to our world.

The past few days I’ve had to deal with one of my least favorite people, the ex-wife, Ursula. In her typical way, she took a simple situation, twisted into a ball of drama and created both work and anxiety for those around her. In Ursula’s world, everyone must accept her demands, on her terms. You are expected to pretend conversations never happened, plans were never made and accept lies as the gospel, as they are the “Gospel According to Ursula”. I do not do well with people like this. Liars, in my book, are among the lowest of the low. The lack of self-respect one must have to live a life full of deceit must be exhausting. As “the girl” has gotten older, the daily interactions have eased, however the interactions we do have carry a bit more weight. Since they are more important, I have found that Ursula tends to want to play the hero, to be the “yes man” who makes all the girl’s dreams come true. When things can not work out, she puts a lot of effort and energy into making dad the bad guy.

Several months ago it was agreed that a non-emergent medical procedure would be scheduled in January of next year. With some career changes, insurance benefits have changed as well and I will be able to add the girl to my policy which would give a secondary benefit to off-set the out-of-pocket costs, not just for us, but for Ursula as well. This was discussed and agreed to, months ago. Yesterday, an email arrives stating that Ursula has decided to scheduled the procedure now, not because the doctors suggested it, but because the 13-year-old wanted it. Well, the 13 year old also wants a pet cow and to join mommy dearest on her trip to Paris in the fall, I don’t see either of those happening, why are we deviating from the plan? In typical Ursula fashion, the initial communication was lacking  many details, causing dad to reply with a laundry list of questions, most importantly,  why now and not January as planned?  The replies, yes REPLIES, were curt and accusing him of being difficult and not wanting to provide for his child. This of course sets me into action, as nothing fuels the fires of my hate for this woman like her attacking my husband’s devotion to the welfare of his child. Since she was so nice to copy me (not really, she only does so when she wants money or to point out how my husband’s moral character is lacking in her eyes), I replied that I would look into the specific details of the insurance plan and once we had that decisions could be made. Her final comment was along the lines of $250 was not worth disappointing her child.

Would you like the know the going rate for a child’s soul crushing disappointment? It’s $1500, at least it is for Ursula. I got the details and come to find out that waiting until January the girl will be eligible for the full $1500 benefit on my plan. If she were to have it now, the benefit would be less, maybe nothing at all. With an almost immediate and nearly giddy reply, Ursula gladly states that the girl will wait until January… AS WE PLANNED. Also, these are the exact same details that were provided to her month ago when the original plan was made, so yesterday’s drama, the dozen or so emails, the calls to the insurance company (which anyone who has made such a call knows are not the highlight of anyone’s day) could have easily been avoided by sticking with the original plan.

It is in times like that I say to myself, I will never be like her. I honestly try to be helpful to others and show appreciation when they are trying to help me. I feel towards Ursula much the same way I feel about my own mother, a woman I also wish not to be anything like. The common thread, both woman are narcissists. They are master manipulators who have just enough charm to fool people into wanting to help them, when the truth is neither wants to exert the energy to truly help themselves. Over the years I saw my mother use family, friends and co-workers to get what she wanted, when she wanted. I have seen the same behavior in Ursula, even down to using her children to gain sympathy and favor from others. Women like these give women in general a bad name. The stereotypes of women as needing a man to care for them or the manipulative shrew come from the actions of women like these. While it is difficult, I am grateful. Grateful for seeing women like this for who they are, at an early age, and knowing that is not what I wanted for myself. I hope my stepdaughter can learn from me the other side, that not all women are like her mother, that some of us can stand on our own and do what needs to be done, without  drama.

Fat shaming and CNN

Today I did a stupid thing. I did something I knew I would regret. I posted a comment on a CNN article. I have often said, “do not read the comments” on such things, they only go downhill, into a bottomless pit of stupidity and name calling. I can’t even read them without my blood pressure inching into the danger zone, yet today, knowing this, I went one step further and commented. And not only did I comment, I was the FIRST to comment. And as soon as I hit post, the flood gates opened. Within minutes there were dozen upon dozens of likes and comments. The comments were a mix of agreeing with my point and the polar opposite. It didn’t take long for the crowd to turn on itself, no need for me to reply, but of course I had to a few times, the masses were on it like flies on slop. I have posted that I don’t wish to have a political blog, but at this time in our history, we can’t just sit by and hope for the best. We all need to take responsibility for knowing what our elected leaders are up to and what we can do to bring about the change we wish to see. I am not a fan of our current president, his family or his administration. I knew that my comment would get the attention and attacks from his supporters. It did. And it didn’t take long for the tell-tale Trump supporter “go to” argument to come up;  I was fat shamed. Yes, in a post about the vice president’s comments on healthcare reform, I was told to “go on a diet”. For the life of me I  can’t figure out why my weight and/or dietary habits were part of the debate, but I guess when you have nothing to contribute, insults for shock value will do.

I replied, of course I did, but I didn’t get down on his level. I’m not a tiny little wisp of a girl, I never have been. Sure, I could list the reasons why, some by no fault of mine, some totally on me. I didn’t call him names in return, call him ugly or stupid, which I easily could have. I can be as catty as the next belle when it comes to taking my enemies to task, it’s a southern thing, it’s what we do, but when I’m making an intelligent argument, you don’t go there. Much has been said about fat shaming being the final acceptable personal attack out there. Even Trump  himself has been know to comment on the weight/bodies of females, so not shocking at all that one of his supporters would go down that path in an effort to make a point. Did it hurt? No, not really, I could care less about this person’s opinion of me and while I’m not super model perfect, I have always been comfortable in my own skin and happy with who I am, inside and out.

What does hurt is that this is acceptable. That some adult out there felt it was alright to call me fat as a way to cut me down. I can only imagine that if this man has children, he would allow his children to bully a “fat kid” because for some reason he feels that carrying a few extra pounds is an acceptable reason to attack another person. I am lucky, I was not an overly heavy child and I never faced bullying in school, for my weight or any reason. I do know kids today who are bullied and weigh is such an easy target. My stepdaughter, who is not heavy by most standards, dealt with this some last year. I saw how it hurt her and how, at 12 year of age, she wanted to go on extreme diets and exercise programs. Body shaming and bullying are horrible things for anyone to endure. Yes, kids can be cruel to each other and will find something to pick upon, but the adults in a child’s life must led by example.

I would like to say I learned my lesson, but sadly, I’m sure I didn’t. I will get into more online debates and I have no doubt my personal appearance will be attacked again, as those with weak arguments tend to go low, I, like Michelle Obama said, go high.

What the hell are some people thinking?

Seriously, there are times I just look at some people and wonder what makes them think their behavior is acceptable. I realize in today’s world, with the President of the United States being a frightening example of this, some feel they are now entitled to do and say whatever, whenever and no one is going to push back. Well, I’m here to say, we need to push!

Today something happened at work, nothing horribly major, but a breach of office etiquette. The behavior was called out, as it should be, and the offending party did as they typically do, became combative and unprofessional, to the point that the other party sunk down to the same level. The real problem came when the party in the wrong accused the other of bullying them. It is insane and pretty much out the Trump family handbook of creating a hostile situation then attempting to turn it around to play the victim. When did adults start thinking it is acceptable to avoid any and all responsibility for their own actions? It’s not ok to talk to people like you have no interest in their side in a professional setting or to raise your voice because you think louder means you are more important.

The person who created the drama is one of those negative people who blames others for everything. She complains to anyone who listen about how this person treated her poorly or that person talked to her in an unprofessional manner or another person isn’t doing their job and its her place to set them straight. It is always something with her and if anyone dare put her in her place, she will be the first to run to her boss, or worse, HR. We are grown ass folks, in a corporate setting, not working part-time at McD’s after school. At what point do people not see its THEM, not the rest of the world how is the issue. Self reflection is a lost art my friends.

I feel like I go through most days working very hard to control my mouth and my facial expressions. At any given time people will do or say things that they should be embarrassed and ashamed of, yet they feel justified and entitled. I am going to need to muster all my strength later this evening while helping a friend who is a wedding planner. The mother the groom is nothing short of crazy. I realize weddings can be stressful, especially for the close family, but that is no reason to make unreasonable demands and not be willing to discuss things like an adult. Also, paying someone for services does NOT give you the right to talk down to them or treat them like they should do anything you demand of them.

The rule of do unto others, treating others the way you would like to be treated, that needs to make a comeback in our society. “Telling it like it is” for the sake of being spiteful or bullying others to get your way needs to stop. Talk to others with respect, have the patience to listen to the other person before you attack or do not look to attack at all. You do get more flies with honey as the Southern saying goes- try it and you just may find it much easier to get your way.

Workplace Etiquette 101

As I have mentioned before, I work in a corporate office. Being that with exception of the occasional college intern, everyone who works here is an adult with a home of their own, without their mother there to clean up after them. As an adult, one would think that basic rules of etiquette are known, however, there seems to always be the few in any group who just don’t “get it”.

Without fail every time I go into the break room near  my office someone has left a half used sugar or sweetener packet propped up were the unused packets are located. Also, without fail, I toss these half used items in the trash. Why is anyone doing this? They do not fold them over, so if they were to be bumped they would make a mess, but that is not the biggest reason I toss them. NO ONE WANTS TO USE A PACKET THAT HAS BEEN OPENED! These packets do not contain that much sweetener. Typically, at least for me, one sweetener perfectly sweetens a cup of coffee- if you need less or more and use half the a  packet, toss the remaining or fold it over and take it with for your next cup. Just now there was a both a sugar AND sweetener packet there. I’m starting to think the moron doing this is one of those who uses both, which I really don’t get and that is an entirely different blog on people with horrible taste.

While we are in the break room, I believe it’s a universal law that if you take the last of a pot of coffee, you make another pot. It does not matter what time of day it is, make more coffee. If you spill coffee or anything else, clean it up. Your mother does not live here and while we do have wonderful housekeeping staff in our building, they are not standing guard to clean up after you. Same goes for the bathroom. If you miss the trash can, bend your lazy ass over and pick up your trash. I know this should go without saying, but I can not tell you how many times I have seen discarded paper towels by the trash can located by the door. I’m sure some germiphobe who had to use the paper towel to open the door to protect them from the cooties of their co-workers  missed that slam dunk into the trash can and felt it ok to leave it for someone else to pick up. Not only rude and entitled, but what makes you think anyone wants to handle your cootie covered towel?

The area where my office is located also houses the main boardroom and other large meeting spaces. We often have meals brought in for meetings. I would hate to see some of these people’s homes if they are a sloppy there as they are at a  buffet in the office. Food dropped on the floor and discarded, on carpet no less. Salad dressings, soups and other sticky substances cover the counter top that is located in the main walkway, so your mess will be seen by any passer-by. There are times the mess makes it so unappetizing that I will pass on a free meal. And much like the aforementioned sweetener packets, there is ALWAYS that person who has to cut something in half, yet they mangle it to the point the other half will not be eaten or one can assume it was touched with bare hands. No one is going to eat that, take the whole cookie/dessert/sandwich/etc, eat half of it or eat it all, no one cares and you get no brownie points for showing the entire office you only took half.

What is truly sad is all of these examples could easily be avoided with basic common sense. However, more and more I feel that common sense is no longer a basic skill all adults have.

Food: A Southern Girl’s Greatest Gift

I love to cook and thanks to my grandmother, I have a talent for it. More than anything I love cooking for friends and family. This past weekend, in the middle of July, we had a full Thanksgiving meal at our house. I was in my element cooking all day and entertaining friends all evening.  We don’t only give thanks once a year, so I see no reason to only have the wonderful meal that goes along with it only once a year either. Bacon wrapped turkey, cornbread dressing, creamy mashed potatoes and gravy, bourbon glazed sweet potatoes and green beans that cooked all day in the slowcooker with a ham bone. A meal worthy of any holiday table, even if that holiday is  a Saturday with good friends. What I found interesting was anyone who heard of our plan was at first surprised, then went on about what a wonderful idea it was.  I will tell ya, finding a whole turkey in July is not easy, so if you opt to try this, call ahead.

As I  was planning my menu to the feast I thought about all the special foods I make for the different people in my life. Food really is one of my gifts to those I love and I enjoy giving as much as they do receiving.  Southern cooks all have special items we are known for and whenever there is a potluck or get together we are asked to bring them. I have a few, depending on the audience. For every family function I make a special sugar-free/dairy free cake for my father in-law who has dietary issues and deviled eggs, a true southern staple.  My sister has a few items she will request; homemade strawberry cake or a strawberry pretzel salad are at the top of the list, along with my lasagna. My brother inlaw loves a salad I make with a homemade dressing that has about a million ingredients, so I make a double batch, half for the salad and half for him to have to use later. My niece loves my mac and cheese, mostly for the lattice bacon “crust” on top and my bacon chocolate chip cookies (I see a pattern here). My husband is a fan of anything spicy and Mexican, so he is easy to please, but his favorite item are the breakfast burritos I make for him weekly and freeze. My stepdaughter will request homemade fettuccine Alfredo for every meal if we would allow it and a double chocolate cake with dark chocolate butter cream frosting that is as sinfully good as it sounds.

At work when we celebrate birthdays I typically make brownies, but one of my dear friends loves my homemade pimento cheese, so for her, I bring that. Her birthday is coming up and another co-worker said she was bringing the Southern staple. Oh the flurry of emails that followed. I politely let her know that I was bringing my pimento cheese, as I have done in the past and at the birthday girl’s request. Not being the sharpest tool in the shed, she replied with what could be taken as a challenge: a pimento cheese off. To this I say….BRING IT! Not only is my recipe amazing, its has all Southern staples should be: all the fat, all the fun, all the love!!! I don’t try to “go light”, not for a celebration. I have no doubt, in her attempt to appear health conscious (which she is NOT) she will use light this or fat-free that…that is NOT southern style pimento cheese darlin’.

I do not think I’m the best cook, but I am a good cook and I’m very lucky to have friends and family with similar talents. We all have our specialties and I would never be so bold as to insist on making another’s signature item, it’s just not done. So, we shall see how this pans out, but my guess is my bowl will be empty and the birthday girl will be happy, which really all that matters anyway.