Bitchen Camaro, Bitchen Camaro (I Hammered A Cop, Part 3)

This is the 3rd post of a lovely series I like to call,
"I Think I Hammered A Cop"
because my life is poetry in motion and always has been.

Here is a link to the previous post in case you're a glutton for punishment. And if you are, I'm so glad you're here:

The triggered memories continue. My First Car, among other embarrassing things.

This memory was triggered by the unraveling of the cable knit sweater that was my first office job.

After I had worked there for awhile, kicking all forms of butt, the VP talked them into writing me a 'bonus' check for $1,500 to get a new car. Why? Besides all the kicking of butts, the VP liked me for whatever reason. Also, and most importantly, somehow she happened to get a look at my Camaro, and she insisted I take this check and immediately go get another car. ANY other car.

I have no idea who called her attention to my car, or how she knew this car was mine, but I'm guessing it had something to do with one of two things:
1. I was the only teenager who worked there. Remember the movie "Don't Tell Mom The Babysitter's Dead?" Kelly Bundy had to get a job after the babysitter died, and she pretended to be an adult, but really she was in high school, and this whole period of my life FELT EXACTLY LIKE THAT.
Actually for the most part? My life still feels like that.
2. Many times I would arrive at work super early (long story) and be the first person there not in the royal family. The CFO, the VP's dad would say,
"Joy, you get the worm!"
Therefore he knew my car was the only car in the lot he didn't recognize. That make sense?

Also, my car stuck out like a broken cartoon thumb just smashed by a carnival hammer.

My first car was a bitchen Camaro my sister gave me. Super sweet, coolest first car EVER, that is until I spun it like a top in the rain and slammed into a guard rail. Totally sober. It spun all the time in the lightest of rain. That car was just front heavy and some bags of sand in the trunk didn't make a difference.
This was NOT it, but look how much CAR is in the front compared to the back. Right? collectorcarpricetracker.com
After that, the hood would never go all the way down. So we had to have a huge, metal chain wrap around and lock under the car to hold it down. And it didn't fit all the way back down. I wish I had a picture because now? Looking back? It was hysterical.

At the time it was embarrassing. Anywhere I went, everyone for miles around knew JOY IS HERE. When people arrived at places I was, the big joke was, 
"Is Joy here?"
or sarcastically pointing out that I was, in fact, there, met with a response like,
"Oh, I was wondering whose car that was"
and whatnot.

For the VP of this company, I'm sure it was what a layperson might call "an eyesore."

Butt, it was paid for and I didn't have money to get it fixed. I wish I did have a picture, this was after Polaroids and before digital cameras so I think I have a TOTAL of 8 pictures from these decades. Dropping off film to be developed was hard, man.

I also had to crawl underneath the car and unlock/unwrap that giant, comical, medieval chain each time I needed to lift the hood to check the oil. Which was about once a week, because it was always low.

So the car looked a little like the one above. Except no blue stripes, and there were now dings and dents and oh, also? The hood was always open a little bit.

It always looked like the car was just smashed by a car, or I had just came from an accident. NBD right? Unless you saw it.

Also UNLESS you happen to be driving in an area where there was a hit and run. That story is the one from my Scary Police Officers post, where I got pulled over and the cops scared me half to death because they thought I just hit someone and drove away. But I didn't.
Tangent story, but it happened with this car.

Anyway, when word got out that the Camaro was mine, it brought all the characters out of the woodwork.

A lot of people needed to hear why the hood wouldn't close.
What happened?
Was anyone hurt?
Did I get a ticket?
Was I drinking?
Like everyone asked that one. But I wasn't, and I still have a witness.

It was the talk of the place for awhile, which drove that love-r-ly Lisa girl crazy as you can imagine. This was an office building, so the lot was full of station wagons, various family trucksters and sedans, your Toyota Celicas, Chevy Cavaliers and whatnot, and then my steamping heap. Changing the whole look of the place from Professional Office Building to Indoor Flea Market with black market back alley deals.

Most of my co-workers put up a supportive front, especially dudes because:
GIRL driving old Camaro
Picture that scene in Vacation. Ok no, not really, not really at all. Totally different league. It just popped into my mind and made me laugh.

Anyone who knows me now will definitely laugh hysterically at that, but back at this time? I took the advice of an older woman and bought a bunch of dresses and high heels to wear to work. Apparently that + Camaro was the formula for attracting the unwanted attention of every dude in the Midwest in the 90's. I hated almost every disgusting minute of it.

If every guy just went away and left me alone when I asked him to? I probably would have loved it. Maybe I would be a pleasant person today, who can say. Instead? I will never drive a sports car or wear dresses pretty much ever again. My husband is lucky I even decided to keep dating dudes. Instead of murdering them with a hammer, which would have been understandable in my situation.

This was the first place I learned about how persistent and sneaky dudes can be when they want to date you. Even if you've told them you're not interested. Or that you're already dating someone. Or that you shouldn't date because you work together. Or whatever. Guys don't care what you think or what you want a lot of times. It was even worse then.

One guy, let's call him Jim, was one such dude. He always acted like the office Nice Guy. And maybe he was a nice guy, I don't know. All I know was how he suddenly changed, turned things around on me, and how mortified he was that I didn't eat up his bullcrap.

He made it a point to come around and talk to me and ask me questions, like,
"Does this tie match these pants?"

Jim was (probably still is if he's still alive) completely color blind. That was literally the most interesting thing about him, in his own mind anyway. He said he really could only see shades of black, white and brown. So EVERY photo was sepia-toned to Jim. Lucky!

However, this meant Jim had a hard time picking out clothing and knowing what matched with what. Jim told everyone he ever passed on the street this story. As another co-worker guessed, it probably got him a lot of attention, if not sympathy.

His mother had to sew cute little tags into his ties and pants for work, triangle for blue, square for red, I think rectangle for green. You get the idea. This way he could just pick a triangle tie with triangle pants and be on his way. Pretty genius actually. But he still used this whole thing to ask chicks if he matched. The sympathy card maybe, or just an excuse to start a chat.

Anyway, Jim did thing that a lot of dudes I would work with tried over the years:
The "work outing."

As in, they want to date you but instead of just asking for a date, they pretend it's just a couple of co-workers you know, just hanging out. No big whoop.

I was only 17 so I had no idea this was even a thing. Seriously, if you have young kids, cousins, or family members, let them know about this trick. It's a trap!

He had an "extra ticket" to a baseball game and would I want to go? Just a work outing, no pressure. But then he wouldn't take any money for the ticket. And then insisted on buying my drinks. Which, in my dumb mind, he had to because I was only 17 and I couldn't legally buy beer, but he wouldn't take any money for it later.

Then, after 2 of these such outings when he tried to kiss me, and I wouldn't do it, he acted like I was the worst person in the world for going on two "dates" (suddenly they were dates because ANYONE could figure that out, duh) and wasn't I just such a young dumb dumb.

The weird thing was, we may have eventually gotten to that point if he wasn't such a jerk about it. We got along well enough. We had enough in common to have good conversations. Clearly I was willing to go places with him and we had fun. I wasn't initially attracted to him, but I always (and still do) liked people for the way they made me feel more than anything else. At first he made me feel smart and funny. He got my dry humor, we talked about books, current events, Andy Rooney, weird stuff I couldn't talk about with dudes my own age.

I was also......how do I put this?

Not one of those girls that was hard to get. I know what you're thinking, that is NOT how you would say it. I was a bit of what you might call a tramp. If you were religious, judgmental, jealous, or afraid to use the word whore. But at least all of my shenanigans were on my own terms. This is what feminism is about for me on a personal level. MY choices, MY call. I was just more of a tomboy and acted more like a dude about a lot of things. And that was okay. However, this Jim situation threw me for a loop.

He tried an immediate audible Friend Zone/Co-Worker switcheroo, and this was the first job I really cared about keeping. To me it was totally out of left field, keeping with the baseball theme. I was dating someone else, was naive in the ways of men (spoiler: Lots of them are really gross.) I was going through a tough time in my personal life, and I totally misread this situation like the 3rd base coach was waving for me to run home, and I stayed firm on 2nd. A real home run of a situation badly handled.

Jim didn't understand, or handle it like a nice guy. Or the older person. Or a human person. Months later when I took the guy I was ACTUALLY dating, like with my own real consent, to an actual work outing, Jim pulled him aside and warned him that he shouldn't be dating me, because I was "really young." 

I mean, I was really young. I had to be either 18 or 19, maximum, because the company crumbled when I was 19. But the guy I was actually dating was only a few years older than I. Also the guy I was actually dating wasn't trying to pull any stunts or trick me into anything I wasn't down with, so my age wasn't a factor. At all.

I also, not long after this, dated someone who was almost 10 years older than I was and that was fine and dandy like huckleberry candy. No trickery, no problem. I guess that's the lesson.

Young people: Let there be NO gray area with consent. People around young people: Make sure they know.
Dudes trying to trick people: Anything without consent is illegal.

So after this happened, then at work, this once seemingly super nice guy would walk by my desk and sarcastically ask about the guy I was actually dating.
How was he doing?
What does he do for a living?
And the like.
Oh relax, I know not ALL colorblind people are evil. Just all men.
from Imnotrightinthehead.com
Jim found out somehow when this guy I was actually dating and I were going through a rough patch I was dating someone else, and it was a complete nightmare.

I could not avoid Jim, or this never-ending line of intensely uncomfortable questioning, because I was the receptionist so I was stuck at the front desk. Not only stuck there, but I had a brilliant idea about how everyone could get their mail, by coming up by ME in a huge tickler file I created. I cleaned out an entire drawer of a filing cabinet and put a file with everyone's name in it, where I filed their mail. Every day.

Which seemed like a good idea, until everyone from the company actually started to come up and get their mail, usually after I had to remind them 20 times, and then would strike up conversations with me. Worst idea ever. I learned everything about people's lives, the fake stuff they wanted to brag about anyway, and they asked questions about mine. I learned how much people in Chicagoland really give a frick about the WEATHER. So much.

Remember, I could not just get up and walk away. I just had to sit there like a bartender, but without drinks. I was like Sam Malone without Carla and Norm to entertain me. This isn't where I started to hate people, but this clinched it for sure.

In my defense, I HAD to do something in terms of the mail delivery because the old system? Was driving Lisa just completely insane. The old system was:
The receptionist would walk around delivering everyone's mail to their desks. While this happened, people would chat me up and inevitably the switchboard would ring so I would have to answer it using other people's phones, and try to find people while not at the switchboard, etc. This process not only took forever, but it was obvious that every time I chatted with someone, especially Jim, Lisa would die inside a little.

Jim would come 'check his mail' or 'check for messages' at least 4 times a day, always with comments and chit-chat. I would find out later (long story) Lisa may have had a thing for Jim. That's at least another post or 7, but this may have explained her absolute hatred of me, since Jim was always talking to me.

Like Jim with Pam from The Office. The American one. Even though, very unlike Pam, I just sat there, smiling as politely as I could and saying as little as any human being with a mouth could say because I hated Jim by this time.

Lisa was the roommate of Melissa, who was the head of marketing and having an extra-marital affair with the much older married president of the company. I take back the much older part, just the married part really bothered me.

I should probably give these birds fake names, but I don't know, I can't think of any right now and who cares if they find this blog. All of this was 100% true and those biotches were totally mean to me so they deserve their stories to be told. Anyway, somehow Lisa convinced Melissa to convince the president to put Lisa in charge of the receptionist and all of her doings.

Lisa would follow me around, correcting me, telling me to go back to my desk, listen to my conversations and constantly tell me the same things over and over. She called a meeting once with me, her, Melissa for reasons still not known to me and Dee, just so she could talk about how I shouldn't be making personal calls.

This happened because ONE TIME my grandmother called me at work to see if I could come take her to the store later. Lisa heard this because she was always watching me and listening to everything, and I had to speak loudly to my grandmother so she could hear me.

The phone conversation lasted all of maybe 90 seconds. The meeting? Was over an hour long.

Before this time, Dee was 'in charge' of my comings and goings and daily tasks. Dee, in case you missed the earlier posts, was the secretary to the president of the company. Dee and Melissa did not get along, which surprised me. Dee was having an extra-marital affair with my dad's super drunk waste of skin BFF, Dwayne, so you would think they would have shared Gold Digging secrets or get pedicures together or something. 

The early 90's were a super romantic time to be alive, I guess. The divorce rate was lower, no doubt because everyone just stayed married and had affairs with each other? Is that better, religious people? Clear it up for a girl, would ya?

I don't know, I was just a dumb kid obvy.

How and why a different secretary suddenly had to watch my every move, listen to my every conversation, and go out of her way to tell me I shouldn't be spending so much time 'talking to people,' I don't know. I also don't know why she thought it would be a good idea for a receptionist to be rude to people who came to talk to her, but this is exactly what she told me to do.

Things like,
"You can say 'Hi' back, but then let people know you have work to do."
Even though I really didn't.

I was always asking people if there were things I could be doing when the phone wasn't ringing. You know, since Lisa made sure I couldn't get up from the desk to deliver mail and faxes to people anymore.

Yes, let's go back once more in the way-back machine to a time when people sent faxes! On curly fax paper that came out in ONE LONG ROLL, so you had to physically CUT the paper into page-size pieces. TRUE STORY.
When I first started, Dee told me to call people when they received a fax and set it in their phone message tray.

What's a phone message tray?
Weeeellllll, before voice mail actual people (me) answered switchboard, transferred calls to certain extensions by PUNCHING IN NUMBERS with actual meaty, flesh fingers, and if that call didn't get answered?
That's right.
The call came back to ME.
If they wanted to leave the person a message, I had to write it down, like with a pen, and put the paper in a place where they could come and get it when they got back from lunch, meeting, wherever.

Every employee would walk by my desk in the morning, when they got back from lunch, or out of a meeting and come to check the wheel for messages and/or faxes.

We had two of these, with every person's name on a slot.
When taking a message, it was my job to ask the caller for their name, company name even though 99% of the time the caller would say,
"They know who I am, and they know what this is regarding."

Then when I gave people the message, they would ask me,
"WHO is this? What company are they with? What did they want?"

So even though no caller out of a thousand wanted to take the time to tell me their info, I had to press them for the spelling of their name if I couldn't figure it out, their company name, phone number, what the call was regarding, and various other questions people would later ask me.

"Did he sound mad?"

Most of the time my answer was the same,
"I don't remember because we get probably thousands of calls a day and I take at least 50 messages a day."

This was almost never an acceptable answer.

People also couldn't comprehend that if they lost their piece of paper with their phone message on it, that I didn't somehow still have that number.

That's when I discovered phone message books that made another copy. This made me several people's personal hero.
Just by writing on these, you made a copy you could keep.
My book was 4-up, but you get the idea.
from sunriseimports.com
I didn't invent them, but I ordered them and you would not believe how happy people got. I could not only flip back through their own old messages, have the phone number, name, date, time, etc., but also that I would let people flip through this book while I was answering other calls and they could see other people's messages!

I'm not sure if every office was like an episode of Dynasty in the 90's, but a lot of the ones I worked at were. This was everything to a lot of people.

A lot of things happened after this, but for purposes of wrapping THIS up:
I bought a sensible 4-door blue Corsica. Good car, great gas mileage. Though after a Camaro, my bar was low.
Lisa gave herself MS, or maybe karma gave her MS, for real. She had a diagnoses from a doctor and was on medical leave when the company blew up.
I dated that guy I dated with consent, on and off and on again for a loooong time.
I may have, later, kind of, dated a different dude from this company for a short period of time. Welp.

I have to stop at this point. I'm sure this post is 'too long' as my husband would say, and I need to go back and clean it up. But also this old laptop is starting to freak out. Literally if I hit BACKSPACE right now, it actually closes this post and does not save anything from the last time I manually clicked "Save."
This has happened twice, and unlike the message books of the 90's, I don't have another copy.

I need to take a bat to a fax machine in a field right now, so until next time, peace out Home Skillets.

If you haven't seen the movie "Office Space" and you've ever worked in an office, with pretty much anyone, you really need to see it. Just don't watch it too many times if you still work in an office. Sometimes it just feels too good to be a gangster.


Things 100 Year Olds Are Tired Of Hearing

The person I was raised to be wants to follow up that title "Things 100 Year Olds Are Tired Of Hearing"
with something like,
"Nothing. They're glad to hear anything at 100!"
So tacky, right? As people are living longer, the idea of 'old' is quickly changing. 100 is the 90. So don't tell a 100 yr old person they look great with complete shock in your voice, or say things like:
"My God I can't believe you're still alive."

You don't have to share that you really hope you don't live that long, or wonder out loud what is the point of living that long. Just get them something soft to gum and listen to their stories, trying to gleen lessons from history.

What am I getting at? Oh yeah, the TToT turns 100! Very exciting! It looks great and is still getting around, with plenty to teach all of us.
Who doesn't love blue cake balls?
Or do you say Cake Pops?
I would like to pre-apologize for that picture. I made it, I'm terrible at those kinds of things. It's so bad it's funny and I'm out of time for anything that isn't doting on my family so I'm going with it.

The Ten Things of Thankful is a blogger experience, kind of like a blog hop except it's not just a place to drop a link like it's hot and get the heck out of there. It's a place to meet amazing people, doing wonderful things in this sometimes dark, cold, lonely world. This weekend is the 100th happenstance of that. 

I wanted to write up something really special, then I remembered who I am so here is what I came up with instead.

I'm beyond thankful to the good people, okay all people (nyuk nyuk) of the TToT. They have made it possible for me to continue blogging through times when it was really hard to do so. Even after I learned I'll never make any money doing this, they made me realize you can actually do things in life without getting paid if they make you happy

For way too long I forgot about that as an adult. Which sucks about adulting, but it's a reality of having to pay bills. Especially in a world where everything you have to buy goes up in price every year, but you don't get salary increases. 

The Ten Things of Thankful is a great practice. Every week, no matter how bad the week, you find 10 things you're thankful for. Some weeks are easier than others. It's the tough weeks, that's when I need this the most. To change my perspective, to remember how far I've come, and how much we have that we take for granted.

If you haven't joined in, try it sometime. Click here to link up. If you don't have a blog, just list 10 things you're thankful for in the comments. Any 10 things, big or small. Some things feel like more than one item, like this list right here. It's worth 10. The SBoR (Secret Book of Rules) says this is okay.

It's very important to take time for ourselves and do things that feed our spirit. That is priceless, and in this time in very short supply.

Thanks everyone, for the reminder.

Thanks Lizzi, for never-ending support and everything you do. 

Cheers and glitter and cake to you, my friend! LOVE YOU.

Aaaand since I saw AmyCake and the Dude do this, I'm totally copying her!
I was tagged for the FOUR questions by Vanessa of Heels and a Tool Box, which if you don't already follow you really should. She's hilarious and this blog actually teaches you real life things, without boring you to death with book learnin. Often I learn and laugh, and what's better than that?

She asked me some questions, here are some answers.

Four names people call me other than my real name:
  • Mom. Mommy. "MOMMMIIIEEEEEYYY I NEED YOU" like it's all one word.
  • Shrimp. My dad's nickname for me. Flattering yes, and also true. I'm delicious with garlic and butter.
  • B*tch. In my family, that's not an insult. Sometimes in life you have to be.
  • Dah-lin'. My husband Alex would come home from work and say "Hello Dahlin" and my youngest caught on and will still randomly say "Hello Dahlin" or say things like, "Come on, Dahlin it's time for books" and whatnot. It's hilarious.
Four jobs I’ve had:
  • Waitress – in an Illinois Bell training facility, so not as many drunk jerks as the public.
  • Receptionist, BEFORE voice mail. I had to scratch people's messages on the side of caves. I started writing about it, I just started the latest installment which talks about how different that job used to be.
  • Customer Service for a pager company. Imagine the type of clients that needed pagers in the 90's. Yeah, not a lot of doctors called us panicked about being cut off for non-payment.
  • Office Manager for the worst kind of evil our country has ever faced: Rich white dudes.
Four movies I would/have watched more than once:
  • Fight Club "The things you own ending up owning you."
  • Reservoir Dogs "Nevermind what you normally would do, just throw in a buck..."
  • Any Harry Potter movie "I solemly swear I am up to no good."
  • Monty Python The Holy Grail "You could have called me 'Dennis'." "I didn't know you were called Dennis, I said I was sorry about the woman thing, but from behind...."
Four books I would recommend:
  • Anything by George RR Martin SONG OF ICE AND FIRE series is the best thing that ever happened to me in my life. and I have 3 kids.
  • Anything by Stephen King, especially DUMA KEY
  • Anything by Dean Koontz, especially LIFE EXPECTANCY
  • Anything by Jonathon Kellerman especially DEVIL'S WALTZ
  • and John Irving, haven't read everything yet but A WIDOW FOR ONE YEAR is amazing.
Four places I have lived:
  • Illinois. I moved a lot, they were all pretty much the same: Crowded, horrible weather but lots of jobs and things to do because we're less than an hour from Chicago. The greatest place on earth to live. Except for the weather. And taxes. And traffic.
Four places I have been:
  • California. Lovely, too many cars
  • London. LOVE IT. Want to go back. Also in the city? Too many cars.
  • New Orleans. The music and the food? Amazing. Too many drunks.
  • Florida. Fun place to visit. Too much humidity.
Four places I would rather be right now:
  • See the four places above. ALL OF THEM. Plus Michigan, where my sister's lake house is located. It's a great place to get back to nature, and by that I mean drink in a lake.
  • Also Las Vegas, but only for 3-4 days. That's all I can handle.
  • My bed. Always and forever. 
  • My bathtub. Until I get bored. Or sleepy.
Four things I don’t eat:
  • Kale. It tastes like the floor of a haunted cave.
  • Arugula. It is just awful. I don't care how good it is for you.
  • Tea. I'm sorry Lizzi, but it tastes like ear waxes. Don't tell me to sweeten it with Honey. It's bee poop and it smells and tastes like it.
  • Arby's. How the hell are they still in business?! Seriously. Are they a front for terrorists? That seems appropriate in so many ways.
Four of my favorite foods:
  • Tacos. Forever.
  • Soup. I'm gonna be an awesome elderly person. I'm ready.
  • Hamburgers. Though that may just be bc someone was grilling yesterday.
  • Chocolate
Four television shows I watch:
  • Game
  • of
  • Thrones
  • Daily Show. 
Four things I’m looking forward to this year:
  • My daughter being potty trained. PLEASE HAPPEN THIS YEAR PLEASE.
  • Watching new kids. I'll leave it at that.
  • Lola is starting kindergarten in the fall.
  • Bug is supposed to start pre-school, IF she's potty trained. PLEASE.
Four things I’m always saying:
  • GO TO THE BATHROOM if you have to go. (1 million times a day)
  • It doesn't matter what ________ (other people) do, we do it this way.
  • I'm tired. I really am.
  • I love you. I say it a lot.


Nothing Ever Happens

I have a treat for you. No it's not cookies, but that's pretty funny. It's a guest post, and you know what that means: Complete sentences! Proper grammar! A well-defined point about something important! In honor of Mental Health Month.

From Lizzi at Considerings blog.

Nothing ever happens (but it needs to)
“Nothing ever happens, nothing happens at all
The needle returns to the start of the song
And we all sing along like before
And we'll all be lonely tonight and lonely tomorrow”
Nothing ever happens 
– Del Amitri

Have you ever encountered someone with a mental illness? What was your experience of them? Let me take you through a few scenarios I’ve encountered in my life:
Sitting across from the man who was supposed to love me forever, as he explained with deadened eyes that he loved me, but not enough to want to be alive at the end of the day. Hearing that he was only happy when he was with me, and he wasn’t really all that happy then, and it just didn’t balance out how utterly shit the rest of life was.

Flinching at the peculiar atmosphere in the mental hospital, listening to my best friend in all the world laugh, as she recounted how eventually she’d realised her overdose wasn’t going to kill her, and she’d lain in the bathtub for three days waiting for death, and it hadn’t happened (while outside, we who loved her had all been driven frantic with worry).

Trying to keep an accepting face on, whilst a man in that same mental hospital explained that the reason he was alive was because he was too stupid – he hadn’t understood enough about anatomy, and so when he’d cut open his own chest to take out his heart, he’d been stymied because he’d cut open the wrong side, and had been saved, but now was facing discharge from the hospital, and a lonely house to himself, and the thought of that utterly terrified him, to the point where he was planning his next attempt on his own life to get sent back into the hospital, where he could feel safe.

Living with my guard up at every moment, and treading on eggshells, waiting for the next explosion of anger or hatred or undermining; wondering who the next victim would be, and not having enough wits to wonder if this was normal for everyone – then begging for the family to split up, so we could be rid of him, and safe (if he’d already rejected us, and didn’t love us, and saw us as a burden to be dealt with, why stay?)…but never having the confidence to run away, because he would get me back and that would be worse.
A boy and a girl huddled together on a bed, shaking, after their mother screamed and swore at them and told them awful, terrible things, and the girl crying, and the boy, with his bravest face on, telling her that he would look after her and cuddle her and love her…and in the next room, their mother, having slammed out, crumbled to the floor in pieces because she knew she was propagating the cycle of abuse she had suffered as a child.

Hearing sobbing over the phone, as the world of someone I love, crumbled about her ears again, and trying to empathise as she expressed how much she wanted to die, and how she was no good, and everyone would be better off without her, and that nothing she could ever be would be enough, so why bother – why put herself through the agony of living?

Seeing the anguish in a friend’s eyes as he talked of his friend of nearly 40 years, who lost his job and was put into a system by the government which required him to volunteer for normal working hours, whilst still expecting him to somehow find gainful employment, and how this had been too much, and he’d been unable to cope, so had thrown himself from a bridge into the river which runs through the city, and died…and how my friend still sometimes sees his friend’s identical twin in passing, and it sends him crazy with grief because he thinks for just a second that his friend is back…then remembers that he’s never coming back.

In each case, there was isolation, a feeling of aloneness, hopelessness, and not being heard or understood. 
The interventions were often inept, or were notable by their complete absence.

And society spins on, focusing on new royal babies, what the Kardashians have been doing with their bums, the repercussions of punching your television producer when you’re the star of the show, and which political party is the most vehemently against which other.

Society trudges against the uphill onslaught of advertising, media, conflicting stories shouting at each other, telling people where to shop, what to eat, how to exercise, when to sleep and why they should keep going and keep going and keep going, and go to bed for your eight hours sleep whilst the needle returns to the start of the song and we wake up and do it all again.

There is little attention paid to those who struggle with this system, and who find the uphill struggle insurmountable. There is precious little funding or intervention or care. There is an abundance of stigma and the preference that a distasteful matter like mental illness please be swept firmly underneath the carpet and we can all carry on without the boat being rocked.

Until someone snaps.

And then their nearest and dearest are left to pick up the pieces and deal with the fall-out, and try to put together what’s left of their loved one.

If there’s anything left.

If there’s anyone left to care.

And we all go along like before.

And it needs to change.

We need mental health issues to be dragged out from under their carpets and placed centre stage in the medical and social care communities.

We need people to feel able to talk about mental health matters or access support services without feeling stigmatised or experiencing prejudice or ridicule.

We need to take the needle off, throw the record out of the window, and CHANGE how we approach this.

But we can only do that collectively, and we can only get collective if people care.

We must appeal to their imagination and their sense of empathy, and make them use it, and nurture that use. We must engender compassion. We must create relatable scenarios from which they can extrapolate into real life, if they have no-one in their ken who struggles with these issues.

And one way we can do that is through entertainment – movies like One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest or The Perks of Being a Wallflower; songs like ‘Don’t let me get me’ (Pink) or ‘Marry the night’ (Lady Gaga); books like Girl, Interrupted (Susannah Kaysen) or Dear Stephanie (Mandi Castle)

I work best with books – I immerse in them, and both those I’ve listed took me to entirely different worlds and made me care. Girl, Interrupted has been around for ages, and there’s a movie version too, which is brilliant. Dear Stephanie is brand new (going to be released on May 11th) and I’m excited, because new and interesting is easier to get people talking about.

It follows the story of Paige Preston; an intelligent, fabulously rich beauty, whose only objective in life is her own pleasure, and manipulating others to get it, whilst trying to battle her inner demons and resist another attempt on her own life. It’s sexy, it’s gritty, and it WILL get people talking.

Let them talk;
And then let them CHANGE.

Pre-order Dear Stephanie here


Lizzi is a Deep Thinker, Truth-Teller and seeker of Good Things. She’s also silly, irreverent and tries to write as beautifully as possible.  She sends glitterbombs and gathers people around her - building community wherever she can.

Lizzi is a founder member of Sisterwives and #1000Speak, and hosts the Ten Things of Thankful bloghop each weekend.  

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What You Should Know About Your Free Choice

A couple of people sent me/tagged me the story of the Cookies-for-Lunch-Mom. If you don't know what that is, basically a mother sent packaged cookies (brand name purposely omitted. She also sent string cheese and a sandwich) for her daughter's preschool lunch. A teacher sent the cookies home, giving the child a healthier alternative and told the mom she shouldn't send those. Instead of considering what's best for her child, the mother got very defensive.

Naturally I agree with the teacher, as she is 100% right. Unfortunately, these days you can say almost anything you want to as long as you're not trying to tell Americans to put down their guns, let alone their packaged pre-made convenience foods. 

Whatever your opinion on the matter, the rule remains: 
Kids should bring a "healthy snack." 

Even Dr. Oz couldn't spin an argument that packaged cookies are a healthy snack.  

Yes, what you feed your kids is your choice, however:

Here's the THING about your free choice.
When you send a lunch or a snack for your child to eat at SCHOOL, in front of all of the other children, it is so important to follow the school's rules. They are made for good reasons. There are children who have allergies, or medical conditions and you aren't being fair to those kids.

Some kids are, for one example, deathly allergic to peanuts. As an American you're free to feed your child peanuts in your home. If you send peanuts to school, you could cause a serious allergic reaction. 

This isn't your choice anymore, now you're choosing for other children. 

This is similar to the debate on vaccinations. You may think you should be able to choose for your child, and in a perfect world maybe you should. Unless, that is, you ever plan on your child interacting with, talking to, or being around, other children. 

And if you don't, you can stop reading because I don't have any idea what you're about in this world. People need each other. Society is a necessary tool for human survival. This predates The Wildlings asking for help from The Watchers on the Wall in Game of Thrones.

Fictional medieval characters aside, keeping your child from society would be like Texas getting it's ultimate wish and seceding from the United States. Then the next day when Cuba or any other country declares war on a single state, I'll give you ONE guess who would suddenly decide they do need the help of federal government after all?
from kernelmag.dailydot.com
To get all the benefits of a society, you have to consider the laws and rules. They are in place for the well-being and safety of everyone. 

The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. That's actually from Star Trek, as if we needed one more nerdy pop culture reference, but it's absolutely true.

When you don't vaccinate your child, you're forcing your choice on others. That's not okay. 

You don't get to choose for others.

When you send your child to school with candy, crackers, cookies and anything else in a package full of chemicals and artificial colors and ingredients, now it's not just your choice for your child. You are now undermining every parent who chooses a healthy path for their child. 

Besides establishing healthy eating habits, there are several legitimate, medical reasons why parents might choose certain foods for their children. Some children are more sensitive to artificial colors, preservatives, and yes, also sweets. 

Some kids have juvenile diabetes, or allergies, or even ADD. They may need to avoid certain foods due to medical testing, and other doctor's orders. 

Whatever the reasons, your choice affects other kids. 

While it's almost too late at the teen stage, the younger years are the developmental years to from good eating habits. It's beyond unfair to ask a child to watch another child eating something like cookies if they're not allowed to have them. That would be like me eating cake in front of your child and then telling your child, "Sorry, you can't have any." 

That's about the most cruel thing you could do to a kid. That is Harry Potter living under the stairs level torture. A kid would probably rather live under the stairs than watch that.

The point is, the "healthy snack" rule is there for many reasons. If you feel the rules are unfair, take it up with the director(s) of the school, away from children. The time to argue is NOT during the school day, it's not by sending whatever you big fat want. Set a good example for your children, by following the rules. 

Kids will have plenty of time in their teen years and as an adult to rebel and be a non-conformist. The time for that is not preschool. First we must learn to conform before we can understand what it truly means to be a non-conformist. 

Besides the fact that we should strive to set up healthy eating habits in our kids, we need to remember that there are other children in their classroom from different backgrounds. 

Rules are made for all of us, by people who have a much different perspective than we have.

As far as the school lunch debate, there really isn't anything to argue about. 

No one is taking candy from your baby, you can feed your kids canned bread and cookies while teaching them how to load their guns at home. I'm pretty sure that's what our founding fathers intended when they wrote the Constitution.
From Spongebob Squarepants. He gets it.
At home, it is certainly your choice. I also really want you to know, my sarcasm aside, that processed foods affect different people in different ways. You may not notice any change in your children, but the fact remains that as soon as these Western foods are introduced into a civilization's diet, people start to get sick. 

Down the road, if you and/or your family start to develop health problems, just know that our government and modern science probably isn't going to be able to jump in wearing a cape and immediately save the day. In pill form.  

Because there already is a cure, it's called Prevention.

You can opt out, but please don't force other children away from this option before they get a chance to get started.

If you feel the urge to debate this, please use that energy to Google what free radicals are and what antioxidants are and what processed food does to your body.

I'll link a few articles below. 
On food additives and cancer

Food dye and ADHD:

Processed foods:

People tagged me, I imagine, because I have been very verbal about my struggle to keep my kids on a path of eating healthy, whole foods. My son was/is a typical ADHD child, textbook case. Whatever you believe in, know that once I changed his diet and removed processed foods, not just sugar but artificial colors, ingredients and BLEACHED FLOURS, he got a lot better. With NO medication.

I saw this happen. I'm not quoting an article, or a chiropractor or anyone with a hidden agenda. I'm not selling anything. I just want my family to be healthy and happy. Period.

That doesn't mean they can never have treats, quite the opposite. If you follow my blog, you know that recently my husband had to stage a full-on cake baking INTERVENTION. I needed to be stopped, or at least paced better in terms of sugar and butter intake, before I turned into a Willy Wonka character. 

Food is my weakness. You know this if you've ever seen any picture of any part of me. You know this if you've seen my hands and the fat that has grown around my wedding band, making it impossible to remove unless it, or my finger, were surgically removed.

That said, I still struggle to put and keep my children on a healthy path. That means something else to every person. For me? That means limiting processed foods, and keeping sugary foods as a treat instead of a normal part of meals. They can have treats, AFTER eating nutritious foods that contain some sort of vitamin and/or mineral. And not after every meal because I don't feel setting them up to expect dessert after every meal is realistic, let alone healthy. I wish someone did this for me. 

I have always struggled with my weight, and that's okay. A few extra pounds are a lot more healthy than filling my body with chemicals and diet products. That's a choice I make, and I'm okay with it. 

This is why I don't get angry or defensive if someone disagrees with me. If people don't accept me the way I am, that's their problem. Not mine.