Fun for the holidays!
Things are tough, everyone knows it. Some of us are back at work, or whatever work looks like these days. Some still shelter at home, some are becoming new techno-wizards-by-necessity. Some people are out of work and hanging on by a thread. Other folks are nervously still working at businesses that are themselves on the verge of bankruptcy.
Politics are heating up and people who have made their choices are busily trying to convince those few stubborn folks who refuse to pay attention to either party (and blindly insist that both parties are the same) that their candidates are superior in every way. Everywhere you look are political ads pointing fingers, yelling out warnings, using the sounds of war, snapping fingers, ringing phones, and even rattlesnakes in the back ground to make you even more on edge and willing to seek safety.
And then there’s the weather. And fires. And social unrest, peaceful protests, rioting, police brutality, white privilege, systemic racism…
…oh, and a little thing we call a pandemic that is killing our fellow human beings at shocking rates all around the world. We try to go about our business while getting used to wearing masks (fogging glasses, smoker’s breath) and no longer getting facial cues to help us understand others.
People are totally stressed out. And as they have always done, they lash out at strangers because that’s so much safer than risking relationships of value by venting at home. People are rude when told something they were used to is different now, they’re vindictive online when their whims cry out for revenge, safe behind screens to write things they’d never say with mouths that kiss their mothers. Stress turns normal people into fretful freaks, or angry avengers, or snarky narcs, and every
Metaphorical line, it could be they’re on your phone, visiting your office, trashing your book reviews (Charles), or staring at you through two car windows and a foot of space between them during rush hour.
They stomp on your day, digging sharp elbows into soft bellies, setting your teeth on edge, challenging you to admit you don’t know what you’re doing and have completely, utterly, failed. Judith Viorst knew exactly what I’m talking about and brilliantly named a picture book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, which I used to read aloud to my students, even the sixth graders. Because everyone has them.
Terrible days. Horrible weeks. No good months. And very, very bad years (Yeah, we’re looking at you 2020). You need a way to counter their effects, save your day, remind yourself of your skills and talents, and give yourself a mental hug. So I’m sharing a life hack that has served me well over the decades, but shhhhh, don’t tell anyone.
As an elementary school teacher, I began keeping a file in my desk at work. I titled it: To Be Read on Very Bad Days and in it I kept every little thank you, recognition of my skills, and love note from a student I was given. Any praise from administrators, awards and recognition, photos with kids, were carefully stored. On days that left me ready to weep with exhaustion, low self-esteem, and frustration I would give myself 10 minutes to pull out my file and remember. Re-reading about my successes, seeing the appreciation of those whose lives I’d touched for the better, remembering the strength of my conviction to be my best self, would help. I’d straighten my shoulders, stiffen my spine, wipe my eyes, and carry on.
Over the years that folder grew thicker and just the sight of it would sometimes be enough to help me shoulder through the days when I felt like the worst teacher ever. Even though I’ve been retired a long time now, that folder stays in my desk in the basement. I still read it from time to time.
Start one. Today. Take a half-hour and gather whatever you’ve got lying around in the way of compliments, no matter how small. Birthday cards signed by co-workers, a note, glowing reviews… We need to SEE, visibly SEE our successes to remember why it’s worth going through the messiness of life, especially these days.
Keep adding to your file and over the years it will become just the thing you need on those terrible, horrible, no good, very bad days when you need a little self-support. And if you can’t count on yourself, who can?
I have an opinion as to why Trumpopo is insisting public schools open during the first wave of a pandemic plague:
He made Betsy DeVos secretary of education for only one reason – to privatize our free public education, ensuring superior access to privilege by the wealthy. I’m not saying he or any human being had anything to do with this vicious virus, but I am saying he’s profiting by it as much as possible.
By insisting we send our young to the raging front lines of our war on Covid-19, Trumpopo plans to provoke outraged, terrified, and exhausted Mama & Papa Bears. Scared, protective parents can (and will) demand alternatives, such as distance learning, smaller classes, shorter hours and diverse settings. Public schools are months, if not years (if not decades) away from providing safe education well and effectively.
But, for a hefty price, imperfect but much safer options are immediately available from private educational providers. In a twist of coincidence, many of these part real life/part online institutions are heavily invested in by members of the DeVos family and friends.
Trumpopo may have resigned himself to losing the election. He seems to be quite publicly paying off debts (Roger Stone sentence commuted) and trying to shift policy in accordance with his nearest and dearest kiss-popos and their pet projects, like defunding the USPS in favor of privatized delivery services and hackable email (which furthers his party’s march to squelch mail-in ballots).
He’s a privateer above all else, setting up/settling up business deals while he’s still got the ‘absolute power’ to act above the law. I find myself more willing than ever to believe the worst of him.
Teens managed THE coup of our times by buying up the tickets of the Tulsa rally, guaranteeing empty seats and low turnout.
Yes, the same teens who sat on pins and needles in classrooms where they trained in the art of sheltering in place before learning the curriculum. They who were raised on the kindness and decency of Obama and now watch corrupt, cruel Trump. Today’s teens skate around the internet like wiry young adults of the 50s once did on roller rinks.
Not politically savvy in the ways of their elders, which might be a good thing, they were nevertheless effective in their strategy and not giving it away beforehand. They embarrassed and deflated Trump, kicking the legs from under this throne.
BTW, I put up a meme about this a long time ago, kind of a ‘wouldn’t it be funny if’ thing about buying out blocks of free tickets so his arenas would be empty. Which, lets face it, seems to be the only thing that really lets the air out of the orange windbag. I didn’t do it, I was re-posting a funny meme of the time, and I promptly forgot it in the wake of ongoing news.
I believe the Zoomers and KPoppers fooled the rally organizers, it fits the circumstances perfectly: the bragging about a million requests for tickets, building an entire outside area with stage and large screen outside to accommodate overflow crowds, and then being caught up short by the actual low turnout.
Sure, the low turn out is probably the result of Covid fears and the warnings from their obviously concerned governor probably kept some Oklahomans from showing up. Fear over possible violence, ditto.
AND a bunch of smart, dedicated, and capable kids who know how to push buttons, literally and figuratively.
Pat Robertson, Rush Limbaugh, Mitch McConnell, and Donald Trump share the same fan base. That’s why Robertson is criticizing the president he’s staunchly defended until now; the old televangelist doesn’t want to lose his antiabortion, anti-LGBTQ rights followers and they are jumping the Trump train with alarming speed. Limbaugh is still applying lipstick to a dancing pig, and McConnell is counting and recounting the congresspeople in his coat pocket. Both are scheming and laying desperate plans to abandon the sinking S.S. Trump they climbed aboard four years ago and have been steering ever since.
Trumpeteers, those who complained about their freedoms being trampled and governmental interference in their personal lives when asked to wear facemasks, have paused. State capital buildings are no longer being stormed by camouflaged but barefaced, MAGA hat wearing, heavily armed citizens demanding the right to give or get a haircut and break quarantine during a pandemic. They have suspended their civil unrest for the time being, contenting themselves with ‘guarding’ “friends” businesses from rumored invasions of antifa, and spreading unsubstantiated rumors via social media.
But Trump’s threat to turn America’s military against its own citizens finally earned the first rumbles of disapproval from the nothing-if-not-loyal trumpeteers. Well, that and they’re surprised by the military grade weaponry of their armed-to-the-teeth local police departments. And they are righteously pissed about teargassing peaceful protesters to clear the way for his presidential photo co-opting of both bible and church. Well, not so much the teargassing, but that church thing has them boiling.
Promised buses of rock throwing anti-fascist anarchists never materialized but trumpeteers still stand ready if they do. They simmer over lost jobs, failing businesses, governmental overreach, phantom deep states, and a scary disease they can’t see stalking them. They do not like masks, but we’re all getting used to seeing them on TV and that normalizes everything. Itching for a fight, they warn that if a second wave of the virus has governors and mayors demanding indoor quarantining again, they will boil over.
But for now, summer weather beckons, the tedious hours of home schooling have ended, and they want someplace to send their kids while they go back to work. And, when all is said and done, watching a man being murdered repeated on TV between images of your own cities burning cannot be ignored. Watching familiar streets fill with local police, armed with military grade weaponry, chase peaceful protesters with teargas and flash bangs is disturbing on multiple levels.
It must be eye-opening to learn the big, bold leader they elected to make America great is cowering in his basement while not only one but two walls are erected between the White House and the people, while the promised one between the US and Mexico has never been finished. And Lord God Almighty, he can’t even hold a bible upright and facing forward.
Finally, some trumpeteers are waking to the realization our president is unfit for his position. If they hurry, they might join Rev. Pat, Rush, Mitch, Susan, and Mitt diving overboard.
I know you’ve seen the video of the Karen calling cops on a birdwatcher concerned about her off-leash dog. You might have visited Christian Cooper’s Facebook page to see it for yourself (link in comments), along with his record of the events as they unfolded. I’ve lately come across some folks insisting he was as wrong as she was because he threatened her first by telling her he was going to do something she wouldn’t like.
Threatening? If I had a dollar for every man who’s ever told me, “I’m going to do what I want whether you like it or not”, I’d be one of the 1%. I never felt threatened by it, I felt challenged by it. Kicks in the “Oh, yeah?” reaction every time. Looks to me like it did with Amy Christian, too, so she upped the ante and answered with a death threat.
Even if Amy felt scared (which her body language denies strongly, up in Christian’s face, finger within inches of his nose) by somebody saying they’re going to do something she’s not going to like, is it appropriate to immediately phone police, lie about the situation, “he’s assaulting me”, and knowingly, deliberately, put a black man’s life in danger by wielding her white privilege as a weapon?
C’mon. This is conflation of the worst kind. How delicate is she that she hears the term “you’re not going to like it” and overreacts as if receiving a death threat?
Why would anyone consider even a suspicious doggie treat (easily avoided if the dog were legally leashed) of equal stature to the threat of lied-to amped-up cops responding to a (false) report of violence being perpetrated, an all too often instant death sentence?
Suspicious doggie treat vs. lied-to amped-up cop with a gun.
NOT the same.
Some business owners are bitching out their governor for economic losses, insinuating a deliberate assault on free enterprise. A few loud hair stylists shower their customers with germs, standing over them as they complain to any and all who sit in the same seat about how scientists use statistics and numbers to scare folks into staying away. Churches, pretty clearly stung at being categorized as non-essential, urge parishioners to gather in violation of state guidelines.
While they make for easy targets, your governor and scientists have not DONE this to you. It’s the very real and reasonable fear of Covid-19 that caused people to stay home, businesses to close, and social gatherings to end in a moment. A brutal, painful illness proven to be highly contagious and very deadly, is sweeping America. Science is the only way to fight our common enemy, a novel, unknown, corona virus. Rational thought, calm reason, and measured, practical steps are the only things that will contain and combat nature’s attack on humanity. And science demands self-sacrifice to fight our common enemy.
Magical thinking doesn’t make sitting, standing, talking, and singing together for a period of time in a small room, safe. Sharing hymnals and bibles, passing collection plates, and (Lord have mercy) partaking of communion is pretty much the perfect storm for contagion. Pining for the freedoms we took for granted is not going to suddenly assuage the realistic fear of bringing death to a loved one with a hug, or contracting same from casual uncaring strangers. And, unfortunately, wishing everything would go back to what it was B.C. (Before Covid-19) will not happen. It is what it is, we are where we are, and there’s no going back.
A disease is our shared encroaching enemy, attacking, weakening, and killing our citizens. If nearly 100,000 people died during the last three months in an active war zone on the home front it would be the only thing on everyone’s mind. We’d be coalesced into a citizen militia, marching in lockstep under the orders of those skilled in the art of this type of warfare. Why isn’t the growing daily death count disturbing EVERYONE?
Governors and scientists are trying to save the lives of as many American citizens as possible, not waging war against them. Saying a governor is ‘doing’ this to the economy and revolting against sensible science driven restrictions seems to me just as mad as accusing principals of elementary schools where students are taught to shelter in place during active shooter drills of tossing hand grenades into classrooms and then encouraging the kids to bring guns to school.
We’re tottering on the brink of utter madness, civil war, or both. It won’t take much to push us over.
Remember the great Harmonic Convergence?
It happened in 1987, so if that was before your time or if it passed you by the first time as ‘some kind’a hippy-crystal-lovin’ shit’, let me explain. On August 16th and 17th the first global attempt at synchronized meditation occurred across the planet. As Earth aligned with the other planets, people sang, danced, and prayed together in a universal plea for world peace. It didn’t work, but it brought enough like-minded people together that environmental issues, social networking, political support groups, religious and spiritual growth, and many other good things, took root in the World/American consciousness. The great harmonic convergence not only made us feel better, it was the beginning of a lot of important growth for the people of Earth.
It’s nearly 33 years later, and tonight there will be an impromptu opportunity for another shared experience as we survive our simultaneous losses. Over the last decade our families have collectively absorbed the Pritchett/Dunphy family and together we’ve become a Modern Family. With humor, style, and honesty some of the best writing/acting/producing on television led many topical conversations. As their family grew up, we recognized ourselves and our children in their hopes and dreams, attempts, failures, and successes. We laughed with them more often than at them, but one way or the other they left us laughing week after month after year. Tonight, we lose them forever.
Which hits a very un-harmonic chord of pain within me, channeling a path for hot tears of mourning and loss. I burst into tears at the breakfast table the other day and when questioned for the reason, I sobbed, “It’s too much. We’re losing so much it doesn’t seem fair that we’re losing them, too.” I gestured at the TV screen where a promo for the grand finale episode shows a group hug they can’t break.
Now, I trust ABC/Disney to expertly milk my thin-skinned emotions tonight. I expect to be crying, sobbing, and laughing while they wrap-up a lifetime of stories in a two-hour period. So, since my tripwires will be triggered anyway, I thought, why not cry for everything at once?
I plan to howl at the beautiful uncaring moon and let out every bit of pain I’m already feeling and my fear of what’s still to come. Tears will be shed in memory of those already gone, fears for my nears and dears, and fury because I don’t know if I’m an asymptomatic Covid Cary (think Typhoid Mary), but I must act as if I am and treat you as an infected creature shedding germs in your wake. I hate this loss of normal, and the cost of holding it together is showing, so I’m going to roll around in my misery, sob my eyes dry, rail at fate and face the pain of final farewells through hiccups of reluctant laughter. I welcome your company, as shared pain is halved.
Everyone is hurting. So, YOU are invited, you who face daily danger as you deal first-hand with the sick and dying, burying the horror of what you’re personally living through to deal with in future therapy. And YOU who risk continual exposure from a never-ending parade of panicky strangers who must shop for food, medicines, their basic daily necessities, you need this, too. And YOU, if you’ve lost a job, your life savings, travel plans, graduation or another honorific celebration fairly earned, join me. Your losses are not trivial. They are substantial and deserve recognition. Together WE will grieve them, and the loss of hugs, shoulders to lean on, and arms linked in camaraderie. Our families face devastating changes. Tonight, we can howl at the moon together, a discordant convergence channeling our emotions through a cathartic mutual loss of our friends and neighbors, the Pritchetts and Dunphys.
Join me tonight during the grand finale episode of Modern Family, aka the #GreatDiscordantConvergenceCatharsis2020.
My smile is so big as I write this. While watching this short film, at minute 4:54 I saw for myself the growth of our society in the skillful portrayal of a parent getting a shock, sucking it up, and instantly choosing loving support. Yes, we slip a lot and yes, we have citizens howling and screaming to drag us back in time, but in the land of lawn mowers, oleanders, and teen dances we’ve come so far. Every single actor in this 8 minute production gave their absolute all to the project, every character springs to life fully 3-dimensional. And wow, do they tell a brilliant short story.
Go back up and watch it for yourself. It takes half the time of a coffee break. I’ll wait.
Told you so. Listen, spring dances start in a matter of weeks so please pass this wonderful short film around and help people see a story about the love and support our youngsters deserve from us.
I’ve got sympathy for teenagers, their hormones jump around, adulthood looms large, and they reject and demand responsibility for themselves simultaneously. They stew in an odd mix of fear, courage, paranoia, assumptions, growing self-awareness, dreams, options, and most of all worry. Their emotions are as raw and real now as yours were at that age.
We store memories as reminders of who we were once and sudden strong memories pop up in everyone’s mind once in a while. They swoop into your brain, peck at your ego, knock you down to size, and leave behind the same emotions you recorded in that moment. Remember? Of course you do. We all grow through adolescence and awkward young adulthood. You’re a survivor.
Prom night will be a night your teen will NEVER forget and you, their folks, will play significant roles in their lifelong recurring memory. Ask yourself, ‘How do I want my youngster to remember me long after I’m gone?’
Choose kindness and love. Choose your child.
When I was a kid (maybe 9 or 10 years old) my dad bought one of the first Polaroid cameras, the kind where you rubbed the ejected square with chemicals to get the picture to appear. He was having a wonderful time with his new toy and on Easter Sunday, since we were all dressed up for church, he sat each of his five children one at a time in a straight-back armchair to take our portrait.
We started from the oldest to the youngest because Mom was still getting the youngest ones ready to go. When it finally came to the baby’s turn, she was all decked out in a fancy dress (she was 2 or 3) with gloves, hat, and fancy white patent leather shoes. Everyone gushed over how cute she looked, so she was excited to have her photo taken.
While waiting, she’d somehow gotten a thumbtack stuck in the sole of her shoe. When Dad perched her up on the chair, her little legs stuck straight out and everyone watching (i.e. Dad, Mom, and her four older siblings) all shouted, “A tack!” and lunged for her foot.
The baby, terrified by having her entire family shout, “Attack!” and race toward her, burst into tears. Poor little thing…we probably scarred her for life.