Saturday, November 16, 2019

Let us now praise strong women

You come on with a "come on"
You don't fight fair
That's OK, see if I care
Knock me down, it's all in vain
I'll get right back on my feet again

~~ "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" by Pat Benatar
Walking into the club like....
On Friday, November 15, 2019, former Ukraine Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch testified before Congress in an open hearing. She was the third person to testify, and while all three State Department officials were impressive, Ms. Yovanovitch struck a special chord in me. 
I thought all three witnesses so far—George Kent, Bill Taylor, and Ms. Yovanovitch—were shining examples of exemplary government service. We hear about the petty bureaucrats, the sycophants, the do-nothings in Congress, the stonewalling in the Senate, the absurdities of the current administration, ad nauseam. It's enough to turn a person off of politics forever. We rarely get to see the hard-working professionals who do their jobs day-in and day-out with competence and integrity. It was a breath of fresh air to see three such knowledgeable, conscientious adults in service to our government, usually working behind the scenes in relative anonymity, provide an example of service. Their goals are not to advance their own positions; their goal is to advance the policies of the United States.
But something about Ms. Yovanovitch was special. Based on the response to my posts on social media, I'm not the only one who felt this way. I'll be the first to admit that I can be quite emotional at times, so I wasn't entirely surprised when the hearing ended and I started crying. The audience at the hearing burst into applause and cheers and gave her a standing ovation. That was what really got to me. In case you missed it, you should watch. 
The utterly ridiculous Gym Jordan (thanks to Esquire magazine for the name) of Ohio tried shouting about some point of order after Chairman Schiff had already gaveled the hearing closed. And then you hear the applause and shouts and see people standing as Ms. Yovanovitch leaves the room. It was something to see. 
But why did it make me cry? I cry at some really silly things sometimes, but there was something about this that got me right in the feels. In addition to being emotional, I am also self-reflective. If I behave a certain way and I'm not sure why I like to try to figure it out. Not that I think it will stop me from behaving that way in the future, but I do like to know the reasons behind why I behave the way I do! 
So I took a day to think about it. 
In addition to what I wrote above about how refreshing it is to see people in the government who are decent, knowledgeable, coherent, and conscientious, what got me about Ms. Yovanovitch is that she was subjected to the same bullshit women have been subjected to for centuries. She was removed from her job merely because she was standing in the way of the so-called president and his minions with their nefarious schemes. By all accounts, she was great at her job, highly respected in the diplomatic corps, and a very hard worker who was sometimes in very dangerous areas. Her good reputation was savaged by others in the furtherance of their shady plot. She did nothing but work for her country for decades and for that she was rewarded with this utterly shoddy and shameless treatment. 
Not to mention the fact that during the hearing, the so-called president went all meangirl on her and sent some nasty tweets her way during the hearing, saying things that were patently untrue and unfair. He did his best to intimidate and bully her. He took his best shot. And you know what? 
She was having none of his bullshit. 
She continued to testify (I can only hope I would have such fortitude), she did not get hysterical or angry (I'm looking at you, Brett Kavanaugh), she just calmly and coolly continued to answer every question that was given her to the best of her ability. She handled herself with strength and grace, and she impressed the hell out of me. 
She was not cowed. She did not bow before his bullying tactics. She was going to have her time before Congress and she was not going to be silenced. 
So when people in the audience stood and cheered for her (it's hard to tell, but it looks like it was mostly women), and I cheered and cried myself, we were doing so for every time people have tried to bully us or make us feel inferior. For every time some dude has mansplained to us. (Hey, did I ever tell you about that idiot ex of mine who tried to show me how to make hospital corners on a bed? Or how to load sheets into the washing machine? This was when I was in my 30s and I'd gone through college, been married for five years, and then lived on my own for ten years. No? Another day, perhaps.) For every time we've been harassed, belittled, objectified, and groped. Ms. Yovanovitch wasn't standing up to a jerk of an ex-boyfriend or ex-husband. She was standing up to the jerk currently occupying the White House of the United States of America. 
And to that, I say, "Fuck yeah!" 
It was vindicating, it was verifying, it was empowering, and there was a certain measure of complete, evil, satisfied glee. 
I don't know what is going to happen in the 2020 election, but I know that the majority of women in America have had it with putting up with this asshole who reminds us of every pig we've ever met in our lives. It seems that there is a segment of the female population who is somewhat masochistic and will never give him up. Kind of like the abusive husband who they stay with because when she tells him that that Mexican guy in the corner is looking at her weird, her husband goes over and beats him up. Yeah, kind of like that. 
But the rest of us are ready to kick that asshole to the curb and say, "I can do better than you. I'm worth more than the shitty treatment you give me. I'm finding myself someone who treats me the way I deserve to be treated. I am DONE with you." Then we can top it all off with a nice kick in the nuts. 
THAT is what I felt after Ms. Yovanovitch's testimony. And I don't think I'm the only one. 

Saturday, November 2, 2019

Let's talk about Pete, baby

Baby, can you dig your man?
He's a righteous man

~~ Larry Underwood in The Stand

There's a lot going on in our little corner of the universe, and I'll talk about that eventually. But right now, I want to talk (again) about Mayor Pete Buttigieg. 

I've written about him before (here and here), but it's been a while. The last time I wrote about him was when he had formed an exploratory committee about running for president. My goodness, things have certainly changed since then! 

I have always felt that as soon as people started hearing him speak and hearing what he had to say, they would like him. That is exactly what has happened. He has a calming presence that is so needed to counter the current occupant of the White House, and I think that is resonating with people. It is no surprise to me that the people in Iowa are really starting to dig our man. I have always considered myself a "pragmatic progressive," or you could also go with "progressive pragmatist." It's a midwestern thing. We see the ideal goals but we know that people are resistant to seismic changes, and sometimes the best way to get shit done is to nudge people along rather than push them off the cliff. 

We saw it with the Affordable Care Act. Would a public option have been ideal? Yes. But we couldn't get it done. Ten years later, the ACA is still the law, and premiums are starting to go down. Most importantly, people have finally come to the realization that healthcare is a right, not a privilege. And want to keep the ACA, despite the continued efforts of the Republicans to gut the law or negate it entirely. Good luck with that! A public option (Medicare For All Who Want It) is exactly what Pete is proposing and it seems to be a reasonable way to get us to Medicare For All. 

Anyway, I am a product of my midwestern upbringing, and so is Mayor Pete. That's why he appealed to me from the beginning, and I believe that is why he is appealing to so many across the country. It's not just the pragmatic part, either. There is a positivity to him that is also needed to counteract against the extreme negativity of the current resident. I feel it in my bones that people need that and need to feel a sense of optimism and inclusion rather than being scared to death of the entire world, including anyone who is a little different from them. 

And how refreshing is it to hear someone who can put together a logical, intelligent sentence? I never realized how much I craved lucidity until I had to hear Individual-1 speak. Good grief, is it too much to ask to have the leader of the free world NOT sound like a moron? We need to raise that bar again.

So here we are, about 100 days out from the Iowa caucus. I was pretty thrilled several months ago when Pete polled at 11% in an Iowa poll. Now it is looking very possible that he could actually—dare I say it?—WIN IOWA. This is astounding, exciting, and almost overwhelming. I am just so thrilled that others are hearing his message and are feeling the same inspiration that it has been my pleasure to feel for the past eight years. 

I don't know what will happen. But I am definitely feeling a sense of hope and change that I haven't felt for a while. Like for about 11 years. 

Friday, August 30, 2019

Once Upon a Time There Was A Movie

Young girls are coming to the canyon
And in the morning I can see them walking
I can no longer keep my blinds drawn
And I can't keep myself from talking

~~ "Twelve Thirty (Young Girls Are Coming to the Canyon)" by The Mamas and The Papas

Well, I've posted about it enough on social media and I saw it for the sixth time today, so I guess I should probably write about it. 

I'm talking about Quentin Tarantino's ninth (and supposedly penultimate) movie, "Once Upon a Time in Hollywood." How much do I love this movie? Let me count the ways. I'm going to start off with non-spoilers, but I'm going to end with a big fat spoiler...of course, I will warn you first! Trust me on this'll want to see it without knowing the spoiler, so if you haven't seen it and plan to, stop reading at that point, okay? 

If you've been living under a rock, the movie takes place in Hollywood in 1969 and tells the story of actor Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) and his stunt double, Cliff Booth (Brad Pitt). Rick is getting a little long in the tooth and feels like he might not have much of a future in Hollywood. Since Cliff's career is kind of dependent on Rick's, they're both wondering what the future has in store for them. A lot of stuff is happening in 1969, and some of it is happening at Spahn Movie Ranch. So here are a few of the things I love about this movie and why one friend said that I might be addicted to it. (Guilty as charged!)

1. The cars. There are classic Mustangs everywhere in this movie and they look and sound amazing. There are also tons of Beetles, a beauty of a sky-blue T-bird, Cliff's Karmann Ghia (I wanted one of those when I was a teenager), and Rick's bitchin' Cadillac Coupe de Ville. 

2. The music. Lawd have mercy, the MUSIC. Tarantino always puts a great soundtrack to his movies and he might have outdone himself with this one. Everything from Paul Revere and the Raiders to Deep Purple. Two of my personal favorites are unfortunately not on the soundtrack release: the song included in this entry, as well as "Out of Time" by The Rolling Stones. 

Tarantino combines the cars and the music with some fun sequences of various characters driving on the LA highways. I've seen some criticism of that, saying that it's boring and doesn't add anything to the movie, but I don't feel that way at all. Cars, music, LA highways in 1969? That was a happenin' scene, man! I think it gives great flavor to that whole experience. I love it. 

Even the radio ads add to the experience. Tarantino said that it reflects his childhood when there were only a few radio stations and you didn't change the channel looking for something else. The big station where I grew up was WLS out of Chicago and it was the same for me. I get it. 

3. The scenery/clothes. Tarantino transformed a couple of blocks of Sunset Boulevard to look the way it did in 1969 and it's nothing less than amazing. The neon, the signs, the storefronts. I love all the groovy clothes, from Roman Polanski's blue velvet suit to the anonymous dancer at the Playboy Mansion and her silver minidress and go-go boots. Far out! 

4. The story within a story. The movie, at heart, is about Rick and Cliff. We get to see Rick in some amazing scenes while shooting the pilot for "Lancer," and we get to see Cliff in a super cool fight with Bruce Lee on the set of "The Green Hornet." Tarantino has also gotten some flak for his portrayal of Bruce Lee, including from Lee's daughter. I can't comment on that other than that I've read that Lee really WAS a little arrogant, and Tarantino has said that Cliff Booth is a fictional character, so he can make him do whatever he wants. It's a movie, folks, not a documentary. 

5. The friendship between Rick and Cliff. As it says in the movie, Cliff is a little more than a brother to Rick, and a little less than a wife. They've been together for a long time and their easy camaraderie and support for each other is really fun to see. It helps a lot that it's Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt. They're pretty amazing together. 

Now we're going to get into the big spoiler. 


The plotline that got a lot of press was that the Manson Family murders were part of the movie. Now, if you go to see this movie expecting that it's all about that, you're going to have a bad time. As I wrote above, at its heart, the movie is about Rick and Cliff. However, Cliff encounters one of the Manson girls on the streets of LA and ends up taking her back to Spahn Movie Ranch, where he shot some episodes of Rick's network show, "Bounty Law." He encounters people from the Manson Family like Gypsy (horribly played by Lena Dunham...sorry to all you Lena Dunham fans, but criminy, I could act better than that), Clem, Squeaky, and Tex Watson.
In one of those odd turns of events, Rick's house is on Cielo Drive, right next to the house Sharon Tate and Roman Polanski live in. The movie builds suspense beautifully, counting down the hours to when the Tate murders happened. We get to see Sharon and her friends enjoying their lives, Sharon is seeing her career taking off, and she is pregnant and happy. You feel a sense of dread as the clock ticks down because you know what is going to happen. These people are going to die horribly and it's going to happen soon.
But, but, but...Tarantino turns it all upside down. Instead of going to the Tate/Polanski house, Tex, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Susan Atkins go to Rick's house. There they encounter a tripping Cliff Booth who absolutely fucks their shit up with the help of his trusty dog Brandy, and when a damaged and screaming Susan Atkins falls into the pool, Rick breaks out his flamethrower from one of his movies and torches her. It's a stunning ten or so minutes of alternative history.
So why did that affect me so much? Why am I obsessed (if I'm going to be totally honest) with this movie?
I was only seven years old when these murders happened, so I remember nothing about them. I didn't learn about them until several years later when I read the book Helter Skelter. Since then, I've read quite a bit about it all. It seems to me that in conjunction with other things like the assassinations of MLK, Jr and Bobby Kennedy, the Manson murders were effectively the end of the '60s. No more peace, no more Summer of Love...just death and destruction. Altamont. Kent State. The deaths of Hendrix, Morrison, Joplin. They all followed in short order. It was a very dark time in our history.
For a few moments at the end of this movie, Tarantino makes that all go away. Sharon Tate theoretically goes on to have her baby and hopefully, she remains happy with Polanski for a long while. She goes on to have a lucrative career. Jay Sebring and the others in the house all live. They become friends with Rick Dalton. The horrible events of that night are wiped away by Tarantino's movie, thanks to Rick and Cliff (and Brandy!).
As someone who has been fascinated by the Manson Family and the murders for a long time, I found the final scene cathartic. I'm about the same age as Tarantino, so like him, those murders have been part of my psyche since I was a young adult. Until Manson's recent death, he had a real grip on the American psyche, in my opinion. I think Tarantino was exorcising his own demons with this ending, and while I'm not sure others feel the same way, he exorcised mine. Cliff and Rick don't just kill Tex Watson, Patricia Krenwinkel, and Susan Atkins. They make fun of them and take away the power and mystique they have had all these years.
Tarantino gave us a fairy tale that could only happen in...Hollywood. 

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

You Got a Little You Could Use Much More

I'm no schoolboy but I know what I like

~~ "Brown Sugar" by The Rolling Stones

I'll never understand what motivates people to trash another person's entertainment passions. 

I think you all know that I'm a total fangirl and my fandom is vast and varied. Music, TV shows, movies, books, actors, even journalists (and one particular former FBI Director). While I don't mind dissenting opinions when it comes to things having to do with the news (because that's how things work), it pisses me off royally when people dismiss others' entertainment opinions as nonsense. 

Well, who appointed you the Grand Poobah of what others should or shouldn't like?

Before I go any further with this and before you think I am pretending to be blameless in this regard, let me say that I have done this in the past. Usually it was just teasing a friend about something they liked and I thought I was being funny. Other times it probably had a tinge of superiority to it. As I've gotten older and thought about it some more, I've learned that it really was more the latter than the former. Basically, I've learned that it's a dick move. 

Who knows the reason for why someone loves something? It might be the most insipid song you can imagine, but maybe a person fell in love to that song. Or maybe they lost their one true love when that song was playing. Maybe it was a movie that made them think about their own experience or maybe it was a book that made them question their dearly held thoughts. Maybe it's a band that they have loved for years and has meant a lot to them in ways both fun and profound. 

You know what I say when I see someone post something and I think, "Wow, why do they like that? That's crap." Nothing. That's right, I just put on my travelin' shoes and mosey right along. Again, I haven't always been that way, and I'm sorry for that. I apologize to every friend whose feelings I ever hurt by making a snide remark because I thought it would be funny to tease them. It's not funny and it's not cool and it was a dick move for me to do that.

I'm sure there are plenty of things that I love that others find absurd. I don't care. The heart knows what it wants. You know what else I don't care about? Your opinion about why you think it's absurd. If that's what you think, get together with your friends and talk about how and why it's absurd, but don't do it to me. I have zero patience for it and I have ways of avenging myself. You might not even realize it, but it will happen. I can be as passive-aggressive as the best of them. 

Just in case any of my friends think this is about them, no worries. This happened with a stranger who commented on a post I made in a group and it's what really made me think about why it's so rude and how condescending it can be. You're never too old to think about how your actions affect people and to try to do better. So I plan on trying to do better from here on out. 

I'll probably still make fun of Nickelback, though. Just not anyone who loves them! (But seriously, what are you thinking??)

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Dirty, filthy, disgusting

Congress impeach, we're in trouble deep
Congress impeach, we've been losin' sleep
But we've made up our mind, the "president's" crazy
I said the "president's" crazy

~~ to the tune of "Papa Don't Preach" by Madonna

Pop quiz! 

What is the I word? 

A) Idiot
B) Ignoramus
C) Imbecile
D) All of the above

Of course, the correct answer is D) All of the above, but today I'm thinking of another word, and I guess I kind of gave it away right off the bat, didn't I? 

That's right, it's that dirty, filthy, disgusting word, at least according to Individual-1: impeachment. The one he seems to think that the "courts wouldn't allow," which leads us back to the pop quiz answer. D) All of the above. Pssst. Hey, you big dummy. The courts have nothing to do with impeachment. That's in Congress's wheelhouse. Which I suspect you'll be finding out soon. 

Like so many others, I've been very conflicted about impeachment. We're not going to get 67 votes in the Senate, right? Right. At least the way things are at the moment. I wish I had it in me to hope that there are enough decent Republicans in the Senate that would stand up for the rule of law, but Mitch McConnell kind of beat that out of me at a very...slow...and...steady...pace.

It would also be really bad for the country, right? Right. It is never a pleasant road to go down and it should be avoided if at all possible. 

The majority in the country do not favor impeachment, right? Right. It's best to have public opinion behind you if you decide to undertake something so divisive and upsetting to our country. 

More on all that in a moment. I've been right there with Speaker Pelosi the majority of the time. I feel that she's right in trying to conduct some investigations and get more information. I understand her reluctance to go down that road and I, too, wonder what the political fallout will be. 

That all changed for me this week with Robert Mueller's brief statement to the country. The gist of it was that because they could not indict a sitting president, they could not make a definitive statement as to whether or not he committed a crime by obstructing justice. This is because of Department of Justice guidelines. (Not laws, mind you. Guidelines.) He alluded to other avenues to pursue such matters. 

Hey! Congress! He was talking to you! 

I read a couple of good opinion pieces about it, one from Dan Pfeiffer at Crooked Media, and one from Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post. Pfeiffer lays out a plan as to how to approach this. Rubin writes that the American public hasn't read the Mueller Report, so Congress needs to spoonfeed it to us. She's not wrong. Hell, look what a political junkie I am, and I still haven't taken the time to read it yet! 

The main point in both pieces is that there must be public testimony. This is crucial. Just like in the Watergate hearings, there need to be open hearings before Congress in which we hear from many of the people involved. That includes Mr. Mueller, although I know he doesn't want to do that. Sorry, sir, but your country is calling on you once again. You need to appear before Congress. 

Remember James Comey's testimony in June of 2017? People all over the country watched. Bars opened early and had watch parties. I didn't move my butt from our couch for the entire testimony! That is exactly what Congress needs to do with multiple players from the Mueller investigation. We need a televised spectacle that gets everything out there and gets people talking. 

Listen. The majority of us know that Individual-1 obstructed justice. His diehard supporters will never turn on him. We know that, too. But there is a whole bunch of people who are so-so on the guy, and we need to reach them. We need to put the evidence before them and make sure they hear it. That can only happen with impeachment proceedings, when Congress will have its full powers as an oversight body. 

Will Individual-1 be removed from office? Doubtful. Which brings me back to my initial three points. This will probably not succeed in the Senate. However, every Republican who stands with this so-called president will be on record as voting to save his hide. We need to remember that, and we need to turn out en masse in 2020. We need to VOTE! 

Yes, impeachment would be bad for the country. But I have to ask...isn't this presidency proving to be pretty fucking bad already?? Honestly, how much worse could impeachment be? 

And no, as of now, the majority do not favor impeachment. But once everyone starts hearing public testimony, it sure might. In fact, I think it probably will. We've become almost inured to the daily corruption and dishonesty. It's overwhelming. But if Congress starts forcing people to talk, we'll get to hear a live, public accounting of what has gone on. That is powerful, pals. Even Individual-1 knows the power of TV, and he's D) All of the above. 

It's time. Impeachment hearings need to start now. Get on the bus, Madame Speaker! 

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!