I had a feeling I was overdue to write a blog post, and now I see, it’s even been a few days longer than I thought it had. And so, here’s some of what I’ve been doing the past couple weeks (or nearly that) since I last posted (and unfortunately not very much reading).
As usual, basketball. The boys’ YMCA season just ended with a double header (yes, another double header) yesterday. In addition to those games on Saturdays, they’d had practice on most Monday evenings, and a few Tuesday evenings, except for the Tuesdays where we had a conflict with a SportZone game, or the night Jeff had a game and I had book group. Jeff’s games ended around Feb. 9th, so that helped me out a bit. SportZone games have continued for both boys, usually one evening a week for each kid, plus they both have had SportZone practices on Wednesdays. Their last games are this coming Tuesday (Ryan) and Thursday (Kyle). Also this coming Tuesday: first parents’ meeting for Ryan’s team for the upcoming baseball season. But, I’m getting ahead of myself. At least these overlapping basketball games will be done soon, and I’m glad for that.
One thing that had been hanging over my head the past few weeks was the income taxes. I’m usually working on the federal return around Groundhog Day, and that just didn’t happen. Then, I started doing my preparatory paperwork last Saturday, and planned to make good progress on them last Sunday. But then we had another minor snowstorm (4 or 5 inches was the total for our area), and Grandma had spent the night on Saturday and didn’t go to church because of the weather, so we were all hanging around on Sunday, and not too motivated to do productive things. Well, Kyle had seen some commercials, and had been asking me for a couple weeks to check out Ancestry.com. He asked me again last Sunday, and I thought what the heck, I’ll take a look and see what I could find.
By the end of the day Sunday, my family tree (and Jeff’s too, really, because his mom was here and had TONS of dates, or at least months and years in a lot of cases, not only for her forebears but for Papa’s side of the family too) had maybe 90 people in it. I was obsessively searching for information and documents about my dad’s side of the family — more specifically, about his biological mother, who died when he was six years old, on Christmas Day. (Is it any wonder he had mental / emotional problems??? Try telling THAT six-year-old that Santa Claus is real and will bring him wonderful toys and gifts.) Later in the week, Jeff was able to track down a couple pages of family history that my dad’s Uncle Charlie had sent to me back in 2000. I’d never met him, but had written to him after Kyle was born to find out more about my grandmother (his sister) and great-grandparents. That letter helped me add to the tree and find more documents. I found a scan of my great-grandfather’s draft registration from 1918, and a record of my great-grandmother bringing the three kids back to the US from Liverpool in the early 1920s! (She’d been born in Scotland, but my grandmother and her two brothers were born and raised in New York, so this wasn’t “immigration” information, just very cool to find.)
This weekend, I was able to buckle down and finish the federal income taxes. I got them filed online late yesterday afternoon, following the two basketball games. The state taxes will be much easier, so I’m allowing myself a break of a few days before looking at them. The other thing I did this weekend was house cleaning, after not doing the best job on that the last couple weeks, either. I cleaned the kitchen and both bathrooms today, and hopefully I’ll be able to get some dusting done soon, with basketball winding down. I haven’t really looked at Ancestry.com this weekend, knowing that if I got going on there I’d never get anything else finished. (Yes, I did show a little self-restraint, believe it or not!) BUT, we signed up for a 14-day trial for the access to US historical records, so I want to spend some more time on there during this coming week, see what else I can glean from the records, before we cancel that before next Sunday and only have the basic “build and maintain your family tree online” access.
So my last post was the evening of Feb. 16th, a Tuesday. Right after that, something happened that put me in a difficult mood the rest of that week. I received an e-mail from a friend, one of my former co-workers at EDS. I hadn’t seen or spoken with her in quite a while, and Jeff said that she hadn’t sent us a Christmas card this year (though she usually does, and she’s been on our card list as well). The subject line of the e-mail said “GREAT VIDEO!” It wasn’t a personal message to me, but a video she was forwarding on to a whole bunch of people. As usual, it was an anti-Democrat, anti-liberal video.
I don’t know if this friend and I ever talked about politics before, but the past couple years, she’s sent out these e-mail blasts periodically to people in her address book, and they’re always anti-liberal. I tend not to be very vocal about political issues, I think because I don’t have any confidence in my ability to debate, I never really learned how, and as I’ve mentioned previously, I can often see good points from different sides, or at least good reasons why people feel or believe the way they do. But in the same blog post where I talked about cooperation, I tried to explain some of the foundations of my liberal beliefs. It’s hard to have a blue-state perspective and live in a red state, and it just makes me talk LESS about politics. So, I probably never told this friend that I was leftward-leaning.
After I watched the “GREAT VIDEO!” that my friend had forwarded to me (and many others … though I don’t want to assume she sent it to everyone in her address book, I really don’t know), I decided to reply to her. I wrote back only to her, and did not copy anyone else. I was short, but I think I was civil. I wrote:
Hi (…) – I hope you’re well.
I’m glad to be on your contact list, but please, please, don’t send me any more anti-liberal stuff.
Sorry to be short, gotta get ready for bed, always 1000 things to do and never enough time.
It was 930 on a Tuesday evening, and I had a kid talking to me, maybe climbing on my lap, and I had Jeff asking if I was about ready to go to bed, and I’m sure the TV was still on — the usual pre-bedtime chaos.
My friend wrote back soon after, but we didn’t see the reply till next morning. It said:
Sorry to hear that you’ve chosen that way of thinking…please don’t send me any more form-type Christmas letters.
Best of luck to you and your family in this messed up world of ours, only worsening by your unwise-spending liberals. Want to pay my taxes and fund a raise that I’ve not gotten b/c of the ruining healthcare situation out there that’s only planned to get worse when we go to socialized medicine?
Sorry, but you’ve lost a friend in this choice of yours…but again, you have that choice that you can make, so I’ve chosen this one.
After this response from my friend (former friend, I guess), there was a message from someone who’d chosen to “Reply All” which read, in part:
Wow! Amazing video!!!!!
Now, as you asked, let me pass this on.
My guess is that not one single person involved in the creation of this video actually “voted for you.” (Prove me wrong.)
My hunch is that the people standing and applauding after seeing this were the same ones who, after Rush Limbaugh said he hoped “Obama fails” in the midst of the greatest depression since the 1920s said “amen” and “right on.” (Ah – bipartisanship and America-first at its best!)
I could be completely wrong, but my suspicion is the head-nodders and ditto-heads who said anyone who dared to question the Bush-Cheney approach were “traitors” and “defeatists,” that we all ought to “support the President,” are the very same people who now cheer on that same chicken-hawk Dick Cheney as he does everything he criticized just months ago.
Don’t get me wrong. I understand, there’s a difference between “us” and “them.”
“Us” can continually harass a legally elected President by questioning his long-proven credentials, call him Muslim when he is a life-long Christian, can even make light of his love of his spouse while the ranks of “us” justify “wide stances” in public restrooms, list hookers in their congressional phone books, and are filled with governors who “go hiking” with their mistress on the Appalachian Trail all the way to South America on Father’s Day.
Yes. The health care initiative is a complete mess. Imagine, forcing people to – for the first time in our history – buy insurance. It will require your Grandma to be put to death. It’s socialism at its very heart. Yeah! Amen! Well, except for the fact that all that is either a bold-face lie or something the no-no-no-never Republicans were first to introduce and support. (Oops. The cameras weren’t supposed to be rolling, were they?)
Of course, “Us” is trying. When the people of this country went to local town hall meetings to discuss the problems of health care, Dancin’ Dick Armey and his astro-grass-movement were there with yells and shouts and SCREAMS and Obama-as-Hitler posters. (How very American!) And when President Obama outlined his program of fighting terriorism in Afganistan, “us” told the country this “Muslim” scheduled this whole thing to deplace “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”
So now, you’re comin’ for us. You promise you’re gonna kick our ass and make everything right. You’re gonna take back America. You’re gonna make amends for getting your butts whipped good in 2008. Good for you. Just remember you’re going to have to be more than just the GOnoPe party. You’re gonna have to get us out of this mess your deregulations and business-will-take-care-of-business created. You’re gonna have to – gasp – actually suggest something we ought to do. Then make it happen.
The best of luck on that.
Mind if we borrow your ascorbic film crew two years from now?
(Please feel free to pass this on!!!!!!!)
What REALLY got to me about this was, I remembered an earlier occasion where my former friend had sent something anti-liberal or anti-Obama, and someone came back and loudly disagreed, and obviously used the “Reply All” because otherwise I wouldn’t have gotten it. I looked at the newest message, sorted by sender name, and bingo, it was the same guy. (Have I mentioned in the past that I’m bad about deleting old e-mails? I am, I’m very bad at it.) So THIS guy, whoever he is, writes back to her and ridicules her beliefs and COPIES everyone else that got the e-mail, and HE is still on her distribution list. I, on the other hand, wrote to her PRIVATELY to ask that she not send me those kinds of e-mails, and she takes the opportunity to ridicule MY beliefs and to basically end our friendship.
So I was torn between wanting to say something mean to my former friend (like, “Remember that guy I set you up with on a blind date with all those years ago? He’s married now! I bet you’re still single and living with just your cat and dog, right?” or something like, “How interesting, YOU also send out form-letter Christmas cards, and you don’t even have a family and kids’ school and other activities filling up your non-work hours, so how busy can you be really?”), and wanting to reply to her and cc: the “Reply All” guy, and ask, “How come you’re still sending e-mails to THIS guy, who makes fun of you to everyone, but you say mean things to me when I wrote to you directly and civilly?” (I also thought, I probably have more in common with him than I ever did with her, maybe I should just write to him instead!)
One more thing that gets to me: I was liberal before I ever MET this woman, and she was probably conservative before we met as well, yet still we were friendly at work, and kept in touch after I left that job. I tend to follow that old saying, that when you’re looking for general conversation topics, it’s best not to discuss politics or religion; I prefer to get along with people, so sue me.
In the end, I decided to do nothing, and say nothing (well, until now, in this post). I figured whatever I did or said would just make things worse. And although I was very moody and sort of off-kilter the rest of that week, the truth is, the friendship I’d had with this woman had pretty much run its course. I felt angry at her, annoyed with the situation, but no sense of sorrow over losing a friend. Mostly I was thinking of yet another cliched old saying, “With friends like that, who needs enemies?” And I was thinking of my dad’s Uncle Charlie, and how much fondness I feel for him although I’ve never met him; and my friend Marie in Maine, my BEST friend, and the fact that we’ve played phone tag but haven’t actually spoken in weeks and I hope she’s all right; and my old friend Elizabeth from Smith, one of those people I’ve loved and lost touch with, and will miss for the rest of my life.