I have finally discovered it’s a lie!

 

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It’s a lie, it’s all been one great big fat lie! I don’t know what to believe anymore! My inner self-worth has been annihilated, any resemblance of an ego obliterated and then there is the whole trust issue! Yeah that’s right I said it, T R U S T….. How on earth am I to trust anymore? Huh? Huh? What? Yeah I know, its like impossible now!

Maybe I better go back to the beginning.

(flashback mode) diddledoooo, diddleeeedooo, diddleeeedoooooo

Fourth grade and Mrs Schultz asks: Betty what do you want to be when you grow up? Now first of all its a really nice Norman Rockwell image but COME ON!!! What kid in fourth grade truly knows what they want to be when they grow up!

I throw out the only answer that comes to mind. Now before I tell you let me just preface by saying these where the days of TV shows like B.J. and the bear, White line fever and of course my personal favorite Smokey and the Bandit! “10-4 good buddy, come on back you got the Schoolboy 9 on this end!”

So if you havent guessed it, my choice of all the wonderful far-fetched career paths to be pie eyed and moon struck over was that of the truck driver! 18 wheels, coast to coast, my adventures would be never-ending.  Hauling materials to those in need and maybe even solving crime along the way.  My truck was going to be a cab over Kenworth (red) with more chrome than a 57 Chevy! Yep I had it all figured out.

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Unfortunately Mrs Schultz didn’t see it that way. For as soon as I spun my web of fantasy over the 18 wheeler I then heard from her terse red lips the common denominator that would haunt me for the rest of my educational experience. A truck driver? Are you kidding me? Son this is America, where you can be what ever you wish to become.  A images-18smart kid like you could be a doctor, or scientist, a policeman, fireman or heck if you work hard enough at it one day maybe even the President of the United States! Apparently according to everyone elses standards becoming a truck driver did not fall into the parameters of becoming what ever you want in America!

So whats a lad to do? I did what any other young man in my position would do, I tried to become everything but a truck driver. Farm hand, dishwasher, construction worker, salesman, cowman, delivery driver, dairyman and so on. You know what? I hadn’t become educated at all.  I struggled all through school, I was never tested to see if I had a learning disability or if the courses were above my comprehension level.  Always scolded for poor grades and reminded by my parents alongside administrators that with a little more effort maybe I would amount to something. Reminded constantly that in America you can be what ever you wish, as long as it isn’t a dishwasher or farm hand, construction worker, salesman, cowman, dairyman etc…. All the things I actually enjoyed doing.

When high school was over it felt as though a giant burden had been lifted from my soul. No more daily disappointment, no more struggling through classes, trying as hard as I could only to receive a C or D grade. I didn’t graduate with my class, I finished at a community college over the summer, testing and passing my GED with outstanding scores in every subject! Confusing huh? Either way I had that paper in hand, and it was time for me to enter the world, where I worked as a construction worker, dairyman, car salesman, cowman and overall farm hand.  I was happy. It suited me, I didn’t make any money but I also didn’t care.  My family was confused with my choices, these jobs to them had no future, no means of long-term sustenance.  It wasnt what parents wanted for their children in America! Nope, here in the states anyone can be anything and do what ever they choose.  Want to be a doctor? Just find the funding, go to school and whala! You are a doctor, revered by all who see you and the talk of every mothers book club! She must be so proud! He works on a dairy? Oh honey I am so sorry he let you all down. (must be a sign of poor parenting)

I finally got the nerve one day to ask my boss if I could drive his 10 wheel tank truck. He said yes and after two years of hard work, long hours and very few days off I earned the opportunity (key word being “opportunity”)to get behind the wheel of his 18 wheel hay truck. A few more long days of practicing backing it up, moving it around the dairy both loaded and unloaded and before long-wait for it-wait for it- have you guessed yet? THATS RIGHT MRS. SCHULTZ I WAS DRIVING A SEMI-TRUCK ALL OVER NORTHERN CALIFORNIA!!!! WHOOP WHOOP! She was blue and chrome and covered in shiny aluminum and she was all mine!!!

I spent ten years driving hay trucks, logging over a million miles. When I decided the dream wasnt all it had been cracked up to be (no crime fighting you know) I went back to school and after 5 years of working 90 hour work weeks, volunteering at one fire department while working part-time on Sundays (the only day off I had) I landed a full-time gig as a firefighter for the department I continue to work for to this day 18 years later.

So I am sure you are scratching your head wondering where the lie is? Betty acquired a respectable job after all? What the heck?

Today I am surrounded by children of all ages. Helping at schools, my wife being a teacher, having taught High School Fire Science for 5 years, 4-H, FFA etc… And what I see scares me. Scares me to the very core of my being, and because of this lie perpetrated upon myself and generations of children it is only going to get worse.  I see children walking around with their heads full of shit! I see a school system developed to check the boxes, not explore the possibilities, I see bright inquisitive minds  molded, compressed, held back, all to meet a systems ideal of how children should be taught.  As if all minds worked exactly the same, all brains absorbed information at the same rate, all eyes see exactly the same information you the teacher have so carefully placed upon the school board.

When I look into a classroom or gaze upon a group at practice it’s so obvious there little gears are all turning at different levels.  Ask them to perform, if you are truly paying attention then you will see one maybe two get it the first time, three-nine get it the second time and 3-5 are still processing with one or two so utterly lost they use humor or anger to hide their mistrust of the educational system, coaching and the adults who have lied to them all along.

Why are we as a society standing by, allowing this to happen? We preach children are our future then walk away, dropping the most precious soul we have at the school door hoping a state-run system will prepare them for the world! The United States ranks 17 in the world for education. That is 17th out of 40 countries, I am sorry not everyone gets a trophy on this one people! Wake up! Our children are learning how to check the boxes, they no longer have the ability to think for themselves, they need multiple choice answers to make an attempt at anything and I am sorry if this pisses anyone off but why aren’t we testing them early to determine what they ARE good at instead of filling their heads with shit! Lying to them constantly by telling them its ok, you can be what ever you want to be! Just try harder next time! No matter how hard you try or don’t try, everyone will get a trophy, everyone will get our prescribed education, everyone needs to understand you can have what ever you want or need because you are an educated American which leaves you automatically entitled to it all!

Liars!

How much better would our society be if all children were tested, thusly developing a plan to educate them accordingly. Children from 1-12 grade would develop a stronger sense of pride through accomplished work.  Work that not only do they have the ability to understand but actually excel at! WOW what a concept! Educators knowing who has the mental acuity to thrive in college bringing our countries A game to the highest level.  Educators also knowing who will thrive in trade schools and wow what a difference they will make with workers proud of their jobs, bringing careers to the highest of levels because they have found success through hard work and understanding of the processes associated with these career choices.

Listen I know it’s not that simple, but I also know whats happening now is not working. It didn’t work when I was a child and it surely isn’t working with 30 years of revisions. I spent the better part of my childhood ashamed that I was stupid, terrified of tests (something I still struggle with as an adult) and mentally not prepared for the world by my parents or my teachers. To this day I feel lost when I can’t figure something out, ashamed to ask for help, in fear of being reminded of just how dumb I really am. Why? Because that’s the education system I was raised in, told to sink or swim, toe the line or be towed, then patted on the head and reminded I can be what ever I want to be! It was all a lie.

images-16You cannot be anything you wish to be, and a society that frowns upon those who wish to become part of the blue-collar group is a society destined for failure through the creation of uninspired and lazy human beings. Chastising them will only push them away from what they love, not teaching them the basics of blue-collar work and cheering their successes will only develop more animosity and hatred towards society.  At some point a person tires of hearing how their choices are a failure and they just quit. It’s an ugly circle and you can see its effects daily in the news.

On the flip side how many children who are naturally quiet, reserved and fearful of the monster that is our 40 child classroom one way of learning educational system are freaking geniuses? How many undiscovered talents quietly sulk in the rear of classrooms across this country because fear keeps them from learning? Future Mensa card holders never to discovered due to a system that would never find them.

Lets stop the lie. Lets go back to fostering young minds, drawing out creativity, celebrating the individual, and developing unashamed, caring human beings filled with knowledge, empathy and love.

So yes today I finally figured out it was all a lie and no matter how hard I try I am not going to become the President of the United States, but if we could just become fifth in the world of education, then maybe everyone can have a trophy….

“A young head filled with shit, will eventually become an older self entitled shit which in turn will blossom into an adult piece of shit! Useless to themselves and society as a whole because they just dont give a shit.”

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A cry for help…….

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A few years ago a promise was made.

I Betty, promised without outside influence or undue strain to lose weight, become healthier both physically and mentally. I Betty promised to change my eating habits, giving up three square meals a day (ok my meals were really more like a long rectangle) of grease, fat and yummy goodness, for the more reserved, deliberate, granola eating, salad munching variety. I also promised to cut down on my love for fine beers! Dark beers, light beers, heavy beers, bitter beers, and smooth beers, if it gave head in a glass I was in! (Read into that what you will, I aint your mom)

Why? Why did I change my ways? Give up the good life? Stop adhering to my strong belief that if God hadn’t intended me to enjoy these devilish treats then he wouldn’t have created someone to create them for me! Why? Why you ask?

Because my son told me he didn’t want me to die!

Kind of grabs ya by the old ticker don’t it? Imagine these pie shaped eyes looking up at you as he asks; Daddy doesn’t being overweight kill people? Daddy my teacher says alcohol is bad for you and that some people even die from drinking it. Daddy why do you smoke cigars? Aren’t they made of tobacco? Tobacco kills people doesn’t it? I have seen the commercials dad, the ones with the smoke that looks like a skull creeping in and killing a baby, dad I seen it!!!

Yeah it’s like that. What do you say to that? How do you approach it? An honest child’s question deserves respect! It cannot be cast aside and made fun of jovially as you talk up a good game with your buddies! No! You have to actually listen and either come up with one hell of a great lie to justify your obvious ignorance as far as the child is concerned or actually get down on one knee and apologize to the kid as though you were in freaking confession and praying for a reduced sentence on the hail Mary front! Now those questions were really me paraphrasing a conversation held between myself and two of my boys at different stages in their lives. The elder won out with tobacco and the junior won out with health and wellness.

Now two almost three full years after the latter round of questioning involving eating and weight loss or gain as it were for myself and I have lost almost 25 pounds! I am in absolutely the very best shape of my life! I have run in a few 5K’s, practiced with my eldest’s cross country team, run the “Tough Mudder” and completed it in a respectable time with my wife and a few close friends! I currently am lifting weights and riding my bike ten miles to work! It is fantastic the way I feel! Now don’t think for a moment I am bragging. Oh no my children, I am merely setting the stage, drawing you a picture for what I am going to say next because I am at a quandary, a roadblock, a wall of great proportions in my narrow view of life and it just wouldn’t make sense without having given an accurate description of events.

So with that statement along with what appears to me as being a fair picture drawn here it is…..

I LOVE CHOCOLATE!chocolate

There, I said it! I love freaking chocolate! I see it in everything, cake, ice cream, candy bars, bacon (yeah I said bacon so what) smores, little truffles, m&m’s, cookies, hell they have even jammed chocolate in granola bars, puffed it into cereals, wrapped it around drinking straws, created a martini based on chocolate! Its splashed over nuts, caramel, fruit, peanut butter, wafers, bugs (yep even insects get the chocolate treatment) and they have even made chocolate flavored medicine!

It’s everywhere! It makes me sweat when I see it! I tremble and my knees weaken! But that and that alone is not the worst of my confession, oh no!

Because….

Because you know what goes great with a gorging of chocolate, regardless of its source? What really brings the chocolate lover in you out of the closet? BEER!!!!! It helps wash down the guilt all that chocolate leaves adhered to your soul! Then you know what happens after you have a few too many beers washing down all that chocolate? YOU EAT MORE CHOCOLATE!!!! Before you know it your mouth is all dry and sticky from devouring the previous chocolate morsels so you better open up a few more beers, because gosh darn it you can’t wash down all that chocolate with 12 ounces, nope chocolate is a 16-24 ounce minimum!

Then it depends on what kind of chocolate you are eating! Cheap milk chocolate you say! No problem any domestic light beer works great! Snooty dark chocolate, that takes a micro brew and heaven forbid you’re eating the sweet sinuous, melt in your mouth English chocolate, because then, all bets are off! It goes with everything!!!! YAAAAAAAAAY!!!!!

beerNext thing you know I am a bloated toad lying on the couch trying to hide my stomach distension from the family while tossing beer bottles under the couch and shoving candy wrappers in the cushions! Feeling much like a super model with the need to “purge” I am constantly looking for an out, trying to detract from my obvious discomfort and keeping all little ones at bay as one fly by would lead to the courts discovery of beer vapors emanating around the lip/mouth area!

Much like a fat man wedged deep inside a Duncan doughnuts delivery truck, it is not a pretty sight! I am known far and wide for my chocolate locating ability and like the fabled ant eater has a nose for ants I can smell chocolate before it hits the parking lot! I will sit straight up in my chair, nose twitching as the wife asks; what is it boy, what do you smell huh? What do you smell boy? She pats my head as slowly I start panting and before long with the stature of a bird dog on the hook I freeze and point. Chocolate found, chocolate soon to be destroyed!

So you see my dilemma? I am weakening, my resolve is expiring, the goodness I have done for my body is one thing, but the fat kid inside me is winning the fight! I work where food is always present, I am surrounded by friends and family who enjoy a good beer or two and lately stress has ruled my life forcing my inner demons to emerge! I am going down people, I am going down hard! Hands are shaking, knees clacking, nose twitching, and my beer hand is strengthening its grip! I am going down, yes I am going all the way down like a sinking ship on the open sea!

If you see me on the street you’ll know, wedged in a bakery window slathered in chocolate cream, lying on the sidewalk outside a 7-11 covered in M&M’s with Coors light littering the sidewalk, face first in some chocolate cake with butter cream frosting outside a restaurant or passed out in the local Big Spoon with fro-yo down the front of my shirt and every chocolate topping they offer scattered around my $45.00 yogurt. No longer a hero to my children….11950-550x-franceso-de-molfetta-new-idols-front

So don’t laugh, don’t take pity on me, I did my best, held on as long as I could. Please just walk on by and remember how strong I used to be if even for a little while. Then tell my kids I loved them.

Sigh…………

*This is not a true cry for help but self-deprecating humor of my love for beer and chocolate. No chocolate or beer was used in excess or harmed while writing this piece.

Im BAAAAACCCCCKKKKKK!

im back

Hello dearies’ Betty is back.

So lately I’ve really been having a hard time coming up with anything to write about. My life has held quite a few ups and downs and along with the occasional 5pm nip’ to sooth the soul, well let’s just say Betty is plum tuckered out!

But not to fret! Today while working around the station I made a promise to myself that tonight would be the night, and if it meant writing about the very first thing popping into my shriveling brain (age you know) then darn it so be it!

Tantalizing huh?

Anyways I am seated at the computer and well, ok, uh, here goes, we are writing about the very first thing that POPS into my brain. Hmmm-maybe after I adjust the seat a little…. There we go, now how about a sip of lemonade? Yes, yes I feel something profound coming on….. Turn off the phone, maybe a little music to stimulate the senses, that may work don’t you think? Ahhh wait a minute I think I may have something, Yeeees, yeeeeeees, YES!

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches!peanut butter

Now everyone who’s enjoyed old Betty’s company knows that alongside the world-famous hot dog there is nothing I like better than a good peanut butter and jelly sandwich! The thought of one right now leaves my taste buds drowning like the bottom of Niagara falls! Beloved by children around the world this little piece of culinary mastery has been the staple of lunches for generations! Bringing smiles of pleasure while ingesting with a crisp cold glass of milk and a Oreo cookie! (We will cover Oreo’s at another juncture)

MMMMMMMMM-M! Yep, filling, satisfying, tasty and good for you too! (Don’t give stats on nutrition I don’t care as far as I’m concerned it’s next to perfect) But where the real secret in the Peanut Butter and Jelly (PB&J) sandwich lies is in how it’s made or “crafted”! I know freaking crazy huh? All this time you were just slapping those two ingredients together and BAM! You thought you were in the clear! Sheer perfection done! But no my children, sadly it’s not that simple. The preparation, the dynamic, the love placed into every one of theses sandwiches is legendary and with its tradition must be honored or held with the highest regards! But before I get into the specifics let’s take a stroll down memory lane to understand the origin of the PB&J.

History

In the early 1900s, peanut butter was considered a delicacy that was only served in New York City‘s finest tearooms. The product was first paired with a diverse set of foods such as pimento, nasturtium, cheese, celery, watercress, and on toasted crackers. In a Good Housekeeping article published in May 1896, a recipe “urged homemakers to use a meat julia davis chandlergrinder to make peanut butter and spread the result on bread.” In June of that same year, the culinary magazine Table Talk published a “peanut butter sandwich recipe.” The first reference of peanut butter paired with jelly on bread to be published in the United States was by Julia Davis Chandler in 1901 in the Boston Cooking-School Magazine of Culinary Science and Domestic Economics. By the late 1920s, this sandwich eventually moved down the class structure as the price of peanut butter dropped. It became popular with children. During World War II, it is said that both peanut butter and jelly were found on U.S. soldiers’ military ration list, as claimed by the Peanut Board. –Wikipedia

Good enough for a soldier than damn sure lip smacking good enough for my little heathens I say! Julia Davis Chandler I love you for thinking outside the box, throwing caution into the wind and not allowing Boston’s elite to scoff at the idea of pairing the ever so coveted peanut butter with a poor man’s ration of smooshed up fruit! Humph!

Hey that reminds me; you got your chocolate on my peanut butter! No you got your peanut butter on my chocolate! Hee hee, a topic of peanut/chocolate/ desert delight best held for another time.

Now I am not sure sweet caring Julia knew at the time, but to build a perfect peanut butter and jelly sandwich one must choose the proper ingredients, hand-pick the perfect bread and place them all together in sequence or you just end up with a soggy poo sandwich!

  1. The bread must be white! Not that marketing ploy I am healthy for you fake wheat/white bread they are selling oh no! Smooshy, white, bleached white, squishy, soft, smells straight from the oven white bread! Now for a more sophisticated connoisseur, gathering a few slices of sourdough in place of white and serving the sandwich as such will wring the hundred-dollar bill from any man, but for the heart and soul of this sandwich nothing less than real white bread will do!
  2. Jelly is a sticky subject (all pun intended). There are spreads, jellies, jams, preserves and whatever that stuff is that comes in the white wrapped generic bottles from the bottom shelf of every grocery store in America! In my humble, little ole opinion, jams and preserves are the only way to go! If you are taking the time to enjoy the fruits Mother Nature has provided on a sandwich paired with the butter of a peanut then for the love of god it had better EXPLODE with fruity flavor! Now there are multiple choices when it comes to the jam/jelly arena of battle! But for my taste buds only Strawberry or Blackberry will do. You can use what you want, but please remember this; marmalade is not a jelly, I don’t care what anyone tells you! Oh it looks like jelly, its labeled jelly and its makes a good attempt at tasting like jelly! But jelly lives on the wrong side of the tracks people! Over yonder where the rich kids dare not go! So never and I mean ever pair that homemade blue-collar, loving life jelly with a marmalade! baconYou are just asking for trouble and the next thing you know kids in the town are going to want to dance! And hold a school dance on the outskirts of town in an old grain mill… Sorry got stuck in the 80’s for a minute. But even so, It just aint right.
  3. Peanut Butter comes under many guises. We have creamy peanut butter-smooth and soft like a fat baby’s underbelly! Heavenly taken from straight out of the center of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup! Crunchy peanut butter-rough, gritty, nutty it shouts I am alumberjack lumberjack, or Sasquatch lives here! This crude creation melded so slightly with white collars soft frailty overloading your senses with a feeling of all natural while sliding into something from Ralph Lauren. And of course last but least there is Natural Peanut Butter all oily and un-mixed, kept in a fridge for fear it will actually age and turn more disgusting. Yah that’s all I got on natural peanut butter. I see that jar come from the fridge and I instantly roll up a newspaper and smack that person on the nose screaming; NO! NO! YOU PUT THAT BACK! NO! BAD PERSON, BAD PERSON!
  4. Last but not least. Place an equal amount of peanut butter on one slice of bread as you would jelly/jam on the other side of bread. Too much peanut butter and the sandwich sticks to the roof of your mouth which can be like asking your tongue to wrestle stretch Armstrong. Too much jelly and a diabetic coma is in your future complete with desert like thirst and the need to lick some coffee grounds to even out the sweetness. Place both halves together gently, careful not to squish as squashing creates oozy, seeping jelly bread and enjoy!

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So there you have it, the first thing that came to my mind encompassing the four major components of the Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwich.

Hope you all are glad I am back! Hee hee hee!

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