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!

My son and I were attacked last night

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And then this happened on my Next-door post…

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

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

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

Is my home and my neighborhood safe?

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

So I’m Now (Apparently) A Petty Thief

Well. Where to begin?

I am now (apparently) a petty thief. That is if you ask the manager at the La Quinta Inn and Suites a few towns away from where I live.

I got a notice from the electric company about two weeks ago that our power was going to be turned out for a planned outage on May 30th. Naturally, being a mom of three and not having time for that shit, I ignored it.

A week later, I got a letter. Ignored that too.

It wasn’t until Monday, in morning of the 29th, when I got an email reminder that the power would be turned out on the 30th, that I actually started to think I should look into it.

Of course, I forgot about it until that night, so laying in bed on Monday – Memorial Day – I finally read the email to learn that our power was going to be turned off Tuesday night around 10 pm, and it wouldn’t be restored until the next morning.

In the normal course of affairs, this wouldn’t be a big deal. But with a baby and an elderly father living in the house, and with my dad’s bedroom and bathroom being at the top of a long staircase…I grew concerned. My older two kids, I wasn’t so worried about. They would be fine as long as I let them watch Netflix with cellular data on their cellphones. But what if my dad tripped and fell down the stairs and my phone had died and I couldn’t call 9-1-1? What if the baby woke up sick and I couldn’t find the thermometer in the closet or see the proper dosage of Tylenol on the package because we literally had one Yankee candle with – maybe – an hour’s worth of wick?

So I started scavenging around the house to look for lanterns, flashlights, emergency candles…anything…only to come up empty handed and pretty freaked out. (I know, I know…I need to become a survivalist and stock up on that shit. Seismologists say The Big One is going to hit Southern California any day now – be it an earthquake or a nuclear bomb from North Korea, so certainly I should be more prepared…)

I went around and came up with a conservative estimate on what we could get by with on candles and flashlights, and added it all up in this epic grocery list that added extra errands to my day …and about two hours into this whole endeavor, I realized this was all bullshit anyway, so I said screw it – I’m booking us a hotel room for the night.

Now my aunt and uncle occasionally come to visit us, and when they do they always bring their dog. Since we have no extra rooms, they have to find a dog-friendly hotel, and for years they’ve been raving that the La Quinta Inn and Suites two towns over is not only reasonable in price, but dog friendly and a pretty nice hotel.

I – on the contrary – would not normally stay in a La Quinta Inn and Suites. That’s just me, I have a preference for where I stay (Marriotts or Hyatts, sure fine – I’m a snob); and I’d wager to say that I have traveled enough and had so many bad experiences in hotels to know to stick to my go-tos. However, with this circumstance, we needed to bring the dog, and because of the shortness of time to get it all together, I figured – why not? How bad could something other than a Marriott or Hyatt be. HOW BAD?! – I reasoned as I drove over there, checked in to a room, and unloaded our things.

HOW AWFUL COULD THIS GET?! IT’S ONLY ONE NIGHT!

Well.

I drove back home after checking us in, because my kids had tennis and other miscellaneous crap going on around town. Finally, around 8 pm my dad, the baby, the two kids and the dog, all got loaded in the car and we barreled 13 miles down the highway to the La Quinta Inn and Suites. Two towns over from my amazing, protected, safe and secure home.

My kids were like “yah! it’s like a mini vacation!!” And my dad – who had just gotten back from being out of town for the weekend at a conference – was like “sweet – another night in a comfortable bed!” And I was just like “well, it isn’t a Marriott or Hyatt…but really, it’s one night…HOW BAD COULD IT BE?!”

As we parked, we were stalled in getting to our room because there was a drug arrest happening on the walkway.

Nevertheless, we got into our room, with two beds and a bathroom (all they had available – so each kid slept with an adult, while the baby slept in his rocker-sleeper…my husband was, of course, at work on overnight shift). We took photos of the baby at his first hotel stay, and posted them to his Instagram page. We popped popcorn and got into pajamas. Watched Hulu on my computer. It was, for all intents and purposes our usual evening routine.

HotelParty

Until we woke up in the middle of the night to doors upstairs slamming and people in the corridors screaming.

This morning, we got up, got dressed, packed up the car…kindly said hello to the couple making out against their red pick up truck right outside our room…checked out of the room at exactly 8:15 am…and headed off to breakfast.

It was over. We survived. It was no Marriott or Hyatt, but no one died. And our power outage problems had, in fact, been averted.

Around noon, my phone started ringing from a number in that town, two towns over that housed the La Quinta Inn and Suites and happens to also be a town my daughter is playing a tennis tournament in this weekend. So I answered, assuming that it was the tennis club to give me her start time.

Them: “Heather?”

Me: “Yes?”

Them: “How are you?”

Me: “Fine…may I ask who this is…?”

Them: “This is {garbled name} from the La Quinta Inn and Suites. Why did you leave your hotel room door open upon check out?”

Me: “Um…I didn’t.”

Them: “No, that’s not true. Housekeeping just called and said the room is wide open.”

Me: “Nope, solidly closed it before we checked it out.”

Them: “Okay…we’ll call you back.”

Thinking nothing of this at all, I went back to my day. I actually took a nap, for about 30 minutes or so. Then I woke up and was about to get up to make lunch when I looked at my cellphone and there were tons of notifications from the bank – La Quinta Inn and Suites had charged me for hundreds of dollars in separate transactions, and they (the bank) wanted to know what was going on.

Good question.

So I called La Quinta Inn and Suites back and the gist of it is this: those people that I politely said “good morning” to, that were making out against the back of their red pick up truck, were actually thieves casing the place. They were there, waiting for someone to leave their room, so they could head in and steal a bunch of shit. A quick Google search by my husband found that it could easily be done with a copied key, possibly by an employee.

A microwave, a mini fridge, a coffee pot, and a big screen TV were stolen, to be exact.

La Quinta Inn and Suites, though, decided to charge me and when I went into it with them over the phone, the woman said – point blank – “we are charging you for the things you stole from the room…”

Um…

“…and we’ve called the police.”

If you know anything about me, you know that I am the last person you would ever imagine to a) be arrested for anything, ever, and b) break the law.

I was the coordinator for the entire neighborhood watch group for the 3,000-unit subdivision we just moved out of last fall. I still moderate their Facebook group.

Nonetheless, I started practicing my Tiger Woods-esque mug shot face as I waited for the cops to show up. And when they didn’t after about an hour, I decided to call them, and we went over the whole thing.

In the end, I did not get arrested, even though the police officer laughed as he told me the lady at the La Quinta Inn and Suites said I stole all the stuff.

My 13 year old daughter had to provide character witness for the people hanging out outside the room.

And I am now dead set that I will never stay in anything but a Marriott or Hyatt. Ever. Again.

To make matters worse, all the time this took me has delayed getting my Book Trailer uploaded…which means our BIG REVEAL has to be postponed until this weekend.

That is, unless, I get arrested for something else. Because you know, I’m now (apparently) a petty thief.

 

 

A Case For Never Returning to Las Vegas

Oh yes, I know you are all so offended by this; that I, your fearless blogger, would make a case against Vegas.  But given that the Sin City is home to the absolute worst humanity has to offer, are you really surprised?

Today I received in the mail a correspondence from the Flamingo Sports Book/Keno lounge stating that the ground rules had been changed for the bet I had placed on the Chicago Bulls making Best Record for regular season in the N.B.A.  They stated that “best now means the championship,” to which they attached my ticket (that stated “Best Regular Season Record”).  Seems unfair (dare I suggest, illegal?), but since I don’t know if that $20 is worth waging a war with a multimillion dollar casino over, I feel contented in just saying:  “I’m never going to Vegas again.”

And why would I?  With a crime rate of approximately 70,000 annual overall crimes (over 9,000 of which are violent), and a safety index of 0 (with 100 being the safest), Vegas seems to be the place to avoid.

The one friend I have that lives in Las Vegas spends a considerable amount of his time outside of Vegas, and has even gone as far as to complain about the people that live there.  As well he should.  From my summation of those  I have seen the few times I have been there, the majority seem to be:

Drunks

Gamble-aholics

and Prostitutes

And while I’m sure that not all of the people which live within the walls of the most scandal-ridden city in America fit into those three categories (I know my friend and his friends don’t), suffice it to say it’s around just about every corner.  And if none of those can be seen in the flesh, there are always fifty of these guys snapping their slut cards at you:

But moreover, it seems as if the obsession we all have with weekends in Vegas come from a deep desire to be one of those people.  We want to be so drunk we can’t remember a thing.  We feel exhilarated by the thrill of gambling (and often losing) money.  And what is the old adage?  “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.”

The truth, though, is that what happens in Vegas does not really stay in Vegas.  With such a high crime rate, incidences of sexually transmitted disease, the loss of money and property, and the very real problem of alcoholism in our nation, Vegas reaches well beyond its borders.  A friend of mine recently stated on his Facebook that he should design a t-shirt with a baby on it and the caption “Everything doesn’t stay in Vegas.”  Truer words were never spoken, my friends.

Now, I’m all for a good time, and letting loose just once in a great while.  For gambling urges, there’s always the lotto, the Indian casinos, or a local game of senior BINGO.  There are local watering holes in just about every town in the country as well.  But to contribute to such a degraded, degenerate, defiled city by letting them siphon off every dollar and ounce of dignity that comes within 100 miles of its borders needs to stop.  No more Vegas for me, baby.