Saturday, October 31, 2009

What's on Udo's Mind.

Udo and I were walking across the parking lot of the farmer's market this morning. It's windy today, and the trees are all shedding their leaves.
"Look at those leaves go," crowed Udo as a gust sent leaves rushing past. "They look like many small people running!"

My husband commented the other day that he had been watching the movie "Little Man Tate," and wondered if Udo sees the world like the kid in the film; in numbers and in negative. I wonder myself, because no one I know has a take on the world quite like Udo's.

Udo has his own ideas regarding what is and is not cool. He had four dollars, so we needed to shop for Hot Wheels. I pointed out a little blue Citroen, a Porsche 911, and a Lotus. "Oooh, look!" I say. "An Aston Martin DB9!"
"Yes," says Udo, "those are very nice." He smiled condescendingly, and chose a 1971 Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser station wagon with wood panels.

"I want you to quit your other job," said Udo the day before. I ask him why. "Because Daddy is mean," he says, scowling. "He just yells and yells at me."
His brother Cold Fire interjects, "He wouldn't yell at you if you weren't such a moron."
I tell the boy to shut his face. "You're not a moron," I say to Udo, but he's busy trying to hit his brother.

Udo's brother dressed up as Edgar Allan Poe for Halloween. It was a good costume, I must say; he got a lot of compliments. Udo dressed up as a ceiling fan repair man, complete with a shirt bearing the name of his future ceiling fan repair company. "The Fan Man," it reads, "established 2002," with a picture of a fan he drew his own self. Udo's costume did not get compliments, and Udo seemed to be troubled by this. Udo thinks ceiling fans are the coolest things in the world, and he does not understand why hardly anyone else seems to hold this view.

"Next year," says Udo, "I'm going to be Mr. Bean."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Udo Gets Back to the Future

"What do you want for Christmas?" I ask Udo.

"Plutonium," he responds without missing a beat.

"Umm...I think that's illegal," I say. "You have to be a scientist to handle plutonium."

Udo's lip quivers and his eyes fill with tears. "Okay..forget it!" He is slightly manic now, so we move on.

Later, I suggest he write Santa a list. Item #1 is "A triangular Bakugan." I'm hoping Santa knows what the hell that means. Item #2 may pose a problem. The list reads: "Alternt Younivers remote control."

"Yeah, I want a remote control, like on 'Family Guy.' The one that you push the button and it takes you to an alternate universe."

"Ummm...that's just pretend. Nothing like that really exists."

Again with the puppy dog eyes, quivering lip, and tears.

"Okay....FINE! No list for me!" He's manic again. I tell him to think about it and go back to his list later on.

Santa has already gotten him his very own ceiling fan, a tie-dye shirt making kit, a big tote full of K'nex (with a motor) AND an Erector set, also with a motor. I'm thinking with the fan motor, the K'nex, and the Erector set pieces, I should find him that plutonium and see if he can't make himself a teleporter.

I bet he could.

Dollars to Doughnuts.

The General and I are bored. The powers that be at the office have shifted us around and changed our job duties, so that we now do a fraction of what we used to do for the same money. This is what corporate America calls "streamlining," or "realigning the business model."

It's much more efficient, apparently, if we're bored, so bored we are. We pass the time by writing dirty limericks and cooking up hair-brained schemes. Today, after the limericks, the General came up with an idea for a business.

"Dr. Doughnut!" he exclaimed. I looked at him blankly. "You make the doughnuts while dressed scrubs, with a mask and one of those head-mirror things, and fill the doughnuts with syringes!"

The doughnuts are the prescription for whatever ails ye, so they're called things like "Strawberry Suture" and "Lemon Ligature." "Coconut Colonoscopy" sounds especially yummy, I think, as does "Iced Enema."

"That's a coffee drink," proclaimed The General when I thought up that last one. "It's got BITS floating in it." I hold up an imaginary coffee cup and say, "Someone's been eating PEPPERS."

We'll go mobile, buying a used ambulance and kitting it out as a doughnut shop on wheels. "We'll park outside of Curves and make a mint," cackles the General. "The fatties will not need to come to us, we'll come to the fatties!"

I'm not sure this concept would go over well with most. I find that while we find certain things hilarious, others find them odd and probably a little frightening. More's the pity; someone, somewhere, needs to proclaim that their favorite doughnut ever is a Praline Pap Smear.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Observations from the Fitting Room

I took a part-time job at one of the evil conglomerate big-box retailers, so I fold clothes and hang clothes and do all sorts of menial schlepping a few hours a week. Stop laughing, it will pay for Christmas.

I'm not the sort who tries on clothes before I buy them. I know my size, I only wear cotton because everything else is itchy and sweaty, and I mostly wear black and gray. Unless it's an expensive shop and it's formal attire, I don't try it on. But the rest of you out there, you lug armfulls of clothing to the fitting room, unfold it, take it off the hanger, sweat in it, get your deodorant all over it, rip the tags off it, and then leave it in a pile on the bench.

Schlubs like me pick up said piles, refold, rehang, retag, and send the stained stuff back to the "damages" area in the stock room. (In the evil conglomerate big-box retailer, this is fun because there's usually a container of candy from opened packages somewhere back with all the broken stuff; you get your Arrid X-tra Dry all over the size 38D bra you tried to squeeze yourself in to, you heifer, and I get an Atomic Fireball.) In dealing with these piles of retail offal, I've noticed something that may be important: you're all cheap, and you're all fatter than you think you are.

I pick up and put away a lot of clearance clothing. Right now all the clearance clothing at my particular evil conglomerate big-box retailer is $1.99. Really, two bucks. You really need to fit something on that costs two bucks? Really? Give me a break; buy it take it home, if you don't like it or it doesn't fit, give it to the Salvation Army.

Here's what I spend most of the time refolding or rehanging: JEANS. Specifically, women's jeans misses' sizes 16-18. When I find them, they're generally in great disarray; unbuttoned, unzipped, one leg inside out, and I'm not sure, but I suspect a mite tear-stained. Ditto for size XL or 14/16 shirts, blouses, sweaters, and blazers. Piles of the largest sizes in the misses' department, all inside out, wadded up, and tossed on the floor in what I can only assume was a fit of rage.

I know why; no one wants to admit when it's time to give up the ghost and waddle on over to the PLUS department. I know, ladies; I was there myself at one time, and it's one of the most difficult things one must do. It's time, though; those size 18 misses jeans just aren't going to zip. You are not going to get them up past your thighs, and wadding them up on a ball and agrily shoving them back in to the back of the Lee jeans display is NOT going to change that.

The ones you need, the ones with the capital 'W' after the size which have room for your big butt and will accommodate your gunt, are over there on the other side of the wall. Hey, I'm not judging you. I'm just tired of picking up after your angry changing room tantrums so I think it's time someone told you the truth.

Look at the positive side; perhaps you can go join Weight Watchers or head off to Jenny Craig with Valerie Bertinelli and burn off some of that blubber. Then you, too, can go back to the "Not Fat" department for your jeans, rubbing your fat friends faces in it. When they're all discussing the sales at Lane Bryant or asking who got the coupons, you can say "I don't need to shop there."

Then you can laugh maniacally, revelling in your schadenfreude.

Also, a junior's size 'XL' is like a misses' medium or large. Juniors are for teenagers, most of whom have smaller breasts and hips. They are not for middle-age women, in style or in cut, even for those who are relatively trim. Seriously, you look silly trying to squeeze your mom-hips in to those skinny jeans; knock it off. More importantly, stop leaving them in a wad on the dressing room floor.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Oh, Shit...It's the Apocalypse.

This week at work was "Disaster Recovery." This is where we test out our "business continuity plan." All the big, evil corporations have them since 9/11, in case another pack of wacky Muslims fly some planes in to some buildings, or whatever the next big disaster might be.

So at 4:00 on Wednesday, we get a "phone blast" (otherwise known as a phone call) to announce that the disaster has occurred and the BCP is effect. (I downloaded a new ringtone just for the occasion..."Shout at the Devil.") So I'm sitting in my little gray cube making jokes about the four horsemen breaching the horizon and cackling to myself. No one knows what the hell I'm on about, as usual.

**Kind of like when I'm sitting in the cube listening to "Glorious" again, and someone comes back to see just what exactly I'm laughing about. "Aaaaaaigh! Covered in bees!!" I say. And they just look at me like I've grown an extra head or something.**

The question is this: in the event of a real disaster, am I going to head out and help get my employer's system back up? Or am I going to pack up the guns and head for the hills? Depends on the disaster, I reckon. Keeping my job is going to be way, way down on my list of priorities when the rivers turn to blood while four Skeletor-looking fuckers gallop by on their way to Armegeddon.

"I'm sorry sir, I won't be hopping a train and coming down to the Agency "war room" in Philadelphia to process student loans. Why ? Well, the Lord of the Flies just came in to my kitchen and demanded that I make him a sandwich. I don't even know what demons eat."

Birthin' Stories

Birthin' Stories

Pregnant broads are SO touchy, particularly those that are knocked up for the first time. I think it's because there's this ridiculous air of mystery and reverance that surrounds the process of procreation. What a load of nonsense! Once you've done it, you realize that it's uncomfortable and messy and more than just a little bit dehumanizing and degrading. You read those bloody hippie birthin' books, and they make it seem like you're going to poot out your little angel sprog on a misty cloud haze of spun sugar and rose petals. It's more like those scenes in "All Creatures Great and Small" when Mr. 'erriott reaches elbow-deep up a cow to pull out a calf.

I was telling birthin' stories at my class to this pregnant lady. I stated that it's not a good ideal to give birth near a holiday, because the real nurses are all on vacation and you get stuck with surly rent-a-nurse substitutes. I know for a fact that this is true.

My second son, who was the colicky spawn of Satan, was born the day before Thanksgiving. It took three nurses to get me off the gurney and in to the bed. Mind you, I was a mite heftier back then, but give me a break; these people are supposed to be professionals and they treated me as though I were an unwieldy sofa. Have you ever had a team of retarded nurses try to roll you on to a bed after major abdominal surgery? I'd just had a cesarean, and was numb from the waist down but not numb ENOUGH, evidently, because I nearly passed out. It's very unpleasant to have a fresh incision shifted about because some silly bint is heaving you around bodily.

I was up all night, every night I was in the hospital because the nasty nursery rent-a-nurses would not keep any babies in the nursery if they cried. My kid cried, and I'm guessing other babies cried, too. Evidently, the noise was interrupting their card game or their sex-toy party or whatever it was they were doing. So I had this red squalling lump from the pit of hell attached to my breast all night. He was so attached because he would only shut up if he had a mouth full of nipple.

This is why I was awake at 2AM the first night. My legs were still numb, and I could not get out of bed unassisted, but the evil little black-eyed Dominican nurse decided she wanted to take out my catheter NOW. And she did, despite my protests.

"But I can't move my legs yet, I won't be able to go to the toilet."

"You can wait until morning," she said, and proceeded to pull out my catheter in a manner that can be best described as the motion and force that one would use to start a gas engine lawnmower. A lawnmower that had sat in the yard all winter uncovered, and had bad plugs.

I think I screamed. You'd think someone who was not evil and crazy might have come to see what the matter was, but no one did.

The second night, I asked for pain pills around 7. Around 11, no one had brought any but I really had to pee and I wanted to leave the screaming baby unattended in the room in hopes that someone would come and kidnap him.

It hurt to move. I made it to the can, and sat on the bowl crying and passing huge post-partum clots and wishing that my husband was there so that he could help me back to bed and also so I could spit on him (it would have hurt too much to hit him).

After about fifteen minutes, I hobbled back to bed. It hurt to try and pick up the baby after I was in bed, because I had to twist to do it, so I picked him up before trying to get back in to bed. That hurt just as bad, so I sat there and cried for a while.

Let me just say that I am not a crier. People who cry a lot piss me off, generally, so if I'm crying, things must be really bad. This pain was really bad, and could have been avoided if the stupid rent-a-nurse had brought me some bloody Percocet.

I buzzed for the nurse.

"What??" someone bellowed.

"I need help," I said. Which is their job, is it not?

After a bit, some nurse came in, and she was irritated that I'd called. I told her that I needed some pain killers. She sucked her teeth and sighed, and looked at my chart. Then she kind of started, and said, "Oh, you should have had painkillers hours ago."

"Well, I asked but no one brought any. And so now it hurts so bad I can't move."

So she helped me in to bed, gave me an extra dose, and took little Damien down to the nursery.

This is the same night I told the nursery Nazi when she said that she was going to bring the baby to me to feed because he was crying, I said to give the little bastard some formula, because I didn't want him. I know I can't be the only mom whose ever said that sort of thing, but given the expression on her face, I must be one of the few.

This is how it was, you see. And then I got the little squalling lump of doom home, and he was not too terrible for the first few weeks. He slept for four-hour chunks, which is not bad for a newborn.

And then the colic hit at four weeks, and lasted until 8 weeks. Five hours of constant screaming every night, and sometimes a few more hours around midnight.

During a midnight screaming fit, I was sitting on the couch covered in spit-up and leaking breast milk from my cracked nipples and watching 'Rosemary's Baby.' I told my son that he was a stupid baby, and I didn't like him very much. I really, really meant it. He didn't care, he just kept screaming and turning red.

The colic stopped at 8 weeks, and I believe that this was because in the wee hours one morning I informed the little bastard spawn from hell that if he kept it up, I was going to throw him out the fucking window.

So I'm telling my baby stories, because I think they're entertaining and I was conversing with someone else who'd had an evil baby and we seemed to piss off the first-time-pregnant mom.

I told her I wasn't trying to scare her, and she goes "Yeah, right," and didn't say anything else.

Perhaps she'll think of me some time in the middle of the night, when she's trying to rock a screaming baby and she's covered in puke and hasn't slept more than an hour at a time for weeks and her raw and bleeding nipples are sticking to her nursing bra. I won't be thinking of her; I'll be fast asleep in my baby-less house.

Say 'cheese', you little monster!

Today I took the youngest child to have his pictures taken. I do this because 1) his birthday is at the end of the month, and 2) Christmas is coming (the geese are getting fat) so it's almost time to send out Christmas cards.

This child, we'll call him "Udo," has never been very good at the whole studio-portrait lark. Actually, old Udo is really bad at it. Aside from the photos that were taken when he was an infant and couldn't run away, picture time is a trial.

He will not sit or stand still. He tries to break the equipment, and when he realizes that he won't be allowed to do so, he runs away. Then I have to chase him, and I can't beat him in public because someone might call the cops. But I was thinking that he's a year older now, he might behave a little better. But just in case...

I try to psych him out ahead of time. "Oooh, Udo, we're going to have pictures taken. Yay! You can smile nicely for the lady and say "cheese" like a big boy!!"

And Udo goes, "Yay, let's have our pictures taken!" And up to the point that he's actually in front of the camera, Udo is going "Yay! Pictures!! Say, 'cheese', Udo!!"

(This child refers to himself in the third person quite frequently. I hope it's just some phase through which three-nearly-four-year-old children go, and not that he's a fledgling sociopath.)

Then the photographer tries to get him to sit on a little stepladder thing.

"NO!" yells Udo. She removes the stepladder, and tries to get him just to stand.

"NO!!" yells Udo. She brings over a set of little wooden steps, and miraculously gets three poses out of the child by shaking a feather duster at him. No shit, a feather duster. Have I mentioned that I sometimes wonder that this child doesn't require a drool cup and a helmet with a bite guard?

Then we try for a Christmas background, and Udo screams "NO!!" We try for a plain background with Udo sitting on a little tricycle.

"NO!!" screams Udo. "NO NO NO!!!"

I threaten Udo. Udo wants a Playskool Bulls-eye Ball game for his birthday. He's seen the commercials for this thing on Cartoon Network, and he finds them intensely exciting. He wants one so badly, I'm sure it hurts. He seems to think that the children featured in the ad come with the game. "I will throw the balls, and the kids will say 'yay'!!" he says. "I want a bouncy ball machine for my birthday," he declares about twenty times a day. It's been the first thing out of his mouth every morning and the last thing I hear at night for some time now. So I threaten, through clenched teeth, "You won't get a bouncy ball machine for your birthday unless you sit nicely for the lady and say 'cheese'!!!"

Udo's longing for the Bouncy Ball Machine seems to have suddenly subsided; "NO I WON'T!!" he bellows as he tries to wriggle from my vise-like grasp.

So we did get some pictures, but not many. I had taken along his new little grey cordoroy blazer, hoping to have some pictures taken in his snazzy ski sweater, and some in his little preppie blazer. That didn't happen. I had to make due with some of my own snaps with the digital camera when we got home, and I had to bribe him with french fries to get them.

I hope that this is the child that's saddled with my care when I'm old and infirm. I'm going to spend all my time shouting "NO!!" at him, and if he ever tries to take my photo I'm going to either cry or jam my finger up my nose. I'll always behave the worst when there are people around who might object if he hit me. Then right after he gives me a bath, I'm going to run behind the couch and shit my pants.

Zippers and Pressure Bandages

Today I was discussing Vasectomies with The General. The General is a certified child-hater, and wants to ensure that he does not procreate with his child bride. He's nervous about the procedure because a) some guy is going to palm his 'nads and b) he wants to know where the sperm goes once your junk has been disconnected.

"What happens to the sperm? Where do they go?" he asks. I say I think your body absorbs them, but he's not happy with this answer. "You had the snip, what happens to your eggs?" Again, I say that they get absorbed, but he just gives me that look.

So I say, "Well, every month I store the egg, and then once a year I poot out a really big one," I smile. "I try to save it for Easter."

He accepts this, but still wants to know about his sperms. So I roll my eyes and go, "They're going to put a zipper in your scrotum, and once a month you have to empty out all the dead sperms. Kind of like emptying a vacuum cleaner bag."

He likes this answer, but wants to know how they'll attach it. I suggest staples, which he does not like, but then concede that they'll probably use dissolvable stitches. "That's what I had with both my cesareans," I say. "Maybe if you're lucky, you'll get a pressure bandage like the one I had."

The General says he does not want to hear this story, but nearly every day I have to hear either about how big his willie is, or how he wants to have his testicles removed and replaced with glass eyes. Turnabout is fair play, so I tell him this:

The day after my second ceserean, the nice intern who helped the OB in the OR the day before came to check me out. She pulls back the sheet, pulls up the hospital gown, and says, "Oh dear...I'm so sorry. Oh, no!"

If you ever find yourself in a postoperative situation and a physician is looking at what's been done to you and says something like this, grab the nearest heavy object you can get your hands on and beat yourself unconcious.

It seems that the evil OR rent-a-nurses had used this pressure bandage on my incision that resembles that puffy Rubbermaid no-skid shelf liner stuff, but has Krazy Gloo on one side.

The intern says that they ask the nurses not to use it, but they do anyway. "I'm going to have to pull it off, and it's going to hurt." She grabs a corner, braces one foot against the bottom of the bed, and pulls. And pulls, and pulls, and pulls. I held on to the bed rail and tried very politely not to pass out. I did not hit her, nor did I yell at her, because a ) I was in much pain and just could not be buggered, and b) she was so nice and didn't LIE to me the way physicians do when they're about to inflict excruciating pain upon you ('you may feel some pressure'). Plus she ran right off and got me a big old handfull of Percocet, and at that time I was nice and polite to anyone who would bring me pain pills, please and thank you.

The up-side of this is that it took care of the post-pregnancy wax I so desperately needed. The General has declared a moratorium on my birth stories, but if I have to hear about his 'nads then I get to tell birthin' stories. Tomorrow I think I'll explain lochia to him.

Oh, Don't Get Your Knickers In a Twist: An Explanation.

I made a bumper sticker on It reads: "My honor student boiled and ate your labrador retriever, and bound his manifesto with its skin."

I made this sticker in response to a sticker on the vehicle of a woman at my office. Her sticker says, 'My labrador retriever is smarter than your honor student.' I was offended. I parked next to her a couple of weeks ago, and spent a day fuming about it. How can you say your dog is smarter than my kid? My kid is eight and reads on a 7th-grade level! He read at a third-grade level at the age of 5. My kid doesn't shit in the yard, nor does he lick his own butthole (He does, however, bite his toenails which is almost as gross.) My kid has opposable thumbs, for chrissakes'! My kid beat Zelda: Ocarina of Time!! Can your dumb dog do that?

Has your dog memorized any dialogue from Monty Python, 'Better Off Dead,' or 'It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!' lately? Both of my sons have. My son could recite dialogue from 'James and the Giant Peach,' 'Nightmare Before Christmas,' and 'Oliver!' at the age of 2. He could even knew the choreography. Can your dog do that?

So I got to thinking about who beat whom, in evolutionary terms, and I decided that when it came down to it, my honor student could EAT her stupid dog and use all the offal for various and sundry art projects.
And that's the saga of the labrador sticker. Judging from the looks I see on people's faces when they read it, it's slightly offensive.

Tough tits! That was my intention, and now I like to seek out the labrador lady and park next to her. I hope she's just as offended by my statement as I am by hers.

The Children Are Trying to Kill Me.

Today, in an energetic burst of haus-frau motivation, and because I had some extra time, I shampooed the living room rug and washed the kitchen floor. The extra time is due to the fact that the workload for the class I'm in this session is considerably lighter than the previous two, and I did a lot of my papers on weekend mornings. Also, I went down to Green Dragon on Friday because I was off work and got all the stuff I normally get over at the Big M on Saturday mornings so I had nowhere to go.

I was really on a roll; I moved the furniture and vacuumed and shampooed the carpet one section at a time, stopping to switch loads of laundry all the while. I moved all the chairs out of the kitchen, took all the throw rugs outside to air, and moved around the kitchen with a bottle of Orange Death or whatever that cleaner is called, spraying the most noxious spots.

When one sprays the linoleum with Orange Death, the linoleum becomes slippery. If one is not careful, one's feet might go out from under oneself, and one might end up flat on one's back.

This is exactly what happened to me; my feet went out from under me, my head went backward and hit the solid wood microwave cabinet and my foot hit the corner of the butcher block. I literally saw stars and little blue tweeting cartoon birds.

Now, I'm smaller that I used to be, but substantial enough to make a great big WHUMP! when I hit the floor. The children, who were cackling at 'Mr. Bean' in the other room, continued doing just that. Udo, bless his little cotton socks, did say "What was that noise?" But then Mr. Bean did something high-larious and he forgot to come and check.

I sat on the wet floor, holding my head and watching the blood run out of the gash on my foot. For a moment or two, I thought I might lose consciousness and I was racking my rattled brains trying to remember the symptoms of concussion. All I could think of was the episode of 'Happy Days' where Fonzie had a concussion and Potsie, Ralph and Richie had to make him stay awake so he wouldn't die. I surmised that at the very least, I needed to stay awake so I tried really hard not to pass out.

Neither one of the children came in to see what the matter was. I'm reasonably sure that they were aware that I had fallen, but they somehow know that we just upped the life insurance policies and they were biding their time to see if my little wet-linoleum mishap might prove to be lucrative for them. Also, as far as parents go I'm evidently the meaner of the two. I imagine that the older child said to the younger, "Just pretend you don't know that Mommy's dying the in the kitchen. With her out of the way, we'll be eating frozen pizzas every night for dinner for the REST of our LIVES!!"

Birth Control Video, By Me and Rosenrosen

The following are exerpts from an email string between my friend Rosenrosen and myself. We were discussing the fact that we could probably make a really effective Health Class video to be used to discourage teenagers from having babies.

Rosenrosen: They should hire us to make a video about the consequences of sex. Like going without sleep for 6 weeks straight, and the ancient Incan monkey god telling you to bludgeon your husband in his sleep.

Me: They should spend a week on lochia, with poster-size photos of the state of one's underpants during the six-week-gorefest that is postpartum.
The posters should be scratch'n'sniff.

Rosenrosen: And a full-length video presentation of hospital-grade breastpumps at work, stretching your nipples out to 18 inches, while the mother sits there, crying that she feels like a cow.

"Mooo-ooooo-oooooooo-oooooooo-oooo! Oh, gawd, what have I do-o-o-o-ne? WAAAAAAH!"

Me: Cut to a video of me, sitting on the fold-out couch holding an engorged breast in one hand and working an Avent manual pump with the other while crying and going, "Look at me...I'm a fucking cow!! MOOO!!! MOOOO!!!"
Zoom in on my husband, who's standing in the doorway bottle feeding the infant.
The look on his face is one of abject terror.

Rosenscary: Next, a scene of my baby screaming for 6 straight hours. And don't edit for time. Make the bastards listen to him scream for the full 6 hours. Make them stay after school, if necessary.
Show me rocking him, singing every hymn from the hymnbook because I've run out of children's songs. Show me trying to take him for a drive, putting him on the dryer, running the vacuum, bicycling his legs, and trying every bullshit method ever concocted to help colicky babies. Finally, cue the dramatic music, and feature my husband saying "I'm too fucking old for this shit."

Next, show my husband's severed head, bouncing down the steps of the mobile home porch, and show me digging a shallow grave in the state gamelands, holding a screaming child in my front-facing child carrier.

Me: Cut to my living room.
It's 1 AM, and every light is blazing because the little shit screams less if it's bright. He's like a fucking anti-Mogwai or something. Show the baby screaming in his little blue boppy with the little bees on it; he is stiff and red with rage. Show me in my post-partum colic clothes: blue plaid shirt, size XXL, great big sweat pants, greasy hair in a messy pony tail, Velma glasses smudged and askew.
'Rosemary's Baby' is on the television, and the sound is nearly all the way up. Somehow, though, I can't hear it over the baby's screams.
My face is expressionless as I turn to the squalling demon sprog and say, "You're a stupid baby, and I don't like you very much."
Skip ahead a few nights, and show me in the nursery at 3 AM. I'm wearing the same colic clothes, and I'm rocking the chair so hard that it's about to break. The springs go "woinka woinka woinka".
The baby is quiet and almost asleep, but if I try to put him down he will scream. And scream and scream and scream.
I am not singing; the son of Satan does not suffer lullabies. It is motion he desires, and a mouth full of bleeding nipple.
I suspect that he enjoys the taste of my blood.
I am looking at the window furtively.
Do I suspect a prowler? Do I fear a draft will chill my baby?
No, I am wondering how I might be able to toss the little fucker out the window and make it look like an accident.

Fade to black.

Mashed Potatoes

I am the official potato masher at the family gatherings. It's my job, and dinner cannot be put upon the table until I've mashed up the spuds. I have this title because my potatoes ROCK. Ask anyone; you won't find better mashed potatoes anywhere.

The first time I was called upon to mash the potatoes was some time in the early '90s. I don't recall the exact year, nor do I remember which holiday gathering it was, but my mom stood there shaking the electric mixer at me, going "MASH!!" So I did.

Apparently back in those days I really sucked at it, because that batch of mashed potatoes were full of lumps. My brother bitched about it through the whole meal.

"Oh, God," he said. "These are inedible!!" He made a big production of sifting through his potatoes with his fork and picking out the lumps, which he scraped off on to the edge of his plate. "What did you mash these with, your FEET???"

It pissed me off; I fumed.That lousy son of a bitch!! Sit there and criticize my mashing abilities, will he?? I'll show him!!

So every holiday thereafter, I beat the shit out of those potatoes. I put that mixer on 'high,' which made the TV go fuzzy and all the non-cooks in the living room go "HEY!!" I poured in milk and margarine, and beat until my arm and shoulder ACHED.

The trick, you see, is to first mash with a hand masher, then move on to the electric. You spin the bowl with one hand and mash with the other, stopping intermittently to scrape the sides with a spatula. Stand mixers are easier, but old Sylv only has a hand mixer.

My brother, alas, has shuffled off this mortal coil and now complains about stuff in another dimension. And every holiday I, the Official Potato Masher, mash the bejeezus out of the potatoes with a picture of my lump-picking brother in my mind's eye. So while there may be a lump in my throat, there is nary a one in my potatoes.

Humbug: A Rant

Tonight I have to go to Cold Fire's school for "Winter Festival." He's singing a song with his class, and is very excited about it. He tells me about this little shindig YESTERDAY, mind you, and at first I said 'no' on the grounds that he should have bloody well told me about it well before now. Then he sat around with big teary puppy dog eyes all night, so I relented with the admonition that next time he gives me advance warning or else he can forget about it. I was annoyed because I already had plans for this evening, but mostly because I hate school functions, especially ones that relate to the holiday.

They have this "Winter Festival" every year. I never go because because Christmas programs that aren't called Christmas programs irritate the shit out of me. The school describes it thusly: "This free event will showcase how cultures from around the world celebrate winter holidays."

I prefer to call it "Wiccapalooza." This is probably unfair, as well as grossly innacurate, but it's funny so I'm sticking with it.

I could not care less about what winter holidays other people celebrate. I realize that this probably makes me a blinkered asswipe of a curmudgeon, and I do not give a shit. All those pagans can knock their collective tie-dyed socks off and spend the entire month of December dancing around pine trees in the nude and singing "The Ballad of John and Yoko" in Latin, for all I care. I don't know what Muslims do for Ramadan, and as long as it doesn't involve blowing shit up they may have at it. Perform some clitoridectomies in the name of Allah, why don't you? It's of no nevermind to me. Jews may light a menorah and put on some Adam Sandler; Satanists can skin some baby rabbits and drink their blood in front of a pile of flaming hymens. As the man says, "It's the holiday season, so whoop-de-doo!!" I'll just be over here watching "A Charlie Brown Christmas" under my garish decorated tree, thank you very much.

I understand that schools feel they have an obligation to make sure that no one feels left out and that all their bases are covered. Or more accurately, they must not offend anyone or else they'll get the ass sued off'em.

Still, I get nostalgic for Christmas programs like the ones they had when I was in school. I want to sit in a school auditorium and listen teary-eyed as my child stands amidst a pack of nose-picking 8-year-olds singing about the Baby Jesus and Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer. This, however, would be very unfair to little Rhiannon and little Akbar and little Shlomo.

Rhiannon and Akbar and Shlomo can kiss my butt.

Potty Mouth

Udo swears like a sailor. Bit of a no-brainer, really, as I swear like a sailor and he lives in my house. He began swearing at a very early age, because like his brother before him, he never pays any attention to anything I say unless it's something I don't particularly want him to hear.

When he was about 18 months old, he was watching me attempt to install a screen in the living room window. Our house is old, our windows are crappy wood frame rope-and-pulley dinosaurs, and all the ropes are broken. The windows don't stay open, and have a tendency to come crashing down on a person's forearms. This is exactly what happened, and I'm happy to report that I did not swear. I did one of those clenched-teeth growly Yosemite Sam "Why you urrrrgh......." type of things, but Udo swore for me:

"Fuckin' hell, Mommy!"

One morning we were running late, as usual, and I was having a hard time getting him in to the car. I dropped my keys and my morning can of diet Coke, which promptly burst, and I couldn't seem to work the buckle on Udo's little child safety seat. Car seats, in general, are designed by child-hating ex-Nazi sadomasochists, and his was no exception. I was grumbling and sighing and fumbling with the latch, and Udo pipes up:

"Jethuth Chritht, Mommy!"

I scolded him for saying it. "That's a terrible, naughty thing to say, Udo!"

His brother Cold Fire says, with an eye-roll and a smirk, "Well, HE wouldn't say it if YOU didn't say it."

"Thanks for the tip, kid," I replied.

He's right; it's probably wrong of me to scold the child for his foul mouth when I'm the one who taught him all the profanity he knows. Lately when he hears profanity from me he recognizes it, and questions me:

"What did you say, Mommy?" he asks with great interest, sounding like an eager undergraduate who's trying to take very careful notes.

"Oh, Udo, Mommy said a naughty grown-up word. Only grown-ups can say naughty words; little boys cannot."

Udo agrees. "Oh, yes...that's a naughty word for grown-ups. Don't you say that word, Udo!"

For a while, his favorite phrase was "What the hell??" and he used it with impunity. He inserted it in to his favorite song from "The Nightmare Before Christmas," so that it became "What the hell is this??" instead of "What's This?"

"Oh, Udo, don't say that" we told him. "That's naughty."

Now he says, "What the naughty?" instead. "What the naughty is that noise?" "What the naughty are you doing, Mommy?" Etc.

Recently he directed his foul mouth at me. I was on the computer, and he was playing with his little trucks and cars on the kitchen floor. There was a sort of crashing sound, and I heard him say:

"Oh, Udo...what you done? Mommy said don't do that, Udo. She such a bitch! Ooooh, Udo, don't you say that naughty grown up word!"

Serves me right, I guess

Brilliant Scheme, Ridiculous Conversation

Brilliant Scheme, Ridiculous Conversation

**Note: Fat Bob's voice is a lot like Neil off "The Young Ones." Bear this in mind for Fat Bob's dialogue, because it's SO much funnier that way. If you've never seen "The Young Ones." go jump in front of a speeding bus.

The General, his missus, and I have concocted a brilliant scheme by which we will become ridiculously wealthy. I will write a children's book based upn the cartoon-y characters that Missus General draws. Kids will love it, and eventually I'll be living in a castle like JK Rowling, rolling about in piles of money and cackling. It'll be great.

I won't divulge the details of the book, but I will say this: I decided we need a peripheral character called Lizzard. He wears red lipstick, carries a handbag, and shows up here and there to deliver some kind of important information to the main characters. He never completes a message, though, because he's constantly chased off by a giant swarm of angry bees. The General agrees that this character must be included, although most of our audience won't get the joke.

"What if Eddie sues us?" I wondered.

The General says he doesn't think he would. Just to be safe, though, it's decided that should this book ever be published, we ought to contact his management ahead of time and see if there would be any objections.

"That way we can add an extra 'z' to the name and make the bees gnats instead," I say.

The General and I had a conversation a while back in which it was determined that Robert Smith inks lipstick when frightened, like a squid. This evolved from a discussion about what one would say to a particular celebrity, if one should bump in to him/her. For example, if I ever run in to Gene Simmons, I'd say "Dude! You smell like borscht!" If I ran in to Robert Smith, I'd say "Will you wash off that lipstick and comb your hair, for Chrissakes?? You're FIFTY!!!" It all ends badly, with me chasing Fat Bob through an airport, knocking him down, wiping off his lipstick with a spitty Kleenex and stealing his floppy socks. "Help," he'd cry. "That guhl stole moi SOCKS!!"

Then he'd ink.

Today we decided to have the characters in the book take a trip to the seaside just so they can meet a squid called Fat Bob. He'll have high tops, floppy socks on all of his legs, and ink lip gloss when frightened. "Oh, no! Oi've INKED!" he'll say in a most dreary way.

The General says, "What if we publish the book without asking permission, and Eddie calls you up to yell at you because he hates it?"

I thought about this a moment, and said that I'd be so totally star-struck, once I realized who it was, that I'd wet my pants and then pass out. It'd end up with my son picking up the phone and saying, "Mommy will have to call you back; once she comes to, she'll need to change her underwear."

Then Eddie might call the General, and The General would go, "Very funny, Babs...get the hell off my phone! Nice impression of Eddie, by the way." Click.

He'd be totally pissed. "I called the author and she wet her pants and passed out! I tried to call the illustrator, but her husband called me 'Babs,' complimented my impersonation of myself, and hung up on me!" Then he'd definitely sue us.

We wondered if both Eddie AND Fat Bob would try to sue us; what would that meeting in the lawyer's office be like? Fat Bob steals Eddie's lipstick, and they get in to a fistfight. Except Fat Bob just crawls under a table and cries, because Eddie's so much more butch, and Fat Bob would be frightened. Nothing would be accomplished at this meeting, because of the fighting and the fact that the General would laugh himself in to an aneurism, and I'd do the star-struck wet-pants unconscious thing.

Therefore, we'd need to take it up on the Maury show.

"Eddie'd throw his shoe at you!" crowed the General.

I said I'd prefer that he hit me with a chair. "Mmmmm...I hope he's wearing a skirt at the time."

The General: "Eeeew. Stop that."

The whole feud would actually be a ruse for the sake of publicity, though. It'd end up with Eddie hanging around my castle's drawbridge, yelling "I've got some ideas for the next book!" and me up in a turret with a pump-action shotgun going, "Go away, we've already got one!!"

Granddad and Elvis.

Speaking of Granddads, mine died when I was six. My mom and I had gone to Luton to visit him, as he was in the final stages of lung cancer, and he died while we were there. We were all staying at my Auntie Barb's house. Granddad had the guest room, and my mom and I were on roll-aways in Auntie Barb's front room.

The night he died my cousin Becky and I were standing in the hall outside his room, watching him puke in to an empty margarine tub. Becky said, "'e's bein' sick in a mar-ja-REEN bowl!!"

Part of what made this experience so surreal and therefore so memorable was that I frequently had to stop and translate Lutonian British in to Pennsylvanian English. 'Bein' sick" = "throwing up"; "mar-ja-REEN" = "Parkay," etc.

During this visit, my older cousin Tracy asked my mom if I was retarded. Specifically, "Wot's up with 'er; is she thick?" This was because she had just spent five minutes asking me to hand her cigarettes to her. "Pass me ma fags," she had said, or something thereabouts. "Huh?" I said several times, blinking stupidly, until someone said, slowly: "She wants her cigarettes, luv!!"

The morning after the margarine bowl incident, my cousin and I were again standing on the landing, peering in to the guest room. The bed was stripped, and the aunts were scrubbing everything.

"Where's Granddad goin' ta sleep?" Becky wondered. I said maybe he was better and had gone back to his flat.

I was feeling pleased with myself for remembering to say "flat" and not "apartment", and also because if Granddad had gone home, then Mom and I could go stay with him. He lived in a high-rise with an elevator, and I'd get to push the buttons. Granddad would fix me Tony the Tiger for breakfast, and then he'd take me to the corner shop for an Orangina and a tube of Smarties.

Then one of the aunts shooed us away, and the next thing I recall is going downtown with Auntie Barb. We had to go see some man in an office. I think my mother was there, but I'm not really certain as Auntie Barb did all the talking. They seemed to be planning some sort of a party for Granddad, and the man was asking all kinds of questions about him. I was sitting nicely on a big chair, admiring the d├ęcor and wondering if it was Granddad's birthday. The man behind the desk asked another question about Granddad, and my Auntie Barb said "Yes, he died this morning."


My mother will tell you that I had, in fact, been told that Granddad was dead before I went with them to the undertaker's. She may be right, as I was an oblivious child too wrapped up in the goings-on in my head to take much notice of important stuff going on around me. I preferred my fantasies to the real world, but sometimes had difficulty separating the two. This is the same reason that I thought my sister's husband was Tony Orlando (as in, "Tie A Yellow Ribbon 'Round the Old Oak Tree.") Give me a break...I was a spacey little kid, he had a mustache and bell bottoms, his name is 'Tony'...a perfectly understandable assumption on my part, I feel.

There was also that whole accent-language-barrier thing. I was used to my mom's accent as it was at home, which tended to lean a bit more to the posh. I think when she came to America, she was careful to pronounce things more clearly and succinctly so that people didn't stand there going "Huh?" and blinking at her stupidly, like me with the 'fags' incident. When she went home, though, she'd lapse in to the vernacular and be dropping her 'h's within a day. (**An interesting aside: she did the same thing when angry, which was a handy guage of just how pissed off she was. She dropped a lot of 'h's the day I got kicked out of Christian school, for example.)

So she probably DID tell me that Granddad had died, but she most likely sounded like she'd just fallen off a market stall on "Eastenders" at the time and my six-year-old self missed something in the translation. "Oh." I probably said. I said that a lot, as I discovered that my relatives didn't get so irritated with me if I pretended that I understood everything they meant.

After the shock in the undertaker's office came the viewing and the funeral. I remember not being allowed in the front room because that's where Granddad was. I didn't see him; I just have a vivid memory of closed french doors and not being allowed to open them.

On the day of the service I was sent to Auntie Maureen's for the afternoon to play with some rosy-cheeked cousin whose name escapes me. I remember the cousin had a fantastic doll house that she did not want me to touch, and we argued about ABBA. Specifically, I loved them and she didn't and we fought about it. The argument ended when I took a swing at her and missed, but knocked a glass of orange juice off the table in the process. Auntie Maureen shouted at us.

Then an announcement came over the radio that Elvis had died, and Auntie Maureen started to cry.

That's it; that's all I remember. The only other thing I remember about that trip was that I went down the road to the high street to get some sweets with my cousins Jane and Tracy. We were standing at the corner waiting to cross the road, and I kicked my leg really hard and my shoe flew off. It landed in the middle of the road, and Jane had to go get it. She was very nice about it and didn't get mad or anything, but then we were never there long enough for the novelty of a weird little American cousin to wear off.

In Memoriam.

I was driving home from work the other day, through the ghetto, and the car in front of me is covered in decals. There's a die-cut decal on the back window that reads "In Loving Memory (name of thug here) R.I.P. (thug's nickname, thugs dates of birth/death."  I've seen these things before, and I think they're silly. These people were over the top, though; they had a massive decal on the trunk with a picture of the thug on it. Great big stupid ball hat, massive white t-shirt, sagging baggy pants, gawdy gold jewelry, and a sullen expression.

"Wow," I said to myself, "that is classy!"

I decided that when I go, I'm going the tacky route, too. I want all my friends to put giant memorial decals on the backs of their cars. I want the "In Memoriam" decal on the back window, a photo sticker on the bumper, and then possibly some magnets. Particularly if I should expire of some specific disease. "Support Aspartame Poisoning Awareness in Memory of Babs!!"

I want my magnet ribbons to be pink and black, please. If my malady should involve the removal of some kind of abnormal growth, I want pictures taken of the growth, and then I want big red 'NO' symbols superimposed over the photo and then made in to car magnets.

"Why stop there?" I said to myself. I want a moon bounce at my funeral, please. And a cotton candy machine, and clowns. In fact, I want the clowns as pall bearers; I want the clowns to carry me out in my box and stuff me in their clown car. Then I want all the clowns to pile in after me, and drive of tossing confetti out the window and honking their horn. aWOOOgah, it will say.

I want silly string and streamers tossed in the hole, rather than the customary fistfull of dirt. The flowers should squirt. Once the hole is filled in, please surround my stone with mylar balloons, garden flags, wind socks, pinwheels, and solar-powered light-up statuary. A garden gnome, perhaps; see if you can find one that is mooning or picking its nose. Lots of stuffed animals, too, because nothing says "I miss this dead lady" like a pile of moldy Beanie Babies.

If I go out in a road accident, please, please build me a giant tacky road-side memorial. Use lots of things that don't hold up well to the elements, like signs made with posterboard and magic marker, cheap silk flowers, balloons, and more stuffed animals. Make me a cross from popsicle sticks and Elmer's glue. Stick a polaroid of me in the middle of it, and some of those religious candles from Dollar Tree.

Finally, I want at least one person to go get my name tattooed on themselves somewhere. Preferably the neck, because nothing says "grace and dignity" like a neck tattoo. Having my face tattooed somewhere would be a nice touch, too, but I'm really pulling for my name and dates on the back of someone's neck. Hopefully a heavier individual, so that my information is partially obscured by rolls of neck fat.

Headed for Disaster.

Congressman George D. Miller has sponsored and released a new student aid bill, HR 3221. You can read it yourself here:

This bill eliminates the Federal Family Education Loan Program. This is a program in which banks make loans to students, and the loans are guaranteed by the Federal government. The benefit of this program is that banks will loan money to anyone regardless of credit history or income as long as they meet the enrollment requirements at an approved school. The banks benefit somewhat from subsidies paid to them by the feds, but mostly by enabling them to establish relationships with desirable (college-educated) borrowers who often extend their dealings with the banks beyond repayment of their student loan debt. This generates revenue for the lenders by way of bank accounts, mortgages, car loans, CDs, etc.

The program has had some difficulties, with some lenders bending rules regarding borrower solicitation and improper relationships with schools. (It bears pointing out here that much of that mess had to do with PRIVATE loans, not FFEL loans.) The program does have its share of problems, and is in serious need of reform.

However, the Democrats have a bug up their asses about the FFEL because their competing program, the William D. Ford Direct Loan Program, has not attracted as many schools and borrowers as they hoped at its inception in 1993. It's a Clinton initiative; William Jefferson "Cum Stain" NAFTA Clinton. He's a handitard, a liar,and a national embarrassment. But I digress.

Schools and students hate the DLP because it's grossly inefficient and more expensive for borrowers. FFEL loans are cheaper, you see, because those big evil banks give their borrowers incentives in the way of reduced or eliminated fees and interest rate reductions. The feds don't do this because they're more evil than the banks.

Since the Dems are in charge, they're using this as an opportunity to make their shitty loan program successful, by God. President Obeekaybee, George D. Miller, and some other fat greasy politicians drafted the afformentioned student aid bill. The bill eliminates the FFEL in favor of the DLP, as I've stated, but fortunately gives non-profit FFEL guarantors first crack at servicing the loans. This is mostly because the current DLP servicer, a company called ACS, sucks nuts at it.

Good for me, you see, because this means I'll probably get to keep my job. Also bad for me, because I have two children whom I'd like to send to college, and now it's going to cost me a whole boatload of extra loan fees to do it.

"But, Babs!" you may say. "Eliminating the FFEL will be COST EFFECTIVE, and that money is going to Pell grants!"

So say the sponsors of this bill, although most economists beg to differ. Problem here, though, is that middle class people like myself don't qualify for Pell. I make too much money, you see. Most people make too much money, except for people who make bad life decisions. You know, like single mothers and people on welfare and the chronically, willfully underemployed.

If I had spent all my adult years hopping jobs so that I always earn entry level wages, I'm sure I'd qualify for grant money. Silly me, working for all these years, never getting fired or leaving a job unless I had another one waiting. Silly me for not pumping out a boatload of kids to different fathers. What the hell was I thinking?

Not only does this bill increase Pell grants on the backs of the overtaxed middle class, it also sets aside $1.2 billion for historically black colleges and universities. There's a load of schools like this, built post-slavery to educate blacks. All kinds of special allowances are made for them because their graduation rates and grade point averages are abysmal. The president thinks this can be fixed by giving them money, and that the problems have nothing to do with the culture in which these kids are raised, which does not value education or responsibility.

The bill also gives $12 billion to community colleges so that 50% of the population will have post-secondary education within the next ten years or so. Don't get me wrong; trade schools are good. We need plumbers and mechanics and roofers. Community colleges are also great places to get your first two years of college. Associates degrees? Useless. And when 50% of the population has a degree, what's it worth? Not much. And all these students graduating with these degrees will need jobs, which are disappearing over the border at an alarming rate. No one seems to be mentioning this, however.

There's more in this bill that has my blood pressure soaring, but I'll be typing all night if I try to cover it all. Suffice it to say that this piece of legislation causes the student aid system to ream the middle class and reward bad behavior even more than it already does.

High Dudgeon

Evidently Mike Seaver has a stick up his ass. Mr. Seaver, star of an old sitcom and a boatload of shitty Christian movies, has decided to single-handedly take on those pesky Darwinists by publishing an annotated version of Origin of the Species where he explains Hitler's connection to the theory of evolution and discusses Mr. Darwin's racism and misogyny.

Mike Seaver is a douchebag; of course, he's an evangelical Christian, and they're all pretty much douchebags. Their confrontational, self-righteous style of "winning souls for Jesus" is a case-study in inefficiency, to say the least. I can say this because I walked among them for many years, and I found them to be pompous, self-righteous dimwits who never quite managed to conceal the pleasure they received from telling someone they were going to hell.

They talk about hell a lot, and they talk about the stuff that causes a person to end up there. They like to talk about how right they are and how wrong you are. They like to tell you, especially if you have the misfortune of being a child in their charge, what a steaming piece of shit you are. They don't say "steaming piece of shit," but that's what they mean.

The principal of the horrid school I attended liked to quote that bit out of the Bible that said "Your righteousness is as filthy rags before the LORD." I think it means that the best you can do is never good enough for God, and then I think it goes on to say that He loves you anyway. In our little world, it meant that nothing you did was good enough, ever. For anyone. Any good grade, anything you created or did or said, this bloated Texan asswipe would just say, "Filthy rags."

I could go on and on and on about detentions I received for not dancing in chapel services or refusing to pretend to speak in tongues or forgetting to take the "Houses of the Holy" badge of my jacket and wearing it to school. I could talk about the paddlings I received for questionable spelling sentences, and how the shitassed Texan like to sit us in his office and try to make us cry by forcing us to talk about things he knew upset us.

"Your dad and your brother aren't saved, and they're going to go to hell. Don't you think you ought to try and do something about that instead of just sitting there, letting it happen?"

I got in to one of those retarded internet arguments about stupid Mike Seaver and his stupid Creationist book. Someone said that he was just trying to spread the word of Jesus, and it was about love. Love? Spread the word?

I recall that the Gospels do say to spread the word. Christ says "Feed my lambs," something to be done physically and spiritually. He says to keep the commandments and obey the word of the LORD. He illustrated that one should be kind to the dregs of society, and He illustrated, by plucking the ear of corn on the Sabbath because he was hungry, that maybe we ought not be so uptight about rules.

I don't remember Him advising anyone to dabble in politics; He said "you are in the world, but you are not OF the world." There's nothing there that tells me Christians should get to make the rules or be quite so worried about lawmaking. I don't think He said to get in people's faces, or to make them feel like shit. I don't remember any instruction to go around yelling at people about how they're going to burn, as Mike Seaver is wont to do.

Pointing out that Mr. Seaver and his contemporaries are a great big pile of steaming, dripping evil douchebags who give the faith a bad name makes me anti-Christian. Any first-year Comm major can tell you that the fundamental principle of communication is not just to send the message you want to send, but to ensure that your audience is receiving that message as you intend it to be received.

Perhaps Mr. Seaver and others of his ilk should stop shouting about being persecuted for their beliefs and start thinking about how their message is received. Perhaps they could regroup, reassess their methods, and start sharing their faith in a way that was not divisive or inflammatory. It's possible that their intent really is to share the love and joy of their faith, but this cannot be conveyed by shouting at people and pissing them off.