Category Archives: Political Poop

Rules of Engagement for Thanksgiving Dinner–Post-Election

img_0055_editedNo matter one’s political affiliation, I trust we can all agree that the presidential election of 2016 was epic in terms of its awfulness. It has forced us to acknowledge the deep rifts that exist within our society, exposing the shameful underbelly of America in the process. In light of that, I think it’s prudent to establish some ground rules as we gather together on Thanksgiving Day to feast with our family and friends—and hopefully not stab each other with Grandma’s finest cutlery. With that in mind, here are some guidelines for how to act:

  • Banish politics from your dinner table conversation, including but not limited to: contentious discussions of Access Hollywood bus tapes, the Clinton Foundation, Chief Jackwagon appointee, Steve Bannon, WikiLeaks, taco trucks, the KKK, Vladimir Putin, Hillary Clinton’s damn emails, and, for the love of God, don’t quote Donald Trump’s Twitter feed. Ever.
  • Refrain from wearing apparel festooned with the phrase, “Nasty Woman” or “Drain the Swamp.” Likewise, don’t wear a pantsuit or that godawful MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN hat. It’s tacky and it makes you look like a buffoon.
  • As much as it pains you, fight the urge to chant: “Lock her up!” or “Build a wall!” By the same token, don’t define for the innocent children sitting at the kiddie table the words: bigot, fraud, misogynist, homophobe, xenophobe, narcissist, erratic, hostile, deranged or delusional. When they get curious enough, they’ll find a dictionary.
  • At all costs, avoid disputes over which Saturday Night Live actor, Alec Baldwin or Kate McKinnon, did a better job of portraying Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, respectively. Simply agree that they brought much needed levity to what many describe as a fucking train wreck. Good thing.
  • No matter how delicious (or not) the meal is, don’t rate it on a scale of one to ten. Better still, don’t rate anything on a scale of one to ten—least of all the turkey breast or legs. Just don’t.
  • Likewise, don’t refer to the dinner rolls as a “basket of deplorables” or to the pumpkin pie as a “Trumpish” shade of orange. Trust me, it won’t go well.
  • As tempting as it might be, stay far, far away from topics like climate change, women’s reproductive rights, health care reform and gun control, if you value the relationship you share with your relatives. Be forewarned; it could get ugly.
  • Refrain from calling anyone a Nazi, a fascist or a socialist—no matter how fitting such descriptors might be. Also, fight the urge to invent Broadway musical titles that you think Mike Pence would enjoy such as: “The Lyin’ King” or “Guys and Guys.”
  • As suitable as it might be, don’t use the word “jackassery” to describe Donald Trump’s cabinet picks or engage in a shouting match to defend your position. Everyone knows that “jackassery” isn’t a real word and if you use it, you’ll just be showing off because it follows the rules of grammar and it’s fun to say besides.
  • In a moment of great weakness, if someone at the table goes on a tirade, railing against either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, resist the urge to whip out your cell phone to fact-check the data and/or post a video on Facebook. The world will thank you.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live, preparing to feast, and hopefully not feud. Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlantMom.

Copyright 2016 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Family Affair, Holiday Hokum, Political Poop

It Takes a Hurricane to Raise a Village

As I piece this column together on the cusp of Election Day, the fate of our presidential race has yet to be decided. Granted, over the past several weeks multitudes of early votes have been cast, absentee ballots from near and far have been duly harvested and an embarrassment of straw polling has dominated the news cycle to the point of intolerableness. Never mind the ever-present spin of so-called pundits, the glut of ugly ad campaigns and the pervasive climate of divisiveness that that sort of milieu begets.

Even so, it is impossible for me to know which candidate emerged victorious.

Oddly enough, I don’t especially care anymore. It’s not that the issues are any less important to me, or that I’ve grown disinterested in the direction this country may or may not be headed. It’s just that the tragic nature of Superstorm Sandy was and continues to be so much larger than any political event could ever hope to be. Perhaps more importantly, the outpouring of empathy for those affected—regardless of party affiliation—coupled with coordinated relief efforts in response to such an epic scale of devastation have been nothing short of remarkable. The silver lining, as it were, in these darkest of times.

Day after day, as I tuned in to witness unprecedented ruination up and down our nation’s eastern shoreline (as well as further inland) and listened hard as people from all walks of life shared their stories of loss and unparalleled upheaval, I was taken by the virtual nonexistence of politics. It was as if the tumult of impassioned citizens, ones who were thoroughly obsessed with the notion of voicing support for this or that candidate only a short while ago, had been silenced. Instead, voices of compassion, solidarity and true grit prevailed—as floodwaters rose, as fires raged and as an ungodly number of homes and livelihoods were swallowed by the sea. By and large, people set aside their differences in the wake of a monster storm to do what was right and to do what was necessary in order to help those in need. In the process, they became more human.

Aside from restoring my faith in the idea that ordinary people are capable of extraordinary things, Hurricane Sandy has also plagued me with guilt. While the storm ravaged neighborhoods, cities and towns across more than a dozen states, Canada and the Caribbean, my greatest source of angst revolved around the question of how we’d keep our bearded dragons warm in the event of a lengthy power failure. Of course, my husband almost bought a generator, so we were fairly certain that we (along with our dear lizards) would almost stay warm. There was also the dire matter of keeping our pajama-clad, home-from-school-again kids entertained for godknowshowlong. Naturally, I fed them a steady diet of electronics prior to Sandy’s arrival, banking on the notion that we wouldn’t be afforded that luxury for very long.

But I was wrong. We never did lose our electricity, or the extravagance of hot showers, or access to fully functioning toilets or even a modicum of heat throughout the entire ordeal. We also had a roof over our heads, warm beds each night and safe drinking water. To say we were fortunate doesn’t begin to describe our lot—even if the kids did wear their pajamas for two solid days. Never mind the wind that roared outside like a freight train, or that I sent my husband on a battery-procurement-mission-from-hell, or that I prepared enough food for a small country and did roughly 37 loads of laundry in preparation (i.e. engaged in some sort of deranged hurricane-induced nesting behavior).

At any rate, I can’t shake the shame. Nor can I wrap my mind around the devastation so many people faced as a result of this superstorm. That said, elections may come and go, but the tangible, almost village-like sense of community cultivated by this inherently nightmarish event may endure—which is a beautiful thing. Likewise, altruism is an equally beautiful thing, as evidenced by organized efforts to garner aid for those impacted by the storm. To learn more, visit CNN.com and search for an informative piece (dated November 1) entitled “How to help after the superstorm,” an article which details at least eight ways people can become involved and offer assistance to those in need.

Also, be sure to visit www.zazzle.com/PlanetMom to aid Hurricane Sandy victims. I plan to donate 100% of my profits to the American Red Cross for the entire month of November.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (at times, inspired by humanity). Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.

Copyright 2012 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under "S" is for Shame, Political Poop, Rock Me Like a Hurricane

All is Fair in Love and Mommy Wars

I made a solemn vow not to tread anywhere near the Hilary Rosen/Ann Romney brouhaha that erupted recently, thrusting the infamous Mommy Wars to the fore yet again. But I simply couldn’t resist. Not because I have a compelling desire to foist my views upon anyone with regard to the hackneyed “stay-at-home vs. working mother” debate. Because I don’t. Feel compelled to foist, that is.

At any rate, every parent works—regardless of specific geography, formal validation or economic gain. Every parent, ostensibly, must deal with explosive diapers, projectile vomiting and curfew breaches. What’s more, every parent is surrounded by a different set of circumstances and brings a host of core beliefs to the equation, and must therefore make decisions about raising children alongside careers (or not) based upon the unique microcosm within which they live. Indeed, one size does not fit all. And for that matter as family dynamics go, one parent’s crazy quilt is another’s richly woven tapestry.

For the record, mine’s as crazy as they come. But I digress.

My niggling itch to weigh in on such a hot button issue stemmed from the unlikeliest of events (i.e. a brief, yet telling conversation that transpired just before the school bus arrived one morning, as we wrangled over the issue of wearing pink Converse sneakers and a hoodie, or not—an exchange during which my child shared with me an earnest wish in a moment of quiet desperation: “I just want to be normal, Mom. I want to look like everyone else, and be like everyone else. I just want to fit in.”)

Of course, her plea had nothing whatsoever to do with the contentious headlines or barbed commentary that had been bandied about via social media following CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 discussion. But it got me thinking: isn’t that what everyone wants to some extent—moms, especially? To be viewed as normal. To blend in with the masses—a good soldier, fighting the good fight to raise upstanding citizens, deep thinkers and impassioned individuals—and to do so without fear of censure, public or otherwise. To go about the important business of nurturing a child as best we can, without being ostracized or judged by those who “do it differently” or perhaps with more fanfare. To be ordinary and unassuming, as it were—but with extraordinary results.

I’d like to think this is what a majority of mothers aspire to achieve as we muddle through the uncertainties of parenthood—and that when all is said and done what we really care about revolves around growing a healthy child (or children), providing for their needs and instilling within them a sense of wonder, individuality and a profound appreciation for life.

Never mind self-doubt, the unmerciful beast-of-a-thing that threatens to consume us as we step into our mothering roles each day, or the embarrassment of guilt we heap upon ourselves as a matter of course. Whether we feel inadequate as providers (having chosen the stay-at-home path), woefully unavailable to our children (having opted to re-enter the workforce), or, dare I say it, miserably conflicted (as we endeavor to do both in the very same instant), may be of little consequence in the end. That said, maybe it’s time for the Mommy Wars to come to a close. The combatants are, perhaps, as tired as their arguments anyway. Old news now, it would seem to most.

Besides, it’s far more productive to focus on the common ground that lies between the two camps, methinks. Some of the best advice on the subject I’ve stumbled upon of late comes from Dr. Peggy Drexler, “Mom is Alright: Redefining the Modern-Day Mom.” In her Huffington Post piece she offers parents five basic tenets we would do well to adopt: 1) Refuse to be judged. 2) Be yourself. 3) Make time for what’s really important. 4) Be your best you. 5) Be active and thoughtful.

Rest assured, she’s fed up with the swirl of controversy, too.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (eager to turn the page on the Mommy Wars). Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.

Copyright 2012 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under Love and Other Drugs, Political Poop

Lipstick on a Pig

Today is Election Day and I am reminded, yet again, of the political poop that surrounds us. That said, it seems like only yesterday that the idiocy I am about to describe occurred.

Once again, the silly season is upon us and much of the voting public is consumed with all-that-is-political—namely, the dirt. As predicted, the media has succeeded in joining the fracas, muddying the waters by capitalizing on our inability to filter out the noise and by feeding our insatiable desire for entertainment. In sum, those self-serving spin-factories have made something of nothing yet again (i.e. an offhanded comment about slathering some swine with lipstick mushroomed into a circus-like event last week, causing an uproar which served to detract from the vat of filth that would ordinarily command our collective attention).

Naturally, the nothing (which is now officially something) was plastered everywhere imaginable—on the Internet, on my television screen, in my newspaper, in my car…across my kitchen table (Gasp!). Needless to say, I was not a happy camper.

Most of my displeasure centered around the thoughtless nature (read: evil-spirited glee) with which newscasters delivered the juicy sound bites day and night—fueling the fire that would surely lead to mayhem in homes everywhere. Homes in which impressionable youths reside—the ones who would willingly (and oh-so-joyfully) embrace the notion of putting lipstick on a pig—or anything else, for that matter. As if my kids needed that gem of a seed planted firmly in their twisted little minds! “A PIG! What a marvelous creature to festoon with lipstick!” they likely pondered upon hearing it—scheming and dreaming of how such a clever ploy might be acted upon.

Good grief. Those tactless twits may as well have suggested flushing a bar of soap down the toilet (like my brother did!), putting rocks in the dryer or hiding a gallon of milk in the bowels of a closet—all completely absurd (yet infinitely viable) possibilities that exist among the gamut of that-which-is-downright-naughty.

That being said, my heathens have painted nearly every surface imaginable with (among other things) lipstick. Pink and purplish hues, more specifically, harvested from a make-up kit that I (in a moment of great weakness) purchased for them. Thus far, hapless targets have included the dog, our cats, their dolls, bears and Beanie Babies “…to make them more beautiful, Mommy, so they can get married.” Of course, I resisted the urge to inform, “A dab of lipstick does not a beautiful bride make,” tabling it for a later discussion. No doubt, at some point I’ll also be charged with explaining the infamous hockey-mom/pit bull commentary to my daughters as well as demystifying terms like glass ceilings and penis envy.

Joy.

As an added bonus (thank you very little), all this newsy-schmoozy foolishness regarding lipstick and whatnot has unearthed a bit of ugliness for which I am truly ashamed. Said mommy meltdown (which occurred several years ago and involved mass quantities of lip gloss, rouge and enraged shrieking) easily qualified as one of those utterly hideous events I’d prefer to put behind me. Forever.

Needless to say, it was not my finest hour when I happened upon my wily charges merrily decorating furniture, stuffed animals, mirrors and their entire bodies with the aforementioned sinful materials. I later learned that there was a method to their madness: the lions needed to wed (see paragraph five), certain penguins needed pink underpants, a select group of dinosaurs needed purple slippers, and because they had barricaded themselves in their bedroom and their hands were too slippery to turn the doorknob, they wiped all the glimmery, glammory gunk on their dressers and smeared it deep into the carpet fibers, careful to try and match the colors of the gunk with the colors of the rug. “How brilliant!” I should have recognized—only I didn’t view it as such then.

Up until that point in my parenting career, I didn’t know one could injure one’s throat by screaming. Nor did I expect the solid walnut slab of wood I slugged in my fit of rage to be more solid than the knuckles of my right hand.

However, I didn’t need X-rays to prove my idiocy. That was painfully clear. Even still, I am reminded of it each time I glance at my mismatched hands, one being a tad lumpier in the knuckle department than the other—now and forever. To add insult to injury, however, I had to hear, “Yep, it’s probably broken—but it’s too late to do anything,” from my friend, Drew, who also happens to be a doctor. “Ice should help,” he advised.

Perhaps you can put ice on an idiot. But it’s still an idiot.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live.

Copyright 2008 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under "S" is for Shame, Daily Chaos, Home is Where the Weirdness Lives, Me Myself and I, Political Poop, Rantings & Ravings, We Put the Fun in Dysfunction