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Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

This morning I made the decision to break up with the NFL – The National Football League. I’ve been having a love-hate affair with the NFL for well over 50 years, and finally – I have had enough.

It’s sad to walk away, but sometimes – sometimes we have to do what feels right for us – for our well-being, for our sense of what is right and wrong. For me – it is time to walk away. Time to put my NFL hats and my NFL t-shirts on the shelf and spend the time I would watching football doing something constructive, and spend the money I would on hats, t-shirts, etc on something more positive – you know- like a trip to England or France or Big Sur.

Watching football was a nostalgia thing for me. It was Sunday afternoons in the early 1960’s at my Aunt Jeans laying on the floor watching the Baltimore Colts with my Dad and my Uncle Mike. It was a bonding kind of thing – not so much of a drinking, yelling, eating and cursing kind of thing.

I love football, but when we went to the Stadium last year to see the San Diego Chargers, I thought that perhaps the wand search was a little too much, along with all the rules about swearing and fighting and drinking – seriously – are we not adults? Do we not know not to drink too much and punch people? Obviously, we do not.

Susan and I stopped going to night games when we had to lay down on the floor of our car and call 911 because people were running through the parking lot shooting at each other.  Again – there was alcohol involved in this incident and something about someone wearing the wrong jersey. Seriously – you’re going to shoot someone because you don’t like their jersey?

The whole Ray Rice thing was the last straw for me.  I feel that the NFL cares little for me as a woman, or as a fan. I don’t care who instigated the fight – I don’t care that she married him after he knocked her out – I care that he’s the pro football player trained to hit and injure. He’s also a man and should know that you never strike a woman – no matter what – you walk away. And I totally care that the value of knocking out a woman to the NFL is a two-game suspension.

  • Vincent Jackson got a 3-game suspension for unlicensed driving.
  • Terrelle Pryor got a 5-game suspension for violating the NCAA’s improper benefits policy
  • Plaxico Burress got a 4-game suspension for shooting himself in the leg – He was later sentenced to two years in jail for violating the stringent gun laws of New York.
  • Michael Vick was suspended indefinitely before the 2007 season. He served almost two years in federal prison. He was permitted to return to the NFL and was suspended for four games of the 2009 season.

Breaking up is never easy, goodbye is not always goodbye, but for now – the National Football League is not something I want to associate with. If they were to apologize to women for their lack of respect, and talk about domestic violence – I’ll pull my hats off the shelf – until then – my Sunday’s just freed up!

So, if you are watching and drinking and yelling – remember that the NFL places the value of women at two games.  For me: it’s time to walk away – and so I shall.  For the truth of the matter is this:  Football is a game – domestic violence is most surely NOT.

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Perhaps the answers to life lie in not where we’re going, but where we have been. And maybe not so much where we have been, but who was there with us – who traveled the road with us. Who ran us off the road, who walked beside us, who helped us find the short-cuts, and who was reading the map along the way.

Now that I’m in my 60’s, I understand that our lives are touched in some way by all the people who have come in and out of our lives. If only for a moment or a day or years – our lives are somehow changed by every encounter we’ve ever had.

Every path –every person – every opinion – every compliment – every criticism – every love – every hurt – every laugh – every tear – every little thing and every single person has brought us to this very moment in time.

We may have been shaped by where we grew up and who are families were, but as we grew up and faced the world on our own – the decisions we had to make were ours. At the moment we were making these decisions, we may have thought we didn’t have a choice – but – even if you did not make a decision – that was your choice – your decision was not to decide. We have to own our decisions – at some point we need to take responsibility for our lives.

I believe we spend way too much time finding a way to blame our parents or our siblings or our friends or religion or politics or whatever you can think of for our lot in life.  The simple truth is – we are responsible for our lives – we are responsible for our happiness.  It’s up to each of us to make ourselves happy. No one else can possible be responsible for that – no one.

I also believe we spend far too much time trying to figure out what makes us happy and we miss out on just being happy.  Life isn’t about what you have – it’s about who you are.

I read a book recently that made me understand that every day we can choose to go one way or the other. To go with the good or not go with the good. To go away from things like anger, hate, war, evil, prejudice – or – we can choose to go toward them. The choice is ours to make.

Whichever you choose to go toward – that is who you become.  If you fill your life with anger and greed and hate and unrest – then it’s inevitable that you become this person – angry, arrogant, hateful, resentful, blaming, bitter…

On the other hand – go toward the good – and this is the person you become. Nonjudgmental, loving, understanding, giving, compassionate, happy, content.

It may sound easy – this going toward the good – but during the course of a day we can slip toward anger in the blink of an eye. Someone pulls in front of you on the freeway and you have to slam on your brakes to keep from hitting them – going toward anger happens before you even blink your eyes! Someone’s teasing feels more like being bullied, someone pushes your buttons simply to get an angry reaction from you, and someone plays games with your heart…

It is the wise choice – this going toward the good – but it’s not always the easy choice. Choose wisely.

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Mother’s Day – I knew it was coming – The reminders have bombarded my email inbox for a few weeks now.  Proflowers has been reminding me of Mother’s favorite bouquet – and did I know I haven’t sent her any flowers in a while?  See’s candy reminded me that her favorite assortment was the dark chocolate nuts and chews variety – did I want the 2lb box to make her really happy this Mother’s Day?

My mother passed away on November 11, 2012.  I know I’m not alone in my grief on this Mother’s Day; millions of people no longer have their Mother. Still – this is my mother and this is my grief.

Most of us have issues with our Mothers. In some form of other we like to blame our Mothers for the issues we have with men, or commitment, or love – or the lack thereof in our lives.  If only she had loved me more – or treated me the way she treated my brother. If only she had hugged me more or praised me more or encouraged me more.  If only…

I can’t speak for anyone else; I can only speak for myself and my mother.   No matter the relationship – the fact remains that she is no longer at the other end of the phone, and I no longer get those cards signed “Love and Prayers, Mom.”  I can no longer call and ask her questions about family or history or family recipes, I pick up the phone sometimes when I don’t feel well and I just want to hear my mother’s voice – then I remember she’s gone -and the tears flow down my cheeks.

I tried to not leave things unspoken before she passed – I knew there would never be another chance to get it right with her. The last time I saw her – I knew in my heart it was going to be the last time I saw her. She had dementia and it was progressing – but the one thing she could still focus on was family. So, I set up my computer and we spent 3 days looking at the same files on ancestry.com. She would get something in her head, and I would try my best to find her that information. She was happy, she was smiling, she was laughing – and this is how I have chosen to remember her.

I’ve also decided to not blame my mother for what I consider to be my faults. I mean – I buried her the day before my 60th Birthday – and it seemed foolish for a 60 year old woman to still be blaming her Mommy for her problems. It is after all – my life and not my mothers. At some point in my life, the mistakes became my mistakes, regrets were my responsibility, and makings amends was all on me. I grew up – as we all are meant to do.

My mother lost her Mother when she was 9. She didn’t have the time with her Mother to learn about what relationships between Mothers and daughters should be. I know now – she did the best she could. I’m going to focus on the good things she passed on to me – Love of Country, love of history, the desire to travel, her love of cooking, the need to read, and how she could never sit and do nothing – her hands were always busy – as are mine.

And I remember her telling me how much she always wanted to be a writer…   This one’s for you Mom – Happy Mother’s Day.

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I spent the day yesterday walking the wonder that is the Las Vegas Strip.  There is this debauchery that just sort of hangs in the air here.  It was 111 degrees, and still people were walking from casino to casino, drink in hand totally oblivious to the heat.  Elvis was on the strip trying to make a few bucks by offering himself up for pictures, and there’s always the opportunity to see ladies and men in various stages of undress, anywhere you look.  It gives me a little glimpse into the world of fashion that I’d never even dream of wearing!

Inside the casinos offers you another glimpse into this debauchery of which I speak.  The craps tables were filled and the dice were being kissed and thrown, the blackjack players were throwing their chips on the pile, the Roulette wheel was spinning while chips were being placed on red and black numbers, and those slot machines were singing everything from The Theme from The Addams Family to Wheel of Fortune. Inside some of these casinos your sensory level is simply on overload from the moment you walk in the door.

Then there is the whole food thing…  If you can’t find it on the Las Vegas Strip, it simply doesn’t exist on the culinary scale of food that matters.  From the very expensive to the very cheap, it’s all here. The French pastries in the little shops at the Paris Hotel and Casino are my personal favorites, but that’s just me. I get a pastry, a nice cup of French coffee, and I sit in the little café and watch the world go by – literally.

Please don’t take what I’m saying as some sort of judgment on Las Vegas.   I am one of those people who happen to love Las Vegas.  I love the debauchery; it fascinates the hell out of me. In some sort of sick way, I fit in here. Absolutely no one cares that I’m gay or overweight or a liberal.  Those things are not even on the scale of things that matter in Las Vegas.  I like that, I feel at home here.

I know the image of Las Vegas is drinking and gambling of which I do very little of either.  I usually have one drink while I’m throwing maybe $40.00 at the slot machines, so I certainly don’t love to come here for either of those things.

I love to come here because there are things to see here that one can’t see anywhere else in the country.  I mean really, where else can you climb the Eiffel Tower, see original Picasso’s, visit a Botanical Gardens that is more beautiful that you could ever imagine, take a ride in a gondola, see a water show, watch a volcano erupt, ride a rollercoaster on the outside of a skyscraper, go to a mid-evil jousting match, and visit the statue of liberty – all in a 4 mile radius?  Come-on, what could be more American?

I don’t think I could live here, it is way too hot in the summer, and my senses need a rest from all the debauchery! I also believe if I saw it all the time, the wonder of it all would rub off. Kind of like seeing the man behind the curtain! (From the Wizard of Oz for those of you who might not know…)

I’ll be back in November though, for my 60th Birthday.  I’m going zip-lining over Fremont Street in old Las Vegas!

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Did you know that Memorial Day is a day set aside to honor those who have died in service to the United States of America?  Did you also know that Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day? I hate to burst your 3-day weekend bubble, but, it’s not about heading to the beach, drinking beer, and throwing some meat on the grill.

I come from a military family.  My great-grandfather fought at Gettysburg, my grandfather in WWI, my father in WWII, my brother in Vietnam, my ex-husband in The Persian Gulf, my nephew in Iraq and Afghanistan.  My mother drilled it into my head and my heart that to serve one’s Country is the highest of honors, not just for the person, but for the family.

When I was little there was a parade down the main street of our little town.  My little tricycle had the red, white and blue streamers, and the veterans marched proudly and waved and smiled at the folks who lined the street. I may complain from time to time about the conservative politics of this little town, but when it came to their veterans; It was Americana at its best.

As I’ve gotten older, I also understand that Memorial Day isn’t just about honoring the dead; it’s also about honoring the living.  Their service changes their lives forever. Whether they see combat, is not the issue, it’s the service to their country that changes who they are, and it changes forever the family unit.

It’s the service of the Mother or Father left behind to comfort the children, pay the bills, and deal with the everyday life that can be simply overwhelming.  Not enough money, not enough love to go around, not enough community support, not enough government support…

In 2000 President Clinton signed the “National Day of Remembrance” resolution which asks all Americans at 3p.m. local time, “To voluntarily and informally observe in their own way a Moment of remembrance and respect, pausing from whatever they are doing for a moment of silence or listening to ‘Taps.” Take a moment and honor them all.

Susan and I will be heading to Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery to honor our fallen veterans, and then to the USS Midway to throw a flower in the water over the ashes of my father.

Memorial Day isn’t about how you feel about war. Memorial Day is to honor those who do the fighting and the dying, and those who “keep the home fires burning.” To those veterans and their families who may be reading this…  Thank You ♥

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After spending a week in the place where I was born and raised I have discovered that you really can go home again, you just have to go on your own terms.

This time as I drove into town, I didn’t break out in a sweat and wonder what fresh hell awaited me by the time I got to the other end of town. This time I saw the town for what it is – a sweet little village in the middle of this beyond beautiful countryside.I drove down what used to be the main street, and I noticed how not much has really changed in the past 60 years. Some buildings have been torn down, but not really replaced with anything. New housing developments have sprung up here and there – but still – the essence of what the town used to be is still quite visible.

This is small-town America. You know what I’m talking about – The small-town America where I’m standing at the local sub shop and people honk their horns and make U-turns to come back and see me.

Small-town America where I walk into a restaurant and I know everyone is thinking; why, that looks like Barbie Hamp – you know – Dick and Beulah’s daughter… I wonder what she’s doing back here. They would never ask you who you are, they just stare at you.  That used to piss me off, now, in a sick sort of way, I find comfort in that.

This is also Republican, evangelical, FOX News, right-leaning newspaper small-town America. There are these signs everywhere with little Jesus themed sayings about how to have a nice day.  The town doesn’t have much business opportunities but, there is a smorgasbord of churches all within a 10 mile radius of this little town.  Methodist, Reformed, Catholic, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Jehovah’s Witness… Any religion you can think of, you can probably find it there. I don’t understand it – but, if that’s how they have to get through the day, I say; go for it. I’ll just continue to ask the Universe to give them compassion to go along with their religious views.

This is the first time I went back to my home town and wasn’t uncomfortable or angry or anxious to leave. I used to blame my feelings on the town and its culture, and my family,  and the people who live there and yet I’ve discovered that it was really me – not them – that needed to accept me for who I am. Now that I’m comfortable with who I am, and now that I’m happy in my life, and now that I feel I have nothing I have to prove to anyone – going back to this place where I was born and raised is simply that – going back to this place where I was born and raised. I focus on the happy memories, I stay away from family and so-called friends who choose to berate and judge and I simply enjoy the beauty of it all.

I love the Oscar Wilde quote: “With age comes wisdom, but sometimes age comes alone.”  Thank goodness the wisdom finally caught up to my age…

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