Comment on the Official Release of the Failed Somalia Raid

In the Somalia raid, members of the U.S. Navy’s SEAL Team Six targeted a foreign fighter commander for Al-Shabaab named Ikrima, a senior Obama administration official said Sunday. The SEALs came under fire and withdrew before they could confirm whether they killed their target, a senior U.S. official said. A second administration official said the commandos withdrew to avoid civilian casualties.    See Full Article

I don’t care about the target, I don’t care about the U.S. Navy’s SEAL Team Six, I don’t care about the politics I only care about the shift of a long established baseline.  The baseline was this, official’s never gave information on these highly secret missions before.

This is the change in baseline: Officials went out of there way to explain the failure “the commandos withdrew to avoid civilian casualties”.  Why did they say this?

Motorsports

I’m a crossing guard.

This is my second year doing it, and the job has added a new layer of patience and understanding for my fellow humans. It has given me a depth of empathy I had not thought possible. It is a calling, like being a nun or a super hero.

That’s bullshit, mostly. I do love being a crossing guard, and it has given me a new understanding of being patient and certainly feel empathy towards anyone who heads into Newton Square via Pleasant Street between 8 and 8:30 on a weekday. The only calling I got was one from the principal asking if I was interested in the job, as the previous crossing guard had to take two buses to get there and was absent a lot and I live a block away from the spot.   I do willingly walk into traffic where there is a ferocious solar glare for the drivers who have probably left there houses with low blood sugar and spiked blood pressure for yelling at their child that flip flops aren’t appropriate for 30 degree weather and only getting a burnt end of toast. Superhero? Nope.

Because I completely get this. Usually, before I get out to the corner I have had the same sort of morning. Add “That’s not the lunch I wanted you to make me!” and a solid round of both fart noises and wailing. And usually a tea stain on whatever I peeled off the floor to put on and not even running a comb through it. Brush my teeth? Good luck with that.

As a parent, I’ve had the moment when you are driving and your child is being so miserable and loud in the seat right behind you that you unconsiously drive faster in order to escape the horror. My driver’s side headlight was a victim of this, I drove right into the chain link fence in my own driveway because some five year old who shall remain nameless had been following me around for a solid hour yelling about how unfair it was to have the worst mother in the world.

As a motorist, I love the time I am sometimes afforded in the car. When there isn’t anyone with you and you can just drive and be alone. Think the big thoughts, you know? Choose your own radio stations, and sing along, and not give one fuck. Pretend you look all hot in your whip, that they’re all looking at you with your red lipstick and flowing autumn colored hair and not that driver’s side headlight that’s held in with duct tape.

I  want you- the motorist- to know that even though I have a reflective orange vest and a stop sign that’s bigger than my torso that sometimes, on a windy day, brings me airborne and conks me on the head; I am not some power-hungry traffic monster out to judge you and ruin your day.

The way the traffic flows into the square reminds me of a Motocross race in the first turn. My job is to get these little kids through that. In Motocross, there’s this lady who comes out before the gun to start and has to book it off the midway in less than three seconds. Minus the heels and the Monster Beverage halter top, sometimes that’s what I feel like when I step off the curb.

I often call on the intercession of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal when I am halfway across the westbound lane and holy fuck that guy in the F-350 isn’t stopping. I mostly pray that the kids on the curb DON’T step off before I’m sure that guy is stopped. Kids don’t have the same mental capacities that adults do- they don’t pay attention to things, and they don’t thing ahead. By default, I’m the one who has to be the adult and think of all these things for the littles. It’s not their fault they don’t think about these things, they are kids. It takes practice to be cognizant of everything. The kids are great, and we work on paying attention a lot.

I get when you don’t see me and when you blow through. It sucks, you should be paying better attention, but it’s not like I judge you as being a shitty person in general when it happens. And most people, when they don’t exactly see me and have to stop short or go through, know exactly what they’ve done and I can tell by the expression on their faces that they are horrified; that they will probably play through a very different what if scenario in their heads for the rest of the day- the one where I roll up on their hood or-even worse- they hit a child. GOD I get this.  I can feel your anxiety viscerally right though your car door. If I yell, it’s not because I’m angry- it’s because I need to get your attention.

Humans are fallible, and people make mistakes. That’s why they put erasers on pencils. I could be the poster child for the entire human race on this mistake thing, so you probably won’t find someone more judgement free than me about whatever stupid thing you do, big or small.

There are those that I do judge, and I judge them relentlessly- the people who see me and then yell at me for not doing my job correctly. Two weeks ago, a man driving a sports car laid rubber and stopped two feet away from me. When I asked him if he saw me, he said “You were facing the wrong way.” As if I was a contestant in the Miss Crossing Walk pageant and had to make eye contact and wave with the judges on both sides of the runway.

If you have to skid to miss me, you aren’t right. Don’t project blame on me because I’ve got the lollipop job and I’m all official looking. When you tell me things like this, I know you are a nitwit, as you’ve removed all doubt by opening your mouth and putting forth that bullshit. I know you’re not a police officer or a lawyer, you’re just a loudmouth who doesn’t much like being in the wrong.

Maybe I was ‘facing the wrong way’ so you could kiss my ass, knower-of-all-things- Massachusetts-chapter-90-laws.  I said this in my head, but I smiled and waved and thanked him for stopping.

The woman last Tuesday morning did not stop. Well, she did, for a minute; to tell me I wasn’t in the right place in the crosswalk. She had just struck a ten year old boy right in front of me. I had asked her if she saw me, and that’s what she said. She said it again. I told her she should probably pull over. By then, Daniel had gotten himself up and out of the lane of travel. The next thing I saw was her SUV driving away at a pace that seemed much too fast and in slow motion at the same time.

There were other people in the crosswalk, both parents and children. The road was flush with rush hour traffic.My crosswalk is in one of the most voter-y, politically active district in the city. Everyone else was stopped, traffic wise. Daniel’s mother and Spencer’s dad were already up and with Daniel by the side of the road, it’s like they flew they got there so fast. A kindergarten student began screaming, and an older kid wept. The noise of the impact had reached down into Newton Square and up into Monroe Ave, making one of the older kids run back into her house, yelling to her mother that someone had been shot.

I called 911, and told them what happened. Before emergency services arrived, the parents and motorists and citizens swarmed in with help. I stopped a priest to get people across in the pandemonium, and he said a prayer.  Mr. Rogers had it right when he told us to look for the helpers- it was like bees in a hive, all working to one sweet goal- that Daniel was okay, and that the motorist got caught.

Daniel is great. He went to the hospital in the ambulance. He’s banged up- Nora tells me it hurts him when he laughs- but he’s back in school and doing fine. He wanted to go back to school the same day he was hit, God bless him.

I was able to identify the driver that same afternoon. She was pulled over on the same street she hit Daniel, about a mile away.

They sent a cruiser to pick me up, which was good for a seperate reason. I had told my eldest, who had spent an hour crying about how he only got an hour and a half to play with his friends the previous day- that I was going to tell all his friends that he only got that much time because I had just gotten out of jail. He was horrified at the thought, and I explained to him that this should give him some perspective on what might or might not be absolutely worth the tragedy of an hour of weeping. The cruiser came while my eldest’s class was at recess, so ALL of his friends got to see me climb into the back of the cruiser and the LEO close the door firmly after me. Dennis and I had a good chuckle about it at the end of the day.

The cruiser pulled up across the street from where they had her pulled over.  I could see out the window, but not enough. I wanted to see her, to really look at her. I wanted to make sure that this was the same girl, and if it was the same girl, I wanted her to know that I saw her. That it was me, but more than that. That I was every single person at the scene who witnessed what happened that morning. I needed to get it right. If it wasn’t the same girl, I wanted to be able to say no and know this.

They asked me if I wanted to get out of the cruiser. I said “Yeah, I think I really do.” I was then  cautioned and assured that I only should get as close to her as I felt comfortable.

“Can I cross the street?” I asked.

“Sure.”

I approached her diagonally. Her hands were at ten-and-two, and her face was ashen. She was looking at her steering wheel. I got closer, I stood right outside her window. I looked at her. I looked at her profile, at the mole on her face that I remembered from speaking with her this morning, at the plastic beads that were strung on a string by a child that hung from her rear-view mirror. Hours ago, those beads swung lightly in the physical after effect of stopping short. I remember watching them in disbelief.

“Yes. That’s her.”

The officers removed her from the car and put handcuffs on her. I saw her knees buckle in and her hands shake, and she said “But I can’t get arrested!” I asked if it was alright if I looked at the front of the car, on the driver’s side headlight.

“Sure.”

There it was, like a piece of a puzzle- the part of the lens cover that had split and broken when it collided with a ten year old boy. I saw the broken piece lying in the street as she drove away that morning. It all fit. This was the girl.

I watched the officers take her into custody. Here was a woman who had done this horrible thing, and they treated her respectfully and with dignity. I don’t know what their internal voices were saying, but watching her made my internal voice say “God, I feel bad for her.” That, and “I bet she’s got a big warrant.”

I did feel bad for her- but I was only kind of right on the legal part. It wasn’t a warrant, but a few active court cases in the past few months.  Child endangerment. Speeding, and failing to stop for a police officer. Possesion with intent to distribute. Shoplifting.

Now, I really feel bad for her.

How does one get to a point in their life where they are making such bad descisions on such a consistant basis? I don’t know ONE PERSON IN MY LIFE who has done these things. What happened to this poor kid, that she does these things?

How do we end up with those very few people who so willfully violate the public contract over and over again?  Did no one tell her that her good name and reputation is everything, and that she’s worth more than that?

In my family, you were not merely told about your good name and it’s worth- it was beaten into you, if nessesary. Not that I advocate beating anyone, but I will say that it worked out well for everyone in my family whether they suffered a damn good crack or not.  We all know exactly what we’re worth. And since everyone in this city knows all of us in one way or another,  to brazenly sully one’s own reputation is running a good chance of getting a damn good crack from the rest of us. As a reminder of that worth. Nothing says “I CARE” more than a blanket party, sometimes.

I’m still in the crosswalk, every day. You can’t miss me, not only am I in orange and red; but orange and red are not my colors and I am often drinking tea out of a Santa Claus mug and rocking the PIP shelter look. If you do miss me, I get it.

Forgive and remember.

 

 

 

 

 

Sunscreen

I LAHHHHVE St. Patrick’s Day Parade. I always have, ever since it was on Main Street and my mother and aunts used to park in the Mart parking lot, and my cousin Micheal and I would chase the firetrucks that were throwing candy all the way to the Federal Courthouse. My uncle owns a business on the parade route, so now I bring my children and them and all their cousins now hassle the firetrucks for candy while we sit and gossip and people watch.

It being the Sunday before St. Patrick’s Day, we’re usually blessed with horrid weather. Clouds and wind and rain. Which sounds really bad, but we are a hearty people and not afraid. Also, we are a pale people, and the sun at this time of year scalds our faces.

Last year, I forgot the sunscreen and everyone got burned, including myself. Poor Dennis got the worst of it, he’s got that big head  anyway, and his face is always flushed. He’s basically got the Campbell’s Soup Kid face with the rosy cheeks. He was scorched, his face was the color of a very ripe grape tomato hanging off the vine in your backyard in August or like the red of a stop sign; a solid excruciating red that made me think the school nurse might place a call to DCF because of it. And it was his whole face, with a little ghost white strip under his nose. It didn’t really hurt, he said. I gave him St. Joseph’s and pasted him with Aloe, and he felt fine. It was just very vivid.

He came home from school that Monday crying. Elvis- this kid who sat next to him in class- had been torturing him ALL DAY LONG calling him ‘red face’.  I felt HORRIBLE about it, him being out in the sunny sun sun all the day long and coming home a tomato face and me sending him right off to school to be tortured. And then I thought- fuck it. Kids make fun of kids, and everyone takes a turn being the mark. Hell, this girl tried to set me on fire in the cafeteria Freshman year of high school, I lived through it. ‘Red face’ isn’t even a very creative insult, I was actually a little disappointed in Elvis as I knew him to be a clever child from volunteering.

And now I need to tell you the most excruciating detail about the whole story: Elvis is from Ghana. He’s black. So here’s this kid, who I actually like; picking on my son for having a red face and I couldn’t advise him to retaliate in kind. Anything Den might have said in reference to a color and a face would have been horrible. I told him that he should have looked at Elvis, kind of chuckled, raised one eyebrow and say “What? I don’t get it.”  and then ignore ignore ignore. I also told him I promised on my eyes I would NEVER EVER AGAIN make him go tomato at school again.

And THAT is why I always make sure we’ve got EXTRA sunscreen on Parade Day.

 

I said that?

So, here’s what’s been going on: I’m working for a friend of mine who’s just pulled papers to run for Worcester City Council in my district. I’ll talk more about him soon, but today I want to tell you how I completely embarrassed myself in front of the MAYOR and no one was there to witness it.

This morning I went to the St. Patrick’s Day political roast and breakfast. I’ve never been to one before, but I am a great fan of the Friar’s Club and was kind of looking forward to some real bashing and bloodletting. In my heart, I wanted Lisa Lampanelli and Jeff Ross and Bob Saget up on the dais. I was entertained, but there was nothing truly off-color bad taste horrid said.

Here’s a little Worcester Game history. If you’ve never played the Worcester Game, this is how it goes: You meet someone you’ve never ever met before from anywhere in the world and within ten minutes of talking to them you know someone in common and whoever THAT is, is from Worcester.  I know who the Mayor is, because… he’s the Mayor. But, in addition- my best friend and locker mate from 8th grade is Joe Petty’s cousin. His name is Sean Patrick McGinn, and he’s one of my favorite people walking the planet. During the election, Sean would say “If you see my cousin Joe tell him I said HELLO!”, and I would laugh and say “If I get the chance, I will!”

I never met him, really. I mean, we’ve waved and smiled but that’s it. So today, I’m running out of the breakfast to call the sitter and lo and behold   there is Mayor Joe Petty right in front of the door and there is no one else around. He’s just kind of listening to Gary Rosen. I feel this is my perfect opportunity to finally officially introduce myself, as I am here with my candidate friend and if I don’t at least ask him to move I’m going to hit him with the door.

So, I put on a smile, make eye-contact, extend my right hand, and walk up to him.

And I say:

“Hi! In eighth grade? My locker mate and best friend was your cousin. Sean McGinn. He says Hello!” Complete, exact verbatim right there. Ooooof.

My friend Meg calls this ‘word vomit’. You know it’s coming out, you know it’s gonna be at best awkward and at worst horrible, and you can’t do anything to stop it. All you can do is listen to yourself in disbelief as you make a complete mess of yourself.

Imagine my freckly squinched up face switching from what might pass as confident or charming to horrified and shocked in less than two seconds.The kind of face one might make if they shit themselves.  Poor, poor, Mayor Petty.

I’m kind of sad no one was there to witness it, I secretly wish someone was there to videotape it so we could all watch it together and see exactly how it went down. You should know that Joe Petty is a great guy, if someone who I didn’t know came up to ME and word-vomited I’d avert eye-contact and back away.

“Sean! He’s in California, he’s a great kid. You grew up in Spencer?”

Seriously, I’ve gotta give all the credit in the world to Joe Petty for dealing with my loopy behavior with a straight face and having the follow through skills to resurrect the conversation.

And I REALLY want to thank my dear friend Sean Patrick McGinn, who so cleverly employed the primacy effect wayyy back in the fall knowing that eventually I’d make an ass of myself.

I only wish the poor fool had been there to see it.

 

 

I VOTE POPE!

This morning I lost the remote control, and I was both too lazy to find it and too lazy to get up, so I ended up watching the Diocese of Worcester Daily Mass on local public access. Which would normally make me just nap, but Fr. Carmody was giving odds on the Pope, so I perked right up.

It’s a historical time to be a Catholic- even a creepy, non-practicing, Irish JuJu kind of Catholic, like me. And in my creepy way, I’m going to just say it: when you stack him up against other elders at work in the world today, he comes off a little wimpy.  I get that he’s sick, but JPII was a walking question mark and stuck it out til the breath left his body. You don’t see the Queen of England cashing in her chips- and she could retire in almost as good a style. And how about Hugh Heffner? Older! Okay, by about a week; but still- they guy  just married a 26-year-old.  Betty White is 91, and she still does a sitcom. Jeezus, Pope; where has your grit gone away to?

I must stress to you that I am not a good Catholic. I don’t mean to pre-empt your disappointment in my moral failings- but the whole reason I like the whole race for the Pope is the gambling aspect of it. I have really nice Catholic friends, and as soon as Pope Benedict announced his retirement, they started with the Cardinal Wish List. That piqued my bad Catholic interest. I’m not sure how the voting goes, but I immediately thought that a clever hospitality worker would start a pool.

Then, I was watching Jim Polito on the News; and that pulled it all together. He had an elimination chart set up like the NCAA Big Dance.  Well, THAT makes the gambling VERY easy.

Jim said he was in it for the long shot- Archbishop of Manila Luis Antonio Tagle. Fr Carmody thinks it’ll be one of the boys from Brasil, I think he said Archbishop of Sao Paulo Odilo Pedro Sherer. The New England born Irish girl I am secretly cheers for Sean O’Malley, and secretly boos for poor Timmy Dolan for having to come from New York.

After careful consideration,  I have a hope of my own. He’s from the Cardinals of the order of Deacons- so you can bet it’s a long shot- and I’m basing my decision on two things: his first name and his current occupation.

Attilio Nicora, out of Italy, who is currently the President of the Financial Information Authority for the Church worldwide.

You guys smell what I’m stepping in?sweet sistine

Let me know who YOU think the Pope will be!

GO TO SCHOOL

Jerry now hates to go to school.

Well, this is nothing new.  But today he cried for TWO SOLID HOURS about it, he stayed with me while I was doing the crossing guard thing and screamed at me the whole time. “BUT I DON’T FEEL GOOD BUT I DON’T FEEL GOOD BUT I DON’T FEEL GOOD” His face turned the color of a blotchy turnip, he was laying it on strong.

Here’s the thing: the kid HAS to go to school. It’s the law, and while I might be a scofflaw, I’m not raising my children to be. I had to CARRY him into school, he stood by the fence and howled “I AM NOT GOING IN THERE”. The lucky thing is he weighs about three pounds, so he’s easy to manuver. We went into the school and went directly to Nurse Judy, who told him that there are only three things that can keep you outta school: a fever, vomiting, or very loose stools. She offered to let him lie down on her little cot for fifteen minutes, but I put the kibosh on that and dragged him down to class.

I really am the meanest, it’s like I’m Ghengis Khan who makes lunches with cool fun snacks.

I ended up in the principal’s office with her and the guidance councilor. Trying to figure out what exactly was the problem. I don’t mean to diminish his agony, clearly one does not howl for two hours without feeling some organic distress. But it seems a little overdramatic to me. Anyway, we talked about the possibility of revisiting occupational therapy because of his floppy little hands. Then Nurse Judy popped her head in because she had an idea of what might be going on with him.

Her husband died when her children were young, and for years her youngest daughter had  breathtaking anxiety whenever she was seperated from her. She thought that since I had cancer, he might be afraid that I might die.

I know this sounds morbid, but she has a point.

Last Friday, I dismissed my children from school to go to a funeral. It was their first experience with death. We went to the funeral home and I taught them how to pray in front of the casket and how to go through the recieving line.  I know this sounds creepy, and it’s not something that most people will bring their grammar school aged children to; but death is indeed a part of life so we might as well get all comfy with it. I went to my first wake- my Nana’s- when I was five or six.  The scariest part was watching my Auntie Noni cry. In my little mind, no adult should cry. Grown-ups should be big and strong and not cave to emotions under any circumstances.

Well, that’s a load of shit. Grown-ups cry. I’ve dissassembled myself plenty of times, because life is sometimes just shitty and hard and sad. My mother used to say “You can’t have a left without a right”- and that’s true. If we didn’t experience crushing dispair, we would never get to feel absolute joy. We wouldn’t know the difference, and everything would be a lot more boring.

The problem for Jerry is that he’s seven. He just turned seven, so he’s actually more of a six. When you are that age, everything is felt so absolutely and viscerally, each pain and laugh seems to last forever. You never think that the sad will ever end when you are sad. But the sad always ends, and you will always be happy again. It’s hard to grasp that when you are seven and everything is half-magic; when you are that age everyone else has control of your life and you don’t get to make many big decisions. Jerry is a very independent sort, so this is tough for him. I well and truly believe that kid thought the world was crashing down around him this morning. Which makes it hard, because I know that’s not true- that right now he’s over there at school in art class having a grand old time for himself. And I try to explain this to him, but he doesn’t believe me. He just feels things so deeply and immeadiatly that he can’t get over himself.

And then there’s the whole big pounder headache that comes from listening to a full banshee wail for two hours, which honestly made me want to kick him into traffic. That’ll give him something to cry about. But that’s just regular parenting- your children know every weakness and foible you have and will go directly for the jugular without guilt or hesitation. I would never kick him under spinning wheels, but the thought of it

 

Death of a Twinkie

What is more American than the Twinkie? Maybe Coca-Cola, but that’s global and the Germans are the ones who really started the whole apple pie thing. Twinkies are more than just a delicious snack cake, they are a cultural icon. Igon used the Twinkie as a physics reference in Ghostbusters, remember?

Well,  the twinkie died and we want to know who is blame.  We all have a soft spot in our heart (and some of us have coinciding soft stomachs) for this cute treat. Who would kill something so bright and airy? Twinkies are a symbol of all that is good in the world (at least to me, who prefers things to be soft and sugary and chock full of preservatives and cream filled) What happened?   Who would squeeze the cream out of something so damn cute?  I refuse to believe that the American consumer would not support Twinkies- and if that’s the truth- than I’m moving to Vladivodstock, because this isn’t the kind of country I want to be associated with anymore.  I realize that Twinkies have gotten bad press in the last decade or so because of the uptick in childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes in children. I think it’s sad that the Twinkie is taking the heat for that, and I refuse to believe eating one Twinkie a week (which should be a Federal mandate, call your congresspeople) is responsible for rotted clogged arteries and fat kids everywhere.  The problem isn’t the Twinkie- it’s the overabundance of gluttony, which is pervasive in our culture. WE HAVE AN ENTIRE TELEVISION NETWORK DEDICATED TO FOOD. That should tell us something about where we are culturally with the gluttony thing. We always want more and better. More Twinkies? I can get behind. But how does one make a Twinkie  BETTER? It is snack cake junk food at it’s finest. I bet if Jesus was on the earth today, he’d be downing Twinkies- along with driving an F-150 and smoking Marlboro Reds, but that’s another story.

Does everybody want answers? Do the executives, directors and board members want answers? I think that’s the last thing THEY would want, those suits-  some die hard Twinkie fans with a little knowledge and a grudge.  Do you think the government wants us to know what really happened to the Twinkie? I don’t mean to imply that they had anything at all to do with the demise of Twinkie, but I’m fairly certain they didn’t offer up a Twinkie bail-out (they should have.) Do the employees want answers? Sure, but can they afford it? In my younger and wilder youth, I used to day drink with some of the drivers for Interstate Brands. They were a great bunch of guys, and dedicated- up at 3AM every working day to make sure your local whore-on-the-corner convenience shop was ready for the consumers Twinkie needs. I haven’t seen those guys in a while, but I miss them. I want to find them, to give them a hug and buy them a boiler-maker for a job well done. I don’t think Interstate Brands gave them the same consideration.

Lets look at who the twinkie has been associated with over the past 82 years.

Interstate Bakeries Corporation (1930)

Interstate Brands (1969)

DPF (1975)  WTF!

Interstate Bakeries (1981)

IBC Holdings (1987)

Interstate Bakeries (1991)

Continental Baking merger (1995)

Hostess Brands, Inc. (2009)

It looks like in her early years the Twinkie was courted and held closely in a stable relationships until middle age.  Then she was passed around frequently from one male based entity to another.  As she was passed around, debt and pension obligations were piled on and went with her. And isn’t that always the way? Once a lady gets to be of a certain age and has financial baggage, no one wants to get in a dedicated formal relationship with her. Sure, in the dark of night when no one is looking, most want that creamy filling-  but no one wants to be seen holding hands on a public thoroughfare with her.

Maybe we need a postmortem for our dear Twinkie. We need some champion attorneys and forensic accountants to don their capes and get to being superheroes. Which basically means doing the work gratis. Superheroes don’t get paid, you can tell because they don’t have any pockets. SO STEP UP, you soul-less fucks- and prove me wrong that it’s all bottom line with you people.

Where did the profits go?

The answers to the death of the Twinkie lie in its postmortem, who will perform this autopsy, who will cut open the Twinkie to see whats really inside her, what caused her death?  This will cost a lot of money for lawyers and forensic accountants follow the trail of how this poor lass died.  How she had all her profits taken from from her when she was young, Every little bit was squeezed out of her.

Our salvation lies in the truth as to why the Twinkie died