1.152 – My Two Cents

Scrolling through my Facebook updates, I noticed this picture:

Now, I’m going to explain why this picture annoys me but before I do that, I’m going to make something very clear.

I am a single mother of a two year old. I work 40 hours a week. My earnings fall below poverty level. I attended college. I do not partake in illegal activities of any kind. Even with child-support, I barely make ends meet. I have gone on two vacations in the last 6 months on the generous dime of a family member. I drive a ’96 Jeep Laredo which is on its last leg. I have the same cell phone I’ve had for two years which is also on its last leg. I shop at Save-A-Lot and Aldi’s because PriceChopper is too expensive.

BUT I am not on welfare. I do not take nor have I applied for any sort of government assistance. The child-support I receive is not court ordered and more than likely, less than what my son should be receiving BUT he receives something and for that I am grateful. I do not apply for government assistance because I am an able bodied adult and even though it gets pretty damn tight at times – I know that as long as I have milk in my fridge and my son has diapers – everything else can wait.

That being said – this picture annoys me for one single reason. There is a stigma that if a woman has a child and she DOES apply for assistance, it is because she is a lazy ass who made the “mistake” of having a child. She had a child she cannot fully support on her own. “Well, don’t make babies if you can’t support them.” That’s a common response but before you have that thought, remember that not every woman got knocked up carelessly. Some women, many women for that matter (this one included) were married, engaged, in a committed relationship. Many women PLANNED their conception. Many women believed they were in it for the long haul with their partner before making the choice to birth a child. For whatever reason, it didn’t work out.

In a good case, the father pays money to help and visits with his child. In a lot of cases, the guy disappears. Or he lives in a four bedroom house while his ex has to downgrade to a one bedroom for her and her child to survive.  Either way, the woman is left to fend for herself and her child while the man has no real obligation. And if you disagree with me – check yourself because no one is making bumper stickers about men supporting their children…financially, mentally, physically and emotionally.

Despite it all – I am still a lucky case. Despite my struggles, my son is taken care of. Despite us not being able to save our marriage, my sons father and I know that our son is the most important entity in our lives and we will do everything in our power to provide. It is always an even distribution of work and sacrifice? No. Is it fair? No. Will it stop me from being a damned good mother despite circumstance? FUCK NO.

If I drove up behind this car, I’d have a moment. A big F.U. moment. Because rather than telling our men to stick by their families, to care about whether they have created a life or not…we are telling our women that if they end up with a child and no support – no one cares. We are telling the children of struggling mothers that they don’t have a father and society dislikes them because they are a burden. That’s a shitty message and it’s nothing to be proud of.

Yes, there are people who abuse the system. There are also people who need the system. So fuck you for your self-righteousness if you are one those people who finds a positive message in that image. I pay taxes and I hope that my tax dollars can help a mother who IS less fortunate than I am, which is not a far cry from where I stand. Not for her. But for her children.

It takes a village to raise a child. I’ll be damned if I’m going to complain about doing my part.

1.87 – Frowns and Smiles

My Facebook Status:

Dear FB: making one of my recommended pages “Jesus”….you’re wayyyy off. But thanks for trying.

Comment:

‎;( Your opinion tho

My Reply:

I know. Hence why I said my recommended pages…on my facebook.

Here’s the deal. I’ve given religion it’s fifteen minutes on my blog. I’m quite over it, actually. EVERYTHING I write, I write because it’s my inspiration, my feelings, my thoughts. I don’t claim to have anything all figured out.

That being said, I find it hysterical that people on my Facebook, people who know me, see my status updates daily, act like they don’t know where I stand. If you’re on the friends list, you know. Do you have to agree with anything I say – no. But if I’m saying anything that feels wrong to you – do me the favor – hit delete. That’s like someone clicking follow on this blog and expecting me to post recipes. If that’s what you’re looking for, cool, but ya aint gonna find it here.

I have never disrespected anyone and commented on any religious loving post with “;( your opinion though.” But now, I’m tempted. If I did that, the gloves would be off. I’d be 8 million types of messed up. But what the hell is the difference? I accept your faith and proclamations via status updates and yet…mine are up for pinpointing. I’m willing to test this theory and watch the hypocrisy floodgates open.

In the course of writing many of my religion based posts, I have had some great responses – people who agree and disagree with me. Heck, several of my followers on this blog are religious based bloggers. I’ve had enlightening conversations with people who are dedicated to their connection with a higher power and at no point have I felt threatened, awkward or less. They are respectful, they answer my questions, they give me insight. I appreciate them. They do not frown upon me. They share their word with me with gentle hands. I completely respect them and their faith. My disgust comes from people who DO frown upon me, who cast a judgement, who assume they are any closer to a higher power than I am.

If something exists, I’m sure that entity respects my questioning, my desire to clarify. Because I’m never going to be the girl that does something, believes something, follows something without asking why. I don’t need the label of (insert religious denomination here). I may take a different road in trying to understand the whys of life. But isn’t that the beauty of it? The freedom of choice. The one you’re god supposedly gave us all? Well, this is my choice. Yours is to accept the things you cannot change or to move right along.

This is, in no way, an attack. This is for enlightenment. I’ve learned so much in such a short period of time from some amazingly strong religious hearts. I consider those hearts true testaments of love. Of faith. Because it’s not us versus them. Me versus you. We are different. Those differences are beautiful to me. And I look forward to knowing the beauty of different insights as I grow in age.

Frown upon me. That’s quite alright. It’s your opinion tho.

1.56 – Not What You Think

I pass the gas station after a long day of work. (Update: I’m kicking this food poisoning things ass but its definitely waged its war on my energy). There is an officer that does night duty at this gas station. He says hi to me all the time. To be honest, I think he’s crushing on me. This is not to sound vain, but a girl knows when a guy goes out of his way to make conversation and why he’s doing it.

So, he steps outside to have a smoke while I’m buying some juice. I walk outside to go to my car and he stops me to ask where a good place to get a tattoo would be. (You see the convo starter). Blah blah, I recommend a place for him. I tell him they are really good because they are very knowledgeable about colors and skin tones. (I’m caramel so blues and yellows fade on my skin). He’s probably a little darker than me.

He asks me what I am. I say, I’m Puerto Rican. He says he’s black and Italian. Great, we now know our family origins. I really just want to go home and drink my juice and lay down and watch a movie. So I say kbye and start toward my car. He stops me and whispers, “are my eyes okay,” with this dorky smile. I say “um, yeah, I guess.” He smiles and says “you know how it is, with all this work stress, a mans got to kick back sometimes.” I say “ew. Thats just ew.” He says “oh come on, it aint that bad. You don’t?” Thats when I get in my car and drive away.

You don’t smoke weed? No, I don’t. I don’t partake in any drug activity. I don’t even drink.

The fact that an officer of the law asked me if I smoke weed does not bother me. Hell, I’ve seen my fair share of crooked cops. What does bother me is this…

What about me makes you think I’m a fellow druggie? What about me makes you remotely think we can relate on such a disgusting level?

Apparently, something about me screams “drug addict.” Well, here’s a clue: your vision is skewed. When you look at me, you will see a dedicated mother, a hard ass worker, an independent woman, an aspiring writer, a girl who skips on fashion to guarantee my son has the very best, a girl who merged book smarts and street smarts to become a better woman.

I cannot even count the number of times people question me the minute they hear I’m a New Yorker, I’m Puerto Rican or any of the other “red flags.” I really should make a freakin’ sign.

Yes, I know drug dealers. No, I’ve never sold drugs. No, I don’t do drugs. Yes, I know who my real father is. No, I am not on welfare – I bust my ass like every other tax paying citizen and make due. Yes, I know who my baby-daddy is – I was married and we planned my sons conception. Yes, I was born in this country. No, I am not an illegal immigrant. Yes, I speak English – I’m just ignoring you. Yes, I recognize that you and I have a different dialect – I say wash and you say warsh. Yes, I finished high school and went to college. I have tattoos and piercings and I can rock a suit like nobodies business.

I can cut you to shreds with a smile just as easily as an F bomb. I’m an equal opportunity individual. If you’re stupid – I hate you all the same. Swallow your assumptions and keep it moving.

1.50: XMAS XMAS XMAS XMAS

Tis the season. So I’ll start my rants early. Hell if there isn’t an abundance of inspiration.

The Thanksgiving Day parade ends with Santa Clause and the flood gates unleash. People are planning their Black Friday shopping like neanderthals, our poor ass economy suddenly turns into shopaholics anonymous and money is spent faster than it can be made.

Does it bother me? Nah. I don’t really care. At least not for this post.

I’m a writer. It is my 24 hour a day job. But it’s not the one I get paid for. I’m in retail. The lovely arena that is retail. Being in retail allows you to see the good, the bad and the ugly. Wait, lets nix that. I’m not in retail. I don’t sell products. Lots of people do but I don’t. I’m in customer service. That is my number one priority and that’s what makes me good at my job. Period.

Being in customer service, you deal with a lot of people’s opinions. A couple of years back, I had a customer correct me when I said Happy Holidays. “This is the season of Christ, you tell me Merry Christmas.” I’ve gotten that comment multiple times over the years, it’s really no surprise to me. I see people on all the social media websites “correcting” everyone on the use of “xmas” and “Happy Holidays.” I usually stay quiet about this.

Not today.

First of all, I don’t say happy holidays for you. Growing up, I decorated with a Christmas tree and a Menorah.  My father is of Hebrew descent and so we celebrated Hanukkah. No, we did not do 8 days of gifts. Because that wasn’t what it was about for my father when he shared this with me. It was the miracle of light existing when it shouldnt have. Whether you agree or disagree is quite irrelevant to me. It gave my father joy and so it gave me joy. Xmas and the festival of lights was my shindig and I’m one well rounded bitch because of it.

Growing up, Christmas was never about Jesus being born. Not in my house. Period. Do I regret that? Not one bit. Christmas wasn’t about gifts in my house. We were poor. We didn’t have shit. Christmas was about family. The rare time of the year when children kept their innocence, family united as best they could and smiles were had…even for a short while.

That being said…

I really hate people who do this whole “don’t take Christ out of Christmas” speech. You fucking hypocrite. Do me a favor. Before you start yapping about the sanctity of the holiday and downgrading other peoples beliefs, think about yourself for a second. Is Christ in Black Friday? In the money hungry materialistic self absorbed gimmie gimmie spirit you project or teach your children? Is Christ in every box of gifts you think you’re entitled to receive? Is Christ in the Christmas carols you sing? Is Christ in the holiday movies you watch?

Better yet…this Jesus guy sounds like a real giving individual. He cared about the sick, the homeless, the needy, the pained. When was the last time you spent your Christmas day at a hospital, a homeless shelter, an orphanage, on the streets with the less fortunate, at a battered womans shelter, with cancer patients, AIDS patients, the elderly, the mentally handicapped? When was the last time you sacrificed your luxuries and gave everything to someone else?

“I donate money and toys all the time. I give to toys for tots. I gave a jar of peanut butter at the grocery store. I give to the dudes standing outside ringing for the salvation army.” Put what you gave beside what you will receive and reconsider your influence.

I’m not saying religious people are wrong to rejoice in the day their Savior was born…although I thought he was born in October or July or something…but that’s besides the point right? Okay, lets say he was born, without arguement, on December 25th. Awesome. Rejoice on that day. It’s his birthday. But um…why are you getting gifts? Why are you giving gifts to your kids? To your parents? Your siblings? It’s not their birthday. It’s Jesus’ day.

He must be one layed back dude because if everyone I knew showed up to my birthday with no gifts for me, no signs of humanity, compassion, love, selfless giving of time and energy to those in need…if everyone showed up to my day with gifts for themselves, spread amongst one another…I’d be pissed! You know what I think? Thats SELFISH!

First four letters…SELF. Holidays are about self.

Feel free to disagree. I’m all about everyone having their own view. But be honest with yourself. When I go shopping for Christmas, I’m thinking about what will make my son happy. I’m not lying to anyone and saying its a celebration for someones birthday. Nope, just another reason to spoil my son. Period.

So, if your Jewish and you wanna spoil yourself and those you love: HAPPY HANUKKAH! If your African descent and you want to spoil yourself and those you love: HAPPY KWANZAA! If your buddhist and you wanna spoil yourself and those you love: HAPPY ROHATSU (insert palms together hand gesture here). If you’re Islamic and you wanna spoil yourself and those you love: RAMADAN KAREEM! If you just celebrate the solstice and you wanna spoil yourself and those you love: HAPPY YULE! If you’re Catholic or Christian and you wanna spoil yourself and those you love: MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Stop searching for reasons to get offended. If you’re that uptight, wear a freakin’ button that says “I’m Christian and I celebrate Christmas.” Then, I will know what to say to you. Until then, shut up!

I officially hate anyone who says the “don’t take Christ out of Christmas line.” You are allowed to say that if, AND ONLY IF, you are truly capable of taking self out of the holiday season (and this includes spoiling your kids. Sorry parents, but saying I only shop for my children is not justifying your hedonistic material obsession).

AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!!!!!!

I now return you to your regularly scheduled program, The 25 Days of ChristmasKwanzzHanukkahRohatsuRamadanSolstice (Insertyourholidaythingyhere), already in progress.

1.35 – For The Sake Of It

It’s day six of NaNoWrimo and I’m knee deep in the process. Today, I had a conversation with someone about my book-in-progress. A comment was made by another person who was listening (he happens to be a writer so I assumed this was going to happen). “Art for the sake of art,” followed by that smug “I think that’s stupid face,” he always does.

You might be thinking, maybe you’re reading into it. No, I’m not. Someone, who in the same breath can criticize thousands of NaNoWriMo participants for not being published or successful, has no appreciation for the process this challenge encourages.

I will admit, it threw me off balance for a minute…second guessing myself on why I’m doing this. But, I have to remember, I’m not like this guy. I can’t write on something because someone tells me to. I can’t write with paycheck in mind. And I’m poor. I probably should be. But I can’t. It’s not who I am. It’s not my writers makeup.

I write for the sake of letting my soul breath. I write for the gratification I get from releasing my thoughts. I write for the sake of writing and because, like so many others taking the challenge, because I have to. Do I want to make money and be respected for it…DUH! But I’m doing this my way. And maybe that’s not the right way. I’m okay with that.

For now, I’m going to focus on Alexis and The Dream Cather, The Dreamscape and The Belmont. The muse asked me to dance and I would be a fool to decline. This may not be my masterpiece. But it is one step closer.