Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Breaking News!!!!!!

Thanks Kim for keeping me in the loop :-). Senator Arlen Spector switches from the GOP to the Democratic Party giving the Democrats 59 seats in the Senate. Once Al Franken is seated, the Democrats will have a filibuster proof 60 seats. Yippie!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Who Does This? Oh Wait, I'm in Stepford

I've mentioned before that things come into my life in threes. I'm not kidding about this. The more I pay attention to it the more it happens. You know kinda like when you decide you want a particular kind of car and then you see one at every stop light?

Anyway, I've always been intrigued by vanity plates. It is just one thing on a long list of things that lots of people do that I can't understand. Yes, yes, I know. My lack of understanding in no way invalidates the practice. It's just that vanity plates seem, at least to me, to scream "HEY! Look how cool I am!" And we all know how much I can't stand that.

Okay, so vanity plate number one is sooo typcial of Stepford that I really did almost have to pull over to puke when I saw it. It read:


Really? Really, really? There are only two scenarios for this plate being created in the first place and neither are good. Option 1, the Stepford Wife behind the wheel of this minivan is so secure (read: insecure) about how great of a wife she is that she needed to tell the whole world. Or, the equally disturbing option 2, the Stepford Husband to which this chick is married wanted the whole world to know how GR8 she is. Barf.

Yesterday, I pulled into the roller rink for my son's birthday party and right into vanity plate number two. It read:


Okay, c'mon Sister Saint. I'm sure you were well intentioned. However, there is something about this plate being attached to a Cadillac Escalade ESV that makes this plate very, very wrong. Seriously, if Jesus were here do you think a) he would be driving anything that costs $80,000 or b) something that guzzles gas and pollutes our planet like this bohemeth? Yes, I know I'm the proud owner of the Palinmobile. But, before you start reminding me of this let me remind you that a) I didn't purchase it (thanks hubby), b) I'm getting rid of it as soon as possible, and c) it does have a Obama sticker on the bumper.

Plate number three I eyed during my morning commute. It read:


Good God. 'Nuff said.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Dozen Years

After months of feeling your presence whenever I am with him, finally we meet. You are so many things that I am not. Young, flawlessly beautiful with your creamed-coffee complexion, long, lean and leggy. Politely deferrent, you look at him with a reverence I understand. Around your neck hangs a thin silver chain, a Valentine gift from him to you. For the very first time, this year, I received no Valentine from him. His eyes were only for you. You laugh at his jokes, reminding me how sharp his sense of humor has become. As I watch you together, I am reminded of how remarkable he is and how I so often have taken that for granted over the years. You are the first other woman in my life. This is going to take some time, some adjustment.

I'm certain that while you are the first, you will not be last. My hope is that your time with him will be special for him, although it is bittersweet for me. I loved him first, before any other and with a ferocity of which I had previously not known was possible. I have been faithful to him all these years and my love for him will remain so, even as I release him to you. My heart is certain and secure in the knowledge that my love for him has taught him how to give and receive love. My heart is confident there is room in his heart for me, you, and those that are in his future.

Today, my son is twelve. Caught in the temporary purgatory where he is no longer my little guy and not quite a man. He vacillates between childhood and adolescence. He needs me and to free of me at exactly the same time. Releasing my son into young adulthood is much like giving birth to him in the first place. It is painful, joyful, and frightening. He left my body only to latch upon me, periodically, whenever he needed food, comfort and reassurance. A similar process is occurring now. He leaves me, more and more often, but still he returns for his basic needs. The periods of his absence are growing gradually longer, his periods of return to me similarly shorter. If all goes as planned, this will continue until he finally leaves for good, creating a nest of his own. My home will no longer be his. My family will no longer be his immediate family. I will become his extended family rather than the nucleus of his family.

Happy Birthday, Sweetheart. Twelve years ago today you made me a mommy. You've taught me more about myself than I ever wanted to know. You've propelled me out of myself and into a world that is so much brighter because of the light you shine in it. You've shown me how to live a life that is greater than my own selfish needs. You've taught me how to live for someone other than myself. You've made me a better person than I could have ever been without you.

I love you with a love that transcends not only my vocabulary, but my very understanding.


Friday, April 24, 2009

Why It Is a Good Thing I Attended College

A friend of mine sent this to me this morning. Please note: it is only funny because the driver was unharmed :-). All I could think was this is the exact reason my dad made sure I received an education. Otherwise, this could be me. Best, K

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Stepford Stories Day 2

Wow. So, the blog has been up and running for less than twenty-four hours and I feel like we've got some great momentum already. My friends at Mommy's Space and Noni's House are launching their blogs as well. This is AWESOME!

I'm busy trying to figure out html code so that I can add more super cool stuff into the blog. I'm determined for it to always be a work in progress. My hope is that with everyone's help, input and comments the blog will get better each day.

At the top of my list for added functionality are the following:

1) Music
2) I want to feature writers that I love from other sites. I'm sending out feelers now for interest.
3) A counter for the number of hits the blog receives.
4) A way for readers to contact me personally rather than only through the comment sections.
5) I'm currently having all comments moderated prior to them being posted. I don't want their to be a huge delay in the posting of comments, so I'm looking into a new phone that will give me to ability to approve comments even when I'm away from my computer.

I have a lot more ideas running through my head, but this is where I'm going to start.

Welcome everyone and thanks for all the support!!!


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Welcome To The New Digs

Happy Birthday to me!
Happy Birthday to me!
Happy Birthday, dear Kristi!
Happy Birthday, to me!

This is my new home, new playground, new place to hang, vent, chat and pal around with a few of my closest friends. No Haters allowed (you know who you are).



Thursday, April 16, 2009

Confused Liberal (Part 3)

Alright. I had not intended to write “Part Three” of the Confused Liberal. But shit happens. And yesterday was a shitty day. Please forgive my lack of eloquence. There is no other way to adequately describe my day.

My day began with a notification from the IRS that my tax return had been rejected. REJECTED. Yep. They are not taking it. And curiously enough, it’s not because they owe me money. They are rejecting my tax return because someone else has filed a tax return with my husband’s social security number. Oh, and wait, it gets better. Not only has this person done this for 2008, but they also did it for 2007. Let me just tell you, I would rather have Karl Rove and Rush Limbaugh make a Kristi sandwich than call my husband with news like this. It was a bad start to my day.

Somehow I made it through the day, head pounding, and to the Palinmobile for my commute home. I drove out of the city, past three homeless men with cardboard signs, past apartment buildings I’m blessed to not have to raise my children in, and past a strip mall where I could get any part of my body pierced or tattooed or purchase any type of exotic condom. Traffic flowed well as I passed all of this. THEN ... I hit Stepford County. Ironically enough, President George Bush Freeway is the county line marker. Just as I crossed over the freeway traffic ground to a halt.

I inch along for the next twenty minutes while fielding calls from my husband. He left work early to file a police report about our tax issue and was now home filling out the mound of paperwork required by the IRS and the Social Security Administration to get this cluster fuck cleared up. I handle all our finances and he needed the information contained in my brain to get these forms filled out properly. The pounding in my head is growing worse with each ring of the phone. Little did I know it was about to get a lot worse.

As I approach the first main intersection in Stepford County, I can see up ahead quite a few people standing on the corner of the intersection. This is unusual. People don’t walk much in Texas and certainly rich people don’t hang out on the corners of busy intersections (someone might mistake them for trying to catch a city bus). Let me set the scene of this intersection. It is a shopping mecca. The four corners of this intersection contain Whole Foods, Barnes and Noble, Harolds, Talbots, The Gap, Banana Republic, Gymboree, Nordstrom Rack, Babies ’R Us, two Starbucks, Studio Movie Grill, and several expensive restaurants, specialty boutiques, jewelry stores, and hair salons. This is by far not a complete list, by you get the idea. It is a place where the rich eat, shop, and play.

As I pull up to the traffic light, it dawns on me. This is a tea party. I look over and see a young girl, maybe seventeen, holding a sign that reads “Obama is stealing my future.” OH MY GOD. I’m tempted to roll down my window and explain to her that if indeed her future has been stolen, it is because her college fund (or more likely trust fund) evaporated when the stock market tanked because of the rampant deregulation of Wall Street that occurred before she even started high school. I also wanted to ask her where she and her poster had been when the Iraq war was stealing the LIVES of young men and women not much older than her. Where was her outrage then? The next poster my eyes landed on said, “The Constitution: 230 years in the making—3 months to erase.” What? I wanted to yell, “Hey, Constitution Boy! I bet your hair was really on fire when Bush was in office!”

C’mon tea baggers, have any of you ever protested anything in your lives? Where were you last April 15? And what exactly is it that you are protesting? Your tax rate is the same as it was last year, so it can’t be that President Obama has raised your taxes. Are you protesting that your wealth has been cut in half? Again, President Obama is trying to fix this. If you don’t like how he is going about it, then why not offer up some alternatives? Let me tell you one thing I know for sure: You will NOT fix what is wrong with this country by creating posters of the sitting president with a circle and a slash mark covering his face. You guys need to get a freaking grip. You make more than 95 percent of the rest of the population, you drove to your tea bag party in $50,000 SUVs, and last night you slept in $500,000+ homes. Look around. You’re a bunch of privileged, rich, cry babies.

I’ve often wondered how to get the people I live amongst outraged and motivated to take some action. Now I know. All you need to do is convince them you’re coming for their fat checkbooks. The irony is this. The person they should be holding responsible doesn’t live in Stepford County. He lives in Dallas County. In Preston Hollow. Behind a gate. With Secret Service protection for which they are paying.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Question

“I wish I could see you interact with your kids. I think that would be a hoot!” says my young, childless friend.

“Oh, it’s not as funny as I always make it sound. But I do have great kids.” I reply.

Because this young, twenty-seven-year-old is a coworker, she remains unaware of my writing. I do, however, tell her some of the same stories that are contained in my writing. I’m always pleased that she seems to think they are as funny as some of my readers do. If she ever stumbles across DivineCaroline, there will be no question in her mind that I am that Kristi Stevens.

“We’re thinking about having a baby next year,” she confides.

“Really?” I say, smiling. “Even after everything I’ve told you?”

She laughs and much to my surprise says, “I think I want to be you when I grow up.”

Whoa ... hold on a second ... I’m not sure I would wish that on anyone, much less someone I like as much as this girl.

“How so?” I say.

“I mean how you have great kids, a great job, and seem to work it all out without missing a beat.”

Ahhh ... she thinks I have it all together ... little does she know ...

So, I ask THE question. You know THE question. THE question all mothers, but most fathers, never have to answer. I say, “Are you planning to keep working after you have a baby?”

She tilts her head and says, “Yes. I want to work. Am I already a bad mom?”

And there it is. Mommy guilt. My friend is not even pregnant, hasn’t changed a diaper, or burped a baby. However, she is experiencing Mommy guilt.

I say, “Well, I don’t know. Is your husband planning on working after you have a baby?”

She laughs and says, “Yeah, if we want to eat.”

I say, “Is he already a bad daddy?”

She’s caught off guard by my question, but immediately sees my point.

The truth is that I have no way of knowing ahead of time if my friend will be a good Mommy or not. The truth is the answer to this question depends not on whether she chooses to stay home or to work. The truth is there are really excellent stay-at-home moms and really sucky ones. I’ve been both on the same day. The truth is there are really bad working moms and really great ones. I’ve been both on the same day. The truth is that each Mommy has to figure out what works best for her and her particular baby. The truth is that I cannot answer this question for my friend. She must answer it for herself.

I welcome my friend to the wonderfully ambiguous world of motherhood. A world where neither black or white exists. A world where there is no such thing as one size fits all. A world without a road map, compass, or instruction manual. Oh sure, practical advice is everywhere. But, I’m not talking about the technical aspects of childcare. I’m talking about being a Mommy. That comes from within and cannot be obtained from a book. I know. I’ve tried. And failed. And tried again.

In the end, I tell my friend what I wish someone had told me when I was her age. If you can, plan your finances around one income. Find the best available childcare you can afford. Plan to return to work if that’s what you want. However, allow yourself a Plan B. It’s okay to change your mind. And what you decide when your baby is six weeks old is not what you have to do when your baby is six months old or six years old. Babies are always changing. Mommy’s change, too. If what you’re doing isn’t working, do something else. Keep at it. When you find what works, stick with it until it isn’t working anymore. And most importantly, if you mess it up today, you get another crack at it tomorrow. The important thing is that you keep showing up. Mommy’s never quit.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Confused Liberal (Part 2)

I’m a little (okay, a lot) obsessive. It is just how my mind works. Once I start down a path I cannot leave it until every twist, turn, and rabbit hole has been completely explored. All inconsistencies must be flushed out to the best of my ability. All issues must be reconciled and wrapped in pretty paper complete with a fancy bow. This is not to say that I do not have any inconsistencies in my life. I do. Many. This is why I continue to be obsessive and why politics, while I love them, drive me mad. Forty-eight hours ago I wrote an article entitled, Confused Liberal. Ever since, my mind has been obsessed with many other questions that I did not include in my original article. So that I may achieve some amount of peace in the next few days, here is where my mind has been over the weekend.

Why are conservatives suddenly freaking the hell out about perceived restrictions of their civil liberties?
Honest to God, I didn’t hear a peep out of the conservatives while Bush was warrantlessly wire-tapping our phones. Not one conservative, that I am aware of, spoke up to even say “Boo” when the Bush doctrine was being put into to place. (Sarah, if you’ve expanded your reading list since the Couric interview, the Bush doctrine is that of preemptive war. You can Google it to find Wikipedia’s basic description for beginners.) I’ve not heard one bit of concern from the right about an American citizen that has been indefinitely detained on U.S. soil and not yet brought to trial. And how about torture? Any conservatives out there worried about our country’s violation of the Geneva Convention? Are you conservatives really worried about the mythical resurrection of the Fairness Doctrine after all that? Really, no really? Please.

How can it possibly be that after eight years of “You’re either with us or against us,” conservatives are trying to say “I don’t want the President to fail. Just his policies”?
What? I’m going to need a twenty-part dissertation on this. Let’s just go ahead and set aside that Rush Limbaugh seems to be the conservatives’ new Buddha so I don’t get distracted. Someone, anyone, please help me find a thread of logic here. Something, anything that I can hold on to. How ‘bout some bread crumbs? I just cannot wrap my mind around the fact that it was not okay to even raise an objection when we were rushing into an unjustified war without being called “Unamerican”; but when we’re faced with the largest economic crisis in eighty years conservatives won’t even set a foot in the ballpark, much less get into the game. What the hell, Dudes? Surely you understand that this time it is not just the middle class who is losing the shirts off their backs? Wealth is disappearing, that’s YOU? Hello? Anyone home in the glass house?

And what is up with this opposition to gay marriage?
“Protection of the sanctity of the institution of marriage” my fat liberal ass. If conservatives want to “protect” marriage, perhaps they should focus on the real enemies of marriage—financial hardship, adultery, and divorce. No? Not interested in that? Okay, that’s fair. Let’s focus on what this is really about—religion. So tell me, if marriage is solely a religious institution, why should we let nonreligious people marry? Hmmm. That’s a hard one. Why not get rid of judges marrying people in civil ceremonies? Why not restrict the legal privileges of marriage to only those that are married in the church. Why don’t we go ahead and make that church a Christian one while we’re at it? No? Okay. Then how about this? Why don’t conservatives continue to get married in their own churches to whomever they want and let’s allow the gay community to do the same? How ‘bout that?

Where were the conservative voices on fiscal responsibility while Bush drained the Clinton surplus and ran up a half trillion dollar deficit?
Please, someone, put me out of my misery. Where were you? For all the conservative screaming about earmarks, entitlements, and deficits that I have heard since the Inauguration, one would think I could remember hearing you scream at some point in the past eight years. No? Why? Is it because you think it’s okay to run up a deficit and an economy into the ground for the higher moral purpose that is war? Is it because you were in favor of tax cuts for the wealthy? I mean, after all, the wealthy do the “real” work of investing and creating jobs so that the rest of us can then bail you out because the companies you created are too big to fail.

I know, right?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Confused Liberal (Part 1)

I am confused. I’ve been experiencing this quite a bit since President Obama’s election. After eight years of George Bush’s shenanigans, the new (new) world order is wrecking havoc with my far left brain.

Perhaps this part of my brain (which I purposely shut off from 2000–2008 to keep from going insane) just isn’t warmed up and back in the game yet. Perhaps I really did go insane during the Bush years and this is a chronic, rather than an acute malady. Maybe. OR, maybe not. Let’s see if we can figure out what exactly the hell my problem is. Can anyone, anyone, please explain the following to me?

Why do conservatives object to video games like Halo and Grand Theft Auto, but seem to be trying to incite a riot with the mantra “Obama is coming for your guns”?
Help me here. Why are pretend guns not okay, but real ones are? How is it that violent video games are ruining the moral fabric of our youth and increasing teen violence, but red-blooded American Dads teaching their children how to take down a living, breathing, (and soon to be bleeding) twelve point buck is not? Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not attacking hunting. I’m just trying to figure out how shooting pretend people is so much worse than shooting real animals? I’ve been on a few hunting trips and I can honestly say each time I watched the hunter I was with slit the throat of the buck or doe he had just shot, I felt a little sick. I’ve never had the same reaction while blowing the head off the cartoon bad guy in my air conditioned game room. And another thing. Can someone please point me to the piece of proposed legislation that is going to take all the conservatives’ guns? I can’t find it. I know it must exist, because otherwise the fair and balanced news network would never report that the President is preparing to round up law abiding citizens’ guns. Seriously, you would think a former constitutional law professor would know better ... sheeesh!

How is it that conservatives get all lathered up about teenage pregnancy if it involves the unwed Jamie Lynn Spears, but not the unwed Bristol Palin?
C’mon. Surely there is a simple explanation that I am missing. It’s just that I can’t really find a difference here. Please point it out. Here is what my jaded, liberal eyes see. Two teenagers, both beautiful girls, both pregnant and keeping their babies. And neither have any apparent plans to wed. Here is what I need to know: 1) Why did Jamie’s mother allow her to turn into to such bad, amoral slut? and 2) What is it in the same set of surface circumstances that made Bristol into such a responsible, life-valuing, virtuous young woman? Really, really, I need to know this. If either of the Obama girls show up on the stage of the 2012 Democratic National Convention pregnant, us Democrats are going to want her put in the Bristol category. Any conservative secrets for how to achieve this will be much appreciated.

Why are conservatives so down on the Theocracy that is Iran, but flip out the second President Obama accurately points out that the United States is not a Christian nation?
Did I miss something? While I was asleep for the first eight years of the new millennium, did we become a Christian theocracy? Is Joel Olsteen our new mullah? Is this the explanation for our nation’s collective money orgy? Is this why I’m not wildly wealthy? Because I was unable to embrace the prosperity gospel while I was in my self-induced coma? Has anyone notified all the Jews and Muslims, not to mention the agnostics and atheists?

Why was it okay for Bush to hold hands with the Saudi King, but not for President Obama to offer a humble bow as a sign of respect?
And why do we care? Seriously, this five second piece of film has been aired and analyzed on a pretend news network more times than the entire world has viewed the Zapruder film. And as long we’re the subject of interactions with world leaders, please go ahead and fill me in on why the First Lady’s touch of the Queen of England was so shocking? Was it because the Queen touched her also? Are conservatives afraid of some kind of lesbian U.S./British conspiracy? Does the Queen have cooties? Do tell. I’m all ears.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Five Things I Wish Conservatives Understood About Liberals

I am misunderstood. I believe most liberals are. This is not because I am inarticulate or that (all) conservatives are necessarily closed-minded. Rather, I feel there are preconceptions regarding liberals that conservatives must first see past before they can ever hope to see us clearly. A basic set of assumptions that just are not true, no matter how many times they are repeated by the talking heads on the right or on a certain “news” network. I will agree to accept that not every conservative channels Ann Coulter and that MSNBC might lean a little left, if those of you from the right can at least consider the following with an open mind:

1. Liberals are not (necessarily) atheists, agnostics, or anti-Christian
A lot of us lead personally conservative lives, are active in our churches, and have a very firm Christian faith. We do not appreciate having our faith questioned anymore than you would. It is possible to be a radically, liberal Christian. Liberals understand that freedom of religion also means freedom from religion. So while I want my right to practice my faith protected, I understand that in order to achieve this, atheists’, agnostics’, Muslims’, and Jews’ rights must also be protected. Yes, I am saying that even the far right wing needs their rights protected. And another thing, no, I do not believe that there is a war on Christmas. One only need to patronize a retail establishment from October through December to see that Christmas is alive and well. If you believe that Christ has been taken out of Christmas, then you need to address this in your local church. Legislating a nativity scene onto your courthouse lawn won’t get Christ back into Christmas anymore than its absence will remove Him. Faith is personal. The Government represents all people, regardless of their faith or lack thereof. If you mix the two, you are endangering the very thing you are hoping to protect.

2. Liberals are not pro-abortion
Liberals believe that abortion should be rare, safe, and legal. Liberals begin with the premise that we must first begin to value life that exists outside the womb. Liberals understand that we won’t decrease the abortion rate until we, as a nation, support and value adoption, address poverty, provide access to health care (including birth control), strengthen families and our educational system for all our citizens. The causes of unwanted pregnancies are complicated and varied. If you give young girls hope, an education, a purpose, a path out of poverty, and yes, access to birth control, you’ll have fewer unwanted pregnancies and therefore, fewer abortions. Will this eliminate all abortion? No, but neither will criminalizing women and doctors.

3. Liberals are not “angry” (all the time)
I’ve always been confused by the “angry” label that gets hung around liberals’ collective necks. Do we get angry? Sure, I do. I get angry about injustice, poverty, greed, and stupidity. I loathe selfishness and self-promotion. I happen to know a lot of conservatives who get angry about some of those things as well. I’ve seen a lot more angry conservatives since President Obama’s election. Does this mean their views are liberalizing? Doubtful. It means they see something they don’t like and it’s making them mad. Welcome to the party. Martinis all around.

4. Liberals are not socialists
Or fascists, or Marxists, or communists. Liberals believe in a free market. However, we understand that each administration walks a tightrope that spans too much regulation on the one side and too little on the other. Do we think there was too little regulation during the last eight years? Well, to quote one of my “favorite” conservatives, “You betcha.” However, just because we are for addressing this oversight in an aggressive fashion does not mean we want the banks and all industry nationalized. We would have preferred to not be faced with these huge economic issues in the first place. But, it is what is. You play the hand you were dealt the best you can.

5. Liberals are not (all) snobby elitists from Ivy League schools
If one of my children has the opportunity to attend an Ivy League school (c’mon Standford soccer scholarship), I’ll jump for joy. However, whether or not that happens is not the important point. What is important is that my children attend a university. I care a whole lot less about what they study than the experience they have while attending a university. I care greatly that they are exposed to different points of view (yes, gasp!, even conservative ones) and learn to reason and think for themselves. Logic is key. We haven’t had a lot of that in the collective sense recently and look where that has led. I care about the opportunities my children will have in life that otherwise will not be afforded to them if they do not receive a higher education. One need only to check the difference in unemployment rates between college educated workers and those who do not posses a college education to see how important this can be from a practical standpoint.

From a philosophical standpoint, I think it is the difference between having a quality life and fighting each day for quality of life. If after attending a university my children find their passion in a profession that does not require a college degree, I’ll support them all the way. However, I believe it better to choose among many options than to make the best out of limited ones.

Oh, and just one more little footnote. Whenever I stir the conservative pot with my writing, it seems inevitable that I come across as sounding fat and ugly. I don’t know why that this, but someone always feels a need to point out that I’d be an excellent candidate for Extreme Makeover. For my group of “fans” that fall into this category, I’ll make a deal with you. If you get me a spot on Extreme Makeover, I’ll read a book to you while I’m recuperating from my plastic surgery and we’ll call it even.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


I am a safety nut. I have one friend who actually calls me “Safety Sally.” Primarily, my nuttiness applies to my children, but I’m pretty personally nutty as well. We wear our seatbelts, sunscreen, and bike helmets. We take the lightening detectors at the soccer fields very seriously. If lightening even looks like a possibility, my children are out the pool before they can utter a protest. We also do not bathe or talk on the phone if lightening is in the area. I recently woke both children from a dead sleep, dragged them down the stairs and into the powder bath because a tornado warning had been issued for my county. My almost twelve-year-old son still does not ride in the front seat of my truck, which has a passenger side air bag. My children are driven the ten minute walk home from school, through our nice neighborhood, and past their friends walking to the their own homes. You get the idea. I’m the better-safe-than-sorry mom.

My family owns ATVs and I’ve reluctantly indulged my husband and my children in this risky activity. However, we wear helmets, goggles, gloves, long pants, boots, and chest protection at all times when riding. We ride on designated trails and avoid areas where the dirt biking crowd likes to hang. My children’s ATVs have orange flags that protrude several feet into the air behind them as they ride. They have wristbands that are connected to the keys that will kill the engine the second they have an accident. I still worry, but have done all I can to mitigate the risk.

“Safety Sally” was created in two ways. The irrational fears I have came from being raised by a mother who is, indeed, afraid of her own shadow, mysterious one-in-a-million diseases, bizarre lightening out of a clear blue sky, and many other things that have yet to happen in the history of mankind, but are sure to occur at any second. The real, logical, and common things I am afraid of came from being raised in rural East Texas. Young men die a lot in East Texas. I don’t know any other way to put it. They do. They hunt, they boat, they drink, they drive. They don’t wear hunting safety vests, life jackets, or seat belts. And when they drive, they drive fast. As a young girl, it didn’t take me long to notice that every time one of these types of tragedies occurred someone, usually the mother, lamented the fact that if only the deceased had … (insert worn a safety vest, life jacket, or seat belt here). It seemed so simple, at least to me. I don’t live in a bubble, but I mitigate the risks of the world whenever I can.

Last week, my family received a heartbreaking reminder about what can happen if risk is not mitigated. My uncle and seventeen-year-old cousin went on a routine fishing trip. I dare anyone to find a more experienced boater than my uncle or a child who spent more time on a boat than my cousin. They knew what they were doing. They were not drinking. Another boat was not involved. A thousand times they had been fishing on this lake and returned safely. A thousand times since my cousin turned twelve (the legal age for going without a life jacket in Texas) they had not worn life jackets. A thousand times life jackets in the boat’s storage compartment accompanied them. But on this day, this one day, they needed their life jackets. The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department says that ninety percent of boating fatalities in Texas are not wearing life jackets. Six people drowned in single boat accidents on Texas lakes in March, including my uncle and cousin. Not one was wearing a life jacket.

We will never know for sure exactly what happened. But this we do know. At some point during their return trip to shore both left the boat and entered the water. Both drowned. The experts have told us that without life jackets they had almost no chance of survival. The search for them began three hours after they left the boat. The search for my uncle continued for five days. It took ten days to find my cousin. If you won’t wear a life jacket while boating to save yourself, please wear one so that your family does not have to stand on the shore of a lake wondering where underneath all that water your body might possibly be. Please wear one because there are people that will miss you when you are gone. People that are not done loving you. People who will never be the same without you. Wear one because you love someone and they love you back.

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