The Newsletter: Issue #17

Ugh.

Around the World

The Queen died! I get it: everyone has a different relationship with the tabloid family. The memes, of course, have been amazing and on point. The British were colonizers, I think we all need to remember that. But I also can accept that a lot of people have a complex relationship with GB, and also many family that way so… if you’re sad, I’m sorry. If you’re glad, well that’s great.

For me?

Well we had a whole ass revolution to not give a literal shit who was Queen, when she died, and who followed her. I just don’t care.

What I will say, though, is that her address to the world at the beginning of the COVID 19 pandemic was – I believe – one of her most important addresses. It urged calm in a time when people looked to baboons like Trump and Johnson to restore calm and order. I know I appreciated it, and many others did as well.

As for the tabloid family and what is next under Man Baby Big Hands? Only time will tell…

More around the world: today, in an interview, Trump apparently argued that he could declassify documents as president “telepathically.” And, in a similarly idiotic statement, Biden – with no qualifications or data to back his claim – said the pandemic is over.

Buzz kill: neither of those bone heads was correct.

Around My World

As I started this newsletter: ugh. I am feeling like absolute garbage, physically and emotionally. Physically the hay fever is hitting me hard. I sound like I have a smoker’s cough, spend all my time trying to itch my throat with my thoughts, I’ve gone through about 50 boxes of Kleenex, and there seems to be no end in sight. Other than that, my classes in college are relatively unfulfilling – including my 600 level Public Governance course which I am starting to think is taught by AI. No one ever responds to my discussion posts, I’m receiving an A+ for a grade, and the one time I communicated with the professor she responded “I do trust you…” and that was it.

Another pretty crazy thing happened in my world that probably has set all of this off: we found out that friends of family and family friends moved in to our old house. You know, the one we were effectively evicted from with no cause? After living there and caring for it as if it were our own for years? Yeah…

The short of it is that my daughter was on a long walk with the dogs, and we live on the other side of the same subdivision so she made it almost all the way there. She said the people were outside and they were in a big screaming match; so I finally looked up who is living in the house now. A couple searches over on Facebook and I discovered: it’s the family members of my soon-to-be-ex-sister-in-law’s step sister’s partner. Confused? Yeah I am too, but let’s boil it down to this: my brother in law, soon-to-be-ex-sister-in-law, family friends, our former nanny, the soon-to-be-ex-sister-in-law’s step sister and her entire family, also family friends, and a host of other mutual connections are “friends” on Facebook with the people and their extended family that now occupy the house.

Ouch.

Many of them believed that during my campaign I wanted to defund the police. Rather than act like civilized human beings who have known us forever and consider us family or close family friends and – oh, I don’t know – ask me about it personally, they instead decided to rip up my campaign signs, campaign for my opponent, and never talk to us again. Now, I guess I have to wonder if they were all instrumental in getting us the boot for some people not even remotely related to our former landlords moved in.

Or, at the very least, if any of them ever saw anything about these people moving in to our old house… on the Internet? In person? go to a 4th of July BBQ there and think “hey I know the people that used to live here…”? … and, what… just not say anything to us about it? Who else knows?

So. Many. Questions.

Pretty sure that’s also kind of illegal now in California, but that’s neither here nor there. Kick in the gut, and makes me feel even sicker about the tens of thousands of dollars this has cost us. Not to mention all the trauma.

In honor of that, I decided to do my podcast episode this week about Truth and Post-Truth. I didn’t really talk about my personal situation in the pod, but it’s still a fun philosophical listen. You can get it on any podcast platform, or just listen here:

You Can’t Unsee This

A literal representation of me at this time:

STFU Fridays

I was trolling the Internet the other day, looking for mom blog type posts to comment on and stir up some shit. For one, I was bored. For two, this is how I gain new followers. Every once in a while, someone clicks my profile and makes their way here, and *poof* I have made another connection in misanthropy.

Scary Mommy had posted this thing about kids budgeting for toiletries. I really don’t want to get into it, because I sense some of you will disagree with me (which is that I think that making small children budget for necessities like soap, regardless of the parameters, sets up an unhealthy relationship with money and personal care products early on… teach to budget with something else)…

ANYWHO, so I basically said that and boy did the mean mug mommies of the Internet go after me in the comments!

One thing that came up though was on the topic of small children squeezing out toothpaste, and how this budgeting technique would eliminate a small child from doing that. I remain skeptical on that, but I made the egregious mistake of saying I couldn’t relate – my kids have never done anything like that. And it’s true! We brush our teeth together, always have and always will. There’s literally no reason for anyone to go in to the drawer and get that toothpaste otherwise. Problem solved, no toothpaste wasted and squeezed out everywhere!

Well apparently, on the Internet, you are mom shaming others if you openly state a fact of your own household. The mean mug mommies then went after me for saying that my own children have never squeezed toothpaste everywhere – how could I shame them and their parenting styles and their little heathens like that?! HOW?!

You know: not everything people say about themselves is about you. I know that in this hyper-narcissistic and self-interested world we live in, it’s tempting to think that. And I certainly don’t want to turn into one of those people that comments on every single post another person makes, turning it all into an opportunity to talk about themselves. But really… sometimes when someone says something about themselves or their situation… that’s it. It’s not about you. It’s not an attack on you. It’s not meant to shame you. It’s not anything other than a simple statement that ultimately has nothing to do with you.

So you know what you can do if you take other people’s experiences personally?

Well, it’s Friday. You can just shut… the… fuck… up…

Better yet:

Anywho, happy weekend everyone! It’s not quite the weekend yet, but… close enough!

The Newsletter: Issue #13

Welp, it isn’t Friday the 13th, but it’s Friday and this is newsletter issue #13, and I also am pretty sure I saw a ghost yesterday, so let’s call this all a sign. A sign of what though? Not sure.

We’ll get to the ghost in a minute…

Around the World

So … monkeypox, huh?

Monkeypox has largely taken the stage, while COVID and its variants continue to absolutely ravage the world. The United States has more than 7,000 cases of confirmed monkeypox, with too many more than that suspected to count. As usual, we never learn from our mistakes, and are making the same ones we made with COVID. Among them have included stereotyping a group, being slow to act, and allowing misinformation to rule the public sphere.

We just do not ever learn from our lessons. Frankly, it’s embarrassing at this point.

On the note of lessons and never learning, COVID transmission around the United States remains at remarkably high levels. The vaccines are slow to be updated, and a 9/11’s worth of Americans continues to die every week against a disease that we know how to deal with at this stage. At least half of them from states reporting are in people fully vaccinated – the vaccines need updating, and urgently.

And yet, of course, economic interests come first, and so the CDC is moving to decrease mitigations even further, at the same time that they just released a report on the long term health effects of unfettered COVID infection in children and adolescents. Spoiler alert: it ain’t pretty, and will – I believe – go on to be among the largest marks of shame modern America has to bear.

Nancy Pelosi spent $90M of your taxpayer dollars to take a trip to Taiwan. I’m still unsure why that happened. And basketball player Brittany Griner was convicted and sentenced to 9 years in prison out in Russia.

Great times, amiright?

Around My World

So my big news right now is that I’ve started a podcast! I’m pretty excited, and you should be too – that is if you can tolerate the sound of my caustic and irritating voice.

I’m still working out the kinks, so if you do have a listen and have any thoughts or ideas, shoot me a message and give me your thoughts.

You can get a new episode every Monday on your preferred podcast platform, it’s on all of them. And in the days that precede that, the episode is loaded to YouTube where you can also listen to it in full. Your choice, let me know what you all think.

To that end, here is next week’s episode, available now on YouTube… or you can wait until Monday to listen to it wherever you listen to your pods.

You Can’t Unsee This

Have any of you seen the Dark Brandon memes? I still don’t understand them, one bit; and yet, they’re hilarious.

It probably only makes it more the strange that a few days after they went viral, a lightning strike injured two people and killed two others right outside the White House. Now I’m not the biggest believer in heavenly things (as with me and everything: it’s complicated), but y’all need to start paying attention to the Lord already.

STFU Fridays

Last night, it was very loud in my house and my husband was working late. My 5 year old could not get calmed down so as I always do when this comes up, I took him for a drive. He knocked out in a matter of minutes, but when I pulled into my driveway I decided that I should sit and wait a few just to make sure he didn’t wake back up when I carried him in.

I put the car in park and grabbed my phone, then looked down at it and immediately saw a white figure move rapidly right past my car window out of the corner of my left eye. No one was in my drive, on my street when I pulled up; so at first I thought it was one of my kids.

But the hairs on my neck were standing upright, and I got chills. So I texted my kids, because I thought: what if someone was trying to break in? They confirmed it was not either of them, it wasn’t my husband and wasn’t my dad… and the security cameras we have around our house showed no one.

To make things all the more creepy, when I got out of the car, it smelled strange. Like a dentist’s office – like the gases that you can smell when you walk in as you hear drills running and dental bills racking up rapidly.

So I’m pretty sure it was a ghost.

Naturally, I took to social media to share my story, and I told everyone in the house. The consensus was that I was full of shit: either I’ve gone insane, or am heading there. All of that may be true, but the insulting ones were the people saying I was just making shit up.

Well to all of them I say: shut the fuck up. Shut the fuck up with your skepticism that a world beyond exists, or questioning the validity of my otherworld encounters. The same as the existence or lack thereof of some omnipotent being striking the White House with lightning is no more disprovable than it is provable. You find out when you meet that ultimate human destination – we all do; everything until then is speculation. If we can believe in good vibes and prayers, it stands to reason we can believe in an afterlife where some resonating energy of people persists. Even if it’s just that: energy.

If anything this is a sign that Spooky Season is just around the corner, and I for one am ready.

Housing Situation Update

This is starting to feel like a diary of my demise, these housing situation updates. If you’re late to this glamorous party, here are some links to get caught up… don’t worry, I’ll be right here when you get back. Stuck. In this hell.

Link to my post when we first came to our temporary rental home HERE.

Link to my article about the housing crisis in California, including our part in it HERE.

Link to my post about how we are managing in our temporary rental home (grimly) HERE.

Link to my commentary on landlords in general HERE.

You can see that I waffle between incredibly personal updates, and ones that are simply more general or not specific, rather speaking to the crisis at large. That’s because I want to share my story, while also discussing the very real and certain reality that millions of Californians – actually, no, Americans – are experiencing at this moment.

If you don’t know about, and/or have empathy for, the situation for renters of this country (in my state of California, roughly 45% of the entire population), then you honestly have absolutely no soul. When my husband and I committed to renting, we did so in a time that renting was a luxury: it was a matter of being able to lock up and go whenever you want, be free of property taxes and exorbitant costs of maintenance, and it ensured we didn’t get into a position of being in over our heads. Now, the script has flipped, and after our landlord terminated our lease that fateful day in January (the 4th, to be exact), we have been thrust into the position of being in insecure and unsafe housing.

(I’ll get to the insecure and unsafe part for us in a minute.)

Last week I watched a fantastic documentary on the homelessness problem in Los Angeles on my local Fox News station. I’m not a fan of Fox, but this is the local one (Fox 11) and they tend to be more balanced, moderate, and local… a lot of news reports from the zoo, and quirky local weather forecasts. That kind of thing. What struck me in the documentary, though, was the emphasis on mental health. People tend to think that mental health and addiction issues are the reason for homelessness, when the truth to the matter (just reported recently by the LA Times) is that less than 30% of people that fall into homelessness are mentally ill or addicted to substances at the time they go to live on the streets. But what was stated in this documentary, and to which I understand fully, is that for that 70% – the ones that just fell on hard times: once people are thrust into insecure housing, a series of events and lack of social support happen that affect them so profoundly there is just no way their mental (and in some cases physical) health will not decline. It just won’t.

I see myself cracking around the edges, as well as my children. We’ve now been here for just over three months, and my 14 year old now is having what appear to be panic attacks. We’re roughly 45 minutes away from where she is to go to high school in the fall, but we still don’t know if we’ll even be able to get back before then. She’s enrolled, registered; but as the cost of gas rises, I am now spending over $800 a month just to take the kids to the school groups, tennis lessons, doctors, and friend activities. When school starts, we don’t have some magic fund from which we can draw to pay $9 and $10 a gallon that is being projected to keep driving to and from our old home every day; we can’t even sustain the $6 we are paying now. And anyway, as I’ve addressed in previous posts, with two other kids and absolutely no consistent and regular support system, I just cannot even say now that I am going to be able to make that happen. Of course my older and younger kids are both stressed to the maximum too, the oldest affecting her menstrual health and endometriosis that is now warranting emergency room visits, the youngest affecting his sleep and overall learning and focus; and – well – the fact that I’ve had a sinus infection for 4 weeks, and now my entire body is covered in stress hives sort of speaks for itself.

… so at least for the kids and I? The ship seems to be going down. Fast.

Compounding this is that the longer we stay here in this temporary rental, the more boils to the surface.

  • Several parts of the wall, ceiling, and baseboard around the house of our temporary rental are bubbling out with moisture;
  • We ran a mold kit both up and downstairs and black mold was detected in the dust in the air;
  • We purchased a moisture meter and almost every room in the house sounds the alarm;
  • One window upstairs and one window in the downstairs bathroom actually opens, no other windows in the home open;
  • Both sliding glass doors to the backyard were installed improperly, making the emergency exits difficult to open, at times impossible;
  • There are roots in the sewer, it has so far backed up twice, one of the times in a dramatic moment of raw sewage spraying into my 5 year old’s face;
  • The circuit breaker is old and in need of updating, it has burn marks on the rubber around the edge and the landlord refuses to repair or replace it;
  • The neighbor next door is psychotic, which we’ve discussed in previous posts; but moreover, the neighbors on both sides smoke cigarettes within 25 feet of our backyard making it impossible for our children to use;
  • The sprinkler is broken, and while this isn’t exactly dangerous – per se; the HOA refuses to fix it, nor to turn it off (we have no access to the controls), and in a drought this is going to result in a hefty water bill of wasted water and fines;
  • And more…

At this time, the landlord has refused to address these issues. I could certainly call the area housing authority, or the fire department, about the clear code and safety violations. And also, we have sought legal counsel that has assured us our warrant of habitability has been broken and we can legally leave at any time with no penalty to us. But then what? At that point we’d likely be given notice to leave and have absolutely nowhere to go.

Our search for new housing has been going on since January 4th. So many people have criticized us for moving here, but what other options did we have? Exactly one: an apartment in the ghetto, where a methamphetamine lab was recently busted by the area sheriff’s department. Not exactly the best area.

Otherwise, it was this, or living in our cars. Or a hotel, if we could find one that would rent us three rooms we could all cram in, plus a storage unit for all of our things, for the price of rent we pay per month. Most local motels have largely filled up with locals that are in a similar situation, though, and remember we live in coastal California: ie, tourist area, so hotel room pricing peaks at this time as is. Again, we could have joined the renters that have strapped their mattresses to their car roofs, driving around and sleeping in parking lots. California has such an exponentially worsening situation in this space, they’ve set up entire lots with security, port a potties, and toaster ovens with picnic tables for people’s safety while they sleep and exist. I don’t know, it might get to that at some point.

For now, this was all we’ve had as an option. When our lease termination was closing in, we had to take what we have been offered. And to be fair, we tried to be positive about it, but it was hard after just a couple of weeks. Every week is effectively a lifetime in this place: a lifetime of worsening mental and physical health, exponentially rising financial costs, and more of a casual drift downward into the place these landlords and the housing crisis has subjugated our family to be.

This became even more clear to me this past weekend when a realtor friend of mine helped us find out more information on our landlords in this temporary rental. To call them slumlords is a woeful understatement of the situation. We cruised by a few of their other rentals, and considered ourselves fortunate that black mold and possibly dying in an electrical fire in an unescapable home in the middle of the night is all we have to deal with. One of the rentals they manage has a tarp for a roof; another a port a potty in the front yard. Given our experience with their refusal to do maintenance here, it makes sense; of 20 rentals they own and manage, maybe they just got in over their heads on investments, right?

Wrong. My friend also managed to get us details on the landlord’s property as well – you know, the one he lives in. I figured it must be a scummy, slimy home too… he just has his tenants live in the type of conditions he himself finds acceptable. Right? … right?

While I won’t dox his address or give any details, I will leave it just at this: his mansion is worth $4.9M and sits on 20 acres of farmland that he also owns and operates. Like a castle looking down upon his peasants, this man is bathing in $100 bills for leisure.

And his tenants just don’t have any choice.

What’s heinous about it is that since January, we’ve now applied to 30 different rentals, all of which we applied to only after we were overwhelmingly sure we were more than qualified. Why not just shoot for the moon? Well, we have four legal adults that have to apply, which comes to about $30-$40 non refundable fees per application, per person. Back of the napkin math? We’ve spent over $3800 just to apply to all these rentals, of which we have been so far offered this one and a meth lab apartment.

People have told us to make more income, as if this suggestion is not preposterous enough as is, that would be all fine and good if only they knew that in most cases we make 4, 5, and in one application even 6 times the rent. The requirement is 3. The problem isn’t the credit scores or the income or the number of people. There are simply not enough houses, not enough apartments, and absolutely no local representation for tenants. At all.

I keep trying to remind myself to be patient. We’ll find a new rental eventually. But will we? And at what cost? There are physical and financial, and at some points mental, costs to this situation at this point, that I cannot see us withstanding for much longer. At some point we have to pull the plug and stop the faucet on the application fees; at some point we have to make choices on our children and their futures and education. What I do know is that we have utterly failed them, and when I watched that documentary on my local Fox station – the one on homelessness, the crisis and its tolls – I could see what this shame and hopelessness of failing your children, no matter how hard you’ve tried, does to a parent.

And when we do pull the plug on this house search, and accept our lives amidst sadness and hopelessness? Then what? I honestly have no idea.

The Newsletter: Issue #10

So much is going on in the world, and in my world: it’s a little bit of a whirl wind. I’ve been trying to post more in general, keep up on my social media following; and to keep up on this newsletter too. So let’s get to it.

Around the World

Somehow I got sucked into the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard trial. I’m never into these types of things – like ever – but then I see it streaming live on my For You page on Tik Tok, and I’m hooked.

One thing I think that I’ve noticed above all the details, the commentary, the cutting off the middle finger thing – all of it; is how authentic Johnny Depp is. Between his clarity on specific details of conversations, his bizarre hair dos, facial hair, and attire/accessories, to his remarkable pride in having quit using opioids, Depp – in all his weirdness and classically Depp deadpans – is unapologetically himself. Does that make sense? Regardless of the trial, or how it all turns out, that is what I take away from this.

Of course the other big obvious going on in the world is that COVID is going masks off-balls out, and yet the government is scaling back its efforts and funding in ways we probably never saw coming, no matter how bad things have been. (Just remember: it can always get worse, right?)

With variants upon variants cropping up that are just, to many of us, terrifying, it’s hard to really know what to believe. And yet, the doctors of Twitter and the mainstream media seem to have also flown the coop. Some, like Leana Wen from CNN, have gone batshit crazy, blocking major figures in public health, and even Marked by Covid (the largest national advocacy and lobby group for survivors and families of victims from COVID 19) from viewing and reacting to her comments on social media, all the while accusing the world of bullying and harassing her for having unpopularly eugenic views; while others, like Jeremy Faust, have decided it’s time to monetize.

I find the latter to be, frankly, stunning. This guy started writing a newsletter less than a year ago, and has fewer email subscribers than little old me, and yet he’s still thinking it’s a good time to grift. For $5 more a month than your favorite 99 cent game app on your iPhone, or regular emails from WaPo, you can get, as Faust describes it: “…after I publish, I realize that there are more considerations worth sharing for people who want to go deeper…”

Whenever I criticize this, people say “running a website isn’t free, Heather.” Sure, yeah, I definitely know that. As evidenced by the website I run, here. But if you are doing something for the sake of public health, monetizing a website that can be thrown together, maintained, used to host your email server, and give you a unique domain, for around $100 a year or less, when you’re a doctor that also makes high dollar media appearances… well, I don’t know… monetizing your very important medical information and advice seems sort of grossly capitalistic.

But America is a capitalism, and our healthcare is for those with the means only, right?

One more thing that is absolutely bananas to me going on in the world, of course, is this:

Around My World

It’s a bit of a shit show in my personal life. We really are not adjusting to the new house well at all. My kids and their entire communities are around 30-45 minutes away from home (depending on the day and traffic). This isn’t a situation where we are like the military, where moves and changes are expected and a part of life. We will continue to get our kids back to our old city to be with friends and their sports and social stuff, it’s just … really really stressful to juggle it all (and the cost of gas doing so).

Of course you guys all got my email yesterday about Hello Kitty Toaster coming back for a pop in.

Meanwhile, at our new house, I’ve recently discovered that across from our house is a home that I am 90% sure is occupied by squatters.

The people that own the home live in Texas for the bulk of the year. They just keep this home to use casually when they visit their adult children in town. Now we’ll save the fact that people that own multiple homes only for one to sit empty most of the year, while the rest of us scramble for any slum we can find to pay 46% of our monthly take home pay to live in, are making me more upset by the day, because these types of practices (their right, or not) have irreparably harmed my family, I still feel something of an obligation to … at the very least investigate.

I’m finding myself become more and more like Tom Hanks in The ‘Burbs, by the day. I’ve camped out on the living room couch for about two weeks now, waking up in the middle of the night, taking photos of the lights on, searching around the gated and upper-middle income community in which we live for any signs of something amiss… I even considered buying binoculars.

I’ll keep you guys posted.

You Can’t Unsee This

Presented without comment:

STFU Fridays

Again, with the masks.

I know, I know, but hear me out: even if you don’t give a shit about masks, you only care about yourself and what you feel in terms of protection, and you are just done with this whole pandemic…

… you could still keep your fucking mouth shut to those that still mask.

Monday the mask mandate for travel and public transportation was lifted by some dumb-dumb judge with no public health experience or expertise whatsoever, and the world cheered. (I wrote about it HERE.)

Within a day, accounts of people being shamed and bullied for still wearing masks cropped up.

The highest profile person I saw post about it was Trump’s Surgeon General, Jerome Adams, who has – oddly enough – become the voice of reason these last several months. You really know things are bad if any of Trump’s folks are the voice of reason, but we can save that conversation for another day. Adams went to board a flight, and a Delta pilot made some snarky comment about how he should take off his mask and breathe the fresh air. Adams posted about it on Twitter, and the anti-maskers went WILD on him.

Really? Just shut the fuck up. The fact that these people got what they wanted, but did not stop it there, indicates – at least to me – that it was never really about freedom or their personal choice. It was about an ideology and what the masks represent: weakness, fear, and probably a little bit of racism towards cultures in which face coverings are the norm.

Gross.

So to them, I say: shut the fuck up. Just shut your fucking mouth, and cough all over people all you want. You won! At least for now. We’ll all still be there to empathize with you when COVID bites you in the ass, because the data doesn’t lie on the promise that sooner or later, it will.

One more thing…

If you haven’t signed up yet, please subscribe for this bitch to be sent directly to your inbox:

Happy Weekend!

The Newsletter: Issue #9

Welp folks, I’m 40. Fuck everything.

I can say in all honesty that I never in a million years expected to live this long. I’m not sure why. I feel 100, and also 12. Who knows what’s next? It’s just a number, and to be honest this doesn’t really change anything at all or mean anything.

Still…

Around the World

Not all of you live in California, or the United States, so I imagine this needs a bit of primer.

In America, we like our United States Senators to be old. And I don’t just mean old… I mean these fucks could drop dead any day. It’s sad, because they should be enjoying their Golden Years watching TV and doing crafts, but these folks have a tendency to get into office and then hang onto it with the life force of Skeletor’s death grip.

This week, the San Francisco Chronicle published a piece in which several colleagues (as in Democratic Senators) and former aides to United States Senator Diane Feinstein attested to her cognitive decline over the last several months. Those of us in California for whom she is one of our two senators know that her husband recently died, so she may arguably be a bit distracted. Nonetheless the woman is in her 80s (88 to be exact), and as with many of them… aging fast.

This calls into question not only her ability to serve in her office now – making major decisions on behalf of the American people, but until her term is over, still years from now. She has since issued a statement that she plans to – and claims she is capable of – continuing her tenancy in office; but the rest of us are left wondering… why? Why does a United States Senator choose to spend every last breath of their lives in office for a little over $100K a year and a good parking spot at the airport?

Especially one like Feinstein, whose net worth now stands above $87 million.

I – for one – am all in favor of term limits for holding public office. Nancy Pelosi is another, who is 82 years old and running for another two years. These people play games with the lives of over 340 million Americans – from choices about war, to how social spending is (or is not) to be had. And when it comes of an appropriate time to retire, to head to Florida to live out the lives of the Golden Girls (or some similar retired folks anecdote), they instead choose to hang on to office for as long as they can.

I have my own thoughts, and a lot of others have theirs. On one hand, I do believe you have some politicians who have been doing it for so long that they just don’t know what they’d do in retirement. Or, they had an agenda when they first got elected, and because government moves so slow have yet to finish it.

But I think the real crux of it, especially in cases like Feinstein and Pelosi, can be found in what they block while in office.

Nancy Pelosi, as one example, has been opposed to bills that would limit what types of, if any, investments elected officials can make while in office. Unlike our Governor – Gavin Newsom, who placed all of his investments and businesses into a blind trust when he entered public office – many other elected officials go on to hold robust stock portfolios. And whether anyone will admit it or not, they cash in when they are privy to information that will affect the stock market before it happens.

For people like Martha Stewart, or average schmucks like us, this is called insider trading, and comes with hefty prison sentences. But for people like Feinstein and Pelosi, or the same on the other side like those two Republicans from Georgia that lost in the January ’21 special election, it’s a blip in the news, and no one is ever held accountable.

Election reform, again, would go a long way to correct this. But then that would require the elected officials to vote for the types of reforms that would stop them from doing all of this, so… I guess we shouldn’t hold our breath on that one.

Around My World

Things are getting pretty grim around my neighborhood. The new one, that is.

We are at war with our duplex neighbor, who is psychotic and has come banging on our door in the middle of the night more than once. She complained to our landlord about alleged noise, and rather than come to our defense and talk to her about her crazy behavior, the landlord decided instead to take her side, warn us about noise (our 5 year old giggling…), and say they were going to do nothing about it.

So we’ve also had several maintenance issues come up with, what appears to be, just years of neglect of the home. The circuit breaker is outdated, and so our lights all over the house intermittently flicker if more than one light or appliance is on at a time. When we told the landlord, they sent out an electrician and then tried to blame it on us. So we just deal with that and hope no one has a non-epileptic seizure. The duplex neighbor has also made damn sure that our kids don’t play out back by encouraging her elderly mother to chain smoke in the backyard. After one asthma attack by my little guy, that sealed off use of the backyard for us.

The real kicker is in the pedophile down the street. I thought this guy was a little off, if you know what I mean. His wife pumps iron in the garage like a body builder, and he shuffles around smoking a pipe all day and all night. One night, my 14 year old daughter was just walking the dogs up and down the street, and he started following her. So this guy is a … creep…

Last week, my husband was heading out on a run one day when all of a sudden he came running in screaming my name. Our house was completely lined with sheriffs and unmarked cars full of guys in suits. My driveway was blocked, and the neighbors all around pretty much acted like it was your average day around here. We saw a K9 unit go in and then come out with a black bag.

No one left. No one was taken away. Just… the black bag…

So we’re looking for a way out. Frankly, I’m not sure how much longer we’re going to be able to do it. At least it’s good for some stories?

You Can’t Unsee This

I’ve been thinking there’s some haunted presence in this entire neighborhood since we moved here two months ago. I even wondered if the flickering lights through out our duplex unit are actually just a ghost.

Two nights ago, I fell asleep on the couch in the living room and around 4:45 in the morning woke up to what sounded like someone knocking on the back patio sliding glass door (which runs parallel to the couch I was sleeping on). I dismissed it and went to sleep again, too tired to go to bed; only to wake up in the morning to see that shortly after I had woken up, our front door camera (titled “Christine Watch” for our psycho neighbor) had pinged my phone with a “Human Detection.”

Except, as you can see, there was no one there.

STFU Fridays

I think I’ve said this before, but for real this time: shut the fuck about “COVID is over.” It isn’t. Every time you dumbasses rejoice and rip off your masks and start having parties, and shit, COVID comes raging back.

If you are paying attention, the cases in the United States – as in other places around the world – are beginning again to increase. As are hospitalizations, and the deaths will follow (in fact, in some places deaths are increasing more quickly than cases, indicating woefully inadequate and faulty testing). This is all happening probably because of a relaxing of protection; or more of that seasonal bullshit (although I don’t know any other specific virus that circulates seasonally as in all the time, unpredictably, in every season…). There was also recently a huge outbreak at a political event in DC, in which more than 11% of attendees contracted the virus. That is an alarmingly high number of people to be infected as a part of an outbreak, and to make matters worse the management of the venue refused to disclose how many employees got it to.

There’s also a new variant, which has mainly gastrointestinal symptoms, so I’ve really enjoyed the dozens of posts in the Facebook moms groups about this “crazy stomach bug going around that also has a cough.” I mean come on, get tested and stay the fuck home.

And while we’re at it, maybe stop with this “we have the tools” horse shit. Yes, vaccines and antivirals are available, but available is not equal to effective tools that everyone can avail themselves of. Vaccines have limits, too; we know this now. The efficacy of them wanes, even the second booster and even with protection from hospitalization. And antivirals… maybe if you’re a wealthy elite, you have access to them readily. But a lot of people have no access, or limited access; and hardly any insurance companies are planning to cover them (this includes ours, which has it marked as Non Formulary).

The problem is that the more y’all don’t shut the fuck up with these trite and dismissive comments is you give our leaders no reason whatsoever to continue doing anything, ie funding, the effort. So stop. Even if things are looking better.

To me it’s like: why tempt fate? Why call it over, say we’re good now, when you just do not know? No one knows, this is a pandemic! A once in a lifetime event! Maybe have some humility and accept you don’t know everything, err on the side of caution, and realize that people exist on this planet other than you.

That, and shut the fuck up.

I turn 40 next month. I’m not dealing with it well.

All of my childhood friends, as well as acquaintances from high school that have connected with me on social media I can assume for only a possible opportunity to one day sell me their shitty MLM products, are turning 40 this year. The spectacle has been something to behold, and by that I mean that they are all handling it much better than I am: having parties, going out to fancy steak dinners, concerts, plays… getting shirts that say “Forty and Fabulous.” Next month, I will join them in turning 40 myself, though there will be no fanfare, no parties, no dinners out or special events. No novelty t-shirts (those aren’t really my thing anyway). As has always been the case, if I don’t do it myself, nothing is done; and this year, I just don’t have it in me.

When I turned 39, I threw myself a backyard party. Still in the throws of a raging pandemic here in California, we had my mom over, but I – as I said – did all the things, for the most part, because if I didn’t they would not have been done. I’m used to it; I still remember throwing my own big party when I turned 30, and that year I even baked my own cake. I won’t go that far anymore, but now I don’t even have it in me to figure out who to order from, or what to do that day. My kids keep asking, I guess I should be grateful for that; but even the thought of coming up with an idea is too much. And to have to get dressed and put on makeup that day to celebrate? Forget it.

Maybe I’m depressed; my doctor seems to think that I’ve just had an exceptionally shitty year. He would not be wrong.

When I look at photos from my 39th birthday, I don’t even recognize the person in the picture. That’s how much I’ve been through this last year, and it shows. Largely alone in this endeavor, if I were to make only a partial list of all the bullshit I’ve endured since vowing that 39 would be an epic slide to 40: my daughter’s guinea pig died; I went into anaphylaxis from ingredients in the COVID 19 vaccine; I was ghosted by a moms group, for reasons I still don’t understand (it was mostly because I ran for city council); I celebrated Mother’s Day by myself while my family (including the kids) forgot completely about it – and me; I had to bow out of an art show I planned to participate in because of the rise of the Delta variant and the fact that I remained not fully vaccinated on account of that life threatening allergy (and my elderly father lives with us, so I didn’t want to – like – accidentally kill him); I was told that homeschooling my kids was a complete and utter failure because my daughter chose to wait a year to go to college (something I thought, on the contrary, was a mature choice given the challenges the pandemic continued to present); I lost all access via hackers to all of the social media I worked for over a decade to build out for this blog (still trying to rebuild that, and Facebook/Meta continues to be of no help); my oldest dog was diagnosed with a heart murmur, and she’s progressively gotten worse; my oldest daughter caught antibiotic-resistant strep throat, ruining her last Halloween before turning 18; my younger daughter fractured her ankle, and later developed a bilateral knee injury that no one seems to be able to figure out; I – with no income but my husband’s – absorbed virtually all of my elderly father’s financial responsibilities, as well as his unmitigated stress and ingratitude for everything we do for him; I celebrated another anniversary alone, and was threatened with divorce about a month later; I made the holidays plus a 5th, 14th, 18th, 41st, and 79th birthday magical, in spite of how exhausted I was; my son and I were attacked, and the police never filed a police report; we were given notice that our landlord was selling the home we had lived in for years, forcing us to move during an unprecedented housing crisis in California; we moved – majorly downsizing from an already overcrowded situation – around 30 minutes away from our entire lives – community, school district, friends, everything; my younger daughter has been given virtually no choices on what to do about high school next year because of our living situation; my son lost his playroom, with all his school and toy stuff being relegated to the garage; immediately upon moving in (as in, starting the first day) a crazy neighbor started harassing us; within a week, the realities of the daily commute back to our lives hit home; within a month, a number of undisclosed issues with the home came to the surface, for what now amounts to 46% of our income in rent; our former landlord abused our security deposit, returning virtually none it; and, in the final blow, I was rejected from a doctoral program I worked three years to get into, on the grounds that the interview revealed I am a bit too busy with kids at this stage of life (“we encourage you to re-apply when your children are older”).

That is only a partial list.

So the issue with my 40th birthday, just weeks away at this point, is that I am both hesitant to celebrate it and tempt the dealer of fate even further; and, frankly too exhausted to even think about it.

And that’s the thing. So much of my life this last year has been about figuring out solutions – to everything. I have to be the one to find answers; they are never given to me, and the people that should be participating rarely – if ever – are either. So when people ask what I want for my birthday, at this point my answer is only that I want answers. I want to know how I got here. I want to know where to go next. I want to know how to manage all of these things and feel better. I want to know when I can expect some real and serious support as a mother, and validation as a woman – both from my own household unit, and my community at large. I want answers to fix the problem of us living so far away from our entire lives, our communities. I want to know when we can move back, and how we’re going to do it and I want to know how to even go about crafting my own future, when so many of my plans – personal and professional – have been foiled.

I’m tired of people just saying that it’ll take time, or that God has a plan. Those are niceties meant to provide no answers, and I don’t buy it. Moreover, Forty and Fabulous t shirts, or steak dinners, will not offer me the birthday I want.

I keep looking at external things I can do to feel better about this, myself, and I only come up empty-handed. I started doing a ridiculously complicated skincare routine, in hopes I would look less tired and sad. It hasn’t helped. I considered going to get my hair done, instead of continuing to dye it (I mean fry it) with Madison Reed, but I was so overwhelmed with the move and finding someplace close enough that I wouldn’t need to leave my son at home with babysitters for hours and hours, that I had my daughter just do it and now I look like the cross between a mushroom and someone who stuck their finger in a socket. I tried going to bed earlier and getting more sleep, my son just ended up staying up until odd hours of the night making noise, and our neighbor came over and complained. I tried having more fun in the moment with the kids, that time the complaint from next door came with a letter from the landlord about how my son’s giggling was annoying people.

Forty and Fabulous? More like Forty and Fucked.

So that’s where things stand right now. I turn 40 next month. I’m not dealing with it, or life in general, well. I still think I’m a little depressed; but what I believe my doctor is right about is that nothing will change the situation but the situation, itself, changing (if that makes sense). How? Not sure. Maybe I’ll figure that out by 41.

So We’re In a New Home. A Rental Home.

After the traumatic experience my family of 6 has lived through over these last few months, I hesitate to call anything a “home” anymore. More than 5 years into making our place in Camarillo our home, our landlord decided to “go in another direction,” after spending years calling us the best renters they’d ever had. We are renters by both choice and necessity, so I guess this sort-of comes with the territory; but prior to now I lived in a world (in my head) where people didn’t do things like this to good, hardworking families.

Lesson learned. More on all of that later.

So we’re in a new home. A rental home. The sad part is that we’ve had to move our kids to another city, out of their element and community. That was the only community any of them had ever known – we lived in apartments, townhomes, and the single family home we just left over the years. Our kids have done school, sports, and all of their social lives there; friends and family. When our landlord terminated our tenancy at the same time landlords all over California were doing the same thing to flip their investments (1 listing for every 1,358 middle income families looking in my county), in many ways they threatened to destroy our family.

But it’s close enough that we can still drive it daily, and remembering that these situations are actually not as permanent as we would have liked them to be, it is likely we’ll be heading back in a year or two anyway.

Some photos and important points:

So we have French doors now, which is cool. That’s always been a life goal of mine and made moving in a little easier. We also have a whole host of animals that hang out in our yard, including a number of Dark-eyed Juncos and a dove. Both have nests (the Dark-eyed Junco moved his to the wreath on our front door).

This is the thing about where we live now: it’s kind of out in the middle of nowhere. We’re in an unincorporated middle ground between two cities, with a lot of open space around us, golf courses, and just up the hill from our house you can see the Reagan Library glowing at night (the driveway to go up to it is directly across the street from our house).

We lost a lot of backyard space, which is unfortunate because my 5 year old has very little room to run out his energy. Couple that with the fact that the community is gated, and in an HOA (read: they want children to be seen and not heard around here)… well, I’m going to have to come up with some solutions to that pretty soon here.

But, the owner of the house told my oldest daughter that she could do whatever she’d like with the back, and we also gained a courtyard in the middle of the entire house, so I think it all evens out in the end.

Of course the kids now have the coolest room, something I worked incredibly hard at ensuring to make the unexpected move (and all the stress and trauma that came with it) more tolerable for them. The house also has all new appliances, new flooring, fresh paint… it really was move in ready.

It’s just new and unfamiliar still, and away from our community. This, in the end, makes it hard for all of us. Right house, wrong ‘hood I think.

Probably what will drive us out sooner than later are the values of the community. We are in an ultra-conservative area, so much so that this sign is on my neighbor’s lawn.

The same day that we discovered this abhorrent sign, the person living on the other side of the duplex rang our doorbell at 11:15 at night because she heard us doing dishes through the wall. Our house was almost all asleep at that point, making this a little crazy; but I suppose I should have expected it, because the first day we moved in weeks ago she came over, introduced herself, and asked if we’re “generally quiet people.”

So we’re just over here getting settled, tending to our mental health amidst all this chaos, getting used to the neighborhood, and trying to keep our heads level so that we can plot a way forward.

And like I said… more on what brought us here later.

My son and I were attacked last night

Yesterday my son turned 5. It was a relatively uneventful day. If I’m being honest, he woke up in a bad mood and just wanted to be a contrarian all day. He also refused to accept that he had turned 5.

So the day went like almost every other day. He played, did crafts, sensorial and math kind of things for school… then he did a Zoom with grandparents, and his sister built his Mario LEGO presents while he finally accepted that it was his birthday in exchange for a cupcake.

Remember that my husband is still working from home – 20 months into this endless pandemic; and he works at night. Our house is open concept, so high ceilings coupled with open space and thin walls make for a loud nightly environment through the entire house. Most nights, for 20 months now, I’ve popped my little guy in the car and driven around until he is calmed down enough for bedtime. Usually he’ll fall asleep and get carried in pretty quickly if we stay around home, off really bright main streets. And, what’s nice now is – not to sound overly corny, but – Christmas lights are everywhere and we’re able to soak in all the Santas and snowmen we can while calming down every evening.

So naturally, when it came to bedtime, I popped my newly-minted 5 year old in his car seat and we went on our usual route.

Our usual route, as I said, is stuck pretty close to home. It is predictable, and happens roughly around the same time. After making the full trip around our and surrounding neighborhoods a couple times, he asked if I would take him back to see the house with Santa on the roof. I asked him if he’d go to sleep if I did; he said yes, so off we went.

The Santa-on-the-roof house is approximately one mile from our house, and right before we get to it we just happen to pass my son’s godparents’ home, and then a friend of mine that I met through my campaign for city council last year (we’ll get to that part later).

Just after passing both of their homes, and still about half a block from the Santa, a white man in sweatpants and a t-shirt suddenly ran into the street. Naturally I slammed on the brakes to not hit him, and this is something that happens pretty often in our area (kids playing, dogs running…) so I wasn’t too surprised, mostly annoyed.

What happened next I was not prepared for. He completely blocked my car and started banging on my hood, then he walked over to my window and started pounding on my and my son’s windows, screaming.

I was able to quickly pull my car away from him and drive off. But as I drove away, I looked in the rearview mirror only to see him and another person get in a car and follow me. They caught up to me relatively quickly and started doing the whole tailgate-bright-lights-honking thing. Terrified, with my 5 year old now crying hysterically, I called 9-1-1 over the bluetooth, and the operator talked us over to Vons until the police came. Fortunately, pulling into the well-lit parking lot spooked them, and they left the lot as quickly as they pulled in.

So a lot to unpack there, but it’s mostly questions that I am left with, most of which start with “why.”

Why would anyone do something like that, ever? Beyond the fact that it’s wholly inappropriate, you – yourself – could get hurt. I’ve never thought to myself that a situation warranted running in front of a car. I’m not even sure what kind of a thought process makes you think that doing that wouldn’t potentially result in serious injury. And banging on the windows of a stranger’s car? Not in a million years would I think to get in my car and then follow someone I don’t know.

This isn’t a fucking movie where actions are devoid of consequences and you get to just behave like that with all absence of reason. In fact, even if you think you have a reason that justifies it: we don’t live in a world where vigilante behavior is even remotely acceptable. My son and I could have been seriously hurt.

After the man and his accomplice left the Vons parking lot, I told the 9-1-1 operator that I was going to go back to my house and would meet the police there. Again, this is all within a square mile, and this way my older daughter would be able to come sit with my son while I talked to the cops.

With no sense of urgency whatsoever, several minutes later the police pulled onto my street. No lights, they drove to the end and looked around for a second; then drove back over to my house. They asked what happened, I told them. They asked a few questions like “were you stopped or going super slow” (no, no), and then they said the man probably thought I was casing the neighborhood, and they said their goodnight.

No notes. No report numbers. It occurred to me sometime this afternoon – after the shock wore off – that they may not have even filed the report (I plan to call them tomorrow to follow up).

Today, I woke up wondering if it was even safe to walk the dogs. And as the day wore on, and I wondered how we will deal with bedtimes now, the real thing I wasn’t thinking about was that I ran for city council last year and have since been harassed, doxed, and threatened, as recently as a month ago. I can’t really comment on anything in the local news pages, or even post in the private moms group for my city to ask for a recommendation on where to pick up dinner, without someone bringing up my city council race and revealing oddly specific details about me and my kids, and our general whereabouts. In my mind, it didn’t really occur to me until later today that these actually could have been related.

So I posted to Next-door, as well as Twitter; and I started contacting people I knew from the area. Through the course of the day, I found out that:

– The man that ran in front of my car is involved in the real estate organization that interviewed me, and me alone, as some weird, suburban ops to try and trick me into incriminating myself in my city council campaign. I found out about this only after a quarterly filing; that their “endorsement interview” was fake (the organization doesn’t actually do endorsements), and they had given my opponent a large donation before said interview.

– His wife is good friends with a woman that volunteered on my opponent’s campaign; who also spread the heinous and dangerous rumor that I wanted to defund the police.

And then this happened on my Next-door post…

So my son and I were attacked last night. It sounds horrible to say, but that’s exactly what happened. An angry white man in sweatpants who may or may not have had a political revenge motive, who is involved in an organization that did some crazy shit during the campaign over a year ago – the campaign I am still doxed, harassed, and threatened over… the campaign, I should add, THAT I LOST… attacked my son and I last night.

He may have also had no reasoning or reference at all other than to harm us or scare us. All within a square mile of where we live.

Did he have a gun? Did he have a motive? Did his wife have a motive? Was his wife the accomplice? Was it someone else? Did they plan this?

Is my home and my neighborhood safe?

We are living through pretty crazy times you guys. Now, more than ever, I understand the depth of it.

It’s Time for a HOCO Post

Welp. The pandemic is over, or at least it would seem as much down at the local high schools, where screaming, unmasked football crowds packed into stadiums are a regular occurrence again. And, HOCO season is here, another opportunity for every teenage girl that exists to prove – once again – that high heels are walkable in for everyone except me.

That’s right, ladies and gents, I’m talking about homecoming. The annual weekend when people are supposed to travel home from wherever they’ve moved on with their lives to, like in those quintessential 90s movies; travel home and go to the ol’ football game and sit in the “alumni section” with the other old fucks that have started to bald and wear fanny packs no longer out of irony, but rather utility. …have drinks at the bar you tried to sneak into with a fake ID decades ago, have an old person’s dance of your own where the quarterback of the football team slops all over you, hairy beer belly bulging out of his shirt that’s missing a button, drunk; all-the-while trying to sell you and your husband Barry insurance… you know, homecoming…

Of course where I live now, in hyper-whitebread suburban California, no one ever leaves, so I’m not certain the Hoco football game part of it all is as big of a deal. The entire town goes to the weekly football games anyway, whether they have children or not. (A little weird, if you ask me.) What the fuck are you “coming home” to if you’ve never left? Here, it is all about the spirit week and the dance. And while my kids homeschool, they still have friends in the community, and we have family… and there’s just a decidedly HOCO vibe about the community during homecoming week that leaves me acutely aware of just what is going on, and how things have changed.

HOCOPROSAL

What the fuck is it with kids these days where everything has to be a charade?

Like you can’t just text a kid and say “hey, you want to go to the dance with me,” or whatever. Now, kids are doing these stupid signs with little poems. One year, my daughter showed me a video on Instagram of a girl she knew getting a “Hocoprosal,” where this kid brought a pizza into class for her and he had used green frosting to sloppily write “will you go to HOCO with me” ON THE PIZZA. I can still taste the vomit boiling into the back of my throat at the thought. Another year, I heard about a kid being given a goldfish, because the theme was something very Back to the Future – like “fish under the sea dance.”

When it comes to the gimmicky use of a living creature that will require care, time, and cost for God knows how long (my understanding is that, years later, the fish is still alive), why not go bigger than a stupid carnival goldfish in a bag? Why not a rabbit? How about a dog? Fuck it, a horse! Hey gurl, I got you this horse will you go to HORSECO with me?

Thoughts and Prayers

There is no less of a meaningless, I-don’t-give-a-fuck-about-your-problems, thing to say than “thoughts and prayers,” but this year in particular I have a lot of people to “thoughts and prayers” at.

Thoughts and prayers to our old neighbors who rented their kids a hotel suite to have a party in after the dance. They also supplied the alcohol. Stand up, Grade A parenting right there. Good luck on the bill you get for the room damages, and hope no one got drunk and died driving because of that kind of dumbass enabling behavior.

Thoughts and prayers to the family member whose daughter came home from homecoming having made it official with the kid sporting a decidedly ironic mullet, which he happened to curl for HOCO because – you know – Joe Dirt cleans up real good.

Thoughts and prayers to the parents of the kid who joked in the line behind me at CVS the other day that this may be the year he finally gets his girlfriend pregnant at HOCO.

In the last couple of years, I’ve heard horror stories about janitorial crews finding empty 40s in the bathrooms, and used condoms on the dance floor, to which I have to ask: what the fuck is going on? I mean I get it: kids will be kids, but actually no. No. This is not kids being kids. This is too many thoughts and prayers, and not enough… I don’t even know what…

When I Was a Kid…

I don’t know if it’s that I’m hedging on 40, or that things just really are remarkably different than when I grew up, but when I was a kid absolutely none of this bullshit would have flown.

I’m not even just talking about the truly audacious stuff, either. In my day, we went to the Ken-Tac-Hut and ordered soft tacos and personal pizzas in our fancy clothes, not out for a $50 per person prix fixe meal at a wine bar. We had a party after the dance, sure; but it was at someone’s house, and we had to pay an older brother to buy us a six pack of beer that he drank half of before handing it over. Homecoming was, yes, a thing – with the king and the queen and the football game, and the spirit week with the pajama day and the crazy hair day; but never – not once – did anyone (at least that I am aware of) intend to impregnate another person on the dance floor.

Times change, sure, but this much? I don’t know. Maybe this is more reflective of the Midwestern girl in me, who still brings a sweater everywhere with her lest people see her bare shoulders. Or perhaps it’s unique to the community in which I live now, where no one seems to ever leave, and so how would they ever understand that some of this stuff isn’t normal?

Whatever the case may be, I’m just glad I’m not a kid anymore. Sure, I’m not exactly jumping for joy about turning the page on my 30s, but there is no way I could keep up with the heavy drinking, fast talking, wine bar dining, dry (or not) humping dance- lifestyle that teenagers have today.

And how could I? I can’t even walk in high heels.