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 #10

So much is going on in the world, and in my world: it’s a little bit of a whirl wind. I’ve been trying to post more in general, keep up on my social media following; and to keep up on this newsletter too. So let’s get to it.

Around the World

Somehow I got sucked into the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard trial. I’m never into these types of things – like ever – but then I see it streaming live on my For You page on Tik Tok, and I’m hooked.

One thing I think that I’ve noticed above all the details, the commentary, the cutting off the middle finger thing – all of it; is how authentic Johnny Depp is. Between his clarity on specific details of conversations, his bizarre hair dos, facial hair, and attire/accessories, to his remarkable pride in having quit using opioids, Depp – in all his weirdness and classically Depp deadpans – is unapologetically himself. Does that make sense? Regardless of the trial, or how it all turns out, that is what I take away from this.

Of course the other big obvious going on in the world is that COVID is going masks off-balls out, and yet the government is scaling back its efforts and funding in ways we probably never saw coming, no matter how bad things have been. (Just remember: it can always get worse, right?)

With variants upon variants cropping up that are just, to many of us, terrifying, it’s hard to really know what to believe. And yet, the doctors of Twitter and the mainstream media seem to have also flown the coop. Some, like Leana Wen from CNN, have gone batshit crazy, blocking major figures in public health, and even Marked by Covid (the largest national advocacy and lobby group for survivors and families of victims from COVID 19) from viewing and reacting to her comments on social media, all the while accusing the world of bullying and harassing her for having unpopularly eugenic views; while others, like Jeremy Faust, have decided it’s time to monetize.

I find the latter to be, frankly, stunning. This guy started writing a newsletter less than a year ago, and has fewer email subscribers than little old me, and yet he’s still thinking it’s a good time to grift. For $5 more a month than your favorite 99 cent game app on your iPhone, or regular emails from WaPo, you can get, as Faust describes it: “…after I publish, I realize that there are more considerations worth sharing for people who want to go deeper…”

Whenever I criticize this, people say “running a website isn’t free, Heather.” Sure, yeah, I definitely know that. As evidenced by the website I run, here. But if you are doing something for the sake of public health, monetizing a website that can be thrown together, maintained, used to host your email server, and give you a unique domain, for around $100 a year or less, when you’re a doctor that also makes high dollar media appearances… well, I don’t know… monetizing your very important medical information and advice seems sort of grossly capitalistic.

But America is a capitalism, and our healthcare is for those with the means only, right?

One more thing that is absolutely bananas to me going on in the world, of course, is this:

Around My World

It’s a bit of a shit show in my personal life. We really are not adjusting to the new house well at all. My kids and their entire communities are around 30-45 minutes away from home (depending on the day and traffic). This isn’t a situation where we are like the military, where moves and changes are expected and a part of life. We will continue to get our kids back to our old city to be with friends and their sports and social stuff, it’s just … really really stressful to juggle it all (and the cost of gas doing so).

Of course you guys all got my email yesterday about Hello Kitty Toaster coming back for a pop in.

Meanwhile, at our new house, I’ve recently discovered that across from our house is a home that I am 90% sure is occupied by squatters.

The people that own the home live in Texas for the bulk of the year. They just keep this home to use casually when they visit their adult children in town. Now we’ll save the fact that people that own multiple homes only for one to sit empty most of the year, while the rest of us scramble for any slum we can find to pay 46% of our monthly take home pay to live in, are making me more upset by the day, because these types of practices (their right, or not) have irreparably harmed my family, I still feel something of an obligation to … at the very least investigate.

I’m finding myself become more and more like Tom Hanks in The ‘Burbs, by the day. I’ve camped out on the living room couch for about two weeks now, waking up in the middle of the night, taking photos of the lights on, searching around the gated and upper-middle income community in which we live for any signs of something amiss… I even considered buying binoculars.

I’ll keep you guys posted.

You Can’t Unsee This

Presented without comment:

STFU Fridays

Again, with the masks.

I know, I know, but hear me out: even if you don’t give a shit about masks, you only care about yourself and what you feel in terms of protection, and you are just done with this whole pandemic…

… you could still keep your fucking mouth shut to those that still mask.

Monday the mask mandate for travel and public transportation was lifted by some dumb-dumb judge with no public health experience or expertise whatsoever, and the world cheered. (I wrote about it HERE.)

Within a day, accounts of people being shamed and bullied for still wearing masks cropped up.

The highest profile person I saw post about it was Trump’s Surgeon General, Jerome Adams, who has – oddly enough – become the voice of reason these last several months. You really know things are bad if any of Trump’s folks are the voice of reason, but we can save that conversation for another day. Adams went to board a flight, and a Delta pilot made some snarky comment about how he should take off his mask and breathe the fresh air. Adams posted about it on Twitter, and the anti-maskers went WILD on him.

Really? Just shut the fuck up. The fact that these people got what they wanted, but did not stop it there, indicates – at least to me – that it was never really about freedom or their personal choice. It was about an ideology and what the masks represent: weakness, fear, and probably a little bit of racism towards cultures in which face coverings are the norm.

Gross.

So to them, I say: shut the fuck up. Just shut your fucking mouth, and cough all over people all you want. You won! At least for now. We’ll all still be there to empathize with you when COVID bites you in the ass, because the data doesn’t lie on the promise that sooner or later, it will.

One more thing…

If you haven’t signed up yet, please subscribe for this bitch to be sent directly to your inbox:

Happy Weekend!

The Russians Interfered With My Dog’s Mayoral Campaign (and I couldn’t even make this up if I tried)

To say I have had a weird summer so far is a gross understatement of the situation at hand. My summer has been so strange, with odd events, weird injuries, and zany outcomes, I’m sort of just hanging on to anything not moving to ride this out for the last couple of weeks.

One such absurdity was that my town had a campaign for dog mayor.

And then it didn’t, because the Russians interfered.

It started innocently, one day in June. My husband was reading the local paper before heading out to work, and he saw that the city was having a campaign for Dog Mayor as a fundraiser for the local dog parks. Sounded like a good idea, and it seemed like a good opportunity to get my kids to take the dogs out more.

It was $25 to file, and you needed to run a normal campaign with flyers and appearances at designated candidate events (located, conveniently, at the dog park down the street from our house).

At the first candidate event, not many dogs had entered yet; so we were surprised when the voting opened and there were over 10 dogs on the roster. Some were cute, many were former shelter dogs (like mine), but one stood out as unique, in the sense that she looked exactly like my dog, and the owner was willing to match dollar-for-dollar any donations people made to the SPCA through the course of the campaign. It seemed a pretty extreme commitment from our middle class community, but I quickly forgot about it and focused my efforts on my own dog’s campaign.

We made a website, and started getting flyers going. She started making appearances in a red-white-and-blue bandana. And I started to solicit votes from people we knew.

Quickly the unique one, the one that stood out to me when the voting kicked off, took the lead with almost 800 votes. 800. EIGHT HUNDRED. Despondent, with only about 60 votes, I told my kids we needed to start preparing for the worst, but hoping for a good appearance at the next candidate event this coming weekend.

Then, yesterday, I saw a comment on the Facebook voting event that struck my attention for the fact that it was typed in all caps. The gist of the comment was that the family that owned the top dog was from Russia, and as such had solicited votes from their own social network, many of whom resided in Russia. I responded to the comment and asked if this was for real, and the man replied “YOU WILL SEE!”

I immediately dismissed it as crazy.

Today we were on our way home from running errands, and my phone rang from a number I didn’t recognize. Naturally, I didn’t answer; and I’m glad I didn’t. The message was the coordinator of the mayoral dog race, and she was letting me know that in my email was a letter to be read immediately regarding the cancelation of the election.

In short: the crazy, all caps contention that the Russians were hacking the dog mayor election was true.

Not only had votes been solicited from outside of the region, which was entirely against the rules, but the back-and-forth online arguing between the top dog and the crazy commenter had apparently continued to the point that the city decided to pull the plug on the whole thing.

It’s so bizarre to think that the Russians interfered in a race for dog mayor in a two bit hillbilly city such as my own, and yet – if we are going to be honest about what technically happened, here – they did.

Which doesn’t make much of a difference to me, because even if they had just disqualified that dog, mine was still all the way down in 4th place. There was no way she was going to win, which was probably a blessing in disguise because at the prior candidate events, she wasn’t exactly polite to the other dogs.

I can’t help but wonder if this is actually what the bigger Russian hacking conspiracy was all about. Infiltrating all these tiny little things to create a bigger, societal problem and certain level of unrest.

Whatever the case may be, it was the weird turn of events I could have never imagined happening in my local-yocal suburb.

Summer, amiright?

Wine Is No Longer A Part of My Narrative

I remember the general time period when I started to question whether or not my husband and I were drinking too much, too often. It wasn’t one incident in particular, rather a group of them.

It was Easter Sunday several years ago when I walked into a back room at my in law’s home to find my husband had passed out, drunk, on fruit-infused vodkas.

It was a Monday when “Sunday dinner” had included more wine than food, and that day was a special hell of feeling too headache-y and nauseated to do much in the way of parenting. So I called a babysitter.

It was wine in a coffee mug, even though I don’t even drink coffee.

It was selecting restaurants based on whether or not we’d be able to have a drink with our meal.

I wouldn’t say that I had reached the point of interventions, Betty Ford clinic, and AA meetings for the rest of my life. But I could see it going there, quickly. I had no ability to moderate or regulate my drinking.

So I quit drinking, altogether. Wine is no longer a part of my narrative.

It is still a part of my husband’s, which is a little weird. Since I never got to the point of having an actual problem, I guess it seems innocuous.

But still, it’s weird because in the grand picture, deciding to no longer drink alcohol is a pretty big life decision; one that isn’t taken lightly and certainly requires support. Most of the time it doesn’t matter to me, though. I’m not – like – salivating at the thought of a glass of wine; and I still cook with wine or beer and vodka. I even occasionally take a drink and hold it politely to lessen having to explain myself at parties.

I get it. Drinking your way through the hardest years of parenting (or just adulting, in general) has always been a thing.

Ladies used to drink their martinis after serving dinner in the 50s; and they’d down wine coolers all day to get through the summer months in the 90s.

Alcohol is to motherhood as fish are to water.

And yet, to me, it seems more now than ever before.

Probably – at least in part – thanks to social media, just how much women drink to get through the trials and tribulations of motherhood is in your face. It’s everywhere, every day. Having a bad day? How about some rosé. Midweek got you down? WINESDAY! Stressed to the max just getting your kids out the door for school? It’s 5 o’clock, somewhere, right?

It’s everywhere.

Making matters worse is the attitude the general public takes when you stop drinking.

We don’t live in a society that supports quitting. Anything. Giving up alcohol in 2019 is like showing up for an AA meeting only to be greeted by shots of tequila and motivational handouts that say “it’s okay once in a while…”

It took me about 6 months to actually quit the sauce, altogether. Every time I told myself that this was it, I’d have another bad day and meme after meme on Facebook justified (in my head) that wine was the Land of Milk and Honey for mothers. Or we would go out to dinner with family that orders by the bottle, and that was all I needed to postpone my cutback another day.

Then, in 2016, I got pregnant, so wine was officially off the table. That’s when things got weird.

It’s either I was too tipsy to realize how weird things were before, or the result of me no longer drinking – when I used to be a regular partaker – was that things became uncomfortable between me and the general crowd in which I find myself often.

Nonetheless, uncomfortable.

There were the people that wanted to prove to me that it was perfectly safe to drink in pregnancy.

There were those that – after I was no longer pregnant – made a big deal about how I could drink again. And when I told them I was breastfeeding, they went into the prove-it’s-safe mode again.

Now they run the gamut.

There are the people that I never realized get sloppy drunk every. single. time. I. see. them.

And there are those that ask what I’m drinking, then joke that since there’s no alcohol in my cup I must be pregnant (again).

Then there are the people that ask stupid questions when I say I stopped drinking. Like “well what do you do to have fun?” (As if the only way to have fun as an adult is to get shit faced.)

And finally there are the people who use it as an opportunity to justify their own drinking (“oh I just couldn’t do that”) or even get outright hostile towards me. As if – at the end of the day – my personal choices with regards to my body and what I put in it have anything to do with anyone else but me.

If that makes other people uncomfortable, I guess that speaks more to them and their own issues than anything else.

Wine was such a prevalent part of my narrative for years. It no longer is anymore.


ISO Social Media Help (Because I’m Social Media Dumb)

You guys, I don’t even *really* know what ISO means. I mean, like, I think it means in search of; but I also don’t know when is actually the most appropriate time to use it. Like when I type it I feel like I’m some weird, middle aged pervert putting out a personal ad.

MWF ISO [insert disturbing series of acronyms meaning hook up with some bizarre set of preferences]

With that being said, I am ISO social media help. I’m social media dumb, which is hilariously ironic because sometimes people I know call me a social media expert.

(Side note: did you guys know that social media experts are actual people that get paid for going on Facebook and shit? Give me a fucking break, amiright? It’s like all the Communications majors of the early 2000s got together and realized they needed to legitimize their previously illegitimate major, so they created an entire field whose major qualification is the ability to post in 140 characters or less.)

Here’s a newsflash for the people that refer to me as that, though: knowing how to log onto my Facebook page makes me an expert in literally nothing.

So. I need social media help.

The problem with my blog (besides my general lack of genuinely likable qualities) is that it’s not getting out there.

You know, like I do the whole SEO and tag shit, otherwise it all boils down to who sees my posts on Instagram and Facebook and the like.

And, from the analytics I receive from all of those accounts: very few people are seeing them.

So what is wrong with me and my use of social media that makes others so seemingly successful, and me such a terrible flop?

I will tell you this: there is a lot I won’t do on social media that other, more successful writers and bloggers do handily. The two big ones are:

  1. I cannot – for the life of me – bring myself to post videos in which I sit in front of the phone camera and talk about dumb shit no one cares about. They all start the same way: “OK you guys…” and “SO I just wanted to hop on for a minute and share with you guys …” {Big, ridiculously loud UGH.} When I come across stories on any – and I mean any – social media platform that begin like that, my immediate reaction is to tap through that shit until it’s clear that it’s over with.
  2. I cannot get on board with the whole OOTD thing. Maybe once in a while I’ll post what I’m wearing, like any of you gives a flying fig; but outfit of the DAY?! Like a daily thing? No. Sweat-stained yoga pants and food crusted tank tops are not exactly what I would call Instaready.

Is that really what sets me apart from the winners, though?

So to help things along here, I’ve put together a quick, little poll for you guys to take. That is, if you even see this post.

Click my link and it’ll take approximately two minutes to complete… MWF ISO SMA

 

All The Possible Reasons Everyone’s So Ungrateful All Of A Sudden

novemberthe-month-where-people-who-have-complained-on-facebook-for-the-past-11-months-become-thankful-for-30-days-4277f

Does anyone remember when people used to do that super annoying Facebook status thing, where they’d post a daily thing they’re thankful for every day in the month of November, leading up to Thanksgiving?

If you aren’t from America, perhaps you’ve been spared this glad-handed way of humble-bragging that people used to do. You, dear international friends, were the real fortunate ones.

It went like this:

So and so person you are connected with on Facebook, whom you maybe passed once in the hallway while in high school over 15 years ago: “November 4th, Day 4…catching up as I missed days 2 and 3, but I am SO grateful for my wonderful family, my amazing husband, and my intelligence – without which I wouldn’t have all the career opportunities it has afforded me.”

I’m not kidding you people, so many of my Facebook “friends” would post some narcissistic nonsense about how smart they were or how talented God made them. I. Shit. You. Not. The rest of their days of gratitude were filled with all the other banal details of their lives, like their suburban homes, or their “married to my best friend” spouses. And, naturally, the month was capped off with a barrage of material possessions God has bestowed upon them.

Fucking gag, I know.

A few years ago, when it had reached a fever pitch – and anyone who’s anyone on Facebook was doing this – I wrote a blog post about it. And relentlessly made fun of people that did it on social media.

I also, for a while, posted daily things I was ungrateful for. Like famine and foreign wars, and Ebola and HIV. And homelessness in my own community, and the 33% of children in my own town that live in poverty. Naturally, they went over like a lead balloon.

As I sit here today, though, and realize that this little gratitude for one month of an entire year thing is over, I can only hope I played a part in the demise of this nationwide trend.

Failing my participation in taking down this atrocious behavior, I have a few other theories about why this November-exclusive-public-declaration-of-thankfulness came to a sudden and screeching halt. (And if you’re thinking that I have a lot of time on my hands to be coming up with these theories, you would be right.)

No one has any interest in feigning gratitude anymore.

Look. We all know that very few of us wake up in the morning, stretch, take a look around our surroundings, and then ponder all the wonderful things we have in life, and how thankful we are for having them.

Maybe you do it once in a while, but every day? Come on, you can’t play me for that much of a sucker.

There are a few reasons for this. One is that for most people there is no time to sit and ponder dick. Your alarm has been going off for going-on an hour, your kids are jumping on the bed, you have a meeting in 30 minutes, and your morning constitution is already making its way out the back door. No one (except obviously me) has time to sit around and think about anything anymore, which is a damn shame but it’s a product of the times we live in.

Another thing about this all is that as we grow older and the stressors of life start to wear us down, feigning gratitude for some bullshit like a big screen TV seems a little besides the point.

No one posts Facebook statuses that often anymore.

This is not to be confused with suggesting that no one uses Facebook anymore. I know it’s cool to hate social media, and to look down on people that use Facebook regularly; but let’s not beat around the dick here: a lot of people who claim to rarely be on Facebook can be seen as “online” or liking and commenting on shit from sun up to sun down.

That’s not the point anyway. People used to post status updates a lot. I still do, most of the time to make jokes about myself. But to even figure out how to describe a Facebook status update like I did above (So and so’s gratitude post from November 4th), I had to scroll through basically five day’s worth of Newfeed, for at least 15 minutes, and I still hadn’t even hit a status update yet – so said “fuck it” and winged it.

I don’t know about you guys, but my Newsfeed is all News, Blogs, baby photos ad nauseum, and cat and dog videos. Ain’t nobody got time to be posting the things they’re grateful for when there’s a mashup of Adelle’s Hello and someone’s cat leaning over a telephone.

People are grateful, but not for anything they’ll admit to.

Housing assistance. Food stamps. Therapists. Financial aid. Daycare because if you have to watch Calliou one more time you’re going to rip your ears off your head to avoid hearing that kid’s whiney fucking voice ever again.

Life’s rough, and the economy sucks. That doesn’t mean everyone wants to admit that their grateful for relief from it.

Like all Facebook trends, this one just died.

You know Facebook is all about the trends. For a while, during the holidays, it was this thankful daily post thing. Other trends have been: posting long statuses about how people with cancer never get a break from it and 98% of your friends won’t repost that message; sharing recipes and cute holiday crafts instead of recognizing the existence of Pinterest; and, those awareness games like changing your Facebook photo to a child cartoon character, or posting where you like to hang your purse vaguely – as if that will somehow raise awareness for your cause. I could go on, but I won’t…

The newest Facebook trend is to put a colored filter over your Facebook profile photo in support of whatever cause happens to be the thing of the month. When the United States Supreme Court legalized gay marriage through out the country, everyone’s picture had a rainbow over it. After the Paris attacks the other day, it was the French flag. Of course now cases against doing these types of things are starting to crop up, just as they did with the Facebook thankful posts…but you get the point.

Facebook is about the trends, and as all trends go they eventually die.

Don’t get me wrong guys: I’m glad to not see everyone’s daily posts glad-handing their wonderful lives filled with Starbucks coffee and nice cars. Everyone’s posts eventually derailed into that kind of bullshit, and it’s simply because at a point we run out of things to list being thankful for.

I’m not an advocate of being ungrateful for the things you have in your life. But what I am an advocate of is being realistic about the important and unimportant things out there. My husband has a job, and we have a roof over our heads. For those things, I am grateful. We have our health, and that’s wonderful too. Occasionally I’ll post something on social media making that gratitude clear, and I can do so without making a show of doing it every day for just one month of the year; and certainly without using the hashtag #blessed.

But now that no one is posting about what they are thankful for on social media anymore, I can’t help but wonder why.

I Have Earned the Right To Complain

I always hear older people – like older, older; not me older, which I am clearly becoming – say that they have earned the right to complain. “I pay my taxes, I worked a full career, I served in the United States Army…I have earned a right to complain” is something my father – who lives with us – says regularly.

Like daily.

Maybe it’s just him rubbing off on me, but I’ve caught myself saying a similar elderly person’s rant more and more as of late.

For example…

We live in a condominium owned by my husband’s family – purchased for him and his brother when they were single, and rented out only until this past June when we moved in.

We take care of the upkeep of the place – as in, we do and pay for routine maintenance and upkeep. There were a lot of things not tended to in the years it was being rented out, some even my husband’s fault from when he was living here before we met. We have taken care of all of them. All of them.

We pay the mortgage and HOA fees, every month.

We live according to the rules of the home owner’s association, we help organize a crime and safety group in the community, we contribute positively to the community however we can.

I have earned the right to complain.

Another example:

My husband works in film. He’s in editing for a television and video marketing firm, and he works at night and for a company that has no qualms with employees essentially living there. I see my husband for maybe two hours a day, if I’m lucky.

I can’t get him to remember to take his keys out of the front door when he gets home.

I can’t get him to remember to take out the trash when he gets up in the morning.

I have adjusted my own schedule every day to make sure to make him dinner at around 1 o’clock in the afternoon, before he leaves for work. One day I made soup and bread and he actually had the balls to ask if I should make sandwiches to go along with it.

We are unable to make plans with anyone, ever, unless it’s on a Sunday – the only day he is truly “off,” and even then it can’t be too early because he’s used to staying up late and sleeping away the morning.

Over and over and over and over, and over and over and over, again I have had to explain to little broken hearts why dad is not home for X sport, Y event, and Z family time.

Last weekend, my husband got back from work exactly 15 minutes before our 11 year old’s tennis tournament began. He had been up all night, and therefore fell asleep in the middle of the tournament – at one point falling over almost completely into the bushes next to his chair.

Right now I have been sitting by the front door, waiting since roughly 2:30 in the morning for him to get home so that we can leave for another weekend tournament. It is now 6:00, and there is absolutely no sign of him.

Enough anecdotal evidence? Sadly, I could go on for several blogs-worth…

I have earned the right to complain.

I have more:

I gave up my entire career and education to become a stay at home mom. That doesn’t go without the occasional feelings of remorse for all that work I did in grad school for nothing.

My life is often reduced to Disney channel and conversations with the only daily non-child interaction I have: the dog.

Then I have to hear people say that it must be nice to live my life and be a lazy housewife. A lazy housewife who cooks and cleans for at least 8 hours a day, acts as personal assistant, washer woman, and – by the way – also homeschools the other hours until I drag myself to bed lest I suffer death by exhaustion.

The grass is always greener, or so they say… But on a particularly bad day, when I haven’t had any other adult interaction in as long as I can remember, and I finally get some by going to Costco only to find food in my hair…

I have earned the right to complain.

Shall I continue?

Two months ago I got a cut and color at a new salon (well, new for me).

It was the worst cut and color I have ever gotten.

She didn’t actually really color my hair – you could still see my blonde roots coming through. To this day I still can’t figure out what process she did on my hair, maybe toned it? I’m not sure, but it certainly wasn’t coloring.

The hair cut was terrible too. It’s grown out in just two months, and looks something like a large rat’s nest sitting a top my head.

When I vented about it on social media, I was given shit for venting. I paid $165 for this “cut and color.”

I have earned the right to complain.

Here’s my point:

8f43e47f31b4c70ffedc43516f7e4edad6095b22b1f39a432b2ebe68e6e7f79bI don’t like being the person that everyone thinks is a complainer. Every single time the complainer opens his or her mouth, an assault of whining and bitching and griping and complaining comes out.  If you ever talk to me at a party, or watch my feeds on social media, you know that’s not the case. Complaints account for maybe 10% of what comes out of my mouth and my tippy-typing fingers.

But I also feel as though when people complain, however little they do, that there is now some need for the world to retaliate not with compassion, but rather with a social backlash. And that’s all people focus on: 90% of what I talk about or post online is positive, funny or informative; and yet somehow the 10% or less (complaining) is what they all focus on. I see it happening to others, as well.

People post e-cards about how the Internet isn’t for complaining, and you hear people talking at parties about how life is something to be always-positive and ever-grateful for. And they shame people that speak candidly about shitty situations with pithy statements like “just remember that other people have it worse off than you.”

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When did life become something we always, 100% of the time, have to be super positive about? Why can’t we all complain once in a while? I mean, crappy situations won’t get better if people don’t talk about it – right? If there is a problem in your community, you should complain about it. If you have a bad salon experience, you should share your gripe. Then, follow up those complaints, and do something about it.

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A few days ago, I realized that social media is starting to give me social anxiety. For one, I share a lot of articles  – like a lot – on social media. But that’s what I do to get more traction on my blog, and anyway they are damn good articles and people should be reading and getting educated about the world a little more. Then I saw a nasty post from a family member (who shall remain nameless) about how people who post a lot of things like news and world affairs on Facebook have no lives. Now I know that’s bullshit, but it still made me self conscious about sharing things the following day.

When I started reflecting on the realization that I was doing that – inhibiting myself for the sake of not having to hear shit from others – I realized how little I share about my own life anymore, as a result of this social media anxiety. I don’t complain online anymore, and I don’t complain in person anymore either. Family functions are a “hi, how are you? Me I’m good, same old same old” and the conversation is over. I want to complain about my bad hair cut and the drug problems in my neighborhood and the refugee crisis in Europe and the war on women in our country, but I stop short for fear that people will highlight that no one wants to hear a complainer.

Moreover, I want to hear other people’s complaints. I want to be there for others, and vent along with them about all the injustices everywhere between my local frozen yogurt stand and the world at large. I always thought that the point of having relationships – friendships, family relationships, romantic relationships – was to be there for each other, even when it’s over a complaint session about everything shitty going on. Sometimes, people need to share happy life events together; sometimes people need a shoulder to cry – or complain – on.

It feels as though no one is allowed to do that in this world of post-modern positivity. Everyone must be happy all the time. If you have something go wrong, no matter how big or how little it is, keep that shit to yourself – no one wants to hear it.

What a terrible world we live in, where that is the status quo.

On the contrary: I pay the bills. I live the life. I have to deal with the consequences of everything around me. I truly feel that I have earned the right to complain. Everyone has.

 

 

We Need To Talk About Cecil

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I was called an idiot over social media today. Facebook. Comments. Big surprise.

I had commented on one of the hundreds of articles shared this week regarding the death of Cecil the Lion. If you don’t know what happened – i.e. you live under a rock – Zimbabwe’s, and perhaps the world’s, most beloved black-maned lion, Cecil, was shot with a cross-bow by a hunter that paid roughly $55,000 for one of his routine hunting excursions.

The details and the truth of how Cecil – a radio collared animal – was killed and beheaded are still to be uncovered, and the bullshit needs to be filtered out. The dentist who fired the shot, from Minnesota, claims that he was unaware it was Cecil, and that he believed he was paying for legal hunting led by professional trappers. But the semantics are muddied, and I’m sure it’ll be a while before everything comes out.

Today, news has broken that the many cubs Cecil fathered will likely fall the same untimely fate as their father; but not by the hands of poachers, rather the animal kingdom. As I scrolled through my Facebook feed this morning, I counted no less than fourteen shared articles explaining to us laymans of the world how the cubs will likely be killed by the new head lion of the pack, to assert his dominance as well as to bring Cecil’s bitches into heat (you know, so he can spread his own seed around the pack). One analyst actually referred to it as “like an episode of Game of Thrones” – as though we Americans are too stupid to understand a concept without it being analogized with a popular television show.

Not a single, however, called it what it is: what happens in nature.

What we do know is that the world has lost its fucking mind, yet again, over someone that has hunted for sport – more so now, I believe, because Cecil was so beloved. The man has had to close his dental practice for the safety of his patients; and the world of social media commenters has joined in the demand that he (the dentist) be poached in the way that Cecil was.

People have called him everything from murderer to limp dick, and Jimmy Kimmel broke down crying on air last night as he asked the dentist if erectile problems were the reason for hunting poor Cecil.

Some are even calling for the United States government to break its own laws and extradite the guy back to Zimbabwe; even after hearing from lion protection groups that the guy didn’t do a single thing illegally, at least as they can tell now; and it was the two “hired professionals” that had acted wrongly.

So before I go on, lest I befell the same sort of Internet mayhem as anyone else not clearly on the side of the majority: I think that poaching is wrong. I think that even legally hunting innocent animals is – at best – questionable. I am skeptical that selling licenses for hunting exotic animals goes back into a financial reserve to preserve endangered species, as many of the African governments claim.

To be clear: I think it was terrible and tragic that Cecil the lion was killed. And, I hope that the truth to what happened, and adequate justice, is found.

But, on the flip side, I am horrified by the way the general population is handling its feelings about this.

1. There are a lot of other animals and people dying unjustly every day, and no one gives a single fuck about them.

For every cause, there are twenty like it that go undiscussed. I know, I understand that.

This was like when people were doing the Ice Bucket Challenge, and all sorts of analysts and fundraisers came back and said “hey…hows about you guys spread some of that love over here.” The truth to the matter was that – logically – every dollar donated to ALS was a dollar not donated elsewhere; and while every cause needs funds, the love should – from a philanthropic standpoint – be spread around a little more evenly. That’s the problem with overly popular campaigns: they make things less equal, and more like capitalism.

There is no such thing as capitalism in social causes.

The same goes for this outrage of the death of Cecil the Lion. People – if they really cared about the social good of both human as well as animal society – would be spreading their outrage a little more evenly.

They would be calling out the murderers in positions of power who continue to commit genocides on a daily basis.

They would start online petitions and awareness drives to end death by starvation in their own communities.

Jimmy Kimmel would break down crying on air every time there is a mass shooting, or a race-related death (i.e. he would break down crying nightly).

But this is not what anyone does. What they do is they get really really REALLY fucking upset about one thing; one thing that happens to be really popular to be upset about. Then they go ballistic online and in other forums about it for whatever period of time everyone else in the world goes ballistic about it. Then it all sort of fades away and everyone forgets about it, going back to regular life until the next big popular thing to get up in arms over comes up.

People respond to that criticism by saying “well, you can’t spend all your time mad at the world.” OK, sure – that doesn’t seem healthy. But you know what else is unhealthy? IGNORING PROBLEMS THAT EXIST BECAUSE YOU DON’T WANT YOUR FEELS TO BE IN A JUMBLE ALL THE TIME.

I would never – not in a million years – do a cancer walk or an ALS run and yell as I went through it: “there are several other diseases you people are ignoring here!!” But the truth to the matter is just that: there are several other issues that no one knows of or gives a shit about. At. ALL.

Maybe, just maybe, people need to find the right time and the appropriate place, and start talking about that. They need to learn more and have more of a conversation, on a regular, if not daily, basis.

I have chosen routine Facebook comments. That’ll be totally effective …right?

(I am half-kidding.)

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2. Death threats and public suggestions that a person be murdered make me think we aren’t much further along as a society than the lynchings that when on during the time of the Salem Witch Trials.

Jesus Christ on a piece of toast: we have not come very far as a society.

Mob mentality is still a very real, and very frightening thing. I already knew this, and I hope all of you did too. But beyond that, it isn’t just mob mentality, it’s lynching mentality. We – in America – are so quick to jump to conclusions, judge what we deem the appropriate responses to said conclusions, and grab our flaming sticks to go out on a witch hunt.

Do any of you know how many innocent men, women, and children lost their lives during the Salem Witch Trials because of mob mentality, lynching mentality, and public witch hunts?

There are a lot of times in recent history where tragedies have struck at the hands of others, and it’s obvious what happened and how it should be handled. And then there are other times that the facts are more muddied in speculation, or there are a lot of factors involved that need to be carefully weeded through by professionals before the lynching mob heads out with their guns and flamethrowers.

The most terrifying thing in all of it, though, is that we – as a society – just don’t trust anyone anymore. We don’t trust our governments. We don’t trust our laws. We don’t trust our law enforcement. All of this is with adequate and good reason, and yet rather than try to fix the problems with all of those so that we can trust our governments, and our laws, and our law enforcement again, we’ve somehow decided that none of that will be as good as taking matters into our own hands.

Arming ourselves with our guns. Sending our death threats. Banding together with flames in hand to fix matters without any sort of due process or time to let our emotions cool down a bit.

Ironically, this mob mentality is the state of nature that we created laws to prevent; and we don’t like the state of nature. We don’t like that when a lion gets killed, his cubs will be killed by the next incoming leader. We don’t like that the innocent fall to the hands of those with the bigger and better weapons.

I feel as though we need to remind ourselves that what makes us special in this animal kingdom on Earth is the beauty in our ability to reason, to think and to talk. Death threats, calling people limp dick, forming emotion-driven lynching mobs, all-the-while keeping silent about real and pressing issues going on around us all day, destroys that beauty of the human experience. Open your mouths, and say something reasonable. Open your mouths and talk about all these issues.

Cecil the lion was a majestic creature. All animals, except ones that have me inside their mouths, are beautiful. But human beings are – or have the capacity to be -beautiful too. We, after all, are just animals ourselves.

I Don’t Care About 3D Mascara, Jamberry Nails, Facials, ITWorks Wraps, or Beach Bodies

That may sound a little harsh.

i-dont-always-do-my-hair-makeup-but-when-i-do-i-make-sure-to-post-it-on-facebook-d8951Of course I care about mascara, I wear it often enough to. Not often enough to obsessively buy your Younique 3D lash mascara that comes out with something new every two months. Not often enough to suddenly abandon my go-to make up brands for the occasional times that I wear a full face-worth of the stuff. As though Benefit and Smashbox weren’t good to me all these years. As though because someone I once knew of in high school selling Mary Kay cosmetics or Younique fiber lashes is going to erase all of my previous and perfectly acceptable experience with Revlon.

And while I definitely like for my nails to be well-kept and nicely polished, I heretofore politely decline any and all invitations to your Jamberry Nail Parties.

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What I don’t give a flying fuck about is getting facials. I’m a stay at home mom and a writer – I can’t afford that bullshit. And anyway, I must have magical skin made out of unicorn puke and Carebear stare juice – because I have literally never considered doing anything other than washing my face with some basic ass soap every morning, followed with some moisturizer I got on Clearance at Target that has an SPF in it. I have no wrinkles. I have no frown lines. I have no cystic acne. My skin does not flake or peel. I am perfectly content with my skin and do not need Rodens + Fields or Nerium or Beauticontrol that all cost a hell of a lot more time and money than my bar of Dove.

I have no interest in wraps, either. Whether ITWorks or not, I don’t fucking care. As I scroll through my Instagram feed and see photo after photo after photo of people’s before and after ITWorks shots – bulbous legs, arms, and bellies suddenly made ultra thin by a piece of miracle saran wrap – I am more compelled to sign off social media altogether than at any other time in my daily social media usage.

That is how much ITWorks annoys me. Be it the photos, or the fact that one person selling ITWorks follows you, and suddenly you’ve got forty-five spammy ITWorks people sending you messages about how you too can sell ITWorks and change people’s lives!

I have a way to change people’s lives and help them get skinny: eat a fucking apple and get off the couch.

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The newest thing showing up in my Instagram and my Facebook and my Twitter and my email and in just daily life is the Piyo. The 21 Day Fix. The Beachbody. The Shakeology. I don’t know if these are all the same thing, or if they’re different, but I do know one thing: you people drank the Kool-Aid. Drank it. Drank that shit right up, probably out of your Shakeology blender while posting thirty selfies of your post-work out sweat.

I do not begrudge anyone getting in shape. I do not hate people eating healthy.

What I can’t stand is when they’re shoving it down my throat, trying to force me to drink their Kool-Aid too. What I do begrudge are the people suddenly becoming Beachbody consultants – or whatever the fuck they are – and making a little fan page on Facebook and asking me to “like” it, when just a few, short years ago NONE OF THEM would “like” my fan page for my WRITING CAREER.

I am like an elephant – I have an exquisite memory. When I was doing my undergrad, I worked full time at a pharmacy, and I had a disturbingly uncanny ability to remember all the customers, recognize their voices over the phone, and even some of the details of their medications and insurance claims. The manager of the pharmacy used to say that it was like Cheers: everyone came to our pharmacy, because when they walked in the door I’d always shout “Norm!”

I remember who was supportive of my writing career from the get-go. I still have the unfortunate and recent memories in my mind of all the people who said they don’t read books and don’t like blogs, and don’t “DO” fan pages.

Well guess what? If you were supportive of me, and continue to be supportive of me, I will cheer you on to the end of days as you sip your kale smoothies and make your pastas out of ground up beans, because the 21 Day Fix told you to. I will “like” your fiber lash updates, and politely and quietly just ignore your attempts to sell me make up. I will attend your Jamberry Facebook parties, and even though I won’t buy anything I’ll at least be supportive.

Because I really and truly think that’s what people should be doing for one another – supporting each others’ endeavors, no matter how few fucks they give. That’s what friends and family are for, right?

But just know that deep down I don’t give a shit. My level of shit-giving is currently at -15, and it gets lower with each invite to sell ItWorks or to join a Piyo training session.

Congratulations if you have figured out a way to make some extra money off of your lifestyle choices. Kudos – really! I am genuinely happy for any and all people from my past, my present, or just in general that have been able to balance life, health, happiness, and to earn a little extra cash doing so.

But that doesn’t take away the sting when many of those very people were so unsupportive of my own endeavors just a few short years ago. I’m suddenly expected to jump on board with their shit – which I do, to the extent that I can be supportive without having to buy anything – while they continue to tell me that they don’t “do” blogs or “do” books. But could you give me advice, Heather, about starting a Facebook fan page? Oh and could you make sure to please “like” all of my many weekly Runkeeper updates?

Life and relationships are a two-way street, people; and at the end of each road, you won’t always find a set of Jamberry Nails.