The Newsletter: Issue #16: We Need To Get Our Heads On Straight Here, Folks

I don’t typically title my newsletters, but for some reason this one felt necessary. For the last several days, the news cycle, and my own interactions with regards to it, have been a complete de-evolution into absurdism.

Yes, I’m talking about Biden.

Yes, I’m talking about Trump.

Yes, I’m talking about the ongoing pandemicS.

Yes, I’m talking about all of it.

We need to get our heads on straight here, folks. We are missing a once in a lifetime opportunity to undo all the wrongs of the last several years, and we’re unironically doing so by falling into the same traps and patterns that created the situation we find ourselves in today.

So let’s talk about it.

Around the World

Unless you live under a rock, you know that last night the President gave a fiery speech in front of Liberty Hall, on the problem of fascism and the MAGA culture. It was, unequivocally, a political speech. There’s no way around that.

I’m perhaps from a more old school thinking: that politics is politics, and government is administration of government services. There is a time and a place for both, but not together. That said, we should demand a number of norms when our government leaders go political; and more importantly we should hold them accountable for politicizing aspects of the government that should not be.

There’s also something to be said about governing by meme, and involving people that should otherwise not be involved in that.

This is why, after the president’s speech, several people went on to criticize the choice of backdrop: Marines, standing at attention. I’ve talked to a lot of people about this since, many in a variety of sectors of the military. Some thought it was gauche. Some didn’t see the big deal. Others said it was politicizing the apolitical. A lot of people highlighted the long time practice of Presidents doing so.

For me, it’s about the venue: it was a political speech using colloquialism and political rhetoric, invoking the Dark Brandon meme. So, pretty tacky to have the Marines involved. But, that’s just my opinion, and something I am *entitled to* without fear of personal attack.

Not what the biggest and loudest Blue MAGA Democrats believe, though, because immediately after CNN journalist Brianna Keilar Tweeted her own disappointment in the move – Brianna Keilar who is married to a man that has spent his entire career in the military, people went for the throat. And this is what I largely observed all over Twitter and other social media platforms as the night wore on: very strong and strident Biden supporters launching disgusting and vile attacks on anyone that is Republican, Centrist, Independent, Progressive, or simply had a disagreement with any aspect of the Biden speech, or frankly anything Biden has said or done.

This style of political and public discourse though? This was completely antithetical to the speech the President gave. While calling for unity he asked people to stand up to actual fascism, which includes the idea that dissenting thoughts and opinion should be tolerated and encouraged, and that nuanced conversation about the issues without personal ad hominem attacks and mudslinging should resume at the policy table of America.

What I’m saying is that the people ripping down anyone that even remotely disagrees with or criticizes any aspect of anything the current president does are just as fascist as the ultra right MAGA fucks that… well, do all the same shit. It isn’t less fascist if you’re doing what the fascists do, just because it’s for your guy.

I discussed this last week on my podcast, actually; so the timing is perfect. If you haven’t had a chance, you can listen to it here:

And to that end, there’s been another growing trend over on social media: the White House’s official government account being used for more political posts about MAGA. Here are two, recent examples:

Now to be clear: I am not saying I disagree with these statements. I’m again highlighting the venue in which they are being made.

Perhaps I’m more sensitive because I happen to be in a 600-level Public Governance class right now, and ethics in public administrations – of which the White House one – is at the forefront of our conversation. For decades, administrations at all levels of government have operated on a code of ethics. This is nothing new, and it is not a foreign concept. If the White House Chief of Staff actually paid attention to the replies he receives in these, he would know that my response was spot on: that ethics training is something they perhaps should get going, given the very fine ethical lines that whomever is in charge of this account is walking.

To be clear: Tweeting about political issues, even ones rooted in fact, using political colloquialisms and rhetoric, is not the job of an official government podium. This is not official government business, and we can accept that and hold them accountable for this while at the same time agreeing with the sentiments – the two are not mutually exclusive.

And last, but certainly not least, on this episode of Shit Show, America: this morning, the full list of items that were removed from Mar a Lago in the FBI raid was released by a federal judge, and it included the notations that several folders labeled CLASSIFIED were removed, although all that was found in them were newspaper and magazine clippings.

A lot of people jumped to ask where those documents were, and that may very well be the case – that the DOJ and Merrick Garland moved like the snails they are, and gave Trump et al more than ample time to sell it all off. Smoking gun is therefore gone, as are the prospects of ever holding them accountable. To be clear, that may very well have happened.

But it’s also equally as likely that this was all a well orchestrated stunt, combined with more of a grift. My thoughts?

Surely we all have not forgotten that time Mike Lindell left the Oval Office and was carrying a document in exactly the right angle so that the media could Zoom in and blow up its contents… these people are professional con artists, there’s no way around it.

And to be frank, I voted to never have to hear about them again. Let’s stop giving them oxygen until it’s either to announce the man is in jail, or dead.

Around My World

I finally decorated the outside of my house for fall the other day, and immediately got a ration of shit from people who neither pay my bills, nor do any other things for me. As I said above, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but there’s also something to be said about the concept of: if you don’t agree with someone’s personal choices that in absolutely no way, shape, or form affect you: keep scrolling.

Nevertheless, here are my outdoor fall decorations outside, and I put them up just in time for California’s unprecedented September heat wave:

Other than that, you guys know the drill… I’m just living the dream of every other stay at home mother who is expected to raise her kids, manage the house, keep everything looking Pinterest-worthy at all times, cook three meals a day and eat completely healthy, while also being charitable to others, help ailing and elderly family members, pursue their own dreams, undergo routine self care and physical and mental health, all while pleasing extended family and friends for the sake of keeping the peace, all on a strapped budget because – again – you are a stay at home mom and have no real steady income except your spouse’s… even if all of this is rapidly escalating to a total and utter mental breakdown from the pressure…

You Can’t Unsee This

Please take into consideration everything I said above, listen to my podcast on fascism, take a deep breath, and consider this meme I made:

STFU Fridays

There has been an increasing trend of doctors and people that should otherwise know better at this stage of the pandemic, downplaying the measures needed to end the pandemic.

I am by no means advocating for more lockdowns or ZERO COVID strategies. But there’s something to be said for paying attention to the governments that still do… they are, and have always been, the experts on SARS and all of its potential negative outcomes. And, to be clear, a lot of physicians and immunologist – epidemiologist types – understand too. What’s even more concerning are the number of other diseases surfacing, and easily spreading, as a result of the hit that our immune systems are taking on the whole to unmitigated coronavirus spread. The CDC and NIH know, and have published papers, on the impacts of SARS-COV-2 on our immune systems, and yet their policies or even their recommendations to others (not them, of course) do not reflect the realities of “new normal.”

And as the pandemic heads into its final stages of the third year, I get it that people are weary, and more than anything they’ve become compromised in their position on certain things. Bottom line is, though, that if you’re going to go on social media platforms and tell people to wear masks… you maybe just should be consistent in your recommendations. Wear a mask yourself.

Moreover, expect our leaders to.

Last night, I was doomscrolling through Tik Tok and came across a post making fun of Trump for his COVID infection versus Biden’s, posted by an immunologist. This woman is a prominent and well respected scientist, and she is also – sometimes – pretty funny. Of course it’s not exactly fair to describe the two infections – one was before vaccines were even available, and one was after the man had four doses of vaccine, with more treatment options, and with a more attenuated version of the virus… but I digress on that issue. It did point to the efficacy of time, science, advancement, and it was silly.

But one of the comments from another doctor on the platform stuck out to me, saying he would never forgive the former president for removing his mask and making a mockery of it. To that, I agree, but I will similarly not forgive the current president for doing the exact same thing. Biden has had more antimask rhetoric and moments, claiming he would wear a mask at all times after exposures and infection, himself, when he then was immediately seen having taken it off around others.

The whole point about living with COVID is that we have to actually learn to live with it and not act like selfish and ignorant fools. Our community members are depending on us to do the right things, including reducing their risk of harming them if we have COVID, have recently had COVID and could still be contagious, are otherwise feeling unwell, or have been exposed.

And we elected Biden to be the leader on this, to which he is failing. Instead he sets an ableist and anti-mask example, with absolutely no one – apparently – with any integrity left to expect better.

So I responded with this comment, and the immunologist – the original poster, the woman who constantly asks people to wear a mask and to be the example for others… she told me to get a grip.

Get a grip.

The most disturbing thing to me, again the overarching theme of this newsletter and why I decided it was important enough to give this one a title, is this idea that people cannot hold anyone accountable for their actions now, simply because the other guy did it first. We should be demanding better of our leaders, and holding them accountable.

And it’s a simple fact that if someone was elected to handle COVID and is now outright refusing to handle COVID, even in his own actions that directly influence the behaviors of millions of Americans (including vulnerable ones)…

Get a Grip?

GET A GRIP?

GET A GRIP?!?!

Get a FUCKING GRIP?!

I get it. We all experienced a lot of trauma with Trump. But it is a fact that the current president is doing worse on COVID at a time when he should and can have opportunities to do better. He preached up and down during his campaign about being a leader and setting an example. And now, he’s doing anything but. We could all live with this if he would do better – it would, at the very least, convince some (and would go a long way to getting more funding for needed tests, treatments, and vaccines from Congress who have all but capitulated to the virus and its ongoing damage).

Instead, it’s easier to look the other way, point fingers, and tell people that have a higher standard of accountability to “get a grip.”

You know what the real grip is that we need though? The one where we are sober to the fact that we have entered this absurdist and morally bankrupt daily reality where everyone thinks standards be damned, norms be fucked, and fascism – even if it’s the lighter version – is the way to go.

The only way out, folks, is if we hold them all accountable for every mistake, all the time. If we get our heads on straight, again. If that is what it means to need to “get a grip,” so be it. In the meantime: if you can’t take the heat of a dissenting opinion, shut the fuck up.

The Newsletter: Issue #14

This has been a weird week, for me personally and for the world. If you don’t think it’s weird, you are likely in the position of being both simultaneously privileged and unknowingly oppressed. Welcome to Capitalism.

Around the World

So how about that Trump raid?

I’m still weeding through all the details on why Mar-a-Lago was raided, and what the potential or definitive consequences of it will be. And I have a lot of mixed feelings about it myself. From an accountability-standpoint, anything that criminal has done should be held up against the law like any other citizen of the United States. But something I learned in my own personal experiences with family law, and our kids, is that oftentimes the law will not always err on what is morally right, but what is (a) prosecutable, and (b) not going to cause an undo burden on the public good. and there is something to be said for understanding the incredibly sensitive and delicate balance in this country right now. National security, and the possibility for an all out Civil War, is very likely a part of the conversation on this at some stage.

We should save this one for another conversation, perhaps a blog I’ll post next week on the topic, alone.

In the meantime, here are just a few of the thoughts circling around in my head, in no particular order:

  1. Andrew Yang is, yes, a piece of shit, but he is right in the sense that if nothing major comes as a result of all this news cycle, the FBI raid, and the investigation, then it will have been political and the consequences could be – not to be hyperbolic, but: catastrophic to the country. Is he trash for saying it when he did and the way he did? Sure. But he may not be wrong. We’ll see.
  2. Many high level Democrats, including Congressman Eric Swalwell (famous for telling Susan Surandon, a woman, to sit down and shut up about women’s rights…), were calling for Trump to release the warrant. When he leaked it to Brietbart, they began to complain because it was not redacted. Again, am I defending that the idiot didn’t think to redact names of agents on there before he leaked it? Maybe. But he did what they asked; that they expected the guy who suggested we inject bleach to cure COVID to know to redact names from a sensitive document before leaking it as they requested is… well…
  3. I honestly do not see this resulting in anything, and if it does I do believe the consequences will call into question if it was worth it. Back to point one, time will tell. To be clear: this is not a reason to withhold accountability. Trump, we all know, is a criminal, on many levels and for several reasons. But defining “accountability” in this case may require people to consider way more than just the people that did the crime, but the people who will suffer for the fall out. I don’t know, again maybe a conversation for another day (and again, to be clear, I am not defending Trump.
  4. Fundamentally, one of the main reasons I – like me personally – voted for Biden in 2020 was to not have to hear about Trump anymore. At this point, I don’t even care if he goes to prison, flees the country, runs for president again and loses, or simply bides his time quietly on his golf course. I just don’t want to hear about it. All the Jon Coopers of Twitter post daily, ad nauseam, about him. I think the Republicans are right: liberals are absolutely obsessed with him. Sometimes it feels like we are collectively checking our ex-boyfriend’s Facebook page to see what he’s up to; it’s exhausting and I voted to be rid of it.
  5. As is, there is already talk about Biden pardoning Trump in the name of unity. I wouldn’t be surprised at all, and in fact as I was talking to a friend about it, this popped up in my Instagram feed. So yeah…

Then, of course, there was the whole CDC COVID update, which made headlines even though it hardly changed much in the way of public health policy that was not already changed or observed, starting back in the beginning of the year in the middle of the Omicron wave. However, what distinctly sticks out to me is some of the language the CDC is using now. They’ve completely redefined not only disease, but everything, to being about personal responsibility; the individual’s obligation to themselves and themselves, alone. This is the antithesis of “public” health, but moreover I believe it sets the precedent to deny claims of public liability for injury caused. In other words: oh, you’re now permanently disabled by long COVID (as is happening to as many as 20% of people that catch it)? Well that was your fault for catching it, disability claim denied.

But it goes beyond that. Some of the language seems to cite numbers inconsistent with actual reality. Many many Americans continue to have avoided COVID infection, and both the vaccinations and previous infection are not useful against circulating variants, and yet the CDC claims that as many as 90% of Americans have “existing levels of immunity.” They also discuss avoiding punitive measures against students that choose to continue to mask, as if kids have been punished prior to now for wearing them. Something doesn’t seem right about anything that they cite, and to release the guidance in a time that 93% of the country is in areas of remarkably high transmission, and daily papers come out citing the profound and extensive damage reoccurring SARS infection is causing… well something just does not add up to me.

Again, maybe a conversation for another day.

Around My World

I’m trying not to get stressed out by the fact that our new property manager seems to be in it to get his money with as little work as possible Our move in walk through yielded several things that needed to be addressed. The excuses for none of them being done continue, a month and a half later.

The other day we woke up to a sprinkler that was broken, spraying everywhere. It took a while for the landscapers to show up and fix it (if you can call what they did “fix”), but in the course of all of this it has become all the more clear that gardening – included in the lease – is also not going to actually happen. Today we raked up probably years worth of begoniaville petals, many decomposed and putrid smelling. Tomorrow we’ll be cutting the grass and weeds out front as well.

How am I dealing with this stress?

Well, it’s past time for me to decorate so I started getting going with my fall decorations. Every year I have a system: August 1 – September 15 is for Fall decorating, with Halloween to follow. So – technically – I’m late. It’s already the middle of August, so finally yesterday and today I kicked it into gear. The great part about moving was that we had to get rid of so much, some needs replacing. So I guess that’s fun.

You Can’t Unsee This

In regards to that Trump raid, the memes have been on point, I will admit that.

STFU Fridays

Alright, this is a bit of an obscure one, but we need to talk about the bakery cookies at the grocery store.

You know those soft sugar cookies that start to pop up in the bakery section around this time of year. They usually vary the frosting and sprinkles for whatever holiday is coming up. Right now, because Labor Day is around the corner, they have blue with red, white, and blue sprinkles. In October it’ll be orange and the brown, yellow, and white sprinkles. Then it’ll be straight to Christmas, with Valentine’s Day colors in the new year, closing their annual stint at the grocery store off with Easter colors.

People are so divided on these cookies, but I have to say to both sides: shut up already. Honestly. The cookies are fucking good, and even if they’re not what is this thing people have where because they don’t like them, that means no one can have the pleasure of eating them? We live in a society that is so heavily controlled as is: we have to work where we’re told, live where we’re told, do what we’re told; stop trying to control what fucking sweets people have access to with your weird online petitions, and obsessive bitching at grocery employees. As if Bob who works in check out can fucking control the inventory, you pedantic, anti-cookie, fucks.

So have a good weekend, and leave people alone to their cookies. And by people, I mean me. I’m with Brian on this one.

This Is Living With COVID

A few days ago, I had an acute allergic reaction to either something I ate, or something blowing in the back window of our house. Many of you all remember, we recently moved from a mold-infested hell hole, so my body is still recovering and attempting to reduce the level of extreme inflammation that comes of living under those types of conditions. So… a bad allergic reaction was bound to happen…

When it was at its worst, I considered going to the emergency room, but when checking on the wait times found that the ER in my own town – the best option – had a 10 hour wait time. On a Tuesday, in the middle of summer. I couldn’t believe it, so we took a drive over, and sure enough: at 7 o’clock in the evening, with a line out the door and people sitting on the floor of the waiting room, four ambulances docked in the unloading area, the wait time appeared accurate. I decided to go home and just hope for the best.

The following morning, I called my doctor’s office and told them I had experienced this acute allergic reaction, and I wanted to make an appointment to see him since the ER wait times were so long. I had made it through the night, I thought surely they could get me in that day, even with a PA, a nurse practitioner, or another doctor.

They scheduled me for the following Monday.

Today, I woke up to an alert on my phone that my order from Home Goods – which was due to be delivered Tuesday – was delayed due to “inclement weather.” A quick look at the national weather radar proved that was, very likely, a lie.

No date it will actually be delivered.

The Federal Reserve reports that several million people are now out of the work force, due to what doctors coin “long COVID.” Long term symptoms of COVID 19 infection vary by person, in symptom and length; and at least 1 million people are permanently disabled from this post-viral condition (and estimated 4.4 million partially). And this is only two years in, with a virus that provides absolutely no long term immunity, and every reinfection showing to increase your odds of developing lifelong health conditions, possibly disabling, exponentially.

I’m no conspiracy theorist, but it seems a great way to resolve the growing crisis with funding social security is to either:

a. Kill everyone that is presently living off of it; and/or,

b. Cause the entire system to collapse from an unmanageable burden

So it seems, the US has decided to do both.

Nevertheless, this is what living with COVID looks like. Wealthy, elite members of our own communities, and oligarchs running the government, have access to paid sick time ad infinitum, ample healthcare, and access to care and treatments many in America cannot even dream of being able to access, while the rest of us hope for the best.

But it isn’t just about getting sick and dying that remains an issue; for many who have been lulled into believing that COVID is just a cold (to be clear: it is not), just as for those that still take precautions and engage in personal mitigations to prevent getting or spreading the disease, living with COVID is a matter of being delayed, hampered, inconvenienced, and otherwise endangered.

Living with COVID is maybe not having a police officer available to come if your house is burglarized.

Living with COVID is not having reliable access to an emergency room for an emergency.

Living with COVID is being stuck somewhere on vacation because your flight was canceled.

Living with COVID is catching COVID on a cruise and being forced to be airlifted off for the pleasure of other passengers, even if you’re feeling relatively well (because no matter how well you feel, you could still harm someone – this is true).

Living with COVID is not being able to get in to see your doctor, or any doctor for that matter. A friend of mine recently went to the emergency room for ear pain; and while he was able to actually get in and be seen, when they recommended he see an ENT, he found out the next day that the earliest he could get in was … next year …

Living with COVID is having unqualified people teach your children, having your children learn over computer in an auditorium because there aren’t enough teachers in that week; having someone not even qualified to drive a school bus drive your child to school.

Living with COVID is packages arriving whenever they can, maybe. Definitely not on time.

And as it turns out, living with COVID is placing the burden of all of this more and more on the individual. With decreased mitigations and funding from the government, comes more emphasis on personal responsibility. People are told if they want to wear a mask, they can. There is, however, no clear and assertive guidance to the fact that masks work.

When it comes to items that are costly, this again comes down to personal burden. Individuals are asked to test, but at their own cost. Some are free, but only a couple times (at most, three batches, which should be long used up by now); some insurances will cover, others do not. Medicare covers them, if a senior wants to risk traveling from pharmacy to pharmacy until they find one that has the batch Medicare covers in stock.

Schools never upgraded ventilation, and have spent their American Rescue Plan funds ten times over on administration fees, so testing is cutting back, as is quarantines and the like. This is being done in the name of giving kids less disruption, as if being taught by a sophomore at the local college, learning your teacher just died, and having to go in and out of school because you’re always getting reinfected with the same virus over and over again is not disruptive to a child’s development… this is living with COVID.

Yesterday, we received a text message from the community college. Living with COVID for the last two years has been forcing my daughter to wait on having excision surgery for endometriosis; now that the surgeon has opened up her availability, my daughter has decided to defer college for one year to have the surgery. Of course the possibility for COVID to upend that happening as we all “live” with cancelations and inabilities to travel is there, nevertheless, while she does this she’s going to attend the local community college. The text message yesterday, though, stated that the board of directors for the community college system had decided to eliminate the COVID vaccination requirement.

Of course this is not about public health or the health of the students at all, and we all know that. Community college, and colleges in general, have increasingly been having a hard time with enrollment numbers – as students faced a variety of challenges through out this ongoing pandemic. Some students are no longer attend college because – surprise! – they have long COVID and are now permanently disabled. Many are now working full time and caring for a younger sibling, as over 200,000 children under the age of 18 have been orphaned due to COVID 19 in the last two years. Some learned the hard way that the president will not be forgiving student loans, that this was an outright lie; and the cost of living has been allowed to spiral out of control, the type of job you get after graduation will not pay the bills; that college in a very rapid period here has become attainable to only the wealthiest, who have the money and the ease with which to address housing, cost of living, travel, and tuition. Tuition programs even have been cut back, at our local community college they make it as difficult as possible for students to get their tuition covered with grants; because God forbid we make it easier for kids to navigate an education in these ongoing times where personal responsibility has forced them at a very young age to make tough choices.

So enrollment numbers have waned. Whereas it was a struggle to find a course with an open spot months before the class even started when I went to community college, now if you search open classes at the local community college, there are so many openings, it’s a little overwhelming. They’re even running ads, with classes for the fall starting tomorrow.

Far be it for them to admit that all of these problems are factoring in to lowered enrollment numbers, though; they instead point to vaccination requirements, and again – like everyone else – have decided that living with COVID will be to capitulate to the anti-vaxxers. The few out there holding out, will now be allowed to enroll in person in courses that previously had the requirement.

I don’t dispute that you can get COVID vaccinated. Not by a long shot. But even the very health department they claimed to have consulted admits that you are still significantly less likely to test positive for COVID 19 if you are fully vaccinated; and if you wear a mask, get tested, and stay home when sick.

The colleges though? Have decided that living with COVID will be much as in everything else: living with more disruption, with more personal risk, with more consequences to average people just trying to get by in life, while overall profits and financial considerations take precedence over the health of our community members.

Living with COVID. Frankly, I’m not sure who can call any of this living.

Get Your Germs Away From My Ass

<CONTENT WARNING: THIS ONE IS SWEARY>

We’re at the find out portion of the fuck around era, and I am not here for any of it. Get your germs away from my ass, both figuratively and literally.

I thought we were getting to higher ground with the pandemic. Sure, things are kind of still a shit show, but there is literally nothing left for the anti-COVID idiots to complain about, what with politicians abandoning all sense of responsibility and public health being bought off by the likes of the mRNA gods and goddesses. To be clear: I am pro vaccination, but the way in which we have been sold to the CEOs of major corporations, both in what’s available to us for therapeutics, treatments, and preventatives, as well as the various industries that saw mitigation measures correlative to decreased profits for them (I’m looking at you Delta…), well it makes my ass sick. Not COVID sick, just sick.

The problem with letting COVID rip, so they call it, is that it has done a remarkable job at mutating, infecting people multiple times, causing massive disruptions to public life, and hammering down our immune systems. I read the other day that 4 million people in the US, alone, now have long COVID, which is pretty fucking profound if you think about the number of people that represents that may have left the workforce.

In any event, now we are seeing all of these other diseases emerge, go buckwild you might say, and the result is of course that the government and public health professionals just… ignore that shit too.

In the last several weeks, we have had an onslaught of people not just getting covid, though. The UK announced polio cases, and a few weeks later news broke that someone had been paralyzed by polio in New York. Just yesterday, the New York State Department of Public Health announced that they detected polio in the waste water as far back as June. There is this mysterious hepatitis showing up in children (no largely mentioned correlation to COVID, though, even as over 75% of the kids had prior infection with the Omicron variant). Today, BNO news announced that some people had tested positive for dyptheria in Switzerland. A few days ago, it was scurvy.

And we all know about the monkeypox. Or do we?

Monkeypox was something we all should have been paying more attention to back in May, when it was clear that it was beginning to spread. But instead of – oh I don’t know – doing anything about it, we all sort of just sat around and chalked it up to being a gay thing. I’m not shy to the fact that the vast majority of cases are currently in the gay/bi/MSM community; however, this is a far cry from who can actually get monkeypox, which is anybody and everybody. Monkeypox just happens to be in an associated group right now, and of course that’s only perpetuated by the fact that as far back as May and, in many places, still today, the only people that can get tested are from that associated group (of gay men, mainly). To be clear, though, while monkeypox isn’t as transmissible as COVID, it can spread in a lot of ways – in the air if someone sneezes through a lesion in their nose, through – yeah – sex (though it’s not an STI), by touching something the other person touched, hotel sheets… you name it, monkeypox can even survive for long periods of time on your food.

And yet still, the government has sort of just ignored it as people begin to die from its effects around the world. Children have started to test positive for it as well, the more that testing has opened up; in fact, two have tested positive here in California, where I live.

I’ll say it again: get your fucking germs away from my ass.

I just don’t understand what fucking thinking we have going on in our heads right now. I read somewhere that COVID does affect some people cognitively, and so I’m wondering if everyone got COVID and we’re all just fucking nimrods now that cannot put two and two together.

So here, I’ll do it for y’all:

1. None of this shit is going to get under control if you all don’t start demanding more from your elected leaders – from the top, down. That first requires you all to give a shit, which I’m pretty sure may be a far cry from happening, but it’s worth saying. If you gave a fuck about each other again, maybe you’d have the impetus to contact someone – anyone – to demand they do better; I don’t know, just shooting that one from the hip. Congress should be funding more research, treatments, response. The White House should be sending out more tests. The CDC should be requiring masks in healthcare settings, at the very least.

2. As long as COVID is allowed to spread, people will continue to get infected over and over and over again. At some point the 4 million people that are disabled now as a result of long term symptoms (not to mention all the people that continue to fucking die, some quite young in fact), is going to grow to such an exponentially unmanageable number that social security will collapse and/or no one will be around to keep your favorite, local Applebees open.

3. Every time a new disease or new-old disease emerges as a problem, you run the risk of it mutating and wreaking havoc the likes of which we have not even yet seen; especially as a result of the aforementioned weakening of the immune system caused by repeated infections with COVID.

4. It is not normal for diseases like polio to show up in the waste water.

5. Monkeypox is painful and puts a higher percentage of patients in the hospital due to the lesions, the sites they are commonly found on, and the amount of pain they create. The United States’s healthcare system is already on the verge of collapse due to the ongoing COVID pandemic, adding this to their burden is – frankly – unforgivable. People can die from monkeypox because it also crosses the blood-brain barrier and can cause encephalitis. And, as if all of that was not bad enough, as many as 50% of cases end up with neurological or psychological issues.

It’s starting to seem as though we have somehow teleported, or time traveled, back to the days when people just died of random diseases all the time. Women lived to the ripe, old age of 32, and then died of period pain in the middle of the cobblestone street. The callousness with which we approach the lives of each other has perhaps normalized massive amounts of pain, suffering, and death, after two years of people replying to COVID deaths on Facebook with laughing emojis, I suppose because it’s easier to just accept this new life?

I for one do not accept it. I want none of it.

It is the 21st century and science has advanced us to a point where a vaccine could be created against a deadly viral disease in under a year, and y’all motherfuckers brought back polio and diphtheria as a response.

There is, of course, the obvious plot twist in it all as well: that this is just a necessary consequence of a changing climate. Anyone arguing still today that climate change is not real lives further down than under a rock. Everything going on – monsoonal pressure on the West Coast, all time heat in Spain and the UK, the storms, the fires… all of that is just the tip of the iceberg of climate change. Scientists have also been warning for years, decades in fact, that another aspect or potential of climate change would be that zoonotic diseases would cause more spill over resulting in human epidemics; that viruses would be able to mutate and adapt more quickly because of the changes to the ecology of our planet; and, that as permafrost melted, old shit would resurface.

Well here the fuck we are, I hope you all are happy.

Whatever the case may be, I – for one – am tired of this shit. I don’t get people that have absolutely zero problem being sick all the time. I do not get it. I’m not saying crawl in a hole and hide forever. I’m not saying seal yourself in a bubble, like Bubble Boy. I’m just saying to get your germs away from my ass. Stay the fuck home when you are sick.

Since y’all cannot even seem to reliably do even that – the absolute bare minimum – maybe I will get a bubble after all…

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…

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Happy Weekend!

Remember That Time I Ran For City Council?

Welcome to the first part of my 5 Part Series: The Infection Was Initially Mild: My Small Town City Council Run, the Toxic American Pandemic Response, and What Both Mean For the Future Of the Country.

You can also read the entire series now, download it in entirety in PDF format, catch the disclaimers in the Introduction, listen to it on Text to Speech (I have to warn you it’s a little awkward), or watch the Text to Speech on YouTube.

Also, more resources, videos, updates, and Pay What It’s Worth links can be found there too!

The Infection Was Initially Mild Landing Page

Also, please don’t forget to enter the GIVEAWAY – free to enter, just like or share on one or multiple social media outlets. The winner will be drawn tomorrow February 2nd on Instagram LIVE!

I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I think to myself at least once a day: remember that time I ran for city council? I don’t think that way to myself often about many other things. But on the city council run, I do. 

This isn’t to say that I am in absence of thought about random things that happen in my life on a daily basis. It’s to say that when I think about it – the city council run, it comes across my mind like a surprise. Over a year later, and I still am in shock that I did such a thing. In fact, the further time gets from the election, itself, the more ephemeral it becomes. Like a passing daydream, or a nightmare that reoccured for a period, and was traumatic enough to remember but not significant enough to keep in the forefront of my mind. 

I – a stay at home mom of three kids, who writes part time, here and there; is in a graduate program in political philosophy, also part time; and, who is generally misanthropic and a little agoraphobic – ran for city council. Put myself in front of the entire city (in actuality, only one district) and asked for people to elect me  – me, of all people – to lead for four years.

It’s just such an overtly bizarre thing to think about because it was probably a bad idea. Had I been elected, I am certain I could have done a good job in fulfilling my campaign promises, and bringing order to a community that has become completely disordered through the course of the pandemic. The truth is, I’m still doing that now, for having just run. 

But I also would have had to button up my mouth, and play politics in a time when the last thing leaders should be doing is engaging politically. 

Me running for city council, in reality, was tantamount to the time I believed that I could design a village of chicks out of neon-colored deviled eggs. To make matters worse, I used bits of black olives and carrot shavings for the eyes and beaks, and positioned them upright in uncooked white beans; and in the middle of setting the whole thing up, decided I would use guacamole in the filling for half of them, and make little signs for them to hold on toothpicks that said “chick me!” I’m not sure just what I was thinking at the time, but it was surely rooted in some level of temporary insanity; and in the end, it looked, and felt, like vomit. 

Remember that time I ran for city council?

In 2020, I ran for city council in my small, wanna-be rural town. I say it’s “wanna-be rural” because the concept of the old days, flannel shirts and cowboy attire, and phrases like “all the fixins” are pervasive to our culture. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Backwoods rural communities and the middle of nowhere seems like a pleasant experience two years into a pandemic that has relied entirely on communities working together, when no one wants to do anything for anyone but themselves. The purpose of pointing to these qualities, though, is in highlighting some of the consequence, and the fact that it’s simply not true. Positioned just 50 miles north of Los Angeles, with a citywide population of just over 70,000 people, we are anything but rural. No, with an airport, growing community needs, and a Starbucks on every corner, we are urban-suburban sprawl. Still, many locals equate flannel shirts, backyard BBQs, and American flag-bedazzled Fords with a rural community; one where anyone can openly shout racial slurs at passers-by, and everyone knows everyone else. One where “it ain’t your business” is a community motto. Where community leaders are meant to handle miscellaneous things like missed trash pickups, and spray paint on signs in town; but ultimately the only other expectation is that they protect the townspeople from other governments (county, state, etc) reigning on their parade. Many of them long for the “good old days” that existed in other places of America, things that this community has never really seen.

At least 59% of people living in this city are living on generational wealth; this is to say they work blue collar jobs (or, in some cases, no job at all) and have homes entirely paid off decades ago. 76% live in homes owned by another entity (such as a private landlord or property management company). Approximately 30% are involved in conspiracy groups, mainly QAnon. Unsurprisingly, a good chunk of voters in my district – comprised of some of the wealthiest homes in the city, alongside those of less good fortune – do not want affordable housing, or people of color, living anywhere near them. 

Ag and 4H is big (nothing wrong with that); as is the county fair and country music (I suppose these both get a pass too). Military families from the nearby naval base make up a substantial portion of our city, and Patriotism is codified in the fabric of our community, so much so that when people hear a jet overhead, someone immediately posts in the town Facebook group for moms: ”that is the sound of freedom!” 

Religion is a big thing around here, with more churches than I can even count, and the average conversation with a neighbor always inevitably turns south when someone in the group randomly blurts out “isn’t God amazing?” Again, nothing wrong with religious groups, but in many circles it turns into a pass for unsavory and unethical behavior if you simply add some trite, colloquial religious phrase to the end of it. “Oh, Darrel shot off his brother’s big toe at the range the other day because he had one too many Coors? That’s too bad. Blessing be to the Lord our God it wasn’t his whole foot.”

On that note, perhaps the most notable thing about our community (at least in my view) is that the gun store is a hallmark of our So Cal town, so much so that there is regularly a line out the door, and the city celebrates it at the annual wine walk. 

Now I say all of these in a blunt and overtly descriptive way, and some has a pejorative connotation to it. This was one of my first problems: my frank way of stating realities came across as an affront to a lot of people. Perhaps that was for good reason. Politically a really stupid move, I philosophically believed we as a community should be confronting some of these things that could tease out the best parts, while leaving behind the antiquated and divisive ones, the things that actually harmed each other, to grow into a better community. (This was, in the end, not exactly a winning strategy.) 

Remember that time I ran for city council? 

We are divided into districts, and in my district there is a special brand of non-partisan voters that decide every single election. During the campaign, I precinct walked my entire district (flyering and doorhanging, only, because of the pandemic), and I cannot think of a single street that was absent a Trump 2020 flag. Each election, both of the major political parties seem to claim these non-par voters as their own, but the truth is they are the anti-establishment and anti-party voters who liked Trump because he wasn’t your normal politician. This view has not changed for them, in spite of all the chaos that comes with it.    

In truth, I only needed around 4,800 votes, plus 1. My district, in fact my entire county, has had a static presidential election year voter turnout around 80%. With only one other opponent in a race that is albeit easier to win when there are several options, 50% of that plus 1 would still win me my race. As it turned out, likely due to many people in my district being Conservative and/or pro-Trump, but knowing that in California this would be a waste of a vote, we only had a 67% voter turnout, and of that I only turned out 22% of them. A wet noodle of a result, if you ask me.

On the larger scale, my county is nestled in a more conservative swath of Southern California. It would be generous to call it purple. Here we have a lot of elected officials that are even branded as Democrats, and I believe they’re just so ineffectual and dysfunctional, the Republicans won’t even take them. A great example of this is my state assemblywoman. Originally a city council member in a neighboring town, this woman uses the Democratic Party like my ex-boyfriend that used me for rides to school. She has less interest in the Democrats or social justice, or any of their claimed causes and policy positions, than probably the Libertarians do, and yet she runs as one time and again. To be honest, it isn’t even exclusive to how she uses the Democratic Party, either. She uses closely aligned racial and cultural groups too, with zero interest in truly advocating for them. During the election I ran, she was at a candidate’s event I attended hosted by the local Islamic center. In response to the question on what she intended to do to fight Islamaphobia in and around the community, her response was: “I don’t know, but I always like your food!” When she decided to run for state legislature, she was pretty handily elected – a “just to the right of the center Democrat in a red pantsuit” is what I like to call her. Even further evidence to this Conservative underpinning is not only in her voting record, but the fact that out the door she endorsed my opponent – a right wing Republican, described by some in the community as “a miniature Donald Trump.” (Miniature in scope of office, and just because he is really a small, small, very small man.)

In the presidential elections, we usually go about 60% to the Democratic nominee, and last year was no different. However, every other race down the ballot – from governor to water board – is more of a mixed bag. Our local elections are non partisan, but this is neither a genuine designation, nor an accurate reflection of what powers control our grassroots community initiatives. The political party affiliation is either quietly known, or something people are overtly aware of: there is rarely an in between. 

The average voter though doesn’t even know that our local elections are technically non-partisan. This is something I learned fairly early on in the campaign. I did manual texting until the very end, and an explanation for my voters about what non-partisan meant, and how our city council seats were technically run in that manner, was needed so frequently that I ended up creating a note in my campaign phone that I could copy and paste it from. Just because you run non par, though, never meant you actually had to be non par. My opponent and I both took endorsements (and money) from our respective political parties. Him the GOP, I the Democrats. The thing I failed to get out ahead on, though – perhaps one of my earliest failings – was that in reality I’m politically all over the place. The Democrats just sort of fit at the time. In truth, I disagree with both the Democrats and the Republicans more often than I agree with them. 

At the end of the day, my opponent again masterfully manipulated my own messaging to portray me as a leftist radical that would turn our city into one where people were shackled by socialism, forced to wear burlap sacks and live in a communal shanty while paying allegiance daily to a dark Stalin-esque overlord. While he signed a fair campaign promise to not smear his opponent, he told people I – his opponent, just a mom – wanted to defund our police department and turn the city into a crime-ridden cesspool. 

This was my second major failing: as I did when I first got into politics out of college, I lived on my own fantasy island where people had educated political and philosophical discussions, and then chose candidates based upon whose ideas made the most sense. And, that people that agreed to fair campaign practices campaigned fairly. Stuck in my esoteric realm of academia and childish naivety, I let him control my message with his rumors and identity politics before even making my first campaign appearance. 

This failure of mine, and masterful manipulation of his, was even displayed on his signs: he was the independent and loyal candidate; I the partisan hack with a a secret agenda. Never mind the fact that he contracted with a local political consulting company that is exclusively by and for Republicans, and I hardly had the support of any local Democrats, the party simply endorsing me (I assume) because of an absence of any other options – none of this mattered, because most voters barely even knew there were local elections going on, let alone had the sense to check his campaign contribution filings to see who he was sending money to for the management of his campaign.  Nevertheless, when he and I were in front of our largest audience – the 55 and over neighborhood located in the center of our district – he manipulated the elderly by telling them that he was “Independent and Loyal” while I was a part of a Democratic conspiracy to sneak my way into local public office. I sat in disbelief – in the same way I sit in disbelief when I think about the entire candidacy today, as he said right into the camera for these Bettys and Berts to watch on their closed circuit television station. And while I moved to correct this glaring lie immediately, it was clear that the damage was done. They never hear the truth, they only hear what was said first. 

In any event, I ran. I lost. The decision to do so was precipitous, my family and I still feeling the disastrous social consequences of the choice. Here I am, more than a year later. I learned a lot of lessons, but more importantly I am still left – in many ways – bewildered that I did the thing at all, that it was real and serious and – most importantly – resulted in the most eye-opening and lesson-filled year of my entire life. 

Remember that time I ran for city council? To be honest, I’m not sure I could forget.

Actually, No. Working From Home Isn’t Ideal For Everyone.

Let me start by saying that if you work from home, and it’s working out for you… great! Fantastic! I’m genuinely – very seriously – happy for you.

But since many of y’all seem to have lost the capacity to put yourselves in other people’s shoes, and understand that not every experience is as yours happens to be, without having it spelled out to you like you’re a fucking five year old, I guess it’s time we have some words on this.

Not everyone is able to work from home, like grocery workers and delivery drivers. I’m sure we all understood all of that, all along. But there’s another group in the mix here too: those for whom working at home is not ideal.

There’s been a growing debate floating around social media and my Google News notifications feed lately: whether or not employees want to continue to work from home, go hybrid, or return to the office. Some people claim that everyone is clamoring to get back to the office, and for some that is definitely a reality. I know a few who simply find sitting at home over Zoom quite lonely. Others say they crave the productivity of an office environment, or – at least a few people I know – have a much nicer view from their city-based office window than their suburban dining room window. A change of scenery is what they need to feel successful.

Then there is the other side, who has saved time and money on commute, being able to integrate more quality into their own personal time (since they don’t spend as much time in traffic). Others have found that by blurring the lines of work and home, they are able to actually accomplish more via the flexibility that working from home allows for. And, in fact, studies have shown that working from home increases productivity about 13%. Why? A generally quieter environment with less water cooler conversation interruptions, fewer breaks, and a vast reduction in sick days.

Of course, for every study there is a counter, and recently Time released an article with a very expansive analysis of both the benefits and challenges the ongoing work from home environment creates. While workers are generally more productive, the team environment is all-but-lost, and employers find themselves with higher turnover rates, and even some with a damaged corporate brand. The response to this article that I saw on social media was, effectively: outrage. A lot of advocates for a permanent work from home environment argued that this debate is actually non-existent. That working from home is what everyone loves, and the newer counter-points to the original studies about the positives of working from home were Time and other media outlets simply acting as corporate shills, weaving their bullshit enslavement narrative into the media.

I get both sides of this. I really do – people experience things differently, and come from different walks of life. Different circumstances, different homes, different relationships, and different types of jobs. You can too, even if that isn’t the way it is for you personally. Some people need that separation of work and home physically to maintain that mental boundary; some thrive on working from home. Everyone is different. I have seen a lot of debate and discussion about this, and while we can present some facts to the case, I’m not sure we can really encapsulate the entirety of it without considering the nuance of the household. What I haven’t seen yet is much acknowledgment or discussion about the impact working from home has on the worker’s household, and whether or not long term working from home is tenable in situations where it is not ideal. We all saw the hilarious meme where the guy was being interviewed on live television only for his kids to toddle into the background. That was cute, but it was just a preview or tip to the iceberg of the insurmountable burden that working from home has presented for a lot of people.

I wish our situation at my own home was that cute.

We have six people living in our home. My father, who is 78 and retired. My husband and myself, and our three kids. Our house is relatively small, with thin walls, and a vaulted ceiling that echoes even a pin drop. No dining room or extra bonus room that can be converted to an office. Those of you that have been around a while know I have two teenage girls (17 and 13) and one toddler boy (4). When my husband came home for a temporary “two weeks to slow the spread,” his work set up forced both myself and my four year old to bunk with my teenagers, because not only did the master bedroom become his office, but he works at night. It was fun at first, right? Like a camp out. But as the situation became more than just temporary – something I am still routinely assured is the status of this working scenario … temporary … – the fun began to unravel. We’ve now found ourselves 19 months in, and feeling a bit frayed around the edges.

Work From Home Does Not Work If You Have Heightened Technical Requirements

My husband works in film, specifically editing trailers and other promotional materials. Our technical requirements are ridiculous: we’ve had to pay more to upgrade the Internet, even more to purchase a better router so that others in the home could have access to WiFi when he’s working over the wired connection. Before we purchased this higher capacity router, I had to drop a course I was taking because I kept losing my wireless connection during exams. Finally, when it happened in another class, I said we just had to spend the extra money – 19 months in avoiding my own goals had become a bit much.

Because of the way our house was built, and the cable and Internet installed, the main control box for the Internet is in my dad’s room – upstairs. So for 19 months we’ve had ethernet cabling trailing out of my father’s bedroom, through the hall, down the stairs, across another hall, and into the bedroom where my husband works. At the beginning of the pandemic, my father tripped on the stairs, falling so severely that we ended up calling 9-1-1, learning later he had fractured his shoulder. While this wasn’t a result of the cabling down the stairs, every time I look at it, it seems only a matter of time before the wire has come off the wall, or out from under the rug in the hall (both happen often), no one notices, and my dad falls again.

Sometime around the beginning of this summer, I noticed that when my husband is working, the lights through the entire house flicker. We called an electrician and he couldn’t figure out the problem, but broke one of our two mobile air conditioning units in the process of replacing the breaker “just in case.” Still, every night my husband is working, the lights flicker and flash with no explanation. Our electric bill has also increased over 26% per month over the last year and a half since he came to work from home. Further, our water bill is up 18%, food and house supplies bills are up as well (though this is difficult to calculate exactly in terms of how much).

And, as it turns out, we aren’t alone. That doesn’t make it okay, and is the first of several points that refute the claim that Corporate America is slashing their whips, trying to get their slaves back into the centralized cubicle. Why would they when they can pass the proverbial buck onto employees in droves?

Work From Home Does Not Work If You Have Weird Hours And Children

My husband, like many others in the film industry, works the night shift. His shift begins at 6:00 pm and ends whenever he finishes his work for the night. Sometimes that’s 2 in the morning, other times we get up for the day around 8 or 9 and he’s still working. He wears headphones, but there are still frequent times when we can hear noises. When it’s busy at work, it’s nightly. Sometimes it’s the headphones coming off and him checking something with the sound over speakers. Other times it’s a conference call at midnight, in our older house with thin walls. Most of the time, I don’t know what it is because it’s happening right before we wake up, but certainly we aren’t imagining it.

I’ve tried everything, to no avail. I put up sound proofing foam, especially along the wall that is shared with the room we sleep in. This provided minimal impact (so, more expense to us with negligible results). I’ve bought a sound machine that plays rain water (more expense, didn’t work anyway). One night, we set up my daughter’s camcorder in the hallway to try and really narrow down what the noise was, and we did hear him come out for a snack; so I set up a miniature break room with a mini fridge, coffee maker and snacks… in the master closet. Shortly before this, I had moved all of my clothes upstairs anyway, because it was just more convenient (though pretty pathetic – I now live out of bins stored under the beds of my teenage daughters’ bedroom). Still, sounds are frequently heard, and the energy of a post-production editing bay is pervasive through out the house most nights.

If you’re single or have no or grown kids, this is a non-issue. My teenagers can sleep through just about anything, most nights of the week (we’ll get to that in a minute). But my 4 year old is another story: he’s easily woken, difficult to go to bed, and – to be blunt – this has been a nightly trip to hell on Earth just to get a full night’s sleep. For 19 months now.

To get him to go to sleep, we have to take him on a nightly car ride and then carry him up to bed. When this was only supposed to be for a few weeks, back in early 2020, he and I slept on a twin mattress on the floor in my daughters’ bedroom. As the pandemic wore on though, I got the mattress off the floor, and now we have something along the lines of one of those cute family bed deals you see on Pinterest all the time. It works, for now; though my teenage daughters have to share a Queen sized bed, while I share a bed with a child that is about to turn five, who tosses, turns, and wakes very easily.

Inevitably, every night, there is a noise somewhere in the house that he hears and he wakes up from, and most nights he runs to my dad’s bedroom, normally going back to sleep immediately. As I said, thin walls and vaulted ceilings – sometimes you can’t even stand up in one room of the house without everyone else hearing your chair squeak. This would be fine, if it didn’t occasionally wake up one of my other two daughters, or myself, too. Once I’m awake, it is very difficult for me to go back to sleep. Once my 17 year old is awake, she’ll toss and turn for the rest of the night and then not feel well the next day. My 13 year old doesn’t generally have a hard time going back to sleep, but when she is woken it’s with a flare of drama.

The other night was one of those nights, with the flare of drama and me being up for most of the night, and everyone else being disrupted so much that everyone just felt like shit the next day.

My four year old was in bed and asleep after “car ride time,” my daughters and I finished watching the movie we were watching, and we all went up around midnight. Around 1, I had just fallen asleep when I heard a noise through the shared wall. It wasn’t too loud, but it was enough to wake me up (like I said, I’m a light sleeper). So I turned on the television, muted with the subtitles on, and was watching, my toddler now with his feet wedged into my back anyway, when around 2 there was a much louder noise from somewhere in the house and this one was loud enough to startle my 13 year old. She was sleeping on the side of the bed she and her sister share that was close enough to me, and in her brief moment of half-asleep-half-awake, she lurched her hand in my general direction, effectively knocking my glass of milk off the small table that is set up between the two beds, into me and my toddler. I got up to change and put down towels, only for my toddler to be woken by the commotion. Because the TV was on, though, I flipped it to Storybots, and he laid there watching it instead of running to my dad’s room. Somewhere around 6 in the morning – the house now quiet – my toddler was still awake, and I dozed off (surprisingly) only to wake up a few minutes later to find he had left the room. I thought he must be in my dad’s room, which he was. But because it was now light out, and the night had been a total shit show, he was wide awake, sitting on the floor of my dad’s room – my dad still sleeping – drinking a can of Diet Coke he got from my dad’s bedside table.

A long time ago, a friend of mine that runs her own therapy practice told me that kids can feel the energy in the house. If you’re stressed, they feel it. If you’re happy, they feel it. If you work in a night job that is in a fast paced environment with unpredictable hours, a lot of technical hubbub, vacillating periods of no noise juxtaposed against a lot of noise, and high levels of stress, and the like… the kids feel it.

This is why I think it’s so unbelievable and selfish when people expect us to just carry on as we normally would before the pandemic – do all the things, and then some. They make flippant comments like “oh, well at least he doesn’t have to commute,” like that makes the fact that my children have not all had a full night’s sleep for more than two nights in a row for 19 months now any better. At what expense exactly are we to accept this scenario? When one of us gets hurt, or worse? At the expense of the children having the quiet and calm and well-rested environment in which children need to learn? To do homework? To thrive?

People have offered an array of suggestions, none of which are really tenable for a lot of people. Rent office space somewhere else? More expense. Use a family member’s home? Passing the buck onto them. Move to a bigger house? … in this market?!! No matter how you slice it, it’s just not feasible… for us or other families. Dare I say: most families.

The short answer of it all is really that the solution for some – dare I suggest many – workers is actually simple: get back to the office. Sure, the commute sucks, the employer has to pay the utility bills, and there will be some extra measures needed to make it happen (like vaccine mandates, testing requirements, sick pay for workers to stay home when ill, and so on)… but families won’t fracture and experience hardship and trauma like they are. Children in situations like ours will not have to continue to bear the burden of this pandemic.

We had a shred of hope towards the beginning of the summer when those dreaded words came over my husband’s email… when his office finally responded to his and other inquiries about just when the fuck they would all be allowed back to the office: “Due to the Delta variant, our return to the office has been postponed …”

If you have not been vaccinated or are not wearing a mask out in the community, please consider how these variants you are producing is impacting families like ours. Working from home does not work for everyone, and it will not work forever. There will come a point when the dam breaks, and for our own situation I hope that I can hold out long enough to avoid that happening. Your personal choices on this don’t just impact others with COVID, but all its effect.

If working from home is working for you, that. is. AWESOME. If it is not, know there are many of us still living this pandemic struggle in the worst of ways. If there’s anything I’ve learned through this last 19 months, it’s that everyone’s situations are different. Different situation, different results. Before claiming that working from home is perfect for everyone, try to remember that.

Newsletter #2: In Which I Bailed For a Few Weeks

Well, you can all imagine the horror when, immediately upon starting a newsletter that was going to go out weekly, I immediately bailed for a whopping two weeks.

Allow me to explain.

I had a cup-floweth-over allergy situation, where I ingested, applied, and sprayed too many allergens around myself at one time… I’m not even kidding, it was like I was very itchy, and sort of sneezy, then I accidentally took a generic Benadryl that had an ingredient in it I am deathly allergic to and well, let’s just say… thank goodness for Epi-pens and steroids. Recovery from that hellscape of an event has been long, hivey, and a bit… hazy.

So I do apologize for the delay in our newsletter. Today, let’s make up for lost time… this Friday, we’ll get right back on track.

If you’re reading this because you clicked a link somewhere, let’s start by getting these bad boys straight to your inbox:

Now, without further ado…

Around the World

So as I’ve said, I’ve been in a bit of a fugue lately, but from what I can gather:

The war in Afghanistan is over. Cool cool. Too bad thousands of service members had to die because of it over the last twenty years, but at least it’s finally over. I have to say that the outrage of those towards Biden right now seems a bit displaced. Didn’t his son serve in the military? It seems like of any of the dipshits running things over the last twenty years over there, he of all people would understand what was lost and what is at stake. What I’d like to focus on with this one though is the fact that now there’s this meme going around of the faces of those that were lost in that surprise bombing attack a few days ago. And to those sharing it, I have to say: well congratulations for caring now all of a sudden after two decades of not uttering a fucking word. You all deserve your own medal of a sort.

Seriously though: where was your care with the literal thousands over the past 20 years? Or, for the innocent men, women, and children that have fallen victim as innocent, civilian bystanders? Oh that’s right… there was none.

Wars are tricky, messy, and ultimately horrific. There is no real war that is necessary, and the question of “how many lives are worth sacrificing for our cause” – is, at the end of the day, none. When a life is extinguished, it is forever and no freedoms or revenges are worth that.

We can argue all day about Afghanistan and who is responsible, but at the end of the day: there’s really no place to judge, no place to criticize, and only a place to talk about how we can not have these types of things happen again. One thing, I would suggest, is to perhaps elect competent leaders…

Around My World

Well, as I mentioned in the beginning, I haven’t been feeling so hot; and also the Delta variant has downright fucked up all my fall plans. From what I saw today in the news, another not-yet-named variant is barreling towards us, so we’re pretty much doing our usual thing minus the indoor activities, plus the masks.

One thing I’ve developed a newfound appreciation for among this increased time at home over the last year is movies. I liked watching movies, and especially documentaries, before, but have I ever developed a love of these new age, existential documentaries I’m finding on Netflix, Hulu, and the like.

In the last week, we’ve watched a ton of Attenborough, a New Years Eve-style special with the lady from Glee called Earth: Live, a documentary about fungi (which BLEW. MY. MIND.), and today we watched a stunning film on Netflix: My Octopus Teacher.

Those of you that have been around a while know that I have a Bachelors in Political Science, a second Bachelors in Philosophy, and a recently acquired Postbaccauleureat Certification in Philosophy and Ethics. Something has been on my mind as a result of all this philosophy and watching these nature documentaries:

It is wholly unethical to interrupt the cycle of life for your feelings. Nature is, in a word, brutal. To paraphrase my dear friend Thomas Hobbes: in the state of nature, life is nasty, brutish, and short. But that’s reality, so when I watch some of these Nature documentaries and see the filmmakers interfering in the natural course of things, I curl up in abject horror. It doesn’t happen often, and it hasn’t detracted from my overall appreciation of the films; but one in particular stuck out to me, which was in My Octopus Teacher, when he (the guy) feeds her (the octopus) as she is knocking on death’s door after a Pajama Shark attack. It’s just… not the way things are supposed to be.

The guy is narrating and explaining how his feelings just got in the way, and to that I have to say – to all filmmakers, and all of us really: especially when it comes to the natural order of things, fuck your feelings.

STFU …Mondays?

Well it’s usually STFU Fridays, but since today is Monday – and every day is a good day to tell people to shut the fuck up – let’s conclude with another round of STFUs. Today’s victims?

The morons calling COVID restrictions “lockdown.”

Few places in the world have had any actual lockdowns through out this entire pandemic, and absolutely no where in the United States has. The one exception, I suppose, we could concede is that the Navajo Nation had something of a lockdown in 2020 for a bit… but it was nothing like you saw say in China, where people’s front doors to their homes were being welded shut; or in India, where people were walking on the street and if caught were beaten with bamboo rods. In New Zealand, they’ve gone in and out of some pretty minor lockdowns, but my understanding from those I know living there, they are short, and – well – enjoyable.

Even in California, where a lot of businesses were closed down, or reduced in capacity, we did not have lockdowns. We still got to hike on the trails, go to the beach, take car rides… as 2020 wore on, people could eat in restaurants, everyone was still able to go Christmas shopping…

And still, people called it “lockdown.” Today, everything is wide open, only with some testing requirements, and masking requirements as well… and still, the nut jobs are calling that a lockdown. To them, I have to say: shut the fuck up! Shut the fuck up with your loose grasp of reality, your thin skin, your fragility that exposes more than I think you intend it to. If you think that wearing a piece of fucking cloth over your face is a “lockdown,” boy do you have a very limited world view. Shut. The. Fuck. Up!

I know people that call what my household is doing “a lockdown” too. Those people, again in one word, would simply be: wrong. We aren’t locked down. We still go to the store. We still go on field trips with my kids, we still get take out. My kids still play sports. They still walk the dogs, we still go to the beach.

What we don’t do is take off our masks outside the house. We don’t go to high risk settings, like indoor movie theaters or packed bars. We aren’t commingling with large groups of people with whom we don’t know what unvaccinated people they’ve spent time with. When I see on social media that someone has spent Monday with one group, had company for dinner on Tuesday, went to a movie on Wednesday, then had an out of town guest that is unvaccinated for a long weekend, no… no I do not then spend time with that person myself, or take my kids around them. That is not a lockdown, that is being smart and making wise choices in the middle of a global pandemic that continues to kill people.

But no, we are in no lockdown. We never really have been. California isn’t. People having to wear masks is not locked down. The United States at no point was in a hard lockdown. Anyone that tells you any of those things is a liar, and they should shut the fuck up. Because words matter, and maybe this pandemic would seem less awful to approach like adults if we started taking responsibility and using words that actually have meaning appropriately applied to describe the situations we are encountering. Maybe then things would get better, but what do I know?

Anywho, until Friday, when I’ve got some real juice to spill… I leave you with: