pugilist’s moon

The Native Americans might have called it the Snow Moon, or the Hunger Moon, but last night I decided that a more accurate moniker would be the Pugilist’s Moon. Last night’s full moon and lunar eclipse, possibly exacerbated by the “close” passing of Green Comet 45P, wreaked a fair share of havoc on us.

Yes, I do believe somewhat that the lunar cycles have an impact on our human behavior. We really are just big sacks of liquidy stuff charged with some mysterious electrical current and I’ve been friends with enough teachers, social workers, and emergency medical folks throughout my adulthood to know that many of them dread full moons. Especially full moon Fridays. My teacher friends on FB started expressing concern several days ago.

So this week:

I got into a huge fight with Jax. This isn’t actually unusual because Jax & I are both very opinionated, strong-willed people and even when we agree on a basic issue, we can still argue over semantics or the details of it. Normally I don’t mind this much because I always know where I stand with him and vice versa. There’s never any hidden undercurrents of dissatisfaction – it’s all out there, even the minor stuff. But this week’s was a little vehement and nonsensical even for us. Neither of us were really sure what it started with. We made up but post-fight I was laid low with a stress migraine the day after.

My credit card got hacked (AGAIN) for the third or fourth time. I always know what it’s about when the company calls me – “did you authorize such-and-such an outlandish charge in Florida [[Texas]]?” It’s always either Florida or Texas. And it’s almost always either a gas station or Wal-Mart. Sigh. “No, I did not try to charge $564 at Wal-Mart in Fort Worth.” “Can we Fed Ex you a new card to your home on Monday? Will you be home?” “No, I work full time.” “Okay, we will put it in the US mail. Good luck paying cash for everything over the next 7-10 business days!”

It’s a damn chip card too. But I guess I should just be happy that they catch it so quickly that I’ve never had to open a bill and find a charge for Skoal, Budweiser, and a flat screen television from a Wal-Mart in Bumfuck Arkansas.

The last and worst was Miss L’s elementary school dance last night. The PTA worked so hard to decorate the school and it looked lovely. They had cake and photo booths, a DJ and dancing, all the kiddos dressed up in their Sunday best. The joint was jumping and I was trying to knit in the darkness, humming along to Gangnam Style, when I became aware of a change in the atmosphere. I could sense it like a drop in air pressure. When not knitting, I was trying to keep an eye on L amidst all the crowds of kids and parents, and being told off roundly every time she caught me “following” her. Anyway, I packed my sock and needles up into my Moomin bag and set off into the hallway to scout things out. I quickly realized there was a very unfortunate argument between three sets of parents and two crying children, and it was devolving with lightning speed.

My fear, ever-present these days, is that the environment is so highly charged, and so toxic with resentment. So many people now feel emboldened to say whatever despicable xenophobic Go Back to Whatever Country You Legally Migrated From For No Good Reason thing, typically beset with racial epithets, this so-called president has inspired them to, and so many on the other side of the issues have quivering antennae set to pick up on any hint of that even when it’s not there and immediately leap into I’m Going to Punch a Nazi Resistance mode,  disagreements can turn very ugly very quickly. In all fairness, I doubt this had anything to do with any of that. But add a crowded hallway full of children and the only thing I want to do is grab my girl and head for the nearest exit. The principal did an excellent job of containing the dispute in her office, but the content was serious enough that the police were called. This was, as you can imagine, the Most Exciting Thing to ever happen to a school full of sugar-hyped elementary kids, who goggled out windows and raced up and down crowded hallways spinning ever more ludicrous tales and only contributed to the surreal atmosphere, the disbelieving feeling that pervaded me of “this can’t happen here”.

It was an extremely unfortunate way to end the dance, which people worked very hard on and was only meant to inspire joy and happiness and a sense of community for our little ones, and I’m appalled at the behavior exhibited by adults. It is completely uncharacteristic for the beautiful, diverse, multicultural environment that our elementary school exhibits.

I can now only hope that that ol’ Pugilist’s Moon will let us recover from this upheaval. I will be hiding in my bedroom with Emmett madly cleansing my chakras until it’s over.

we are hope, despite the times

These are unprecedented times – the combination of a very controversial and highly charged political atmosphere and instantaneous information via social media. It feels like there’s no way to step away and if I do step away, I’m failing in my duty to remain alert, informed, and supportive of the political causes that I support.

But I also believe that no one can win arguments online and there is a hysteria / mob mentality online that ratchets everything up to panic mode. I don’t have any answers about how to deal with this situation and I don’t have any answers about how we mend the divisiveness in the country right now. I’m forced to step back every so often, take 24-hour Facebook & Twitter detoxes, and do other things. (I also really want to try to understand why people feel the way they feel, but you can’t ask anyone their opinion on Facebook or Twitter without getting into an argument; this week I read articles like this and this.) I don’t want to fight anyone or hate anyone but I also don’t want to see anyone else discriminated against or hassled on the basis of their skin color, ethnic background, religion or gender. It seems simple to me, live and let live, but it’s just not.

I knew I needed to take a breather when I had an intense dream that Donald Trump was our new boss at work and coming to each of our offices to grill us. It was especially vivid and I woke up startled. So this week I got some new books piled up on my bedside table (“At Home in the World by Thich Nhat Hanh, “Jerusalem Book 1” by Alan Moore – which is quite bizarre – and “The Happiness Equation” by Neil Pasricha – I’m trying to read more nonfiction books this year on a variety of topics). And I hung out with my faves. Miss L was “Leader of the Week” at school so I left work (where, contrary to my subconscious musings, Donald Trump was NOT) to bring her a special Panera lunch and eat with her in her cafeteria. And last night we went back to my alma mater to check out the Michigan women’s gymnastics team’s win over Nebraska!

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Tickets are really inexpensive and the meet was fun – great music, constant activity, and Miss L – whose attention span can be short if she’s not constantly engaged in the proceedings, or well equipped with snacks – was entranced. She got her poster signed by a few members of the team after the meet and you know I don’t usually share pics of her in this forum but you can take my word that she was on Cloud 9. Afterwards, we had a girls’ dinner at Casey’s in Ann Arbor, across from the Amtrak train station – it was hopping! We had burgers and root beer and it was a welcome refuge from a week of angst.

The boys are doing really well, their Prozac has taken effect and although I keep them separated when I’m gone for longish periods of time – when I’m at work, or at Jax’s – when I’m home or just running errands they’re out together and there haven’t been any incidents of violence.

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This week I was watching a documentary on Netflix about trappers who live in the Russian Taiga and Sarge was dead asleep in one of his favorite places.

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On the documentary, the trapper’s dog began barking and snarling and digging at a hollow log to dislodge a sable. The sable burst forth hissing and chattering and Sarge came bolt upright, his eyes wild. The dog and the sable began an epic battle and Sarge jumped down off his chair and rushed to the TV. He was riveted to the scene even after the dog subdued the sable (it was actually kind of gross) and sat there for the longest time.

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I’ve only had one other cat that watched television and it was crazy tiger striped Salem who loved the leopard in “Bringing Up Baby” with Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant.

I hope wherever you are this Sunday you are enjoying yourselves and your loved ones and staying sane in this crazy time, no matter which side of the fence you are on.

xoxo

principled dissent

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It might be a little late to post about the Women’s March on January 21, but I’ll do it anyway. Like millions of others – literally – I have been dismayed and disappointed about the results of the 2016 election and have made no secret about that. I’m sure I’ve lost friends (who probably weren’t real “friends” anyway, if they didn’t know where I would stand on these issues) and pissed off many of the more conservative members of my own family, but I can’t bring myself to say (or feel) sorry about that. Instead, I have struggled to understand how people can support this administration and although I try to practice kindness, love, and empathy, it’s not always possible for me to see how we can bridge our differences.

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I felt a wave of darkness and tension descend on Inauguration Day. Even during the darkest days of the Bush administrations, I never felt that sense of utter trepidation at what the future could hold. This Inauguration Day was different. My cousin, who has attended several inaugurations, summed it up in a post on social media that remarked how angry and bitter and rude the crowd was “even though their guy won”. She said she was shocked at some of the hateful and intolerant comments she overheard and I think that atmosphere pervaded all of the ceremonies. That sense hasn’t dimmed for me. (Particularly when I see the shots and video of Trump’s demeanor towards his wife -and the look on her face- at various points in the ceremony. Can I just say how proud I was to be a Democrat that day? I thought Hillary and the Obamas and Joe Biden conducted themselves with dignity and grace and basic class.)

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This guy was the bright spot of the ceremony. God Bless ya, W, never change.

I got up on Saturday unsure of what was in store for me and my best friend Kit. We’d decided to go to the Lansing, MI march (and I knitted us matching hats – yes, Michael D. Cohen, our hats WERE made in the US,  with love and care and respect, unlike those ubiquitous money-making red trucker hats that are made in China, Bangladesh, and Vietnam). I didn’t know if the tone would be angry, if we’d be opposed, if I’d come home feeling worse than when I went – but so many of the issues are so important to me that I felt I needed to be there, no matter what.

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I’m so glad I went. The atmosphere was convivial and friendly, very chill. The signs were funny and clever and outraged but there wasn’t a single incident that made me feel anything other than proud to be there, and relieved that so many others feel the same as I do. The speakers were excellent and focused on issues – Gretchen Whitmer, who has declared herself an early candidate for Michigan governor in 2020, and Barb Byrum, Ingham County Clerk were standouts. Our speakers didn’t drop f-bombs or do strange raps (I really wish Madonna and Ashley Judd had stuck to issues) – they discussed the importance of Planned Parenthood, their concerns over healthcare and the impact to communities when the ACA is disassembled. They discussed the rights of women to govern their own bodies and not have their reproductive rights politicized and legislated. They expressed deep concerns over the enormous conflicts of interest, nepotism, and ethics complaints with the new administration, and its stance on climate change (Chinese hoax?!). They spoke at length about the troubling lack of qualifications (and far worse) displayed by nominees like Jeff Sessions and Betsy DeVos (Michiganders have an especial interest in DeVos as her particular brand of stupidity has negatively impacted education in many of our communities). Our diverse speakers shared what it is like to be a member of a group targeted by the new administration – an immigrant, a Muslim, someone of the LGBTQ community. There was a lot of intersectional feminism.  And they talked about what we could do to share our concerns and make sure our voices are heard in appropriate and constructive ways.

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Sadly, our efforts have been received by the administration’s supporters in some typical yet disappointing ways. I see people commenting on FB  that they want us to shut up, that people’s minds aren’t changed no matter how “righteous” the message. There are memes about how great it is that Trump got a bunch of “fat women” to walk more. A Republican senator from Mississippi, who I won’t link to because he shouldn’t get any more attention than he already has, commented that if we have money for all those tattoos and piercings, why do we want someone to pay for our birth control? Pretty standard, unoriginal stuff – not exactly incisive wit here, people. It doesn’t surprise me a bit that our detractors can’t address our actual issues, they have to fall back on completely irrelevant and superficial issues like how we look. Echoes of the Trump’s emphasis on “Perfect 10’s”, maybe. However, there are those whose tone turns quite ugly, such as the Indiana GOP rep who posted a picture of women being pepper sprayed with a comment that we should all get this treatment as our “participation trophy”. Apparently not a lot of experts on the amendments to the US Constitution in that bunch, either. I’m sorry about your politicians, Indiana and Mississippi. Really.

And of course all of the Tweeting and “alternative facts”. SAD

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I think if anything, this toxic political season and my deep disgust for what this president stands for have taught me that there is still a lot of intolerance, ignorance, and hate in our country, and even in a lot of us. I know that I frequently feel a rise of venom in my heart when confronted with these attitudes. There’s a lot of people I’d love to punch. But instead I’ve already spent more time writing my senators than ever and I guess if there’s a silver lining in this it’s that Trump has made an activist out of me – and, it seems, a lot of others.

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election (part 1 of 2) – in which i am very very angry

I don’t really want to talk about the election, and I am sure that no one wants to read about it, but because this is my journal, I have to use it to help myself sort out my feelings. And Facebook is an absolute suck ass minefield these days, it feels like a den of vipers waiting to bite your heel. Feel free to read on or stop, it’s up to you, Dear Reader, but I warn ya, this is a RANT. This is everything I’ve wanted to say, and haven’t.

On Wednesday I had to wake my daughter up and tell her that someone that she considers to be a bad person was just elected president. I watched her turn over and bury her face in the pillow. I’d warned her, and tried to explain the voting process when we were walking down to the voting booths on Tuesday, but I explained to her (again) that this is part of living in America; sometimes we get to see the candidates we vote for take office, and sometimes we don’t. I explained (again) that sometimes the president-elect says things and does things that are not acceptable, and that just because he says and does them doesn’t mean that she or anyone else should. I said that if anyone says anything to her that she doesn’t understand, she should ask me, but I explained that we will continue to do what we do – respect each other and our neighbors and friends, be kind, stand up to bullies, protect and love and look after each other.

I said that she would probably hear some things at school today, and that everyone would have an opinion. Everyone gets a vote, I said, and that vote is private. No one has to justify their vote to anyone – that is the beauty of America. I told her that no matter who people voted for, that was their business. We were just going to do what we do and that it was all going to be okay, that her family loves and will protect her, and that if she has any questions, concerns, or fears, that she could talk to me about anything.

I know that she will be digesting this for awhile, and processing it as she does, and we will have more discussions. But for the moment, she was okay. I held her hand when we walked into school and the kids in Y-care were having a dance party and everything felt normal.

Those are the things that I needed to say to my child, and she needed to hear.
The minute I left, though, I could drop my mask, and sit in my car feeling all of the feelings. I pounded on the steering wheel. I cried. I screamed. I wanted to punch the world. I wanted to punch myself for feeling this so deeply.

I need someone to explain this to me, because I don’t understand.

And I am enraged.

I watched Van Jones in a CNN clip and it made me cry. “You try to teach your kids not to be bigots,” he said. “You try to teach your kids not to be bullies. How do I explain this to my kids?”

So many people in this country thrown away by our president-elect, our lazy, corrupt, hateful president-elect. People with disabilities mocked. People beaten and abused at his rallies. Women disrespected. Sexual assault approved of and dismissed as a joke. Nonstop bigotry and intolerance. I’ve had presidents I didn’t agree with before (“W”) but I’ve never dreamed that someone who didn’t respect huge swathes of the American population could ever become its leader. And the most baffling thing to me, the thing I feel the most betrayed by, are the women who voted for him. I had several female friends on FB who proudly said that they were voting for Trump because Hillary is “evil” and voting for Trump is their “Christian duty”. Can someone please explain that to me? How can anyone who calls themselves a Christian vote for someone with so much hatred in his heart?

I understand that both the candidates were deeply flawed, but we have a president-elect who believes that he could walk in and grab a woman “by the pussy” and that’s okay. Even if that’s dismissed as locker room talk – and that’s a big IF in my mind, because I believe firmly that he believes it, has done it, and will do it again – what about the crazies out there who are listening to him? What about the unbalanced population just looking to pop off at an immigrant, or rape a woman, or punch a dissenter? Suddenly, this world seems a lot less safe to me.

There will be violence, and there has been already. There are already swastikas and racial epithets and mobs and women being abused for wearing hijabs. I’ve seen on Facebook people telling “whiny pussy liberals” to quit their crying and acting like we’re crazy for sharing articles about these abuses already being perpetrated. “It’s probably not real and even if it is, it’s not a Trump supporter,” someone said on one post today. Um. Yeah. Because it’s TOTALLY OUT OF THE REALM OF FEASIBILITY that someone would take Donald Trump’s hate speech over this election to heart. Let’s see – in case anyone has forgotten – the last time I checked the running list that the NYTimes was keeping – 281 people our oh-so-respectable president elect has insulted, denigrated, or abused. Actual quotes from his mouth:

“I’d like to punch him in the face.” – about a dissenting protester

“I’ll beat the crap out of you.” – about a dissenting protester

He’d “love to fight” 74-year old Joe Biden

He called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas”, mocking her Native American blood.

He said Mexican immigrants were “rapists” and “sexual assaulters” – never mind his own glorification of his own sexual assaults on women.

He has said that he would force American soldiers to kill the families of terrorists – including children – and when former National Security Agency and CIA director Michael Hayden indicated that they may refuse – since those are war crimes, Trump’s response was: “They won’t refuse. They’re not going to refuse me. If I say it, they’re going to do it.”

He has called women pigs, dogs, disgusting animals, and slobs. Someone said that about me? No problem. Been called worse. Someone says that in front of my daughter because “President Trump” says it and it must be okay? Game over. Someone grabs me by the pussy because Trump said to do it, that you have to treat women like shit, that we like it? Game over.

All of these things are documented. They’re not made up. He said them. And I know, I know – I hear it all the time. “He’s putting on an act.” “It’s a SHOW. He won’t be like that in office!” “It’s locker room talk!” Eye roll. “Whiny libtard, you are overreacting. Settle down. Don’t take it to heart. Here’s your head pat.” *pat* *pat* *pat*

Yet it’s so unthinkable to red America that his supporters might take that hate speech to heart and do terrible things in its name. It is gobsmacking to me to see anyone say anywhere that they doubt a Trump supporter is responsible for an act of violence. No one should be surprised. It’s going to be happening all the time now. Keep telling yourself that he isn’t really like that, red America, it might make you feel better but no one else believes it.

I don’t know what else to say. None of this is organized or makes any sense. I wish I could put myself together to write a more coherent, data-driven post. But right now all I can feel is sad and outraged. I just really don’t understand it.

in which i like them apples

I don’t have any new pictures to post unless you want to see a pic of the cashmere sweater I just sold on Ebay (full price!! score!!!) — wait, I DO have this recently saved to my camera roll:

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In keeping with the disorganized theme of this post, here are a bunch of random things that I am too impatient to make full, well-written posts about individually so instead I will barf them up in no particular order here.

  • It’s snowing again. Actually, it started with rain, and when I went out to the parking lot my Camry was encased in ice. Given our school district’s antipathy towards educating our children when there is even any HINT of inclement weather, I suspect a snow day for Miss L tomorrow. Please note: It was over 60 degrees on Saturday. #puremichigan #nowonderweareallsickallthetime
  • I was standing around waiting for a meeting to start today (I was early) and idly chatting with some other (prompt) meeting participants and I noticed that two of the heavy grey leather chairs in our commons area were just…gone. There are usually two groupings of four and they are too large to be dragged around to serve as supplement seating for meetings. Plus, oddly shaped and not functional. I mentioned it and HR got a little interested and looked around and yup, NO CHAIRS. Who took them? And why? And is my job really so boring that I actually care?
  • During this same pre-meeting idyll, one of the Finance guys said bitterly, “Kids today are SOFT. We NEVER got snow days when WE were kids. If the f-ing buses couldn’t run – you had to WALK. Or your parents had to take you. Now – two inches and it’s a SNOW DAY.” See my sarcastic commentary about the dedication of our district to keeping schools open – I agree with him. We live in MICHIGAN. We should not be closing schools for anything other than a genuine polar vortex. And I want Jim Cantore over here to authorize it as such.
  • I so, so wish I could tell you all of the odd happenings with my work and my dating life. I really wish I could tell you about my shady former lawyer boss, She of the Sitting In the Parking Lot in Her Mercedes Very Very Late for Meetings Putting On her Makeup In the Rearview Mirror, and about the time one of my dates turned his car into his parking space at his modest rental community and SENT A COLONY OF ENORMOUS RATS SCATTERING INTO THE BUSHES WHERE THEY HAD SET UP A HUGE NEST. But I really try to keep things anonymous and kind over here, I seek not to embarrass anyone or call my work integrity into question, and I don’t always know who reads my blog (hi Mom) – but DAMN I wish I could tell you some things. I can, however, tell you that I am currently interviewing attorneys who will likely serve as my boss. When I tell them firmly that I am NOT a lawyer, and I speak to them forcefully and with complete frankness, I can see them receding into a tight-lipped shell of “WHO DOES SHE THINK SHE IS”. Yes, I inform them, I am not a lawyer, I will likely be reporting to you, and yet I get a say in whether or not you get to come work here. I usually do not add “HOW DO YA LIKE THEM APPLES” but today, interviewing the Donald Trump lookalike with a name like an Edgar Allan Poe novella about a casserole, I almost couldn’t restrain myself.
  • Currently reading: “Career of Evil”, Robert Galbraith – love this series, truly I do.
  • Currently watching: “An Idiot Abroad” which is just wrong. I really shouldn’t laugh myself off the couch when watching it. It’s just – wrong. But I do and I keep coming back.
  • Weather update: Still snowing. Time to go make dinner. Stay safe and warm out there. And if you are in a warmer clime than Michigan, I don’t want to hear about it but feel free to tell me “HOW DO YA LIKE THEM APPLES” because that’s just karma. xoxo