I had an opportunity after work this afternoon to start some of my holiday shopping. I ended up getting myself The Chicago Manual of Style at Borders because they had the edition that’s required for my course next semester, it was twenty bucks cheaper than IUPUI’s price, I didn’t have to pay for shipping, and I had a 30% off coupon that came in the mail. Oh, yeah, and zero ideas for anyone else.

Every year my dad’s family does a drawing. You pull someone’s name out of a hat and you’re responsible for getting something for that person. You’re also responsible for finding out what the hell this person likes, because chances are you don’t know them very well. Not like you’ve never really talked to them, but you have really general ideas about what they want. Like, “Bill likes golf.” Okay. What sorts of “golf things” does Bill already have?  My family isn’t exactly open about what they want, but they expect you to give them an itemized list of what you want. They’re also really bad about coordinating who gets what for whom.

For example: my grandmother. If you’re lucky you might find out that she wants a DVD and something generic like “things about lighthouses.” You don’t know if she collects figures of lighthouses, pictures, books, or what. So you get her a lighthouse-themed calendar (among other things) one year and she doesn’t seem thrilled.

Another example: my mom. Last year she said she wanted a Bluetooth headset for her cell phone. So I got her one. As did my dad. And my grandmother. I was able to return mine, and I think my dad did, as well. She kept the one Grandma gave her.

So I guess my choice to purchase a book for class was part selfishness, but mostly just laziness.


Holiday Gifts Truncated


I’m starting to feel the effects of the writers’ strike. I’m sad that I haven’t seen a new Daily Show or Colbert Report in a month. Where will the twenty-something potheads get their news?

I’m sad that The Office fired a hundred people to punish the writers.I am happy, however, that I finished my research paper. And that Michael Vick will be sentenced on the 10th of December. And that Friday the 7th is the Herron print and ceramics sale. I find the fall work is better than spring, if only because the students seem more energized about their work. By May they’re winding down and burnt out. I sent an email to a few people who’d asked me about it in the past. If I didn’t remember you on it, you’re reading it now. So that’s good, right?

I’m trying to make deals with everyone I know — don’t get me anything for the holidays and I’ll reciprocate. We’ll do something cheap and meaningful together another time. I’m broke as a joke this year and I had to negotiate with Charlie on finances. It finally dawned on me that every year we’ve been together I’ve bought the gifts for everyone. Mutual friends, my family, his own family, people whose names he drew in gift swaps . . . When I pointed this out, I was as surprised as he was. We have one joint account out of which bills are paid and our separate accounts that we transfer remainders of paychecks into, so it’s not like all the money is coming out of the same place for gifts. It just seems really odd to me.

My grand idea of making something for everyone has come to a pathetic end. I had two main things I’d planned on making, one of which I have about twenty made (and you probably know what they are if you’ve been reading this for a while or looked at my Flickr account), the other of which I never even started. The first thing you may still get if I can muster up the courage actually show them to people. I’ve recently become aware that I haven’t done one very important thing that you’re supposed to do: line them. So I have all these flimsy, sewn things that won’t withstand a lot of what they’re made to withstand. Whoops.

I’m thinking maybe on holiday break I’ll try to sew the lining in to all of them. Making it look nice . . . that’s another issue.

Return to Our Regularly Scheduled Complaints

This one’s for Eee who didn’t like all the giving of the thanks posts.

Last night I had a dream that I’d been in a really bad accident and, as a result, had to have my jaw wired shut. This wasn’t the frustrating part. In the dream my manager put up a sign at the espresso bar saying “Courtney cannot chat with you as her jaw is wired shut. Please ask only yes or no questions.” And even though I kept pointing to the sign people refused to read it and kept asking me things.

In real coffeeshop life this morning a regular yelled at Audrey for no reason. Poor Audrey. This always happens to her. People get pissed about something another employee did (or didn’t do, in this case) and they come in the next day all fired up about it and, invariably, the person they snap at is her. This time it was a woman whose son worked there a couple of years ago for, like two months, before he went to college. He didn’t bother to mention that he would be going to school in the fall until a few days before he left. Annie wasn’t thrilled but he wasn’t exactly a go-getter, either.

Well, his mom decided that she’s owed something, with her son having been an employee and all. She gets pissed about the stupidest things and just loves bitching about it.
This morning it was “I have been a customer here for five years and I have never been so insulted in my life.” Apparently yesterday evening she’d come in to find “a line out the door” and only one person working. The other, she spat, “was hiding in the kitchen the whole time. I finally turned around and left. This is totally unacceptable.” Of course Audrey is standing there, not saying a word, because she has no idea how to respond. She finally says she’s sorry, but she doesn’t even know who was working last night, and maybe she should say something to them? Which infuriated the woman further.

Granted, she has actually been coming there since before her son started working, but she’s always rude, and she never tips. Whatever reason someone had for “hiding out” in the kitchen last night, I’m sure it was (probably?) valid. But poor Audrey was in tears afterwards because the woman was really, really nasty.

Today in general was kind of a nasty customer day. I don’t know if people are pissed because it’s Officially Christmastime and they’re out at four in the morning standing in line to buy Bratz dolls for their kids on sale or what. It’s not my fault. But we were really slow, which made everyone’s rudeness stand out all that much more. At least when it’s busy you don’t have time to internalize it.

I don’t know how many people asked me to turn on the fireplace. This is a major pet peeve of mine because when they ask, I’m usually sweating my ass off in front of the espresso bar to begin with and, no, I do not want to turn on the fireplace that’s right in front of me that’s so far from any tables I doubt you’d feel the heat from it anyway. But it wouldn’t matter because they have the gas turned off while they’re remodeling.
The first person who asked was the first person to come in this morning. I think she thought I was lying to her. When I told her it was turned off until they tiled it, but she gave me a really suspicious look and said “Well, it would be awfully nice if you could turn it on.”
And despite the fact there’s a sign on the door that has our hours on it, she still walked in and yelled “Are you even open?” It sounded like an accusation. Although I’m not sure why she asked, because it was about quarter after six and I wanted to shout back, “Why the f–k do you think we have the door unlocked?”

Then, “Jelly Guy” came in and made his regular stupid joke that he hasn’t made in a couple of months, about how he wants jelly with his bagel, which he knows we don’t have, but finds it exceptionally hilarious to ask for jelly every single time. When people just stopped responding to that at all, he started asking if we were allowed to throw away his jelly containers if he brought in his own. But he was really saying to be a dick and it really tickled him to do it. He stopped doing it for a while but for some reason decided today was the day to start up again. I sighed, rolled my eyes, and turned around to walk away from him. I know he thought I was being a bitch but I honestly could care less.

But sometime did tip me for twenty bucks for the holidays. That was pretty cool.

That Time for Giving Something

So. The inevitable “giving of thanks” post. I have a difficult time being positive in my blog because this is where I come to, as BeetQueen puts it, “deal with the woes of this modern life.” It’s easier to write an amusing account of something like a customer being rude or having a weird encounter with a fellow driver on the road than it is to constantly be full of rainbows and lollipops. I think that’s the uber-masculine side of me; the one who thinks showing emotions other than anger is sort of weak. But as I sat weeping in front of Tim Gunn’s Guide to Style this morning (in my defense they gave the guest-in-need-of-style-help a really thoughtful gift and she was crying so I just started crying) I realized it’s okay to show that side of me here sometimes.

I think, in real life, I’m actually a pretty positive, relatively upbeat person. Some may disagree with this, of course, but that’s just the way it goes. So I’ll just tell you that I’m thankful for the following:

For having a long-term relationship with a person who complements me so well, who is so kind and forgiving and who eats anything I cook. And always pretends it’s really good.
For being able to work part time at a job that I like (most days) and be able to go to school full time, for the ability to know that, in my very near future I’ll finally be able to say I have a formal education and not have anyone say “You didn’t go to college? But you seem smart.”
For having the wherewithal to recognize and remove myself from toxic relationships with people who create negativity and bad feelings in my life.
For recognizing harmful patterns and putting in the effort to stop them.
For my dogs and their never ending love and loyalty and photo opportunities. And the cats. For whatever it is they do besides just lay around and give me dirty looks.
To be able to live in a house where I feel comfortable, at home, and safe.
For having a small, but strong, network of people who I know I can rely on when I really need help.
For living the sort of life where I have things to appreciate, and realizing that I do have it a lot better than a lot of people. So I better keep thanking the hell out of what I have.

Bitch, Bitch, Bitch.

I wasted spent an hour and a half at our “holiday meeting” this evening to hear about the same shit we do every year. This will be my third Christmas at the coffeeshop and every year we do the same thing: a couple of special coffee cups, some Christmas-y looking teapots, peppermint-flavored chocolate bark, and a box of three coffees.

One of the guys who was there would not shut up. He was at the meeting last year and I discovered that 365 days without having any contact with him was just not enough. He’s one of those people that asks question after question after question, and you can totally tell that none of it ever sinks in. Some of the things he asked were the sort of things that a.) we do all the time, so why the hell would Christmas be any different or b.) any idiot with an iota of common sense could figure it out.

For example, we have a free gift with the purchase of a new certificate over a certain amount. The owner was pretty clear in that. Free gift. Purchase. NEW. Certificate. The guy kept asking what he’s supposed to do if a person comes in to fill up their weekly coffee cards. Totally different situation. The owner said you don’t do anything. It’s not a new gift certificate. What if they really push about it? he asked. Well, she said, I suppose you could give them one.

I know some of our customers are cheapskates, but I don’t see them arguing over having a free shitty chocolate graham cracker every time they put twenty bucks on their card.

He also slurped his coffee way beyond the necessary coffee-slurping one would do in a regular tasting. He wore his baggy jeans around his thighs. Not like he thought he was a thug, but like he just had on really huge pants that didn’t fit. He asked every one who walked in about the Colts game and kept saying how intense it was. It was really intense.

He also asked about our discount – like how much do we get off of some of these items if we want to purchase them. The owner said “Fifteen percent, same as always.” Except on a couple of the more expensive things, on which she said we would get no discount because she “at least want[s] to break even.” And then she laughed like we were sapping her dry with all of our greed and wanting to get paid and wanting a discount. One weekend before Christmas they let us get 20% off of some things. But only certain items. And last year I think it was on Christmas Eve, which is not when I do any of my shopping, if I can help it.

Now, I’m not going to go singing Starbucks’ praises, but there was a reason I worked there – their employee benefits. I got health insurance working 20 hours per week. I would have to work 30 to get it here, and it’s about two and a half times as expensive.
You get a free pound of coffee or box of tea per week at Starbucks. Here it’s a half pound and no tea.
You get 40% off everything, all the time, except a week during Christmas at Starbucks, when they let you have 60% off. We get 15% and, if we’re lucky, 20% one day.
We also have managers who work 45 hour weeks, 9-hour shifts, with no real lunch break, and they don’t take tips. At Starbucks my manager worked about 35 hours a week, took lunches, took tips, and also made about $50k a year.
Because when it’s slow we can’t have more than two people scheduled the managers can’t really get an hour to go home and relax. They go to the bank, the grocery, Sarah might let her dog out, and they come right back to work.

I like not working for a huge worldwide corporation that pushes out every little competitor by flooding the market with a crappy product. Starbucks opens an average of three stores every single day. But my company doesn’t exactly value their employees as much as they care about making a few extra bucks to pay for their million-dollar Meridian Street mansion.

By the way, “Black Friday,” also known as the most ridiculous shopping day of the year, is Buy Nothing Day in the U.S. It’s Saturday the 24th in the rest of the world.

The Time to Give . . . As Some See Fit

Wandering Bella got me thinking about the time of year when people are gently reminded it’s all about giving whenever they walk into a Target, WalMart, grocery store, Big Lots, Meijer, KMart, Sears, or any of the other myriad shops on which the Salvation Army has a bell-jingling monopoly.

For those of you who aren’t aware, I think it’s important that you know what this money supports. It goes directly into the pocket of an organization that actively discriminates against gays, non-Christians, and people with AIDS and HIV. It openly discriminates in its hiring and employment. It is also funded by tax dollars through the Faith-Based Initiatives brainchild of George W. Bush and receives 95% of its budget from taxpayers. The former director of the Initiatives admitted in 2004 that “no direct federal grants from his [Bush] program had gone to a non-Christian religious group.” That statement alone should concern proponents of the First Amendment.

Lawsuits against the organization have been dismissed by judges who claim it is not a conflict of interest to both receive federal funds and discriminate against people who receive (and provide) their services, despite the fact that the whole Faith-Based Initiatives crap is supposed to be about getting money to help everyone. I don’t understand how you can get government funding for social services and then determine how and to whom you dole it out. If a child is in need, a child is in need. You shouldn’t force a person to sign a document stating they will follow your mission statement, that they will not undermine your mission, and that you recognize their status not as a non-profit, but as a church. Nor should you demand employees agree that they will be “soldiers” and “radical disciples of Christ. “
It’s also super-shitty on your part to threaten to close down hundreds of soup kitchens when a lawsuit asks that you give domestic partnership health benefits to employees.

The Salvation Army is called that because the people who started the service organized it like a military group. Their mission was to “bring Christian salvation” to anyone who was destitute, meeting both their physical and spiritual “needs.” Their “About Us” section of their website has a drop-down menu with their opinions on marriage and divorce, human cloning, suicide, and religious persecution, to name a few. And of course, they detail how Christians are persecuted. They also continue to call people Officers, Commanders, and have their Articles of War posted, three of which are as follows:

    I will uphold the sanctity of marriage and of family life. (I think we all know what that means)
    I will abstain from alcoholic drink, tobacco, the non-medical use of addictive drugs, gambling, pornography, the occult, and all else that could enslave the body or spirit.
    We believe in the immortality of the soul, in the resurrection of the body, in the general judgment at the end of the world, in the eternal happiness of the righteous, and in the endless punishment of the wicked.

When you think about it, I guess it makes sense. But for the longest time I didn’t think the name “Salvation Army” literally meant “the army bringing you salvation.”

And I certainly don’t want the few extra dollars in my pocket to go into those buckets out of guilt. I would much rather donate to a local charity that provides help in an undiscriminating and, you know, helpful way.

Intellectual Burnout

In what can only be described as four straight hours of panic, I have completely revised my midterm for my literacy class, revised the expository description of said midterm, written my research proposal, updated the website for my online class, and almost thrown up.

I started the proposal last night, but have been thinking about it for a while. I had the first ten required sources a week ago. Yet I couldn’t bring myself to even start it. It’s a short proposal, and although it has to be in a somewhat formal language, it doesn’t require citing any sources; that’s what the annotated bibliography is for. Which I also have started. If by “started” you mean “opened up a new Word document, edited the headers, and typed in ‘Annotated Bibliography’ at the top.”

I don’t know what my problem has been this semester. College burnout, too much pressure on myself, worrying about the dogs, my dad, my grandparents, and my aunt, laziness, procrastination, boredom. It’s not that I’m not challenged by the material. Maybe it’s that it’s too challenging. But for some reason it’s been harder and harder for me to just sit down and start writing. I had it easy the past few semesters, I guess.

After I do the bibliography, I’ll have to start on the research paper, for which I also have to make some sort of “class poster presentation,” which sounds utterly stupid in my opinion. Then I have to submit my website for the ubiquitous peer reviews, then revise and submit to the instructor my URL. Not to mention the fact that I also have to write a 3-5 expository paper on my process of creating the site. Which consists mostly of “plunking tables into HTML and shoving images and text into the tables.” About the time all of that is due, I’ll have a final paper and final, cumulative, exam in history, the paper part of which has to answer some question about World War I which we haven’t even got to in class yet. Next is presenting my research in class, and a final paper on that is due somewhere around the 12th of December.

The good news is, it will all be over soon. The bad news is I only have a few weeks to do all of it. The really bad news, it’ll be even worse next semester since I’ll be taking somewhere around 15 credits. I will have to get back to the organized, efficient, time-managing Courtney we all know.

The great news is, Project Runway starts tomorrow. I don’t care if I should be ashamed to say that. If gives me hope for an hour of tuning out to brain candy once a week.

The Local Flavor Part VIII: Heavy Italics and Quotes Edition

marble counter topFor your amusement, I present another part in the as-yet-unending series of The Question Every Customer Asks.

Yesterday afternoon the construction guys put in a new marble counter top at work. On a scale of one to ten, one being pitch black and ten being blindingly white, our old counters were about a 3 and the new ones are somewhere around an 8. Being an observant and clever person, yourself, you know this means they were really dark before and now they’re really light. Which means any person with at least one semi-functioning eye in their head would probably notice such a drastic change.

As soon as Audrey came in to work I asked if she thought she could forecast the Question of the Day. She looked around, saw the counters, and gasped, “Did you guys get new counter tops?

By the, oh, I don’t know, hundredth time someone asked me this I started saying things like “No, we just cleaned them.” I realize people live in their own oblivious little worlds. They probably don’t know I’ve been asked this same question a thousand times in two hours and perhaps I want to slap them and ask “What the hell do you think?!”

It’s not fair of me to get angry with one person because he or she is merely pointing out this change. But it’s annoying because it should be an observation. Not a single, solitary customer today said they like our new counters, they notice we got new ones, they like the color, it looks brighter in here, it looks cleaner. No. Every one of them asked if they were new. What is that about?

These counters also had notes taped on them reading “Please don’t lean on counters.” This also brought up questions from people. They wanted to know why, for how long, when could someone lean on the counter, could they set their bag/coffee/child in dirty diapers up there? Over and over again we reiterated “They just put them in yesterday; they have to set. We don’t want anyone to get hurt,” and other such nonsense.

One woman actually had the nerve to say she’d had what appeared to be the exact same marble put all throughout her kitchen and she could put stuff up on it within hours, what kind of glue did they use in here, anyway? Completely deadpan I said “Well, I’m the leader of the construction crew and I personally cut, delivered, and placed all of this marble. We used a mix of a kind of concrete and a lacquer glaze on top that takes about 36 hours to dry completely.” The woman looked at me like I was nuts. It was probably a little too rude on my part. But it’s also kind of a joke.
Like when someone says “Can you make a cappuccino with nonfat milk?” like this is some huge deal to ask, after you just made a 2% half-calf sugar free vanilla latte with only one and a half shots of espresso and some whipped cream on top and oh by the way can you also put in four Splendas?
You say “Well, we have a team of scientists working on it in the back right now.” And you can usually tell when someone won’t think it’s funny, so you don’t say it to them.

The next cutesy remark was “I like your sign.” This one made no sense to me at all. One woman said “I wish you kept that up all the time.” The sign, I will remind you, that asked people not to lean on the counters. She told me she despises it when people lean all over counters. I just said “Okay.”

This is the same thing people say about our cell phone sign. You know “We’ll be happy to help you when you’re done with your phone call.” This all started because of one particular woman who could never order her drinks because she was always too busy speaking in French (there’s a group of them, none of whom are actually French, and one of which actually speaks to her grandson only in French, never in English) into her cell phone. We always got her order wrong (not our fault) so Sarah got pissed and asked the owner for permission to put up the sign. I can’t believer the owners okayed it.

Lots of people think it’s funny because lots of people can relate to being in situations where they’re trying to get something done only to be thwarted by someone having a stupid conversation on a portable phone. The only ones who don’t are the ones standing there with the douchebag Bluetooth headset strapped on their ear, looking like they’re having a conversation with themselves about real estate markets. Who the hell has business calls at 6:30 in the morning?

But what’s so funny about “Please don’t lean on counters”?

Audrey voiced my feelings when she said “I wonder if they’d like a sign that says ‘Shut the fuck up’?” But I don’t think the owners would be so into that.

A Second Chance

I’ve never had one of those nightmares where you walk down the hallway naked in high school or you show up late for an exam or on the last day of class.

I did, however, wake up at four in the morning a couple of weeks ago, sweating and in a panic, because I realized my midterm paper was an argument essay with an introduction and a conclusion, and not a review of literature. This was the morning after I’d gone to campus and handed in the paper to my instructor. I should have told him right then that I somehow ended up with something completely different from the assignment, but I didn’t.

I don’t know how I managed to do that. The instructions were clear on the assignment sheet he’d given us. While I was writing it I just completely forgot the purpose of the paper.

Last week, when we got our papers back, I was mortified to see he’d marked it “B-” and noted exactly what I’d feared: “This is an essay more than a review of the literature. What happened?” But then he told the whole class that several of us had done this and we were getting an opportunity to revise our papers.

Thank god. I don’t want to do the work, but I don’t think I could handle anything less than an A- in a 200-level English course.

It’s stupid, but you gotta have goals, right?

The Results Are In

In a narrow victory, Greg Ballard – some guy I’ve never heard of – won over incumbent Bart Peterson in the Indianapolis Mayoral race last night. This is disappointing to me for two reasons. One, Greg Ballard isn’t a politician. He is a “self-employed leadership consultant” who takes money from you to give you speeches. People think this lack of experience is a good thing. I can understand where that feeling comes from (fresh new face! new ideas! new energy!), but in this case what they’re expecting him to do is something I think he’ll soon learn is impossible – keep all the homeowners in Indianapolis from paying outrageous taxes. See, he’s not in it for “everyone.” He’s a Republican. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to find some sort of “trickle-down economics” put in place. The really wealthy people with the really expensive homes get the tax breaks while the more affordable your house is, the less difference you’ll notice in your property taxes. But since those rich people employ you, you’ll see a bigger paycheck. Right?

As far as I can tell he’s just some rich dude who was sitting around complaining about property taxes with his rich friends who said “You’ve got so much money. You should totally run against Peterson.” And he said “Yeah. I do have a lot of money.”

Second, people got pissed about one issue and ended up removing the majority of the Democrats from office. This is the same mistake people made four and eight years ago. They get tired of the status quo (which, if I remember correctly was pretty good: first budget surplus in history, all-time unemployment and homelessness low, good terms with the rest of the world) and get up in arms about one single thing, then vote in a bunch of Republicans who are going to screw up more than they’ll fix. Of course, this is just my opinion and I’m no political expert. It just appears as though this same thing happens and time and time again and no one ever learns from their past mistakes.

Republicans claim to be for smaller government. They support limited government involvement and lower taxes. In this case, they do not want large welfare programs to support people who perhaps could otherwise “pull themselves up by their bootstraps.” It is my humble opinion that they don’t seem to have a problem offering assistance to those who don’t really need it, in the case of corporate welfare programs and government subsidies for really large organizations, or in the case of Blackwater and Haliburton. They give government aid to churches and religious organizations (Faith-Based Initiatives) that discriminate against people who ask for their help (the Salvation Army), but tell them they can’t do that. Then they don’t remove the millions (actually, more like 40 billion, altogether) some organizations receive when they do discriminate against certain people (gays, people suffering from AIDS, people who refuse to take their Christian oath).

As a casual observer I have noticed Republicans do nothing but make government bigger, but in a really bad way. If we’re going to dump billions of dollars into paying already obscenely wealthy people, it only makes sense to a bleeding-heart liberal such as myself to think this money could be used for so much more. Free healthcare for everyone. Hell, I’d pay more in taxes just so low-income families could get free medicine just for their children. And whether I’m smoking at the moment or not, I have no issue with the so-called “sin taxes” on things like cigarettes and alcohol to pay for children’s healthcare.

In a nutshell, the GOP is one of the two political parties we have in the U.S. and claims to be socially conservative, which has gotten more and more so over the years I have been paying attention to the news. As people have begun racing to the White House for the election that’s a year away, some Republicans have tried to distance themselves from Iraq and the current administration, stating that they may be economically conservative, but they are not so socially conservative that they want to persecute gays or take away rights from other minorities. Some say they are proponents of finding better ways to solve the energy crisis and global warming. The general GOP has moved further and further from the moderate side of things to being a party consisting of religious right-wing nutjobs who sneak around at night paying for sex with gay hustlers.

The Democratic party in the U.S. is one that aims to provide freedom and opportunity for all citizens. Dems support a more mixed economy wherein free enterprise is encouraged but with minimal government intervention (perhaps in the case of the Microsoft anti-trust lawsuit?). The party is supposed to be socially progressive, a proponent of civil liberties and equal rights, as well as a certain amount of fiscal responsibility and progressive taxation. I don’t know how much of this is really true because I see people like Barrack Obama running around with ex-gay gospel singers to attract votes from gay-bashing Southerners. It seems like a really stupid thing to do.

According to a Pew Research study, 72 million registered voters in the U.S. are Democrats, while about 55 million are registered as Republicans and 42 million as Independent. I realize this doesn’t mean much. I, myself, am a registered Independent because I don’t particularly agree with everything the Democratic party does and have no reason to feel I should register as anything with the government. I’m sure there are many other people who are on the opposite end of the political spectrum and who feel the same way, for different reasons, about the GOP. But it doesn’t make sense to me that in a country where we still have poverty, child and elder abuse, animal fighting for sport, theft and murders, problems restricting gun ownership, starvation and homelessness, that people continue to vote into power those who claim not to want to help those that need it most.

My grandparents, for example. Card-carrying NRA members with Reagan memorabilia and John Wayne calendars on their wall. My grandfather was in Korea and thinks this means he should receive free healthcare for life. He obviously makes a distinction between who is capable of receiving this kind of benefit and who does not deserve it. But he has no problem, it seems, with the general idea of what one might consider a socialized medical plan. But if you used those words to label what he was describing, he might just put one of his rifles in your face.

While my grandparents are probably part of the majority (Baby Boomers and their parents who feel something is “owed” to them, because of their previous duty or service to the U.S.), they like to classify everyone in terms of what we deserve, based upon our race, religion, gender, sexual preference, class status, education, and politics. In fact, what I think my grandparents may be are the ultimate anti-social-progressives. While they may feel every child should stand up and recite the Pledge of Allegiance (the new, updated version with God in it), and be taught Bible study in school, there is no real proof in my opinion that these activities make a person more “Christian.” This may be just another matter of opinion, but I don’t find that my grandparents or anyone they associate with to be especially tolerant, loving, or kind. In fact, if this is their and the GOP’s idea of how to solve some of our problems in America – by shoving religion down the throats of children – I imagine we would end up with a country full of unpleasant, intolerant, abusive, racist, homophobic bigots who use Bible verses to back up their hateful ideas.

To quote a character in Hannah & Her Sisters: “If Jesus came back today and saw what was going on in his name, he’d never stop throwing up.”

From what I can tell, things like socialized medicine, gay marriage, and free education for everyone are never going to happen in the U.S. People are too stubborn and the ones who are making the decisions really think gays are out to ruin the sanctity of marriage and that liberals want to live in a Communist state where we have to fight for toilet paper and stand in line for four hours for a can of beans. We’ll never get anything done as long as we continue to fight for the “freedom of the American people” and act like everyone is a special little snowflake who deserves his or her private independence and owes nothing to our brothers and sisters in need – either those next door or around the globe.