Monthly Archives: March 2016
Are you all just totally, completely, utterly sick of me writing about my big, stupid divorce? I could be wrong about this because you all may hate Divorce Marge more than you hate black licorice jellybeans – I can’t do licorice-flavored anything because of a horrible, horrible experience with absinthe, which tastes like black licorice, in case you were curious – but I bet you aren’t half as sick of my big, stupid divorce as much as I am. Good God.
We are in month, uh… Wait… Nine. I could’ve popped out a fourth kid by now. And the court still hasn’t given birth to this damn divorce. Think about that. What, you think I’m kidding right now? Think about that. You could have a child in less time than it takes you to get divorced.
This is the section where I attempt to impart a little bit of wisdom on the masses. You better make damn sure that the person you’re marrying is someone you can stand until the day one of you keels over because divorce will take you to a level of crazy that pregnancy hormones could only imagine. Pregnancy and kids will test any relationship. Divorce may well be the result if you fail the test, and if you have a contested divorce, it will more than likely take at least a year. So just think about that. You could take part in creating new life and see it come into the world in less time than it will take to drive a stake through the heart of your blood-sucking marriage.
Wow, bitter much, Marge?
I’m glad you had that thought because I’d like to disabuse you of it. I have been bitter. Parts of me still are, at times, but I’m getting through it. As you do. You pick yourself up, smack the dust off your ass, and keep walking. Your pride probably hurts a little bit because hey, you just fell on your ass with a whole bevy of people watching, but it could be worse. It can always be worse. You can’t let it get to you forever.
I’ve been feeling a lot better about my life lately. Because it could be so much worse. I could have shitty friends or no friends at all. I could have an unsupportive family or no family at all. One of the kids could be chronically sick or handicapped or some other awful thing. But none of those things are true. The kids are healthy, I have a great family, and I have great friends who will travel a lot of miles to come and see me.
Now, does that mean I don’t want the monkey off my back? God, no. I hate monkeys, and this one is especially bothersome. We’ve reached a stage of the divorce process where the ex’s pettiness is really starting to shine through. We had an update hearing today, and the good news is that we finally have a trial date.
The bad news is that it isn’t until the third week of June. The earliest we could’ve gotten in was May anyway, and I know why we’re doing it, but honestly. And the ex has come down to fighting with me about his damn wedding ring, which I still have. It’s worth less than $100 at a pawn shop. He took back my diamond, and I’m sure it’s long gone. He told me to keep the ring, but damned if he doesn’t want it back now. I mean, I’ll bring it to court and set it down on the table. Like I want it. It’s just hanging around because I’ve never bothered to do anything with it.
But that’s where we’re at. We’re dealing with this kind of petty horse shit because he refuses to give up control. Anything he can do to manipulate in some way. And it’s dumb. This shouldn’t be taking that long. I’m not a millionaire. The facts of the case, at least on my side, are established. He hasn’t turned over shit, but hey. Details.
The point of this all is that for all he says he wants it done, he will drag this thing out and make it as obnoxious as possible. I have no idea what the judge will decide at the end of it all, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he drags his feet signing the papers, but the final result will be the same: divorce.
And I am so ready. God bless, I am so ready.
Dark parts of your life are a funny thing. You feel like you’re staggering around in a foggy night. You’re driving 35 on the highway because you have no idea what’s ahead of you. You might rear end another driver or there might be a monster just outside of your peripherals, and it’s frightening. It’s depressing. And it wears you down. You’re perpetually exhausted, and you wonder if you’ll ever seen the sun rise to burn off the mist. You become the walking dead.
And then one day, for no particular reason, you start to see what looks like a light on the horizon. It might be another car traveling in the opposite direction, but you hope to God that it’s daybreak. It’s still shadowy all around you, but you start to have this tiny little sliver of hope that soon it’ll be over.
And then finally, one day, for no particular reason, it’s morning. And you sit up in bed and realize the whole thing is over. You’re awake, and it’s morning.
That’s how I feel right now. It’s morning. I don’t feel like a zombie blindly staggering along a road to nowhere. I feel like I’ve got my hands on the wheel again, and I’m actually paying attention to where I’m going.
And in the words of O.A.R. (“You would like O.A.R., Marge,” said Adrienne sarcastically. I actually have no idea what that means, as a commentary on my personality, except that perhaps I am some sort of douchebag, judging from overall tone), I am so moved on in every single way. I am completely indifferent to the ex, in the sense that I don’t care at all if he has a girlfriend or a harem or whatever. Now I know a lot of times when people say that they don’t care, they really do. I genuinely don’t.
He says he’s had “successes” (his words) with other women. Great. Good for him. Glad to hear it. Maybe that’ll help him move on. Does it hurt my feelings? Not in the slightest. What he does with his personal life is no longer any business of mine, especially given that he has no physical contact with the kids.
The kids are the only thing I care about, and I’m a realist about that. He’s not going to pay child support or come and see them. Or if he does, I’ll be shocked.
But as far as what he does with himself… Yup, no feelings there. I double-checked.
I want the papers signed. I want to be able to go on a date, should the opportunity ever present itself. (Graeme, if you’re reading this, it hasn’t, so don’t get in a lather to call your attorney.) I don’t want him to be able to manipulate things through the court. I don’t want to get surprise petitions the day before a hearing. I just want to go along my merry way. I want to be free.
Believe it or not, this might be the most frustrating phase of the divorce. You’re moved on. Physically, emotionally, and financially, the real separation is done. You are really and truly apart, and you know that there isn’t going to be some wondrous, Hollywood reconciliation where you both realize that you’ve loved each other the whole time. If it weren’t for the kids, you’d treat him as a stranger if you saw him in the street. No nod, no smile, no angry death glare, no acknowledgment. You just keep walking. Because it’s over. In everything but name, it’s over.
And it’s morning.
Yes, I’m talking to you. You, the one who doesn’t pay child support on time or, you know, ever. You, the one who tells his kids that you’re going to be there for visitation and then doesn’t show up. I’m talking to you!
Do you have some lame-ass excuse about why you can’t support your kids? The kids that you supposedly wanted? Well, you know what my grandpa used to say: excuses and alibis ring up “No Sale!” every time. Lost your job? Get another one. Not making enough money? Work harder, get promoted. Can’t work? There are very few people who are actually completely unqualified to work.
But you know what? I’ve heard some golden excuses about why there’s no child support coming. “You initiated the divorce. I’d be willing to help you if we were still married.” “Well, how am I supposed to get remarried and have a new family when I’m paying half of my salary out for the ones I already have?” “I can’t stand you, so I’m not going to do anything to help.” Yes folks, I have had those first two said to my face. And he was serious. Oh, and spoiler: he didn’t contribute shit financially while we were married either, so something tells me that the first excuse was probably just a baited line.
Guys, if you have a kid, whether or not you were married to the child’s mother or whether or not you wanted it, you are responsible! Period. End of story. If you are man enough to get married or man enough to be out sluttin’ around, you are man enough to accept the consequences of your actions. Your responsibility to your children has exactly nothing to do with how you feel about your kid’s mom. You can hate her fucking guts. She can be the craziest bitch this side of the nuthouse. But guess what? That doesn’t absolve you of any and all responsibility. It absolves you of exactly no part of that responsibility.
And a word about visitation. There are some women, I am fully aware, who will intentionally try to prevent fathers from seeing their kids, even when they want to have a meaningful part in their kids’ lives. That is sad and disheartening and shitty. Because I realize that there are good guys out there who really want to be in their kids’ lives. But for those of you who can’t be arsed to make the effort: fuck you.
If you’re the guy who says he wants visitation, tells you the time and place, and then fails to show – especially if we’re talking about multiple occasions – then fuck you. If you never make the effort in the first place, fuck you, too. But I honestly have a special “fuck you” for the guys who say that they love their kids, want the best for them, and would do anything to be part of their lives and still don’t show up.
Do you realize how hurtful that is to your kids? How confusing for kids to hear that you love them and want to see them and then be incapable of making a simple, 30-minute time commitment once every week or two to them. Do you really think that makes your kids feel good about your relationship? Do you think that it doesn’t hurt them? It does. So when you ask people out loud later why your kids won’t give you the time of day, think back on all the times you let them down and showed your true feelings with your actions.
For my part, I hate that I have to continually tell my kids that their dad isn’t going to be there. He makes “appointments” to see the kids, which we do via Skype because he’s in the U.K., and at least 50% of the time, he doesn’t show up. There’s always some stupid excuse, and the kids, especially the oldest, are disappointed. I hate having to explain to them that Dad isn’t going to be there again. I don’t have any excuses, and I’m not going to make any up. I don’t paint it in a mean light, but I’m not going to lie to them, either. They’re going to be old enough before long to see the writing on the wall.
And I hate that it has to be that way. To hear him tell it, he was Father of the Year. Father of the Year doesn’t flee the country and then refuse to do any damn thing at all for his kids beyond sitting in front of a computer once a month to say hello. If he doesn’t have anything else to do. “I have a life, you know.” The mind boggles.
So if this is you, if what I’ve laid out above sounds like something you’d do, you’re a fucking deadbeat, and you suck. You give men a bad name. You’re the reason that good women turn into crazy bitches. You’re the reason that your kids don’t care about you.
If you can’t handle responsibility or behave like a decent human being if things go south with the ex, you should not have kids. You shouldn’t. You should wrap it up every single time you put your equipment near a woman. (You should probably do that, anyway. I know way too many people who have gotten STDs from not doing that when they were out on the ho stroll. Be a slut, but don’t be a dirty slut.) And if you decide that you want kids, you should ask yourself some serious questions and give yourself some serious answers. Because if you aren’t ready for a solid 18 years of financial commitment and a lifetime of emotional commitment, just back on up and roll on out.
I know there are good guys out there. I do. And I’m honestly not a man-hating cunt monster from hell. But I do hate men who have 101 excuses, not one of them good. I do hate it when men run out on responsibility or decide that they are somehow no longer responsible because things didn’t turn out the way they thought it was supposed to.
And for the record, I also know that there are irresponsible, shitty mothers out there who run out on their kids. They can suck it, too. If you leave your kids high and dry, you are a shitbag. Period. End of story.
So to all the deadbeats, shitbags, assholes, and the reliably unreliable idiots who can’t read a damn clock, fuck you. Fuck you hard. I hope yellow-bellied Chinese weasels gnaw on your genitals while you sleep.
Kindly get bent,
I think this must be my week for politics and religion, two topics that common sense and experience would indicate are not really the greatest for public forums or dinner parties. But with the advent of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, everyone is a pundit now, and at this particular stage of the game, it seems like everyone is blowing up my news feeds with their opinions.
Actually, I scored a minor victory – very minor – from my last foray into the cesspool of Facebook political commentary. My friend’s boyfriend, a bleed-blue Bernie boy, admitted after I posted some quote by George Carlin today, that he could finally see why I reject the concept of society. He’s still voting for Bernie, but he saw it. I’ll take it – I’ll take five! Usually they start frothing at the mouth when I tell them that society isn’t real. Way too much cognitive dissonance with that one.
But tonight my gripe isn’t so much with politics, and I’m not going to gripe the whole time. What sort of set me off is this acquaintance of mine that I met in Korea. She married a friend of my ex-husband’s, and they live in the Middle East. She is a “devout” Christian, in that I guess she reads the Bible pretty frequently and she has managed to defend the faith against the Muslim hordes. Or something. She’s a nice enough person, but she loses me with the religion thing.
She threw me off a fucking cliff tonight. She started posting about abortion and how it’s murder and blah, blah, blah. I will readily admit that I am personally somewhat conflicted about abortion. It’s the one topic that I’ve never been able to fully slice through personally, and that’s primarily because you can make a logically sound argument going in either direction, from a libertarian standpoint. I suppose to some degree, I’ve made up my mind, and I’ll let your mind wander with that because that’s all the further I care to go into that discussion. I absolutely think abortion should be legal. No debate there at all.
But this chick? Man, it’s all legislating morality, abortion is murder even if it’s the product of incest or rape, and oh hey! Would you like to see a picture that will make you lose your lunch while you’re innocently scrolling through the news feed? Would you like a side of brimstone and crazy to top off your barf? Fuck.
The subject of the post, however, isn’t abortion – it’s religion. I have had an uneasy relationship with religion for most of my life. I was fortunate in that my grandparents never made me go to Sunday school, confirmation – none of the standard religious garbage that most kids in this part of the world went through as a rite of passage. I knew that my grandma belonged to one of the Methodist churches, but she never went. She stopped going to church after my mother died. All the more she ever really said to me was that she thought the real Hell was here on Earth. My grandpa belonged to the Lynnville Christian Church, and he rarely spoke about his faith. To an outside observer, it probably appeared that he had none. I remember being incredibly surprised when, for a school project about WWII, I asked him what he would have taken with him, had he been sent to a concentration camp. He told me a picture of his mother and the Bible. I remember questioning him about it, and his answer was, “There are no atheists in the foxholes.” (He was wrong on that point.)
I did go to church for a time, but it was mostly because my best friend went, and she went because she had to: her dad was the pastor. (That whole thing about pastors’ kids being wild is true, by the way, in my experience.) I went and I pretended to pray, but I didn’t care. I never felt any kind of relationship with the God they were talking about in the Bible, and I asked all kinds of jackass questions in Sunday school. I was that kid – the one that didn’t really believe and wanted to make sure everyone else knew my real thoughts on the matter. By the time I was 14, I was reading Nietzsche, Bertrand Russell, and just about any other atheist philosophy I could get my greedy little hands on. By the age of 16, I was laughing in my sleeve at the pious around me.
I remained a devoted atheist for a lot of years. I had exactly zero use for organized religion, God, Jesus, Mohammed, Moses – none of it. I considered that anyone who found comfort in the thought of an afterlife was a delusional fool. I thought going to church and praying was approximately as useful as trying to pan for gold in your own shower. I was an arrogant atheist – and arrogant is the right word to use because I made my opinions on the subject known. I would laugh at people who told me they went to church and believed they had been saved by Jesus.
And where am I today? Well, that’s a hard question for me to answer because I’m not honestly sure. I suppose “agnostic” would be the best overarching term because I think that overall, I do believe in some sort of “something” that comes next, but I am willing to accept the possibility that this is all there is. I have had enough spooky experiences to rule anything out for certain, regarding an afterlife.
Where God is concerned, however, I do not believe there is a god that is concerned with our daily garbage. I do not think Jesus was the savior; he didn’t meet the requirements according to Judaism, and Christians seem fond of forgetting that, assuming he was even real, dude lived and died as a Jew. I actually don’t hate Judaism, as far as the interpretation of the nature of God goes. I am devoutly non-Zionist though, so I’m afraid there’d be tarring and feathering at the average synagogue for someone with that “issue.”
Overall, I just find organized religion to be a sham. For one thing, it picks your pocket. George Carlin summarized it pretty well: “God is all-knowing, all-powerful, and he needs MONEY!” My grandpa always used to say pretty much the same thing. He didn’t have much use for clergymen. I also don’t like the hatred it seems to incite for others with different beliefs. Christians hate Muslims, Muslims hate Christians and Jews, Jews hate Muslims, and Buddhists apparently have some fucked up sects, too (see Happy Science for details). It’s just a means of control. Politicians use it to manipulate people, and it works. People really believe that some invisible dude on a cloud is more important than their own neighbor. It scares me, how far people are willing to go in the name of God. Also, seriously. Why would you want to belong to a group that has a guy hanging from a piece of wood by two nails as your mascot?
I feel like religion makes judgmental assholes out of people. Like this girl I know. She’s basically a nice person. She likes animals too much, and she’s vegan now, which I just can’t get behind, but she’s not hurting me. Her religion isn’t hurting me either, but I’m dumbfounded by the amount of venom and utterly baseless bullshit that spews forth from her mouth when she really gets going. And it’s not even logical. Maybe I would respect it a bit more if it at least made some kind of sense.
But it doesn’t. It’s like she and people like her are using their religion to justify the baser aspects of their nature. Or maybe religion makes you that way more than you normally would be. Maybe it’s both. When I see someone telling members of their own family that they’ll have to stand before God and explain themselves though, it leaves a foul taste in my mouth.
When someone tells me that I’m going to have to atone for my actions before God, it infuriates me, but I can stand my ground and calmly tell them that if that hour ever comes, I’m happy to do it. I know I’m not perfect, and I know that I have done bad things and made mistakes and hurt people. But I know why I believe what I do, and I am not ashamed of myself or the way I have lived my life. The actions she would condemn me for and for which I will supposedly have to account have brought me great experience, laughter, pleasure, and fun. So if I have to stand up some day and apologize for living in order to attain perfection or what-have-you, they can send me back for one more round because there’s a lot of shit that I’ve done that I’d do again fifty times more and with greater vigor. I can’t be doing with this hell and furies.
I think the thing that bothers me the most about it all is that she would take away the right for me to live that life. What business is it of hers if I want to drink a fifth of bourbon, smoke an ounce, blow rails off a hooker’s tits, raw dog a guy in a public bathroom, and light off firecrackers at three a.m.? I don’t care if she wastes her Sunday mornings praying to Jeebus for redemption for wishing her husband hadn’t gotten so damned unattractive.
That’s where the problem is, see: she thinks that she has the right to dictate my life to me, whereas I know I don’t have the right to dictate to her about hers. She would fight me to the teeth to take away my rights, the ones that allow to do whatever the fuck I want, so long as I’m not hurting anyone else. And I would fight just as hard to preserve both of ours, even though we share rather few major moralities in common.
In an odd sense, I find myself sometimes thinking that libertarianism is actually the most “Christian” philosophy. They talk about turning the other cheek and not judging. Well, being a pacifist, by and large, I turn the other cheek. Every fucking day. And I will defend everyone’s right to say what they want to say, even if it offends. I will stand up and defend everyone else’s right to live their lives as they see fit, providing it doesn’t infringe on anyone else’s basic rights. And I know full well that they would never do the same for me.
That is something that damned few people in this world today will do. Whether it’s because someone else is too conservative or because another person is too gay or too much of a libertine or whatever, most of them will gladly throw the other group under the bus. They want everyone else to assimilate to them. I don’t give a fuck about that because I know damned well that basically nobody else is going to assimilate to my way of thinking. But I will keep the space available for them not to. And you know, the foundation of that, of not forcing people to be like you, of letting them live their own lives and discover things for themselves, is peace and love. That’s all I want. I want to live my own life and be left alone.
Shockingly, Twin Peaks’ (an utterly awesome show, in my mind, if you’ve never seen it) character Albert Rosenfield puts it together rather well. If you watch the series, he’s a real jackass (I love him), but it turns out that he’s a pacifist as well. Which is interesting, because a true pacifist must necessarily be a libertarian (of the anarchic bent) and must also necessarily abjure government. And Albert works for the FBI. LOLz. I see what you did there, David Lynch.
So I’m going to leave you with Albert’s little monologue from season 2. This scene shocked me and made me laugh, and then I realized that there’s more than a little bit of Albert Rosenfield in this cranky old an-cap. So I love you, Sheriff Truman. Even though we don’t agree and I kind of want to punch you in the face for being a knuckle-dragging, closed-minded asshat, even though you want God to judge me and strike me down, I love you.
Fuck me, I hate election years and the year or so immediately preceding them. This is mostly going to be a rant post because I just wasted my mojo arguing with the peanut gallery on Facebook. Like, why? Why do I do this? I’m going to change exactly zero minds, probably piss people off, and get myself all up in a dander, and it is WAY past sleepy time.
It ain’t easy being a libertarian. And I’m about half a step away from being a full-blown anarcho-capitalist, which is probably the most hated strain of libertarian. Because, you know, we’re immoral and insane and offensive to socialist anarchists, who seem to be more numerous and more vociferous.
I’d say my main problem is that I’m surrounded by “progressives” on Facebook. (I see what you did there, guys…) Most of my college friends are slobbering Democrats – mostly Bernie lovers, but there are a few Hilar-philes out there because WOMAN! And I just can’t with any of them.
Higher minimum wages! Higher taxes! Single payer system! More laws! GIMME GIMME GIMME! MOAR MOAR MOAR!
Here on the home turf, I feel like I’m living in Trump Towers. Everyone around here seems to love the Donald. I do think he’s going to win the highest number of delegates. Whether or not he’ll get the actual nod from the party I have reservations about, but we’ll see. I wouldn’t vote him. And he’s orange. I mean, Jesus. Orange.
I have become exceptionally disenchanted with the process. I seriously doubt that I will vote this year. No, I do not believe that voting is immoral, as some an-caps seem to. I do believe it to be an ineffectual waste of time, at this point. I’ve taken to wearing an Emma Goldman shirt that says, “If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal” just to make people mad.
I’ve had fights with people about taxes, legalizing (all) drugs, statewide bans on smoking inside buildings, seatbelt and helmet laws – the list is endless. And nine times out of ten, when I whip out the libertarian argument, they’re flummoxed. And then it degrades quickly to moral indignation, and I’m left rolling my eyes at their retreating back, and my reputation as a cranky-ass old libertarian is further solidified. The other day at work, a Trump supporter was making the rounds, showing everyone a video of the Donald. I don’t think it was unintentional that my cube was his very last stop. I think he was hoping the IT guy would talk more so that he wouldn’t have to approach me at all. Because he knows… Coming into my cube and toeing the party line is like chucking rocks at the proverbial hornet’s nest.
I haven’t watched anything about this election. Not one debate, not one news update – NOTHING. In a weird way, I think I have very nearly stopped caring. I have so little respect for 95% of what I hear that I no longer care to even involve myself. My politics have become a moral code for me, or perhaps my moral code and reason became my politics, and I almost feel a religious devotion to it. And like my spirituality, I contain it primarily to my own mind and a few trusted confidantes.
I don’t mind having a solid debate about politics. Don’t take it to mean that I’ve gotten so morally superior… Actually yeah, do. But it’s so rare that I meet someone that can actually have a real debate, devoid of emotion and dedicated to the truth of the matter, that I would just as soon mutter to myself when I hear people whip out the stupid and then quietly content myself with listening to Tom Woods or reading Peter Schiff or Rothbard or Rockwell or Lord, anyone who makes sense.
What happened to reason? Critical thinking? I can’t listen to something grounded in emotional appeals. And that’s all I see, hear, and read. Everything has become an appeal to the emotional, to the basest instincts of the citizenry. Jealousy, fear, and growing sense of being disenfranchised from all sides prevails. And it’s always someone else’s fault. Someone else made it this way. The Democrats. The Republicans. White men. Black welfare mothers. Mexicans jumping the fence. Communists. Single parents. Millenials. Boomers. Thing is, it’s everyone’s fault.
We vest this power in our government representatives, and it’s damn near absolute. But what recourse do we have to get rid of the bums, once they’ve proven to be unscrupulous criminals, as they invariably do, it seems? Well, there’s impeachment, but that takes forever, costs a lot, and doesn’t have the greatest track record. We have to wait and vote them out, and then we necessarily have to vote someone else in so that the cycle can repeat.
What if everyone stopped voting and, like in Chodorov’s analogy, it would be comparable to no longer eating? What would happen if we starved the giant? Well, we’d be left to run shit for ourselves, on a more community-based and/or individual level. The thinking there is that people would care more, if they could see immediate results by their involvement or lack thereof.
Maybe it’s a pipe dream. Our current system may look like a pipe dream to North Koreans. God knows. But you can’t find out if you never try.
So that’s why I don’t vote. I’m at the point where I want to starve the monster. I no longer wish to feed the system. Does that mean I think it’s immoral for you to do so? No. I might think you’re wasting your time, but I think you can make a solid argument for the morality of voting.
Still. I wish people would demand better than a circus. Isn’t Vegas for this sort of entertainment? I wish I could stop myself from engaging. I’m mostly happy with the internal development of my particular philosophy. It would be nice to have a shiny, new libertarian to chew the fat with, though. The bro-co and I have gotten to the point where we talk politics and little else. It’s like putting on your favorite sweatshirt: fits great, feels nice, but every once in awhile, you want to sex things up a little.
Trust me when I say that you aren’t going to sex things up with the Donald, Bern, or Hillary.
Update: I got so annoyed by the poorly argued responses to my Facebook post that after dinner yesterday, I left the dishes in the sink, sat down with the thundering herd and a pen and notepad, read through every single response, wrote an off-the-cuff reply (no searching Mises.org for answers to the harder questions) to each one, and posted it. There has not been one.single.reply. Not one. I actually don’t know if I shut them up because I closed off all avenues of counterargument (unlikely), or if the sheer content volume and commitment to winning scared them away, like holy water on vampires. But you know, whichever answer is the correct one, it stopped the spew of socialist drivel. I win.
Going to Clearwater Camp for Girls was indubitably one of the most important and formative elements of my childhood. At the tender age of eight, I remember watching Sunny, then-director and still iconic Clearwater legend, bust out her slide show in the Bones’ basement up the road from my grandparents’ house. Back in those days – the good old days – Sunny hit the road every single winter, through sleet and snow, and did her slide show for potential recruits.
I fell in love with camp from the first time I saw the slide show. Before we left that first evening, I knew I wanted to go. Actually, that first year, I had the opportunity to either go to Paris or go to camp. I chose camp. I figured I had my whole life to see Paris, but you only have so many years to go to camp. And time was a-wastin’!
I was one of the few girls who started on the Harbor, which is the cabin unit for the very youngest girls. I was one of the “original” crew for my age group. I will absolutely never forget the day my grandparents dropped me off. I was the first kid there, and I couldn’t wait for them to leave.
That first year was a little rough. I was a weird kid, and I was a naive only child. I’d never really been in a situation where I was forced to deal with other people and their quirks and absurdities on a daily basis for several weeks at a time. Honestly, I did not love my cabin mates that first summer, but I made some friends outside my cabin, and I had a good year. Good enough to go back again. And again. And again. I only skipped one year, and that was 1997, what would have been my first year on the Point. I’d had a bad year at school and just wasn’t into much of anything at that juncture, including camp. Nothing was cool.
By miles the best summer of my life was 2001, my leadership summer. And I was a leadership back before “the program,” so we were basically free range campers who were given some responsibilities at activity time. I was on the sailing crew, and it was just balls-out awesome.
I’d gone through my first major weight loss, and I was looking pretty good that summer. I ran a lot and lifted weights, which made those days of strenuous activity more fun. And there were the nights that the Highlands boys would come over, bring beer, and illicitly hang out with us. I got drunk for the first time that summer, down at Lizzy’s boat house (which was literally right next to the Oaks) after three of the others went into town and got a case of beer by playing “Hey, Mister!” Good old “Ride the Bus”…
I went back as a counselor at 21 – a little bit late, but I still had a blast. Camp is one of those places that you can go back to after five or 10 or 25 years and still fit right back in.
Three weeks ago, two of my old friends from camp came down to visit me. Just for the hell of it. Just because I’ve had a shit year or so and needed a “girly weekend.” And man, we had a fucking rad weekend.
We hit the bars of Jacksonville, got cruised by the locals (horrifying), and then came back to mine and got just hammered. I’m pretty sure Adrienne smacked me across the chops for saying something she didn’t agree with. I’m equally sure I smacked back. I have no idea what happened after 3 a.m., but I know I didn’t go to bed until 6:45 when the sun was coming up. Still Marge.
We got up the next morning, and Adrienne looked at us and said, “Dude, are we still going to get tattoos?” I wasn’t sure I remembered agreeing to another ink job, but what the hell. It’s been a decade.
“Fuck yeah, man! Let’s do it!”
So we drove our hung over asses to Springfield to go to one of the tattoo parlors over there. We stopped and got some Chipotle to stave off the hangover, and then we went to the park to watch the people. It was 73 degrees and amazing outside.
“God, look at those fucking dirty old sheepdogs!” I say. Dog lover of the year, right here.
Melissa, my Jewish grandmother who shows Afghan hounds and Dachshunds with actual old ladies, replies, “Oh, those are otter hounds.”
“Shut the fuck up! Those aren’t real!” Adrienne cries.
“No, they are. Those are otter hounds. They aren’t a very popular breed. They smell. They’re awful. People used to use them to hunt otters – ”
“But they’re fucking dumb. Nobody wants them anymore. They’re probably going to go extinct. I’m amazed that man has two.”
Adrienne looks over at us and says, in a deadpan serious voice, “Can you imagine a world without otter hounds?”
I stare for maybe three seconds and then just die laughing. It hurt so bad. The people getting into their car beside us were looking at me like I was criminally insane.
When we got ready to leave, we were making fun of Melissa and her penchant for dog shows, and Adrienne was laughing, “God, whatever, you’re ridiculous. You had a fucking binder full of dogs at camp!”
“I mean, they were my dogs…”
“You had a goddamn binder full of dogs.”
“I have a binder full of women now…”
The old man walking beside the car looked at us like, “Excuse me?! Is that a lesbian or a serial killer?” We cracked up all over again.
Also heard from Melissa’s mouth while we were at the bar: “I got off ten times in three hours once.”
“SHUT THE FUCK UP!” Adrienne and I both yell at her.
“That’s not real!” I add.
“Nobody can even do that!” Adrienne chimes in.
“I’m really good with my hands.”
“Also, who the fuck has three hours…” I start.
“To masturbate?!” Adrienne finishes.
“That’s three point three orgasms per hour!”
“I don’t know, but I did it. I mean, I don’t have any kids… And I’m really good with my hands…”
“SHUT THE FUCK UP!”
“I love Porn Hub.”
“Oh my God, dude! So do I! It’s awful, and I love it.”
“It’s been a long time.”
“Dude. Same here.”
“I got laid last week.”
“SHUT THE FUCK UP, MELISSA!”
We got the tattoos. It took forever, but we got tattooed. Melissa and I are on the same tattoo schedule with these being our third. Adrienne got her eleventh.
We went down to Naples to the Boatel for dinner. Naples is home to two elevators for ADM and CGB (the company I work for) and the Boatel. There is nothing else but trailers and meth. The Boatel is shockingly nice, though. I remember the old Boatel, where they had wild game night on Sundays or something. Place burned to the ground ever-so-many years ago. Ironic, given that it was right next to the river and still is.
Melissa opted for crab legs, and Adrienne got catfish because she’d never had it before. Being from right near the Illinois River, the idea of someone from the United States having never had catfish is nearly unfathomable to me.
“Where do they come from?”
“That river right there.”
“What about the crab?”
“The river, yeah. Also the drinking water here. The well is fed by the river. The water tastes like ass.”
“I think it’s fine.”
“Yeah, but you’re probably used to radioactive waste in the Chicago water supply. … Although in Chicago’s defense, it’s probably all farm chemicals like anhydrous ammonia around here…”
We drove back on my favorite winding back road, the Merritt Blacktop. It takes you through old Exeter and across Apple Pie Ridge, which is a shockingly beautiful area. Just south of Bluffs, there is also the New Song Church, which routinely features hilarious calls to the faithful. New Song Church moniker person, if you’re reading this, keep being amazing.
“I promise the church sign will have something amazing… And there it is.”
“‘In 2016, God daily loads you with benefits.’ … Jesus Christ, what the fuck does that even mean?! ‘God daily loads you?!’ I don’t even know what to say to that! I can’t decide if I’m more offended by the idea or the syntax!”
“You guys need to be on deer patrol, especially in the bottoms. The corn rotted and dropped its kernels in those fields, and the deer love that shit. Fuckers. I hate deer. Fuck up a car like whoa.”
“Louis C.K. hates deer, too.”
“Smart man. Deer are fucking stupid. Just stand there and stare at the headlights.”
“Let me YouTube the skit where he talks about deer. It’s hilarious. … There’s no reception out here.”
“We’re in the bottoms.”
“I’ve never been in a place with no reception that wasn’t camp or Burning Man.”
“Uh, well… Have you ever been to a place like Naples? Where the denizens are daily loaded with benefits?”
I honestly haven’t laughed so much in years. I think I actually kind of forgot that it’s possible to laugh until it hurts. In fact, you can laugh until it hurts ten times in three hours. It feels great.
That’s the great thing about camp friends. For one thing, you can tell each other to shut the fuck up an inordinate number of times and not be offended in the slightest because chances are pretty good that you’ve seen each other have epic meltdowns on camping trips when there were so many mosquitos that you literally couldn’t make dinner, saved each other from skeezy townies at the Minocqua watering holes, definitely seen each other naked, and have told each other the most horrible, embarrassing, life-changing things about yourself. You’ve danced like idiots to jam bands, had drunken food fights in the kitchen, and put your arms around each other when you looked up one night crossing the bridge back from the island and saw the Northern Lights. “Friends who have camped together shall never again divide.”
I remember sitting on the log up at the staff parking lot when Adrienne and I were counselors – both first year, but she was 19 and I was 21 – smoking cigarettes and getting chastised by literally almost everyone else on staff because they were all backpacking health nuts. We were the ones who got accused of hot boxing the lower Point brown (bathroom) before camp. Spoiler: it was probably the one time that I was accused of being into some shit at camp and actually wasn’t. Maybe we looked guilty. I think more likely was that everyone thought we were the dirty hippies.
That same summer, I remember hanging out in the Jibs’l/Spinnaker hammock with Melissa and listening to her talk about dog shows and having sex with her boyfriend. The boy thing is the only thing that seems to have changed.
“Melissa, you’re sixteen. I’m really not supposed to be hearing you talk about your boyfriend’s penis.”
“But Marge, you’re like, the cool one.”
“I’m not cool.”
“Yeah, but you don’t judge. So I was just like, ‘I’m going to touch it like this, and you’re going to’…”
“Melissa. Shut the fuck up.”
L to R: Adrienne, me, Melissa. #cc4girls