Wednesday, December 25, 2013

A Very Special Christmas Post

A week ago today, my family lost our Mama Bess, my grandmother and The Gurl's great-grandmother. She was one of the most important people in my life, she was the glue that held us all together. Most of my childhood memories revolve around her and the time at her house and in her backyard, especially Christmas memories. Christmas it's just not the same this year.

I wasn't able to speak at her funeral, because I get too blubbery when I'm upset and become incomprehensible. So I thought I would put my thoughts here.

My Mama Bess was one of the kindest, gentlest, and most generous people I have ever known. I never heard her say a bad word about anyone, even Richard Nixon. She constantly "adopted" grand-kids from among my sister and I's friends. Before I started typing, I had tons of things I wanted to say, now the idea of summing up her life seems a bit overwhelming (even just the parts I know).

To this day, I can picture the living room in my grandparent's house by simply closing my eyes. This was where we had every Christmas, where we celebrated birthdays, Easter, and graduations. My stocking and Easter basket always awaited me on the turquoise blue and green couch from the 70's. It really was terribly hideous, but I loved it.

My sister and I would decorate the Christmas tree right after Thanksgiving dinner. Then on Christmas Eve, we'd get to open one present each. It was always pajamas, always. In later years, Mama Bess would forget to label the Christmas Eve presents, and we'd have to wait for her to find the right boxes for us to open. It was quite fun watching her hunt for them under the tree. We'd then be tucked into bed, so Santa could come. Even at 16, I was the first one up, usually around 4 am. I'd wake my sister up, but we weren't allowed to get the parents up until 6 am. Once everyone was up, we'd took turns opening gifts. Opened presents would be piled on top of the glass table in front of the couch where my sister and I set up camp. She always insured that we had something under the tree from our grandfather, though she did most of the Christmas shopping. Then it was time for our Christmas dinner. Always turkey with stuffing, except for me. Mama Bess always made some hot dogs for me to eat when I was a kid because I didn't like turkey. She never pushed me to eat the turkey, just made sure I had enough to eat.

Mama Bess also taught me my first curse word while she drove me around in Houston traffic (I was about two). If you aren't familiar with Houston traffic, it would test the patient of the saints (higher rate of road rage than NYC). It was the horrendous curse of "Hell's Bells". I remember that her car always smelled of that new car plastic smell mixed with mint.

She always ensured we had clothes for school, especially shoes. She and my grandfather took my sister and I on many adventures to other states. They took us all over Texas to see antiques, historical sites, and fossils. One of the only pieces of jewelry I wear is an antique ring they got for me on one of these trips. They took us to Louisiana on a tour of plantation homes and the bayous. We got to see the stairwell they based the one in "Gone with the Wind" on.

We'd help in the their large garden outside, and then we'd snap the green beans that we helped pick. I was a terrible thief, I continually snacked on them as we worked.

She used to make my sister and I matching outfits for family pictures, she often did this by hand. She quilted blankets and crocheted baby blankets. Many of the quilts she made were originally her leisure suits from the 70s. She made my mom's prom dress, and I think she made my aunt's wedding dress. She made us clothes for our Barbies. She could make her own clothes patterns from newspaper pages without a guide.

Mama Bess and The Gurl
She ran the company they owned for many years and was a teacher of all grades in a one room school house in her youth. Despite these things, she always questioned her own intelligence and capabilities, this always made me a bit sad. She wanted to take care of others and help them, which she did very well, but often to her own determent.

When my sister and I were little, we always rolled the loose coins from our grandparents' room and change dish. We got to keep half of whatever we rolled. It was so fun and exciting to be earning money.

Mama Bess always gave me unconditional support and love. She supported me completely, never judging. She would offer advice if it was requested, but always unwavering support. She always told me she loved me, that I was smart, and that she was proud of me. One of the most impactful things she ever told me was that I am a strong woman. The first time she said that, it bowled me over and brought me to tears.

I am so glad that she got to see The Gurl reach high school. That Mama Bess got to know my daughter as a young lady, if not an adult. My daughter has been very lucky in her life to have known all of her great-grandparents on my side of the family and all of her grandparents on both sides. I just wish that we could have had Mama Bess around a little longer.

On the way from the service to the grave side Sunday, The Gurl told me that the thing she remembers most is Mama Bess always telling her, "I love you a bushel and a peck". I said that she always said that to my sister and I do. The Gurl promptly stated that this was Mama Bess' catchphrase. I really can't think of a better one for her.

I am glad that my Mama Bess isn't hurting anymore, but I also wish she was still here. I will always love her and miss her.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Chimera by David Wellington

I was so excited when I got the email notifying me that I had won this book from Goodreads. I was introduced to David Wellington through his zombie series, and moved onto his vampire and werewolf books as well. Each of these series had their own unique feel within their perspective sub-genres, and I enjoyed them a lot. Chimera departs from David's usual fare of supernatural horror and moves into science gone wrong and government conspiracy.

The book opens with prisoners escaping from a top secret military installation. There is no explanation, no exposition, just immediate and intense action. I was hooked right away. The pace doesn't slow down as the story continues. The sections of the book are marked with the time from the initial event: T+ 1:46, etc. Not being military, it took me a little bit to wrap my head around how to read this, I've only seen it used in countdowns before.

We are introduced to Jim Chapel while he's at work and struggling to concentrate on his paperwork. We quickly learn that Jim is a war veteran and has lost an arm, though he's not letting this slow him down. We went from duty in the field to working for Military Intelligence providing oversight for civilian government contractors. To break the tedium of his work and refocus his mind, he goes for a swim in the pool. In the midst of his swim, he notices that he is being watched and that the man is laughing. Chapel doesn't think anything of it at first, he is use to people finding the appearance of a one-armed man swimming amusing. But the man doesn't leave, Chapel is pulled from his swim for a secret mission, so secret that he can't even tell his current boss that he's leaving. The man will not tell him anything about what the mission is or where they are going, he just keeps laughing.

Chapel is escorted to Pentagon and taken deep into a former fallout shelter turned office where he meets Rupert Hollingshead (the man that requested him for the mission). Hes told that he must capture the escapees but little else, so little in fact that it increases the danger of the mission. From the title, some of you have likely figured out what kind of prisoners escaped the facility. He must deal with genetically modified humans without having any ideas about their capabilities.

Hollingshead, part of the DIA, is in a power play with Agent Banks, from the CIA, over who is in charge of the mission and how it should be handled. The laughing man is Banks' lap dog. They present Chapel with a kill list and tell him there are four men he needs to capture. With so little information, Chapel's task is almost guaranteed to fail.

I won't go any further into the story of the book, I know how evil spoilers are. If you are looking for an action packed read, then grab this book.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Behind the Burly Q by Leslie Zemeckis

My first exposure to Burlesque what the t.v. movie about Gypsy Rose Lee with Bette Midler playing her mother. I didn't have any particular interest in Burlesque at the time, I was just a huge fan of Bette and musicals. So I tuned in. After moving to Minnesota, I decided to expand my experiences and went to my first Burlesque show. It was great fun, astonishing, and surprisingly held in a bowling alley. I hope to go to another Burlesque show soon.The combination of these experiences (and a strange obsession with classy clothes of old) led me to be very excited when I saw Behind the Burly Q among the giveaways on Goodreads. I put my name into the drawing. I promptly forgot about entering with my busy schedule and suddenly I get this book in the mail. Now, the only thing better than a free book, is a surprise free book. It made my day. Unfortunately, I couldn't read it immediately but I didn't wait long.

After the initial excitement of "Eeekkk! Free book!", I began flipping through the pages. My excitement only increased as I saw names like Alan Alda, Frank Sinatra, Abbott and Costello, and Jack Ruby. I had no idea that Alan Alda practically grew up back stage. The book covers about 30 years of entertainment history and all its ups and downs. Leslie Zemeckis takes a look at different aspects of a life in Burlesque in each chapter. She explores the good and the bad of a career in the industry and being on the road. More importantly, she looks at the women and men that were a part of Burlesque. The only name I knew going into the book was Gypsy Rose Lee, though some of the names tickled the back of my mind. They are names heard in the background of film or briefly mentioned in entertainment news. This book was more than a dry history about Burlesque, it brought the men and women alive, their triumphs and their trials.

The women and men in Burlesque were incredibly strong and independent. They defied convention, not usually out of rebellion but out of necessity. They faced persecution (mostly the dancers), law suits, and were looked down upon. Several of their personal stories brought me to tears. Their profession was often considered the lowest form of entertainment and they were thought to be of no talent, yet many of the Burlesque comedians are now household names and the women often stripped into their 70's.

If you are interested in entertainment history, non-traditional professions, or just interesting people give this a read. It has ignited my curiosity to know more about the individual ladies and the art form of Burlesque.

Happy reading!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Surviving Life with the Chronically Depressed

I am writing this blog to discuss what it's like to live with someone that suffers from chronic depression and how to take care of yourself while doing so. This idea was spurned by reading part of The Stress Pandemic which neglected to distinguish between being depressed, clinical depression, and chronic depression when distributing advice about curing oneself. Another thing that inspired this article is that I'm participating in NamiWalks to help and in honor of those suffering from mental illness. Feel free to promote the fundraiser or donate using the link above.
I figure the best place to start is by explained what depression is, as many people have a misconception about what it actually entails.

Depression isn't simply being sad or unhappy or feeling blue, it's not laziness or an excuse. This is not to say that sadness can't become depression, it can. Depression is despair, it is the loss of all hope. It brings self-loathing and physical pain. Yes, I said physical pain. Severe depression doesn't just cause emotional pain but actual physical pain as well. And we aren't just talking migraine headaches, but pain everywhere. There are days when it hurts to simply get out of bed. You're tired and ache all over like you have the flu but you aren't infected with a virus. Though you may not be aware of it, there is a representation of the horror of depression in popular culture, the Dementors from Harry Potter. They are Rowling's anthropomorphic symbol of her depression over her mother's death. Depression affects many things adversely: memory, concentration, energy level, appetite, sex drive, immune system, etc.

When there is someone in a family that suffers from a chronic mental illness such as depression, bipolar, or post-traumatic stress disorder they aren't only ones that live with it. They person who is diagnosed with the disease definitely bears the brunt of the affliction, but its consequences and side effects are felt by the entire household. 

I am no expert, I haven't had any formal training, I can only speak from my own experiences living with a person suffering from mental illness. As the person without the illness, you are often the bread winner, organizer, housekeeper, and support system for the family. This isn't easy, it can be very stressful and tiring. There are times when it is very lonely. Yet those times when you see the person you fell in love with shine through are wonderful. These moments may come frequently or many months apart. When they are frequent, it's easy to forget there is anything wrong. You can lose track of the fact that your spouse, parent, or child has a dangerous disease. When those moments are months apart, you question why you stay, how you can keep going, and whether you'll ever be the one to be taken care of. 

Things I've Experienced and How I've Dealt with Them

One of the toughest things to deal with when living with a depressed person is their withdrawal into themselves. They don't reach out to show affection very often, you usually have to reach out to them. And sometimes when you do, they pull away or get aggravated. This can lead to feelings of rejection, loneliness, and unimportance. Even though your mind knows that it is a result of their disease and that they love you, it is sometimes hard to deal with emotionally. It is hard to express love for others when you are immersed in feelings of self-loathing and unworthiness.

There are many ways to deal with the emotional, and sometimes physical withdrawal. Often, you just have to keep reminding yourself that they love you, even if they can't express it. This isn't always effective, however. Talking about it can also help, because sometimes they aren't even aware they are doing it. For me this has always worked best, when talking about it later when I can be calm about it. The ill person needs to know how their actions are affecting others, but anger and hurt from their loved ones can cause guilt and more self-loathing which can precipitate a worsening of the depression. You need to assert yourself and express your feelings for your own health. Sometimes your partner will just not realize how long it's been since you have paid any attention to each other and simply asking them to have dinner with your or watch a favorite tv show together will do the trick.

Another challenge is bearing the majority of the household responsibilities, financial, physical, and emotional. Stress tends to aggravate depression and can set them into a downward spiral. This response has caused me to shield my spouse from as much stress related to money and my emotional state as possible, not only for his well-being but for mine as well. At the same time, shielding them from it can make them feel as if they are being treated like a child. Feelings of being useless often accompany depression as well, part of this is their mental state and part is a result of the exhaustion, pain, and lack of motivation making it hard for them to help clean, make meals, etc. The ill person often feels better if they can help out in some way though the challenge is often getting them to start on something. Small tasks that help out someone in the family and is part of something they are passionate about or that uses a skill that only they posses can help.

There will be days when the depressed person will say horrible things, talk of ending it, or how there just isn't enough happiness to make life worth living anymore. Usually the fact that they are being verbal means that they aren't actually in danger of committing suicide. Those who are serious about it usually pretend everything is fine and do it in secret. (There are stats somewhere that back me up on this but at the moment I'm too tired and lazy to look them up and provide you a link. You know how to Google as well as I do.) I always try to stay calm and remind my husband of the good things in life: me, the Kid, the dog, etc. Of course, a person in the midst of a depressive mood will blow all of this off as nothing. They still need to hear it, and does sink in even if they deny it. It can be hurtful to hear that the person you love doesn't feel that you are reason enough to live for, especially when they are saying other things that scare you. You have to do your best to stay calm and rational and to focus on the good. There will be times that you aren't successful at this. You will lose your temper. Panic and resort to guilt, etc. The key here is to forgive yourself. No one is perfect and you can't be in control 100% of the time.


When you are in a relationship with a sick person, the focus is usually on them and their needs. This is true whether the person is suffering a chronic physical or mental illness. Your needs will often be pushed to the back burner out of necessity or circumstance.You are frequently so worried about your loved one that you forget to worry about yourself. I've been guilty of this quite often. Making sure you care for your own emotional, mental, and physical needs will reduce your stress level and exhaustion.

1. Make sure you find time for yourself. - It doesn't matter if this is going for a run, hanging out with friends, or just getting out of the house for a couple of hours.

2. Make sure you are eating well. - We all know a balanced diet improves health and energy levels but everyone needs a gentle reminder once in a while. Make sure to treat yourself to a favorite meal or food.

3. Do things that make you happy. - I'm guilty of getting small things to make my husband and kid happy but forget to do it for myself. Make sure that you spoil yourself sometimes.

If you have any similar experiences and would like to share how you coped, please comment. Any tips for self-care would be welcomed as well.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

I Dare Me, a Personal Challenge

I've lived a pretty quiet, sheltered life (not counting economic disasters or a couple of hurricanes). I've also lived largely following the rules or in fear. Fear of disapproval of others, fear of failure, fear of being invisible, fear of being noticed, fear of losing control, and even fear of new foods. I'm tired of hiding, allowing my fears and worries to control me. I'm sick of being timid. The idea of opening this up to strangers online even scares me, that's the main reason I'm doing it.

I am almost 40 and have yet to find my passion in life, that thing that really drives me, that pumps me up to jump into my day with both feet. I know I want to change direction, but I don't know which direction I want to head in, I figure trying new things is a good way to get an idea.
I've thought about this before, and have tried to expand my horizons, go on new adventures but I want to do more.

To achieve this end, I'm asking for the help of the internet. I want to challenge myself to try one new thing or one thing that scares me a month. My plans to do Karaoke is actually part of my desire to try things that scare me or that are new. So I'm asking for suggestions of things to try or do. You can think small too, I'm a terribly picky eater, much to Don's dismay. My only restrictions is that they can't be illegal or harm anyone and it has to be fairly cheap.

I know the stories of many of my friends, it's time I create some of my own. I will be posting the results of the things I try.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Temperance Brennan (AKA Bones) Series by Kathy Reichs

This book series by Kathy Reichs is one that I probably would have missed if it wasn't for the fact that they based a TV show on it. I love the show Bones, so I jumped into the books as well. I love cop and forensic procedural dramas on TV, but I'm not a big fan of mystery novels. Unfortunately, the plot synopsis for mysteries and procedural dramas often sound very similar on book covers.

This series has its share of mystery, but it is definitely a procedural drama. It is different from the TV show in many ways. In the show, Temperance Brennan is shown as a hyper-rational, non-believer that has a hard time relating to other people. In the books, she is a lapsed Catholic, divorced mom, and recovering alcoholic. She is extremely intelligent and has a lot of integrity in both versions.

Forensics has fascinated me for years, I was obsessed with Forensic Detectives for quite a while. However, the details about forensic anthropology are new to me, so the science interested me as much as the stories. I even sent Kathy Reichs a tweet asking how accurate the science in the books is. Her response was that it is "very" accurate.

There are currently 15 books in the series, with two more coming out this year. I enjoyed the series quite a bit though some books more than others. I liked the characters surrounding Tempy, as well as Tempy herself. There were parts that seemed a bit repetitive, but I'm not sure it's possible to avoid that entirely in a series of any length especially when you can't be sure the reader started with the first book and read them in order.

The following three books from the series had the most intriguing or unique plots in my point of view.

Bones to Ashes in the tenth book in the series, it centers on the discovery of a set of bones discovered in an attic in Arcadia, Canada. These bones turn out to be those of a young girl. Between the location of the bones' discovery and their apparent age, they bring back some strong childhood emotions for Temperance. She wonders if this skeleton could belong to her best friend from childhood that suddenly and mysteriously disappeared from her life with the warning "I'm dangerous". Temperance is a consummate professional in her field and works hard to maintain a professional demeanor, but this case sorely tests her abilities to put her emotions aside and remain objective. The emotions in this book touched me and rang very true.
Another book from the series that I really enjoyed was the eighth book, Cross Bones. This book abounds with conspiracy theories as well as a trip to Israel. The case starts with the murder of an Orthodox Jew in Montreal. The murder seems very unusual and answers can only be found in Israel. In the middle of the murder investigation, some ancient bones are found. It is suggested that these bones could belong to Jesus or a member of his immediate family. These bones could also lead to confirming the location of the Jesus family tomb. People take steps to prevent Temperance and her team from finding out. I like the way Reichs deals with this at the end of the story.
The seventh book in the series is Monday Mourning and another favorite of mine. Three skeletons of young girls are found in the basement of a pizzeria during some plumbing repairs. Temperance is convinced that they are recent murders despite being found with antique buttons. She must fight to prove the young age of the bones and have it investigated as a set of homicides. Once she proves the age of the bones, they must race to catch the killer and prevent other deaths. This one fascinated me because of the serial killer aspect.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

My Bucket List

I've been asked many times what my ambitions are and I have to tell people that I really don't have any. To me ambitions are things you need to achieve, while dreams are things that you want to do to make your life richer or happier. I have gotten two degrees to help me in my career and support my family. I am happily married with a beautiful and intelligent daughter. These are the things I need in my life, the rest is just icing on the cake (to borrow a cliche).

I have gotten to experience some special and unique things in my life. I've been to Disney World twice, walked in the footprints of dinosaurs, and camped in the second largest canyon in the United States. I have survived to hurricanes: Rita (which chased us to Lake Livingston) and Ike (which shared his eye-wall with us for several hours). I've met Chuck Norris (before he lost his mind) and Nolan Ryan. I experienced several true road trips where gas stops hat to be planned out so that you didn't run out before the next town. I've met two of my favorite authors twice each: Scott Westerfeld and Mark Z. Danielewski. I got to tour the Blue Bell Ice Cream Factory and the Bellville Chip Factory/Museum. I got to take English riding lessons for a brief time (would love to do it again). I wrote in novel in a month while doing NaNoWriMo with my husband and came to a greater understanding about writers' experience and work.

I am finding that as I get older, I want to push myself farther, experience more, and try new things where I was too timid to do so when I was younger. Honestly, I tired of being afraid of the world. I decided to make a "bucket list" of things I dream of doing, achieving, or trying. I'm sure the list will change as time goes and hopefully because I've completed that item. I left off some things because they are things that are immediately manageable, I just have to motivate myself to do them. Things like create more, work on my novel, and blog more.

People to Meet
1. Patrick Stewart
2. Penn & Teller
3. Eddie Izzard
4. Stephen King
5. Cornelia Funke

 The reasons I want to meet these people are varied, but I respect them all in one way or another. Patrick Stewart has always struck me as extremely intelligent and classy, plus he's a knight. And what girl doesn't want to meet a knight? I know that Penn & Teller is really two people and that it's kind of cheating to put them together. However, that is how I picture them in my head. Together they are an act, as well as being very good friends, so it would seem wrong to meet one without the other. My reasons for wanting to meet Penn & Teller and Eddie Izzard are very similar. I find them intelligent and funny. I also respect the charity work that Izzard does and admire him for running 5Ks. Stephen King and Cornelia Funke are two of my favorite authors and write very different kinds of books. I enjoy their stories and respect their talents. King has been a huge part of my life for about 20 years, thanks to my husband's obsession with his body of work and insistence that I become familiar with at least some of it. I also admire King's generosity in giving to charity, his constant support of shelters for abused women, and his fight with addiction. Funke's work is the embodiment of the love of reading, at least the Inkheart series is. I would love to meet the mind behind that work.

Places to Go
1. California (Hollywood)
2. Washington
3. Oregon
4. Chicago
5. At least 2 countries

It seems weird that almost all the places that I want to visit in the U.S. are on the West Coast, but I've lived in the South and visited the East Coast twice. Hollywood, California is just about visiting where the "movies are made". I want to see the Hollywood Walk of Fame, maybe go to the studio where Gone with the Wind was filmed, check out the beaches, and maybe be a micro-stalker of celebrities by doing one of those cheesy "Tour of the Stars' Homes". I'd like to go to Washington to see the redwood forests. I hear Oregon has a great art and writing community, it's also home to a friend I haven't seen in many years. As for Chicago, I have friends that live in the burbs of that metropolis. I also hear that it's an awesome place to visit. I might even take one of those tours about the Gangsters of the 20's and 30's.

Events to Attend
1. Convergence
2. FantasticFest
3. A huge movie premiere
4. A huge book release party
5. ITSE conference

 For those of you that don't know me, I love books and I'm a bit of a SciFi/Fantasy geek. Convergence is a local genre convention focusing on scifi/fantasy. This year the theme is Doctor Who. The only thing keeping me from it is having the right amount of funds at the right time. Next is the legendary (and to me almost mythical) FantasticFest. A movie festival focusing largely on horror films, they have other genre movies and a large number of independent films are showcased. Great movies, food, trivia events, and parties crammed into 7 days. It's suppose to be an absolute blast and completely exhausting. I think the movie premiere and book release party are fairly self-explanatory. The ITSE conference is a education conference focusing on using technology in the classroom. It helps teachers integrate technology instruction into their assignments, gives new techniques, etc. It would be great to continue learning and meeting other educators passionate about technology.

 Things to Achieve
1. Own a home
2. Have $20K in savings
3. Run a 5K and a marathon
4. Support Doctors without Borders
5. Help with AIDS/cancer research
6. Try pufferfish 

I know, I know! The first two are incredibly practical and boring, but they are also comforting and provide a secure home base for further adventures. One of my goals for the new year was to get in shape and exercise more, I started off strong but between winter weather and nursing an injured dog, it fell to the wayside. Since it's warm enough now, I've begun my training for a 5K. I will be running one in September for sure, and maybe one in July. The one in September is to help raise money for those suffering from mental illness. I'd appreciate any sponsorship that you can spare, here's my personal fundraising page. I want to donate to Doctors without Borders as well, I don't have the skills to volunteer with the organization unfortunately. I really respect and support this group because they are a secular organization that helps people in need of medical care. They don't try to convert or sway the people, they just help them. I want to help raise money for AIDS and cancer research as well, they both hurt so many lives. My craziest dream is to try Pufferfish as a food. I became fascinated with the idea after reading about it in a book when I was about 14. I realize how dangerous it can be, but I find it almost irresistibly intriguing.

Now you probably know more about me than you ever wanted to, feel free to share some of your wild and crazy dreams in the comment section.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Help Jester Mend

Jester, the great escape artist, made another run for the border last night. He wanted a game of chase with Daddy, sadly Daddy lost site of him.

About an hour after that, we get a call that someone found him. Sadly, they also had to inform us that they had hit him as he darted out into the street.

We took him to the emergency room, and the vet bills are already huge and we really need help as they won't treat him unless we can pay immediately.

I've started a page to help us get our baby home. Please help out with a donation or by sharing the page. How can you say no to that face?

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Religious Double Standards

I am an atheist, and I do not apologize for this. I keep atheism posts on my Facebook page (and here) to a minimum as most of my friends and family are believers. I believe strongly that one shouldn't push one's views on others, and if you wish you receive that courtesy you must act on it. I believe that everyone has a right to believe what they want and that this right needs to be respected. However, I do not believe that respect must extend to the beliefs themselves. I am not extended the same courtesy by the majority of the believers on my list. They are constantly posting religious sayings, Bible verses, etc. They would say that this isn't pushing their belief, yet if I was to constantly post sayings by atheists (especially those questioning faith) I would be told right away that I was being pushy and insulting.

I recently posted a joke (shown at the right) related to religious belief on my Facebook page, the result of this was someone unfriending me and telling my spouse that "I'm full of hate". I'm not going to say that I don't feel hatred, that would be a lie. I hate child molesters, rapists, war mongers, and asparagus. My original intent was to save it until I could get home and share it with a small group of friends that would appreciate it and then remove it. Needless to say, I decided to leave it on my wall. A bit of a rebellious act I admit, but it's my wall and I don't like being told what can go there when I already censor myself to a large extent.

This general post was taken as a personal insult on this person's intelligence. Now I am not one to use a person's religious beliefs as a measure of their whole intelligence. I know many very intelligent people who are also believers. They are critical thinkers in so many aspects of their lives, the only area they avoid using this ability seems to be their religious beliefs. If I'm going to question your intelligence, I'm going to look at the choices you've made in your life not what religion, if any, you follow. You ability to learn from mistakes, adapt, and make good choices are a much better gauge of intellect than which god you follow.

I mentioned that I ignore offensive homophobic and racist posts all the time, and was told that that I'm not a minority. Yet I am a minority, one that is discriminated against under US law. There are many places where atheists can't run for political office based on the fact that they do not have a religious belief. And I think it's asinine to for someone to tell me that I can't be offended about such posts because I'm not a member of that particular group. I am offended by such posts, partially because it offensive in general and partially because (especially in the case of gays) it was taught to the person by their religion. They often don't even see it as bigotry because it's a religious belief.

My posting was in no way intended to be insulting or malicious, this person assumed that was my intent because she was aware of my atheism. Through out the exchange on my wall, I was polite while she resorted to name calling and threatening a friend that spoke up for me. She carried the conversation over into text message and her last comment included a statement that "faith teaches tolerance" which I found ironic since she resorted to nastiness. I wanted very much to list the many examples of religion showing the exact opposite of tolerance, but I resisted as I knew it was pointless.

The comments about hate and tolerance got me to thinking. Atheists are accused regularly of being depressed, bitter, angry, and hateful. And I'm sure there are atheists that fit into all these categories, at least part of the time. Because every person on the planet no matter what they believe has these feelings at one point or another. And yes, many atheists make fun of religious beliefs. Just as many religious people make fun of other faiths. But that's ok, since they are doing it in the name of religion. They only consider it a problem when it is directed that their particular belief system. Yet religious people don't make jokes about atheism. Instead, they tell atheists that they don't deserve to be citizens of the US and should just leave, that they are immoral and criminal, and threaten them with burning in hell for eternity. I don't know what their definitions of tolerance and hate are, but these comments definitely counter my definition of the former and fulfill my definition of the latter.