Sunday, December 19, 2021

The Evolution of an Obsession

If you’d like a glimpse into the inner workings of my brain, behold the genesis of an obsession.

It begins with Christmas. I need to wrap presents. Anyone who knows me even slightly knows that this is an odious and tiresome task for me. In order to entertain myself, I make myself a cocktail (or two) and watch something on TV that makes me happy. In past years, it’s been episodes of “The Walking Dead,” other years it’s a Stephen King movie, sometimes it’s “Game Change.” 


For this year’s viewing pleasure, I chose the movies “The Mummy” and “The Mummy Returns,” the ones starring Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz (and Oded Fehr, but we’ll get to him in a moment). Not intellectual or historically accurate movies, by any means, but I find them a lot of fun. I’ve been fascinated by ancient Egypt since I read in grade school about the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb. The very first thing I wanted to be was an archaeologist. I love the imagery, the mystery, and the history. Adding a bunch of adventure, romance, and intrigue into the mix makes for a very fun movie for me. 


I wrap, I drink, I watch. I’m struck all over again by the aforementioned Oded Fehr as Ardeth Bay. And his incredible hair. I begin to look things up about the actor and remember that he is now a member of the “Star Trek: Discovery” cast, playing a Federation Admiral. A mini-obsession is born. A black and white picture of him is now my phone’s lock screen and wallpaper. A photo of him in a tub is now my Facebook cover photo. To give him credit for things other than being hawt, he appears to be a truly nice human being, smart and funny and devoted to his family. Awww! Good Guy Oded Fehr!

Among other discoveries, I find out that he was born in Israel, but in the movie, he plays an Egyptian. Leader of the Medjai…black robes, scimitars, and in his case, a spectacular head of hair. 


So I begin to listen to Egyptian music. I’m captivated. It sends my imagination soaring. An ancient procession, perhaps a sacred burial. A taverna with belly dancers. The glare of the hot sun, a camel ride, a trip down the Nile. 


Then I begin to investigate the cuisine in Egypt and the Middle East. I find out that there is a local restaurant that offers up that sort of fare and we resolve to go try it out soon. It sounds like I would love it. I decide I should conduct kitchen experiments and make some of this cuisine. So I begin to investigate recipes and learn that there are spices and spice mixes that I need if I want to make this. I investigate cookbooks and find one that sounds basic enough for a beginner to the cuisine. I order the cookbook. I search for the “must-have” spices. I order the spices. 


As I immerse myself in this, I begin to think about how my dream vacation has always been one in Egypt. My sister did it; I can do it, too. I inform Ken that while we need to wait for things to settle down with Covid, this is something I want us to plan for. 


I want that glare of the hot sun, I want that camel ride, I want that trip down the Nile. 


I want to see the pyramids. 


I don’t do the bucket list thing, but if I did, this would be on it. Life is too short to not see these wonders, especially when I’ve dreamed about something like this since I was a kid. It also gives me something to look forward to, something to plan for…because this winter is shaping up to be a real shitshow, with another Covid wave. I’m getting antsy to travel. 


So there you have it. An obsession that starts with wrapping Christmas presents, focuses on Oded Fehr and his hair, then meanders to culinary experiments, and finally ends on eventually planning a trip to Egypt. 


My thought process is convoluted, but it’s fun! What do you think, Ardeth? 





Saturday, November 27, 2021

I was not made for him

You were made for me

I took you home and dressed you up in polyester

Princess of my dreams

Emotionless and cold as ice

All of the things I like

The way you look

The way you move

The sound you're making


~~ "Electric Barbarella" by Duran Duran


In a clear case of ‘I’ve got too much time on my hands,’ I looked up my ex-husband on Facebook. 


I knew nothing good could come from it, but I did it, anyway. Idle hands are the Devil’s workshop, doncha know? 


The initial findings were rather disgusting to me but it led to some genuine introspection about what exactly happened there and I realize how utterly miserable I’d have been if I’d stayed. So I turned something rather stomach-churning into something that didn’t make me hurl in disgust and anguish and humiliation, so I guess there’s that. 


Those who know me well know what happened there. I’ve even written a bit about it on Facebook, so anyone who read that knows at least a little about it, too. The bottom line is that a few years into our marriage he found Jesus. Not just in a quiet meditative way. He found him in a BIG BANG MOMENT kind of way, a fundamentalist kind of way. I have a fairly high tolerance level for someone’s religious beliefs—no, I really do!—but his newfound faith wasn’t a matter of personal growth and learning and a calm and quiet reaching out to others. No, it was more like…


“I AM SO EXCITED ABOUT JESUS AND EVERYONE IN MY ORBIT NEEDS TO BE JUST AS EXCITED AS I AM OR I’M GONNA HARP AT THEM EVERY DAY ABOUT HOW THEY’RE WRONG.”


In case you think I’m exaggerating (some of those close to me know that I am not), he once told me that he thought I was possessed by a demon. I realized just a few years ago that I had blocked a lot of that out, which was a bit of a Revelations to me. (See what I did there?) As I think about it now, I suppose that it was a real shock to my system to realize that while I thought I’d escaped that situation from my upbringing, as a young married woman, I was right back in that same controlling environment with my husband. 


That’s a real kick in the ass, so I suppose it’s no wonder that a part of me chose to hide it away for a while. Probably until I was strong enough to remember the details, don’t you think? I do. 


Anyway, he was relentless in his witnessing to me as well as his attempts to control me. I was definitely no angel but I wasn’t a total reprobate, either. Just a 20-something woman who wanted to get her ya-ya’s out. I liked to drink and go out to bars and dance and I smoked and I loved rock ‘n roll and I didn’t feel particularly evil about it. For the first two or three years, he was the same way and so was his family. We all had a blast together. 


Everything changed when he had his spiritual awakening. His main goal now was to convert others, and yours truly was first in line. I needed to clean up my act, quit wearing wild clothes, quit going out, start going to church, start being a model “biblical” wife (whatever the fuck that means), and when it came time to have kids, well, naturally, I’d stop working and stay home with them. 


You can imagine how that went over with me. If I recall correctly, my comment to his wanting me to stay at home full time with kids was, “What’re ya gonna do, chain me in a closet?” I did try a few times. I went to church with him once and turned around in time to see a woman behind me pointing to me and mouthing to him, “Is that her?!” like I was some sort of exotic species. I went to a cookout at the home of someone at his church. I was out on the porch talking to a bunch of the guys about current events and one of the wives came out and asked me, “Wouldn’t you be more comfortable with us women in the kitchen?” I said I was fine, thank you. That was also when I heard a woman say something that I have never forgotten, something that did more to drive me away from religion than just about anything: “I’m glad I have God to make decisions for me so I don’t have to make them myself.” 


Man, how long is this gonna be? I guess I have a lot to say on this matter. I haven’t even gotten into what I found on his Facebook page! But I’m almost there. 


All this prelude is to try to make you understand part of my journey to becoming an atheist. There’s a lot more there, but that chapter of my life was a big part of it. 


This is getting a wee bit heavy for me to think about right now, so I’m going to take a little break and get back to it later. These are not pleasant memories for me. 


***


I feel well-rested and I’m back at it! 


Still a little more to the prelude. After putting up with that nonsense for as long as I could tolerate it, I came to the decision that it wasn’t going to work and I wanted a divorce. I didn’t even bother suggesting counseling because I knew quite well what would happen: he would insist that we go to a pastor. Either his at his church or another one. That was a no-go with me because I had the suspicion that a pastor might be a tiny bit biased against me and my wishes. A wife is supposed to submit to her husband and all that rot. (And yes, my ex had gotten into a group called the Promise Keepers whose philosophy was exactly that. The man was to be the biblical head of the household.) I was done. It takes a lot to push me to that point, but once I’m there, I don’t change my mind and reverse course. 


He did not react well to the news. His first action was to find our wedding album and tear up all the pictures in it. His second was to phone my parents (who lived three hours away) and tell them, “Beth just told me she wants a divorce. Just thought you should know. Bye.” I had no idea he was doing this and I got a panicked phone call from my parents. It was an ugly scene. 


He left and ended up staying with a friend of his. He’d call me up occasionally and once told me, “I know that God is punishing me because I cheated on you.” I was a little bored by this crap by now and saw it for what it was: he wanted to lash out at me. But I still asked. “Oh yeah? When was this?” He said, “When I went to Officer’s Training School.” 


Well, that was about a month after we got married, when he joined the Air Force. Nice, huh? Oh, well. I was done, so it really didn’t matter. 


He didn’t really want to sign the papers initially but he finally saw that I wasn’t taking him back. So after five years of marriage and several months of separation, the divorce was final. 


Time jump! I moved on, so did he, and so did the world. I found out that he married a Chinese woman he met when on a missionary trip to China. His mother told my mother (they kept in touch for a while) that she “looks a bit like Beth but doesn’t speak much English.” That made me laugh then and it still does. I said, “So he got the package but she doesn’t talk back.” 


Now we get to the point where I saw his Facebook page. It’s public so it’s all out there. He got his kids (three of ‘em) and seems happy and content. I’m glad he is. What I’m not glad about is realizing that he’s kind of a right-wing jerk. There are posts about how this is the “most corrupt administration in history.” He’s also some kind of puritanical prude, talking about how “pornography is being taught in our schools.” (There’s a video of a school board meeting in Carmel, Indiana, where outraged parents are reading from novels available in the school libraries. There’s a young adult book that has an admittedly graphic sex scene, but hearing this PTA mom reading lines like “She was wet” and “He sucked her nipples” had me laughing my ass off!) 


Worst of all, he’s a vaccine skeptic. This is the guy who got his Master’s in Microbiology when we were dating! I was disgusted and appalled by that, not some Hausfrau and her ‘pornographic book’ reading! 


But wait! There’s more! Not only is he still super-religious, in looking at the comments from his family members (brothers and sister, especially), they’re all religious. He turned ‘em all! Even the people who were the wildest in that whole bunch (and let me tell ya, for someone who grew up in a very religious and straight-laced extended family, it was a little shocking for me at times) are now Bible thumpers. 


And this is where I had my epiphany. Something I realized only now, thirty-some years after I divorced him. He didn’t want a partner. 


He wanted a possession. 


He wanted someone he could tell how to think, what to do, what to believe. He wanted to be the all-knowing husband who dictated how his household would run. He wanted an Electric Barbarella who would listen to what he said, every day, in every way. 


Well, homegirl don’t play that game. No more than the dolly in the included video does. 


My epiphany generated both horror and relief. Horror at the thought of what it would have been like if I’d stayed. Not only would the onslaught of religious dogma and right-wing demagoguery from him have been unending, but I’d also have started getting it from the whole damn family. 


Talk about Hell on Earth! 


The relief came in knowing that I had the wherewithal and the means to get out when I did. It wasn’t easy. Divorce was still quite scandalous in my family and I worried about how my folks would take it. I was like the little mascot in the extended family and I felt like I would be judged as a failure. (All needless worries but I was still young and I worried about things like that.) Work wasn’t an issue and I had supportive friends there and elsewhere and yes, family. I was free.


I’m in a good place. If I’d stayed, I would not be. So I made a very good choice and I have no regrets about it.


Why am I telling you all of this? I’m really not sure. Mostly my own sorting-things-out, I suppose. Maybe a little bit of letting people know that it’s okay to extricate yourself from a situation in which you are dissatisfied and unhappy. A situation in which you understand you will not thrive. And it is always okay to demand equal rights in a relationship. “Being told what to do” is not a viable situation! 


It also gave me some insight as to both why I’m an atheist (at least one of the main reasons) and why I bristle at both mansplaining and being told what to do. I have very valid reasons for feeling the way I do. And oh, how tempting it is to write to him and let him know, “You’re one of the main reasons I’m an atheist. Just thought you should know how badly you failed at converting me. You should probably pray about it and think about how you failed.” 


Very tempting. But of course, I won’t. It’s enough for me to know. And maybe on some level, he knows it, too. 


No matter what age you are, I think it’s important to continue to learn things about yourself. Self-awareness is a very good thing and it very often brings comfort and strength. This whole thing wasn’t pleasant and dredged up a lot of bad memories for me. I have kept and will always keep many of those to myself. But I learned something about myself. 


I’m always cool with that. 



Thursday, October 14, 2021

We're gonna go to space, kid

There, feat for quantum leap Because space is hot and deep And we follow giant footprints As we fall in, falling like the twins Through Saturn's holy rings And if they can't hold us, where it's gonna end up Anybody knows

Wasted, there's nothing gonna ace this

And we're gonna go to space, kid

'Cause I'm leaving with an astronaut


~~ “Astronaut” by Duran Duran



In a stroke of PR genius, Jeff Bezos asked 90-year-old William Shatner to join the latest flight of the Blue Origin spacecraft.


Millions watched “Captain Kirk” finally make a trip to space. He’s now an astronaut for real, although when asked about that, he demurred, saying, “Maybe with a small A. Followed by two S’s.” (I thought that was funny!)


What was truly remarkable was after they landed safely and he tried to articulate how it made him feel. Those of us with an introspective bent understood completely his awe, his difficulty at describing how profoundly it touched him. Who knew that Bill Shatner could be so philosophical? 


He related it to how precious and fragile our Earth is and how we need to take care of her. He wished everyone could have that experience in order to see that. As one tends to do as one gets older (and he’s got a good 30 years on me!), he looked at our atmosphere and saw light and lightness and LIFE, and then gazed into the blackness of space and wondered if that was what death was like. 


I’m not ashamed to admit that it made me cry and I know I’m not the only one. Seeing this typically cocky actor try to explain his profound feelings made so many of us feel his awe and joy. It was apparently a life-changing moment for him and we all experienced his epiphany vicariously. I’ve had the occasional epiphany myself and I know that it can be life-altering. I loved it that he felt that, even at the age of 90. 


It was also special for me because from the time I was in high school, watching “Star Trek” reruns when I got home from school, I loved the show. It still means a lot to me and I’m still a fan. We watch all the shows currently out, always go to see a new Trek movie in the theater, and even still watch an episode of the original series (it will always be my favorite). We’ve even gone to several Trek exhibits over the years.


I’ve written before that “Star Trek” taught me about inclusion and helped me realize that it was important to learn about other cultures. That we don’t always need to fear “the Other.” It also gave me a love of science because rather than the bombastic Captain Kirk, I was drawn to Spock and to Bones. (Although Kirk had his own interesting tactics, including breaking the rules. I liked that, too. Kobayashi Maru, anyone?)


Some talking heads and other science types have said that these flights are the beginning of commercial space travel. I think they’re right. How many people got to fly on airplanes when they first started? It was a rich person’s game. Now they’re accessible to almost everyone. While it probably won’t happen in my remaining lifetime, I think we’ll start seeing more of this. 


There are many critics of these billionaires and their “vanity flights.” I get it. The amount of money they have is obscene. But just as with the NASA flights, unexpected and important scientific findings will come from these. I’m not sure it’s an entirely bad thing that these are being privately funded. Obviously, NASA is still vital to our country and scientific development, but if these people have the money and the passion, I say, “go for it.” 


Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to pack my bags tonight pre-flight. 



Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Undergoing Treatment at Home

We are undergoing treatment

But will the doctors ever cure

These delusions of grandeur?


~~ "Undergoing Treatment” by Duran Duran


NBC News recently posted an article about how people are refusing treatment at hospitals and even pulling family members out of ICUs so that they can treat them at home. With veterinary medicine used as an anti-parasitic drug in animals. 


While Ivermectin has been approved for use in humans as an anti-helminth (specifically roundworms), it is NOT approved for any other use in humans. But there is a big run on Ivermectin paste online, bad enough that veterinarians are running out of the treatment to give their patients.

There are websites that recommend how to eat Ivermectin paste so that it is more palatable. Spread it on crackers, make a sandwich out of it.


Do these people have any idea of how unhinged and how stupid they sound?

Anti-vax idiot Jenny McC (I refuse to type her full name here) once said that her degree for disputing the safety of vaccines was the “University of Google.” Well, let me say a few things about that, honey. 


Fuck your University of Google bullshit. First of all, there is no such thing. 


Second of all, some of us actually went to college to study this stuff. My degree was a Bachelor of Science in Medical Technology. I took three years of classes that were almost identical to pre-med courses, then spent twelve months in an internship in a hospital where we got lectures in the morning from technologists and pathologists and then spent the afternoons working in the lab. I had to pass a nationwide registry exam and I took the same oath that doctors and nurses take, to first do no harm. 


So let me say it again: fuck your University of Google “degree.” 


You don’t know shit about fuck (to quote the inimitable Ruthie from “Ozark”). You have no concept of basic scientific facts. You have no idea how to interpret a scientific paper. You cherrypick data that is dubious, and everything you find to supposedly back up your claims is easily debunked by anyone with even a rudimentary background in science. 


I am sick of your bullshit.


It’s bad enough that you are harming yourselves. What is unconscionable to me is that you are harming your own loved ones, you are harming young children, and you are harming elderly people like my Mom and immunocompromised people like my husband. And you know what? You are really harshing my fun times. I haven’t been to a concert for well over a year and I am pissed off about it. 


The Americans screaming about their freedoms? They’re the ones who are prolonging this pandemic because they are refusing to get vaccinated. Instead, they seem to think that bogus treatments and cures are the way to go. I don’t think I ever realized until this year just how goddamn stupid people can be. I had my suspicions but this is beyond stupid. 


This is dangerous and it can be deadly. 


I’m mad. 



Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Everything will change forever

When I interface
Difference erase
Nothing will remain
Everything will change forever
Viral subdivide
Target and align
The message will survive
Everything will change forever
Boohoo, haha

“Virus” by Duran Duran


Way back in the Days of Yore (2008), I wrote an entry about the 1918-19 Influenza pandemic (
AKA the Spanish Flu). 


It dismays me to know that the Covid pandemic has now surpassed the official death toll of that pandemic. The counts from then are underestimated; they undoubtedly are for this pandemic, too. 


I’ve been predicting a pandemic for some time now. I take no pleasure in being right. I was wrong about it being a possible deadly strain of influenza. Instead, it was worse: a completely novel strain of virus that is highly infectious in humans. (Coronaviruses are not new. This strain is.) 


I knew this was going to be hard to write and it’s making me too sad. I’ll take a break and come back to it. 


**The next day**


I apologize for pulling a Scarlett, but today really is another day. Like...well, pretty much everyone...I find myself very emotional about the whole thing. I’m a listmaker, so I’ll make a couple here. First, the sad stuff. Things I feel that we’ve lost. 


  1. First and foremost, almost 680,000 Americans and over 4.5 million worldwide. These are staggering numbers. Those people are not coming back. A relative of ours was one of them. I’ve had friends who have gotten terribly ill and those who survive run the risk of “long-haul” syndrome, which sounds awful. What was the potential of those who were lost or have long-lasting disabilities? What might they have accomplished in their lives? What did the world lose?

  2. So many have lost their livelihoods and/or their homes. Thanks to the Covid stimulus package (thanks, Joe!), unemployment has dropped. 

  3. Numerous businesses have been shuttered. We’ve seen plenty in our own community. We’ve done our best to support as many of our favorite places as possible, including ordering carryout, buying gift cards to be used later, etc. But there are some that were just unable to weather the shutdown.

  4. Time. I don’t know about y’all, but I’m not getting any younger and there’s a lot of things I miss and want to do again: concerts are the main thing! That goes two ways, too. I watched an interview today with my beloved John Taylor of my beloved Duran Duran, and he said that they were all jonesin’ for concert dates. For a lot of performers, it’s not just a matter of revenue. For some, it’s what they DO. It’s how they get their creative energy and what makes them want to keep doing that thing they do. 

  5. One of the things I mourn the most is that we seem to have lost our sense of societal good. The misinformation campaign on the part of some outlets (and yes, I’m looking at you, FOX “NEWS”) and the absurd politicization of this pandemic is utterly dismaying to see. I honestly have no idea what happened to the concept of being a part of a civilized society and doing your best to help others. If some of these jerks were on the Titanic, they’d be pushing little kids overboard in order to get their spot in the lifeboat. This is abhorrent to me and goes against everything I’ve learned in my life and in my career in healthcare.

  6. This relates to the previous item. I feel like we’ve all lost a sense of boundless optimism and the feeling that we could meet any obstacle and overcome it...if we all worked together. Maybe even a sense of innocence, in feeling that the majority of people are innately good and will do the right thing when they are called to do so. I know that I certainly feel more jaded and cynical than I ever have in my life. And that’s sad to me. 


That’s a short list, really. There are so many other things, but I try not to dwell on those things for too long. (#5 is one that can make me terribly angry and that is not a good place for me to be right now.) So what can I possibly find in all this that is even somewhat positive? I can always suss out a few. 


  1. Telecommuting/Telemedicine. This will change commute times at least a bit and that’s better for people’s well-being as well as for the environment. If your job isn’t a hands-on one, chances are good that you can work from home at least one day a week. A doctor’s visit for non-threatening maladies is probably not needed (sorry, hypochondriacs) and it frees medical staff up to attend to those who are in more serious need of care.

  2. A greater appreciation (at least for many of us) of workers who still had to go to work. That includes my fellow lab people, all medical workers, people like my stepdaughter who works retail, her boyfriend who works in delivery, and Cousin Shane who goes in every day to the Post Office to deliver all the crap so many of us started ordering online! All of them have to put up with stupid customers who flaunt mask rules and get downright belligerent. I would have snapped long ago. 

  3. Related: higher wages for minimum-wage workers. This up-ended the market and there are plenty who have chosen to say “take this job and shove it,” or have demanded a higher wage and better benefits. Good for them! Others have stayed home out of necessity for childcare. Some will have you believe that the lack of staffing has to do with the unemployment benefits that were extended by the federal government. The data show that was not the case, so don’t toss that crap my way.

  4. Some people have a greater appreciation for and understanding of science. Let’s focus on them rather than the dumbasses chowing down on anti-parasitic veterinary drug canap├ęs, okay? For Pete’s sake. What the hell is wrong with these people? 

  5. Okay, I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel now. Some days I feel more optimistic than others. Uhh...binge-watching! Lots of good TV and movies to catch up on. Also (for me) getting totally absorbed in various bands. For a while, it was Steep Canyon Rangers, and it’s currently Duran Duran. Music is often my salvation and I’ve certainly been feeling that more acutely the past couple of years. Oh, and online concerts. Did a few of those. Also a few online lectures from Notre Dame. See? Several good things bundled into one!

  6. Gardening/Cooking. Tending to my little deck garden this summer and getting good stuff from it was very therapeutic. I wasn’t super adventurous with my cooking but when you mostly stop eating out, it’s fun to try a few different things and see how they work out. I don’t think I had any massive failures in the kitchen (except for eating quite a bit later than planned—learning how to use the Instant Pot!), and comfort food levels were off the chart at Nutwood. 


Look at me! Six items for both good/bad lists! It’s not like I’ve had plenty of time to reflect on things. [eye roll] I’ve always had a contemplative bent and that has been a blessing and a curse during this whole thing. 


I don’t know how all this will play out. I do know that because of a minority of the population, this is going to continue for a while and that more people will die. I wish I could slap the recalcitrant ones silly, but I’m too busy doing my best to NOT SPREAD COVID. I remain hopeful for next year. We’ll start getting kids vaccinated (vaccine mandates are a story for another day) and those who refuse to get it? Well, I guess we know what will happen to a lot of them, don’t we? But what’s maddening is that they pose a risk to others. Also a story for another day, and a rage highway that I don’t want to travel down right now. 


I’ll post this Duran Duran video (some of the lyrics are quoted at the start of this entry) and the irony is not lost on me. The lyrics are eerily accurate. As President Joe would say, “Here’s the deal.” Viruses don’t give a fuck about your political alignment. Their prime directive is to infect as many people as possible in order to proliferate. “Difference erase.” If you refuse to get the vaccine because of whatever dumb freedoms you feel you’re entitled to or whatever misinformation you’ve been fed and that you have stupidly believed, the virus says, “Boohoo, haha.” 



Sunday, March 21, 2021

Extra

 



(Painting by the badass Niagara)


Like most people, I’ve had plenty of time to reflect over the past year. I’ve always been one to ponder but a year like this has put my pondering into overdrive. 

One thing I’ve realized is that I’m a little bit “extra.” Maybe more than a little. There have been some interactions over the years where I realized I was too much for some people to handle. I don’t know if it’s my enthusiasm, or my intensity, or my low tolerance for bullshit. My weird sense of humor? How opinionated I am? My foul mouth? All of the above? Fuck if I know. 

But like The Black Crowes sang, I guess I’m too hard to handle for some. 

I seem to mostly notice it in guys. I’ve got a group of ride or die girlfriends (we call ourselves the Wolfpack, for reasons unknown—hey, ladies!) and we’ve had this discussion. We’re all strong women, raunchy as all get-out, outspoken...and we get along great. We find the fragile male ego amusing at times. Three out of four of us are vertically challenged (except for the long-legged Vegas bombshell!) but we’ve all had the experience of intimidating men. 

I think we’ve probably all been called names, from bitch to ball-breaker to...well, I’ve been called a coldhearted c***. Because we speak our minds. (Let me give a shout-out here to my stalwart husband, who takes my outspokenness in stride and seems to have figured out how to peacefully coexist, even in Quarantimes™.)

Being a strong woman doesn’t mean emasculating men. It means asserting our own right to speak up and be heard, and that includes when we’re being interrupted or mansplained to. Gee, so sorry I’m not a shy, retiring flower, but if you do that to me or treat me in a condescending manner, you’re gonna have a bad time. In addition to a long-suffering husband, I am fortunate to have plenty of friends—both male and female, online and in real life—who are also capable of taking me in stride. 

But you know what? I wouldn’t change. I don’t think I could. I’m honestly a mellow person, content to hang out and enjoy my peace and quiet, but I have my passions. I know I put people off sometimes because I’m a little too much...but I’d rather be that way than coast through life not feeling passionate about anything. It kind of separates the wheat from the chaff, too. If you hang out with me, chances are good you’ll have a fun time. If I’m too much for you, that’s your choice. [shrug] 


Wednesday, March 17, 2021

An Act of Charity



I suppose it’s human nature to try to find the positive aspects in this past year of shutdown. And there are several, there really are. I appreciate every good thing that has happened and I’m happy that we haven’t lost any close family members. But it’s been rough in a lot of ways, no matter who we are or what we’re going through. It’s hardest on those who have lost loved ones, no doubt about that, and I still haven’t fully processed the losses in our country and around the world. 


One positive thing for me is that the University of Notre Dame and other local colleges have made so many lectures available online. Most of those lectures have always been open to the public, but how convenient is it to sit at home and have a beverage while you attend a lecture? Pretty darn convenient, if you ask me. 


So I’ve taken advantage of that (I get updates and notices via the ThinkND newsletter—anyone can join!) and there have been some interesting discussions. I really enjoyed one from the curator of the Snite Museum of Art, in which he talked about a painting in their collection by Grace Hartigan. A beautiful Abstract Expressionist piece and a much-needed infusion of art! 




The most thought-provoking lecture happened last week. It was called “The Covid Vaccine: Good Science and Science for the Human Good.” 


It wasn’t quite what I expected, although I should have. Notre Dame is a Catholic university, after all. My first clue was when the discussion opened with a prayer. Hooo boy. Was this for me? I stuck with it, and I’m glad I did. 


There were several presenters: one was a science professor who talked about the mechanisms of vaccine development, including which cell lines are used (hint: one is a cell line that’s been in existence for decades, and it’s from human fetal tissue); one was an ethics and philosophy professor who talked about whether it was ethical and in line with Catholic teachings to use something that uses cells from aborted fetuses, whether induced or spontaneous; one was a young seminarian who continued the theme of whether the Catholic church could condone this. 


Well. As I’m sure you all know, I am firmly pro-choice. There are many nuances there but that’s not what this entry is about. While I don’t believe anything could make me change my mind on that, it made me think about how and why some people would object to scientific research using fetal tissue or cell lines. I don’t agree with that, but I saw it from their perspective in a way I hadn’t thought about before. (I still think that is short-sighted, but I get it a little better now.)


After much discussion, all three presenters concluded that not only was it ethical to get the vaccine, it was a “moral imperative.” There was much convoluted, philosophical discussion of how far you were removed from the “evil” of abortion (their word, not mine), whether saving thousands of lives negated the “original evil” of the abortion that resulted in the cell line, the fact that for the Pfizer vaccine, that particular cell line is not used in production, merely quality control. (The Johnson & Johnson vaccine does use a fetal tissue cell line in production, but it is a long-established cell line, not that from a recent abortion.) 


One of the presenters used the phrase in the title of this entry: getting the vaccine is an act of charity to humanity. Getting it is for the greater good of society. 


It seemed like a really long way to get to what I already knew. But it made me think about it from a different perspective and I found that it really made me think and put myself in their shoes. They were quite uncomfortable shoes for me, but hey, it’s always good to think about things from another viewpoint. You might not feel the same way, but at least you can say, “Okay...I get where you’re coming from.” 


The seminarian also discussed the rise of conspiracy theories, about the vaccine and in general. He said something that I found very interesting. That sometimes the best thing to do is to let people do their own research. He called it “reading yourself out of the rabbit hole.” His point was that when we try to argue with people who believe those things, they just dig in deeper (that’s been my experience, too). That doesn’t solve the problem because most people who believe that nonsense aren’t going to seek out alternative views. But maybe some will. 


The latter is part of the reason I have come to the decision to not engage with those who are refusing to get the vaccine for whatever reason they’ve landed upon. I could probably easily refute all of those reasons, but will they listen? Nope. My hope is that they will start seeing family and friends, loved ones, political figures, celebrities, sports figures, whoever, getting them and they’ll start to think, “Okay...none of these people are dropping dead, so maybe I should get it, too.” 


A gal can hope, right? 


Get your shot, peoples! The life you save might be one other than your own!