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.