Archive for January, 2013

Over increments of time as we live our lives day to day, week to week, month to month and year to year, the landscape slowly shifts under us.  Just as the Earth’s axis wobbles a little and each day we move a bit until finally tens of thousands of years from now we’ll be sitting here in the midst of summer now in January in the northern hemisphere, these imperceptible changes occur around us until one day we look up and think, “WTF? When did this happen?”

As a parent and a person I’ve lamented this glacial motion in things like what is acceptable in my movies and TV shows (when did bitch or ass or anything else make it into PG language and do I have to see someone’s butt every time to understand that the couple is in love?), what they cook my fries in (bring back the McDonald’s fries of my youth cooked in wonderful lard that actually tasted like the best fries in the world, please), what constitutes a good book and decent author (when did we forget how to write in English or in complete sentences or about anything other than various forms of dead people?) , or what a company puts out as a quality product (I challenge you to get ANYTHING, a car, a TV, a light bulb,  to last as long as they used to when we seemed to give a crap).

Today my most vocal lament is that of the lack of plain honesty and decency.  For those of us in the US at least the last week has been about the epic drama of Lance Armstrong.   I loved the Tour de France victories and watched every night of every stage on OLN and was just amazed.  When he passed  Jan Ulrich in 2001 on Alpe D’Huez and just blew him away as if he was standing still, my jaw dropped.  The various team time trials by US Postal were legend.  Lance’s impact was epic.  How many of us in the US at least had ever even been interested in cycling, let along the Tour De France over there in Europe before Lance?  Not many.  Heck, he even changed the dialogue about the Postal Service.  You realize “going postal” basically faded away from the lingua franca at the same time as Lance’s star rose on the scene?

So this week we found out it was all a sham.  And the really hurtful thing is how he went about it.  We’ve had public liars before.  Heck, we just elected a bunch of them in November.  Sammy Sosa and McGwire and the other goofballs in the corked bat and juicing days who insisted they were all legit. But Lance took things to a new level when he chose to ruin other people’s lives claiming they were lying when he defended his honor.  Sports writer Rick Reilly was a vehement defender of Lance for years.  He destroyed other cyclist’s careers and took away their livelihood and their money as he sued them, and the guy did it full well knowing he was full of something.

At workplaces it has become common to say one thing to someone and then release a memo early, or throw someone under the bus with a lie to cover your own rear end.  They may lose their job when it really should be you.  We all thought Nixon was a slime ball when he came on TV and said “I am not a crook” only to be revealed later to be just that, but what has become common place these days makes his antics look like kindergarten playground material.  Bernie Madoff and adulterous politicians and lying CEOs are not even looked askance at.  We all puff up and beat our chests and say how horrible Lance is, but in a few weeks he’ll be forgotten and we’ll move on and so will he.

It used to be that when someone did something to besmirch his reputation he was run out of Dodge, never to be heard from again.  Career over, finito, sayonara, no one wants a liar on their team.  Now it’s just assumed and in many spheres even, dare I say, encouraged!?  Is it any wonder that our children move into this culture of deceit earlier and earlier and with more and more arrogant bravado?  So I lied to you about where I went or who I was with or what we were doing.  So what?  What you going to do about it?  I was mortified as a child when my parents caught me in a lie and certainly was embarrassed, ashamed and scared to death when they told others what I had done.  Now it is worn as a badge of honor by some children to sit and share the tales of their deception with their peers and even their elders who will cheer them on for being “creative” or “clever”.

The greater impact is that now it is becoming more and more commonplace to assume that someone is lying and be cynical and skeptical in everything we hear, read and in some cases even see.  These assumptions used to be reserved for used car salesman and lawyers.  Now I have them with my own kids.  Everybody had a stomach ache in my house this week it seems, except me.  I had a conversation with Nan when she contacted me this morning to let me know that not only our daughter who went over there with a stomach ache yesterday, but now our son is claiming it hurts so bad they can’t even think in school.  Are they telling the truth?  Can’t tell, I told Nan, and therefore it becomes the perfect cover.  My sister stayed home yesterday, so I’ll play the tummy card today.  When I was a kid, my parents never batted an eyelash if I claimed I had a stomach ache and could not go to school because we had a clear understanding.  If they caught me in a lie it was not my stomach that would ache but my rear end would very clearly not be a comfortable place to sit for a day or two.  Therefore they were fairly certain that if I said my stomach hurt, it did, and on the other hand I also never said my stomach hurt until I knew I could back it up with evidence like vomiting.  I’m not suggesting a reversion to corporal punishment, but to a society that does not accept this as a matter of course.

As we fast forward back to today, our kids are bombarded by public figures in every walk of life who lie and get caught and live to go on to bigger and better things tomorrow.  Book deals and reality shows and stints on Oprah await those who lie.  Who wouldn’t want that?  I can go talk to Oprah and apologize and go back to my millions of dollars while those whose careers I ruined are flat broke because they can’t work?  Sign me up!  That’s the message our kids see in silent passing every day because of our slow decent into acceptance of something that a hundred years ago would have resulted in scandal and lifetime ruin.  In 1900 I could be a swindler and a cheat because I could move to the next town or state and no one would know me.  My reputation was clean.  Now we have the tools and the power to broadcast to the WORLD in an instant the lying, deceitful reputations of people and it has no impact.  They no longer have to hide.  They can hold their head high and go on Oprah for two nights and help her ratings.

All I can say is “WTF? When did this happen?” Shame on us all.

It is times like these I certainly feel that if I did not have my Christian faith to place my trust in God on I might go throw myself off a bridge.  In the last few months, I have had challenges at my job including some new ones right after the new year, I have people who bought my house chasing me in court and costing me attorney fees, and we just found out our furnace has a cracked heat exchanger.  It seems as if every time I feel like I can breathe, something else lands on my chest again.

I’ve been working hard to keep spirits up and turn things over to God and I’d say I was doing alright but things came to a head this weekend.  I understand that not everyone gets the blessing of time alone with their spouse on a regular basis that we do with the visitation schedules, and maybe that’s why now that we have been doing this for quite some time, I’ve gotten to like it.  So when two of the kids were sick this weekend they wanted to stay here a little longer for various reasons, mainly revolving around they feel more comfortable here than at our exes and who does not want to be as comfy as possible when you’re feeling blah from being sick?  On the other hand, with the challenges at work, I was really looking forward to our time alone as it is probable that it may be a while till we get an uninterrupted weekend again mainly due to both our work schedules.  So I was a little, no, a lot cranky when the news came down yesterday afternoon that we would have some kids still here, and then Bert, who lives about two miles away decided he did not want to drive over twice, cause it’s too far, said to just keep the other kids until he gets the ill one tomorrow, so we’ve ended up with four kids when we should have none.  And hey, they don’t want them by their places because they might get sick, but I guess it’s OK for us to get sick?  I understand common deceny is in short supply, even with exes.

Now the other side of me is mad that I’m mad.  After all, isn’t is a great blessing that the kids want to stay here instead of screaming and yelling how they hate it here (as they are wont to do) and want to never see us again?  Of course it is.  But I like my time alone with my baby!  Sad face.  I know, I know, I’m being two, stomping my feet, looking dejected and taking my ball and going home.  I should grow up.  But it’s hard.  I’ve been blessed with this wonderful woman in my life and I relish our snips of time together when we can just do whatever we want.  Is that so bad?

So I am trying hard to focus again on the positives.  We should get some time this weekend.  The issues at work have died down and everything is working just as it should right now.  The furnace quotes we have received are honestly lower than I was expecting and we’ve got a couple decent options, plus we were told about a $400 credit that our gas company is offering that we were not aware of that can soften the blow some more.  My ex is supposedly ready to sign a settlement on our alimony that is not quite what I’d like, but in war one rarely gets what they want as generals will gladly tell you, so hey at least we get to avoid court costs.  The other issue with the house is moving along as best it can.  Nothing else is going wrong in our lives and certainly we know many others from church or work or other relations that have way more pressing problems that we do.  I’ve got a job, a loving wife, six great kids and a cat and dog who actually can be in the same room together without puffing up, growling or doing other evil eye/cheese touch dog/cat things.  Things are really good.

Now…… if God could only get the sun to come out to melt some of the ice on my driveway so that every attempt to get into the garage would not be an adventure in mountaineering……