Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Jeanne Spa

If you read my Acceptance Speech, you might have been wondering what got me so fired up. My sister. Many of you are probably surprised to hear I even have a sister. Jeanne has been living free for over 30 years. She laughs about it to my face. I’d like to hit her, but I don’t get in the ring with repeat convicted felons. Jeanne is on SSI, labeled by our Federal Government as Disabled. Disabled they say. WTF?

When she is out prostituting herself to support her drug habit, she seems to be able to work pretty darn hard, and eat almost nothing. When she is romping around Disneyland with free passes given to the poor, she moves around just fine, on her feet, for hours on end. If someone yelled, “FREE CIGARETTE BUTTS,” I bet she could jump 10 feet in the air off the couch.

Yet, she continues to get a free pass by the federal government for rent, food, clothing, medical care, cigarettes, liquor, and just about anything else she might want. She periodically gets tired of her living situations, and they just as quickly tire of her. That’s when she will typically check in at the local jail for a Jeanne Spa stay. She and her friendly jail mates laugh about that too.

Did you know we are all contributing to their little Spa visits? Did you know the prisoners laugh about how they get a warm place to sleep, a shower, clean clothes, TV, magazines, entertainment, classes and a store where they have a selection of toiletries, snacks and books? Yes, they laugh. And, to add insult to injury, they have a selection. Yes. You can send your favorite prisoner money and give them a credit line so they can walk down to the store for a little shopping trip. All the comforts of home for your murders, rapists, child molesters, burglars, drug lords, prostitutes and so on. Isn’t that special?

Jeanne claims she needs an open credit line when she’s in jail because “You’ve got to have Chex Mix when you are in the joint.” You’ve got to have Chex Mix? WTF? Chex Mix, a warm shower, television and a good night’s sleep isn’t punishment. Ken rarely gets 8 hours of sleep each night because he’s working too hard contributing to Jeanne’s Spa stays at the Santa Ana Women’s Correctional Facility. You are too. How does this make you feel? I’ll tell you more about how they are laughing at you and me because I want my sister and others like her, to get cut off from the gravy chain here in America.

Do you know anyone who has had to send a loved one to Rehab? I do. There are all kinds. Alcohol, Drug and Eating Disorders are a few. Most of the families involved were terrified, but didn’t blink and eye about spending their life savings to send someone to a Rehab facility. They are not always covered by insurance. Some have huge copayments. To the person who is saving a life, they don’t care. For my entire childhood, my parents invested a fortune in time and money trying to help save Jeanne. They too, were desperate to save their child. In the end, they both paid dearly.

I know a family who has their house mortgaged higher than what it is currently worth. They had to do this to save the life of their child who needed emergency treatment in an expensive Rehab facility. I’m telling you this because Jeanne was sent to Rehab recently for almost free. Seriously. I want more people, besides me, to see how wrong it is. And yes, Jeanne is still laughing about it.

Jeanne didn’t want to go to Rehab, but it was court ordered. It was Rehab or Prison. She enjoys her Spa treatments in the local Jail, but Chowchilla, and the other big Prisons are a different story. Don’t get me wrong, they still have all the wonderful accoutrements that the local Jails offer, but I think she is a Jail snob. So, off to fancy Rehab Jeanne went. At the time, her SSI income was $850 a month, so the Rehab gave her a sliding scale payment plan and told me her portion would be $320 a month. All inclusive. Just another Spa treatment on Uncle Sam, you and me. How do you feel about that? Especially when she laughs in my face? She is laughing at all of us. They are all laughing at us.

When the day came, and I knew it would, when Jeanne had had enough of that particular “scene,” she walked out of her hundredth (or more) stint in Rehab after only completing a few weeks. She said “Fuck that shit, I’d rather do Jail time,” which is precisely what she did. She went to a few of her favorite haunts, picked up some “customers,” earned a couple of dollars (ICK!!!), did some drugs, got picked up by the Police and was taken to Jail for a more comforting Spa stay. Her pattern remains unchanged after all these years.

When I saw her after the Jail stay for that particular offense, she laughed. She said the people at Rehab were stupid and how they wanted her to write down on a piece of paper that she was committed to her rehabilitation. She said she didn’t care about being clean, didn’t want to be clean and only went to Rehab to satisfy the judge so she wouldn’t have to go to Prison.

I’ll tell you a few more things if I don’t already have you convinced why we all need to be ranting about this. She also laughed and said I didn’t give her enough cigarette money. I don’t give her enough cigarette money? I told her I was managing her SSI payments for free; if an organization managed her money they would charge her a percentage and she would have less of the federal governments’ money “to smoke.” So yes, it is our money she needs to buy her cigarettes.

She told me she can go around to all the churches and food banks in the area for as much free food as she could eat. She can go to all the social welfare programs and get scrip for free toiletries, and other things she needs. They will also subsidize her rent payments. She said she just wanted to “smoke” her SSI money since she didn’t need to use it to pay for anything else, because she can get everything else for FREE. Then she laughed.

This crap has to stop!

I’m done with taking care of Jeanne. After the last post Rehab laugh-in-my-face-event, she did something so raunchy, vile and criminal, I threw in the towel and quit as her caretaker and Representative Payee. I’m also done with food banks. I’m done with social welfare programs. I told Jeanne’s Social Worker in a rant how I was going to give the Jeanne responsibility back to the educated professionals who get paid to handle this idiotic, pointless, worthless & mind numbing crap.

I have a beautiful, loving, hard working husband who has been waiting patiently for the children to be raised so he could be number one. I'm here sweetie. You will always be my number one. Thank you for getting up every day while it's still dark and going to work when you are exhausted. Thank you for never saying I quit when things were rough. Thanks for giving up all your paychecks and bonuses to raise a family and never spending a dime on yourself. Thank you for being the best Daddy any child could every ask for. You are our hero.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

But You Don't Work

What do you do all day? I’d be bored. Have you ever heard stuff like that? If you are a housewife, I bet you have.

I was a young girl growing up in the Cinderella Homes when I had dreams of being a housewife, just like my Mother. She was always home, well dressed, hairdo perfect, always had lipstick on, her clothes were ironed, her shoes & purse always matched, always had tissues, kept a clean home, threw fabulous parties for my Dad’s business associates, came to all my school and sporting events, had warm, homemade cookies when I walked in the door from school, taught me how to sew, and always let me have all my friends over to swim. I’m not good at cleaning, but that’s not my Mom’s fault; it’s just that I don’t enjoy it. I will always choose something I find fun to do over cleaning. Thus the continued state of my house, garage and the Pigmobile.

When our children were small, and I got to quit working, it was cause for celebration. When I sobered up, I decided if I was going to be a proper housewife, I was also going to be a really good housewife like my Mother. That doesn’t mean the stereotypical type housewife we saw portrayed in the sitcoms we saw in the 60’s, the Harriet Nelson and Donna Reed types. No, I had different ideas. I had my eye set on being the best wife, raising my children to be the best people they could be, learning how to cook, bake, open a bottle (or 3) of wine, and learning how to love and coexist with dogs like my darling Mother-in-law. Check, check, check, check, check and yes, check! Hooray!

But I don’t work!

My Mother never sat down, never watched TV, never went to a spa, never went to the mall, the movies or off for the weekend with her friends. My Dad had to beg her to shop for clothes if they had to go on a business trip. She also refused a housekeeper. Refused! She didn’t indulge in manicures, pedicures, waxing, plastic surgery or Botox. She saved up all the left over money my Dad gave her weekly for running the house to pay for stuff us kids needed, or we drove her crazy begging for. I was famous for wanting to go to every summer camp known to man. I also wanted her to buy me tons of books, because I was obsessed with reading. I would tell her it was all her fault from reading to me so much. Her response was to drop me off at the Placentia Library and let me stay there as long as I wanted.

My Mom made the dresses my sister and I wore and if she found a pattern that fit us well, she made the same dress in every color. When we traveled to Europe for 6 weeks in the summer of 1970 with The Turman family, my Mother packed for us five Jessup’s in 2 hard Samsonite suitcases. I was inspired.

The Cinderella homes on Cedarlawn Drive were meticulous. My Dad took great pride in his Dichondra lawn. He’d drive around and lament the lawns and curse the owners that weren’t maintained to his high standards. He once went around the corner and asked a widow whose house was seen as people approached ours, if he could maintain her yard since she wouldn’t, or couldn’t.

The homes were beautiful on the inside as well. My friend Scott still has the original brochures with the floor plans because his childhood home is also on Cedarlawn Drive. Our Mom’s raked the shag, vacuumed designs into the carpets, kept the pools pristine, polished the Formica countertops and somehow caught dust before it landed.

Most of the Dad’s worked in aerospace, for two local companies called Autonetics and Hughes Aircraft. I loved watching the Dad’s drive up in the evenings at 5:00 while us kids would be playing Kick the Can and Hide-N-Go-Seek. Most of the Mom’s were housewives, and at 5:00 p.m. were busy in the house making dinner or cleaning their Cinderella House. One of my friends had a Mom who worked and she went home to an empty house everyday. I always felt bad about that when I was going home to fresh baked cookies and a Mother who would always sit down and give me her undivided attention.

I don’t keep a clean house, garage or car like my parents did on Cedarlawn Drive. But, I take great pride in how I care for my husband, how I’ve given my children tons of undivided attention, bake them cookies, go to all their school and sporting events, and that I let them have all their friends over to swim & play. I’ve been Class Mom, Team Mom and a Carpool driver.

I’ve been teaching myself how to cook, to bake, and sometimes I clean (mostly I don’t). I love having parties. Sometimes I iron my clothes, but I usually just shake’em out and hang them to dry. I’ve learned how to quilt, and love to sew but I don’t mend much. The children were so afraid of my mending pile they would beg to have Grandma fix their clothes… so they’d get them back. I’m still working on the tissue in the purse thing; the kids know to go to Grandma if they need to wipe their noses on something other than Mommie’s sleeve. My hair is only perfect every other Friday when I have it colored by Carrie, colorist extraordinaire. Sometimes I put makeup on. Mostly, I like to wear my hair in a ponytail and cruise around HQ and the Downstairs Office in my Nappies sans Clinique. I never, ever go without perfume though, ever. My Mother had her lipstick thing. I have a perfume addiction. And my Dooney thing.

I take my job seriously, and so does my Boss. But, I have job security and scheduling flexibility to accommodate my husband and children so it’s the best job in the world. Yes, there are some parts of my job that are boring and tedious. Some aspects are stressful. I have great benefits. The pay? Did you say pay?

The pay comes in hugs and love. It came in the faces of my children each time they crossed the finish lines, made Honor Roll, and got acceptance letters to colleges. I got paid when I watched my children helping poor people when they worked in the hot sun for a week each summer repairing their homes. I got paid watching them run to greet their Daddy every night when he came home from work. I was paid every night when we sat down to the family dinner he demanded, no matter what time it came. Pay comes when your family needs you to find something in the refrigerator, a missing sock, or the permission slip. It comes with every Bandage applied and every goodnight kiss. It also comes when a bunch of smelly kids get into your car after practice and are all talking at once. That is my heaven.

I wouldn’t trade my work for anything.

“All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” -Abraham Lincoln

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Safety Zone

After I wrote about Patsy Clairmont last week I was reminded about The Safety Zone. The Safety Zone is what I’ve always called our Home. It’s another place where we can start teaching our children about how to be the people we want to send out into the world. After my daughter Stephanie went through a rough week recently I wrote her a letter to try and help lift her spirits. I’ll share some of what I wrote to her with you.

My Dearest Stephanie,

What you experienced is quite sadly just a small taste of what is in store for you as you make your way into the real world and begin your adult life. There were days I often felt like a lonesome trailblazer and a minister of my own religion when I started preaching my personal message in our Home. You grew up in the Safety Zone, free from hate and cruelty. Do you remember? Those were family rules. Sadly, others have not. I’ve always told you how people are products of their environments and only have learned skills based upon their parental role models.

If others grew up in a house where they heard derogatory comments, gossip, racial slurs and opinions on beauty, weight and popularity, they grew up programmed to think those are standard and acceptable topics of conversation. You, however, grew up in a cruelty free, hate free zone. We did not indulge in gossip. We don't consider ourselves authorities on beauty, because how can it be measured? Weight, being something that is inside a person's clothes, would be considered a personal matter, and therefore not our business...much like a person's sexual preference. We don't discuss that kind of stuff. There are bigger and better things in the world like love, peace, acceptance and joy.

You and Sam were not allowed to indulge in unkindness towards each other, which others have laughed about. We didn't find it funny at all. Our home was a haven, The Safety Zone, a place to go from the cruelties of the world. Not everyone grew up like this. The people out in the world you are going to be spending your adult life with have come from a variety of homes. I've preached a lot about giving them grace because of our Biblical teachings and because not everyone has been blessed with an upbringing as wonderful and loving as yours.

I guess people can only be allowed a certain amount of grace. Because I, like you, have to actually blaze the trail and try to spread a message about how wrong meanness, gossip, cruelty, hate, racism and injustice are. You were a trailblazer last night. A witness to the faith and a preacher after my own heart. I am proud beyond words. You stand 10 feet tall for not sitting down. You inspire me.

I Love you with all my heart,

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Patsy Clairmont

I’ve used Patsy Clairmont’s name as an instructional tool in my home for years. When I heard her speak for the first time at a Women of Faith conference years ago, I sat transfixed, completely and utterly speechless. That hardly ever happens if you know me.

Her speech at the WOF conference was about how people are walking around everyday in pain and we simply don’t know it. There are people with obvious markers/signs you can see. A cast, crutches, a wheelchair, white cane, or a handicap placard on their vehicle. Maybe someone has told you they recently had surgery, are in pain, undergoing chemotherapy, psychotherapy, or grieving for someone they’ve recently lost. Some people are good at communicating stuff like that.

There are also the Patsy Clairmont's, and a whole world of other people out there in pain who are crying on the inside and smiling on the outside. Those are the ones I have been talking to my family about all these years.

My Godfather, Tony Pierno once told me, “The squeaky wheel gets the grease Jodi.” He who screams loudest wins, right? Well, what if we are talking about broken wheels that make no sound. Those broken wheels aren’t giving us any warning. Scary thought, isn’t it?

Patsy Clairmont has a serious disease. She told the 50,000+ WOF attendees at the ARCO Arena in Sacramento, California about it. The arena was jam packed that day. It was rough navigating around to get to the snack bars and the restrooms. She was speaking before a break and wanted to warn people. She told us how she is in constant pain, and how simply being jostled in a crowd can cause her unbearable pain. She wanted us to know, so if she was trying to get to the Ladies Room during a break in the program, people would be careful. How many times have we all carelessly bumped into someone and simply said, “Excuse me.” That day, as I listened to Patsy, I sat and wondered if I’d ever run into anyone who was hurting, and I didn’t know it.

It’s been a goal of mine since hearing Patsy speak to pass along her message to my family and friends. People don’t necessarily come with markers or signs. Some people won’t tell you they are in pain, are grieving, are undergoing treatments, or have a serious illness. Pain comes in varying types; physical as well as emotional. Sometimes pain can be seen, other times it is well concealed.

I’ve asked my family to go out into the world and be careful with others. Treat each person with kindness, love and respect. You don’t know what is going on in that person’s life. It might only be 8:00 a.m., but you don’t know what has already happened in that person’s day. You don’t know what is going on in that person’s world. Their world might be filled with well concealed pain; they could be dodging emotional darts, possibly caring for a sick person, or what if they got some crushing news that morning? We have got to be more careful and gentle with everyone.

Patsy Clairmont has inspired me to be kinder. I want everyone else to try too. If you are the person at the market being unkind to a Cashier, yes, I am going to tell you stop being rude, and be nice. If you are the customer talking down to a server, yes, I am going to ask you to be more considerate to those who serve you. If you are the impatient driver behind me honking because I am not turning right, yes, I am going to turn around and tell you to stop honking because I am allowing someone to use the crosswalk. If I wonder what I can do to help you I am not going to say, “Call me if I can do anything to help.” I’m going to show up and do something. I promise.

Thanks Patsy.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Abba Patare

After the celebration of Communion today, I wanted to share a bit about my feelings and theories on God, my eternal “Abba Patare.” Because God is such a complex entity for me to wrap my head around, it’s always been easier for me to think of him in the realm of a Father figure. Easy for me, because I had a Dad who loved me unconditionally.

Abba Patare is Greek in origin, meaning father. This isn’t a bunch of hogwash. I’ve discussed this at length with my Pastor, the Reverend Dr. Randy Johnson, and he says I am “right on” thinking of God as a father figure.

When you understand how I feel about God being a loving, kind and non-judgmental type of Father, you’ll also get that I don’t feel scared at the thought Him watching over me, watching me live my life. If you know me well, you’ll notice I’m ok with being well behaved and I’m ok when I’m really poorly behaved. My Dad always loved me either way too. He was always thoughtful and forgiving with me.

Just like my Dad, my Abba Patare always welcomes me into His home, His arms, and His place of worship. I think He loves me unconditionally whether I go into a church or not. He loves me when I act stupid; he loves me when I am good. He loves me when I am wrong, he loves me when I am holy and when I act completely unholy.

Just like my own Dad, I bet there are times when He aches watching me, wishing I hadn’t made a poor choice, when I’ve said the wrong thing, ran an extremely yellow light or went to a bar to watch football and drink martinis instead of going to church.

Just like my own Dad, I bet He cries when I’m hurting and wants to carry me when my feet hurt too much to walk. I bet He aches when I’m sitting in church praying “HELP, HELP, HELP ME” because I can’t think of any other eloquent words to send up to Him.

Just like my own Dad, I know my eternal Father rejoices in my joys, loves hearing me sing off key, doesn’t care that my house, garage and car are dirty, and that I wear the same wrinkled clothes over and over again.

I know my eternal Father, my Abba Patare loves me. Only He can see into my heart and soul. He is the only one I care about impressing, and only He gets to judge whether I am holy.

I love you Abba Patare. Thank you for your unconditional love. Thank you for bringing me parents who love me unconditionally, so I would learn how to love my children in that beautiful way too.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Acceptance Speech

I will confess, I am obsessed with Red Carpet & Award shows. It’s almost as exciting as Thursdays around here when my People Magazine arrives. I said almost. But I do prepare. I prepare like some of you guys prepare for the Superbowl or the World Series. It’s a calendar entry, and an alarm set on the Batphone. Work stops and I hunker down in a comfy pair of Nappies with whatever nibbles I happen to be obsessed with that particular week.

I love seeing all the movie stars arrive on the Red Carpet in their glamorous gowns, dripping in diamonds and being asked silly questions such as, “Who are you wearing?” I half-listen, but I what I really want them to do is get inside & get the show rolling so I can hear The Acceptance Speeches. That’s why I watch.

I’m always waiting for The Acceptance Speech to end all Acceptance Speeches. The one that is going to rock my world. The one that is going to convince me that Hollywood isn’t completely filled with a bunch of liberal, overindulged and conceited morons. There have been a few good speeches over the years. Mo’Nique was impressive at the Golden Globes this year. She is on the list of The Jodes favorites so far this award season. She may end up in the Top 10. We’ll see, the Big One is on this Sunday, the Academy Awards.

I think it would be fun to be a movie star for a day so I could have a gorgeous gown, be dressed in carats and carats of Tiffany jewels and carry a purse worth more than my current home. I want to have a staff for a day, be pampered, waxed, spa’d and ride in a limo drinking Veuve Clicquot to an awards show. Once there, I’d have to win. I already have my Acceptance Speech.

Recently, I jumped the gun a bit when my CPA said I was in the running for this year’s Client Accountant Award. In my excitement, I thought he said I’d won. So, I sent him off The Acceptance Speech and was sad to learn afterwards I was still in the running. You see, it still comes down to the cookies. So, while the cookies are being whisked by Fedex to Martin Grassi CPA, and while they taste and decide my fate, I’ll let you read The Acceptance Speech.

Let me know if you think if it should come down to a decision based upon the cookies.

Dear Scott Martin, CPA

Thank you for this award!

I would like to begin by thanking all the lazy Americans & illegal immigrants who don't pay their bills, the people who live beyond their means, those who declare bankruptcy when their extravagant lifestyles become too "hard" to pay for, people who suck off the system, get free college for their kids, go to churches & food banks for free food, live on food stamps, use federal funding to support their cigarette, alcohol and drug habits, those who get free medical care for all the exorbitantly expensive medical problems caused by their poor lifestyle habits and excessive pregnancies, and those who won't work a hard, honest job because they make more money on welfare.

I sure don't want to leave out thanking the richer-than-me-liberals (and celebrities who think I care about their uneducated opinions) who have dreamt up all the programs my exhausted, hard working husband is contributing to each day so all the irresponsible and lazy Americans and illegals can enjoy their free ride. They are teaching their spawn to also partake in these idiotic "benefits" and feel entitled to the luxuries of America, because dammit, it's the land of the free. FREE!

All the lazy Americans, illegals and people who feel entitled to "free everything" inspired me to just get the tax refund that is rightfully mine.

So, Scott, I accept the "Honorary 2009 Tax Season Client Accountant" award because I worked myself ragged for the past two months finding & researching every last penny we spent... actually paying our bills, paying for our family medical care, our mortgage, property taxes, fully paying for two children's college bills, charities we donated to, and for the food and other things we bought. Last but not least, for the insurance we paid for ...because we don't expect the federal government to come in and take care of us in the event of something catastrophic.

Love Jodes

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Slap-N-Tickle

Every time we have dinner at Arigato we have to pass the “Slap-N-Tickle” and I just have to laugh. Well, I laugh now. When I was being slapped and tickled in the car wash, it wasn’t all that funny.

Life is like that. Time heals a lot. When we were in the trenches raising two small children, a lot wasn’t funny, it was just plain grueling. We were tired, stressed and overworked. As time has passed, we look back and find ourselves laughing, remembering the antics of Thing One and Thing Two. It’s probably the reason some of us will go through childbirth more than once. The ability of our bodies and minds to overcome, heal and forget. Brilliant, huh?

Now that the Rumputeers are off to college and living their own lives, we miss them dearly. Instead of reveling in the quiet, order and clean, we have The Replacements; two just as needy, and much messier Cockapoo puppies.

We are also so proud we can’t stop talking about them. Them, meaning...who? Both. The kids and the dogs. Nowadays, when we pull out the camera, we have more pictures of The Replacements than the children. When we go out to dinner, it’s the same as when the children were little. We talk about them; the children and The Replacements.

We are still new at being empty nesters. It’s hard to imagine a life not built completely around our children. For me, I don’t feel ready. I’m still tut-tutting, fluffing, nesting and gathering sticks and berries. I anxiously await each return flight of my baby birds to our nest.

Now, we look back and laugh at our lives when we were raising small children. Much like the Slap-N-Tickle car wash I got. I was in neutral, rolling into the self service car wash when my driver’s side window got stuck in the rolled down position. It doesn’t take you long to figure out when faced with this situation that you are going to get wet. Really, really wet. And slapped. A lot.

I was determined to get a good, self service car wash that day and went to the one with the slappy rags. There is not time to unbuckle your seat belt and dive into the back seat once you’ve put your coins in either. I tried. So, I endured. I came out wet, slapped and head-to-toe soapy. On the other side where others were busy pumping gas, I had to open the car door and let out a flood of water and soap suds. Then I had to climb out and shake myself off.

I have to do that a lot.