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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Clearly This Has Been a Rough Few Months

The world has been burning with hate and it is contagious. Somewhere a switch has flipped in my head and I am having a hard time switching it back. I want to be happy like I used to be.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Faith v. Religion: mean memes

If being hurt by the Church causes you to lose faith in God then your faith was in people, not God
 We could talk exhaustively on the subject for the duration of human existence and never attain 100% agreement on anything. Yet, we have so many questions and so many issues that it is impossible to NOT talk about them despite knowing there will never be accord. We are people who ask question. We seek knowledge and certainty. We may even simply enjoy questioning for the sake of the quest itself. In this age of religion versus the rest of the world, to have no allegiance to a church seems more an unpardonable sin than it was back when all three networks aired the Pope's Addresses, when Billy Graham Specials were to adults what Charlie Brown and the The Wizard of Oz was to kids. Much has changed in the 35 years since I've last seen a Billy Graham Special. But what has not is that the church refuses to accept it has anything to do with driving congregants away.

I came across this quote in a meme from a simple lady who has some pretty vague ideas of life and hasn't experienced anything beyond a high school level. Her life is very vanilla, she seeks no diversity in our meagerly diverse city and everything he believes is dictated by her church. So when this meme came up I was a bit angry. She's been pestering people to go to her church for years. And when she can't fill the pews in her own church she begs people to go to any church. Her life is a constant plea for help, then the resignation of "Letting go and letting God" then having her power cut off because neither God not her friends have bailed her out of some poor choices. But she still has faith. And this is some thing that in discussions with her has angered her about me.

I won't put my butt in a pew unless I am in Europe and can see one of the splendid basilicas myself. She gets very angry. First because she assumes that I mean her congregation will be as nasty, self-centered and condescending as any other I have been in. Which I do mean. Secondly because she resents being lumped in with that group. Well who could blame her. And thirdly she gets made at me because of the logic. I saw this meme and was reminded of the last conversation that we had on the subject.

Of course my faith was in your people! You all told me that I could trust you. You all told me I was welcome as I was. You ALL told me that my marital status didn't matter.

But that is what all churches say to get your butt in the pew. Then when you've been there awhile the demands to change who you are, how you live and how you relate to God start rolling in. Now if I were an alcoholic I could see demanding giving up drink. I demand that of potential partners after having been abused by one. If I were a card carrying member of a Satanic cult then yes, I would say that change was due. But I am not any of those things. I am not anything that should be objected to.

Other than: single, feminist (not the anti-male feminazi), infertile and therefore childless, intellectual therefore full of questions, independent therefore non-conforming to the bland uniforms and the daily ritual of child-rearing because... oh yeah, STILL INFERTILE, and I am comfortable with who I am. I'm not one to wail and gnash my teeth about being single or childless. It is not my lament. But every church I've been in has tried to pull the gut wrenching sorrow up to the surface, to define my female identity in a shroud of motherhood and deny the identity I was given by the very God they worship. Infertility was not my choice. My biology chooses it. Biology that is bestowed or controlled by God according to the peoples of faith I have met. The very same people for whom reproductive science is an unholy and unnatural interference. Unless of course it pertains to making me a mom. Then all the hormone pills, invetro-fertilization, surrogacy and "junk science" should be deployed to get me pregnant and make me a mom. Gays can't do it because it is an abomination to alter what God has done. But by God I'd better alter what God has done if I want to be considered a real woman.

When you point out, logically, the hypocrisy in their argument they get mad. As did my friend. I've let it go. I am at peace with the choice to screw up my insides so that I can not have kids. Isn't that what Letting Go and Letting God is about? Isn't that the advice that I am given for other things that I can not change, like the choice in Presidents, the state of the economy, my inability to make headway in my chosen profession?

So in a matter of such personal import and profound self loathing that other infertile women experience I am at peace. Now I am a slap in the face to those women. Of course I am going to leave a church like that. They promised trust, security and belonging and then took it all away from me. Of course the part that sours me on a church is the church.

I wear a lot of purple and have been told in a few churches that it is obscene. What? yes. I prefer sleeveless shirts for working in because the range of movement increases productivity. I prefer pants and jeans for the same reason. It's not feminine. Well, I don't have a partner, I don't want to attract a partner and I am not saddled with children so I have an obligation to productivity therefore... leave me alone. I can wear what I want. It doesn't bother God. It bothers other women who subconsciously don't trust their men. It bothers men who consciously know they themselves can not be trusted. Of course no one balks when the skinny women wear sundresses. Just us tubby girls. Too bad. This is who I was when you invited me to your church. It is either wrong for every body type due to modesty clauses or it is not. There is not supposed to be a "some are more equal than others" in a church. And yet here we are. But when you point that out you are suddenly an enemy of the church. Well sure. Here's the thing. If a man gets turned on but a tubby chick in a sun dress then that is God showing him a weakness that the Bible and Church teaching for 2000 years has told him is his responsibility to fix. If a woman is offended because she is afraid that her husband will cheat then she is confronted with a few uncomfortable truths: 1. she chose the wrong man, 2. she could take that as a kind of sign that she needs to be more than a maid and mom. 3. she can identify her own jealousy and covetousness and work on that. If it is a matter of being disgusted my a bit of cellulose and arm flab then that is the opportunity to work on "being judgmental." After all, are we not warned against judgment lest we be judged as harshly?

But that is the problem with churches. It's the conservative snowflake's safe haven where nothing should disturb the surface calm. And everything is only surface calm. The deeper one goes the hotter the mess. And the mess is where the sins are, the fun lies. If you stir them to the surface and someone sees it, it has to be dealt with. And then there goes the fun and indulgence. Personally I find nothing more humorous than the gluttonous in a church getting down on me for a sundress while they are pigging out on the 7 layer bean dip and pistachio layer dessert at a potluck. More Hawaiian Salad?

The church welcomes people in to increase their number to fulfill a mandate. But once in, they start treating you like the enemy to be subjugated and squashed. It is contradictory to the promise of welcome they made when they "rescued" you. So of course the faith that you had in the people of the church is dead. But, does that diminish your faith in God?

And this is where I take issue with the quoe and the people who spout it. Faith in a Church body should not ever be equal to your faith in God. If it is, then you have set the church equal to God which is to create a false idol. Direct violation of the Commandments. If your Pastor has your devotion on the same level as God then he/she has become an idol which must be torn down. God is before everyone including the Pope, a King or Queen, rock stars, athletes and yourself. If not, your faith is as rickety as a 200 year old outhouse. Your faith, not mine, is on shifting sand. The Church equates faith with attendance as if counting the number of times your butt is in a pew is the measure of true faith or of placement in Heaven. I can assure you all, no where in the Christian Bible, even in Paul's letters to any one, is this stated. In fact, the closest you will ever see on the discussion of who is entitled and who is worthy of a place in Heaven Jesus' words have been, I paraphrase here, "Don't be to sure about that." Those dudes healing the sick who weren't run through the same "program" as the 12, Jesus didn't care who was doing the work, just that it was done. Those people who were talking about Jesus and his sermons where ever they were held without the 12 being able to control the narrative, Jesus didn't stop them. They got the word out, that is all that mattered. It was only centuries later where that became an issue. So yeah... the Church doesn't always get it right. And the Church is supposed to be second to God.

My butt doesn't have to be in a pew for God to know where we stand. That is what personal prayer is for. And according to Jesus, that is between you and God and was never supposed to be dictated. The Church doesn't shake my faith in God or the Holy Spirit. The church shakes my faith in it. Never more so than with this meme that seems to intimate that faith in Church and faith in God are one and the same. So far, the only thing that makes me dislike the church less is the wisdom the Vatican showed in Pope Francis' election. Pope Francis is the first pope in I don't know how long that really seems to understand the Yeshua part of Jesus and the Holy Spirit part of the Christ. Everyone else has been about power and acquisition of goods, the control of Empires while Francis is about shepherding. John Paul and John Paul II made some progress, but even they were bound in some respects by the politics of their time. Not so Francis.

Faith is independent of where one worships. This meme is a knee jerk, public relations response of butt hurt churches who are upset when they get called on their collective bullshit.


Thursday, February 23, 2017

Winter Time Throat Issues

The last time I had any kind of throat infection was my first Summer as a supervisor. I'd been working 50+ hours at the new hotel and not getting much sleep on my days off. My sister was visiting with her family for a week. So while the stress of a new job and resultant responsibilities peaked and somewhere over the 100% mark at the height of the tourist season, the stress of dealing with my sister's visit put me over the edge.

Normally visits with my sister are fine. But that was back in the day before I estranged my brother. She is in reconciliation facilitation mode and I knew she'd set up a meet. Plus she has 6 very active kids and had planned my days off for me to cram more in than I did in the week at the hotel. Anticipation made me nuts! Just because everything she wanted to do would be fun didn't mean that it wouldn't cost energy that I needed to have for work.

The week came and sure enough. Sister night included my brother. No apologies for stealing my money, no apologies for letting me be homeless so that he wouldn't be. No apologies for not reimbursing me all that was due. No apologies for anything*. Just "Why can't we get along?" Hmm... I wonder. And then, "Why don't you like me?" The age old doubled edged answer that always leaves me open to condemnation because I don't lie about the answer like everyone wants me to. I answer it honestly, just like when I am asked, "You know what I don't like about you?" when the subject is anything but me. Bed time couldn't arrive soon enough. I wasn't in my own bed, I'd been overwhelmed with meeting eight new people and having to sleep all in the same house only to be told we were all doing the Dune Climb in the morning to the rally cry "We leave at Dawn!" It was already 3 am.

The Dune Climb has never been a thing that I have been able to complete. Not in 5th grade and not now. It was extremely hot even though I brought an umbrella for the rosacae, water for hydration, wore layers of light clothes that were easily deducted and took my time. Half way up I found the one tree on the trail and sat with a newly introduced cousin to color while the others went all the way down Lake Michigan. I came prepared for several contingencies. When they got back we got ice cream, went the the beach and then went back to my sister's rental cabin. Despite protections and taking it easy  I was cooked. I went home to sleep. And woke the next day with one of the worst sore throats I have ever had. Went to the Walk In Clinic and boom! Strep!

Work made me take the full recovery time off. I was laid flat for 7 days. This illness was intense but the laying out flat was only for 4. I have a hard time with prolonged activity on day five but I am not out flat. And it wasn't strep. Doctor didn't know what was going on. He said that there were six different bacteria on the swab. My uvula swelled to the point if I laid wrong I would wake up trying to swallow it, choking and hacking and trying to squirt it back out of the wedge between my tonsils so it could continue to block my airway. It was nasty. The whole thing was the consistency of a thick and chunky mucus. And that it wasn't detached and able to be swallowed just kicked in the gag reflex and started the panic-inducing process of vomiting. Thank God THAT didn't happen!. The fever was so intense when it first started in the middle of the night that it woke me up. For 4 hours I laid in bed contemplating going to ER, peeing every hour and studying my throat wondering if waiting for a walk in clinic was smart as I watched the uvula swell.

At 10 am I texted my flatmate that we needed to go to a walk in clinic. My fever was so high I saw double and I couldn't focus. By the time I got to the clinic I was so delirious I could barely function. Some little kid asked his dad if I was a ghost. That Summer tan I got gathering rocks? It was with me until this illness. As I climbed onto the exam bed my lounge pants rode up my leg and it was gone. The color was gone save for the bluing around the veins near the surface.

After we got meds and got home I was able to muddle through the call in process at work. My third day to call in. I only get 4 in 6 months and each day of an illness counts. The next day there was no improvement. I called again. No one told my manager I called in so she panicked 15 minutes after my shift was supposed to start. "You know we have to terminate you if you don't come in." I couldn't talk. I didn't get my voice back until day 4 and that was day 2. Undoubtedly, as my flatmate and I work at the same place, she had been regaled with tales of my painful illness, the eyes rolling into the back of the head, the heat radiation off of me so strongly the cats avoided my skin, the text only communicating in person and the fumble thumbs making written communication difficult. i am sure she told her about sunlight causing me to shrink into my bed like a vampire in his coffin and that the slightest noise caused my to twist and contort with silent screams as my hands covered my ears. The joint pain that caused me to continuously flex and move to try to alleviate the bone crushing agony at my ankles, then my knees, then my hips to calm for five minutes before the waves of pain started again.

Whatever this non-strep non-tonsillitis condition this was my entire body was fighting it. I couldn't eat more that a few spoons of yogurt to make the medicine go down without my stomach doing cartwheels and threatening the dreaded dry heaves with each pill. I couldn't think about termination. I couldn't think. Not clearly. Yet here I am trying to appease the corporate gods by filling out application for leave of absence. I can't get the website to sign me in. Frustration mounting and no one can fucking understand me. Not at work. Not on the corporate line. But I was supposed to still come in and work? The process finally completes after nearly an hour on the phone, of my straining to be heard over the choke hold my throat has on me and I get told two very chilling things: I have 20 days for them to approve the leave I may not have leave approved after their underwriting docs look it over. So I won't know until middle March if I am fired for this or not.

More chilling though is the information that I got on day 3. I'd slept rather fitfully for a few hours to recover from the corporate shuffle then called the doctors office to tell them to expect that packet and that if there was a fee for filling it out I would be in Thursday to pick it up. "We don't do that." Do what? "We don't fill out leave paperwork." What? "At all, period. We don't. See your GP." I don't have one. "I'm sorry about your situation. Good luck." But it's my job on the line. "I guess you'll have to take that up with them."

I've been in panic mode for the last two days though yesterday you would hardly know. Somewhere into day four the clinic called to do a follow up. The very nice guy told me I should have some improvement and that I needed to come in. I told him it would be Thursday before I had money. And that please have the doctor fill out paperwork because it would cost me my job. He was sympathetic, told me he would talk to the doctor and it should be okay if it was that dire. Apparently reception at the desk is as foul and unevenly tempered as cell reception at the beach. I slept in peace until the second follow up. This young lady had zero sympathy and told me to go to the hospital to get billed for a followup and have them fill out paperwork. WHAT?

You see, she called around 3pm. I had no way of getting to hospital on my own as the flatmate was at work. Resigned to a fate  I could not control I sucked on my Ricola from Germany and let my mind wander. My care package came for my birthday and there were health and wellness gifts inside. So I just enjoyed what I could in the condition I was in and slept. By the time I woke at 8 the fever broke. By 10 I felt my throat had improved by at least 50%. I had my color back and took a bath. Yep! Tan was still there. Voice was still gone and I was weak as a baby but there was finally improvement. Then panic. How is the hospital going to do a follow up now that I feel better?

Today I am not 100%. I am able to eat semi-solids, the headache was the last thing to leave me. I can mostly swallow and breathe through my nose without worrying that my throat will slam shut. My vision is still a bit out of focus but that may be the panic attack waiting for full blown conflagration. My heart rate is elevated again. And now, at 6 am, I have been up for three hours trying to figure out what to do if that paperwork doesn't happen.

When did doctors stop excusing you from work based on illness? Since when is that a thing? How fucking hard is it to fill out a single piece of paper that says this is what she had, how sever and when we expect her to return to work? I'll go back on Friday and I might get turned away or I might end up working the last 3 weeks of shifts. I don't know. All I know is that I am in full blown dismay and the headache is coming back.

What the Fuck America? What. The. Literal. Fuck!


*The painfully short version of the complicated financial crisis that ensued as a result of our dad dying

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

a Space Odessey

updated: 2•23•2017
This article is what I was talking about with engineers not wanting to come here 



It's been 35 years of ridicule from unimaginative people who tell us dreamers and thinkers, speculators and fans of science fiction to get our heads out of the clouds, keep our feet on Earth. Simultaneously, it's been a 35 year fight to advance environmental protections, trying to educate those who were rooted in what they would call, "the Practical" and still move forward. Until the cell phone came along, none of the "living in the future" we "impractical" and "useless dreamers" were accused of embraced. But once those flip phones came out, then progressed to the iphone and androids, suddenly there was something to the "stupidly impossible" things that they saw in Trek and other Sci-fi shows. And the the designers came out and all said it was Kirk's communications device that made those cell phones possible because it was an idea to work toward.

It went from something cool to something that could be really useful. And then it became an addicting necessity. And now, all of the sci-fi haters are on board with the space tech. They still are not all that excited about space exploration. In fact, there are still arguments about dismantling NASA. We still argue about what to do with the shuttle program. W wanted us to go back. Obama tried to fund the shuttle program, embarrassed that we were depending on other countries to get out astronauts to the ISS. But it didn't matter to the GOP.

 Once we got to the moon, the United States Congress started the attacks on NASA. The Challenger and Columbia accidents, which in my opinion, were a direct result of budgetary cuts that were instigated by the Conservative GOP to redirect funds into the Military to expand a war machine, and away from Space Exploration because the benefits to corporate interests were smaller from space, only solidified their position. And with the less than enthusiastic, non science fiction crowds in the constituency, the death of those astronauts was enough reason to try and dismantle NASA. And all of the bullies who hated Trekkies and our penchant for inclusion and exploration joined the GOP in the bullying. Even NASA's Space, Here's What's in it for You campaign did nothing to stem the tide of anti-Space exploration. It's been a battle in family arguments, in papers and among antagonistic pundits for decades. Then suddenly it's all different again.

Three days ago the GOP told NASA to get into Space cause "That's what you are there for." And my inner Dr. McCoy popped up with a very skeptical eyebrow and one antagonistic question, "What's their angle?" How does a political party with tight hold on the purse strings of a US agency completely turn around its position seemingly overnight?

The devastating plans the GOP under the new Orangeparty to dismantle Environmental protections, safety, wipe out wildlife and sell of the national park lands would seem to be a clue. Those in my circle have been asking his supporters what water they are going to drink when these pipelines fail as they have at alarming rates over the last decade. Bottled water. When Nestle takes it all what will you drink. Bottled water. Where are you going to fish and hunt when the water is polluted and the lands belong to corporations? Where will you swim when Line 5 finally gives out at the Straits? What will you eat when they have killed small farms and independent growers? We eat from the grocery store. And when you eat a contaminated drumstick of unregulated Chinese chicken and your brain stops tickin? No answer.

Until today.
NASA just announced the discovery of a new set of 7 planets orbiting a dim sun called Trappist 1 a mere 40 light years from Earth. Now it makes sense to me why the GOP has mandated NASA get busy with getting us into outer space. Once they've burned out the resources, killed all the species that they don't value beyond the status of being mounted on a wall, reduced our population in number and worth, to the point where the is no reason to stay there is theTrappist system to exploit.

I have so many more questions than this scenario explains.

For instance: you've devalued and defunded NASA, underfunded science & math education and cut the program to its most skeletal of abilities, how the bloody hell do you think that the current set of employees is going to make up for the stagnation of the last 35 years? And who do you think is going to man those desks as senior staffers retire over the next few decades? We are behind the rest of the world. We were the number one in Space exploration, a position that we should never have given up, not for pride or status but for the practicality of realizing that it is harder to climb back to the top than it is to maintain that position. It's a disgrace. And now NASA must catch up to the rest of the world and make the attempt to get to a new solar system. No, they haven't said it yet. But how thick do you have to be not to put the pieces together to see where this was going?

Where do you think you are going to get a jump start on this program with out the Indian and Asian mathematicians? The Indian Space program has been making exceptional strides. But will they come with the anti-immigration attitude here in the States? The radically under-educated supporters of this administration don't stop to think that there are more brown-skinned people than the ones they are afraid of. How would they be welcomed? How will their children live in this climate.

In so many ways the GOP is shooting itself in the foot. I have no doubt they will get to the Trappist system but it will be the hardest, most expensive and convoluted path to getting there. And, if most speculative fiction can prove to be prophetic, Trappist 1 will only be for the rich and the famous. They will forget the service people initially then find some slummy place on a foreign planet to put the work force. And that work force will have no rights of their own. Settling a new planet won't have the same historic sense that maintaining America has. American founders had a vision and the Constitution outlines what can and can not be done be the government. America has a patriotism that comes from a hard fought, hard won history. A new planet will not. A new planet will be colonized and constitutionally supported by those who get there first.

Once the Space Laws have been rewritten.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Equality & Reproductie Health in America

Unbelievably, in the 21st Century, we have a lot of people who believe that the female reproductive system is full of myths designed to "get out of work", invoke "false sympathy" and to "get attention." We have young men who believe that a woman can just hold her period flow and go to the bathroom on scheduled breaks like men do. I have news for him, employees regardless of gender take more breaks than scheduled when they think that they can get away with it. It's a game of cat & mouse. But to say that a woman controls her period is simply ignorant. We have old men in Congress who think that reproductive health needs end at a specified age. Misinformation abounds.

The medical research field isn't very responsible in dispelling these myths. Research and production are heavily focused on making sure that men can enjoy sex throughout every decade of life. While women do have over the counter medication to help with menstrual cramping and a vast array of products to prevent embarrassment in case of leakage, so that we can maintain our productivity, we only have the Pill to help with the more mysterious symptoms of heavy bleeding, vitamin deficiency and hormone imbalance. There is no known cause or cure for Endometriosis, Pre Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder, and Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome. All three of these disorders can be debilitating to the women who experience them. Some of these conditions affect as many as 75% of the female population. And I suspect, due to the "invisible" nature of the condition, the source of the mythological accusation.

The only thing doctors have to combat these symptoms, when they are willing to do so is the Pill. It isn't just a contraceptive. It is a necessary medication to treat these conditions. It only treats the symptoms and not the cause. And it certainly doesn't negate the outcome. The current anti-science and radical pro-life mentality in America would eliminate this necessary medication on the false belief that these conditions are, at best, nothing more than "A bad period" and, at worst, "imaginary & attention seeking behavior". Clearly, the emphasis on men's sexual functioning is more important than women's reproductive health.

You see, if left untreated any one of those will lead to infertility or cancer. To be pro-life and not be willing to deal with a medical condition which will prevent life from forming is not pro-life. To be pro-life but ignore the quality of life beyond birth is not pro-life. To be a person who believes in the sanctity of life but discourages the study of reproductive health to prevent cancers from these diseases is to be a liar. There are, as we know, a good many of them in Congress. They are out to defund Planned Parenthood. This organization is a major service provider to poor women across the country. Pharmaceutical companies are only looking at hormonal treatments which have dubious effect. A percentage of men have decided that these conditions are just made up.

If there truly was equality why is this the case? I've done a little research on the Constitution and realized that none of the proposed bills to constitutionally recognize women's rights never hit the books. True, we can not be denied work, wages, housing or service based on gender. However, there is no defined Amendment for those Rights. There is no statement in the Constitution which designates women as persons. Why is that important? Samantics.

It only takes a clever lawyer to strip rights from persons not specifically mentioned in the Constitution. The persistence of belief that women's gynecological issues are made up for sympathy is not much different than the way fascists negate the value of their enemies right before they destroy them. It doesn't matter to me anymore why this happens. I don't care about the psychology or changing minds that are already made up. I care about inspiring people to make a noise and resist giving in to the illogical premises and conclusions. To fight the good fight and resist being negated. If American women can not find proper treatment and the equality that others insist that we do have there is a huge problem here.

It won't go away by ignoring it.
It won't go away unless we make the issues known.
It won't resolve itself unless we do something to bring the issues to light.
It won't be better unless we make it better ourselves.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Not a Muslim Ban, he Says Look Who Got Turned Away, We Say

When people who have green cards and are Muslim are turned away at the Airports that is a Muslim ban. Green cards are proof of citizenship. The people detained in airports this week were not undocumented, they were not illegal. They went through the 2-3 year vetting process. Some of them already had jobs and were returning to them.

Yeah, it's only a 120 day restriction. But since when do airports let you travel without a visa? If you are from one of the 38 countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program you don't need the visa. Otherwise you have to have one. No one is going to fly in who shouldn't. So what was the deal with this ban? What was the point in detaining all of those people?

It doesn't seem to make any sense. At least not to me and lots of other people, including a Federal Judge. I'm not a law expert but when a judge says what you are doing is wrong, it's wrong. If the press calls you out on it you deserve to be called out.

I've gotten called out on my support of the protests. The call started with, "Hey Sweetheart." First if you are gonna talk down to me with the condescending tone you'd better be prepared to be ignored. I don't need the condescension and that is no way to make a point. You know, kinda how Reps don't like all of our smartassery. The meme is just as full of misinformation as we are accused of being.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

January 27th Historically Ill~Omened



Funny thing about having a mid-Winter birthday is that there is always a chance of the weather cancelling your party plans. And when you are a young person of eight without the broader understanding of either the world or world history, the limited turnout for the one party you were going to ever have is a death blow. I know I had a melt down. The melt down was going to happen because my mother had been preparing it for two weeks.That birthday set the tone for all birthdays to come, the premise of irrational cosmic connections to follow.

It started with the invitation list. The first two people on the list should have been the only two people. My best friends at the time, Lisa and Nienke. But my mother added a slew of "popular" kids to the list. True, I had been invited to their birthdays, but mom hadn't let me go to the majority of theirs so it's not like it was going to be the fairest of trades. So I guess Julie should have been allowed, but she chopped huge chunks out of my hair for which I had my butt blistered so I thought that was a good enough reason to cancel the invitation. Not so according to my mom. The list was huge. The RSVPs in reply were modest. But that started the inevitable "Look how much money you are costing me."

Next was the theme, Super Heros. Marvel or DC I didn't really care. But no. That wasn't girly enough. So it was Holly Hobby. The printed plates, napkins, coordinated paper cups, crepe papers streamers, the specialty cake pan and gobs of colored frosting, the complicated frosting pattern all were adding up. And with each dollar spent came the constant lecture of how I didn't deserve such a big party. "I didn't want a big party!" and the "No one likes you I don't know why they said yes" played on a constant loop are probably where my attitudes about social engagements come from. If you don't want to do it, don't. Especially if your begrudging participation are going to make others miserable. When she wasn't going on and on about my unworthiness, she was going on and on about how she never had a good party because her whole childhood was over shadowed by her sister's illness.

Then there was the menu. I don't know any more what all she served but she set the table as if it was Easter dinner. She expected 8 year olds to act grown up. So with each recipe completed and plated and put in the fridge for later she griped about all the food would probably go to waste. All I wanted was my dad's goulash. But we got a full holiday spread. And then there was all the lecturing about my not helping. I didn't help because my siblings never helped with their parties. Mom said that a birthday celebrates the person whose day it is and they should be treated specially. No chores, choice of food, pick the cake, pick the TV shows and they get to play with whatever toys they liked with no fighting about it. And I was always doing the dishes and helping make the meals for everyone else. So naturally I thought that the same would apply to me. It didn't. But I made it.

Then there were the games. I didn't want games. I just though we would eat, play have cake and everyone would go home. I thought it would be like when they come over after school but with better snacks. That would not b the case. Balloon decorating, pin the tail on the donkey, word games and prizes for each. And more expense. More lectures about undeserved-ness and all the things that she missed out on because of her sick sister. It was clear the night before the party that this was her birthday and not really mine. She force a comb through my hair set it in rollers and then showed me what I was wearing. Not play clothes. My sister's June birthday was swimsuits and shorts. My brother's birthday two weeks before mine was pajamas or jeans. Suddenly I was expected to be a lady. I have mentioned being a tomboy right?

The day of the party came amidst the famous weeks long barrage of weather in the Blizzard of 78. By noon as I was tacking streamers, hanging balloons and setting tables, the snow was piling high. By noon half my attendees called off. The only ones who came were those who could walk, and they were not too thrilled at having to do so. The neighbors, George and Jo came, as did Virginia. The party started at 2 and it was a stressful and chaotic as my First Communion party was. My friends wanted to play but mom made me hostess until after we ate the meal. Then the games. Games which even when declared the winner by George, our judge, I was not allowed to accept prizes for. My best friend Lisa won most by default. Everyone could see the resentment on both of our faces except my mom. By 6pm we were all a little strung out with worried about getting home in the worsening storm. And we hadn't even gotten to cake.

We did presents and cake. And it was all Holly Hobby stuff. Apparently mom told them to keep it to the theme. A theme I hated. And by the time we got to the cake, the first piece of which I had to give to my best friend, which meant I had to publicly acknowledge on over the other, something I could not do, the meltdown was primed. And it was glorious. I know I wailed and ran to my room. I slammed the door. I screamed all of the two weeks of frustration. When my sister came to our room I kicked her out. I leveled a hefty dose of angry words at my mom when she dragged me out of our room to face the crowd that "I" had embarrassed where she very publicly told everyone that there would never be another party for me again because I was ungrateful. She apologized for me and sent everyone home.

It was a very Lord of the Flies kind of a thing for me at that age. I couldn't pick one friend over another. I never have been able to, even when other friends through the years wanted me too. A hierarchy of friendship is stupid. But everyone has to have a number I guess. I've lost some friends because I can not name them #1 and I've lost some because they've ordered themselves and didn't like the order and then I've lost some because we grew apart. But I have never lost a friend because of a meltdown. That isn't what did the three of us in. That came much later. And this birthday meltdown taught me a lot about my mom. a lot about what I would consider fair in the world, and as I said, my flexible attitude toward doing things.

Truly, if you don't want to do it. Don't. It doesn't matter what the It is. If you can't commit heart and soul, out of the goodness within you, if you commit because of obligation, expectation, or any other reason than desire.... DON'T DO IT, MISTER! AND THAT'S AN ORDER!

The Birthday Debacle of 78 should have been a grand and immediate lesson. But it wasn't. I was only eight years old. I expect too much of myself. And that should have been the last need the Alpha female had to sit on my head. But it wasn't. Apparently I was born to resist. Because this was only the beginning of the concept that January 27th is the yearly Day of Doom. Something bad always happens. Sometimes it is only on this kind of a personal scale and sometimes it is global.

I don't know when she decided to do this, but at some point after this debacle, I started getting blamed for everything from the Vesuvius eruption to Hitler.

1969 Chaffee, Grissom and White die in the Apollo I accident
1984 Michael Jackson suffered burns filming a Pepsi commercial
1938 the Honeymoon Bridge at Niagra collapsed.
1993 Andre the Giant dies
2002 1000 people killed in a stampede in Nigeria.
For several of the wars between England and France France attacked England on this day. Any Winter of Conflict in which the English Channel froze over the French walked armies across and attacked. You'd think after the first try that the English would have been better prepared for successive attacks. Sheesh.
1986 the day after my birthday Challenger explodes.
1987 I spent my birthday in court waiting to testify in a custody hearing which no one bothered to plan for ahead of time. I waited all morning for the defense attorney to interview me and declare me a hostile witness (DUH) before being released but not before having to listen to my mother complain about how horrible a mess I make of everything and how I ruined her day.
And this year, John Hurt dies.

When my mom started blaming me for everything under the sun throughout history, I got curious about omens and patterns. I read a lot as a kid and my birth date stood out as a curiosity.  So when my mom would start on her rants about wishing I hadn't been born and my link to the fates of others I came to be able to counter with the two good things that happened on my birthday:

"Mozart was born and that fat tub Henry the 8th was beheaded."

Only to find out that Henry the 8ths beheading varies from one source to the other. It was so close to midnight on the 27th when he was walked to the gallows that, depending on the story of the eager executioner who let him drop early or the lengthy process in which he suffocated on the noose, his death date fluctuates.

One can pick any date in history to see that is as ill-omened as the 27th of January. It just seems to me that in my own life time line, things that matter to me hit close to my birthday. And I am now reduced to "Well, at least Leonard Nimoy did not pass close to my birthday." That would have been a heart ache too much to bear.

This year, the War Doctor has gone, not to regenerate.