The Newsletter: Issue #17

Ugh.

Around the World

The Queen died! I get it: everyone has a different relationship with the tabloid family. The memes, of course, have been amazing and on point. The British were colonizers, I think we all need to remember that. But I also can accept that a lot of people have a complex relationship with GB, and also many family that way so… if you’re sad, I’m sorry. If you’re glad, well that’s great.

For me?

Well we had a whole ass revolution to not give a literal shit who was Queen, when she died, and who followed her. I just don’t care.

What I will say, though, is that her address to the world at the beginning of the COVID 19 pandemic was – I believe – one of her most important addresses. It urged calm in a time when people looked to baboons like Trump and Johnson to restore calm and order. I know I appreciated it, and many others did as well.

As for the tabloid family and what is next under Man Baby Big Hands? Only time will tell…

More around the world: today, in an interview, Trump apparently argued that he could declassify documents as president “telepathically.” And, in a similarly idiotic statement, Biden – with no qualifications or data to back his claim – said the pandemic is over.

Buzz kill: neither of those bone heads was correct.

Around My World

As I started this newsletter: ugh. I am feeling like absolute garbage, physically and emotionally. Physically the hay fever is hitting me hard. I sound like I have a smoker’s cough, spend all my time trying to itch my throat with my thoughts, I’ve gone through about 50 boxes of Kleenex, and there seems to be no end in sight. Other than that, my classes in college are relatively unfulfilling – including my 600 level Public Governance course which I am starting to think is taught by AI. No one ever responds to my discussion posts, I’m receiving an A+ for a grade, and the one time I communicated with the professor she responded “I do trust you…” and that was it.

Another pretty crazy thing happened in my world that probably has set all of this off: we found out that friends of family and family friends moved in to our old house. You know, the one we were effectively evicted from with no cause? After living there and caring for it as if it were our own for years? Yeah…

The short of it is that my daughter was on a long walk with the dogs, and we live on the other side of the same subdivision so she made it almost all the way there. She said the people were outside and they were in a big screaming match; so I finally looked up who is living in the house now. A couple searches over on Facebook and I discovered: it’s the family members of my soon-to-be-ex-sister-in-law’s step sister’s partner. Confused? Yeah I am too, but let’s boil it down to this: my brother in law, soon-to-be-ex-sister-in-law, family friends, our former nanny, the soon-to-be-ex-sister-in-law’s step sister and her entire family, also family friends, and a host of other mutual connections are “friends” on Facebook with the people and their extended family that now occupy the house.

Ouch.

Many of them believed that during my campaign I wanted to defund the police. Rather than act like civilized human beings who have known us forever and consider us family or close family friends and – oh, I don’t know – ask me about it personally, they instead decided to rip up my campaign signs, campaign for my opponent, and never talk to us again. Now, I guess I have to wonder if they were all instrumental in getting us the boot for some people not even remotely related to our former landlords moved in.

Or, at the very least, if any of them ever saw anything about these people moving in to our old house… on the Internet? In person? go to a 4th of July BBQ there and think “hey I know the people that used to live here…”? … and, what… just not say anything to us about it? Who else knows?

So. Many. Questions.

Pretty sure that’s also kind of illegal now in California, but that’s neither here nor there. Kick in the gut, and makes me feel even sicker about the tens of thousands of dollars this has cost us. Not to mention all the trauma.

In honor of that, I decided to do my podcast episode this week about Truth and Post-Truth. I didn’t really talk about my personal situation in the pod, but it’s still a fun philosophical listen. You can get it on any podcast platform, or just listen here:

You Can’t Unsee This

A literal representation of me at this time:

STFU Fridays

I was trolling the Internet the other day, looking for mom blog type posts to comment on and stir up some shit. For one, I was bored. For two, this is how I gain new followers. Every once in a while, someone clicks my profile and makes their way here, and *poof* I have made another connection in misanthropy.

Scary Mommy had posted this thing about kids budgeting for toiletries. I really don’t want to get into it, because I sense some of you will disagree with me (which is that I think that making small children budget for necessities like soap, regardless of the parameters, sets up an unhealthy relationship with money and personal care products early on… teach to budget with something else)…

ANYWHO, so I basically said that and boy did the mean mug mommies of the Internet go after me in the comments!

One thing that came up though was on the topic of small children squeezing out toothpaste, and how this budgeting technique would eliminate a small child from doing that. I remain skeptical on that, but I made the egregious mistake of saying I couldn’t relate – my kids have never done anything like that. And it’s true! We brush our teeth together, always have and always will. There’s literally no reason for anyone to go in to the drawer and get that toothpaste otherwise. Problem solved, no toothpaste wasted and squeezed out everywhere!

Well apparently, on the Internet, you are mom shaming others if you openly state a fact of your own household. The mean mug mommies then went after me for saying that my own children have never squeezed toothpaste everywhere – how could I shame them and their parenting styles and their little heathens like that?! HOW?!

You know: not everything people say about themselves is about you. I know that in this hyper-narcissistic and self-interested world we live in, it’s tempting to think that. And I certainly don’t want to turn into one of those people that comments on every single post another person makes, turning it all into an opportunity to talk about themselves. But really… sometimes when someone says something about themselves or their situation… that’s it. It’s not about you. It’s not an attack on you. It’s not meant to shame you. It’s not anything other than a simple statement that ultimately has nothing to do with you.

So you know what you can do if you take other people’s experiences personally?

Well, it’s Friday. You can just shut… the… fuck… up…

Better yet:

Anywho, happy weekend everyone! It’s not quite the weekend yet, but… close enough!

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

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

Yes, I’m talking about Biden.

Yes, I’m talking about Trump.

Yes, I’m talking about the ongoing pandemicS.

Yes, I’m talking about all of it.

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

So let’s talk about it.

Around the World

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Around My World

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

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

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

You Can’t Unsee This

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

STFU Fridays

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

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

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

Moreover, expect our leaders to.

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

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

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

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

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

Get a grip.

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

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

Get a Grip?

GET A GRIP?

GET A GRIP?!?!

Get a FUCKING GRIP?!

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

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

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

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

The Newsletter: Issue #15

A week ago, a friend messaged me late on Friday. She said “we made it through to the weekend!” And I was like “I mean yeah except those pesky kids and all their bullshit.”

Well folks, here we are on a Friday: you made it. You made it through the week. That is if you aren’t a parent, or you aren’t working odd jobs, odd hours, or multiple jobs.

But nevertheless… you made it. So let’s get to this week’s newsletter.

Around the World

Fascism is on the rise, folks. So much so that I talked about it in my podcast next week (you can preview it on Youtube, or below). I’m really starting to feel like I belong to Fox News though on this topic, because the more cancel culture grows, the more I feel that Democrats have just as much a tendency to fascism as Republicans do.

Think of it: every time they try and suppress viewpoints, suppress information, cancel someone for being against the “vote blue no matter who” mantra, or claim that anything they simply don’t agree with, don’t like, or haven’t read the up-to-date information on… they call it misinformation, or a threat to democracy.

But do you know what the biggest threat is to democracy? Suppression. Censorship. Cancel culture.

What is most disturbing to me is in the case of local media, at least where I live. There is an argument afoot that “both sides-ing journalism” is harmful to democracy because it gives a mouthpiece to an objectively grotesque underbelly of society. But at the same time, if journalists do not offer the perspective of all views, what is to be gained?

One, singular, view that then becomes suppression of other whatever-it-happens-to-be out there. This is not a reflection of America, as a whole.

And I hate this with my whole being, because it offers the perspective that racists should be allowed to spew their racist hatred; transphobia permissible in the public space… and so on. Is what they say right? No. But the principles upon which this country was founded allow for those hateful things to be said, no matter how grotesque or abhorrent.

The Constitution does not save anyone from consequences from their words and actions, this is for certain. So consequence-away. Combat with love, sue people… whatever.

But outright suppression? That shit is wrong. It is anti-democratic. It is fascism, defined.

More on my perspective in next week’s pod, again you can already listen to it in its entirety here:

Around My World

School is back in full swing over here. I’m taking a course in Public Governance, and growing more skeptical of the concept of the “national deficit” by the day as a result. My kids are back at it too. I designed three, entire curriculums over the summer for my five year old, all based around projects in history, STEM, and art. My high schooler is at it, and also dual enrolled in classes at the community college. And my oldest daughter deferred a year to have surgery later this winter, but is taking classes at the community college as well, and playing tennis for their team.

As it turns out, my kids are taking two of their classes at community together, and they invited me to take their painting class with them. Of course, they were probably just being polite; but I graciously accepted, and let them turn my office into their painting space for these 15 weeks. Because wasn’t that nice of them to humor me like that?

You Can’t Unsee This

I mean… is it entirely wrong?

STFU Fridays

My big pet peeve right now are people complaining about the ongoing availability of Telehealth services. I’ve heard it from a couple doctors, some family members that are nurses, and a hell of a lot of people on social media that work in a variety of areas of healthcare.

The complaints run the gamut, but very few of them have actually boiled down to actual serious reasons related to health. Most of them are things like “the wifi never works,” or “I cannot figure out how to do audio,” or – my favorite – “patients take it as an opportunity to spend too much time discussing their issues, because they’re in the comfort of their own home.” The audacity. The audacity of patients wanting to actually be able to have conversations with their doctors without being herded out like cattle.

The. Audacity.

I can certainly see there are some issues that are harder to address over Telehealth, like a rash or something that really does require a hands-on, fingers-up approach (barf). But there are so many things that can be addressed over Telehealth, and with the rapid expansion of it due to COVID it not only makes it safer for people while the pandemic still rages, and it gives access to people to see their doctors that otherwise do not always get to go.

For myself, I am a mom with very little support system, at times (most of the time). Because of this, I am rarely able to see my doctor; once a year if I’m lucky. The pandemic opening Telehealth, though, has allowed me to have regular visits with my primary care physician and really start addressing my allergies and asthma in ways I could only dream of doing with my 5 year old in tow at the office. Both issues are now much better off in terms of their management than they have been in over a decade (think about that for a minute), and I am able to see my doctor more frequently to do this simply because all I have to do is log in to Zoom. I don’t have to fight with my kid to wear his mask or stop opening and closing drawers, I don’t need anyone to drive my older kids to their school and sports activities… I can literally do the appointment from anywhere. This has been an absolute game changer for me, and I am certain it has been for others.

So to the people complaining about Telehealth without understanding the circumstances under which it really and truly has changed lives, and possibly lengthened them? Well y’all just need to shut the fuck up. Quit being lazy, quit being stubborn, and start remembering why you got into healthcare to begin with.

(And again, I recognize the instances where a hands on approach really and truly is needed… this is why both modalities need to be available.)

…on that note of availability, I do have to say that if appointments were more readily available in person, Telehealth may not be so widely needed still. Four times in the last couple of weeks I have called and been offered in person appointments literal weeks from the time I made the call. The Telehealth visit over Zoom? The next day.

Have a good weekend, everyone! That is… if weekends are a thing for you…

The Newsletter: Issue #14

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

Around the World

So how about that Trump raid?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Again, maybe a conversation for another day.

Around My World

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

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

How am I dealing with this stress?

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

You Can’t Unsee This

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

STFU Fridays

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

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

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

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

The Newsletter: Issue #13

Welp, it isn’t Friday the 13th, but it’s Friday and this is newsletter issue #13, and I also am pretty sure I saw a ghost yesterday, so let’s call this all a sign. A sign of what though? Not sure.

We’ll get to the ghost in a minute…

Around the World

So … monkeypox, huh?

Monkeypox has largely taken the stage, while COVID and its variants continue to absolutely ravage the world. The United States has more than 7,000 cases of confirmed monkeypox, with too many more than that suspected to count. As usual, we never learn from our mistakes, and are making the same ones we made with COVID. Among them have included stereotyping a group, being slow to act, and allowing misinformation to rule the public sphere.

We just do not ever learn from our lessons. Frankly, it’s embarrassing at this point.

On the note of lessons and never learning, COVID transmission around the United States remains at remarkably high levels. The vaccines are slow to be updated, and a 9/11’s worth of Americans continues to die every week against a disease that we know how to deal with at this stage. At least half of them from states reporting are in people fully vaccinated – the vaccines need updating, and urgently.

And yet, of course, economic interests come first, and so the CDC is moving to decrease mitigations even further, at the same time that they just released a report on the long term health effects of unfettered COVID infection in children and adolescents. Spoiler alert: it ain’t pretty, and will – I believe – go on to be among the largest marks of shame modern America has to bear.

Nancy Pelosi spent $90M of your taxpayer dollars to take a trip to Taiwan. I’m still unsure why that happened. And basketball player Brittany Griner was convicted and sentenced to 9 years in prison out in Russia.

Great times, amiright?

Around My World

So my big news right now is that I’ve started a podcast! I’m pretty excited, and you should be too – that is if you can tolerate the sound of my caustic and irritating voice.

I’m still working out the kinks, so if you do have a listen and have any thoughts or ideas, shoot me a message and give me your thoughts.

You can get a new episode every Monday on your preferred podcast platform, it’s on all of them. And in the days that precede that, the episode is loaded to YouTube where you can also listen to it in full. Your choice, let me know what you all think.

To that end, here is next week’s episode, available now on YouTube… or you can wait until Monday to listen to it wherever you listen to your pods.

You Can’t Unsee This

Have any of you seen the Dark Brandon memes? I still don’t understand them, one bit; and yet, they’re hilarious.

It probably only makes it more the strange that a few days after they went viral, a lightning strike injured two people and killed two others right outside the White House. Now I’m not the biggest believer in heavenly things (as with me and everything: it’s complicated), but y’all need to start paying attention to the Lord already.

STFU Fridays

Last night, it was very loud in my house and my husband was working late. My 5 year old could not get calmed down so as I always do when this comes up, I took him for a drive. He knocked out in a matter of minutes, but when I pulled into my driveway I decided that I should sit and wait a few just to make sure he didn’t wake back up when I carried him in.

I put the car in park and grabbed my phone, then looked down at it and immediately saw a white figure move rapidly right past my car window out of the corner of my left eye. No one was in my drive, on my street when I pulled up; so at first I thought it was one of my kids.

But the hairs on my neck were standing upright, and I got chills. So I texted my kids, because I thought: what if someone was trying to break in? They confirmed it was not either of them, it wasn’t my husband and wasn’t my dad… and the security cameras we have around our house showed no one.

To make things all the more creepy, when I got out of the car, it smelled strange. Like a dentist’s office – like the gases that you can smell when you walk in as you hear drills running and dental bills racking up rapidly.

So I’m pretty sure it was a ghost.

Naturally, I took to social media to share my story, and I told everyone in the house. The consensus was that I was full of shit: either I’ve gone insane, or am heading there. All of that may be true, but the insulting ones were the people saying I was just making shit up.

Well to all of them I say: shut the fuck up. Shut the fuck up with your skepticism that a world beyond exists, or questioning the validity of my otherworld encounters. The same as the existence or lack thereof of some omnipotent being striking the White House with lightning is no more disprovable than it is provable. You find out when you meet that ultimate human destination – we all do; everything until then is speculation. If we can believe in good vibes and prayers, it stands to reason we can believe in an afterlife where some resonating energy of people persists. Even if it’s just that: energy.

If anything this is a sign that Spooky Season is just around the corner, and I for one am ready.

Get Your Germs Away From My Ass

<CONTENT WARNING: THIS ONE IS SWEARY>

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So here, I’ll do it for y’all:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And Just Like That, I’m Back Home

I haven’t posted on here in well over a month – not a matter of writer’s block or dearth of content, but the fact that we moved. Back home. Not to the home from which our landlords cruelly and callously terminated our lease at the beginning of the year (after years of dutifully paying rent monthly in full and on time, and taking prodigious care of their home as if it were our own). But a few blocks away.

In our temporary rental, nearly 45 minutes from the city my kids have always known, the situation went from bad to worse in such a rapid and bizarre fashion, for a brief moment amidst it all I legitimately believed I was going insane. There was just no way that conditions could be that bad there. We had mold, water leaks, floods, more mold, sagging floors, crazy neighbors, and – in the final hours – a family member of our landlord rifling through the mail. For one of our last weeks there, my children and I were displaced for an entire week due to a mold remediation. And in the last shower I took there, the floor began to sag, water came gushing from the ceiling beneath me into the garage on the first floor, and mold began to appear through the paint pealing off the walls.

When we terminated our lease prematurely, and provided a letter for the landlord citing a breach of warrant of habitability, the letter had 26 pages of attachments providing evidence. By any and all standards: it was bad.

Possibly in a moment that was serendipitous, but more realistically just sheer, dumb luck, a home became available in our price range, in our old neighborhood, while all of this was going on, and the rest is history. Now, we are unpacked and settled in. And just like that, I’m back home.

Much of the last few weeks has felt like putting the pieces of the puzzle of our lives back into place. When we moved away months ago, we had to significantly downsize; now with more space and almost an identical floor plan to our old home down the street, we’ve pieced it back together, all the while cognizant of everything that has happened. Our temporary rental had no real functioning kitchen to speak of, just a broken oven and about a foot of counter space to work on, so we’ve also caught up on eating at home. I feel more like myself today than I have since the day our lease was terminated – now 7 months ago; and my kids are finally letting down their guard, no longer afraid that something else would go wrong after months of seemingly every day having a problem.

And that’s the thing: this situation – being a comfortable, middle class family with the security of a roof over our heads, suddenly being thrust into insecure and unsafe housing during an unprecedented moment in history – well, it changed me, it changed us. I didn’t just find myself in the position of privilege to simply empathize with people struggling in the housing and rental crisis, I was forced to live it myself.

45% of Californians are renters, this nearly half the state has been subjugated into a class war that stereotypes them as unworthy, an undeserved other. Ironically, this group of people are the sole reason people in the landlording business are able to do so. A landlord’s livelihood is entirely dependent upon having tenants to pay the bills. And while I don’t typically like to turn things into a conspiratorial bigger plan, after living the consequences of insecure housing for several months, I understand now the bigger societal problems that are created by this wing of late stage capitalism run amuck.

Availability of Housing

When I ran for city council, something that struck me as odd was the fact that there was a clear and certain need for housing, but very few city council people seemed to have any real understanding of how urgent the need was. As time went on in my campaign, and afterwards, it became evident that they do understand. Their donors – largely property managers, realtors, and personal landlord investors – just have control of these local politician’s votes.

In my county, there is 1 housing unit for every 1,348 middle income families. This is on its own an astounding figure I myself did not think could be topped, until just this week when I learned that my county also has the most severe metro area housing shortage in the entire nation. The slow walk to development in my community is so profound and – frankly – unbelievable, until you consider that it is in their best interest to slow walk development, because this allows the prices to rise exponentially, unchecked.

So availability of housing is not an issue in a vacuum, rather it creates a backchannel of issues like housing affordability, temporary rental availability; it even has a negative impact on the tourism industry because of the number of hotels filled up with vagrants, and the simple fact that a tourist-centered community loses its appeal when every corner has someone homeless, someone pan-handling, or a car parked with a mattress on top of it and a person sitting inside shaving their armpits.

But to the people that own the politicians? The people in the real estate and landlording industry? They don’t care. With 1 unit for every 1,348 middle income families, and a housing market that sits at a median home price above $800,000, this is simply their opportunity to cash in. To be clear, this is the fault of every local politician of the last several decades – Democrat, Republican, Independent, you name it. Will they be held accountable? I find the prospect unlikely.

Conditions of Living

As I mentioned, our temporary rental was an absolute nightmare, and we were fortunate to have the ability and means to get out of it. Not everyone is as lucky, and at some point shortly before we moved I obtained a list of all the rentals our landlord owned.

To say I was shocked is an admission of my own naivety: one of the rentals had a Port a Potty outside, another had a tarp for a roof. I’m sure people that have rented from the slummiest of slumlords will sit and nod their heads in understanding, but for me this was an absolute dereliction of what I imagined such a profoundly small number of people could subject upon nearly half the state. Our landlord, himself, lived (lives) in a 4 million dollar mansion on a 23 acre farm, overlooking his peasants. I’m sure a working toilet and completed roof isn’t an issue for him; but being bathed in his own privilege does not excuse that he legitimately believes people should live without those things.

Even little things you don’t realize until you live in it become an issue when your conditions are reduced to semi or unlivable. As I mentioned, our kitchen was a broken oven and a one foot space of counter. At the time we rented the place, we had absolutely no other options; and I figured I could make it work. The reality, though, with a family of six, was that I could not, so it was take out most days, sometimes multiple times, and a lot of quick things that didn’t require the appliances or equipment we had to store, or the counter space needed to prepare.

In other words, for months, we ate like absolute shit. (While being exposed to toxic mold.)

We of course see this all over the country, with landlords providing substandard conditions for their tenants – mold, rot, unworkable appliances. But what isn’t often talked about as well are the conditions of the community that is predominately renter-based: roads in need of repair, no easy access to healthier food options, a lack of public transportation. Some states, including California, have requirements about affordable housing in proximity to big box stores; however these ineffective policies are easily skirted, and do not address how a community deals with the situation when politicians slash budgets for public transportation, or when stores close down due to new developments in other areas of the community.

But again: will anyone be held accountable? I find this unlikely.

The Class War Is Real

For now, the dust has settled and I’m plotting my next moves. Not housing moves, though; what I have to do about my community members who continue to suffer under this absolutely unfettered, hyper-localized, class war. While I thought that the Democrats and Joe Biden’s abject failures had radicalized me and my politics, I suppose I was not even remotely prepared for where this experience would take me. Perhaps most worthy of note is that this year, at 40 years old, my idealism about reform from within is finally gone. The only way I see this being fixed is for the entire system that perpetuates this to go along with it.

So where does that leave me? Well, I’m back home, and it’s an election year. Not a single thing will change if people do not start running for office that will rid our communities of the corruption that has infiltrated every level of government. But this again runs along the belief system that people can be elected and reform things from within. Can they? AOC faking handcuffs at a Roe rally, or Bernie kowtowing to the party line suggests otherwise. Maybe I’m wrong, but for now it seems that there has to be another way.

In local elections, it’s becoming harder and harder to find candidates anyway; nobody wants to run. Why would they? As a former candidate myself, you have to not just have a tough skin, but sometimes a bulletproof vest. If your personality isn’t in line with the identity politics of either the Left or the Right, you’re as good as a lost cause. Of course election reform could fix all of that, including comprehensive campaign finance reform; but then the people that would have to reform this will never do so because the system itself benefits them.

But I think it goes deeper than that. People aren’t just not interested in running because they aren’t interested. They’re too busy working and struggling to survive to do – literally – anything else.

In our temporary rental, it was profound how much time was spent just struggling to survive. Between the kitchen, the conditions, the health issues that started to crop up from the mold, or having a leak one day, a toilet back up the next day, and a flood in the backyard over the weekend, our time was consumed dealing with problems that people not in this subjugated living situation ever have to spend their time on.

This is the real point to the class war. It isn’t to keep people in their place. It isn’t to have people to pay your bills, and provide you your services. It isn’t to keep them sick and dependent, or hungry and available to work for low wages.

It’s to keep you so busy you can never change this system of capitalist oppression.

I’m sure, in the end, I’ll change my tune. At least that’s what family and friends say. Maybe I’m just spouting a tangent after arguably the most traumatic experience of my adult life (and that’s saying a lot). Or maybe I really did go insane and this is all some lunatic’s fantasy and ranting.

Whatever the case may be, this change of thinking was a long time coming. As I said, I’m now 40. It took four decades for my eyes to be opened to the real hardships that exist, in all our communities, and even so I still make jokes about it. But we all do, we all joke about the abject horror we are seeing in front of us – memes on Facebook about tyrant landlords, viral videos on Tik Tok about completely absurd living and working conditions. “Anger and humor are like the left and right arm. They complement each other. Anger empowers the poor to declare their uncompromising opposition to oppression, and humor prevents them from being consumed by their fury.”

I never considered myself poor, we are by all standards well off. But that didn’t stop us from living through what we lived through the last seven months, my family. So I guess even the definition of poor needs be revised. And I suppose the day to take it all seriously – the class war and the people most impacted by it – will be the day the jokes stop.

Anger empowers the poor to declare their uncompromising opposition to oppression. If there is one thing I feel when I think back to everything that has happened this year, it is a little flame of anger shrouded in disbelief that it actually happened. The days plug along and we grow further distant from that hellish situation, and the disbelief fades leaving just that tiny flame of anger and disgust for a system that is designed to harm.

And just like that, I’m back home. But who returned is wholly different and forever changed.

The Newsletter: Issue #12

I wish I could write one, fucking newsletter without starting off with something like: welp, what a mess this world is. But we’re 12 issues in, and sure as hell nothing has gotten any better.

In fact, I’d wager, it’s gotten worse.

I’m starting to find myself looking at things going on in the world – shootings, violence, crime, and the like – more as evidence that people are starting to snap, than anything else. Sure, gun safety reform and legislation is absolutely necessary; so is more adequate access to mental health services. As are a host of other things that create an insurmountable amount of pressure that, for some, just ends up being too much.

I do not condone anything that is happening in that space, but I have to say that I understand. I really do.

People can just only take so much. So much pain, death, disease, hardship, and lack of care.

In any event, let’s get to it.

Around the World

Dr. Oz won his primary this week, in the same general vein and district patterns that Trump did.

In other words: we’re fucked.

Not that authoritarianism isn’t already kind-of sort-of going on already. To be more clear: it is. The Biden Administration has taken the road of doing what they think is best, even though it is antithetical to even some of the fundamental principals and mandates upon which they were voted in. And I’m not even just talking about areas in which they are strapped, and their hands are supposedly tied (which they are not, and we’ll get to in a minute). But when an Administration makes as many blunders as this one has, and keeps cow-towing to the Republican and corporate demands that are not in the best interest of the people, while having essentially a blank check for a foreign war that the majority of people did not co-sign…

Well Houston… we have a problem. This is how you invite hyper-nationalistic fascism to the dinner table.

It is my belief that the Democrats have rendered themselves impotent in the name of old-timey bipartisanship and, well, capitalism. Not only has Joe Biden failed to hold true to many of his campaign promises in 2020, his Administration has largely failed to meet the moment on a number of crises that have occurred around the country, and world, since. Have they been an abject failure? Well no, but on the areas in which they have had a mandate, they continue to fall short.

What does not make sense is being elected to do those very specific things and then just … not…

Democrats, and the Admin, are great at pointing the finger, except for when it comes to pointing it at themselves. As I see it, a number of factors are getting in the way of them achieving any of their promises, and securing enough wins in the fall to hold the majority. Oftentimes, they remind me of one of my old boyfriends who would defeat himself with inaction and procrastination; it was easier to point blame and feel sorry for himself than to actually try and be successful. Because once you’ve been successful, well how will you win the next round (in the case of the Dems, what will you campaign on?).

But, if we’re being frank here: I don’t see the Democrats doing anything with the majority anyway (they always, invariably, find an excuse not to). Now they’re on some grand campaign to gaslight America, to try and make people believe that their material conditions aren’t actually worse, that things aren’t really hard right now, that inflation and housing and jobs and everything in between isn’t really affecting them… that we all just don’t understand, which – in my own personal experience – is the D’s traditional line when they’re pinned up against the wall. And this is, sadly, exactly why the vast majority of people in America see them as elitist assholes who, frankly, do not serve anyone but themselves.

The bottom line that hardline Democrats are failing to understand is that average Americans – the people that vote only when they care about something – are not party line voters. They will not Vote Blue No Matter who if Blue doesn’t do anything for them before the next election. Republicans get it, they give their voters the things that they explicitly are elected to do (often times, judges and an elimination of government control). Numbers of non partisan or so-called Independent voters have grown in exponential numbers, around the country, for decades, and it’s why so many of our elections are unpredictable, and communities are largely a purple swath of people that sway with their conditions at the time the ballots are cast.

Blaming people is an ineffective tool if but only because of all those factors I mentioned getting in the way. Among them are: a refusal to reform the filibuster, a refusal to utilize the bully-pulpit of the Presidency, an Administration that is both ignorant and incompetent on important issues until it is too late (see: Omicron, baby formula), a President that is living in the past (the days of bipartisan deals and being good friends with Mitch), and, well, capitalism.

Even on issues like the economy, Joe Biden has a fiscal policy that is politically to the right of Nixon. Just think about that for a minute. President Nixon – a traitor to democracy – did more for economic stabilization to stave off inflation and recession than Joe Biden will. His plan for the economy is laughable, at best. Beyond the fact that average Americans are largely unaffected by the deficit (an arbitrary and made up concept to begin with), the bulk of his plan to deal with inflation and the economy is all the talking points of that failed piece of legislation – Build Back Beyond, or whatever it was called – that Manchin vetoed, they promised to break up, and haven’t talked about since. They’re empty promises, just like COVID funding and calling on Congress to do something about guns. Rather than flex the powers of the executive branch that Biden actually does have, he’s making remarks, letting his Administration correct them, saying he didn’t see pretty much everything coming (including the formula shortage, which is unforgivable as I see it), then heading home for a three day weekend in Delaware, seemingly just as much as Trump used to golf. It’s insanity!

(And I say this all as a Democrat, with absolutely no skin in the game. Think about that one too…)

Around My World

Welp, the lesson I’m learning now is that when you go through hard shit, you learn who your real friends and family are.

We’ve been looking for a rental since January, and shit just gets uglier and uglier by the day.

We’ve now spent $3,960 on non-refundable application fees, and the rejections are getting stupider by the day. Today, after being effectively approved on a home, we were then told “sorry, a military family contacted us we’re going with them.” This is the second time this happened in the last two weeks.

My daughter who is 14 went with my husband to one viewing, and the realtor showing the home thought she was his girlfriend. I guess not getting selected for that home was a blessing in disguise.

We are now at three homes that we are waiting to hear back on. This is how it goes. It’s 3 then 5 then down to 2; it got so confusing at a point that I had to make a spreadsheet for us to keep track, which is a depressing sheet of just strikes through addresses and notes like “probably not going to work for us too small,” and “has 117 other applicants.”

So as of now we’re at three, one is ideal for our family, another sort of ideal but outdated, and the third was a scene of a crime today when, three doors down, a man was arrested after the chopped up remains of his mother were found in the community dumpster.

Meanwhile, we’re still in our temporary rental. It has dampness and mold, no ventilation, an outdated circuit breaker that could catch fire at any moment with all the lights around the house flickering, and no emergency exit that will open. The dampness has caused me to have a sinus infection for 4 weeks now, and I am covered in hives; but God forbid I mention that in casual conversation, then – it’s becoming more and more common – I never hear from whomever I’m talking to again.

It’s not that I mean to just complain all the time. It’s just that this is a pretty big thing going on in our lives right now, and when people ask how things are going, I take that to mean they actually want to know…

Because that’s the real lesson in all of this. Not that California’s housing crisis is greater than anyone not experiencing it could ever imagine. Not that 45% of the state is a renter and virtually no one in public office on any level is doing anything to represent them with the urgency of this unprecedented crisis. Not that landlords are literal scum, and your house can literally harm you physically.

No, it’s that when these types of things happen, a lot of people in your life just… disappear. Because it makes them feel bad to talk about their vacations when they know you have to spend your spare cash on application fees, and an $800 a month gas bill so your kids can still go to their activities after you had to move out of town.

To them I just have to say: I am very sorry that my personal predicament makes you uncomfortable in your privilege.

There are also those that themselves contribute to the problem by hoarding empty homes, or subjugating the middle and working class into uninhabitable conditions as landlords. I’m not saying that all landlords are bad, just that if you are a landlord or employed somehow in this line of work, and find yourself justifying (or attempting to justify) ostensibly horrible conditions and situations… I don’t know, maybe you’re just a horrible person. I’ll never forget the conversation I had with a friend about mold in the kitchen cabinets; a friend who herself works as a property manager for a relatively large company in Los Angeles County. She said to me “well you know you can’t expect to have a home AND have it be livable all the time,” and that – ladies and gentlemen – was the end of our friendship.

Ah well…

You Can’t Unsee This

Sorry to burst your bubble. This is the current rate of COVID transmission in the US. You are being lied to if someone is telling you it’s over. It’s not. COVID is still very real. Living with it does not mean just infecting people all willy-nilly (more on that in a post next week…).

Get your masks back on, at least in situations where vulnerable people may be present. Consider scaling back on gatherings.

And if this monkeypox thing blows up…

STFU Fridays

I live in Southern California, but the truth to the matter is that all over the world people are experiencing the changing climate. A part of that is that droughts like we have never experienced are cropping up all over.

The effects this will have on crops, life in general, is a more serious conversation for another day. For now, I’d like to talk about people with grass lawns, and golf courses.

In So Cal, we have been restricted to only water once per day, and who-boy have the crazies come out.

One group is asking why we are building more apartments and houses if we don’t have enough water infrastructure to water our palatial lawns and take 2 hour showers every day. Well, first and foremost, all those people that are living in RVs, in homeless encampments, in tents in people’s backyards, in their cars, in local motels… they have a right to live in a home too. They exist. They are more important than your fucking grass yard and 1970s ol’ reliable washing machine, Janice. Unless they all just up and die (which, to be frank, I’m sure many of these NIMBY fucks would be fine with), they need a place to live. This doesn’t have a single thing to do with watering restrictions. So shut the fuck up to them.

But also, and this is going to blow all of your minds, the people defending the watering restriction and conservation guidelines need to shut the fuck up too. I know! Crazy, right?

Wrong.

In California, as an example, only 10% of water usage is attributed to people’s homes. Brushing your teeth a little less, taking shorter showers, washing your clothes less frequently, and only watering your lawns once or less a week, is not going to do a damn thing to really make the sizable dent in the water reserves that will be needed for the long term. So the people going after those complaining about grass lawns and their plants dying for real need to shut the fuck up. Because who you need to really go after are the golf courses, high schools, businesses, and agricultural sectors not doing their part.

There is absolutely no reason why golf courses and high school football fields should be exempt from water restrictions, and yet they are. More to the point: Big Ag could make substantial changes to their watering processes to irrigate more efficiently and with less run off, but they won’t because – duh – Big Money.

Rather than go after someone reasonably pissed that all the investment they’ve made in their yard – whether you agree with that investment or not – is about to die (because watering once per day is honestly not going to keep a damn thing alive), why not focus your anger at the politicians and the golf course and agriculture lobbyists that are passing the ultimate burden onto the rest of us? Because they are the enemy, and until you recognize that I think it’s time to just…

… well, you know…

Landlords Are Literal Scum

Of course the irony of me calling landlords “literal scum,” is that many of them actually view renters in the same vein. And, in both cases, there are likely a whole scale on which you could plot individuals who either landlord or tenant. Some are probably genuinely good people, just using their starter home as a way to make a little extra income in their retirement; and in the case of tenants, most are simply middle or working class people that find themselves the product of capitalism run amuck. There are always going to be slumlords, of course; and there will also be your occasional renters that burn cigarette holes in the carpet, and mix meth in the bathtub.

This is no different, though, than your average home owner. For every slumlord that expects others to live in mold and grime, I’m sure there are just as many voluntarily doing it themselves. And, well you know, people that make drugs actually are often homeowners, because — duh – who else can afford a house in this market?

If you are a landlord, this is of no offense to you. I’m sure you’re a nice person. But, if you continue reading this and see some of your own behaviors in what I am about to describe…

… well, it’s time to start evaluating your behaviors.

As many of you know, we’ve been looking for a new rental home for what feels like forever. In January our lease was terminated so that our landlord’s friends could move into the home we had rented and taken care of as our own for years; and because they callously refused to give us a little extra time to find a new rental, we wound up 45 minutes away from our home and community in a temporary rental that is looking less and less temporary by the day.

The process of finding a new rental has been less than desirable.

Security Deposits

It’s common knowledge, now, that a security deposit is really just a tip or a bonus that your landlord nickels and dimes to death at the end of your tenancy, so as to never have to give you a penny of that back. And say you are able to get some of that money back… Well your landlord put that in a bond, cd, or savings all those years and earned interest… and you? Well, you’re not going to see a penny of that (the interest earned on your money).

What’s absolutely bananas now, though, is that while people purchasing homes are getting into bidding wars over house prices; renters are now getting into all out bidding wars over rent, and security deposits. We’ve had several rejections now that were as simple as the other party was able to offer upwards of double or triple the security deposit.

Back of the napkin math, at the prices and the security deposit limits in California: that’s people offering $10,000, $13,000, in some cases even $18,000 for the security deposit, alone. Just to get the edge over other applicants. And while laws prohibit what a landlord can require, nothing stops them in any amount that they are allowed to take.

Maintenance

Maintenance is tricky in a rental because, while required to provide you with a habitable home, the definition of habitable is very subjective. When you sign a standardized lease, it’ll say something to the effect of: you accept the condition of the home as is. But most of the time, if the landlord even takes the time to show you the rental, they want you in and out in a matter of just a few minutes at the viewing.

We just attended a viewing of a home we did not get selected for last week, and the place was not only limited in the amount of time the irritable property manage let us look at it for, but it was a complete disaster. Had we been able to even see the counters, we may have uncovered major cosmetic issues; or holes in walls, or missing essentials. It was just that much of a pigsty, the previous renter being a real estate agent herself who apparently didn’t think renters deserved to actually view the condition of the floors or sinks. We left at the point when we needed to measure the room that our California King bed would go in, and the door wouldn’t even fully open because there was so much stuff on the floor. I guess to a landlord, if your bed doesn’t fit you should just sleep on the concrete tile.

I took some heat for complaining about this over on Facebook – busy mom, you should worry about the home itself not the mess. Well the issue was that the mess and the rush of the viewing made it virtually impossible to see the home itself, and potentially major maintenance issues. And maybe that was the point. Major maintenance issues often can’t be noticed until you’ve lived in the home for a while. At the temporary rental we’re in now, after spending just over two months here, we’ve discovered:

  • Mold and moisture in the floorboards
  • An electrical problem through the entire house
  • No working garbage disposal
  • Roots in the sewer line
  • And quite a few more minor things that are inconvenient, not dire, but for the amount we pay should be fixed

The problem with maintenance of course is several fold. First, it’s common knowledge that landlords retaliate for major maintenance issues, especially appliances that have to be repaired. In our prior rental, we suspect that at least part of their decision, or the way it played out, was retaliation for the fact that the oven broke and had to be replaced just a few months before they terminated our tenancy. Retaliation is – of course – illegal; as is outright refusing to make repairs. But what are you going to do? Go to court? Sue them?

Some states have laws that protect you, that allow you to claim what’s called warrant of habitability. You have several options, legally, at that point: you can move out without notice, repair and deduct, refuse to pay your rent… But under any and all circumstances, you’d better be prepared for attorney retainers and a court battle.

Back to the rental we are in now: we’ve already had one maintenance issue outright refused, and another blamed on us simply because they didn’t know about it until someone moved here. Bottom line? Landlords are literal scum, and expect their tenants to live among that which they leave in their trail.

They’re Doing You A Favor, Ok?

The most pervasive, and the same time backwards, attitude that I have come across over the last year is that landlords are doing us a favor by letting us live in their homes.

First of all, many landlords (again, not all; but many) are actually major corporations or big time, locally owned, commercial property management companies. These are not their personal homes that they lovingly cared for over decades and just grew out of, and decided to rent out instead of sell to help fund their retirement. Even single property owners that have no personal history with a home are becoming more prevalent in the rental market: it’s a money maker, after all.

At our last rental, the one we got booted out of, the owners had 10 other properties around the county, and had purchased the one we lived in and immediately turned it around to rent out without ever stepping a foot into the house.

But the idea of ownership is so uniquely built in to the fabric of our society… They’re doing you a favor, ok? If they didn’t own the home, you’d have nowhere to live. Right?

Wrong.

In California, as just one example, approximately 45% of the state identifies as a renter, which – obviously – is almost half the state’s population. But the issue isn’t that without ownership we’d all have nowhere to live; it’s actually that the owners (again many of whom are mostly just investors, property management companies, and large corporations) have an absolute death grip over municipal and county governments, and their lobby has profoundly limited even the amount of housing that is built for anyone – rent or buy. Have you ever looked at the campaign finance disclosures for your local elections? It’s typically one realtor and broker, property manager, and property investor after another that donates to local candidates, as well as the local and state real estate PACs that have the explicit interest of keeping the market hot in mind. Their sway – the NIMBYism, or practice of not wanting to build more and adequate housing in a timely manner, has created such an unprecedented crisis of housing availability that its effects are a little much to even wrap your head around: they’ve not only driven up rental prices, but they’ve created this environment of competition that leaves middle and lower income renters with few options, filling up short term rentals, local motels, and side streets with entire families living in their cars (or worse) simply because there just is not enough housing to go around.

Of course the irony is that were it not for renters, these types of corporations – the Blackrocks of the world; the small time property management companies and commercial investors; the realtors that are in the rental game too; and, single or limited individuals that have a extra property they do not need to use personally, so use it to help fund their retirements, vacations, or… whatever…

… well while they’re of the opinion that they’re doing renters a favor, the reality is that none of their profit margins would exist were it not for renters paying them on the 1st of every damn month.

And that is, ultimately when you get down to it, the rub of it all: that landlords and tenants both think the other is what they themselves may very well be. Delinquent. Doing you a favor. Scum.

But as a renter, myself, who has neither the money nor the interest in owning a home in this country, and this economy, I have to side with the underdog on this. Landlords are absolute scum. Maybe it’s unfair to paint them all with the same brush, but then that’s what they’ve all done to us. Two can play at this game.