G'day all,

podcast 7 was inspired by chras4, who requested some of his favourite nodes, which is of course very cool with me. Dannye just added the icing to the cake....


direct download at: http://e2podcast.spunkotronic.com/e2pod8.mp3

thank you,


I began a ten day vacation yesterday, another step in a much needed self-reconstruction. I've been working at my job for eighteen months now with almost no time off, and before starting this vacation had accumulated nearly three weeks in leave time. I had been unable to take any more than a day off here and there up to this point. I am one of two full time third shift people at my job. We work with two people on the overnight at all times, with the exception of times when we require a third person due to problems or potential crisis situations. This means the two full timers cover ten out of fourteen available slots on third shift, requiring us to keep part time and relief persons available to cover the other four slots as well as when we are off. Often our part time and relief people leave to take jobs elsewhere or move to day shift work, or, as sadly has been the case over the past year, our minions have been fired or forced to resign for absurd and otherwise inappropriate behavior.

And, well, every time I've tried to take time off I've had to get called in to cover because one of our part time or relief people has left the building.

I work at a shelter for troubled teenage girls, run by a faith-based organization and integrated into the New Hampshire legal system. My job makes me part counselor, part janitor, and part prison guard. I like to think of myself as sometimes Scatman Crothers in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and part The Man With No Eyes from Cool Hand Luke. Sometimes when I'm trying to quell a nighttime disturbance of some kind I feel like shouting out, "This is my job, motherfucker!" and sometimes I want to get cold as shit and put my sunglasses on. These times are relatively few and far between. Most of the time I'm working hard to make myself seen as a positive male role model who is safe, non-threatening and as "cool" as possible. A lot of these girls come from backgrounds where they have been abused physically or sexually by male figures in their lives and it takes them a few nights to get used to having a man they know nothing about sitting outside their room while they sleep.

Some of these girls are scared to death, finding themselves "locked" in what is theoretically an institution after either getting themselves in trouble with the law, losing control of their lives due to drug and alcohol abuse, running away from abusive family situations, or, in a situation which has been on the rise in recent months, becoming homeless. It seems a large number of single parent families have been drifting deeper into poverty and that parent has become unable to feed, clothe and shelter their child or children as they struggle to simply support themselves. Some of these kids are absolutely blown away by the concept of receiving three meals every day.

On the flip side of that are what I call the "party girls," who engage in activities and behavior we used to call "normal" back when I was a teenager, drinking at parties on the weekends and engaging in the smoking of marijuana from time to time. The underbelly of "no tolerance" is many of these girls (and boys as well, I'm sure, although our facility is girls only) are generally doing well in school and have relatively stable home lives but end up being looped in the system due to failing random drug tests or being caught drinking alcohol. Instead of graduating high school they end up with a GED and a record that negatively impacts their future.

Recently I got to know a girl who comes from a troubled home with a single mother whose own life problems and state of mind has had a serious negative impact on her daughter, who despite being quite intelligent and having never used drugs or drank alcohol, has developed a serious inferiority complex and was often truant from school due to bullying and the like. A huge difference maker in her life has been a woman who has treated her with great respect and kindness and helped her see that not everyone is out to get her. While this girl's mother never visits her at the shelter, this woman comes to see her regularly and recently took her out to get new clothes for an interview she had with a program she really wants to be accepted into. She has dreams of becoming a lawyer, and while her mother has spent the better part of her life shooting down her dreams, this woman encourages her dreams and has done much to help rebuild the girl's shattered self-esteem.

This girl and this woman found each other through the Big Brothers Big Sisters program, and for anyone wanting to do what they can to help the many boys and girls out there who lack positive role models in their lives, I recommend you check their program out. While I know little about the program other than how it has helped this girl out, the impact it has had on her life makes me want to give it a thumbs up. Whatever we can do...

I've come to believe that most of the problems in our society come from our children being ill-prepared to meet the challenges ahead of them. The more children who grow into adults feeling angry, dispossessed, or apathetic, the more adults we have who just don't care any longer. Children without hope grow into adults who commit crimes, carry their own history of abuse into abusive relationships, are emotionally unprepared for the challenges of life, and give birth to a new crop of children who will fall into the same cycle. We can say our children are fine because we've done all we could for them and place the onus on the parents for their failings, say they shouldn't have reproduced in the first place and so on and so forth, but these children exist. They will continue to exist. There is no "us and them" when you boil away the oceans of our creation, there is only "us." The world is colored in shades of gray.

When you think about the presidency of Lyndon Baines Johnson most people don't think about the Voting Rights Act, or Johnson's dedication to helping the poor and promoting civil rights. We think of Vietnam. Though a boy, I couldn't help but notice the sadness in his heart at the end of his Presidency. Which is one reason I can't help but wondering what's going through the mind of George Walker Bush right now. His presidency is waning and he can't help but think about his legacy. I can't help but think what he is tasting now are ashes.

He came to us promising to be a 'uniter', a pragmatic president who would restore integrity to the White House. He promised to build us a new Middle East. Under his leadership conservatives began to talk of 'permanent realignment' where ideological conservatives would dominate American politics for the foreseeable future.

That's what made his admission last week that New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman might be right when he compared the two-month old Operation Together Forward in Baghdad to the Tet Offensive in Vietnam. American Generals have expressed great disappointment in the outcome of the operation, mostly because Iraqi government and military units supposed to support the effort have acted half-heartedly when they were not actively sabotaging American efforts.

Tet is generally regarded as the turning point of the Vietnam war which led to America's disengagement and eventual defeat there. There are enormous differences between the two: Tet was Viet Cong offensive while Together Forward was intended to re-establish law and put down the sectarian violence tearing Iraq apart. Tet was a military disaster for the VC, as it essentially gutted their main force units to the point where no VC units above the company level were ever encountered again. Together Forward was going to reintroduce order and reduce growing level of violence in Baghdad. But both have cracked upon brittle political support for a war and made even it's supporters into doubters. The operation's apparent failure comes at the same time as the National Intelligence Estimate which showed that far from discouraging jihadists, our military efforts in Iraq have increased their numbers many fold, that the Taleban is resurgent in Afghanistan,, that despite U.S tough talk Iran and North Korea are more belligerent than ever, with North Korea even detonating a nuclear weapon.

Instead of building 'permanent majority' for Republicans Bush sees his party facing real defeat in the fall with many previously safe seats at risk. Under his leadership America is losing influence and has become the world's most unpopular nation. Americans are more divided than ever, and the left has become emboldened. The once-docile press is pressing him hard, and formerly intimidated opponents have recently released an TV ad where people ask a bush what happened to their health care and other issues. The ad then suggests that talking to our President is no different than talking to a plant.

In short, everything he hoped to have accomplished is crumbling. Bush is no stranger to failure, and I wonder if this was how it felt when he realized Arbusto Oil would soon fail. He must sense his failures pressing against him. No more can he dream of being compared to Lincoln or Roosevelt, but rather to Herbert Hoover, James Buchannan and Warren G. Harding. In fact, he may become the standard of ineptitude against which all presidents are compared.

In the Bible it says "Pride cometh before the fall." In public Mr. Bush says that we will move forward, that we will win, that America is heading in the right direction. But his little slip about Tet makes me think that inside even he no longer believes , and that at night even he too feels the abyss he has led America into.

With thanks to TheDeadGuy for his writeup above:

I have been struggling with a certain problem for months, though all the while slowly working towards the right conclusion, I think, for myself, and certainly for one innocent little girl.

Due to my upbringing and witnessing firsthand the damage that can be done to children who, at best, are not valued, I hold extremely strong beliefs on the raising, nurturing, and protection of children. All children, not just mine. I have seen first hand, just as TDG describes in his w/u above, what can go wrong when they reach young adulthood without being treated like the magical creatures they are.

See I am thankful for the ocean eyes of Shaymus for a good example of the right way treat our little ones. We'd surely have a lot less problems if we were all as reverent, as thankful, as junkpile, I think.

Recently, I found myself placed in the extremely difficult and painful situation where I would have to ultimately live up to my own standards or abandon them for the sake of my own emotional comfort.

A child had been placed in my sphere of influence through extremely painful circumstances, the result of a one night stand my partner had in a night of drunken stupidity. He confessed. I forgave. She called, months later, pregnant, claiming the baby was his. I raged all over again. Forgiveness was harder to come by this time. The baby was born. I insisted we sue for paternity testing. The test was positive. Now I was stuck, and firmly, on the horns of a dilemma.

We knew next to nothing about the mother, other than she had multiple DUIs. I knew J. was lost; he was clueless about what to do, never having had a child or even wanted one. Send a check every month, ignore her, and hope for the best? Wait till she (the daughter) was ten or 15 and start up a relationship if she shows up on the doorstep? I couldn't believe he wouldn't just 'automatically' step up and take responsibility. It was his daughter, after all. I mean, Jesus.

The baby is now 4 months old. I guess I secretly knew this was coming as I have been pushing her Dad from the day he broke the news to me to do everything 'right' -- from sending child support to the mom from the day the baby was born (without court intervention), to filing for full joint physical and legal custody, to counseling and long, long, talks on being a full and positive presence in his daughter's life.

*Note: Borgo and Borgette's write-ups were infinitely helpful in this. A big thank-you to them, too.

Well, he got it. Joint custody. Her name is Magdalena and she is a beautiful little girl that looks just like him. He is going to be a Dad with all that entails.

So now is the time for me to put up or shut up, as they say. Do I stay or do I go? Easy way or hard way? Do I dig in and commit to being a huge part of this child's life? Because I know it is no halfway thing. Not for me, anyway.

I know that by staying I can make this child's existence and prospects infinitely better than they would be without me. To do that, I would need to drop my hurt and my pride and my righteousness and offer up my whole self to her...no strings.

I know this thing in my heart. Everybody who cares for me, including J, has told me it is not required of me. That it is 'too much to ask' of me because of the 'circumstances'. (Sarcastic side note: I love how everyone uses 'circumstances' as a euphemism for 'you aren't obliged to do anything because she is the product of him cheating on you').

But if not me and not now, then who and when? I have a chance to make a difference. Right now. With a real live little girl. SHE didn't cheat on me.

So really, deep down, I know better. I couldn't live with myself knowing I had left a little girl hanging just because I felt shamed and embarrassed over something that I didn't even do. And when I look around here, at J and the other woman, her mom, and the various satellite characters who have become involved in this little tragedy -- when I really look? I'm the strongest one standing after all of this. Which is really pretty fucking amazing. I hadn't noticed before. I was too wrapped up in trying to find forgiveness or distraction or sanity. But I had all of them all the time. Well, most of the time anyway.

Welcome to the world, Magdalena. I hope that I am worthy and able to do my part and show you the wonders it holds, and, more importantly, the wonders that you hold and the magic that you are. You have my word I will give it my best.

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