This Mask Shit Is Ableist AF

Do I need to say more than that?

Yesterday, some Trumpkin in a judge’s robe gave the death blow to the CDC’s mask mandate for public transit. This includes planes, trains, and publicly shared automobiles like Uber and Lyft. Within minutes, companies jumped on board and removed the requirements, Delta even announcing that in its omnipotent authority, COVID had officially transitioned to a seasonal, run of the mill cold bug.

(Newsflash: the CEO of Delta Airlines has zero fucking qualifications to make that call… we are still very much in a pandemic; you don’t get to just declare that shit over because you feel like it one day. But I digress…)

Naturally, the true ghouls of the United States celebrated en masse. Within an hour, I saw copious amounts of videos go viral on the Internet, of airline pilots announcing over the loudspeaker that people could oft their face coverings mid-flight; and celebratory chants went wild as flight attendants walked through the aisles of packed-in passengers, holding trash bags so that these oppressed people, woefully miserable with thin strips of covering over their gentile and delicate faces, could trash the vestiges of pure authoritarianism once and for all.

You ghoulish cowards. You make me sick.

Here’s the thing about the masks, which I guess more than two years into this y’all still don’t get: the mask is not to keep you safe, necessarily. It’s to protect the vulnerable around you. I thought everyone got this around the time Biden was elected but then what hit me like a brick were all the Democrats that also ripped their masks off and raw dogged the air like the GQPers that thought it was some sort of grand scheme to restrict their freedoms. And today, when asked if people should continue to wear masks on public transportation, Biden said “that’s up to them.”

That’s up to them.

You can still get and transmit COVID even if you are vaccinated or boosted. With the variants of sublineages, it is now the most transmissible virus in recorded human history. There are people that cannot be vaccinated too, like little kids and people with severely compromised immune systems may as well not be vaccinated even when they are. The shots plum don’t work on them.

We all get it: you feel protected. I even feel protected, but the bottom line is that there are people that do not. That isn’t their fear; it is not their rationality hedging on thin ice. It’s their own situation, and it is just as valid and worthy of protection or care as everyone else’s.

Imagine a kid that needs to get chemotherapy across town, and his parents are too poor to afford a car to get him there. The medical bills are too much. That kid deserves to have everyone on public transit masked. For him.

Imagine a father of five who had a kidney transplant due to a rare disease as a child. He’s immunocompromised and still has to fly for work. He can’t just phone it in or work at home. That man and his family deserve everyone on that plane masked.

Imagine a child with cancer traveling Amtrak for her Make a Wish, or across the country to get to Saint Jude’s for treatment. That kid deserves everyone on that train masked.

Of course we all should not ignore the proximity of this to people booking their travel for summer vacations, as well as Midterm elections – where the Democrats and Biden in particular are polling so poorly, it’s a little shocking. At the same time, though, is it really? When you make very specific commitments and are elected on those, and then you fail to follow through on them – preferring to bait and switch with a different, arguably neoliberal and rigidly corporation-focused, agenda, this is the result.

But to the masks…

It’s such a simple thing to do for other people, and not being willing to do so speaks volumes about people – either they don’t care what people think, or they’re too stupid to understand what they’re doing to the fabric of their community. Community is not all about you, so this individualistic approach doesn’t fly. I know that when I, and others I have spoken to, see people unmasked indoors in high risk situations, it’s like a neon sign is blinking over the person’s head saying “I DO NOT GIVE A FUCK ABOUT ANYONE BUT MYSELF.”

It’s narcissistic and albeit as fuck, all wrapped up in one.

The worst comments I see on the Internet are the ones that justify the deaths of the vulnerable by saying “well they were almost dead anyway.” No. They weren’t. If it weren’t for COVID, they would still be here, and many more will die unnecessarily for that same reason. It’s fucked up, genocidal in fact, to talk like that about other people. I’ve heard it in person too: early in the pandemic, our neighbors were talking unmasked, and one quipped “shouldn’t we mask up.” The other – a doctor, at the local hospital – said “hey as I see it, the people that are going down with this ship were already headed there anyway.”

A fucking doctor. What a nightmare this country has become.

There has to be some middle ground between COVID Zero and COVID is King. But in this increasingly polarized country, is that even possible anymore?

Newsletter #3: We Need To Talk About Accountability

Another week, another shit show.

Around the World

Well, this isn’t exactly around the world, but it’s certainly national news: Texas effectively overturned Roe versus Wade. I feel as though we live in this fucked up, dystopian reality, only there are only some of us that get it.

Between climate change and the disasters literally flowing (or, in some cases, burning) from that; COVID and its ever-evolving descent into state of nature society, and now these bat shit ass crazy laws that keep getting passed around the United States, I can’t help but feel as though we’re on the brink. Of what? I’m not sure. I just know that this feels eerily familiar to Handmaid’s Tale, and moreover my worst nightmares.

As for myself, here in California, I’m relatively safe – for a variety of reasons. One is that I’m married and already have three kids, so ain’t nobody gettin’ pregnant around here (if you know what I’m saying). But also… I’m in California. Not Texas.

The only thing itching at the back of my neck, though, is the possibility that on September 14th, the governor will be recalled and replaced by Larry Elder. Larry Elder is like if Greg Abbott and Donald Trump had a baby – which of course would be stoned to death, because the Republicans hate gay butt stuff. Larry Elder is so bad, though, he wants the minimum wage to be $0. Can you imagine that? He’d also make damn sure to use every legal tool in his box to bring on exactly the same thing here as has just happened in Texas.

So I don’t know. Scary times I guess around the world. I’m just ready for the day when the news is boring again.

Around My World

Welp, I told you guys that I was going to talk shit about the locals, so don’t say I haven’t warned you.

For those of you unfamiliar: I live just North of Los Angeles, in a coastal, suburban community full of right wing nut bags, and Democrats who would be Republican if it were more socially acceptable to do so in California. They get away with it by registering as “No Party Preference,” or some other obscure political party no one knows about, but is an option as an official ballot designation. Or, they register as Democrats, then support all these crazy, local, right wing cronies, because they’re good friends, and they vote “because he seems like a nice man.” (Side note: cronyism is so endemic in this community, we have a local chain of bars named after it.) As issues voters, they typically blast hard line Democrats for being too much. They ALL hate AOC (not saying I particularly like her either). Their brand is Conservative with just the slightest hint of a purplish-blue streak, once in a while. My county went around 60% to Biden, which many of them say is evidence that we are irrefutably a blue county… yeah, sure. A county that votes 40% for Trump, and for whom 5% of all registered voters signed on to the recall petition for the Democratic governor is not, and will never be, Blue anything. In the Presidential elections we vote for the lesser of two evils, who happens to typically be a Democrat. But overwhelming in down ballot elections, state and local initiatives, and in public policy running the gamut of issues, we are as deep red as a bad period.

I find that the people that tout voter registration statistics and trends on the national level have only a thin grasp of reality as to what really goes in to making a particular geographic area tick. To really understand whether it’s Conservative or Liberal, you have to look at who is running the local appointments, elected seats, and what kind of public policy you have. Our county is – overwhelmingly – Conservative on this level. When I ran for city council last year, my opponent was described by many as “the local version of Donald Trump.” One of my biggest supporters once told me: “he is the most manipulative, psychopathic, and right-wing people I have ever met.” And it was true.

Conservative isn’t just how they vote, it’s how they live. There’s a reason a lot of people call us the Florida of California, and the problem is that now – because of COVID – it’s killing people. And the most glaring part about it, is that in the most conservative of places… there is zero accountability for it.

A few weeks ago, one of the local high schools caught a football player coming to school and practice with a known COVID positive case. The kid was unvaccinated, and had tested positive; the parents knew, and they sent him to school. That week, the team was grounded from playing (obviously), but by the next Saturday they had all gotten back on the field to win the game for the week. Here’s the crazy part about it: the day before the winning game – exactly one week after the team was placed on quarantine because of the kid that had come to school knowing he was positive – the same high school’s softball coach DIED OF COVID 19.

They dedicated their win – their win that was just a week after they found out a player had been coming to school knowingly carrying and possibly spreading COVID 19 – to the man.

I have yet to hear about any accountability, or even what local public health citations or consequences there are for doing something like knowingly breaking one’s COVID isolation. The spoiler, I’m sure, is that there are none.

A week later, another local high school was featured in the local paper for the acts of their heroic football coach. You’re probably all saying to yourselves: well surely this can’t be about COVID too, can it? It can, and it is. The paper did a feature article about how the coach was quarantining for a COVID contact… but was still coming to the team practices, parking just down the street, and coaching via drone. He could have been carrying COVID 19. His car could have broken down on the way home or whatever, and he could have spread to an unsuspecting, vulnerable tow truck driver. Talk about what’s wrong with this? Nope. We venerated him in the paper.

This is the problem with hyper-local communities with conservative values, and conflicting ideologies. They live under this veil of not really taking a side on things, and then do nothing when it comes to actually addressing issues that are at hand. Rather than hold people accountable, they look at the positives: oh sure, the kid maybe killed people by coming to school knowing he had COVID, but isn’t it nice that the team won and dedicated the game to the dead softball coach? Very special.

STFU Fridays

Well anyway, on a lighter note: today I started decorating for Halloween. I know what you’re all thinking: it’s only the beginning of September! Well my response to you is: shut the fuck up.

Who gives a fuck what other people do when it bears absolutely no impact on you or your life in any way? Why are we in this weird place where everyone seems to think they can send their kids to school with a deadly virus and possibly kill people, but that others are not within their rights to put an artificial pumpkin in their rose garden before October? If you don’t like the spider webs on my front porch, and the Halloween tree in my bay window, shut your trap, and move along.

Shut the fuck up with your kill joy negativity that is only there if it suits your suburban narrative. I don’t need your approval to put up my “the witch is in” sign, and I don’t give a fuck if you are judging me for already putting a candy bowl out with an animatronic zombie hand on my kitchen counter.

I’ve got news for you motherfuckers: I’ve had my “oh my gourd” sign on my front porch since August.

I don’t give a shit if it’s 89 degrees and sunny out this weekend, I am going to start using my skull mugs and skeleton bone silverware.

Here’s the thing: life fucking sucks right now. For everybody. If your life doesn’t suck, you live in some fantasy land where nothing is wrong and the shittyness of the world doesn’t bother you one bit until it affects you personally, and for that I feel sorry for you. You must be quite lonely in your glass house that will surely shatter to pieces one day, and likely soon.

If putting up Halloween decorations in September, or – fuck it – Christmas decorations back in July, makes you feel better about the shittyness that is the world and humanity right now, well cheers-the-fuck to you.

I am tired of the pandemic. I am tired of shitty people making it worse. I am exhausted beyond belief with the political news cycle, the chaotic state of our world, and the fact that every single fucking thing is a million times more difficult to do now because we live in this dystopian hellscape.

This is why I am just done. I’m done giving a single shit what people think of me. What people think of my plans. What people think of my parenting, and what people think of my potty mouth. Done.

To the people judging me for putting up my Halloween decorations early, or to the people judging you if you’ve done the same: judge me when you are perfect. And until then, shut the fuck up.

See ya’ll next week!

Why Everyone Should Still Be Wearing Masks

I’ve been hesitating on posting on the blog until I have my straight-to-blog book about running for city council last year ready to hit the publish button. But this topic is just too important, and while the debate is gaining a fever-pitch for another critical moment in this ongoing pandemic… well, I just had to throw in my two cents.

We all have felt the whiplash of the back-and-forth recommendations from public health over the last year and a half; many of us as parents even moreso since the CDC announced that masks could be burned in the fire in almost all situations for anyone fully vaccinated. Our states quickly followed suit, along with individual businesses and enterprises everywhere making big announcements – as if such a thing was even necessary. Now I’m not saying that people always wore masks perfectly everywhere, but there is something to be said for just quietly changing rules instead of making such a hoopla over it.

Even local journalists were hosting Twitter threads announcing what locations immediately took off the masks; a shocking admission of their position on the matter, and moreover not equally covered now – weeks later – as cases have risen, neighboring counties have reinstated mask recommendations, and failing today to report on the actual quiet changes the CDC has made, such as reinstating mask mandates in homeless shelters for vaccinated people experiencing homelessness. To put it simply: the pressure on politicians and public health officials was strong from the press to take the masks off, but to back off on that? Not so much.

Now, a bit after the mask guidance dropped, and as coronavirus infections (for some) and variants (all over) have risen in number and prevalence all over the country, the mask debate goes on. I see doctors taking selfies unmasked, because – as they say – the vaccines do work. But I also hear wet coughs and comments about “freedom from face diapers” by people wearing t-shirts that say things like I will not be your medical experiment while I’m at the pharmacy picking up my unvaccinated four year old’s medication. As has been the case for the vast majority of this pandemic, when public policy has not intervened, the honor system has been asked of people. And while before public policy was effective enough to at least deter some of the negative effects, now – so it seems – people of all political persuasions have donned the Trumpian MO of staunch, and at time narcissistic, individualism. I got mine (vaccine), so you get yours and you’ll be fine. No more public policy needed.

Except every human being alive today under the age of 12 is not eligible for vaccination just yet.

In my own city in Southern California, the city decided they would encourage masks for everyone, but also make them entirely optional even for the unvaccinated. They (masks), thus, largely no longer exist. Anywhere, and for anyone – this being a total and direct defiance of county, state, and federal public health guidance. If immune compromised kids or adults want to go visit our local public library without at least some level of worry, they can – essentially – go blow.

(I wrote my city council on this, by the way, and not a single one of them could be bothered to respond… including, and most notably, the nurse.)

Masks, at this point more than at any other in the pandemic, have become so deeply political and incredibly controversial – both keeping them on and taking them off, and what each means in so many different situations – that I find myself spiraling down a hole that can best be described as Reverend Lovejoy’s wife on The Simpsons, just screaming over and over again in abject horror: “think of the children!” in hopes that some part of this will at some point settle down, and make sense. Pretty much 24/7.

Yes. Think of the children.

Please. Think of the children.

Severe COVID in children is exceptionally rare, though as more transmissible variants crop up, this may not remain to be the case. As with all new diseases and science – they just don’t know. As it stands, the American Academy of Pediatrics reports that in the week ending July 1st, 1.3% – 3.6% of COVID cases in children required hospitalization, with an all time figure since COVID appeared ranging between 0.1% AND 1.9% of all children infected in the entirety of the pandemic (to this point). A concerning increase? Maybe. I’m not a doctor. But the real issue is that the more people in need of acute care in a hospitalized setting, the less people and supplies there are available to care for them (resulting in more severe outcomes).

Death from COVID in children is even more rare, with somewhere just above 300 children in the entire United States having succumbed to the disease, most with underlying health conditions. A child in my own county died earlier this year of it, and the most disgusting, and common, reaction was to normalize it by saying “but he had other health conditions.”

Nothing about having other health conditions changes the fact that without COVID, they would still be alive today. If there is more we could have done to save that child’s life – any of those children’s lives – we have failed them by not doing so. Which is exactly what we are running the risk of doing now as virtually all mitigation measures are being stripped systematically by hacks in local government who care more about being re-elected than doing the right thing.

Children Need To Be In School In Person Next Month

The same thing that happened last summer is playing out again this year: the debate about how schools should open in the fall are ramping up. At the same time, we’re seeing viral Twitter posts, alarmist doctors, and legitimate news sources with clickbait-headlines about debated studies (from Israel) on vaccine efficacy, and disastrous accounts of more and more breakthrough cases cropping up. Mask guidance has again become nuanced – because we apparently don’t learn our lesson about how the general public deals with complexity and nuance.

The CDC has not even put out its guidance for schools in the fall yet, while some school boards have already made their decisions about what – if any – protections they will be putting into place. And at the same time, cases are rising in some areas of the country, even in my own heavily vaccinated state of California.

And yet the facts remain about school and children in the time of COVID: distance learning has profoundly affected children on an educational, as well as social and mental health, level. It’s also become a socio-economic hardship for families to have one parent staying home, with extended unemployment benefits expiring in the fall as COVID still ravages parts of the country, and other teacher’s unions signal they will not come to reasonable agreements over fears about breakthrough cases and variant transmission.

And yet still, I personally know of a handful of mom friends all over the country who are looking at rising cases in their communities, feeling uncomfortable with what safety measures their individual schools have planned, and are planning to keep their kids home, and in many cases strapping themselves even more financially, simply because so many people in their communities are now clinging for dear life to this rugged individualism that is killing people in real time.

There have been several studies proving without a doubt that children in school faired better with COVID. That is to say that in school with proper protocols being followed (ventilation, masking in some scenarios, etc), kids got sick less and had far better outcomes. With teachers and staff being protected now through vaccination, it seems to make sense that if we properly protect kids with other mitigation measures until kids can be protected through vaccination as well, getting them back into school is the right choice.

But…

As all things pandemic have been politicized to this point, what has become increasingly clear is that more than simply the educators and scientists will be making the decisions on this. Politicians, interested parties, and the parents with the loudest voices (though both sides are pretty loud and backed into their corners at this point), are already making school reopening policy with their rhetoric, and the virus and the media with their headlines.

To me, the logical thing to do to make sure we get kids into schools in person this fall in a safe environment is to universally mask back up until there is much more certainty about the variants, as well as the vaccines; until the headlines about the breakthrough infections subside, and the schools are at the point of no return to get kids back in their desks and in school.

It will put an end to headlines like we saw here in California yesterday, about the news that staffers at the Capitol had an outbreak with an unusually high number of post-vaccination breakthroughs, and only after the Capitol had slightly relaxed its masking guidance for vaccinated employees. It will slow workplace outbreaks, in particular in low wage service industry jobs that are public facing, where we rely on the public to be honest about who is in the store without a mask or a vax.

Because people can make their personal choices all they want. When you operate on the honor system, unvaccinated people by choice are violating this honor system, and in turn getting sick. Mask mandates in indoor public spaces showed they worked. Even with people continuing to gather in homes, at gatherings, and with capacity limits being lifted. By toning down the news cycle (which the media clearly cannot see any sort of moral imperative to do), we can make sure the ammunition in the school reopening debate is eliminated.

Won’t Somebody Think Of The Children?!

There are some other key points here that make sense to even someone like me – just a mom who pays attention:

People under 12 years old are not eligible for vaccination yet. Full stop. To say that it’s on the unvaccinated to protect themselves is a pretty dicey proposition to so many people literally cannot. They rely on the goodness of everyone else, and right now everyone else is not showing themselves to be very good. And while we already established that severe outcomes from COVID for children, including death, are exceptionally rare, long COVID (coronavirus symptoms more than 120 after testing positive) remains a persistant issue for children, just as: well, they’re kids.

Not a single child on this planet brought this pandemic on themselves, and to look at them and suggest that their risks are low, so we’ll now do nothing is… well, I can’t even think of a word to describe how awful that is.

Kids are also not as dumb as adults seem to consider them now. For the last year and half, we’ve asked them to make enormous sacrifices to protect the adults, in particular the elderly ones. We’ve taken away school, sports, aid for kids with special needs, consistency, they’ve watched families die, sacrificed much of their future, decimated their mental health; we’ve isolated them from friends, subjected them to greater food insecurities, pushed some into abject poverty and homelessness. Not everyone agreed with that proposition, and the science in the end has shown that some measures went too far.

But I continue to find not a single child that had a problem wearing a mask. And more so, including when I ran for city council, over the last year and a half, I have found that the kids were the most adaptable; the most willing to do what they had to do, no matter how hard it was, for the sake of caring for the adults. Will it hurt them in some way in the end? Probably. But they were willing to do it, because kids are like that – they have empathy and compassion that the rest of us seem to have, sadly, lost.

I have three kids, you guys know this. One is 17, one 13, and one 4. My 4 year old was the hardest to convince to deal with the discomfort of wearing a mask, but when it came down to him understanding that we were doing this to protect others, he immediately complied. This was the theme of the mask debate in the earliest of days, including after the Biden Administration took over the pandemic response, and he issued that 100 days to wear a mask and protect our communities in doing so. Masks work if they are worn universally. They provide some protection for the wearer alone, but if everyone does it they work remarkably well. This, like all of the other things we’ve discussed, is proven.

So what does it say to kids that know they still aren’t protected that suddenly no one is wearing a mask? Kids under 12 know they haven’t gotten the COVID shot, some (like mine) were there when siblings got it. They know COVID is still out there, they know some places still require masks or some of their parents are still working from home. Many still have family dying of the disease, wondering if they or another loved one is next.

After a year and a half of asking them to wear masks to protect everyone, what does it tell them now that the adults won’t wear masks to protect them?

The pandemic did require sacrifice, and it still does. From everyone. And while we can debate on whether or not some was just or went too far: at least some lives were saved in the process. We may never know if it could have been more, we may not know what will be required of us in the future. Today, we find ourselves in a new stage of the pandemic: one that is about controlling the virus, and preventing the variants from causing more large scale catastrophe until everyone has had an opportunity to be protected. It is a fact that everyone hasn’t, and another one that a lot of people do not care. It is a stage that the CDC and Dr. Fauci argue should be based on each person’s individual risk assessment. But is that a realistic and grounded expectation of the average American? To assess their own risk and act accordingly? Arguably, based on the behavior of a lot of people over the last year, in addition to just the reality of the different paths and struggles we all walk every day in this modern American life, I would argue not. People barely have time to sleep more than a few hours a night, let alone take the time to read studies, follow community transmission, and consider personal risk assessments. Many also just trust the government to do what is right, and as a mom it seems right now like they are doing anything but.

When all is said and done, I would argue that everyone should still be wearing masks as we continue to think of the children. On the precipice of kids getting back to some sort of a normalcy this fall – with school, sports, friends, and good health – is it really so hard to just put the cloth back over your face sometimes? Personally, to me, it says more about you as a person if you won’t.

Peegate

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Peegate. If you are thinking that I’m talking about urine. Human waste. Pee. Pee pee. Wee wee. A scandal about wee wee of Watergate proportions.

You would be correct.

Today we had tennis lessons in the morning for the kids. After getting them there, my husband and I decided to run home and throw dinner in the oven. When we left home to go pick the kids up from tennis, my husband happened to notice something shocking happening outside our home.

A mother had pulled over, taken her kid out of the car, and was letting the kid (5 or 6 years old) pee all over the bushes and sidewalk. Private property bushes and public sidewalk. Where children play.

I, frankly, was at first shocked. In fact, I double-taked a few times. I mean really, who does something like this?

Then I considered my obligations. As the coordinator of my neighborhood watch group, and after hearing about incidences like this happening through out the community in the past, I figured it was time to mention it. So I posted in the community Facebook group, as well as the neighborhood watch group.

But before I could even have an opportunity to extend the posts to our other affiliated sites, the mommies started commenting.

They thought it OK. In fact, they thought that if a family is out for a stroll, they should be able to drop their drawers and pop a whiz wherever and whenever they want.

They defended the mom’s choice. In spite of the fact that less than two blocks away – a 1 minute drive – there are a host of stores with bathrooms available. And that less than one mile away – a 3 minute drive – there is a public park with public restrooms.

They still erred on the side of the mother.

One person even went so far as to say that if a child has the stomach flu – the norovirus – that they should be able to pull over and have the child take a shit in a person’s bushes and lawn. When I went to highlight the fact that this would actually be a public health emergency, that commenter seemed to recognize the absurdity of this statement, and deleted her comment.

Just…let that…sink in a moment…

And then the personal attacks started. People told me I should stop nagging. They told me I should relinquish my neighborhood watch coordinator duties to someone else. They said I needed to “get a life” and one person emailed me and told me to go to hell.

It all got out of hand, and all over a little wee wee.

The bottom line of the situation is this: public urination, even of a minor child, is illegal. If a police officer had seen that, the mother could have been fined, or worse – if she became belligerent – arrested. Moreover, urinating on someone else’s lawn is a no brainer: there is never a scenario in which that is OK. This isn’t like the fucking sticks either. We live in the suburbs. A townhouse community in which houses are stacked atop each other. You whiz on someone’s bushes, you whiz on their patio, neighboring plants, and side walk too. By posting about this, I was simply highlighting as neighborhood watch coordinator a safety and legality issue.

But even when I tried to quell the situation with a level-headed comment, things just continued to spiral out of control.

I recognized at that point the issue:

We live in an entitlement culture. An entitlement culture so hellbent on what they are owed that they seriously believe it is justifiable to excrete human waste on another person’s personal property.

If it sounds absurd to you, you are in the right. If you understand the reasons behind the law, you get the hygiene reasons behind it.

If you think it’s OK to let your kid piss in somebody’s yard, please move along.

The end result of Peegate is that there are a lot of changes that will need to be made to the way our neighborhood watch group shares issues in the community. That’s a positive, in my opinion – no matter how much drama it took to get there. We actually lost two block captains over the issue, to which I say: good riddance. We gained a new one in a key area, and she promises her street as been pee-free for ten years.

I want to know what you guys think. Do you think that there are some laws that were made to be broken? And if so, is Peegate one of them? Would you ever urinate in someone’s yard? Or is this the most uncouth, redneck thing you could ever imagine to come out of the the suburbs?

I’m thinking of making yard signs that people can post saying things like “Peegate: it’s cool to make a wee wee if you need need.” Or, for the flip side: “This lawn accepts strange dumps.”

Sounds absurd, right?

Am I Destined To Live In the Ghetto?

ahhh-the-ghetto-50504

I ask myself often: do I live in the ghetto? No, not really. I live in the suburbs.

But as time has gone on, and we’ve moved from one nice area that turned out to be not-so-nice, to another, I’ve come to realize something: the suburbs may be synonymous with the ghetto.

We moved on June 1st to a condo owned by my husband’s family. It was purchased for him and his brother, and as a general investment, when the community was first being built about ten years ago. They’ve had a slew of renters coming in and out for several years. Eventually he and his brother, and their various roommates, moved out and got married, and they had a family friend renting for a few years.

But as we recently found ourselves in the position of having to either (a) pay rent beyond our means in our prior apartment to stay in town near family, or to (b) move back to the city of Los Angeles (where my husband works) – we all realized that it was time for us to occupy the condo.

We really had no other choice if we wanted to stay close to our families, or should I say if our families wanted us to stay close to them.

About a month ago, I was pulling into the drive and parking my car when a crazy-looking, middle aged man approached me and my daughter getting out of my SUV. He was shaking – noticeably – and started screaming at me about how he didn’t like my driving before I even got out of the car. He went on to tell me that my garden on our patio offended him, and – just who did I think I was trying to make the rest of the neighbor’s patios look dumpy compared to my nice set up. Was this guy serious? I still don’t know. I did not engage him in a fight, I simply tried to calm him down and assured him that I drive much slower than I should need to, in a community where my kids and friends have almost been hit twice, already, by crazy drivers. And that we have only the best intentions with our admittedly nice things.

11872302_851094782623_7718313065513953767_o11921727_851094378433_5672761055234370595_oHe wasn’t having it though. For him, this confrontation was not about having a reasonable discussion – it was about the fact that he thought we were renters, just like all the other people that have come and gone through this, the family home. It was about the fact that he felt he needed to threaten me with his supposed-HOA credentials. And, I can only assume, it was about the fact that the guy clearly gets off on accosting and harassing young women in parking lots.

I finally gave up, and just walked into the house as he continued to scream – crying much harder than I should have been.

Naturally, as any blogger will do, I took my upsettedness to Facebook. I talked about the incident on my page, and about how the man brought me to tears. Many expressed sympathy, some talked about the actual issues in my community with me – something everyone should do, because no place is perfect. Then one friend (as she always does), asked “why does this crap always happen to you?” In response I answered a question with a question: “because we keep moving from ghetto to ghetto?”

I never said this was the ghetto.

I never said this place was a dump.

I never actually said anything, other than that I was accosted by a middle aged man in the parking lot, and that it upset me. I cracked a jokey question about ghetto behavior seeming to be everywhere.

(As anyone with any experience with others knows, anytime a white girl such as myself refers to something as “ghetto,” she is referring to a behavior, not necessarily a place.)

The response and the gossip that followed, however, turned into something I could have never – not in a million years – expected. It wasn’t about whether or not I was OK. It was about me saying I lived in the ghetto (which I didn’t ever actually say), me talking trash about my in-laws on Facebook (which, obviously, I would never do), me being ungrateful that we are “allowed” to live in and care for this home (didn’t realize that staying close to family while my husband still commutes 100 round trip miles a day for work, paying the monthly mortgage amount, and caring for the place as if it were our own was an allowance)…and so on and so forth…

So reported my husband, it eventually got to his parents and now – naturally – the gossip wheel left me feeling deflated and bullied, and looking like an asshole to his mom and dad.

All I really wanted was to come home and not be yelled at by a strange man.

Since then, there have been several more incidences:

-We received a letter in the mail that we had violated the HOA’s rules by screwing things into the front door and patio walls (there are no HOA rules about this, not to mention the things hanging are done so with removable, outdoor mounting tape).

-We received another letter in the mail that our plants were not sitting on proper drainage plates when set on the ledge around the patio (there is an HOA rule about this one; however, there absolutely are proper drainage plates under my ledge-lining plants, which I can’t say the same for our neighbors – some of whom are actually on the HOA).

-Someone has stolen and/or destroyed at least 75% of the plants on our patio.

-We saw someone in the middle of the night, just a few nights ago, creeping onto our porch at 4:15 in the morning, and pouring something into our plants (I was wondering why my last crop died suddenly and unexpectedly in August).

-The list goes on…and on…and on…

However, I don’t feel as though I can talk or post or say anything about it to anyone, because the results of me saying anything disparaging about people around here are: gossip, outright lies, and harassment from people that (a) don’t even live here themselves, and (b) should be loving and supportive.

Today – the doozy – I opened the garage door to take my daughter to tennis, only to find the wife of the guy that accosted me standing there. She yelled just like her husband did, that I am not allowed to open my garage like that. I said “like what?” and she replied “have it open unless you are coming and going.” I responded “um, I’m taking my daughter to tennis…I am literally in my car and we are literally talking as I have halfway backed out of the garage. By the way, are they doing anything about getting some speed limit signs up in this drive?”

She told me that the speed with which people drive through the community is not the HOA’s problem.

My daughter got into the car and we drove off, closing the garage door behind us. I saw that the woman had moved on to another victim: our neighbor, who she apparently finds reason to illegally tape record.

Yes, the HOA woman had climbed into the bushes of our neighbor, and was leaning into the balcony to tape record a conversation going on inside. When we got home from tennis, I saw her out by the school next to our complex. She was yelling at the crossing guard about the position of her chair, where the volunteer sits waiting to make sure children safely cross the street.

Finally I realized that I couldn’t take it anymore: I had to talk about this. I had to share about the experience on my Facebook page. I had to write this blog about it.

Not only because this experience is just another in a long list of behaviors that are not-so-nice, in a community that could otherwise be a very good one; but because lies and gossip should not dictate whether or not I speak out about what I think to be right and wrong.

A lot of people may not like that I say this, but the suburbs – at least in my experience – are ghetto.

This isn’t to say that there are are only trashy communities in the suburbs.

This isn’t to say that there are only terrible people in the suburbs.

Actually, quite the contrary: the suburbs are often much more beautiful than the city, more well-kept. You find better landscaping, and often better neighbors in suburbs.

I’m just saying that there is a common thread that the suburbs of any major metropolis are known for, and that is the suburban sense of entitlement. People in the suburbs often pay more, so a lot of them – read a lot of them, not all – think they can tell other people what to do. They don’t give a fuck about who sees them acting however they are acting, and on that note they often believe that what they do is the right thing (even when it’s sitting on your front lawn with no shirt on guzzling beers). They think they own everything – the streets, the neighborhood, other people’s patios – and that they can tell others what to do.

Again: a lot of, not all. But enough for it to have earned suburbanites a reputation.

In the city, this is one of the biggest complaints people have about the ‘burbs. Everyone is up in each other’s business, and everyone wants to tell others how to live. And this, well this is ghetto. It’s unsavory to act so trashy, entitled, arrogant, and self-centered.

Of course then in bigger cities, you do have true ghettos. Like the Jewish ghettos during WWII, where minorities are segregated into run-down, slum-like districts that have been gentrified for years to keep the bad behaving the way they do because they have no other choice. So between the slums of the gentrified inner-cities, and the truly trashy behavior of a fair percentage of suburbanites, we are stuck. There will always be a chance that someone will act ghetto in a place that is otherwise nice. And we’ve all seen what happens to Hilldale in Back to the Future – there will always come a time when the newest and nicest community becomes the next gentrified, slummy neighborhood.

This of course leads me to believe that: yes, I am destined to live in the ghetto. Until some of these attitudes change – until people are willing to talk about the issues, and not bully those who want to make a change; until people put a stop to gentrification and change their attitudes about what they are and are not entitled to do and say – we all are.

Funniest_Memes_only-in-the-ghetto-will-you-find_7759Oh, and for the record, there’s a lot of stereotypically ghetto shit going on around here all the time too. Like the weekly ghetto cardio, i.e. some random guy running down my street being chased by the police. The random shopping cart that occupies parking space #210. And the tumbleweave that’s been in the grass across from our garage for going on two months now. And we live in the *nice* area of town.

Confrontation At My Local Disney Outlet

I had forgotten how many assholes live in my community.

For the last year or so, we have been really swamped. I mean really. Between my father having hip replacement, and us staying with him during rehabilitation; the decision to move closer to him for seven months while we got his home ready to sell; three vacations amounting to a total of nine weeks (Chicago, Chicago, Houston); moving back into our “home community” to a newer, bigger place; then in the culminating event of the past year, selling my dad’s home and condensing his house into a storage unit and one room in our new home…it’s been a little chaotic. I haven’t had a lot of time to get out. Relax. Mingle among the locals.

Now that we are moved in and our place is perfect, homeschooling is on autopilot, and we have no more unanticipated vacations coming down the pipeline for as far as I can see, I’ve been able to get back to normal life. I got back to my book club. And my knitting group. We started having people over for BBQs and dinner again.

And we’ve been out more in the community. Among all the assholes.

It’s been a long time since a bizarre situation appeared itself before me. Trips to the nail salon have not involved police in years. And I can’t remember the last time I witnessed a parent-on-parent confrontation, especially one in which I was involved.

So today, owing to my apparent amnesia as to the state of this community at large (the simple fact that: a lot of people in our town are pretentious, nosy assholes), I decided we were going to have a “girls day” and go shopping. This were just going too well. I had gotten so comfortable in this lack of drama and confrontation that I thought we’d have a good time.

And for the most part we did.

The outlet mall has outdoor corridors, and it was a beautiful day to walk from store to store. We went to the Toys R Us outlet and used up some old birthday gift cards. We went to Michael Kors and I drooled over the purses. I got a shirt at Levi’s for $9 and two pairs or stretchy pants at Charlotte Russe for $15. My wedding band inspection was due, and so we stopped in at the Kay’s Jewelers, which revealed a majorly loose diamond in need of repair. All in all it was fun, relaxing, and productive.

Then we had one, final stop. The Disney Outlet.  They had a sale on kid’s hoodies I wanted to check out, and allowance day was earlier in the week. It was going to be quick. It was going to be easy. How dramatic could a trip to the Disney Outlet be?

We found the hoodies, quick and easy. We started perusing the stuff in the allowance price range, and then a lady came in with two, young children. I mean I have young children, but I mean these two kids looked maybe four or five, and acted two. The little boy started immediately knocking things off the shelves. The little girl, every minute and a half – right on time, as if she had a stopwatch – screamed as loud as she could.

The mother kept coughing and coughing, the entire time. I tried to shuffle through the store quickly. Crashing things. Screaming. Cough cough cough.

Crashing things.

Screaming.

Cough cough cough.

“Can I help you find anything?” a sales employee asked, and the woman said they were just looking, between coughing, coughing, whooping… whooping

“Can I get you a drink of water, you seem in distress,” he said and then she admitted she was getting over a case of whooping cough.

Crashing things.

Screaming.

Cough cough cough.

Communicable diseases.

I continued to shuffle through and it just got worse and worse with these people. I heard two other employees standing near us, quietly talking about how they’d called the manager for approval to stay later in their shifts to clean up the mess this lady and her two kids had made.

It was that bad.

Crashing things.

Screaming.

Cough cough cough.

Communicable diseases.

Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. They were really close to us at this point. Like looking at the same merchandise. I said “ok, we have to get going so pick what you want now please.”

And then I got protest. Can’t decide. Everything’s great. Blah blah blah. So I did what any other parent in this situation would do, well at least a desperate and at the same time civilized parent, and I leaned over to my ten year old and whispered – WHISPERED – ‘look I can’t take this kid screaming anymore and that lady has whooping cough, we need to go.’

She looked at the disaster of a family standing right next to us – coughing, screaming, and crashing things to the floor; she said she understood. Allowance purchases were selected and we were ready to go within less than a minute.

As we started to walk to the cash register, I heard amidst coughing, screaming, and more things crashing someone shout at me. “Did you just whisper about my family?”

We were the only people in the store, but I still ignored her and walked off. The employees had been talking about her. And anyway, I had whispered. What I say quietly to my kid is my own business. I did absolutely nothing wrong.

But ignoring her was apparently the wrong thing to do; because while checking out, this crazy, coughing lady followed us to the register and started screaming at me “I asked you a question you fucking cunt.”

Disney Outlet. Young children. Do You Want To Build A Snowman playing over the loudspeaker.

Welcome to the Magic Kingdom. You fucking cunt.

Now a lot of people would have turned around and belted that bitch in the mouth. A lot of other people would have turned around and confronted her. Her with all her issues, her lack of belief in the whooping cough vaccine, this psychotic family, and the obvious absence of mental and social decorum.

I signed my credit receipt and instead said as we walked out that I had not heard her. “It’s a little loud in here.” We walked out of the store, the door greeter apologizing for the incident.

With the exception of this lady yelling “fucking bitch” as we exited, the situation was over.

When we got to the car, my daughter asked why I hadn’t “told that lady off,” to which I responded with the common lines about choosing your battles, feeling sorry for people with so many problems, and so on and so forth. Morals. Lessons. Moving on.

But as I drove into my garage, and got everything into the house, I thought about the fact that this is not only a stark reminder that there are a lot of assholes in my community, but that we live in a society in which everyone thinks everything else is their business. So what if I whispered to my daughter about them? Is there something so special about her and those kids that makes that unacceptable?

At least I whispered, others would have said something much louder, and to her face. I chose the high road, while at the same time using tact to get us out of a bad situation. I’ll say it again, and defend it to the death: what I say quietly to my kid is my own business.

I Hope You All Laugh Heartily About My Disastrous Long Weekend

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I don’t even know why the fuck I called it a “long weekend.” It certainly was disastrous, but the concepts of weekend, or long weekend, are relatively foreign to me.

My husband doesn’t get most federal holidays off. I mean, even when he does he’s usually answering text messages or emails or whatever about work anyway. So “long” is a misnomer, because he’s at work right now.

The other thing is that, um, I’m a SAHM – so I work 24/7. Weekend has no meaning to me, except I have another child (aforementioned husband) to pick up after.

Friday

It started innocently on Friday afternoon. My mother in law texted me that she was at jury duty down the street from our home, so did we want to meet her for lunch near the court house. Sure, why not. I’m always up to eat, plus she and my father in law were leaving the following day for a week in Park City (Sundance), so I figured I need to go over their horse care instructions, since my husband would be handling it on Sunday.

While sitting there, my daughter wanted to show her the funny complaint Post-It she “sent” to my husband.

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My mother in law took one look at it and announced loudly (I mean loudly, like the rest of the restaurant looked at us): “yeah, I think he needs to add fiber to his diet, or start taking laxatives regularly … even when he was potty training, pooping was so hard.”

Pooping. Pooping was so hard. That’s my man.

Saturday

Saturday began in what could have been a serious disaster. The kid woke up with a scratchy, allergic sore throat, but right now she’s having a rough time because her dad moved to Texas and she has to go visit him soon (and vehemently does not want to go). So a scratchy, allergic sore throat suddenly became “I think I’m going to blow chunks” which then turned into crying and saying she doesn’t want to call her dad in a couple of weeks, and she doesn’t want to go to Texas, and why can’t I just have donuts for breakfast sometimes???????”

Say what?

In the span of 20 minutes, she went from allergic to nauseous to anxious to panicky to crying to can I please have a donut.

I had a Mom Beverage for lunch.

Sunday

Sunday was relatively mild. We went to my husband’s parents’ home to take care of the horse and hang out with his grandparents (who stay there during the winter). They made lasagna and a pudding pie for us for dinner, which I’ll get to in a minute. After all the NFL dramas for the day were over, we scurried on home for me to watch my DVRed Flowers In The Attic that was on Lifetime the night before.

Then we all went to bed, and after the stroke of minute on MLK Day was when shit started to get real.

Monday. MLK Day

I woke up at 4-something in the morning from a noise outside, and couldn’t get back to sleep. Naturally – as most people do now – I grabbed my phone and proceeded to make myself even less sleepy by looking at Facebook and Pinterest and all that other senseless shit.

Then a notification from my bank popped up that the paycheck my husband had me deposit the other day had been returned, and suddenly my account was frozen until the bank reopens Tuesday.

Rather than go back to sleep, because obviously nothing can be done, like a psychopath I got up and turned all the lights on in the house (essentially) and decided to call the bank’s 24/7 hotline. In fact, the account is frozen. I have something like $11 in my wallet until then.

And a shit-ton of credit cards, but what if the zombie apocalypse starts?!

I went back to sleep for about twenty minutes and then was woken up by a small human being climbing on top of me (because kids were made to wake moms up early, right?), and then the usual noise of the hustle and bustle of a typical weekday morning. Remember, we don’t really have any concept of long weekends around here.

Finally I got up and shit really started to get weird.

First I was sitting downstairs and heard my daughter talk, nonstop, to whom and about what I do not know, for forty five minutes.

Then I looked outside and saw a conglomerate of people milling around in the walkway. And I heard what they were all standing outside so awkwardly because of, which I think I need to backtrack on for a second first.

We got new neighbors four days ago. On the first day, they moved all their things in in garbage bags. Garbage bags. Not boxes. The second day, it appeared that there are about ten people living in the two bedroom townhome, I heard one tell another neighbor they are all farmworkers. The third day, they brought over many cages of squawking, loud ass birds and left them on the patio (in spite of the fact that the place does not allow pets).

Then today, the fourth day, in the coup de grace you might call it, the majority of them were outside while the oldest couple in the house had the loudest, dirtiest, nastiest sex I have ever heard happen in my entire life. It sounded like a buffalo was humping a whale, while squealing like a dying manatee.

SexEmail

I went to walk upstairs and finally get ready for the day (it was like noon at this point), when I realized I had not even eaten breakfast, so I grabbed a banana and then went upstairs. While eating the banana, I remembered what I had eaten the night before, though – remember, I said my husband’s grandparents had made us lasagna and pudding cake. And I had not yet showered, so had lasagna-and-pudding-cake-morning-breath, mixed with banana and all of a sudden my mouth tasted like what I can only describe as a dirty baby diaper.

The neighbors were still making their sweet, sweet love outside; the birds were squawking; and my mouth tasted like a dirty baby diaper. I quickly showered and dressed and decided we’d run a few errands to get some fresh air.

On the way to the car, some kids threw a ball and it hit me in the head.

So that’s how my long weekend has gone. How about yours?

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From California

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I take it pretty offensively when people refer to me as “from California.” First and foremost, I don’t really like California. It’s nothing personal against anyone that does – I just don’t gel with it. Secondly, though, I’m just not from there. I’m from Chicago. Get over it. Just because I happen to live in California right now doesn’t mean anything.

I would get just as annoyed anywhere said besides where I’m actually from. It’s linguistically wrong.

But then there is the added insult that comes when someone says that you are from California, because they don’t just say that. That you are from California. In the last few days, I’ve witnessed quite a few embellishments on the statement.

“You talk like you’re from California…”

You don’t say. What exactly does that mean? For someone to talk like they’re from California?

Is it the accent? I don’t really have an accent, in fact if I do it’s still a Midwestern one. My ‘a’s are always hard, and on occasion I get that Northern ‘you know’ that you find in Minnesota.

People say all the time in Chicago that I talk like I’m from California, and I’m not entirely sure what they mean by that. I didn’t think that I said words such as ‘like’ or ‘oh my God’ or ‘rad waves dude,’ but perhaps I’ve become so much from California that I don’t even notice it anymore.

“You’re from California… you must want brown rice, tofu, and vegetables…”

It is true that in California we often eat very light food. Brown rice. Tofu. Salads. California style food is supposed to be fusion, but a lot of the time it’s just shit. Shit with shit piled on top. Add some asiago cheese to make it sound slightly more appealing, and that about sums it up.

We were at Panda Express today and I was talking with the guy behind us in line about how we were visiting from where we live – in California. When we got to our turn in line, the guy slopping the faux-Chinese food onto the plates said “oh you’re from California… you must want brown rice and vegetables.”

Kiss my hairy ballsack, you minimum wage employee. What a horrific stereotype.

“Coming from California, you must be spoiled from the weather…”

People’s response when I say that I want to move back to Chicago from California is always one of horror. How could you not love laying on the beaches in the sunny, 70 degree weather every day? Basking in the glow of the warmth that showers down on the Golden State literally every day of the blissfully perfect year?

How dare you insult us as we sit in the snow, or the muggy heat? How dare you insult us with such a suggestion that the perfect climate in California is not something you would give up everything for?

Coming from California, you must be spoiled from the weather… you must have forgotten what it’s like.

Actually, no. I haven’t forgotten what it’s like because it still gets cold and it still gets super hot, and we still have really muggy days and the times that it is legitimately 70, sunny, and perfect are so few and far between that we don’t really know how that California stereotype came about.

What’s worse about California weather too isn’t just that it isn’t what everyone thinks it is, but we’re not equipped for it. When it rains, we have massive flooding. And mudslides. When it’s hot we have disastrous fires. When it’s hot we have no air conditioning. When it’s humid, our houses get demolished by mold.

And even when it’s nice in California, the air is so filled with the pollutants and pollens that you can barely breath without choking and getting a migraine.

From California…

Being on vacation – this vacation in particular – is hard enough without having to deal with that kind of stereotypical bullshit. It just goes to show that everyone is judgmental, or has their opinions on what it means to be this or that.

If people are proud to be from California, kudos to them. For me, it’s just not who I am. Daily I struggle with the influence that the California culture has had over me. I feel guilty for eating anything beyond air. I can’t go out without making sure my hair, my makeup, my accessories, and my clothes are just right. When you’re from California, this is the kind of crap you do; you do more – I do more – but that is just the tip of the iceberg that is my daily struggle.

Really it’s all of our daily struggles, though, when we find ourselves in a place that is not conducive to who we are. It doesn’t matter if you are from the Midwest, from the East Coast, from another country, or from California. The ongoing crisis identity is not reserved for the alleys of high school hallways, nor people that go somewhere new to reinvent themselves. Wherever you go, people will notice that you are not from there. Or maybe they just assume when they hear it that you are different.

People I Do Not Like In My Community

I’m tempted to make this post just one word. Imagine it, you’d open it up and all it would read would be:

Everyone.

But that wouldn’t be entirely true. I like my father, he’s kind of cool when he’s not getting all preachy on me about how I’m going to hell and need to stop saying the words ‘fuck’ and ‘shit’ so much in my blog. I like most of the people in my book clubs. A few of them annoy me because they can be a little off-putting, or there is that one lady that doesn’t talk to me anymore because I offended her by talking about how Sartre was a plagiarist (he was); but by and large, I like those people.

Then there are all the people I do not like in my community. I’m not really talking about specific people, though, I’m talking about groups of them.

With every word I utter to qualify this, I feel like more and more of a misanthropic asshole, so I’ll just get to it:

Laker fans

It’s playoff season, and as such I am again reminded of how much I hate Laker fans. I was wearing my Bulls sweatshirt the other day in the library, and went to the restroom briefly only for some bitch to tell me that most people would “cut” me if they saw me wearing my Bulls gear. I felt like telling her that her sparkled tank top fitted snuggly over her bigger-than-a-muffin-top, as well as her Courtney Love crack whore make up, made her look like an eye-offending dogfish, but I just smiled and went on my merry way. This isn’t the first time someone has said something like this to me either – Laker fans are the most hateful and viscous people out there.

The “your business is my business” people

A couple of weeks ago, we were heading out to lunch with my parents and someone saw us and said “what, no school today?” Obviously, being a weekday with what is clearly a school-aged child, this type of a question seems somewhat tolerable (if I weren’t constantly asked it). I smiled and spewed forth my usual response “oh, we homeschool and find afternoons are the best time for us.” This time, though, the old battalax questioning me didn’t smile in response and go about her own business – she responded “how can you live with yourself not putting your child in a regular school?”

Seeing how ignorant the public school system made you, ma’am: easily.

People that work in the film industry

I have some friends in the film industry that are really nice people. My husband is in the film industry and he’s not always one of those on the nicer side, but he’s my husband and I’ve learned to tune out some of his more pompous film-industry goings on. But then there are all these pompous assholes that act as though their jobs sweeping the floors over at Warner Bros means they are next in line for a Golden Globe. This is really specific to my area, and I think one of the things that really makes me dislike California. Somehow, the film industry has made itself out to be this glamorous thing, when really it is nothing more than a bunch of divorced people working 80+ hours a week, and talking a bunch of shit about a ton of stuff they don’t know about, just to live job to job.

Passive-Aggressive Thieves

This seems to happen a lot out here, and is what actually prompted this post. Today I went to Wetzel’s Pretzels while shopping for a bedspread for our new bed in the spare bedroom. I was standing in line, getting a crack out of the puny, little geeks ordering their pretzels (“…haha, it’s like Slytherin’ house up in this mall…”), when I noticed this little girl (about 12 years old) sort of leaning against me, or at the very least standing almost on top of me. When I got up to my turn in line, I ordered my plain pretzel and Diet Coke and the cashier went to get my items. The little girl was then physically leaning on me, making me overtly uncomfortable and a little annoyed. When the cashier returned, before giving me my total, the little girl said “can I get a cinnamon pretzel please?” The cashier looked at me and said “are you together?” I stepped over and said “I’ve never seen this girl before in my life, can I get my pretzel and soda?”

That little girl was a passive-aggresive thief. These people don’t outright steal things, but they prey on people they think don’t know any better. I’m sure on a number of occasions, that little girl has swindled a lot of free shit.

Since these general groups of people seem to make up the majority of the community in which I live, I should probably have just gone ahead and said “everyone.” But like I said, I like my book club people and some other miscellaneous people, like friends and family and the ladies at the local BINGO hall. Those ladies are cool as shit.