Saturday, December 8, 2018

Fear and loathing

You got no friends tonight
Except your poison
Except your poison
Now all the lights are gone
Reach for your poison
Reach for your poison

~~ "Poison" by Generation X

I really hate it that the current resident (AKA Individual 1) of the Oval Office occupies so much of my headspace. Even when I'm not focusing on the news—and yesterday was a big effin' day, my friends—I find myself pondering things like, "Why do I hate him so much?" 

I don't like to toss the word 'hate' around and I don't do it easily. There is too much of that in the world already and I don't like participating in any of it. I'm a happy person who doesn't like to hate on anybody...unless they really, really deserve it. 

And make no mistake about it, I think Individual 1 deserves it. I detest pretty much everything about him. I find him a loathsome worm, incapable of the self-reflection necessary to be an empathetic or kind person. He is everything I hate in a person: full of himself, willfully ignorant, a liar, a stone cold jerk...I could go on and on, but you get the idea. 

But as I pondered all of this, I thought about WHY all those things bother me. It occurred to me today that it's because he reminds me way too much of so many of the toxic people I've had in my life throughout the years. Whether it was exes or people I encountered over the years in the workplace or elsewhere, Individual 1 embodies all the qualities that caused me so much grief, anger, and heartache. 

The victimhood and the victim-shaming; the narcissism and the sexism; the ego, the ignorance, the lying, the sheer ugliness that lurks deep inside. The guy who decided that he was the head of the household and I had to defer to him. The guy who was seeing numerous women all the time he was seeing me. The guy who got pissed off at me for not wearing a dress and heels around the house when I got home from working at the lab. The boss who blatantly lied about things, like saying, "I never said that" when every single goddamn person in the small lab heard him say it. The coworker who went around telling everyone exactly what he wanted to do to me and then denied it when I confronted him. The doctor who sexually harassed me. The guys who trash-talked about me to anyone who would listen when I had the audacity to break up with them. The people who lied and manipulated and took advantage and who never, EVER took the blame for anything and never had the self-awareness to even think that they might bear some culpability in things.

It's all there. All wrapped up into one big fat bloated orange blob.

He's like a bad acid flashback to all the worst times in my life. A flushback, if you will. 

It's no wonder I loathe him. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2018


She's so cold cold cold
Like an ice cream cone

~~ "She's So Cold" by The Rolling Stones

It was interesting to watch President Bush the Elder's funeral today. I know how it feels to lose a father so I could sympathize with how the family was feeling. 

But what really fascinated me was the body language of the Presidents' Club sitting in the front row. 

Before the service started, the Obamas and the Clintons were chatting and laughing, with the Carters occasionally exchanging some pleasantries with them. Their expressions were calm, happy, even smiling, despite the somber occasion. (No judgment meant by that. Most funerals I've attended end up with some laughter along with the tears. That's a healthy thing.) 

Then the current "president" and his wife arrived. The Missus exchanged handshakes or greetings with them all, but the Mister shook hands with the Obamas and then...sat down. Bill looked at him, possibly a little nonplussed to not be greeted, and the Carters didn't seem to care. Hillary? She looked straight ahead, not acknowledging his presence whatsoever. 

DAMN, girl. 

After that, all the friendly chitchat stopped. The Obamas and Clintons, talking so animatedly before, sat stone-faced as they all waited for the service to start. It was quite a transformation. 

I don't blame them a bit. If some A-hole was telling people that I wasn't born in the United States or ginning up a crowd to chant about throwing me in jail, I'd be pissed off, too. The milk of human kindness only goes so far. 

It's common knowledge that Individual 1 has a deep-seated need to be accepted by the so-called 'elites.' The people in New York and Washington and Hollywood and all over the world who have power and influence. Despite his money (the quantities of which are highly suspect), he has never been fully accepted. People took his donations but held their nose. Why? Because he is, at heart, a dumbass. In loftier terms, he is a vulgarian who has no concept of class or grace. 

He tries, he really does. He thinks that a gilded penthouse (or a gold toilet) somehow makes him 'classy.' The sad, sad truth is that people have always recognized him for what he is: a buffoon and a blowhard who doesn't have a clue. If he weren't such a buffoon, I might almost feel sorry for him. He wants so badly to be accepted, but because of his own boorish behavior, he never will be. 

But I don't feel sorry for him one little bit. He is a vile person who delights in insulting and demeaning others. When you treat people that way, it will cause people to treat you with disdain and even contempt. And you will deserve every bit of it. 

For a brief moment today, I wondered if the eulogies might make him reflect on how respectable people behave and cause him to indulge in a bit of rare self-reflection and maybe even cause him to change his behavior a bit. Then I realized that was silly. This moron is 72-years-old and he will never, ever change. This shtick has worked for him all these years, but he's never had to be accountable to Congress or to someone like Robert Mueller. 

I think he is about to learn what it means to be accountable for his actions. 

Monday, December 3, 2018

Living on a thin line

Now another century nearly gone
What are we gonna leave for the young?
What we couldn't do, what we wouldn't do
It's a crime, but does it matter?
Does it matter much, does it matter much to you?
Does it ever really matter?
Yes, it really, really matters
Living on a thin line
Tell me now, what are we supposed to do?

~~ "Living on a Thin Line" by The Kinks

Hey, long time, no see! 

There have been many times when I've felt like writing but just didn't seem to have it in me. It seems that much of my energy lately is devoted to just trying to hang in there as I watch everything go to shit around me. 

Not personally, not at all. Ken and I are hanging tough and dealing with what we need to deal with. I have a great family that I can always count on if I need to bend their ear and vice versa. We have supportive friends, too, and I don't feel personally worried. 

But as for our country, OHMICOD WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIEEEEE! 

An exaggeration, yes. My greatest feelings of despair stem from realizing that we have lost our standing as a moral beacon in the world. And yeah, yeah, I get it...we are NOT always all that moral. We've done some shitty things over the centuries. But didn't we use to stand for something? Didn't we use to have that ideal that said that you could be whatever you wanted to be if you worked hard? Didn't we use to be the place that people wanted to come to because they knew that they would have a chance to make a better life for themselves and for their families?

Didn't our country develop its unique culture and strength through diversity and the input of immigrants? My own family came over from Germany in the late 1700s and began farming on land that my ancestors got because of early service to this country. Both of my parents' families were dirt poor when my folks were growing up during the Depression and I know that there are plenty of us whose families faced the same or similar hardships. So why are some of these same people looking down on those who want to come here to try to do better for their families? Didn't they all have the same motivation?

I love my country, I really do. Yes, we have made and continue to make mistakes (understatement of the year), but the past couple of years have left me ashamed and apologizing to my friends in other countries. "I'm so sorry," I say. "I apologize for what is going on right now," I say. 

I am sick of apologizing. I want to be proud of my country again. I want to be able to say "I'm an American" without immediately apologizing and saying that I do not support this so-called president and I do not condone his actions. Ken and I try to be good ambassadors for our city, our state, and our country, so how about if this so-called president makes an attempt to do the same? Can he please stop embarrassing us on the international stage?

I try not to feel despair...or at least I try not to dwell on it. I try to keep in mind that the arc bends slowly and that sometimes it's two steps forward and one step back. At the same time, I absolutely reject the politics of hate and I condemn every single person that embraces hatred and divisiveness. I have no time for your crap and I am going to call you out every time I see it. I may not have the "best words" but I've got some good ones and I know how to use them. 

We really are living on the edge right now, pals. Don't you feel it? 

It's up to each one of us to decide which side we are going to be on. 


Friday, September 28, 2018

Devolution is real

We're pinheads now
We are not whole
We're pinheads all

~~ "Jocko Homo" by Devo

I can think of no better music for today than Devo. 

I honestly don't know how to write about today's Senate Judicial Committee hearing. I watched the entire 8+ hours with disgust, fascination, and despair. 

I feel sick. I feel heartsick. I feel sadness and disgust. 

And I am so fucking angry that I'm not sure how to process it. I thought writing it down might help, but I don't know. (Listening to some Devo is helping more than I had hoped! It seems that devolution is the order of the day.)

My thoughts on Dr. Ford's testimony are that she was credible, sympathetic, and likable. This entire process was new to her and she didn't have much of an idea of how to handle this or how to contact her representatives. I cried with her today (and I'll get into that a little more in a moment). 

My thoughts on Judge Kavanaugh's testimony is that he was overly emotional, combative, and kind of a jerk. I'm not the only one of my friends to wonder if he is an alcoholic and even if he was drunk during his testimony. It was beyond weird. 

I also realize that I am seeing things along partisan lines. I went into this prepared to believe Dr. Ford and already thinking that Kavanaugh had issues. My mind was not changed. 

Here's the thing: one accuser can be denied and brushed off. Two can maybe be the same. But when you get to three or more accusers of the same type of assault, you've got a real problem. And Brett Kavanaugh obviously has a real problem, on multiple levels. Any rational person would wonder why Senator Grassley refuses to call other corroborating or exculpatory witnesses and why he and other Republicans are so reluctant to support an FBI investigation. In fact, when Senator Durbin asked Kavanaugh if he would support an FBI inquiry, he was so flummoxed by the question that he sat in silence. Great job!

Here's another thing: the majority of women (and certainly some men) have been subjected to similar assault and harassment. Dr. Ford's testimony was emotional for many of us for just that reason. Like pretty much every woman, I've experienced my own moments that have stuck with me over the years. I won't mention every single one here because I don't feel like revisiting it all, but Dr. Ford's experience made me remember one incident in particular. 

It was my freshman year in college and I was just starting to break out of my "shy shell" of high school. I was 17. It was a whole new world for me in which guys found me attractive. For a shy bookworm, it was a heady feeling! I was at a party off-campus and there was plenty of booze. It wasn't uncommon to have what we called Hairy Buffalo at parties—a drink that was made in a big cooler, with fruit punch and maybe some fruit slices, and tons of alcohol, usually some Everclear. That is grain alcohol, which is 95% alcohol. It tasted like Kool-Aid, but it would mess you up. 

I don't remember if that's what I drank at that party, or if I just drank beer. Most college parties had a keg, too. I also don't remember if I met the guy in a class or somewhere else and he invited me to the party, or if someone invited me there and that's where I met the guy. I don't remember where the party was, only that it in a house off-campus. 

What I do remember is that I got drunk, and was talking to this guy. We went into a bedroom, but I don't remember if it was his or someone else's. I remember that there were bunk beds just to the left of the door as you walked into the bedroom, and we were on the bottom bunk. I remember that we made out and at some point, he was on top of me and getting more aggressive than I was comfortable with. I told him to stop and he didn't. He had his full weight on me and I couldn't move or get out from under him. I started getting scared and got more forceful about trying to get him off of me and tell him to stop. 

I don't remember what I did or said that finally made him stop enough so that I could get up and get out of that room. I don't remember how I got home, but I probably walked back to my dorm. A couple of days after the party, he came by my dorm room and when I looked through the peephole and saw it was him at the door, I hid in the closet and my roommates told him I wasn't there. He came back more than once and my roommates always covered for me and told him I wasn't there. My roommates were the only ones who knew about it. It never even occurred to me to report it to campus police or anyone else. Hey, he didn't rape me, right? 

I don't remember a lot of things about that incident, but I remember the situation. I remember that he was fairly tall, maybe 6', and he had curly blond hair. I also remember his full name. And thanks to the blessing/curse of social media, after I thought about all of this, I found out that he is on social media and he lives in my area, maybe 15 miles from me. It looks like he has a nice family and a nice life. 

I have a nice family and a nice life, too. But I still remember how scared I felt when he was on top of me on the bottom bunk of that bunk bed in a bedroom in a house off-campus at Ball State University. I bet he has no idea who I am and has no memory of me, the 5' tall, 100-pound freshman. 

But I remember him. Almost 40 years later, I remember him. 

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Telling tales of drunkenness and cruelty

Help me, help me, help me sail away
Well give me two good reasons why I oughta stay

~~ "Sunny Afternoon" by The Kinks

NO. I will not give you two reasons, Brett Kavanaugh. In fact, take your rapey, punk ass back where it came from!

Everyone has heard about Kavanaugh's accuser by now, right? She went public because people were harassing her and trying to get a statement from her. Good for you, Professor. 

Kavanaugh needs to withdraw now. I had already sent an email to my Democratic Senator, Joe Donnelly, urging him to vote against Kavanaugh's confirmation and that was yesterday before this woman went public. I would hope that every woman who cares about their rights and their autonomy is sending messages to their own Senators, especially the constituents of women like Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski. 

Listen, I know how it feels. My freshman year in college, I was at a party, and stupidly got myself into a similar situation. This was only one guy and I was able to get myself out of it, but I was really freakin' scared for a while. I was 17 at the time, and Kavanaugh's victim was only 14. Fourteen! 

This is not acceptable. I don't give a fuck that it was 30 years ago. This is someone that could be on the Court for decades, deciding questions about women's health, women's rights, and so many other things that will affect us for the foreseeable future. 

Withdraw now, Kavanaugh. And any Senator that votes for him? You are on notice. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Know Your Rights

Know your rights all three of them

Number 1
You have the right not to be killed
Murder is a CRIME!
Unless it was done by a
Policeman or aristocrat
Know your rights

And Number 2
You have the right to food money
Providing of course you
Don't mind a little
Investigation, humiliation
And if you cross your fingers

Number 3
You have the right to free speech
As long as you're not
Dumb enough to actually try it.

~~ "Know Your Rights" by The Clash
Nike waded hip-deep back into the "stand or kneel" so-called controversy, and boy, did the shit ever hit the fan.
They chose to use Colin Kaepernick as part of the 30th anniversary of their Just Do It campaign and the Internet exploded. Although it was a minor explosion after the Brett Kavanaugh hearings and the new Bob Woodward book about 45's questionable fitness for office.
The fact that these three things all jostled for attention today tells you everything you need to know about the current state of things, doesn't it? Personally, I'm feeling a little exhausted and beaten down, but I'm still feeling feisty enough to defend Kaepernick.
Some were questioning what exactly Kaepernick has sacrificed and some were comparing him to members of the military who lost their lives fighting for our country.
Make no mistake, Kaepernick isn't hurting for money. This multimillion-dollar deal with Nike ensured that. But because of his protests, he was blackballed from the NFL. His decision to protest pretty much cost him his football career. (He might be grateful for that in the long run, considering the toll that football takes on players, but that's a topic for another day.) His lawsuit against the NFL for collusion to keep him out of football has been given the go-ahead, and that should be interesting.
And of course, the sacrifice of his football career cannot in any way compare to the sacrifice that military members and their families make every day, especially when military members are killed. That's kind of a silly comparison.
But here's the thing: military members swear an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States. That includes the right to free speech and the right to peaceably assemble. They are sworn to defend exactly what Colin Kaepernick is doing.
He is protesting peacefully. He is trying to bring attention to an ongoing and horrible problem in our country right now, the targeting of young black males by law enforcement. (Don't pile on me, please. You know I'm not saying that every cop is a criminal or every sinner a saint. Bonus points to those who get the reference.) This is his right as an American and that right to assemble and protest and speak out must be protected.
Is there an argument to be made that owners had the right to cut him from the team? Yeah, maybe. Employees sign a contract with a company and must abide by the terms, just like social media sites have terms of use and if you violate those, you can be banned from the sites (and yes, I'm looking at you, Alex Jones, you nutter!). If I understand correctly, Kaepernick's lawsuit is more about the entire NFL colluding against him to keep him from playing again. I look forward to seeing how this plays out.
One of the many things to cherish about our country is that we have the right to make our voices heard. We can be loud or we can silently take a knee. Neo-Nazis and the KKK are a bunch of A-holes, but they still have the right to assemble. We also have the right to assemble in opposition to them, and there are a helluva lot more of us than there are of them.
Colin Kaepernick is not a bad person for his protests. He is someone who cares about innocent kids getting shot. Parents shouldn't have to explain to their kids how to avoid getting shot by the police while walking down the street. No one in their right mind can deny that this is a serious problem in our country, and I am glad that Kaepernick is bringing the issue out into the open and I'm glad that Nike chose him for this ad. They aren't stupid. They knew it would generate a ton of buzz, and here I am writing a blog entry about it!
Kaepernick has the right to do this, a right that is guaranteed by our Constitution. Not everyone in the world has this right.
As The Only Band That Matters said, "Know your rights!" 

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Small and mean and petty

Like many of you, I listened to or watched much of John McCain's memorial services this week. Today I watched the funeral held at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. 

I've been pondering this all week as I've watched, and Charlie Pierce had a good piece in Esquire that made me think that I wasn't the only one thinking that Senator McCain might have been giving the current "president" a big old eff you as he planned his own funeral.

As I watched the eulogies today, I wondered if I was over-thinking what some of the speakers were saying. Was I searching for meaning where there wasn't any? Was I projecting? Was I hoping that some of these family members and statesmen were issuing rebukes? 

Well, Meghan McCain was pretty obviously rebuking the "president," and I suspect that her death stare was directed at Ivanka and Jared on more than one occasion. But what about Presidents Bush and Obama? Was I reading too much into their words? 

Nope. I wasn't the only one who saw and heard what was happening. It wasn't just me and my friends; it was reporters covering it. They saw it, too. 

Whether it was President Bush talking about Sen. McCain detesting the abuse of power or bigots and swaggering, or President Obama saying that "our public discourse can seem small and mean and petty, trafficking in bombast and insult and phony controversies and manufactured outrage. It's a politics that pretends to be brave and tough, but in fact is born of fear. John called on us to be bigger than that. He called on us to be better than that," they were issuing a stinging rebuke to the politics that the current "president" has foisted upon our country. 

I was struck this week by just how "small and mean and petty" this person in the Oval Office seems in comparison to Senator McCain. Believe me, I am not suddenly a person who thinks that McCain walked on water. I disagreed with him on so much and I'll never forget that he issued in this current "know-nothing" movement by his choice of Sarah Palin as his running mate. 

But I never once doubted that he had done his best to serve his country, that he was an honorable person, and that he loved his country. I have many doubts of the current "president" about all of these things. From "I like people who weren't captured" to this:

"It’s amazing, I can’t even believe it. I’ve been so lucky in terms of that whole world, it is a dangerous world out there. It’s like Vietnam, sort of. It is my personal Vietnam. I feel like a great and very brave soldier,” Trump said in the interview when Howard Stern asked how he handled making sure he wasn’t contracting STDs from the women he was sleeping with." (People magazine.)

Well, here's some straight talk, you miserable excuse for a human being. You were neither a great nor a very brave soldier. You were just some asshole spending his daddy's money and screwing his way through Manhattan. You don't get a Purple Heart for that, you jerk. Any dumbass can screw around. All you need is a dick. No courage is involved.

My heart goes out to the entire McCain family. I spoke at my own Dad's funeral eight and a half years ago and I know how tough it is to say goodbye and to speak during that time. Meghan, you did great and your Dad would be proud. 

Apparently, the "president" headed out to play golf after Meghan's eulogy. He also spent the morning tweeting rather than showing an ounce of respect to McCain and his family by keeping his yap shut. How shocking. Everything the "president" has done this week has highlighted how his character pales in comparison to so many others. 

Did John McCain plan this to remind us all of how politics can and should be in our country? I suspect that he did. I know that my Mom has been watching and I hope that other family and friends who support the "president" take this service and the words of the speakers to heart, as well as the decades of service that John McCain gave to his country. 

The rhetoric of the "president" is antithetical to who we are as a country, to our values, and to our Constitution. As his misdeeds begin to come back to haunt him, and as Robert Mueller closes in on him, he becomes increasingly isolated and more dangerous. Perhaps Senator McCain's death and funeral will serve to remind us all of who we are and who we want to be. 

We can hope. And we can act. Patriotism demands it.