Athiest group hires Petraeus to run their “war on Christmas”

General David H. Petraeus, Commanding General ...

General David H. Petraeus, Commanding General Multinational Force – Iraq (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(published at

11/25/2012 7:05 AM Alyson Durden – While the details of the affair that led him to leave the CIA are not all yet known, David Petraeus’ next move was announced today; he will run American Atheists‘ annual “war on Christmas.” The group released this today:
“American Atheists is proud to announce General David Petraeus has joined our team and will run this year’s war on Christmas. For years, we have fought for the rights of non-God fearing Americans and now we think we have a shot of winning. The experience and knowledge he will bring to this campaign will help up finally rid the world of the abomination that is Christmas. We can only hope the planet thanks us when it is all over.” A spokesperson followed up by tweeting, “We got Petraeus. How you like us now?”

General Petraeus is widely considered to be one of the best military tacticians of his generation, but it is unclear how his talents will be used in what is, by all accounts, a public relations war, something he clearly knows little about. While Petraeus’ representatives refused to comment on the new job, sources close to him told PTP, “David is not one to sit home and knit or crochet or whatever. He likes to be where the action is,” said longtime friend, Jeff Jeffords, “and if you saw what they offered him, you’d understand. He gets all the sliced, fresh pineapple he can eat. And some of those atheists are pretty cute.”

Conservative groups were shocked by the news, not that Petraeus was running this war but that it actually exists. “Really? There is an actual ‘war on Christmas?’I thought that was just something we made up to make Democrats look bad,” said Gary Bauer, head of the Family Research Council. “Is this a new thing? I mean, did we give them the idea? This is going to make 2014 a lot more interesting. Gotta run, I need to call my ad company. We’ve got liberals to fight!”

Children of the world took the news less well. “Isn’t David Petraeus a decorated war hero? Why does he want to kill Santa? Does this mean I have been good all year for nothing?” asked Susie Jenkins. “I’ll bet that nasty Calvin is behind this, I am going to tell Mrs. Wormwood on him!”

Yes, Susie, you should definitely tell Mrs. Wormwood.

Being uncoordinated can be fun!

Note: medical update is at bottom.

Central Park, New York City, Winter: The Skati...

Central Park, New York City, Winter: The Skating Pond, 1862 by Currier and Ives. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reader Emmawolf asked, “I love the concept of a favorite injury. Is this because the story behind it is your favorite?”  That got me thinking about my favorite injuries…  These are in no particular order.

That hip thing I mentioned.  When I was growing up, I used to spend Christmas in Minneapolis with my all too active family.  If I didn’t know better, I would think they were actively trying to kill me as many things they took me to do were things they did all the time but I did rarely.  Case in point, cross country skiing.  I would do it when I visited them but they did it daily.  They would always want to do the hardest trails, when I asked about this Roger told me “at least this isn’t the MOST dangerous trail, just snow plow if you cannot stop.”  The last hill of the day had a “most difficult” sign and was just before the parking lot.  You cannot “snow plow” on ice or on a 45 degree angle.  I wiped out to avoid crashing into an SUV.

We also did a lot of ice skating on ponds.  They were great but being natural, they had divits in them and were not smooth at all.  When I was about ten, I was skating on a pond and must have hit one but I went flying and landed on my hip.  It hurt like crazy.  I was sure I was bleeding.  I played it off like I was fine (more embarrassed) and checked it when I got back to the house.  The result was a bruise that remained totally black for more than a year.  Years later, an xray would reveal that I had chipped my hip at some point.  That’s the only time I hurt it so I am going with it happened that day when I was ten.

Why is it a favorite?  First of all, I loved ice skating.  I love all the sports I played with my family.  I plan to teach a friend to play tennis for that very reason.  Secondly, I was a total Tom boy and relished all my scrapes and bruises. It made me feel all tough that I never sought out medical help for this.  And lastly, it reminds me of a time when I wasn’t the medical oddity that I have become.  The main reason is number 1.  I miss being that active.  It inspires me to work towards being that active again.

My goofy injuries are just silly.  I have a scar on my left knee that, combined with my knee surgery scars looks like :].  I got it in a crazy ping pong accident.  Yeah, you read that right.  A ping pong accident.  Additionally, I have soldered my fingers together (twice), been knocked unconscious in wood shop class, dislocated my shoulder body surfing (was too focused on losing my bathing suit top to care) and just last night walked into a door going to the bathroom in the middle of the night.  These make me laugh and remind me that life without whimsy is just not worth living.  Best part of these is that none really hurt because I was laughing so hard.  I was pretty good at shop class but whenever someone glued their fingers together, the teacher assumed it was me.  For the record, it was my high school lab partner, not me, who got her melted goggles stuck to her head.  I was the one who fell asleep in chem class and fell out of my desk but I never glued my goggles to my head.  At least not in high school.

You think you’re getting my bag?  Ok, you are but I am going to injure myself first!  My right index finger is crooked because it was broken when I was struggling with a mugger to keep my bag.  The strap broke and he took off.  I took off after him and caught him.  He threw some dirt at me (note: this means he had no weapon, I should have pounced).  Bitch, stop following me!  Me: But you have my bag!  He then hit me with something, probably my own bag and I woke up in the street (concussion number 6?).  I ran in the direction he had been going in to find a cop sitting in his car at the end of the street.  When I told him what happened he said, are you sure you were attacked?  PSA of this post, sarcasm does you no favors in this situation.  I responded, No, I normally walk around with my face covered in dirt.  It’s the latest fashion trend, straight from Paris and Milan  Seriously, he was not amused.

This reminds me that I do stand up for myself when I need to.  And that I am an idiot. Never chase someone who just mugged you.  There’s a time and place to be a hero, that isn’t it.

Medical update:  I was hoping  to have real news about the scans I had today but I don’t.  I had MRIs and MRAs (magnetic resonance angiogram) done of my brain today.  I hoped they would give me some information but they refused.  I have to wait to talk to my doctor next week.  Oh, and I know that headaches + seizures + vision problems + language issues can = brain cancer.  I also know that this is really, really, really rare.  I only mention that because of the number of times I have been asked, You don’t have a brain tumor do you?  I sure hope not!  I also really don’t think I do.  If there is anything on my brain that should not be there, I should know early next week and will post something as soon as do.

PS.  Thank you, social media.  I have a tendency to keep to myself when I am upset about something and recent events have only made me want to do that more.  I mean, who wants to be out and about while they are having seizures and trouble speaking?  Not me.  By opening up here, I have received some amazing support and it has inspired me to not give into my hermit instincts.  That has made a huge difference.  Thank you to everyone who has read my posts, responded to my tweets and generally made me feel a whole lot less alone and freaky.  It has meant more to me than I ever will be able to tell you.

Save me San Francisco… updated

Me and my cousin Melanie in Minneapolis when we were much younger. Though dang, Melanie, how’d you find the hooch so early?

Train has an album (yes, they are still called that), “Save me San Francisco.”  I love that title, maybe because I love San Francisco so much. As this is Thanksgiving week, I am going to publish this earlier than I meant to.  Here is a list of some of the things to which I need to say, “Thank you!”

My family:  Maybe you read my blog or have met my mother, you may think my family all come from American Horror Story.  They don’t.  The photo on the left was taken one year when we went to Minneapolis for Christmas or Thanksgiving.  For years, my holiday season meant Christmas in Minnesota and New Years in California.  Nothing says Christmas like Minneapolis.  The snow.  The cold.  The indoor shopping and the inevitable time when my Uncle Roger (who will only be referred to as “Roger” from here on) would try to get us all to go ice skating, cross country skiing or something else in negative 20 degree weather.  As I got older I opted out.  One of my favorite injuries was from when I was 10.  I chipped my right hip ice skating on a lake or pond or something.  Seriously, I had a bruise that was black for over a year.  Not kidding.  Not a complaint.

I like to call Roger my “Uncle Flanders” (sorry Melanie, he really is and I mean that in the best

Roger “Uncle Flanders” Clarke — from his web site.

possible way).  Some of the best memories of my childhood are from when my Minnesota family came to Long Island in the summer.  We had a lobster party every year on my grandmother’s patio.  The day of the bash Roger and I would spend the afternoon clamming and digging for muscles in the creek behind the house.  We always also had an outing to West Hampton.

I am going to write more about these times and what they meant to me but for now, I am just thankful that I have gotten to be closer with some members of my family and want the people who have always been there for me to know how much that has meant.  Thank you Roger, Sandy, Melanie, Abbie, Bonnie, Tom & Libby.  Thank you for  getting back in touch (I am looking at you Bonnie, she started reading my blog and following me on Facebook and it has been really nice getting to know you again through social media, cannot wait to see you next month).

Friends who have stood by me though too much craziness and drama: I am a red headed Leo from New York so I know there’s always going to be a certain amount of drama in my life but this has been crazy.  Throughout it all, I have some friends, you know who you are, who have not given up on me.  Even when I gave up on me.  Some of you have travelled with me all over the globe looking for adventure and booty (just kidding about the booty but Kilimanjaro and Everest were pretty exciting).

San Francisco:  I was born in the city by the Bay (call it anything that starts with F and is six letters and I will cut you, CUT YOU LIKE A FISH) and spent a decent amount of my youth there. I often think of it as a sea of sanity in an otherwise crazy world.

San Francisco is one of the most awesome cities in the country.  When I was in high school, my mom and her husband found an amazing apartment in Noe Valley.  From the back deck we had the most unbelievable view of the Bay Bridge.  It looked like a post card.  Every morning I would sit on that deck and have my coffee and was never not impressed.  I remain grateful for every moment in that wonderful city.

Sports:  Love sports.  So much fun to get so into something that actually means so little.

COMEDY!  Thank you Chris Coccia and the DC Improv for giving me the hobby that helps me cling to the sliver of sanity I have left.  LOVE YOU.

The thing I am most thankful for: YOU!  Thank you for reading my blog and giving me your feedback.  It means the world to me.  THANK YOU!!!

Goodbye, Jim.

Having successfully fought the urge to make the title of this post, “He’s dead, Jim” I still could not let that phrase go.  Now, I should warn you right now that this post is not going to do anything for anyone’s opinion of me.  I am pretty sure if you like me, you may reconsider after reading this.  If you already think I am a bitch, well, this is the post to prove that theory.

My mother‘s husband, Jim Cassin, died earlier today.  He had been suffering from pulmonary fibrosis for at least the past few years, though it only got really bad since February or so.  I went to visit my mother last Christmas and he was doing ok then.  He was biking five miles a day so I assumed he was ok.  Of course, I didn’t really care one way or the other so I didn’t give his health a whole lot of thought.

So now, I am writing up my feelings about his life (and death) and I am not really sure what they are.  Let me explain.

My mother met and married Jim when I was a teenager.  An incredibly angry and surly teenager (I am sure there are dictionaries with a photo of me at 14 next to “surly” or “evil”).  I was particularly angry with my mother who left me to be raised by a violent sociopath.  She didn’t help her case by coming back to Long Island once or twice a year and trying to give me rules to follow.  Right, like that was going to work.

It was pretty clear that she had fallen pretty hard for this guy.  I never saw what she saw but hell, the heart wants what it wants, right?  So they were married.  I would like to tell you when they were married but I didn’t find out about it for some months after the event so I am not really sure.  I was pretty pissed off about that, too but when it hit me that she had just written herself out of ever complaining about my marital status, ever, I found a way to get over it.

Meanwhile, Jim was never really nice to me.  My mother would tell me that “he never signed up to be a parent.”  I wanted to say, “Yeah, well, I was here before him.”  I might have actually said that once or twice but nothing came of it.  It was pretty clear that if the choice ever had to be made between him and me, she would pick him.  You may be thinking that sounds extreme or like an overreaction but it really isn’t.  A few years before they moved to Florida, he and I had a disagreement over his reaction to her cancer.  I said, “When are you going to take this more seriously?”  As a follow up, I asked her what the marriage was doing for her.  After spending the day in the hospital with her, she asked me to hide so he wouldn’t see me when he came to pick her up.

It was the last time I was allowed in their house for at least four years.  During that time, I got really sick and spent the better part of a year in the hospital.  She was barely able to visit me and it was a hard time for me.

Eventually, Jim relented and let me visit them in Florida.  I think he saw that he was hurting her and at the end of the day, as sadistic as he was, he didn’t like doing that.

Over the years, I never got the point where I liked him.  My first impressions from San Francisco where he actually hit on me (at 16 and 17) never really left me totally.  The combination of that and his self-centered nature made me never feel connected at  all to him.  Moreover, he was actively mean to a lot of people, me included.

What do you think?

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

(If posts with personal information bother you, leave now.)

Yep, every now and again our friends on the right (and I don’t mean this never happens on the left, it does, I am sure) come up with a non-issue to rile each other up about.  As it is December, the flavor fear of the month is of course, the Democrats’ “war on Christmas.”

I am not sure where this fits on my list of their pet worries that are just paper tigers meant to scare people into thinking liberals are evil.  Is it better or worse than legislation barring sharia law?  Does it piss me off more than the people (you know who you are) who tell me my assertions that Herman Cain was never qualified to be president because he lacks even the most basic knowledge about anything was hypocritical because I like Bill Clinton and he had flaws, too.  Yes, I do like him and yes, he does — we all do.  Apples and oranges or should I just say 9 9 9.

But back to the current outrage.  When people say Happy Holidays they are starting a war on Christmas.  I always say it to everyone because there are more holidays than one, even for Christians.  Even Christians celebrate New Year’s Eve.  But you also don’t always know people religious affiliation, maybe they are all about Festivus or Boxing Day. (Or serious ones like Channukah)

Now, I love Christmas.  For me, it has always been the most wonderful time of the year.  When my parents divorced, my life became pretty chaotic.  Maybe to make up for it, my family gave me three bites at the Christmas apple — Christmas Eve was at my grandmother’s house, Christmas day was at my Aunt Edna’a (is there a law that everyone on Long Island must have an Aunt Edna?  I think there is.) and then we went back to my father’s place for a final round.  It was the only time of the year that I thought the situation was good for me.

It never occurred to me that maybe this is why I love the season so much and I don’t think that can be all of it.  When I grew out of the stage where I could be bought off with toys and candy, my traditions changed but remained really special.  I would go to Minneapolis for Christmas and then on to San Francisco for the rest of my break.  Minneapolis could be one of the best places to spend Christmas.

If you are wondering why none of my fond memories of Christmas have anything to do with religion, it’s because Jesus is not the “reason for my season.”  And I suspect if some people I know read this they will think less of me but it’s time for me to come clean about something.  I am an atheist.  Why would people not like me for admitting such a thing?  I am not sure how my friends from the church I go to will feel about my non-belief of something that means a lot to them.

Yes, I said it.  I am an atheist and I go to church.  I am a complicated person.  That’s why my Facebook profile lists my religion as physics.  I stopped saying the Pledge of Allegiance in the first grade because of the “under God” part.  I wonder now why I just opted out of that part but I was six and it didn’t occur to me until I found out it was only added because of McCarthyism.

So Christmas was never a religious thing for me.  And don’t even bother spamming me with your comments about it being Jesus’ birthday.  He was born in April.  Christmas was set up to take the place of a major pagan holiday.  If you think there is anything Christ-like about cutting down a tree and decorating it, well, you need to read up on your paganism.  And no, my opinion on this is not because I don’t believe Jesus is our lord and savior (though if anyone can explain how he is both the son of God and God at the same time, please I am all ears).

Because Christmas for me is about the season of goodwill and fun, I never understood people who objected to Christmas decorations.  What’s the problem with festive lights and decorations at a dark part of the year?  No, I didn’t get it.

My first real job after college was working for Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).  She is  Jewish.  At Christmas time, we had a huge tree in the front office and decorations — I think throughout but it’s been a while.  Some staffers were truly offended.  They felt she was abandoning her faith and them.  I asked why and was told that as it wasn’t something they celebrate, the decorations left them feeling left out.  I may be an atheist but Christmas was a huge part of my childhood and finally understood what the big deal is.  I would be lying if I was upset that we kept the decorations up but being a little more sensitive to people from different traditions than me was a good thing.

For the record, my mother has asked me over the years about what my friends are doing for Christmas and I have to remind then that it’s not a something some of them celebrate and she always sounds surprised.  For a few years, we had our own Judeo-Christian tradition.  We did the big breakfast with gifts in the morning and then spend the afternoon at a movie and go for Chinese food that night.

All the uproar over President Obama leaving God out of his Thanksgiving address or having “holiday” parties and the like vs “Christmas” parties is just a whole lot nothing.

And no, Gretchen “black hole of humanity” Carlson, no one gives a rat’s ass what you put in your house at this — or any other — time of year.  Get over yourself.

Note:  I often attend the Capitol Hill Presbyterian Church.  I go for several reasons.  On one occasion where I was having a need for something spiritual in my life I wandered into this church. The pastor, Andy Walton, gives great sermons.  I went back for two reasons, his sermons and the community services they offer — not to get them, I feel I should add, but volunteer for them.  Over the years I had wandered in every now and again but the visit that made me return was last September when I volunteered in their soup kitchen.  That marked the delineation between me stopping in and going regularly.  I like the contemplative nature of his sermons, the ability to help others and the great people I have met.  I have had trouble this fall going because I feel strongly about my person view of religion — not that anyone is wrong, my beliefs are what work for me, if that makes sense. But the juxtaposition of your firm belief and my equally firm disbelief has left me feeling like a bit of a fraud and that is why I have been absent so much.