Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Hi Mom!

We were on our way back from my stepsister's funeral when my mom and I decided to stop and grab some lunch. We really hadn't seen much of each other since our last silly argument, which had left both of us pretty sour (and had resulted in my unfortunately venemous post on Sunday). So over spring rolls and Kung Pao chicken, we both started apologizing.

We were laughing about the whole thing, and Mom offered me a rather back-handed compliment. She said she really enjoyed "discussing" things with me, and she was impressed that I always seemed to have my facts straight. (Not always, I'll admit... sometimes I just bluff really well.) Anyway, she said it was really good to see me fired up about something, "even if your principles are a little misguided."

The whole thing got me to thinking about my post on Sunday, and how it was so unnecessarily hostile towards her. I had written it while I was still fuming about the "my opinion is different than yours, so get over it" crack, and my point was likely lost amidst a bunch of grumbling.

Oddly, that was the first of my posts to receive any comments from strangers. The first came from some guy with a blog that basically regurgitates articles from Bush apologists. And of course, he took exception to my points that: 1) Bush refuses to admit that he's wrong about anything, and 2) Republicans seem to think that the economy will get better and America will be safer if they just keep saying it over and over again.

His counterarguments were: 1) Bush has never been wrong, so he has nothing to admit, and 2) The economy is getting better and America is safer.

That's about 300% more irony than you'll find in any Alanis Morissette song.

But those points aside, I really regret the tone of Sunday's post. My mother is a remarkably intelligent and independent woman. She raised me and my sister as a single mom, working long hours to keep us fed and happy. She's survived a couple of unfortunate marriages, and come through them stronger and more determined. She has always been supportive of me, even when I wasn't making the best or most informed decisions. She saw me through some rough times in college, and she was there for me when I was dealing with my father's death. If it weren't for her, I have no idea where I'd be today. Probably hopped up on crystal meth and hosting a conservative radio talk show...

So Mom, if by some strange turn of events you should find yourself reading this, then I hope you know that I love you dearly and have nothing but the utmost respect for your opinions and beliefs.

Even if they are a little misguided ;-)

Monday, August 30, 2004

Katrina Kracmer (1976-2004)

On Monday night, August 23, Katrina Kracmer was running late for a support group meeting. She was rushing down the sidewalk on Gaston Avenue in her motorized wheelchair when a car hopped the curb and crashed into her.

The driver just sped away.

Katrina was critically injured, but held on for four more days. Her family took her off of life support on Friday afternoon, and she died almost immediately afterwards.

Dallas police are still looking for her killer.


Katrina was born with spina bifida, a disorder in which the spinal column fails to close completely. As a result, she was paralyzed from the waist down. She wore braces on her legs and used crutches to get around.

I met Katrina in 1988, when my mom was dating her dad Frank. And she was like any other 12-year-old girl in most regards. She was adorable, giggly, naive, sweet, occasionally bratty...

For some reason, she took a liking to me almost immediately. Any time I was around her, she would cling to my arm or hold my hand. When I went to visit Mom and Frank (they married in 1990), Katrina would insist that I sit next to her at dinner.

I guess it was a crush. And even as I grumblingly endured it, deep down inside I was totally eating it up. Who wouldn't want to be adored, especially by someone as remarkable as Katrina?


I wish I could say that we stayed in touch, that she remained an important part of my life. But sadly, Mom and Frank divorced and Katrina and I just sort of lost touch. I would occasionally see her brother Joe, who would bring me up to date. And each time, Katrina's life seemed to be tinged with more and more tragedy.

She had dropped out of high school in the 10th grade, and was struggling to get by. She had been using drugs and drinking way too much, and for a time she had even lived on the street.

But as Joe said, "She had an innocent, childlike perspective on life. She believed there was good in everything."

Katrina really was trying to turn things around, and she was making astonishing progress. She'd sworn off the drugs four years ago. She'd given birth to a son two years ago, the stress of which had left her in a wheelchair. But even now, she was going through rehabilitation, trying to learn once more how to move around on the crutches.

She'd gotten married in February to a guy she met in the Dallas Life Foundation. And for the past two months, she'd been sober. She was on her way to an alcoholics recovery group meeting when she was killed.

God damn it.


Trina, you were truly a beautiful and remarkable person. I wish I had done better by you. I wish we all had.

Rest in peace.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

The other day, I was riding home from Winnsboro with my mom. It's a two-hour trip and, as we often do when we're trapped in the car together, we began discussing politics.

My mom is a Republican and frightfully conservative. And if you've been paying attention, you know that I'm... well... not.

I should first mention that I HATE arguing with my mom. Not just politics, but anything. I admit that once I get embroiled in the discussion, I get animated. My voice gets raised, and I can be really fucking stubborn.

Three guesses where I get it from.

The thing is, Mom doesn't argue from a factual standpoint. This may sound like a cheap shot, but it's something she's readily admitted to me several times. She doesn't have all the facts at her disposal. She just knows how she feels. Which is why she's convinced Bush is a great president, even though the facts have a distinct anti-Bush bias.

So anyway, she casually mentioned as we were driving home, "One of the things I admire about Bush is that he's always willing to admit when he's wrong."

I spewed Diet Vanilla Coke all over the windshield and just stared at her.

"If he feels he's done something wrong, he WILL admit it," she insisted.

"Well, as long as we're just making crap up," I said, "I've always admired Kerry's ability to pee chocolate milk and travel through time."

The debate devolved and ended, as most of ours do, with her insisting piously that she has an opinion that's different than mine, and I'm just going to have to get over it. And I resolved then, as I have a dozen times since, that I would not argue with Mom anymore.

I hate that. I honestly do. She will rail on for 20 minutes, trying to change my mind about something, and when she fails, she'll accuse me of being intolerant of her opinion.

I know she doesn't believe that. I know it's just a way to end the argument and save face. If you can't win on the facts, then just change it into a moral argument and pretend to take the high road.

Did I mention she's a Republican? They're good at that.

But seriously. Bush has always been willing to admit when he was wrong? Name ONE time! Unlike the usual Republican bullshit ("The economy is getting better." "We're winning the war on terror." "America is safer.") I think even the most ardent Bush supporter would have a hard time getting behind this one.

After all, the Republicans have a term for people who admit that they were wrong about something. They call those people "flip-floppers."