Driving ourselves to debt (pt 2)

Hello, my name is Joanna, and I am a Shopper.

OK, I admit, I’m a shoe whore. I also like to be surrounded by pretty things. I love matching dishes and coordinating bedrooms. I prefer to have the perfect weight jacket for the temperature and the most appropriate mode of transportation for my baby (i.e. sling, backpack, jogger stroller, wagon, etc.). Yes, I am part of the problem. I love to shop. I have a credit card balance. (BUT I also buy many things second-hand and I rarely pay full price for anything. I’m just relieved I’m not so materialistic that I just have to have that designer bag or the latest iPhone (I don’t even really know what one of those is.) )

Almost a month ago I began a rant. Now I will finish it.

On my walk to work I pass houses of every economic description. Most are well-kept and beautiful, some are shabby, and some are, well, let’s put it this way, you couldn’t get me to cross their threshold even if the dog chained in the backyard was about to sample my derriere for dinner.

Lawns littered with old swing sets, pools, and discarded toys where no child could safely play. Mud-splattered, plastic Santas smiling pathetically at the cracked Easter bunnies and smashed pumpkins. Old cars, vans, and trucks, tires melting into the mud; no more use than outdoor closets. Through open front doors I see hallways where “stuff” is piled so high and deep a person would have to turn sideways to inch past it. Now, granted, this is (I hope to goodness) the exception, not the norm. (Pack-ratting (is that a word?) is one thing, hording another, but plain ol’ lazy is quite another.)

The difference between this house and, say, mine? My crap’s hidden.

In closets, sheds, attics… the reality is Americans shop and shop and shop. Whether we pitch it all with equal enthusiasm, yard sale it, or stuff it in our multiple storage units (or cars), it is a national pastime. Our credit card debt, our lack of savings, and Suze Ormon on Orpah every week are all testimony to our addiction.

Why do we need so much stuff? A TV in every bedroom? Read a book. A sweatshirt from every tourist trap along the eastern coast? Highlight a map. Four inflatable, light up, jingling Christmas monstrosities that leave your electricity bill and taste in question? Put some (little) lights on a tree.

Unfortunately, Americans will continue to shop and horde until they are completely shopped out and poor. Maybe then life will become more simple.

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It’s like, gag me

It’s the smell of skunk spray immediately after ejection – sickly sweet.

What is that word?

Smarmy. “Revealing or marked by a smug, ingratiating, or false earnestness….”

Yay, that’s it.

The videos at the Democratic and Republican National Conventions are just plain smarmy. Obama’s was OK, but Clinton’s? Lord. I didn’t see Palin’s, but McCain’s was out of control. That irritating movie-announcer-guy narrator. I can’t take it seriously. And the background music! Bleck.

It’s all so… so… American. A pep rally. A tribe of too-earnest cheerleaders yanking on your heart strings. An after-school special (remember those?) – all cheery, cheesy, sappy, and oh-soserious. Just like that skunk spray; so sweet it’s nauseating.

I don’t know why they bother me so much. The word that springs to mind is propaganda: “Ideas, facts, or allegations spread deliberately to further one’s cause.” Put some patriotic music behind some touching pictures, tell the story as if it’s a 1940’s news film and it all becomes more important, more emotional, more convincing.

Call me a cynic, but I’m sorry, it doesn’t work for me. Bring on the hype and I run the other way.

Just the facts, ma’am, just the facts…

Stop the hatred… PLEASE!

Warning: This post contains sarcasm, cynicism and downright anger.

“The answer is: ‘If [she] were a __________, she would have aborted the baby.'”

“What is a dying 12-year old who was raped by her father?”

“Incorrect.”

“What is a Democrat?”

“That is correct.”

According to a lovely lady called Phyllis Schlafly, if Sara Palin, the Republican V.P. nominee, was a Democrat she would have aborted her Down Syndrome baby boy.

WHAT?! That has to be one of the most hateful, offensive, and ludicrous things I have ever heard. I have been fuming ever since I heard this comment yesterday on NPR’s “On Point” with Tom Ashbrook. His website is flooded with comments all expressing a similar rage. Some have criticized Mr. Ashbrook for not immediately challenging this horrendous generalization. My guess is that he was actually unable to due to blacking out momentarily when he fell off his chair in disbelief.

Because Democrats are pro-choice, apparently (according to the religious right) they are pro-abortion, just killing their unborn babies willy-nilly. I heard an interview recently where a man was asked why he was voting for McCain: Because I’m pro-family, he said. Yes, obviously Democrats hate family, which is why they would rather abort than have brats running around who might constitute a family.

This ignorance and pigeon-holing just floors me.

And would someone, please, explain to me how some pro-lifers justify being pro-war? Death is death, is it not? Someone’s baby is being killed, just 18, 19, 45 years after leaving the womb.

Let me just say for the record, I’m not a Democrat (or a Republican) because I’m not a citizen of the U.S. But I am a family-loving, compassionate, intelligent human who believes people who judge others and spread hatred in the name of God (hmm, isn’t that what the terrorists do?) are only damaging their cause and hurting those to whom Jesus (the one I learned about, anyway) would have shown love.

I will say no more…

Why did the rabbit cross the road?

Because he’s afraid of a squirrel.

Huh?
Yeah, I don’t get it either.

Can someone please tell me why a rabbit, one that wears clothes, goes to school, and watches TV would be afraid of the squirrels in the back yard, and furthermore, why aren’t these squirrels also wearing clothes and conversing at the library about their homework with their fellow rodents? What kind of hierarchy is this where not all rodents are created equal?

I’m talking about the PBS show ‘Arthur’. In this cartoon world it appears some animals have evolved beyond others, even those who in the real world, are of a similar species. But what’s even more confusing is the episode where Arthur the aardvark – yes, an aardvark – who wants a pet takes a dog-walking job to prove he’s up to the responsibility of dog-ownership. Now consider that one of Arthur’s gang is also a dog. If you use this reasoning, in Arthur’s world, a human might be seen walking another human on a leash and scooping up its poop in a plastic bag.

I read a book to my daughter the other night where a pig, a sheep, and a cow, all wrapped up in their best winter coats, enjoyed a sled ride driven by… a horse! A human harnessed to the sled might be more logical, but a horse? What audacity! The horse is one of the noblest creatures in this creation and some author has deemed it appropriate to demote him as a slave to a pig.

Now, I could draw a political comparison between these disparities in the cartoon-animal world with that of the poor vs. rich or developed vs. third world. But I won’t. I’ll just continue to be amused and bemused by the rat, rabbit, monkey, aardvark, and cat living and learning in harmony while their squirrel and bird cousins peer wistfully in their windows, cartoon tears in their little cartoon eyes, wondering when it will be their turn.