Saturday, April 13, 2019

Stupid purity tests

The world's goin' crazy and
Nobody gives a damn anymore
And they're breakin' off relationships and
Leavin' on sailin' ships for far and distant shores
The old world's fadin'
Now it seems so far away
Well, I'm not goin' anywhere
There's so much that we can share
I'm your brother

"Brother" by The Kinks

The last time I wrote about Mayor Pete, it was when he first announced. A lot has happened since then! 

I've always maintained that anyone who listens to Mayor Pete comes away impressed. It's impossible not to. We're seeing it play out every day. The most hilarious moment for me was when he was on "Morning Joe" and managed to get Mika and Joe to shut up for once. It was a thing of beauty! I have friends far and wide who are loving him and excited about him. Can we keep his momentum going? Yes, we can! 

Tomorrow we will be heading downtown to see him formally announce his run for the presidency. I am so excited and I think it's going to be quite a celebration! I hope to get lots of pics and video. 

The big news this week, what kept Mayor Pete on the media radar, was some of the stuff he said about VP (and former Indiana Governor) Mike Pence. Pete spoke about his own faith and contrasted the faith of Pence and his support of the "porn star president." I've had a hard time understanding how those same evangelical Christians who have told me I'm going to hell for drinking or smoking or swearing or any other litany of supposed sins could support a guy who obviously is—at least to some of us—the antithesis of those who do good in the name of their faith. So it's been refreshing to see Pete call them out on it and watch them squirm. 

Unfortunately, I am now seeing some people on the left who are dismissing Mayor Pete because of his faith. Seriously? The guy wants to help the least among us by good policies and you're going to automatically count him out simply because he believes in God? It drives me crazy when I see those polls that show that a big majority of people will never vote for an atheist, as if people can't have compassion, empathy, and intelligence if they don't believe in any sort of deity. And now these people are doing the same damn thing. Idiots. 

Let me tell you something. When Ken and I were in Florida and he got really sick and spent a month in the hospital, we had people lighting candles for us at the Grotto at Notre Dame. We had people praying for us. Do I think that any sort of deity intervened and made Ken get better? Nope. I chalk that up to modern medicine, doctors, nurses, support techs, and powerful chemotherapy drugs. But you know what? The fact that people cared enough about us to try to send us strength and positive energy meant the world to both of us. I don't think I've ever had a candle lit for me and it honestly made me feel pretty good. All of that positive energy helped us know that we had a lot of people pulling for us and willing to help us. 

We both vowed that we would never dismiss or discount anyone's beliefs even if we didn't share them. Because of their faith, these people cared about us and wanted us to be okay. That meant a lot. 

For me, it doesn't matter anymore what causes a person to arrive at a point of service and compassion. What matters is that they care about their fellow human beings and want to do what they can to help others. 

Mayor Pete is a person of faith. He believes in God, he goes to church, he married Chasten in a church. He is also a progressive Democrat who believes that government can do good for all people, with good policies. He absolutely understands the importance of the separation of church and state and he condemns those who cause harm to others in the name of their religion. 

If you won't vote for him because he's a person of faith, you need to pull your smug head out of your self-righteous ass and get a grip. If you have that kind of a "purity test," you're just as bad as all those pious jerks on the religious right. We have a "president" who is causing real harm to people, around the world and right here in our own country. The primary goal is to boot his ass out of the Oval and get someone in there who will treat people with fairness and compassion. 

Look at the policies! Is a candidate going to promote fair and reasonable policies? Just because someone believes in God doesn't mean that they are going to promote their religion. Eyes on the prize, people! 

Don't fuck this up, Democrats. There is way too much at stake. Including my liver and my mental health. The damage to both, as well as our country, is great. Can we really stand four more years of it? Stop 👏 this 👏 shit 👏 now 👏!

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Somebody that I used to know

Go on now, go. Walk out the door
Just turn around now 'cause you're not welcome anymore
Weren't you the one who tried to hurt me with goodbye?
Did you think I'd crumble?
Did you think I'd lay down and die? 

"I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor (and a remake by Cake)

Late last night, I read this article about "how to cope when a friend breaks up with you." It kind of hit me and made me feel sad, because that happened to me a while back and it's something that still bugs me. I didn't write about it last night because if I'd started, I would have been up really late! It was also good to ponder it a little bit. So I'll give it a try today. 

The friend who broke up with me wasn't a "real life" friend (I'd only met her in person once) but she was a friend nonetheless. We confided plenty in each other and really "got" each other. We wrote pretty much every day. At one point she said she'd write soon and then...she didn't. It went on for a while, and I didn't bug her because I figured she was really busy, and then she started posting stuff on social media about how sad it is to lose a friend. Huh? 

So I wrote to her and said that if she was going to ditch me as a friend, I felt that at least she owed me an explanation. She wrote back and said that she thought I was the one who said I'd write back and she thought I was ditching her, but she looked back at our messages and saw that she had promised to write to me and never did. She apologized profusely and said that it was her fault and can we put this behind us? I said, of course, we can. 

But things weren't quite the same after that. The whole thing was just kind of odd. Then I started seeing some weird social media posts from her. One was about an immigrant begging for handouts (what he was seeking was a good school for his kids) and he could just take his filthy hands back to whatever hellhole country he came from. Yiiiiikes. I commented that it seemed to me that he was just looking for the best school for his kids, and I don't begrudge anyone who wishes for a good education for his kids. A couple of other people agreed with me, and my friend backed off. Said that anyone who knows her knows she has a good heart. (I'm not entirely sure her remarks really reflected that, but that's just me.)

All this went down during the 2016 election. She knew I despised Individual-1 and I was posting all kinds of political stuff. We wrote about it on occasion and she seemed to not care for Individual-1, either, but she also said she didn't like Hillary. Hey, that's cool. Just because you're my friend doesn't mean that I expect you to be in lockstep with me. 

But the real kicker is after the election when I saw her comment on a story from a news magazine. It was about how a lot of designers were refusing to provide clothes to Melania. My friend commented that she thinks Melania is drop-dead gorgeous, and "it's about time we had a First Lady with some class." 


I left a funny but sarcastic comment in response (I believe it was something about how since Melania loves to plagiarize so much, perhaps she can wear knockoffs) so she knows I saw her comment. 

Shortly after that, her messages became less frequent and more of the "I promise I'll write soon!" stuff. She never did, and I gave her plenty of time to do so. After a while, I decided enough was enough—not to mention this was the second time she'd done this to me—and I defriended her. Then she left Facebook altogether. 

I suppose this is a bit of "airing of the grievances" but it's also cathartic for me. I was very hurt at the time, and when I get hurt, I get angry. It's a self-defense mechanism and I make no apologies for it. It has served me well. I handled romantic breakups the same don't like me anymore? Fine. Piss off. 

But as I've pondered this more, I still wonder exactly what it was. I don't think it was so much that she didn't care for my politics—I mean, we'd been online friends for literally years, so she knew how I felt about things—I think it's because I found out how she felt and that she had misled me about it. To what purpose did she mislead me? I have no idea. All my joy about Obama winning and how I felt about the Obama family, and she makes that crack about Michele Obama...and I saw it

I can't know for sure, but I suspect that she was embarrassed. And she should have been. I doubt that she reads my blog anymore, but if she does, I hope this embarrasses her. I wish her no ill will because that serves no purpose. But man, that was shitty. I continue to make friends online and there are some that I hope to meet one day. I treasure friends old and new. But it will be a cold day in hell before I ever again confide in an online friend to that extent. 

Thursday, March 21, 2019

You know it don't come easy

It's a dirty job but someone's gotta do it
We care a lot!

~~ "We Care A Lot" by Faith No More

Ahhhh, man. How do you have this talk? 

One of my sisters texted me tonight and she and my other sister talked to our Mom and told her that we don't think she should be driving. Apparently, Mom wasn't very happy at this conversation. 

At 90 years old, Mom is still pretty sharp and can still get around on her own if she takes it easy. She's doing great in her senior living facility and I know that she loves it there and has come to think of her fellow residents and the facility employees as part of her family. But she is also prone to dizzy spells and the occasional fall. 

I could tell that my sister felt pretty bad about it and I felt bad, too. I've had talks with Mom and I've encouraged her to not worry about driving. If she wants to go somewhere, she has numerous people who will take her. But I also know she loves being able to get in the car and just go, without relying on anyone to take her. 

I get it. I am exactly the same way. There is a feeling of independence involved and I understand completely how hard it would be to relinquish that. 

But I also know that she has told me that she's had some "close calls." She wouldn't elaborate but that's not something that you want to hear. It's not a matter of not being mentally's a matter of reaction time and being aware of your surroundings and paying attention. She has a hard time with all of those things. 

I told my sister that I will see if Mom brings it up with me. If she does, I will try to make it more relatable for her. I'm 35 years younger than her, but I limit my night driving—especially if it's raining—because I can't see for shit at night! I will tell her that when I was driving home one night when she was in the hospital and it was pouring down rain, I almost drove into someone's yard rather than onto our road. (Trust me, you really don't want to be riding with me at night in the rain.) Maybe that will make her understand that it's okay to have limitations and even better to understand them. 

My sister responded, "Oooo, that's very good."

It's just honest. I'm not trying to manipulate Mom (although there is always a psychological aspect to this stuff, isn't there?). I just want her to be safe and I want her to understand that part of being safe on the road is knowing that you hold other people's lives in your hands. I think I will tell her (again) that one of the many things Dad taught me when I was learning to drive was that you have to understand that you are piloting a powerful thing. It is big, it is heavy, and it has the power to hurt and even kill you, your passengers, and others. This is why I never talk on the phone or do anything else other than driving when I'm behind the wheel. 

Man, I feel bad. I feel like our Mom thinks we want to take away her autonomy. I know that has to hurt but it's not out of anger or anything like that. It's just out of necessity and concern. I told my sister that I know we're not the only kids to have to deal with this and while that's somewhat comforting, it doesn't make it any easier. 


Friday, February 22, 2019

False Face

Lies, whispered sweetly in my ear
Lies, how do I get out of here?
Why, why you have to be so cruel?

Lies, lies, lies I ain't such a fool!
~~ "Lies" by The Rolling Stones

It didn't occur to me until this morning that this whole mess with Jussie Smollett reminded me of something from my past.
My first job was in Grand Forks, North Dakota, in the lab in the small hospital there. I became close friends with a couple of phlebotomists. I'll call them Sheila and Craig. They used to come over to the condo I had with my husband at the time, and Sheila and Craig and I would sit on the bed and watch "Knot's Landing." (Kind of amazing how so many memories can come back when you haven't thought of them for years.) We were all just friends, but I felt very close to both of them. 
One day in the lab, I was working in Hematology and Craig came up to me with a slide of a blood smear. He said, "Hey, this is mine...would you take a look at it?" I said, "Sure!" and sat down at the microscope. I focused in and saw tons of blastocytes. I looked up at him and looked back in the microscope. I said, "Listen, I can't diagnose you, but this isn't good. This is full of blasts." (Blastocytes are the sign of some sort of leukemic process going on.) I said, "You need to see your doctor." 
He said, "Really?" I said, "Yes, absolutely. This really is not good." He thanked me and took his slide away. I was really worried about him. 
Especially when he didn't show up for work a couple of days later. I didn't know what was going on and I couldn't get ahold of him. I started asking around trying to figure out what was going on. I eventually talked to the supervisor of the lab and said I was really worried about him. She told me that he had been let go. I recall getting a little mad and wondering if it was because he was sick. I told her that I'd looked at his slide and he had some kind of leukemia. She hesitated and then told me, "That wasn't his slide." 
I said, "What? He gave it to me himself."
She said, "It wasn't his. He took a tube from a leukemia patient and put his own name on it." 
I was stunned. "Why would he do that?"
She said, "I don't know."
All these years later, and I still don't know. I never heard another word from him or anything about him. It was like he vanished off the face of the earth.
As I remembered this today, I still wonder what motivated him to do that. Was it a plea for sympathy? He was my friend...he didn't need to falsify a disease in order for me to sympathize with him. I'm a little appalled that he would do that to a friend. I wasn't the only one he told about it, and we were all very concerned about him. It seems like a betrayal to know that he purposely deceived several of us and used a sick patient to do so. 
I bear him no ill will. All I hope is that he got some help because he obviously needed some. That's exactly what I hope for Mr. Smollett. But just as Craig paid for his deception by losing his job, Mr. Smollett needs to be held accountable for his actions. Craig took advantage of the goodwill of his friends and it appears that Mr. Smollett took advantage of everyone who condemns hate crimes (which should be all of us). 
I'll never understand that kind of deception but I can understand that people that do things like this need counseling and I hope they get it. 

Monday, February 4, 2019

Beth's Music Moment: The Joy of Discovery (Blown Away)

Hey, so don't that make you feel a whole lot better?
I say, don't that make you feel a whole lot better?
What you say?
Well, I'm just askin'

"Dance This Mess Around" by The B-52s

Cousin Shane recently posted a great article that was a guide to getting into The B-52s. While neither of us needed a guide because we've loved them since forever, it was still a really fun read. 

It took me way back to the first time Shane and I were introduced to them. They appeared on "Saturday Night Live" and we were immediately hooked! They did two songs, "Dance This Mess Around" and "Rock Lobster" (unfortunately, those videos are hard to find, so you get a later performance of the former song), and we'd never seen anything like it. It was crazy, it was fun, and it was danceable. We've seen them live several times and they are always a blast! 

It made me think about how much fun it is to discover new music. Not just something new but something that blows you away. You fall in love immediately. For many years, SNL was the vanguard in that respect. It's also where we discovered Devo. SNL isn't quite as good as they used to be in that regard, but they got back to it when they had Greta Van Fleet 
on a few weeks ago. I was blown away. More often than not, I get new music from sites like Noisetrade or Bandcamp. Shane and Matt and I recommend new music to each other a lot, and we go out to hear local bands as often as possible. A local place, Ignition Garage, was hosting a Nashville band a while back and Shane thought they sounded fun. We were blown away by *repeat repeat and go see them now every chance we get. 

I will never tire of that feeling of hearing something that immediately grabs you and makes you go, "Wow! I love this!" I get that feeling with books and movies and other things, too, but nothing is quite as powerful as hearing new music (or even new-to-you music) and feeling blown away. I get frustrated and even angry at people who say that "nothing out there is any good these days." Well, why don't you just shuffle off to the home, Grandpa, because some of us are still getting blown away by new music! That attitude is lazy. You aren't going to hear anything good on commercial radio, okay? Do a little work and seek out new stuff. It ain't gonna fall in your lap! 

Even at my age, I love hearing something new and exciting. Happy hunting, enjoy the journey, and as the Talosians on "Star Trek" say, "May you find your way as pleasant."

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Movin' on up

Now we're up in the big leagues
Getting our turn at bat 

~~ Theme from "The Jeffersons"

Lordy, what a day! 

Day 33 of the federal government shitdown shutdown. Workers are going to go for a month without a paycheck and our airports, our borders, and our country are all less safe because of Individual-1's petulant temper tantrum.

Venezuela cuts diplomatic ties with the United States and orders all U.S. diplomats out within 72 hours.

Michael Cohen postpones his testimony before the House Oversight Committee due to threats to his family from Individual-1 and his TV lawyer, Rudy Giuliani.

Individual-1 says, "Imma do the State of the Union in the House of Representative." 

Speaker Pelosi says, "LOL No." 

My head is spinning! It's easy to become inured to the utterly chaotic news cycle because it just never stops. However, today I had a vaccination against the chaos and it came this morning. 

My very own Mayor, Pete Buttigieg (say it like 'Buddha Judge'), announced that he has formed an exploratory committee concerning a run for President of the United States. 

Translation: HE'S RUNNING! He really is!

It's been looking that way for a while, but how exciting to hear that it's happening for real! I am thrilled. 

I've been preaching about Mayor Pete for years. I've told friends all over the country to watch this guy because he's going to be President one day. After this morning's announcement, I had friends telling me, "I thought of you when I heard!" I've been on Cloud Nine all day!

So what is it about Mayor Pete that I (and so many of my fellow citizens) love? There are many, but I'll give you three. 

I was impressed from the very first moment I met him. Ken and I were at the local Firefighter's Blues Festival and it was when Pete was first running for Mayor. I had read some articles about him in our local paper, the South Bend Tribune, and I'd liked what he had to say. Ken and I were sitting there in our lounge chairs drinking our beers and I saw Pete working his way through the crowd and shaking hands. I elbowed Ken and said, "Hey, that's Pete Buttigieg! Wanna say hi?" We stood and waited for him to make his way over and we shook hands and chatted a bit. He is not a large man but despite his slight frame, he has a real presence. He was open and friendly and there was just something about him that left us both saying, "Wow." That was when I started thinking that this guy was meant for big things. 

The second thing is what he has done as Mayor of South Bend. I was born here and grew up here (same for Pete) and many of my family members worked for Studebaker. My grandpa, several uncles, and my Aunt June, who did payroll and was one of the last few employees after the plant shut down. The factory buildings cleared out and Aunt June helped various desks go to local schools. We had a huge old Studebaker desk for many years and my cousins and I had all kinds of Studebaker stationery to doodle on. (If we had only known how much that stuff would be worth one day!)

But I digress. After Studebaker shut down, it devastated our town. People lost their pensions (in fact, it was due to the Studebaker plant closing that government protections were put in place to ensure that workers would have guaranteed pensions), people started moving away, and the suicide rate shot up. The malaise continued for decades. When I was in high school, there were a couple of malls built in the area and it siphoned off all of the commerce from downtown. It's not an exaggeration to say that our downtown was a ghost town. Everything was closed and shuttered, all the stores and restaurants closed or moved elsewhere, and no one went there. 

When Pete Buttigieg came on the scene and decided to run for Mayor, Newsweek included us in an article about America's "dying cities." Pete had plenty of ideas about how to make a difference, and when he got elected, he started implementing them. He went about working to reinvent us as more of a "tech hub," rather than a manufacturing city. People started investing time and money in our city and some highly motivated Notre Dame students saw the potential and decided to stick around and make a difference. 

To make a long story short, our downtown is bustling, there are numerous restaurants (from burger joints to some of the best restaurants in town), there is an active music scene, and we've gone from a ghost town to it can be hard to find a parking place when things are going on! It is a complete turnaround from what it was like when I was growing up and I am proud to take out of town friends downtown and show off our city! Mayor Pete was a revitalizing force behind this and helped make our city friendly to business and tourism. 

Third, in 2016, he invited his supporters to a Christmas party at a pub downtown. We attended with Shane and Matt, and it was the first time we'd gotten together since the presidential election. Needless to say, we were all pretty down. Pete and Chasten came by to say hi and thank us for coming, and I asked Pete, "How do we deal with this? This is awful." 

I don't remember his exact words, but he talked about how we need to focus on what is right and continue to speak out and be involved. He agreed that it was pretty awful but said that we all need to stick together and support each other and keep working to make things better. When he and Chasten finally walked away to talk to other groups, we all looked at each other and said, "Whoa!" Somehow he had managed to make us feel optimistic during a very dark time. We were all worried about various rights, not just for us, but for others. But with a few words, Mayor Pete left us feeling better. 

I could write about more things and probably will in the future, but this is long enough. As I've told people for years, check this guy out because he's the real deal. 

I don't know what will happen but I look forward to seeing everything play out and I especially look forward to seeing other people around the country get to hear his ideas and get to know him. If you are interested in that, please check out his website, PeteForAmerica. Click on the "Meet Pete" tab to get a brief bio. Good luck, Mayor Pete! We are with you! 

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.