This weekend I went to a march in Akron in support of Black Lives Matter.
It was peaceful. The organizers threatened to beat down anyone who wasn’t. The mayor was there. I think it was a bit under duress. They didn’t say a whole lot of nice things about him to his face. The police were mostly guarding police headquarters. There was a helicopter overhead and people up on office building roofs. I saw a group of mounted police but they left just as the protest was getting started.
They don’t take that long to make. The hardest part is looking at all the fabric I’m wasting because they aren’t square. I’m the kind of person who always has to try to maximize fabric (or wrapping paper) use. Just blatantly cutting a curve hurts my soul.
I posted a picture of my mask on my Instagram story.
I instantly got hit up to make some for other people. A former coworker has a sister who is immunocompromised in a few different ways. The sister works in a nursing home where they have no protective equipment. How could I say no to that? I whipped up four (2 for the sister and 2 for my friend and her husband). I think I’m going to make a few more for us since they need to be washed after every outing.
We tried. We really did. Veterinarians are considered essential in this outbreak. We stopped people from coming inside (and it was lovely!). We washed our hands. OMG, did we wash our hands. I normally wash my hands at least 40-50 times a day depending on how many patients I see. Now we were adding in extra handwashing. My hands hurt. The backs of my hands burned when I would run water on them. That’s how you know you were doing a lot of handwashing. We were wearing masks. We were disinfecting. My staff self-destructed of non-corona illnesses. They went to the hospital where they may have been exposed to corona so they had to self-isolate. We were down to what we thought was the absolute minimum and then we lost more. Seriously, I’ve never seen so many sick people in my life.
I kept up with the news on the outbreak and the news on what we could do as a small business to help my practice owner. I’d get mad because we were staying open and risking our health and people were mostly coming in because they were bored at home. Toe nail trims galore. Dogs who had ear infections for a month but now the owner was home with the smelly dog 24/7 so it became an emergency.
I’d come home and strip in the basement. My clothes went right into the wash. I went immediately upstairs and jumped into the shower to decontaminate like I’d been fighting a nuclear reactor meltdown. I have a medically fragile husband. I don’t need to bring this home.
Then I’d get to listen to the husband who had been listening to economic news all day long have a complete meltdown about what is going to happen to the economy. I finally told him that I couldn’t take it. I’d handle the health news. He was on his own for economic. I don’t normally have a problem with stress but this was getting to me.
Then a coworker was coughing. No fever. That’s it. Sent her home. She went to the doctor and they think it was corona. They don’t know because she is young and not hospitalized so they can’t test her. Are we exposed? No idea. Call the health department. Do we close? They tell us they can’t advise us without her having a test. THERE ARE NO TESTS. We decide to self-isolate. (I’m about 100% sure she was not exposed at work.)
I was close to burn out already. I didn’t get a vacation to decompress last year. I went to Florida this January but it was a continuing education conference so I was in class 8 hours a day for 5 days and I took two coworkers with me. Not exactly a calm and quiet vacation. My patience level with humans was shot.
Oh yeah, let’s add in that I had to euthanize my dog on the day we closed. And I had to do it with minimal crying because my snot is potentially infective to my husband who is holding her. Yeah, I’m mentally and emotionally done.
Ok, deep breath.
I napped a good portion of the first day. I stopped looking at the news stories. I have decided to live in my little bubble of happiness. I’m 99.99% sure that my house is free of coronavirus, unless it is inside me. If it is, it is. There’s nothing I can do at this point. Honestly, if it got to me through all that handwashing then I tip my hat to it. It wins. So far I am fine.
I’ve quit looking at Twitter. I love Twitter but it all virus stories right now. I’m going to mute “coronavirus” and “COVID-19” and see if I can still see the happy stuff on my timeline.
I’m going on walks around my neighborhood. So is everyone else but we are keeping a respectful distance from each other. I’ve never seen this many people on my walks before. I had two long walks today.
I’m sewing. I’m being totally fickle about what I sew. Yesterday it was a quilt for a wedding that has already been postponed due to the virus. No rush. Today I worked on my hand-piecing quilt.
I really haven’t read. You’ll be shocked when you see how many books I’ve read this month. They were all used to decompress my brain after coming home after work.
I’m going to put up my hammock and chill. I’m going to nap. I haven’t had two weeks off since I was between jobs in 2017. Before that it was a few weeks in 1997.
The world is burning but right now I can’t do a damn thing about it. So my priority for the next few weeks is to stay healthy and rebuild my mental and emotional stability. I’ll let you know how it goes.
I didn’t think I’d ever say this but I’m actually really impressed with our Republican state administration. They came out early and hard on coronavirus and shut everything down. So what does that look like here?
Seriously. The vet clinic is still open. We closed our waiting room. People could check in and then go to their cars until we came to get them. That started on Monday. By yesterday we were in a bit of a race to see what clinic employee had a complete mental breakdown first. I guess in our minds we were going to be here to treat sick animals. What are we seeing?
Toe nail trims
I’m not even kidding. On Monday we saw over 90% new people with animals who haven’t been to the vet in years. Why does this animal suddenly need a vaccine when they haven’t had one in the last 5 years? I swear, people are just bored and looking for something to do.
Yesterday was just ridiculous. What part of STAY HOME don’t people understand? We actually had people in the exam room when they got a text that they had been exposed to a person who is symptomatic for coronavirus infection. I AM DONE. I’m not super worried about myself but the husband is medically delicate.
On the way home last night I passed an ice cream stand that was open for the season starting Monday. There were about 10 cars in the parking lot and a freaking line for ice cream with a side of community spread of coronavirus.
This morning I ordered the doors to the clinic locked. Now, if the animal isn’t sick we send someone to the car to get the history and the pet and bring it inside. Owners aren’t welcome. If the animal is sick and there is going to have to be a lot of conversation, they can come in.
I’ve always washed my hands a lot because we see so many patients but I’m being extra, extra thorough now. The back of my hands are burning because of the scrubbing no matter how much lotion I add.
This morning, Ohio banned all elective surgeries to conserve gloves. We only do surgeries once a week. We had an extensive waiting list waiting to get scheduled for May dates. Now we are calling everyone scheduled to say it is all off. Mostly they are leaving messages but we did have one person start yelling that she was just going to spay her dog at home herself. Good luck with that ma’am. Bye Bye.
I work with several people in their early to mid-twenties. One thing that I’m just amazed by in them is their level of fear. Do I just know a group of particularly scaredy-cats or is this common? Let me give you some examples.
One person lives with her parents. Her parents went on vacation. She was so scared to be in the house by herself that she made various people, including her grandmother, come over and stay with her at night. She said that she slept cuddled with her gun. She has several very loud dogs. No one is likely to try to steal her. Indeed, no one tried to steal her or anything else. In related news, I mentioned once that I sleep with headphones on to drown out snoring. (I listen to ambiance videos on youtube.) She was horrified. She wanted to know how I would hear anyone breaking in. I’m not worried about it. Could someone break into my house? Sure. Have they ever? No. Would I gain anything by worrying every night that it might happen? No.
Another was recently gifted a houseby her grandparents in part to get her out of her parents’ house and away from a slightly toxic family dynamic. She hasn’t moved in. At first she was terrified of the neighborhood. We went over and took a look around. The neighborhood is fine. (Even the person from the example above said she felt fine there.) She also has a large, loud dog. She is working up to staying there a few days a week. It is fully furnished. All she needs to do is get her clothes and go there. It has been several months now. She recently commented on how she couldn’t do something because she lives with her parents. I yelled at her. “You wouldn’t live with your parents if you went and lived in your own house!” She acknowledged that was true.
I’m taking these two to a conference out of state. For a few days the one is going to visit her grandparents. That will leave the one in a hotel room alone. I told her that the husband and I weren’t coming to sleep in her room with her. She said just knowing we were in the same hotel would be ok. The other one has never flown and is already super anxious about it even though it is a few months away.
Is it just me? I don’t remember life being this scary at their ages. By the time I was their age I had moved to a different state for school for 4 years, traveled internationally alone, led interstate travel with groups of teenagers, became a doctor, gotten married, moved to another different state away from anyone I knew, etc. I just want to shake them and tell them to get out in the world. You are missing out on living your lives! The knee-jerk response to any new thing shouldn’t be, “That’s really scary. I don’t know.”
Maybe I’m turning into a crotchety old lady. “Back in my day, whippersnapper, we went out in the world…” I’ve decided I’ll be doing my best to try to unshelter all the young’uns I work with. Take a peek at the world. It will be ok.
At my office we subscribe to the local newspaper. We do this because of the police blotter. Crime is rampant in this town because of drugs so most the stories are tragic but there is also a whole lot of really stupid crime that is hysterically funny. I take pictures of the best and post them on Facebook to entertain my family members.
In addition to the police blotter, there is a columnist who is an idiot. He reduces me to an absolute blithering mess every week mostly through his inability to write a sentence. If you can’t write a sentence using proper English rules perhaps you shouldn’t have a job writing sentences for publication. Just a thought. It isn’t even that he is grammatically challenged. He doesn’t even try. He appears to literally write down the thoughts in his brain in a free-form, free associating manner. He starts the first paragraph or two in a standard manner and then it devolves into sentence fragments with no attempts at punctuation in ways that would make ee cummings cry into his soup.
By the end he is thinking of things that existed in his childhood and is just listing them. There are toys and sayings and tv shows. It is just a list. It occurs to me while writing this that you are never going to believe me so I will insert a picture of a recent column.
See? Anyway the point of this, is that this columnist infuriates me. He makes me want to write very angry letters to the editor. I am approaching my dotage but I’m not quite to the Angry Letters to the Newspaper stage yet. Also I am embarrassed that I am letting this horrible person manipulate me in this way. He’s too insignificant to upset me this much but at the same time, “Aaaaaaaaaaaggggh!”
He makes me tear at my hair when he states with confidence that certain things no longer exist. Even if he has not seen them lately, maybe 10 seconds should be invested on Google before declaring things extinct.
Things he as declared extinct recently:
School nurses – He knows they don’t exist any more because schools would be sued for letting people practice medicine without training. Of course, they do exist and they even have training because that’s what the term “nurse” implies to any rational human being and now I’m about to scream again.
Comic books – Oh dearie me. Maybe you don’t see displays down to the ol’ Five and Dime anymore but I assure you that comic books are alive and well. Five seconds of googling brings up articles about why comics are so popular today.
Anyway, what has pushed me over the edge is his assertion one week, apropos of seemingly nothing, that women who leave their purse in their shopping cart deserve to have it stolen.
This made me so blisteringly angry that it has taken me days to make a rational response. First of all, sir, why are you chastising women for not guarding their purses in what you perceive to be an appropriate way instead of using your platform to tell people not to steal? Is that too hard of a leap of imagination for you to make? How can you possibly tell potential thieves to behave themselves? Wouldn’t the world be a better place if people stood up to wrong doers instead of constantly telling the innocent that you need to protect yourself better from people who mean you harm?
I know you won’t understand my next point and will probably think I’m being overly dramatic. I assume you might even think of me as hysterical or hormonal because you seem like that kind of man. But when I read a man telling me that is my responsibility to keep from being robbed I also hear your unspoken next thoughts. It moves from “She turned her back on her purse. No wonder she was robbed.” to “She went out at night. She was just asking to be raped.” Men may think of this as a huge leap. We know it isn’t. It is all the same. It is all our fault. Stay in our place. Protect ourselves. Don’t imagine a world where more attention is spent controlling the behavior of the ones who would hurt us than controlling us. That will never be what the world is. Well, of course, it won’t with people who think like you running around.
This is the patriarchy. This is the inability to imagine and fight for a better world. This is a world where it is easier to push down and keep people in their place. It starts with something simple, something benign. Who is going to so upset about being told what to do with their purse? Hopefully, we all are. Hopefully, we will push back against those who tell us to limit our freedom in the smallest of ways in order to limit our freedom in larger ways. We can imagine a better world. Now get out of the way and let us make it.
That’s what I want to say to this man. I scream inside with frustration knowing that he will never understand. He’ll never care. He seems like the type who would go on about how everyone is so sensitive these days and never understand his role is making us this way.
We had a 100 lb plus dog come in for his first exam at our clinic. He previously had had a toe nail trim. There were no comments on his file so presumably there were no issues. He was accompanied by his owner and her friend.
He was in for an injured leg. I watched him walk. He was limping on a hind leg. My assistant was nominally restraining his head while I started to feel his leg. With giant breed dogs, nominal restraint is all you can actually do. If they are going to walk away, you aren’t going to stop it. This guy was friendly and I palpated the leg. A minute or so into the exam the owner says in an amazed voice to the friend, “They aren’t even having to use the muzzle!”
The assistant and I freeze. We side-eye each other acknowledging that we are suddenly in a way more dangerous situation than we thought we were 0.01 seconds previously. We look at the dog. He is perfectly content. We silently decide to continue. I go back to running my fingers over every toe and nail to see if anything is sore just as the friend replies, “That’s because they aren’t touching his toe nails.” We freeze again. We don’t look at each other because we are both stifling inappropriate giggles of the type you get only when you are probably about to be horribly injured. The dog turn his head and licks the assistant.
I finish looking at the leg. He definitely has some joint changes. I discuss this with the people. They listen intently and ask questions. Then they say, “That isn’t even the leg he hurt.” Ok, amateur mistake going for the leg he was limping on instead of checking with the owner to find out what one was hurt.
I move to the other leg and find issues there. We discuss and then we stand up unscathed.
The friend says, “I have a question about my dog.” This dog is not here but whatever. I say ok. She says, “My dog has (insert chronic human disease that I actually have had since childhood).”
Now, I usually let people have their crazy. But I was already near inappropriate giggles so that lack of control must be why I heard myself say, “Dogs don’t get that.”
That woman was leaning on the exam table and reared back like I had slapped her. Then she looked like she was planning on coming across the table to slap me. I followed with, “Really. I have it. I know all about it. Dogs don’t get that.”
“Well,” she retorted hotly, “she has something!”
There was no arguing with that. I was getting the impression that maybe we had seen this dog previously so I asked for her name. I think that offended her that I didn’t know her dog. She gave me a super common dog name that could be spelled a variety of ways. I asked how she spelled it. She gave me a spelling at no one has ever used for this name. Unsurprisingly, it was not under that. We finally found it. Turns out the dog was in 6 months ago for fleas. She has not continued flea medication. She has, however, called once a month to complain about her dog’s skin and ask for home remedies. Yes, we log every conversation. No, she has not followed any of our advice but did give me a story about things that we have supposedly told her to do that were so outlandish that they could have only come from the depths of the interwebs. I decided that since she’s finagled 6 months of free advice that she ignored out of one exam where she didn’t even follow my suggestions, I wasn’t going to worry too much about it. I excused myself to make a treatment plan for the dog in the room.
I work at a low cost clinic. I tend to make my Dream Treatment Plan of what I’d really like to do and then a secondary plan in case the people reject plan one. In this case it was long term arthritis care versus a week of some pain meds.
The assistant went back in and presented the Dream Plan. It was rejected due to cost. That’s fine. We don’t shame people for anything like that. We work to provide the best care we can on their budget. The owner approved the short term care and cost.
We get the meds ready and send them to the reception area. We were giggling about not being eaten or punched when the receptionist appeared. “They don’t have any money.”
The assistant was livid. She said that they specifically approved the cost. The receptionist explained that they said they didn’t mean that they were going to pay it today. This isn’t our first rodeo. We have a procedure for this. The meds weren’t in their hands yet. The receptionist went back and explained that they couldn’t have the meds that they weren’t planning on paying for and here was a note to sign saying that they owned for the exam. They decided to get belligerent in the waiting room. Suddenly, we were wronging them not giving them free medication. They started asking for a different assistant by name.
Our youngest assistant has SUCKER written across her forehead. We’ve yelled at her for trying to help people too much. We had to flat out ban her from giving her home number to people who might not be able to keep their dog, stray cat, etc. We will not let her pay people’s bills. She’s been learning the hard way that people will take advantage of her caring. These people had been in her room for another patient once. They must have read the SUCKER sign on her forehead and remembered her name for such a time as this. They wanted to talk to her. The receptionist wasn’t having it. No, they couldn’t talk to her, she was busy.
In the middle of this the assistant in question comes out of a different exam room. If she moved too far away from her door she could be seen in the waiting room. We turned to her and whispered to stand against the wall and DON’T MOVE. We went back to listening to the receptionist deal with the people. After about 30 seconds the assistant whispered, “Are we being robbed?” in a very scared voice. She didn’t understand why this made us laugh so hard. “Does someone have a gun?” she asked as she flattened herself against the wall.
In the middle of all this hullaballu, a man walked into the waiting room. The receptionist had gotten the point across that they weren’t being given medication that they didn’t intend to pay for. He heard this discussion. Remember, it was World Kindness Day. He gallantly offered to pay their bill.
When the receptionist came back to retrieve the meds and told me what was happening my response was, “I don’t care if it is World Kindness Day. F— You.” She laughed and told me that she’d rephrase. They got away with it. They threw a fit until they scammed someone into paying their bill. I know that the guy was trying to do a good deed and that’s lovely and he had no idea what had already happened and I’m glad the dog got his meds but it just rankles. Scammers gonna scam, I guess. I wish they had scammed someone into paying for my Dream Plan though.
Postscript – Naive assistant finds out we aren’t being held up (at gunpoint at least). She goes home. She is in the process of slowly moving into a new house. Because of people coming and going the house was left unlocked for a few hours in the afternoon. They go to bed. They hear footsteps. Turns out there is a random stranger dude in a spare bedroom. They have a house full of large dogs. None of the dogs said anything. Not even, “Mommy, Daddy, we made a new friend this afternoon and he’s going to stay overnight. We put him in the spare room, ok?” Epic dog fail.
Turns out she actually was being robbed probably at the exact time she asked us that question. She’s fine. Dude was arrested.
OMG Post-postscript – While I was writing this at work (don’t judge me), I overheard naive assistant say, “My friend who’s missing always had a nickname for me.”
Me: “Whoa, whoa, whoa. Back this up. You have a missing friend?”
Her: “Yes.” Totally calmly like doesn’t everyone?
Other assistant: “Where’s she at?”
Me, turning on other assistant: “MISSING!”
Other assistant: “Well, yeah, obviously, but like ran away or kidnapped?”
Her: “Ran away probably.”
I’m done talking to people. They are way too complicated. I need some peace and quiet and no drama. I’m on vacation next week. I feel like it might not be a moment too soon.
On April 6, I attended a Woman’s March sponsored event called Power to the Polls. It took place in Cleveland and focused on the importance of getting people out to vote. This event was the first of a tour of 10 states. Ohio is always the key swing state in presidential elections. The speakers pointed out that no one wins the presidency without getting major support in north east Ohio.
The speakers were inspiring. Woman’s March co-founder Bob Bland started it off and then introduced Linda Sarsour.
She spoke about the need for progressive people not to destroy their own allies for having differences in ideology.
“Unity is not uniformity.”
The goals that she laid out for the Woman’s March’s activism this year:
Don’t assume that you are registered due to changes in laws. Check.
Take responsibility for the people in your life. Make sure they are registered and going to vote.
Get to know people. How can we protect people if we don’t know people?
Support organizations doing the work in your community
Don’t worry about what people think. Say you are proud to be a radical.
The next speaker was Nina Turner. From Wikipedia:
“Nina Turner is an American politician from the State of Ohio. Turner, a Democrat, served as a member of the Ohio State Senate from 2008 to 2014, and was elected to be the chamber’s Minority Whip in the 129th General Assembly. A supporter of the progressive movement, Turner has been characterized as a rising star in the Democratic Party. She endorsed Bernie Sanders for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2016 and became an active surrogate for him.”
She talked about being called an Angry Black Woman. She pointed out many instances of injustice that should make people angry. “If we aren’t mad, something is wrong with us.”
But then she cautioned people. “It is ok to be angry but we have to channel that anger into action.”
After the speakers the group broke out into one of four small group sessions. I went to the Get Out the Vote session. There were women from several grass roots political groups there. Some were candidates for local elections. I met a person who works with a political action group near me. I hope to be able to work with some of their projects.
I wish there had been a larger turnout. The church where we met is on a college campus but there were very few college students there. That shows how we need to be better at getting the word out about opportunities.
I was in Knoxville TN over the weekend and decided to hit up the Women’s March there. I’m so glad I did.
I made a little video from my pictures and video
I loved the Indian girl at the end of the video. She was so excited because the crowd behind us had started chanting “Love Trumps Hate”. I told her it was because of her sign. She was walking beside me for a while chanting “Love Trumps Hate” in this little tiny voice. She was adorable!
It was raining so eventually my signs melted. But lots of people came up to me to take pictures of them. A physics professor from the University of Tennessee hugged me and got his son to take pictures of us together.
East Tennessee is a very conservative area so it was great to see this turnout. Part of me just wanted to yell though, “We wouldn’t be here if some of ya’ll hadn’t voted for him in the first place.” but I held my tongue.
I was sitting around most of the day today in the hospital with the husband with nothing much to do except read Twitter. Now I have thoughts.
Most of my bookish timeline was taken up with discussions on diversity. A lot of the discussion was about white writers not explicitly pointing out that characters are a certain race. Another line of discussion was about People of Color wanting to have their race acknowledged in discussion. Seeing those two discussions side by side made me realize what part of the problem may be.
White people are taught to never, ever describe anyone by their race.
For example, if you are trying to point out a person across a room to someone else, a white person will go through all kinds of verbal gymnastics. “The lady with the hat and the red shirt. Over there. Next to the man with the green tie.” If that fails and there is no other recourse, the white person will then whisper, “The Korean woman.”
Here’s why. It isn’t because we don’t see race. It isn’t because we are trying to dismiss the person’s race from their life experience. It is because we have been taught that simplifying a person to a description of their race is what racists do. Nice people don’t do what racists do.
I don’t know who made up this rule for white people. I don’t know if any People of Color were consulted about how they feel about that. But I promise you, if you started the above scenario by telling another liberal white person, “See the Korean woman over there?” you are going to get hissed at. “You can’t say that!”
Now, take a person with that life training. Have them write a description of a crowd. Even if the crowd they visualize is multiracial, they are not going to write that down unless the race of characters is an essential part of the plot. I tried that exercise myself one day. I looked over a food court in a mall and imagined how I would describe what I see in a book. I would have to talk about the Chinese couple holding hands on a bench and the Indian woman riffling through her shopping bags. I felt a little bit icky as I thought that. There is that remnant of Never Describe a Person Just By Their Race making me feel like putting in the detail of their races makes me a racist. I’m not saying that’s right. I’m saying I bet it is how a lot of white writers think. (I’m not talking about main characters. Obviously they have other characteristics that need to be discussed. I’m talking about background characters only right now. Characters that will never be seen again and have no influence on the story.)
Daniel Jose Older is wonderful at this. He can set scenes in urban areas that describe the people unapologetically.
After listening to what many people are saying, I see that not acknowledging race in this manner is not what most people want. I think more white people are going to have to hear that message before they feel comfortable talking and writing openly and honestly about multiracial communities.
Or maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about and all these white writers aren’t imagining multiracial groups and they are all just racist. I don’t know. Thoughts?
I knew that November was going to be a slow reading month. A lot of my reading time is taken up with doing NaNoWriMo. So far that is going well. I’m writing a book that I wrote part of previously but then lost it. This week I’ll run into the part that I haven’t written before and don’t have a great plan for. I mentioned this to the husband. I told him that they are about to leave England and go to America in 1790. He immediately suggested that the crew should throw a pregnant woman overboard so she drowns while in labor. He’s a cheery fellow. He said it was my fault for setting the thing in 1790. He doesn’t understand the appeal of Regency books.
Then the election knocked me for a loop. All I did for days was read things on Twitter. With all that, so far this month I’ve only finished two books. Two books? Who am I?
November is usually one of my favorite reading months with Nonfiction November going on. Luckily those weekly prompts have been keeping me in things to blog about. I do have quite a few books on the go. Maybe this will be one of those months where I suddenly finish a stack of books all in the course of a few days because I only have a few chapters left in each of them.
I’m currently reading an amazing book. It was so amazing that when my library wanted it back and I wasn’t completely finished, I ordered a copy for my own self instead of pushing to finish it. I wanted to be able to take notes and keep it for reference. It is called Pit Bull by Bronwyn Dickey. More on that when I finally finish and decide how to review it. I’ve been posting all kinds of quotes on Litsy.
I have an audiobook about a piano store in Paris almost finished. I just picked up an interlibrary loan about a prison in Bolivia where tourists could go and stay for months. That is nonfiction in case you were wondering. I’m halfway through a book about Mexican drug cartels but it is confusing. Once I get a handle on who the people are and who is in charge, someone gets killed and I have to figure out the organizational chart all over again. I guess I sympathize with the investigators in that respect. I picked up a book on medical diagnosis that I’m partway through.
It is totally short bookish attention span time around here. I think I’m going to go read a graphic novel I got. That will count as a finish and maybe spur me on to finishing everything else.
“Having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame.” 1 Peter 3:16
People are rightfully wondering why white liberals haven’t done a more effective job of calling out their friends and families who are on the other side when it comes to social issues. I think a lot of the problem comes from evangelical Christian thinking.
It goes like this:
I have an opinion that I think is right.
I can find support for my opinion in the Bible or in church therefore it is Godly.
If people disagree with me on this, then they are disagreeing with God.
Jesus told me that people will disagree with me and I need to stand strong in my beliefs.
Therefore, if people call me out on my beliefs, I must be right.
“If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” John 15:9
If you’ve never lived in that world it is hard to get your head around that warped mindset. Logical arguments about equality or fairness or ANYTHING bounce right off that kind of thinking.
“No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.” 2 Corinthians 11:14-15
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:10
The Christian persecution complex is real and powerful. But where the writers of the New Testament were talking about being killed for their faith, western Christians today take that to mean any disagreement. So call them out on not separating church and state? Persecution. Don’t say Merry Christmas? Persecution. Say that gay people deserve to live happy lives? Persecution. And they know what to do when they are being persecuted. Dig in and defend their position to the death if need be.
How do you get through to people who believe that? It is hard. I don’t know if it can be done by outside forces alone. People who have left tend to get there mostly by having one breaking moment like a crack in an iceberg. Something happens that doesn’t fit nicely with how they were told the world was going to be and suddenly the whole thing crumbles.
What I found really interesting is that while I was leaving Christianity, I was experiencing exactly what I had been told would happen. I was told that it would look like I had come across some great new wisdom. It would seem to make more sense than Christianity. I was told that these were signs that I was being deceived. Luckily I was able to push past those voices in my head and laugh at the church’s foresight in programing that one last thought into escaping people’s heads.
My hope is that things like having gay marriage and the sky not falling might be that crack that starts the iceberg tumbling. It is slow and it is hard but it is working. I have a lot of hope for people younger than me. They are seeing through this. They live in a world where this Christian mindset is not the only way they see. I think supporting them is the best way forwards.
Because of what I like to call my wayward youth that I wrote about yesterday, my Facebook page had gotten particularly nasty. When I say that I’m talking about people who felt safe to post memes actively encouraging violence to Black Lives Matter members and Native American protestors at Standing Rock along with the common memes of the “Don’t like it here, go live in (insert country here).”
Twitter was my safe place which always makes me giggle since the typical conversation about Twitter make it seem like everyone on there is getting constant abuse.
I had been avoiding Facebook for weeks. I don’t feel like I was free to be myself on there. So many people knew a person that I used to be. I didn’t want to get into the conversations that would ensue if I let that world know the real me. Part of it comes from being a very private person. I don’t like to let people I know in my brain to know what I am actually thinking or feeling. It is much easier to talk to strangers about it. Part of it is being very non-confrontational.
But, I’m also the first to criticize people for setting themselves up in an echo chamber where they only hear their own thoughts reflected back to them.
I’m not sure how to find a balance.
Yesterday I realized that I wasn’t going to go on Facebook anymore the way it was. I do get a lot of news from several sources through my timeline there and I wasn’t getting it. I wasn’t getting updates from groups I participate in. I either needed to walk away entirely or fix it.
I ended up cutting out half of my friends. It was a sad and strange process reading down my friend list and thinking, “Are you a racist?” I consider the people I have left to be on a probationary period. Two have already been kicked out. In case you feel I am being too harsh here’s what they posted last night that made that decision for me.
One posted a picture of a man snuggling multiple assault rifles and was captioned, “It’s alright. You’re safe now.” I spent yesterday watching friends on Twitter expressing real fears for their safety and their family’s safety. That picture was callous at best.
The other posted a cartoon of multiple women crying. This included some caricatures meant to demean people. It was labeled SJW (Social Justice Warrior) Tears. Again, the pain right now is real and people who don’t get it are reveling in it. (As an aside, why do people think SJW is an insult? That’s an awesome title to have!)
How are other people handling this? Is this just a retreat? I feel like it is but I also know the reality is that if you call people out you just end up reinforcing their rightness in their minds. And that will be tomorrow’s rant…
I’m numb this morning. I’m horrified. I wish I was surprised.
White, college-educated people voted majority Trump. That’s my demographic. Those are a lot of the people I know.
I grew up in western Pennsylvania in a rural area outside of a city. For most of the time when I was in school there was one non-white person. I don’t mean in my class or in my school. There was ONE non-white student in the entire school district. She had been adopted by a white family.
My extended family on both sides was very racist. Recently I found out that my great-grandmother was a Klan member. Which great-grandmother? Oh, the one who was a teacher. Yes, the most educated great-grandmother was KKK.
I was raised as an evangelical Christian. That was a lily white world.
My classes for my major in college were all white.
I went to vet school in Tennessee. There were 2 POC students in my class. I didn’t know one of them was Latina until the last semester of our fourth year when she was talking about how people always speak Spanish in front of her because they think she can’t understand them. She was born in Columbia. I met my first openly gay person during my second year of vet school. (Turns out that I was raised with a gay man but I didn’t know that until much later.)
I didn’t have any African American friends until I moved to a rural county in Ohio that was 97% white. We made friends there with some neighbors and the father of some kids in my 4-H group. But guess who was the most vocally concerned about us moving to a very racially diverse city? “Are you sure you want to move there? There are so many black people.”
“Um, we live by you now and you are black.”
“It’s different. Make sure you find a white neighborhood.”
Are you getting the idea of how segregated the United States is and how easy it is for white people to be completely isolated from any engagement with people of color? It is so easy to think in terms of “those people” when you don’t know any people who don’t look like you.
And let’s be honest, white people, if people of minority races are terrified of what white people say and do in public, I don’t even want to let them know the things white people say when they think they are among like-minded white folk.
That brings me to Facebook. Dear god. Consider my past life. With that background you know my Facebook page is white-white. By contrast my Twitter feed of primarily book people and social justice people is diverse. I think there were four consistently pro-Democratic people on my Facebook page. I’m sure there were a few other quiet ones but my Facebook page is meme after meme of pro-police brutality, pro-DAPL, and anti-Kaepernick rhetoric. I countered with pro-sanity links which probably only got read by the people who already agreed.
I’m sure that any social justice awareness I have was started though reading. I can name the books that started to open my eyes to life experiences that were different from my own. That’s why continuing to read books written from a variety of viewpoints is so immensely important.
I don’t know what to do going forward. Obviously call out what I see but it feels so futile. I want to scream at them for their blindness to what they are doing to other people but I know that they don’t see it. I don’t know if they can see it. Fellow white people, what is your plan?
In the mean time, I’m clinging to my Twitter feed. Book people are the best. I think it is because we’ve all read this novel over and over that we can see where the plot is going next….
I’ve been a Trump hater since the beginning but today was the first day he made me cry.
I’ve been frustrated almost to the point of tears before while trying to explain why as a woman I could never support him to people who didn’t want to hear but I’ve never totally lost it before. So why, after all the bullshit he’s said about women and Muslims and Mexicans and LGBT people and everyone other than U.S. born white men did today’s release of the recording of him bragging about grabbing women and kissing them and grabbing the pussy finally break me?
It’s because we’ve all been there.
We all have the stories. The grabbing, the groping, the men who won’t back off, the ones who feel like they are entitled to any woman’s time and body. Ask any woman. Don’t be surprised if she asks you which time you want to know about.
I was living in an apartment complex with a popular bike trail that connected to the parking lot. I walked out there after classes all the time. There were always people around. One day a guy came up behind me and grabbed me. He kissed me. When he let me go I did a quick scan. We were completely alone. That was really unusual. He told me that he had been watching me. I had never seen him before. I never have the snappy comeback or the instinctive right jab that I should in these situations but I instinctively knew to turn and start walking back to the parking lot. It wasn’t far. He walked beside me calmly and asked if I wanted to go out. I agreed in order to keep things peaceful and friendly since we were still alone. Then he matter of factly told me that he was married and his wife was pregnant. He was looking for someone to have sex with until his wife gave birth. I remember his next words. “Is that a problem for you?”
I turned and looked at him like he was the biggest idiot ever. “Yes, that’s a problem!” That’s when I got huffy. I was offended on his wife’s behalf. By then we were in the parking lot. He let me walk away. I think he was shocked that I had back talked him about his plan.
But here’s the thing. Turns out they lived in the apartment above me. He would stare at me in the parking lot or in the stairways. He watched me get my mail. I changed grocery stores because he worked at the one I had been going to. I rearranged my life to avoid him but it never occurred to me to say anything about it to anyone. Thinking about it now I really wish I would have gone up there and told his wife what was going on but I don’t think I’d change anything else I did. What’s the point? No one would have done anything. He wasn’t doing anything illegal.
And that’s the point. We rearrange our lives all the time to avoid these jerks and don’t think anything of it. It’s just the way it is.
You know how you can always tell if a movie or TV shows was written by a man? There’s a scene where a woman goes alone to her car in a dark parking lot. While she walks there, she is fumbling in her oversized bag for her keys. No, sir! Never happened. Ask any woman. We know if we are going to have to walk into that situation. We got our keys out when we were in the last secure and well lighted area. We are holding them tightly in our hands in case we need to use them as a weapon. If we are able, we remotely unlock the car when we are about 10 steps away. Not so early that someone could get to it before us but in time for us not have to slow down much to get safely in the car.
We all know that because we are all taught to protect ourselves from men who feel entitled to us. We are universally taught how to protect ourselves because men aren’t universally taught that we aren’t their property.
So to hear a man bragging about how he grabs women against their will broke me.
And don’t even “Not all men” me. I know the majority of men are fine. But let a woman go walking somewhere alone and she’ll be able to tell you the location of every man under the age of 65 within 100 yards of her. I’ve had a man get within an inch of my face and roar at me. I’ve been yelled at by a guy in a car while I was in the dog park who wanted to me to watch him masturbate. These were in the last few years. Don’t try telling me that it’s a compliment. I’m in my 40s and believe me, I don’t dress up all pretty to go to the dog park. I was just the closest female human at the time.
I had my hot bath with a candle and small cry. Now, I’m more pissed off than anything. This isn’t locker room talk. This is bragging about participating in terrorizing an entire gender for our whole lives. It’s time to call out the supporters of this toxic masculinity.
My favorite Olympic sports are the equestrian events. These are the only Olympic events were males and female compete against other. They are the only events where you can reasonable expect have competitors over 60.
The three Olympic equestrian events are:
Horse and rider teams perform a set pattern of maneuvers emphasizing grace, athletic ability, and teamwork. They also perform a ride of their own choreography set to music.
Horse and rider jump a course of obstacles in an arena. The fastest time with the least number of rails knocked down wins. (This photo is actually from the Modern Pentathlon which includes show jumping.)
Three Day Eventing
Teams compete in dressage, a cross country jumping course, and show jumping
“A young boy named Hans dreams of one day working with the famed stallions of Lipizza. But coming from a family of bakers, Hans is discouraged from ever becoming a rider. That is, until the day he is invited to watch the extraordinary Ballet of Lipizzaners — from the Imperial Box! — and his life is changed forever.”
I am highly skeptical of fiction about horses because so many authors just don’t get it right. But, Marguerite Henry was amazing. She wrote historical horse fiction for kids. I grew up on all her books.
“As the Russians closed in on Hitler from the east and the Allies attacked from the west, American soldiers discovered a secret Nazi effort to engineer a master race of the finest purebred horses. With the support of U.S. general George S. Patton, a passionate equestrian, the Americans planned an audacious mission to kidnap these beautiful animals and smuggle them into safe territory—assisted by a daring Austrian colonel who was both a former Olympian and a trainer of the famous Lipizzaner stallions.”
I just found out about this one and preordered it. The Lipizzans of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna are national treasures. The mares and foals live on a stud farm in the countryside. The Allies went in and rescued the horses from the Nazis. This was the subject of a Disney movie too.
“November 1958: the National Horse Show at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Into the rarefied atmosphere of wealth and tradition comes the most unlikely of horses—a drab white former plow horse named Snowman—and his rider, Harry de Leyer. They were the longest of all longshots—and their win was the stuff of legend.”
“A horse lover, rider, carouser, competitor, taskmaster, dreamer, teacher, and visionary, George Morris has been ever-present on the rarified stage of the international riding elite for most of the 70 years he’s been in the saddle. He has represented our country as an athlete and a coach and, at one time or another, instructed many of our nation’s best horsemen and women. His carefully chosen, perfectly enunciated words are notoriously powerful. They can raise you up or cut you to the quick. His approval can be a rainmaker; his derision can end a career.”
Ooooh, this could be good. He’s been chef d’equipe (coach) of the U.S. international teams for a long time. He’s got all the stories.
“A thrilling look at the Olympic sport of show jumping and its superstar horse and rider pairings, including McLain Ward and Sapphire, Ian Millar and Big Ben, Beezie Madden and Authentic, and many more. Utilizing his own experience as an amateur show jumper, Papows brings together personal interviews with the biggest stars, owners, support staff, and caregivers, to give readers an inside look at the personalities behind show jumping. With a foreword by Olympic team coach George Morris, each chapter features a different internationally celebrated horse and rider and their intimate stories of success, struggle, and sacrifice.”
I got to see Millar and Big Ben compete in Canada at the height of their fame. It was absolutely magical. If you aren’t a horse person, trust me. They were HUGE. They have statues of them in Canada. Big Ben got his own stamp. How many human athletes get their own stamp?
“Mark Todd’s eventing career is the stuff of legend and encompasses one of the greatest sporting comebacks of all time. When he ‘retired’ from competing in eventing in 2000, he had already been named ‘Rider of the Century’ for his natural empathy with a horse and his extraordinary success, which included back-to-back Olympic gold medals, five Burghley wins and three Badminton victories. The story of his progress from dairy farmer to world renowned sportsman is told with typically laid-back humor, but it reveals the fierce determination, discipline, and personal sacrifice that lies behind Todd’s calm exterior.”
You have to be flat out insane to be an eventer. Injuries, up to and including death, are common.
When Pokemon came out in 1995 I didn’t notice. I was in the middle of vet school. I missed it completely. My only contact with it was a long time patient named Pokemon who was a gigantic Chow who never once tried to eat me. (That’s a truly rare and mythical beast.)
So when Pokemon Go started showing up on my news feeds, I decided to try it out to see what it was all about because people seemed excited. I didn’t understand it at all. I couldn’t make it do anything. I had to Google lots of stuff to even have the first clue of what to do.
I was excited to go to the Washington D.C. area because I figured that there would be lots more stuff to collect there. On our first night we took a boat ride on the Potomac. Some kids on the boat were playing. I turned my phone on to see if there was anything exciting to catch. Partway through the trip the husband started to wax philosophical about people looking at their phones instead of the scenery. I explained that they were playing Pokemon Go. He looked unimpressed.
It turned out that the street we were staying on was lined with Pokestops. I was sneakily playing on my phone as we walked so he didn’t notice. But one day we passed a group on the sidewalk all playing. He wondered aloud about them. I said they were playing and he asked, “All we all five years old?”
I handed him my phone with the app running and said, “Yes.”
The group caught up with us at an intersection. He asked the leader if they were playing Pokemon. She said yes. He said, “So is she.” Turns out that they were a Pokemon Go Facebook group on a group hunt. We got an invitation to join but I declined because we weren’t locals.
My vacation photos
I still have no idea what I’m doing. I find stuff. I turn in all but one of each species in order to get points to evolve the one of that species that I’m keeping. I think that’s right. Someone let me know if it isn’t.
I don’t understand the fighting at all. Julianne promises me that it is ok to have pacifist Pokemon.
I don’t know who is tougher than who or anything. I only know who is rare from this graphic. This made me really excited that I already had a wild Dratini. That’s the first one on the epic list.
I’m a proud parent too. I hatched this the other day after carrying it for 10 km.
I actually cooed over it when I saw it for the first time. “Aren’t you a sweet wittle killer bug? Yes, you are!”
We have the same issue in the U.S. I grew up before a lot of the openness of the movement in the last 10-15 years. I was a teenager when AIDS became prominent. It was a very different time. I don’t remember ever learning anything about homosexuality or ever having it discussed. The closest thing was the sex ed teacher saying, “Don’t ever let anyone touch you there” when discussing anal sex. That was the whole discussion. I don’t remember anyone ever being taunted for being perceived to be homosexual. It was like it didn’t exist at all.
I was also raised as a conservative Christian. Again, I don’t ever remember homosexuality being discussed but I know somewhere along the way I learned that it was wrong.
I was in my early 20s before I met my first openly gay person and she had just come out. It was a different world and it wasn’t that long ago.
I’m not sure what led me to get this book from the library but somewhere in 1997-1998 I read:
“The distinguished nurse, mother, war hero–and highest ranking officer to challenge the military’s anti-gay policy–speaks out about her life in the armed forces and her search for self. Colonel Cammermeyer’s dismissal from the U.S. Army has stirred debate all the way to the Presidency; now she writes of her decision to challenge official policy on homosexuality.”
This is the book that I credit for opening my mind.
“By the time Rock Hudson’s death in 1985 alerted all America to the danger of the AIDS epidemic, the disease had spread across the nation, killing thousands of people and emerging as the greatest health crisis of the 20th century. America faced a troubling question: What happened? How was this epidemic allowed to spread so far before it was taken seriously? In answering these questions, Shilts weaves weaves the disparate threads into a coherent story, pinning down every evasion and contradiction at the highest levels of the medical, political, and media establishments.”
I read this after seeing the miniseries, which you can watch on HBO To Go, that tells the story of discovering HIV and the public health disaster of AIDS in the U.S.
Both of these books are old now but still so relevant.
What books would you want people who are anti-LGBT to read now?
In one week I’ll be heading out to Book Expo America. I’ve been working on having a plan for what I’m going to do there. It is sort of overwhelming. You get a list on the website of the author and the book name. I plugged each one into Goodreads to see if this was a book I might be interested in. After doing that for hundreds of books over a few weeks I found myself with a list of 34. This is the first time I started to think that I might be a bit picky.
I used the BEA website and app to highlight the ones I might be interested in regardless of the schedule. Today I set about trying to sort that all out into a reasonable plan because of course I had highlighted several that all happened at the same time with long gaps where I had nothing planned.
Am I the Only Person Who Doesn’t Care about Signings?
I would love to get able to get books without having to have them signed. I’m not really looking forward to standing in line to get a signature I don’t want in a book I do want. I feel like it is wasting everyone’s time.
I’ve seen other people with detailed spreadsheets of times and what signings they want to be at and I’m over here like….”La la la, Yeah Poland!” (More on that later). I’m not sure if this is really, really smart or spectacularly dumb. It could go either way.
Here’s my sort-of plan:
Wednesday – Blogger Conference
From 8-9:50 there is breakfast and a keynote but I may sleep in.
10:00 – 10:50 – Social Media
11:00 – 11:50 – Creative Content
12:00 – 12:50 – Lunch
1:00 – 2:50 – Table Talks This is me! I’m helping with the Negative Reviews discussion.
Only book I’m interested in that is being signed is at 3:30 – Tetris by Box Brown. I plan on doing a few walk arounds to see what is available in the booths.
8:00 – 9:30 I’m going to the Adult Author’s Breakfast but bringing my own food so the tickets are cheaper.
Morning books that are possibilities for me include some historical fiction, some food books (and future Foodies Read prizes!), and a few crime books.
1:30 – 2:20 – There is a talk about Paderewski. Ok, here’s the thing that has me really excited. Poland is the special guest this year.Poland! I have this thing about wanting to find good books set in Poland that aren’t about World War II. I plan on totally haunting the special Polish booth and looking sad until they take pity on me and point me towards some good books. So back to Paderewski – This is a session about the Polish musician in California and a book about it. I plan to use the time to eat some lunch.
Afternoon books – More crime and nonfiction. Here’s my big decision of the afternoon. There is a ticketed signing by Kareem Abdul-Jabar. I wouldn’t mind reading his new book and having a picture with Kareem to oh so casually post on my Facebook page because it would make my brother jealous. (Siblings never grow up.) I just don’t know that that is enough motivation for me to go stand in line to get a ticket to be able to stand in line to get the book and picture.
Morning books – There’s one about finding humor when your spouse is diagnosed with cancer. I think I just lived that one. Otherwise we have zombie sideshow performers and WWII psychic corp fantasies and maybe some romance.
12:30 – 1:20 A lecture on getting started with Polish literature – Yes, Please! This is exactly what I’m looking for.
The afternoon has an inner city horse and kid book and a steampunk Mars story to consider.
Twitter is my happy place. That’s not something you hear much but my Twitter feed is purposely kept small and curated. It is great collection of book people, authors, and people with liberal viewpoints. Sometimes one person is all three. It is multiracial and multicultural and runs the gamut of most other “multi”s that you can think of. I read my Twitter feed and feel like the world is one big happy place where everyone agrees that the world should and could be better. Just before everyone holds hands for a heartfelt version of Kumbaya…
…I flip over to my Facebook feed.
Oh dear god. I get smacked in the face with the real world again. Here’s how that played out this weekend.
Saturday – I see on Twitter that Beyoncé has a new song. My feed is ecstatic. I’m not immediately interested because I’m not a big music fan but the joy overwhelms me. I watch the video. I get confused because I can’t understand the words. I’m over 40. I haven’t understood the words to a new song in 20 years. So, I go to this very obscure website called GOOGLE and ask. I get an answer. I even get some commentary. I go about my day happy that other people I like are happy.
Sunday – I watch the Super Bowl because Peyton and I were at university together. (He doesn’t actually know that but we were.) I watch halftime. I’m impressed by the marketing mind that had the song released the day before performing it on the biggest stage around. I wish I could dance like that. I wish I had dancers’ legs. I wonder who thought Coldplay was a good idea. Later I laugh appreciatively as I read through the happiness overwhelming my Twitter account. I go to bed and all is good in the world.
Monday – I get up and the first thing on my Facebook is a post wondering why Beyoncé looked so mad. Can’t she make happy music anymore? (Did she ever?) When someone mentions that the post writer isn’t the target demographic for the song, the response is that this person didn’t listen to the lyrics at all. By nighttime when I look again my feed is overwhelmingly angry about it.
To the People on my Facebook Feed
Seriously, ya’ll are making me embarrassed to be white right now. Stop talking.
If at any point you are going to type “I didn’t understand the words” and that isn’t immediately followed by “until I googled them”, stop typing. You aren’t even trying. If you work “but I heard that they were about..” into the discussion you are having your internet privileges taken away for a time out.
I’m not even going to try to explain the difference between the message of the song and the message of the video because life is too short and you aren’t listening anyway.
Let me try to explain how this got through my head. I intellectually understood what people were saying but that didn’t mean that I really got it.
I am a middle aged white woman. When I imagine interacting with police I imagine either being annoyed because I got pulled over in a speed trap or grateful because they are helping me. I don’t imagine them viewing me as a potential suspect. I know I’m not a lawbreaker and I implicitly assume that they will see me as non threatening. Other people do not have that luxury.
This hit home to me when I once heard a father explaining to his white child how to interact with the police. His very first point was, “The police are not your friends.” I was taken aback. In white world that is something unthinkable to tell your children. The message is generally “If you need help, find a policeman.” A moment’s thought made me realize that he was correct though.
This was a nonneurotypical child with violent tendencies. The odds are very good that if he is in a situation involving the police, it is going to be because someone has called them on him. The message for this child has to be, “Be respectful, do what they say, and shut up.” In other words, do what every other minority has to do to try to stay safe in a world where you aren’t automatically assumed to be harmless.
White folks – can you imagine teaching that to your children? Can you imagine having to? If you can’t then shut up, sit down, and listen for once.