Things Are Getting Pretty Grim Around Here

This is a personal update, and has a major trigger warning: a lot of heavy shit, massive complaining, and hard knocks situations. But, it’s time to stop being stoic, and start being honest. Maybe that’ll come up with some solutions – flushing them out here, in a blog; because right now I’m out of them.

I’ve mentioned a few times that we recently moved. It feels like a lifetime ago, but the reality is that it’s only been about two and half months since we got the keys to the place. I guess, when you’re miserable, time slogs along at a snail’s pace. I’ve tried to gaslight myself, as have others: chalk it up to depression, chalk it up to turning 40 this year, chalk it up to the fact that I did not get into a doctoral program I worked three years to get into at the same time as we moved. I tried rationalizing it as something millions of other Californians are going through.

While all of these may be a little piece of the truth pie sitting at our table beginning to rot, the reality of the situation is that we – my family unit – is in a pretty bad place, and it’s only getting worse.

(And when I say “sitting at our table,” this is of course a mischaracterization of our home… there isn’t even room for a table in our home that we can all fit at anymore.)

We Were In The Worst Position To Move

When we received our notice that our landlord had decided to terminate our lease, we were probably in the worst position imaginable to move. I wrote a letter to them, begging to let us stay just a couple of extra months until the end of the school year – the beginning of summer. I outlined the reasons with total honesty.

The first was that our now-18 year old daughter was scheduled to have excision surgery for endometriosis with a specialist in San Francisco in the spring, something we had been waiting over a year to get the a-okay on. Requiring us to move at that same time would make both the logistical and financial aspects of that a complete impossibility, after seeing a considerable loss of our income through the first year of the pandemic.

The second was that our kids and their friends were in years foundational to a kid’s childhood, especially our 8th grader. To rip them out of their communities in that time would, in our view, be absolutely devastating to their mental health.

The third was that the housing market for rentals was going to be difficult to navigate. We had cared for the home as if it were out own for over five years, and paid our rent in full and and on time without question. Even when we had a 30% reduction in pay for the bulk of 2020. It seemed fair to ask for a couple extra months to find a place so our kids could stay in their community. This isn’t like we are a military family, where moves are expected and this was our choice. It was sudden, it was unexpected, and we were given very little warning.

In that letter, we also made a number of offers. We offered to pay considerably more in rent to allow us to stay until June. We offered, if they were planning to sell the home, to make it readily available for work, and showings.

Their response was callous and cruel: to reject our request, with absolutely no reason why. A lot of friends and family surmised that this was because they had planned to quickly get the house on the market for sale. In reality – we learned from several friends we left behind that lived on the same street – it was so one of the landlord’s family members could take the home.

You all can imagine the result: my daughter’s endometriosis surgery has now been indefinitely postponed. The kids missed out on much of the year’s things with friends, even though I have tried as hard as I could to drive them back for all of them. We were forced to take whatever was available, even though it was far away and a significant increase in our monthly cost of living, our rent alone now constituting 46% of our monthly income, with a host of other additional costs of living where we now live.

And as it turned out, this was only just the beginning.

I Had a Premonition

Originally I thought that the worst of the stress was going to be finding a place, and moving to it. Moving is the absolute worst, and we were doing it under forced circumstances.

Now I’m not saying that I’m psychic or that I actually believe I had a premonition. But I do often have hunches that turn out right, typically my anxiety piques for a reason, and more than anything I listen to my dreams, because they’re telling me what I already know and don’t want to believe or admit.

About a week after we moved to our new place – a whopping 45 minutes in the best of circumstances from our old home and our entire lives – I had a bizarre dream about moving, and woke up thinking and the move was just the beginning, the worst is yet to come. In an instant, the reality that I had not been focusing on (just trying to get myself, my husband, my three kids, and my 79 year old dad moved, and the house looking as nice as I could make it) came crashing down on me, and it was true.

The move was just the beginning, the worst was yet to come.

For the Kids

So I’ve mentioned the situation with our 18 year old, but more than that this has put her entire life’s plans into peril. At the time that we were notified of our move, she was being scouted by several colleges to play tennis. But the thought of being that far away from home, and making that kind of a commitment, was too much for her if she had not yet had her surgery.

The problem now? Several-fold.

First, and foremost, the surgery requires a significant amount of financial commitment – travel, hotel, the costs of the surgery, and so on. We also will have to go back on a waiting list, which at the moment is over a year long. That, probably, is a blessing in disguise because – as I said – we were totally unprepared financially to move; now financially unprepared for anything medical, dental, or otherwise, to be honest. To be frank: with the exponentially higher cost of living here, and the amount of money it took for us above and beyond our savings to move here, I find it hard to imagine how we will even recover financially from this move, let alone be able to save up for more things years down the road anyway (something I try not to think about too much just yet, because right now it’s about surviving each day). But for now, we’ll stick with… four year college is on hold.

Nevertheless, she has considered two paths until we figure out the surgery: community college, with playing tennis there; and/or coaching for tennis. But still, we come up against more walls, as the community college with the tennis team closest to us is an hour and a half one way, in good traffic; giving lessons would also have to be done around 45 minutes away, as the only courts near us are already reserved by other coaches.

People have suggested we just get her a car – a fair proposition, if we are comfortable with increasing our cost of living even further beyond the bounds of what we can afford; except when beginning to explore this, our HOA notified us that we had already reached the maximum number of cars allowed in the community, and any additional vehicles on the premises beyond 48 hours will be towed (see what I mean when I say they hate renters?). And remember that condition she has that requires surgery? She takes medicine for part of each month that makes driving a bit dicey anyway. Wherever she goes, whatever she does, we need to bank on that she’ll need a ride.

So she is in something of a holding pattern, trying to figure out what to do while feeling entirely helpless to even make that decision. And the clock is ticking – you can’t wait forever to begin the rest of your life, or even your next year. There’s really no winning for her at this time, in this situation, and that we have done this to her at this point of her life is absolutely devastating to me, something I don’t think I’ll ever be able to forgive myself for.

Our middle child, the 14 year old, seems to be relatively okay. Because of the move, she decided that she was definitely going to public high school back home. And while this seems like a positive thing: she’ll be with her friends, her community she’s spent her entire life with, the school is good, and relatively safe compared to other area schools; for myself I’m trying to wrap my head around how exactly I can manage to commute her older sister to school or work or whatever, plus her to school and high school sports…

… and also raise my 5 year old. He will homeschool for primary grades, as his sisters did; but that doesn’t mean he should be forced to just be carted around to chauffeur other people all the time. And then, of course, since he’s reaching the age of starting to get into activities himself… where exactly am I to put him in those? Back home, where we hope to eventually return to and where his sisters have lives? Or here, where we really don’t know anyone and it’s not exactly… safe? And the schedules for everything, should I just expect the schools and the coaches and the activity directors and the other families to work around us and our ridiculous situation? How, doing this all – for the most part – alone, am I to do that?

We’ve explored several options. My husband looked at a few office spaces to use as hubs back home, but none were within our budget, and moreover, most had restrictions about times and who could be there (no little kiddos, which seemed odd). Someone suggested using a family members house as a to-and-from hub. Well first, what family? We have a lot of family, but we may as well live on Mars to them. When we said we were moving, we got little, to no, offers of help. It’s been years since many of them came to a birthday party, a graduation event, invited us to either, or even said “Hello” to us when we’ve seen them at the tennis courts and said “Hi” (and don’t get me started on seeing family members pay little kids we know on Venmo for tennis lessons, when they know our daughter is trying to get her own coaching business going… hurtful does not even describe that one) – again this is one of those topics we can save for another day, and another post. Even so, we are still trying to be COVID conscious, and so I just would love to know how… that would even work when most everyone else has moved on? Because of my dad, we still have to be careful…

Whatever the case may be, it all comes with a price tag – either a physical one, or an emotional one; and frankly, the piggy bank on both is empty.

But Wait, There’s More

But it isn’t just the logistics of my children and their future that make this situation untenable to all of us.

Because of how few housing units were available, and the competition in the rental market that we were just unable to compete with at the time, we had to take the first place that came available that would approve us and that we could make work, even under dire straights.

Putting it bluntly: this home is way too small. It has the same number of rooms as our old home, but they are infinitely smaller than the other house, which makes things incredibly difficult; and some are open concept or an area of courtyard with no roof, so cannot be actually used as bedrooms or office/study rooms.

My dad’s room is on the second floor and has no closet. That’s right: it has no closet, making me think it was an office that the landlords decided to market as a room. He’s getting older, though (he’s 79 and his mobility is starting to strain), so if he’s having a bad arthritis day, I see him literally dragging himself up the stairs, I’m assuming due to knee and hip pain. Also upstairs is where my husband has set up our bed, all of our storage (forgot to mention there is no attic in this home); and his work space. The walkway between the wall and all of that is so tight that you have to walk sideways at some points just to get an Easter decoration out of the closet, shoved between his jackets and t-shirts.

My son has completely sacrificed a bedroom, and now sleeps downstairs in the largest bedroom with my two teenage daughters. His toys are stored in the garage. Because the room is the largest room in the house (so the natural room to put three people), but only a little larger than the other two rooms upstairs, we had to get rid of his bed. So he sleeps in one bed, and my two teenage daughters sleep in the other. In there, they have their own bathroom, which is good – kids bathroom downstairs, adults bathroom upstairs; except that the lights malfunction, and the landlord refuses to do anything about it, so they have to shower and get ready for the day and in the evening, with the lights off. The flickering is just that bad.

You all may be remembering that my husband works at nights. Yes, the thing they never tell you about the film industry is that hours are shit. His job in post production marketing is from just before 6 pm every evening, until whenever he’s done working in the morning. He doesn’t like to be bothered by our 5 year old during the day, when he sleeps though; so he locks the door to the room. This, coupled with the fact that all of our stuff had to be stored in that bedroom closet (old DVD cases, papers, holidays decorations), being the only storage to speak of in the entire house besides the area by the laundry in the garage, I have to keep my clothes in bins in the kids’ closet downstairs, and use a rolling garment rack that sort of just roams around the house, to store my clothes. And to sleep?

That’s right, I sleep on the couch. For the first year of the pandemic, I slept on the floor in my kids room along with my son. That was better than this, and more comfortable; but not possible, as you can see the floor through out the house is tile. As the pandemic wore on after that first year, we were able to really adapt our house for the long haul, as it became evident that the government wasn’t going to do anything to return actual pre-pandemic normalcy. But now? Now there is just no option but the couch for me. Every night. And because our house is so small, I can hear my husband working all night, I can hear my dad going to the bathroom at 4 in the morning, and when the kids get up… well then I’m up too. No locking bedroom doors and getting a solid 8, or even 4, hours for this lady.

We no longer have a laundry room, those hook ups being in the garage. I know that’s fairly common, though it does make it difficult to do laundry for six people when you live in a desert that gets really hot and dry during the day, and where you can regularly look over while sorting your whites from colors to see whatever the fuck this is:

Even the dogs lose in this situation: whereas at our old home they had a nice, grassy yard they could play in; now they have some concrete and a dirt hill in the back. It doesn’t matter that we have that back area, though: the first couple weeks we were here, our duplex neighbor complained to the landlord that our son was giggling in the back yard and playing with the dogs. So, frankly, we don’t go back there much.

And That’s The Rub

For the short term until we could find a new home, this seemed do-able. But as the days wore into weeks, it became less and less likely that getting out within months was a possibility. And so, hopelessness and depression has become pervasive to our household unit.

I haven’t even gotten into the crime in this community, which is something to write a series of blog posts about. We’ve had white collar crime, squatters, drunken people passed out outside the neighborhood gates, a throuple living next door in their mid-60s (not exactly crime, but also not something I want to have to explain to my 5 year old), someone try to break into our home, and, as mentioned before, our crazy duplex neighbor has it out for us something bad. Beyond the complaints about the mere existence of my son and dogs in her general vicinity, just today, we saw her taking photos of our garage when it was open, and later saw in her garage she has a pinboard with photographs of us and our house pinned up on it. This all, in just over two months.

But again, what even can we do? Can we get out of the lease here? Sure. In fact, we’ve consulted with a lawyer, and it should be easy and cheap to do so. But then what? Having spent our savings, plus recognizing the rental market everywhere right now, it’s hard to see an easy solution. We are not competitive, and have no way to pony up another security deposit, after our old landlord illegally stole ours for nefarious repairs that had nothing to do with our tenancy. There’s no way we can, or are even willing, to purchase a home at this time – it is way beyond our means, and more responsibility than any of us can fathom after everything that’s happened these last few months. Then again, it’s hard to make any decisions when my kids have medical needs I don’t know how to meet, they have educational and social needs that are becoming more difficult by the day; and everyone is literally on top of each other, while I basically do not sleep anymore.

It’s ultimately a dire situation, and hopeless to boot. And while I don’t have answers, and don’t expect any from you, what I do know is that we can all demand more housing and for our elected representatives to solve this crisis the entire country, and especially California, is experiencing right now. That’s about all I have left to hang on at this point.

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.

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 #5: It’s Halloween Season, Bitches

The pandemic is still raging, and so is my neighbor’s daughter’s nasty case of crotch rot (I wish I was kidding, but I’ve heard the stories told over… and over… and over again as she squawks about it loudly over the phone in the backyard…more on that in a bit…), but Halloween season is here.

You guys know I love fall. LOVE. Fucking love. I love it so much I blogged about it HERE, and HERE, and… HERE. The funny part about it is that in Southern California, fall is when it starts to get FUCKIN HOT. I mean like 100 degree heat waves, fires burning down half the town, and air quality that looks like the inside of a smoker’s lung. Nothing says “it’s autumn” like your kids going trick or treating in tank tops and booty shorts because it’s still 90 degrees out by the time it gets dark, and a random fire breaks out in the mountains so you have to cut trick or treating short to go home and pack *just in case* (this happened two years ago).

Anyway, I’m not being smarmy and sarcastic. I really do love fall. I’m not sure what about it – maybe the nostalgia of what fall represented when I was a kid; maybe it’s spending time with my own kids doing stuff with them; maybe all the delicious flavors… don’t know, but I love it.

Around the World

Nevertheless, the pandemic rages on, and while kids are now being promised a vaccine “sometime this fall,” (supposedly by Halloween) I remain skeptical. They just keep pushing the timeline back, and moreover, I just don’t know what to believe about any of it anymore. This is NOT to say that I’m a COVID skeptic. I am merely cynical of the prospect that this shit is going to end and get better some day.

There’s all this buzz about boosters too, and while I am usually critical of people saying that the messaging is “confusing” (it’s usually not, unless people are all just dumb…), this time, I have to agree. If you’ve ever seen Eric Topol on Twitter, he puts it perfectly here:

Of course none of this has stopped football stadiums from packing it in again, high schools from getting back to dances and rallies, and – you know – everyone sort of being out for themselves at this point. So I say we should all just do what we have to do to protect ourselves, plain and simple. As my grandma used to say: sometimes, it is what it is. For now, it seems to be a bit state of nature, figure it out on your own, let’s hope we all survive… in the end, though, what can any of us do about it? Shrug, and go on about our daily lives I suppose. Do what we can to protect ourselves and those we love.

It is what it is.

Around My World

Well back to fall and Halloween, my two oldest kids and I have been watching a lot of scary movies lately. I’m not sure what sparked it, but I have to say I’m happy we’ve taken this turn with our Netflix/Hulu/Disney+/Amazon viewing.

The best part, though, is that now… finally after all this time… I get the memes.

The Conjuring(s) and Annabelle

Admittedly, I really only liked-liked the first Conjuring. The second was still pretty good. But from there? I don’t know…

Still, what is particularly eery about these films, as well as Annabelle, is the devil-made-me-do-it, religious aspect of it all. Probably because I’m Catholic, and while I certainly don’t practice, I still bow my head and genuflect every time I go near a church… because habit.

Of them all, Annabelle had the most hair-standing-on-end moments, as well as me yelling “why would you do that?!” repeatedly at the main characters, because what is a good horror film if not for a main character that makes stupid choices?

Malignant

I let my teenagers watch Malignant, and I knew it was a gamble and probably – definitely – not recommended by Common Sense Media. But we watched after my four year old was fast asleep (so no chance he would come running into the room), and I just knew it would have a campy-Evil Dead-Army of Darkness vibe to it. In that department, it did not disappoint. (My kids also watch Supernatural, Vampire Diaries… all that crap, so blood and guts is pretty much streaming on their iPads on the reg).

What I certainly wasn’t expecting – campy expectations or not – was to laugh so hard. There were just some moments that were just so over the top (jail cell scene anyone?), who couldn’t help but laugh? I have no doubt in my mind that this will go down as one of the all-time great cult classics.

It

This is the one I am particularly happy about, because when the remake of it first came out there were Pennywise memes everywhere and I did not understand a damn one of them. Then, when the second film came out – just a few years ago, right before the pandemic – down the street from my husband’s office there was a pop up It experience. I remember scoffing at the enormous line of people down the block to get in, simply because I had no idea what the hubbub was about.

So we watched the first It last night, and are planning to watch the second tonight. I. Get. ALL. Of. The. Memes. Now. Wow. Just wow.

And, in the end, I thought it was a pretty good movie. I was particularly impressed – not to get all “Industry Wife” snooty with the discussion here – with the way the characters were fine tuned down to the T. Like when Beverly’s dad comes on screen for the first time, you look at him and you just know he’s a child molester.

Needless to say, I’m looking forward to the second movie and… for COVID to settle down and for that pop up It experience to come back to California.

STFU Fridays

So as I said in the beginning of this week’s newsletter, my neighbor’s daughter has – what they call – “crotch rot.”

A little backstory:

So my neighbor is a hard and fast believer in QAnon. I mean she is legitimately in the group. She talks about Q all the time. Not to me, I don’t talk to her – except for the one time she came over and banged on my door to let me know that a piece of paper had fallen out of our trash can on trash day. I mean that I hear her talking about this shit on the phone, which she spends probably 6 hours a day on while running an at home daycare, with absolutely no young children of her own. She is also hyper-Christian, though does not go to church… and by hyper-Christian, I mean it’s cult like. But I guess it’s a cult of one, because – as I said … no church.

So her oldest daughter is 20 and her youngest is 18, just graduated high school. The oldest now lives with her boyfriend at his parent’s house – he, a real winner by my estimation (imagine: my eyes roll into the back of my head until I seize) – and they went on some couples trip.

To a motel down the street.

When I heard the daughter, over visiting several weeks ago describing it, she called it romantic. I called it the Motel 6.

Now I’m not naive about these things, and I don’t think my neighbor is either, but long story short the girl now has some sort of smell coming from her vagina. It has persisted over several weeks, and apparently nothing is helping.

I learned this when QAnon lady squawked about it over the phone to her sister in New Mexico, on several occasions. They discussed possible causes. They discussed holistic treatments. And then – today – the daughter came over, and I heard the mother say the following:

“Look… I’ve been thinking about your crotch rot – hahaha – okay okay, your vag-i-nal o-dor, and I think it’s time you stop letting doctors and such force things on you, and you let the power of Jesus flow through you to fix this.”

What. The Fuck.

Jesus is not a solution for an infection of the vagina, Q. The power of God flowing through your vagina is a recipe for immaculate conception, not a resolution of bacterial vaginosis. For fuck’s sake, a tampon soaked in Greek yogurt would probably be more effective than calling on the Holy Spirit to fix this problem.

Where is this shit coming from?! This is the same reasoning these religious nuts are ignoring signs of cancer, refusing measles vaccines, and who fall for that *cut open purple onion and put it in your bedroom to prevent the flu* meme that goes around every year. The power of Christ compels you to ignore all common sense and modern scientific medicine; but if that doesn’t work, here’s an anti-parasitic for farm animals you can try!

This has certainly gone off the rails, and while it’s none of my business in the end, they make it my business by screaming about it into their cellphones – on speaker – for hours on end every day. I live in California. We are stacked on top of each other like sardines to the point that I could vomit – not even the projectile kind – and some would splatter on their deck chairs. Certainly, I sympathize with her daughter’s vaginal issues. Really… I do. But it’s about time they shut the fuck up, and if any of you are this open and talky about your medical problems, you need to shut the fuck up too!

Anywho, happy weekend!

It’s Time for a HOCO Post

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

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

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

HOCOPROSAL

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

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

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

Thoughts and Prayers

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

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

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

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

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

When I Was a Kid…

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

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

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

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

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

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:

Newsletter #1: In Which We Establish Things

I’ve decided to jump on the weekly newsletter bandwagon. Everyone seems to be doing it, so why not follow the cool kids? Moreover, for myself, it’s an easy way to ensure I’m posting on my blog in a timely manner – at least once a week. Plus… we have so much catching up to do every week.

Those of you that have been around for a while know that I used to do a weekly segment I called STFU Fridays, in which I weekly took on someone or something I felt needed a good talking to laden with swear words and firm STFUs. So that will be returning along with this weekly newsletter, to conclude each issue.

If you aren’t yet registered to receive these and other blog updates via email please do so here. And now, let’s get to it.

Around the World

The world has become an overwhelming and crazy place. Every time I log onto the Internet – be it social media, the news, or just my email – I feel inundated with bad news.

But it isn’t just bad news, it’s weird news. Dare I say… bat shit crazy news?

Last year during the election, I learned about the QAnon phenomenon, now lovingly coined the GQP. They’ve hijacked the Republican party as far as I can tell, and while hard and fast Democrats are probably sitting back in their seats, rubbing their bellies and chuckling, the rest of us are just sitting here in abject horror wondering just what in the fuck is going on.

This week in QAnon quackery, the conspiracies are running wild over masks, school openings, and vaccine requirements. But what I want to focus on is this guy from Santa Barbara, California (just a bit north from where I live) who murdered his two children because QAnon conspiracy told him that his wife had serpent DNA, which was then passed on to the children. His name is Matthew Taylor Coleman, and reportedly he is a surf instructor which just highlights the most terrifying point of QAnon and cults like it: literally anyone can be in them. Even my neighbor is in QAnon, which I hear her talk about practically every day as she squawks on the phone about Trump and Q so loudly the entire street can hear it. Back to this murder, he had apparently taken the kids from their home in Santa Barbara, drove to Mexico, murdered them with a fishing spear (horrific), and then confessed when the FBI caught up to him on a hot tip from the wife back home.

Tragic and insane.

Meanwhile, in Tennessee, the crazies screamed and ranted over mask mandates outside a school board meeting, at one point screaming “we will find you” while surrounding the healthcare workers there to speak in support of the face coverings. What is it about a piece of cloth that has made people go so crazy? You can enjoy the threats here (just look at that guy’s face!):

And then, if you can stomach it, this sermon that went viral this week from a preacher that claims y’all don’t need masks and vaccines if you have Jesus. If you look closely enough, you can see the Crisco glistening down his forehead:

This last year and a half sure has had its fair share of Karens and Kens screaming at the proverbial managers about stupid shit, but this newest rendition of the mask thing really takes the cake. The only real parallel I can think of was when Deb – our local Trump supporter and anti-masker – was dragged out of one of our local Trader Joe’s for throwing vegetables and refusing to don a mask. But even that pales in comparison to the angry mobs now descending with threats and violence that we are seeing today.

(Boy have these people not grown through this pandemic.)

The last bit of insane news on my own feed this last week was that NASA has officially identified an asteroid – entitled Bennu – that has a 1 in 1750 chance of slamming right into good, ol’ Mother Earth. The kicker is that it isn’t for another 300 or so years, to which I say: I, for one, am disappointed.

Around My World

Well my life hasn’t been exactly excitement and fan fair since the pandemic began. My husband is still working at home, and most of you probably already know that he works overnight and long hours, plus it’s noisy film editing work. So the majority of our days are fueled with caffeine, toddler meltdowns, teens who really need more consistency and quiet, and a desperate return to some normalcy with sports.

Of course along came the Delta variant, and a lot of our “back to normal” plans went poof. So around my world, I’ve been spending the last week canceling plans. Travel, get togethers… all just gone, thanks to that pesky pandemic that I of all people should have known wasn’t going to just go away with the snap of a finger.

My other new hobby, though, is roasting our local city and county leadership. I like to think of my community as the Florida of Southern California. While we aren’t quite as bad as Orange County, our Business Lives Matter most mentality is pervasive through out every sector of our local government. This is only accentuated by the fact that we have people elected and appointed to these positions who fall into two categories:

  1. Those thoroughly unqualified to lead a community through a pandemic of a deadly disease; and,
  2. Those qualified but choosing not to do a damn thing anyway (including – most glaringly – a nurse on my city council).

So I sit, along with many others, from behind my computer screen, vaccine wall, and KN95 masks, and question the dereliction of duty at this stage on the most local of levels. In particular, as it applies to kids. With this new variant, they are seeing more and more kids get sick and hospitalized. Our county’s advice to combat this? “We encourage hand washing;” while they wind down vaccination efforts, host super spreading events on a weekly basis with no pandemic safety measures in place… but I digress…

Ultimately, while I don’t think my incessant complaining in the comments, in letters to the editor, and on Twitter threads are stopping the widespread spikes in disease and death we are seeing in our county, most of them outright ignored by elected officials at all levels (the commentary from me, as well as the disease and death), what I do know is that I’m moving the needle even if just a bit on what information they give us. In a community where burying our heads in the sand until it all goes away on its own may as well be engraved in the county logo as our live-and-die by motto, I consider this at least a marginal win.

STFU Fridays

Keeping in line with this, and other themes, as of late: the pandemic has brought to us a big group constituting roughly 90+ million Americans that need to just shut the fuck up already: anti-vaxxers.

Have any of you encountered a more idiotic bat-shit-ass crazy group of people before? These people will believe anything they read from the friend of a friend’s cousin who posted a YouTube video of some crackpot in suspenders yelling before a school board.

It’s so cult-like too. They haven’t all simply formed their own beliefs and arguments that are sound in thinking about vaccines, and to a lesser-extent masks. They all parrot the same lines, in cycles. Either it’s what they’ve seen more recently on Newsmax, or what is running in their QAnon phone tree. It’s exhausting, repetitive, and wrong.

To these weak-willed people, I just have to say: if you’re scared, stay home! If you’re afraid of a little needle, stay home! If you really believe a sheep dewormer is the cure for COVID, perhaps you are the true sheeple of the bunch!

Lumped into this group of weak-willed ninnies afraid of modern medicine, though, are the local politicians and public health officers who need to shut the fuck up with their Twitter statements and public sentiments about people’s right to “have a discussion with their doctor about whether or not the shot is right for them.” Newsflash: with a very limited exception of people for whom have serious medical issues (like an allergy to an ingredient), the shot is for everybody. Shut the fuck up with this mamby-pamby policymaking that has allowed people cowering in their uneducated boots to hold all of us hostage.

To the people unwilling to create more assertive public health policies, like mandating vaccines for city and county employees, and creating vaccine passport systems for high risk areas like restaurants and gyms: if you aren’t going to start doing your job, shut the fuck up and step aside to let someone else willing to do it take your place.

To the anti-vaxxers citing Tucker Carlson and Bob the QAnon Shaman with every conspiracy theory or crackpot confirmed bias as a reason to not get a vaccine: SHUT THE FUCK UP AND STAY HOME.

Or, at the very least, if you’re going to insist on living among the population as a willfully unvaccinated individual – as the mouth breathing, plague rats of society that you all are – wear a mask when you go places. That’s the real problem in the end anyway. The antivaxxers also don’t believe in masks or COVID or – apparently – their ultimate fate like the rest of ours (death).

Newsflash to those of you in this germ-infested underbelly of society: you aren’t the only people on this planet that exist. You don’t have a right to infect other people because you think it’s no big deal to you. Your freedoms are not more valuable than those of anyone else. You are not the center of the universe. Your narcissism, your psychopathy… all of that may tell you otherwise, but you need to tell that side of you to shut the fuck up too.

We are all tired of this; exhausted really. At the end of the day, everyone makes their own choices for themselves, right? Fine. Just shut the fuck up about it and put a mask over your face that nobody really wants to look at anyway.

Why Everyone Should Still Be Wearing Masks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes. Think of the children.

Please. Think of the children.

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

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

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

Children Need To Be In School In Person Next Month

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

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

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

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

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

But…

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

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

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

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

Won’t Somebody Think Of The Children?!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Case For Getting Rid Of Public Libraries

This is going to be an incredibly unpopular post if you read just the title. But hear me out. I think it’s time to get rid of public libraries, on the whole. Just chuck ’em in the trash. Close them all.

And – here’s the critical part: start over.

My local library was sold by the county years ago (I’m talking over a decade, now) to a private company that manages public libraries. Tax dollars still go in to the library, steadily. But it is also operated by this company, who works closely with the city to also do programs, allow the city to use rooms for special events and meetings, and – as it turns out – sell the place for use as a wedding venue.

This was a great solution to a growing economic and management problem for the city. And, to be fair, it has ensured that rebuilding and remodeling of the library, and a steady stream of employment opportunities, continued to be available.

But the quality of the library since then has steadily gone down hill.

Years ago, I started complaining about this here on my blog, and on Twitter. The library is no longer a quiet respite, where anyone that utters a sound above a whisper is quickly hushed by an elderly woman with Coke bottle glasses, standing behind the reference desk. No, the library is a loud, chaotic place, with children screaming in every corner, rolling around on the floor and running like it’s a race track. The only thing louder than the screaming children is – ironically – the employees, who frequently while assisting people in finding books will yell at the top of their voices from aisles away “it’s over here!”

I read a few years ago in an article written in the Wall Street Journal that libraries are no longer what they were in the past. This environment of quiet and serene and calm, combined with every book you could ever want – the ultimate, introverted bibliophile’s dream – was dead. Now, libraries are considered “information technology centers.” It is expected that they will be loud. The computers and technology have taken center stage, as has designated spaces for teens to hang out and thrive. No sooner after reading that article, in fact, had my local library made the decision to demolish half of its reading, study, and meeting areas in favor of a Teen Center, which actually has a sign posted in the front of it: “this is a space for teens, only.”

Libraries are different now, there’s no doubt about that. And while I can definitely – DEFINITELY – acknowledge the positives that come of some of these changes, it’s essentially turned libraries into spaces for certain people only.

There are a few incidences at my local library over the years that has led me to believe that.

The Fight at the Balloon Show

I blogged about this years ago, but I’ll refresh all of your memories, just in case.

Several years ago, before I had my toddler, my dad and I took my older kids (who were little kids at the time) to the weekly summer shows that the library held. It was always fun stuff then, like puppet shows, magic acts, and a balloon show – where the people running it did tricks inside human-sized balloons, followed by making balloon animals for all of the kids.

Of course today, these acts have been largely replaced by African drum circles and “The Zany Xylophone Show,” but then…it was a great, free activity for kids.

While standing in the line to go in to the balloon show that day, a small child ran in to my senior citizen dad. He had not had his hip surgery yet, and my dad almost fell over. My dad steadied himself on his cane, and told the kid to be careful so that no one got hurt. Five minutes later, the child’s mother approached my father screaming.

We moved to the back of the line to avoid any more conflict (probably the wrong thing to do), but sure enough, halfway through the show, I saw the woman’s child standing up in front of a group of other kids, in effect blocking their view. A father walked over and whispered quietly to the kid that he needed to sit down so the other kids could see. Five minutes later, again, the same kid’s mother was at that guy’s throat.

The entire show stopped. Like halted with a record screech. All of us sat there as we watched this crazy woman verbally abuse the man for asking her son – politely, I will add – to sit down so the other kids could see. Eventually a librarian showed up and got involved.

And asked the man and his child to leave.

It was that day that I learned a very important lesson about the world, or at least the community library in which I live. The loudest person to yell and scream and bully is invariably the one that comes out ahead. That doesn’t make it okay. It’s just the way it is.

The Pornography On The Second Floor

My kids homeschool. They always have, actually. It’s worked for us, and they are still super social.

And, my kids are pretty advanced in the majority of their subjects.

Several months ago, I took them to the library because they were working on a research project and paper. The way our library is set up places every single reference book on the second floor, so naturally – because they needed a variety of reference books for the project – we headed upstairs to get to work.

Well, the other thing that is upstairs is the computer lab. There are two computer labs in the library. One on the first floor in the children’s section, which is mostly host to video games. And one on the second floor in the reference section, which is – therefore – designated for adult or reference/research use. The ones upstairs have Jstor and other academic journals, while the ones downstairs have Fortnite.

My kids were only planning to use reference books, though, so we immediately headed to the encyclopedias. We had not even made it from the stairway to the encyclopedia section, though, before a librarian approached us.

“Sorry, children are not allowed up here,” she said to me, sternly, and blocking our path to the encyclopedias.

My oldest children are 16 and 12, so not exactly “children-children” but whatever. I replied, calmly.

“Oh, they need to use the reference section though for a research paper. We can just grab the books and go downstairs to a table if that’s okay.”

“It’s not,” she said. “Reference books are not allowed off the second floor. And children are not allowed up here. They can utilize reference materials at their own schools.”

“We homeschool. Seriously? Children aren’t allowed to use the reference books?”

“I didn’t say that. I said children aren’t allowed up here and reference books are not allowed downstairs. Your children will have to vacate the floor immediately.”

At this point another librarian came over to me and explained – more politely, I will add – that the problem is that the public use computers are paid for by tax payer dollars, which means they cannot have any real controls on them. This means that a large number of adults at the library have to be assumed to be using computers to look at pornography. And exposing children to pornography is – obviously – illegal.

So no kids allowed on the second floor. Ever.

(The thing about the reference books, I can’t explain.)

Today’s Unfortunate Incident

Today I brought my kids to the library to check out some reading books. After the reference incident, we’ve mostly just utilized the library for fiction and non-fiction books of interest, and for the required high school reading that my oldest daughter is doing.

We’ve tried a few of the reading times they have for toddlers, too; though it only reminded me of how loud and unruly small children are allowed to be in our library. I’ve seen kids running around in circles. I’ve seen kids rolling around on the floor. I’ve seen kids lying in a group on the floor to read. I’ve seen kids laying on the couches with their feet in the air. I’ve seen kids ripping pages out of books. I’ve seen it all.

Generally speaking, we are in and we are out.

Today was going to be no exception. The difference, of course, was that on the way there, we had stopped for my toddler to get blood work for allergies. He was not in a particularly good mood. But when we got to the library he was quiet and cooperative. He had his Kindle Fire and it was on silent.

As my two older kids stood at the computer designated for looking up call numbers, I stood there with my little guy sitting at my feet.

As I said, he was not in a very good mood, so I wasn’t going to fight with him to stand. It was a pretty clean tile floor. He was literally between my legs, sitting quietly. Looking at his Kindle.

Meanwhile, other children were screaming. Running around. One child was crying.

Mine was quiet. Looking at his Kindle. Between my legs, right there. Waiting patiently for the girls to get their call numbers so we could find their books and get out of there.

Less than a minute went by and a stocky woman stalked over to me from the check out desk.

“Hi yes, are you mom?”

“Yes.”

“He can’t be there.”

“I’m sorry?”

“On the floor like that. He’ll have to sit in a chair, stand, or leave.”

I’m starting to get a little bit of a complex here about people kicking my toddler out of places. I don’t know what exactly it is about us or him that makes people say he has to leave, but this is twice now (the first being the incident with him being scared on the Polar Express last month).

Other kids do literally the same shit right there right in front of us, and get away with it.

We act polite and nicely, and are asked to do something different, or leave.

The loudest people are invariably the ones that come out ahead.

I looked around, as I had when we walked in. There was not a single available seat for him (remember that thing about the teen center taking away a large portion of the seating areas?). He was certainly not going to stand.

So we left. I told my daughters we would come back later, when my little guy had gone down for his nap with my dad.

But I also got in the car and cried. I cried because this is not how libraries are supposed to be. They may not be quiet places for book lovers to spend hours perusing and reading through books at no cost, anymore.

But they are still a public respite paid for by our tax dollars.

And more than that, I cried because I’m trying my best here. I’m raising three kids, mostly alone. I do everything I can to comply with all the rules and educate and care for my kids, and sometimes – yes – I choose my battles and let my kid sit on the fucking ground. Wow. Call the police on that one. The point is that if I had fought with him to stand up, he would have started screaming and acting like one of the other many brats there. Or, I could have not gone to the library today, and then I would be denying my older children their educational materials. Or… or… or…

The local library is one of the few places left in our community that access to education and information is supposed to be readily available. They are supposed to be a safe place, as well. A place where people of all interests and places in life can go and feel comfortable. Where the homeless can find a warm chair to read the paper in for a while, or teenagers can have a safe spot to do their homework after school.

Or homeschooled kids can access reference materials.

I get the challenges that are faced in running a place like that which is wholly open to the public, and all of its bad sides.

But in the interest of – I don’t even know what – they are turning it into a place that is only for certain people. People who look at pornography. Adults without children. Adults with young children who also will loudly bully until they get their way.

Certainly, the library is not a place for homeschooled kids to do research projects. “They can utilize the reference books at their own schools.” And moreover, the library is apparently not a spot for a mother to bring her kids to check out some books, while trying to keep her toddler happy and quiet for a few minutes, however she has to do it.

I say get rid of libraries as they’ve become now, and start over. I don’t know how they would start over, or what would address these inequities in treatment from one patron to another. I just know that there is something inherently not right about the experiences we’ve had and witnessed at our local library. The library isn’t supposed to be for just certain people, or particular circumstances. It’s supposed to be for everyone.

If it isn’t, then what exactly are we paying for?