Organize, ya’ll!

Organizing for the new year?

I know, it seems like it’s a cliche, doesn’t it?  All the stores use January to put organizing items on sale but pump the breaks a second.

Don’t buy immediately, sort and donate first.

Also cliché you say?  Well, I’m here to tell you that most Americans have TOO MUCH stuff. Whether its saving too many plastic grocery sacks, coat hangers, extra t-shirts, or nail polish, everyone has a collection of something that can be edited.  Can you give extra stuff to a friend?  How about donate to Goodwill?  Are there some things that should really be thrown away.

Do that now.

You will breathe easier and have more space.  You don’t need bins to store more stuff you won’t look at in another year.  In case you don’t understand what I mean, I would refer you to George Carlin’s riff on STUFF which is just genius and 100% relevant today.

If you need places to put your “stuff” consider recycling things you already have, like covering cardboard boxes in cool papers or fabrics like THIS.

This was life changing when I found out a better way to store my plastic grocery bags.  These are great for bathroom trash bags, poop scooping, packing lunches and when you have too many, most stores have recycle spots where you can turn them in.  THIS is what I do with them and store them in a coffee can!

One of the most liberating decisions I have made is deciding to work on a capsule wardrobe.  Right now I am in the sorting/donating/inventory phase.  You can find great printables and instructions on my Pinterest board HERE.  Also check out the app STYLEBOOK.  While I haven’t started loading in pictures, this is pretty amazing and will simplify my life in the long run.

Follow along with me as I work through Apartment Therapy’s January Cure.  This gives great, manageable steps to get your shit together without feeling overwhelmed by it.

First task today:  MAH OFFICE

8a9059e7-1184-46ce-bfc2-99494cbc49ac

You can follow along with me on my Instagram page HERE to see my progress and solutions that cost little or no money.  It’s not about buying expensive solutions that just contain more stuff.  It’s about cleaning up what you have and appreciating the purpose of every single thing or getting rid of it.

It’s okay. You can let go of some things.  Let’s do this.

UPDATE:

Done with the office cabinet, now it’s on to my fancy (not really fancy) “library” this weekend.  Hopefully it goes as well!

office

 

Always a Little Wonky

This week’s got me like:

krabs meme

When I started trying to narrow down exactly what it was, my head kept correcting me.  I said “WOW, what a week!” and my head went “You mean, what a month, what a year, what a past few years.”

This is exactly why I have self-esteem issues. 

Let’s ignore for a bit that I talk to myself.  Everyone does that, right?  It’s just sometimes, well a lot of times, life in general is freaking overwhelming.  Between school, being a caregiver, being a mom, trying to be an independent person, doing what I have to and trying to find time for something fun, there just isn’t enough time in the day.

There’s not enough time in the day, y’all.

School is chugging along.  I am having to contend with trying to pass and instructors that will not allow even a comma out of place.  When I am say they won’t allow it, I am saying you fail if you have more than four errors.  BIG FAT F.  That stings, I don’t care how old you are.  I know that I don’t/can’t/won’t edit myself but this is a HUGE stumbling block to trying to get out of this Master’s program.  I have three more months.  Say a prayer to the old gods and the new for me…I just need to be done with some bit of dignity left.

I have been writing about Little Monkey a long time.  Every time I go backwards and look at pictures here, I am reduced to a puddle in the floor.  I have said before, the idea that she will be 16 this summer is mind-blowing.  We are making college dream sheets and planning visits and trying to work out the what/how/where.  It is daunting.  The first two were real clear about what they wanted to do and had real decisions made pretty quickly about where that would be but this one, man, this one wants the sun and the moon.

emma louI’m not kidding.

Little Monkey wants to go to an Ivy League school, become a doctor, apply to NASA and become an astronaut.  I blame Interstellar for this.  She watches this movie all the damn time and can’t stop.  She has been obsessed with the stars for as long as I can remember and taking her to Huntsville last year did nothing to help quell that fire.  It’s my job to encourage her, right?  Despite it being a hard road, despite it being complicated, despite it being such a narrow field…I am the MOM, I HAVE to encourage.  She is pretty much a bad ass, so who am I to say that she can’t do something?  The world takes enough from you.  I am looking forward to her punching the world right in the face and saying NOT TODAY WORLD. (If someone can, it will be her.)

My long list of projects continues to grow.  We got all the carpet pulled up but now can’t decide between all hard wood or partial carpet.  It makes my head hurts.  My table is a little too wobbly for the amount that we use it so we are going to build this pedestal, twice, and remedy that.  That means I need new equipment from Kreg but I will figure that out eventually.  Then there is the painting.  The living room, the bedrooms, the bathrooms, the kitchen, outside stuff…

Did I mention I have a headache?

miss kiwiMy sweet old lady dog hasn’t been doing well.  I knew this would happen, it’s just never something you are prepared for, I don’t care how old you are.  In and out of the hospital for weeks, the ladies at Paws and Claws have been fantastic but I am afraid it’s the beginning of a long struggle.  Today she is happy and I am happy for that.

Summer is coming, that’s something to be happy about, right?

My packed calendar tells me I am wrong.  Truthfully, I am always a little wonky.  Being less busy or less worried about things might make it worse.

How do you keep from loosing your mind these days?  Maybe you can lead me by example. Lord knows, I need it!

 

 

 

Dysfunction, Lies and the Ties that Bind Them

This has been a roller coaster of a year for my family.  Since March I have finished up some really cool cooking classes, learned to make rain barrels (I have 3!), seen some good movies (and some bad ones), had a TON road trips, some archery tournaments and had some really great times with the family.

And then there is the flip side of all of that.

I have had health issues and there have been several family members that are quite ill.  I don’t ever expect that things will be perfect.  The idea of that is an illusion that our society sells everyone from a very young age, and in my opinion its what contributes to people feeling so terrible about themselves.  Social media doesn’t help because people don’t often see the perfect lives someone tells with pictures and think “hey its not real.”

Then someone dies.

I watched the shit show that emerged after a relatives death earlier this year and I just kept telling myself that I am NEVER getting into that again.  EVER.  Then one of my parents became critically ill.  Because it was touch and go for a few days, it seemed to have triggered the “death freak out” response in multiple people and suddenly I was the target of ALL of it.

Sometimes, I can’t catch a break.

Initially, I did not handle it well. I willingly admit that. There was so much crying that I thought I would be perpetually dehydrated.  Then I got angry.  These were people, related to me or not, that knew nothing about my actual life.  It was surface, “how are you doings” in passing, no real participation and feeling.  After a couple of weeks trying to manage my feelings and how hurtful everything that was said actually felt, I woke up one day and pushed it aside.  For some reason, I finally realized that there is so much these judgmental people don’t know or remember.  They are projecting their OWN sickness onto me because they feel so awful.  My favorite part was a phone conversation in which I was instructed to “not get upset and only talk about good memories with them.”

Bells when off.

Good memories?  No, I never snuck out of the house, no I didn’t give up going to college to run away, nope, there are no good memories.  What exists in my childhood space is watching multiple addictions, multiple abuses, embezzlement, arrests, drug use, one of my siblings being whipped in a late night drunk fit, cleaning up food slung all over the floor after a 2 AM fight, taking butcher knifes out of adults hands during 2 AM fights, hiding my siblings in my room so they can feel safe and go back to sleep during those middle of night fights.  Or forcing me to bartend at 12 for all the adults with them.  Or smoking weed with teenagers that KNEW ME that then went to school and told everyone and eventually trying to offer me drugs.  Repeatedly.  Or asking me to sit up in the middle of cocaine fits at 1 AM and just talk.  Those are the memories.  And when I think of THAT life it pisses me off because what I could have had…what was stolen from me.  It also became glaringly obvious to me that a WHOLE lot of lies have been told to hide those things.  People living in the same house don’t know the person I know.  There has been so much time and effort put on spin of the who’s and what’s over the years that it is astonishing.  The degree to which people are willing to judge you from what someone says is also devastating.  There is a spider web constructed over a multitude of things and its beginning to unravel.

I see your sickness.

I have made a couple of trips to visit.  Both of them made me sick when listening the all of the lies being passed around.  How do people look you in the face and lie like its nothing?  I feel nothing but sorrow for the people caught up in it. It is choking them and they can’t see it.  But…I finally do.

Reality is real.

I reminded myself that the reason I have to limit my time in that house is because it makes me sick.  Physically, emotionally, psychically sick to every fiber of my being.  Do you know that feeling?  It’s like your soul and your light are being sucked out of you as every barb, nasty comment and eye roll flies by.  Sometimes it makes me wonder do they every think about how they make someone feel that they are supposed to love?  That’s not love.  It’s some sort of fucked up roll of crap they were handed by their parents paired with the deep need to control and suppress all the real issues while covering the lies they have told. So very toxic.

So I again remind myself.

I didn’t leave that house because being a “rebel” was more important than an education.  Quite the opposite.  So much dysfunction existed that I was never a matter of concern.  I was not asked what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I was not asked if I wanted to go to college.  Back in the Jurassic Period, pre-internet, when you graduate, still a minor in an overseas location on a military base, your sponsor is 100% responsible for anything you will and will not do.  Any communication or information that needs to be received.  Any arrangements to visit a college, meet with a program director, etc. would have to be initiation by the person not the minor.  While I left and entered one of several difficult and painful relationships I have had an an adult, I also left to get work experience and start college.  I knew I had to leave or it would kill me. Literally.  My first suicidal episode was when I was in the 9th grade and no one cared.

Triggers

Going back and having so much in my face this summer, of what its perceived that I don’t do enough of or that I want to “take over things” was very triggering.  It forced me to mentally inventory all of those things that were done to me or in my presence.  It made me have to have conversations with family members and piece other things that I thought I knew but needed missing pieces.  While I never thought I would enter into “self therapy” that ended up exactly what I have had to do the past few months.  I know I can’t do anything about their misconceptions, the lies that were and ARE being told.  I know I can’t do anything about the need to control things that some of them have, or the way the perceived obligation in some minds overrides everything that was ever done to me as a person.  Its weird and its gross but I no longer let it be my problem when its their own sickness.  They can be dysfunctional all they want but I don’t have to participate.

Remember…

You don’t have to just TAKE something because they are family.  If strangers did some of this stuff to you, you would IMMEDIATELY know it was inappropriate and/or call the cops.  You can’t change someone’s sickness, only they can.  Stop trying and give yourself the freedom to be happy.  One of the things I am working on right now is remembering I can make that choice every morning.  I don’t have to put up with the pain and anger.  I can be happy.  Really terrible things happen in life, that doesn’t mean I can’t still be a happy person.  Money and position in society isn’t what makes a person a good person or a happy person.  That comes from the inside.  Trust me.  I saw it this summer…all the privilege and nice “things” around and everyone was angry and toxic and miserable.

Resources

There are many, many great places for help, you just have to use them.  These are some of the places I go for help:

 

A great resource for any mental illness and their care takers  https://www.nami.org

 

The Bloggess is a force of nature and also a great resource for any one battling depression, she has so much great advice but also fearlessly shares her experiences  http://thebloggess.com

 

Sometimes you just need a diversion  http://cuteoverload.com

 

my OWN grass

 

 

 

happiness

 

Everybody Grieves Differently

This month has been weird. My favorite and last surviving grandparent passed away. What typically is a normal part of life felt much different this time to me.

 

I spent most of my time with my grandmother when I was young. Her house was more like my home no matter where I actually lived. Going back there to her funeral did not change that feeling. Even without her now, it was still home and still full of things that remind me of her. She was a teacher and I think I learned more about the world from her than anyone. I can remember writing her a poem when I was in the fourth grade, something goofy about the spring and trees. She loved it, made a huge deal about it and then told me something that utterly blew my mind.

 

“Always remember, poetry doesn’t have to rhyme.”

 

In the fourth grade, that seemed like crazy talk. All the best things rhymed but what could happen if I didn’t have to go by the rules? I wrote and wrote and wrote. I still write now, for some 38 years since and it’s her fault really. There are things to be said and stories to be invented and characters to talk.

 

Thank you Grandma.

 

I have to go now but you are welcomed here any time you feel like being the inspiration. Now I have a murder to plot amongst spies…

Every hero has some weakness…

Originally posted to www.diaryofashieldmaiden.com

Check out the new one from Giles Kristian
Check out the new one from Giles Kristian

Some days it is hard to remember when I wasn’t struggling to get my Warrior to remember something. Then those days come that I have too many things that need remembering in my head and then I forget. HOW IRONIC.

I talk about different ways to help him all the time but one of the easiest ways to help a TBI/PTSD patient work different parts of their brain is to get them to read. Not the easiest thing, granted, but there is really something for everyone out there. It’s worth a shot.

One thing about my Warrior is that he LOVES action (big surprise there) anything. Movies, television, books. One of his favorites is historical fiction books, particularly anything related to other warriors (see a theme here?) I can’t even remember how our household stumbled upon Giles Kristian only that it happened furiously and all at once. It wasn’t possible that we could get enough of him.

Then a funny thing happened…

My Warrior inadvertently became the best fan of Kristian. I don’t say biggest because that’s not really what I mean. I say best because a TBI/PTSD patient is likely the BEST kind of fan because they are constantly setting down books and forgetting where they put them. Sometimes it’s frustrating and sometimes it is hilarious. During our travels, many Kristian books have been left behind in hotels rooms across the country, like some sort of Viking Gideon Bible program. We laugh about it now and imagine all the new fans we have inspired because we leave a book behind somewhere. I can’t remember how many times we have bought each book but it is safe to say MULTIPLE times.

Why keep buying them, you ask?

Because they are just that great. When we first started buying the books, they were not available in the US. I literally would scour EBay after each new release to find which bookstores in the UK and Australia would post them for sale (I bought from both.) When he announced via Twitter that they would be released in the US, we literally had a WOO HOO moment out loud in our house. Now we are hoping for a series of movies based on the books!

Books are the best gifts. Especially Viking books.

One thing my Warrior noticed once we started working on a sleep plan to try to help with the memory loss that sleep deprivation adds to the TBI/PTSD patients problems, was that if he was watching too many of his action/drama type movies, they seemed to activate those parts of his mind that caused the reoccurring nightmares. When I suggested that we switch to reading before bed there was a dramatic decrease in those nightmares. But what happened when he began reading the Raven series was something different altogether.

He was excited to read.

There are a great number of things I could say about the way Kristian writes but largely, for our household, the greatest thing is how he so richly captures the life of a warrior. There are sad and terrible events, but there is bonding, friendships and loyalty. More importantly, he deftly depicts the HONOR. Too many times Warriors return from any number of conflicts and are not revered or cared for. Sadly this continues but one thing so prevalent in Viking culture and shines through Kristian’s stories is the honor in which these warriors live their lives.

I would recommend reading any and all of his books. There are often social media contests in which you can win book copies (both of us have each won once) and you will not be disappointed in any of them. I had the great privilege of previewing his short The Terror and as usual it is full of fierce loyalty, warrior competiveness and love. What is better than that?

That’s right, NOTHING.

So pick up a copy, or two, of the Raven series for a Warrior you know. Check out The Terror HERE. You will be glad you did.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

A New Mission

Screen Shot 2014-11-09 at 6.35.48 PM

 

 

As many of you that follow me might know, I am caregiver to a disabled Veteran.  I have talked about TBI & PTSD pretty regularly but because of a few people reaching out to me for more information, I have decided to work on a blog specific to that issue.  While there may be issues that overlap between that blog and this one, it will be primarily geared to the journey of a caregiver.  I also will be blogging on the work on my novel from last year’s NaNoWriMo, SWITCH, which I have decided to pursue adapting to a screenplay.

All without trying to lose my mind.

I can do it, right?

If you are interested in following there, the blog is Diary of A Shieldmaiden with an associated Tumblr and Twitter account.  While my blog links will post to both of those, just like my personal accounts, there will be entirely different content on the Tumblr & Twitter accounts so you guys don’t get crazy bored.

As always, thanks you guys, you are just so awesome!

 

 

 

What makes a book a classic?

Towards the end of every year I work on my list on intentions.  I do this no matter what and I work on those lists all year because, well, I just don’t want to be the kind of person with a larger list of regrets than accomplishments. classics

I know that over the next year, one of the things I was going to put on my list was “read all the classics.”  The more that I thought about that though, the more difficult it became to figure out WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?  What makes something a classic?  Is it the time that has passed in direct ratio to it being considered influential?  You can break it up into time periods: Pre-Civil War, Industrial Age, Antiquities, Vintage, Contemporary, Romantic, Greek, and on and on and on.  Is it if it became popular?  Or banned?  What about great YA or Sci-Fi?

See what I mean?  OVERWHELMING.

If you over think it, you can even be genre specific.  For example, a classic horror novel would be The Shining or Carrie, wouldn’t you agree?  Actually, you could do an entire list on Stephen King! the shining

What would be on your list of classic books?

There is a great Tumblr called Teaching Literacy and if you aren’t following it you should be.  They had great suggestions and a link to a starter list that you should check out.

King novels

 

But what if you are a book person?

My biggest issue is most of what people would recommend, I have already read.  I was lucky to have teachers for grandparents so a love of books was instilled early.  Growing up overseas, I got to visit so many inspirational places that many writers frequented all over Europe.  There is nothing like going to Stratford-Upon-Avon to study Shakespeare or reading The Prince before visiting Florence, Italy.

I am very, very lucky.

But I know there are things I have missed.  While I have only finished sections of it, one of my first to finish this month is The Art of War.  There are a number of political theory books I want to revisit and Shakespeare plays I want to go through. I am thinking of going back through Rice’s Lestat series and then move on to more traditional things I may have missed.  When you have read most Steinbeck by the age of 13, it’s hard to find things to put on the list.  No matter how hard I try, most of what has ever been on Oprah’s lists, I just don’t care for.  Same for the Nobel Prizes…just didn’t love The Goldfinch the way I hoped I would.

 

leather bound

So tell me, what is on your list?  What is a book you continue to recommend to people?  Has it changed, as you have gotten older?  My tastes have always been crazy eclectic.  If you like horror, I again and again recommend The Historian.  I devoured that book.

In case you are interested, here are a couple of lists I found.  Enjoy!

Cult Classics

25 American Classic Books to Read

100 novels everyone should read

30 Books you should read before you’re 30

23 Books You Didn’t Read in High School But Actually Should

The 30 Comic Books You Should Have Read

The Godzilla Anti-Review You Need

Godzilla-1024x539

 

Here we are again, talking about how much I love monsters.  I hope you stick around rather than rolling your eyes, but either way, I have something important to say.

 

Stop reading movie reviews.

 

I will have to say that I have been thinking that for a very long time.  It makes me sad for the people that DO read them, BELIEVE them and choose to make movie-going decisions based on them.  Sad mostly because they are rarely right.  Most times I disagree with them but the “critics” that I have seen reviewing Godzilla have taken the hate to an entirely new level.

 

How do I see a completely different movie?

 

My calendar has been marked as long as the release day was available.  My plans to see the movie set and tickets purchased in advance, much as I do with any movie that I REALLY want to see in the theater.  Nothing that “film critics” and “movie reviewers” were saying would change that but I couldn’t help feel like what they were saying was shaping up to sound a lot like what was said about the OTHER Kaiju movie I liked so much.

 

You know, because, the Internet.

 

I grew up during a time when there was still black and white movies shown on TV regularly.  I had to get up and turn the knob to change the channel and giggle the rabbit ears so the picture was a little clearer.  During those pre-remote, pre-digital times, monsters battling and smashing things was a high form of entertainment.  I didn’t see those old movies with the eyes of a millennial thinking that the effects were cheesy and the plots not cerebral enough.

 

Who cares when there are monsters?

 

Most reviews I have read of Godzilla recently have missed the point of the movie or outright misrepresented things in or not in the movie, presumably after reading someone else’s review.  Come on, when some of you post virtually the same sentences as other reviewers, aren’t you possibly COPYING someone else’s opinion rather than distilling your own?

 

Here is what I know about Godzilla

 

mothra

 

Godzilla 2014 is a beautifully executed homage to the Godzilla vs. Mothra type movie of my childhood.  I wish I had a bowl of Fruit Loops when I was leaning forward watching these beasts fight.  The story of the Brody family was both heart breaking and enduring as the next generation picks up the pieces post-Kaiju devastated San Francisco.  Hands down the best character to emerge from the movie is that of Dr. Ichiro Serizawa (Ken Watanabe.)  Serizawa is our bridge to the past.  He articulates all those things that Godzilla movies traditionally echo.  We are out of balance, Godzilla sets that right again.  His love and respect of this creature is palpable and I found myself rooting for Godzilla right along with him.

 

Thank you Gareth Edwards.

 

I so profoundly appreciate you getting this movie right.  I watched Godzilla thinking, “Wow, he gets it, he really, really gets it.”  As a long time military brat, I sincerely appreciated the accuracy you tried to add to military interactions and scenarios.  Having recently finished a novel in which I wrote a HALO scene, I particularly enjoyed you showed what its like for the soldiers waiting to jump.  Each of them locked in their own private ritual was an important, accurate, depiction for someone like me who notices such details.  Speaking of which, I also really enjoyed the precise attention to detail in which military planes, air craft carriers, etc. were depicted geographically where they would most likely operate, i.e. your use of the Edwards AFB on the tail of planes flying in northern California and Nevada area.  Well done!

I hope there are more Kaijus to come from you and I have the opportunity to make you take my money again.

 

BRAVO!

Work In Progress

I envy writers that stick to the same genre for their entire career.  I don’t know how they do it but it must get annoying after a while trying to only be that one thing.  I am not good at that. Some days I am a super nerd, others I am a political activist.  Once in a while my family really pisses me off or my kid makes me super proud.

If you follow me on Twitter, this is no surprise to you.

I get nasty messages and drop followers pretty regularly as a result.  I wish I had a way of imparting instantly on any one that comes across me on the web (or IRL for that matter) how cool I am but it’s just not possible.  Some days, depending on how I wake up, it makes me feel terrible.  Most days, I just don’t care.  I have had a crazy life and if there is one thing that I know for sure is that I can’t try to be everything to everyone.  There will always be someone who doesn’t like me.

Really, it’s their loss.

This week I started my next novel.  Although I have several things in the works, none of them are the same genre and this current project is a memoir.  ::collective gasp::  While it seems a little weird, it’s not really if you hang around me long enough.

It started with one NaNoWriMo.

My first NaNo I didn’t finish.  My second one I did and that is the one that really sent my mind into overdrive.  I have written since the fourth grade, poetry mostly, and often felt I could never tell a LONG story, much less write a novel.  I mean WHO DOES THAT?  But once I finished my first novel (it is chick lit) suddenly there where a million stories I wanted to tell swimming around in my head.

Next it was short erotic tales that found a publisher and a loyal fan base. I don’t even remember how they found me or I found them but one became seven or eight.   And I made MONEY!  Later came short stories for kids because I wanted to do something for my littlest monkey that I posted to Amazon. And I made MORE MONEY!  The next NaNo effort resulted in a Young Adult Sci-Fi book that I didn’t finish but still intend to get back to after a while.  After that, one of the characters from my erotica stories became another finished NaNo project because she just wouldn’t stop talking to me. Then this past year, my newest novel is a dramatic military-veteran-returns-for-one-last-mission ball of awesome. It is with my long time editor now and I already have a couple of competitions where it will be headed after that.

Now a memoir.  Is that weird?  Probably.

I am doing it not really because I am important to other people.  I mean, I KNOW I am important to some people but for the most part, I don’t seem special.  It’s mostly because I happen to be blessed with one of those really messed up lives.  I have never read a book that shows what my kind of messed up can be or how it can shape a person.  Sometimes there is a chapter or two that I can identify with but not a whole book that says, “all the bad things are bad but you can be better.”

That’s mostly what it’s about.  You can be better no matter what.

Everything I have written was the story that came to me at the time.  Its unconventional but 100% me.  (We covered that already, remember?)  I am totally okay with it too.

So tell me…

What about you?  Do you pursue multiple creative adventures or do you stay in one lane?

Fear Not or Fear All

Life is funny.

You go through things and scream and cry and lament them all but some things, some very important things build on top of each other and ultimately shape the kind of person you become.  Its not always good, but it is a fact of how things work.

I am a liberal.  Flaming if you must.  In a political science class in college we took a test “Are you a Democrat or a Republican?” and on a scale of 1-10, Jane Fonda is a 1.  My score?  A ZERO.  Not even kidding, I came up further to the left than Jane Fonda.  Sit with that a moment.

I also am a long time military brat.  From birth to about the age of 35, I lived much of that time on a military base, either as a dependent daughter or dependent spouse.  I lived in West Germany prior to the wall coming down and went to school with armed guards riding on my bus.  There were bomb threats.  There were deaths because of bombs.  I learned before the age of 14 that you had to look under your vehicle for “suspicious packages.”  Fast forward to my adult life and I know the panic the sound of a doorbell can incite.  I have seen the multiple cars pull into my street to ring those bells and deliver the news of the death of a loved one.  On 9/11 I was promptly locked in on post where I lived in Hawaii and my dad in Texas was sent to New York to help rebuild communication systems there for the government.  It took weeks and it was both sad and stressful.  Many moons ago, I became acutely aware of the majesty and shear terror that NSA embodies.  As spouse to someone who was in intelligence at the time, the credit union we used was on that campus.  When you see photos of the green/black glass box of NSA, you will see the wing off to the left.  Each time I would park and walk through the maze of concrete barriers, massive fences and concertina wire, I was VERY aware of the fact that I was being watched as soon as I drove up.  For each step through each layer, even after the approximately ten steps it took me to get in the front lobby and turn left into the credit union and after.  I know they do things I don’t like but I also know that people are doing that all around the globe.  That changes who you are.

I am always shocked when I see stories about the TSA and the furor over the body scanners and anything else the government does.  Yesterday there was a massive information dump about NSA…from phone monitoring to social media data mining.  Everyone is freaking out and it has just made me laugh with the humor in that.  HOW DOES ANYONE THINK THIS ISNT ALWAYS HAPPENING?  Seriously, there are viruses and hackers, how do you think ANYTHING you do online is secret or protected?  Granted there are ways to go incognito, hide and in general shield yourself but many people don’t know how, or don’t think to do that most times.  You guys know photos contain info when you post them, right?  You know I can Google you, not just your name but your most used email addresses and usernames, and instantly see anything you are talking about or have been recently?  Do you know how frequently you are filmed on any given day?  Why would you think that the government would not be doing the same?

In times such as these, I am reminded there is a lot people don’t think about from our history.  Most of you know about the Tuskegee experiments (I hope) and maybe Guatemala?  Do you know about our long-standing and still occurring involvement in Latin AmericaJ. Edgar Hoover?  Maybe because those things didn’t effect you or your family personally you didn’t notice the over reach?  Maybe some were so long ago you don’t consider them relevant?  Have you ever seen the map that shows where we have troops currently?  If not, your best guess is what, four countries?  HAHAHA.  Try 162 countries. What exactly do you think our “mission” is in that many countries?  We live in a global society even when we don’t view it that way, it continues.  Post-9/11, it is even more so.  You can shake your fists at the idea, you can march, protest, etc. but the reality is, you will not stop the collection of information at this scale unless you shut down the Internet and cell services.  All in for that, raise your hands?

In the 80’s on AFN, a series of Op Sec commercials would run daily to indoctrinate civilians and military members and keep you from giving out information.  Every time I see something reported on the news, I cringe when details are broadcast because it affects a lot more than you can imagine.  I felt the same cringe when the details of the current NSA programs were released. As much as you have people leaking information you will continue to have a government bureaucracy that will collect it.  It happened before Bush and will continue after Obama.  It has zero to do with what party is in power because there is support from all sides.  Despite my liberal leanings, after attending a weeklong training in security policy one year, I understand why it’s done the way it’s done.  It is irrelevant if I agree.  If you don’t use diplomatic and super secret squirrel methods more frequently, that means boots on the ground in other countries, which increases the instance of something going bad really fast.  I think that “boots on the ground” don’t matter to a lot of people.  There is a lot of flag waving and yellow ribbons but not a true understanding of what happens to the men and women in those situations.

We will not end terrorism.  It is just as naïve to think that, as it is that you will prevent the government from monitoring whoever they please.  There are people that live with bombs going off every day in their countries and then there is each of the citizens in the US, who are always so surprised when it happens here.  I am never surprised when it happens, only surprised that it’s not more frequently.  I guess that’s why I don’t get twisted about this stuff.  If someone needs to monitor, in whatever form, some guy in my neighborhood because they think he is plotting a terrorist crime, I am okay with that.  I have kids, I want to protect them.  Most people would say the same thing to you.

A very wise professor once told a group of activists that you are often already on a “watch list” when you belong to any special interest group because you are actively working to change some particular policy.  The government believes that these groups are where extreme beliefs can spark.  I don’t disagree with that because over the years historically, you can point to that in a number of countries.  He went on to list some such as NOW, NARAL, LULAC, and NAACP and told stories of how he found out he was on a watch list.  Having belonged to some of these organizations and many others, I was hearing what I already knew.  It didn’t matter if I opposed this treatment.  It didn’t change the fact that I would still work groups and push for the causes that I felt most important.

All up in arms about government monitoring?  Support candidates that vow to get rid of it.  Oh and please, let me know when you find one that will actually do it.  I would love to work for them too.