Shame, a worthless endeavor?

For the sake of clarity, I was raised in a small Idaho town, population less than 8,300. I had a mom and a dad, four brothers and three sisters, lived on eight rural acres of property, never went without food, did my fair share of raising my younger siblings, and have yet to run out of things to complain about.

Enter Shameless.

For those of you who haven’t met the Gallaghers, the show is about five children struggling to survive in inner city Chicago. Emmy Rossum leads as oldest sister, high school drop out, make everything work Fiona. She takes turns keeping her younger siblings fed, clothed, and going to school. Fiona, I understand. It’s Frank, her father, that makes my skin crawl. He’s a drunk, drug addicted, self-pitying piece of trash of a father. When he isn’t stealing food and money from his own kids, he’s breaking the law in every manner possible and blaming everyone else for it. He’s an obviously intelligent man, broken by addiction and selfishness. He could have been so much more. Perhaps it is the point of the show, but it makes me uncomfortable. I think it’s written and acted very well, it’s just the subject matter that comes at me and mixes my emotions to the boiling point.

Shame is difficult for me. I’ve spent a lifetime being ashamed of just about everything I’ve touched. None of which could be termed nearly interesting enough for this show, by the way. Shame has shaped decades of my life, twisted events that should have been life affirming and learning experiences into heinous crimes against respectability. Shame has flogged me on in forcing myself to do the right thing, what I was raised to do, what I should do. And then I watch this show and see this family doing whatever they want irregardless of law or sense, because they want to, or feel they must. They are scavengers, rabid children willing to beg, borrow or steal to live another day. They have no time for shame, there is only survival. shameless

This hit me time and again as I struggled through seven seasons of episodes, the total lack of shame. I can easily forgive the children for running about like wild animals, I’ve seen their parents. Watching these two adults deconstruct their children one greedy, narcissistic act at a time, I started to wonder is this fiction or the re-telling of a horrible reality?

I’ve seen the news stories, parents and grandparents passed out on the school run. Are feral children becoming more the law than the exception? Do these parent’s really have no shame?

How is it that being raised in a stable home, out in the country with both parents can produce a child so ashamed of herself that she readily gives pieces away for kernels of approval? And if you can answer that, then how does a reckless man unable to care for his children, unwilling to stop drinking or lighting up enough to stop, end up feeling Shameless?






The Bathtub, A Cautionary Tale

It started simply enough, my lifelong love of water. Water in any form, rain, snow, ice, steam, droplets, torrents, falls, even puddles give me a little thrill. I love how it looks, how it smells, and the curl it gives my hair.

Rainstorms were few and far between, growing up in Idaho, but when they hit I’d run into the deepest parts of the tree farm and get lost in the rain until the last drop moved on in its Easterly direction. I’d arrive back on my front doorstep and find myself hurried into the bathroom for a warm bath. A perfect day.

Fast forward to me as a responsible adult.


The fourth time I didn’t, technically, drop my phone in the tub, just kind of dipped the top of its head in. Turns out that pissed it off far more than the three previous baptisms. By then I knew exactly what to do and was scrambling to shut it down. It was like watching my life flash before my eyes. The screen flashed pictures, websites, album covers and memes at me in lightning speed. Mocking my slippery fingers, it defied my attempts to shut it down until it was good and finished. Then in that glorious moment when I saw the shut down banner, when I thought I could save it one last time, it committed suicide. Right there in my own hand. It was heartbreaking.

I waited overnight, then tried a litte more CPR in the morning, but it wasn’t to be. Now, I realize that this is probably not much more than an annoyance for most people. They’d run across town to the (enter favorite cell phone company here) store and have their phone replaced. Well, I got my phone when I lived in Pittsburgh, and I’ve never changed carriers. My carrier doesn’t have a store in North Dakota. But guess what, that’s ok! I’ve waited three days for a new phone before, and I can do it again. I got online and looked longingly at that flashy red phone then ordered the refurbished silver phone like the responsible adult I am.

Two days later I checked on my phone which had been shipped according to the website, only to find that the new shipping date was Aug. 25-Sept. 8. WHAT?!? I checked the calendar, yes it was still Aug 14th. No, no way was this going to work. I made a desperate call to my carrier, but in the end all they could do was cancel my order. The phones are shipped by the phone company.

“Jeff, I can’t go without a phone till September!” I exclaimed again, as if just saying it a certain number of times, plus remembering the operator’s name would be the magical combination to instant gratification. It wasn’t. I fumed about it a day or two longer, looking at the website trying to find something that would work but knowing only one thing would do.


Some of you might be surprised I didn’t send out announcements celebrating the arrival of my new phone. I thought about it. He really is the most gorgeous thing I’ve ever owned. I went without a phone for almost three weeks while I saved my pennies to splurge.

In those three weeks I learned a thing or two about myself.

  • I can wait for something I want bad enough
  • I like not being at everyone’s beck and call
  • I can drive across town without a phone and live
  • It’s amazing how many people sit together and just look at their phones. Amazing.
  •  I sleep so much better with no phone in my room
  • I missed my phone more than I miss a lot of people
  • I spend a lot of time on my phone, reading, playing, spying, stressing, banking, perving…you name it, I do it with my phone.
  • I can live without my phone

I CAN live without a cell phone but I don’t want to.

It’s better now.

Trust me.