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rage and injustice

August 10, 2019

Waking this morning to the news that accused pedophile and sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein committed suicide in his jail cell has me filled with conflicting emotions and some not-really-unreasonable conspiracy ideas.

The fact that the man found a way to kill himself while on suicide watch raises some red flags, though I suppose someone who is determined will find a way.  It isn’t a stretch to start thinking about the other powerful men he could conceivably bring down and how far into a prison like his their hands might reach.  I’m sure President Orange Buffoon will sleep better knowing the man is dead, and he likely isn’t the only one.

There’s also the idea that maybe Epstein did “what was expected” of him by his powerful friends.  Who knows, maybe he was given just enough room to do it by those in charge of his “suicide watch.”

Conspiracy theories aside, I am not unhappy that he is gone.  There is a rage for the victims that will not receive justice and for the powerful men that will now be protected a while longer that fills me when I think about it. It’s a rage that I don’t want to cool.  Those women deserve justice for what was done to them and those men deserve punishment for what they’ve done.

I am still hopeful that some good comes out of this.  Maybe some secret diary or files that will come to light now that the monster has departed this earthly realm.  Maybe more women find their courage to step up to the mic and name names.  Maybe some woman kept some form of proof she’s been too afraid to share with the world.

I don’t care who a man is, what group he belongs to, which side of the political divide he stands on; any man who forces himself on a girl or woman, especially those who are too young to consent, deserves to be called out, prosecuted and jailed, as well as to be made to provide financial compensation for all of the medical and mental health expenses incurred due to the rape(s) and lost wages from any amount of time she has been unable to maintain gainful employment due to the damages caused.

Once they’ve paid up, and named any names of those who committed these crimes with them, I don’t care if they commit suicide in their jail cells.  I’d be done with them at that point.  Maybe that’s why the rage at Epstein’s death is so strong, he didn’t pay up, he didn’t have to face his accusers, he hadn’t named names.  He took the coward’s way out of his predicament, rather than putting on his big boy underpants and giving society the justice it was demanding.

I do hope something good comes of this…but I won’t hold my breath…

Photo by Emiliano Bar on Unsplash

revolution

July 5, 2019

It’s difficult these days to find my love of country underneath all of my disgust, anger and fear of my country. The America I have always been so proud to be a part of seems to be gone, and in it’s place we have this dark pretender that puts children in cages, lets it’s vets rot homeless on the streets alongside the families that have nowhere to go, takes food out of the mouths of the poor and the elderly, and denies medical coverage to anyone who is not fortunate enough to get it from an employer.

We spend billions of dollars on military spending that we don’t need, and leave roads crumbling.  We pay for our “president’s” many trips to his own properties to play golf while people die for lack of medical care.  Our elected congress sits and does nothing while our jobs continue to disappear overseas, our skies and waters are polluted and our LGBTQ brothers and sisters lose their jobs, families and lives.

Our message to those who are different is that they are no longer welcome in the country where we were once proud to take in all those fleeing from oppression, from war, all those looking to find a place to call their own.  Those with hate in their hearts have found themselves emboldened in the last few years to speak that hate out loud again, to follow that hate to it’s inevitable end and that end is brutal to those on the receiving end.

Somewhere, underneath all of that is the country I grew up in…the country that I fight for.  Yes, we are a country founded on resistance, on revolt, on revolution…we are a country where every single person has the right to speak. But we are also a country where everyone has the right to exist, the right to pursue happiness.  It’s time to remember that, to restore order and pursue true equality again.

Will it take another revolution to get us there?

 

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

time to party

June 28, 2019

This weekend, in the heart of San Francisco, the LGBTQ+ community will come together to for Pride. While it is a big party, and the atmosphere can get wild and silly and stupid, we need to remember it’s origin.  We’re at the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots and I think we need to find time amid all of the celebrating to remember those who were the first to stand up and say “No, we won’t be treated this way.”

We’ve come a long way since then…but in some ways we’re still mired in that ugly past when people were free to discriminate against the “degenerates” and “perverts” even to the point of threatening their lives.  The rise we see in hate crimes against our LGBTQ+ brethren hearkens back to that time.  No, we aren’t being arrested just for being us…yet.

However, the number of trans women of color who have been murdered in the last two years is terrifying.  It was trans women of color who threw the first brick at Stonewall.  They started the movement that has brought us to the place where we have the rights of our straight brethren, and we need to stand up for them.  Loudly.  We need to put our bodies between them and those that would murder them for existing.

I have a niece who is transgender.  She is a beautiful girl whom I love dearly.  Sometimes I fear for her safety in this world that is trying desperately to return to a time before Stonewall.  Fifteen years ago I knew one person who was transgender, and she ended up taking her own life.  Today my life is filled with transgender folks, and while we might argue that things are better today than they have been in the past, the truth is they are still in danger.

It’s time to remember the T in LGBTQ+ and that they are a part of us as a whole.  We have no room for the in-fighting and self-flagellation that can be seen within various parts of the family.  As we gather for the big LGBTQ+ family reunion this weekend, lets embrace everyone and let love guide us past our fears and the hate fomented by those outside our community.

So, go out and party this weekend (but be safe and don’t do stupid things like take drugs from strangers and all that), but make room for those who may not be like the people you usually hang with.  Hug a transgender person (ask first).  Embrace pronouns.  Talk to someone whose gender is ambiguous.  Step outside your comfort zone and learn something new.

The Mom instinct in me also wants to say:  Wear sunscreen on ANY exposed skin.  Drink lots of water.  Pace yourself with alcohol.  Don’t do drugs.  Support our vendors.  Donate to help Pride keep on keeping on, just find a PINK BUCKET at any of the gates or the donation booth.  If you donate, you get a sticker that will get you a dollar off all drinks, all day.

Now then, I should focus on the morning routine.  Lots to do the day before Pride!

 

Photo by Tristan Billet on Unsplash

big ideas

June 2, 2019

Yesterday I got to attend MoveOn’s Big Ideas forum in San Francisco, where 8 of the democratic Presidential candidates got to present 5 minutes on their “big idea” to move the country forward, followed by a little Q&A with the moderators.

I went in knowing that I really liked both Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, that I was completely over Bernie Sanders, and not a lot else about the other five candidates.  I was prepared to be underwhelmed by the men because at this point men in politics have left me pretty cold since Obama left office, but I went in willing to listen.

I was really surprised when Cory Booker, Beto O’Rourke and Julian Castro all had passionate, important ideas to share that ranged from closing the racial wealth gap (Booker) to Immigration reform (O’Rourke) and demilitarizing the police/ending police brutality (Castro).  All three were well spoken and articulate, provided not just their BIG IDEA but also their reasoning for why it is something we need, but HOW they’re planning to go about making it happen.

The only woman I didn’t find particularly compelling was Kirsten Gillibrand.  She seemed like a paler, less passionate ghost of the other women.  Not that her ideas about paid family leave weren’t important, but when compared to Warren’s comprehensive idea to battle the corruption that plagues D.C. and Wall Street and thereby the whole country, or Amy Kobuchar’s idea to improve voting rights, including automatically registering all citizens at the age of 18, her presentation was lacking somehow, failing to capture the audience as successfully as the others.

Of course, Kamala Harris’ presentation was interrupted by a jackass with his own “big idea” who jumped the stage and stole her microphone to try to speak (presumably about animal rights as I understand it), but she recovered nicely and was able to carry on talking about equal pay, and shifting the burden of getting employers to be responsible to obey the law from making women chase after it to making employers prove that they are providing equal pay, and significantly penalizing those who don’t.

On top of that, I made a few connections with other attendees, and overall, enjoyed my afternoon.  I only had a few moments of sheer panic, but as an agoraphobe who is determined to get out in public, that’s expected.

Thank you to MoveOn for inviting me!

 

Photo by Bogomil Mihaylov on Unsplash

…the cult of the dead…

May 25, 2019

There are many cultures and religions that revere the dead.  Some worship their ancestors.  Some celebrate their dead.  Here in America it isn’t really a formalized idea, outside of those who practice specific religions, but visit almost any home in America and you will see altars filled with pictures and mementos of those who have gone on ahead.

This is even more true of those homes that have lost a soldier, someone who went out in service of our country, or what was passing as service to our country at a time, and came home in a box, if they came home at all.

You’ll find the formal “graduating basic training” pictures of stern and/or happy looking soldiers in their dress uniforms, carefully folded and framed flags, maybe dogtags or casual photos of them on their deployment laughing with their friends.  You might find trinkets that soldier picked up along the way.

In some ways, I suppose, these altars to the dead are a way of keeping them close, of keeping their memory alive.  We don’t worship them like other cultures, at least not in the traditional sense of that word: worship.  There isn’t a formal practice, no chanting or meditation in any formal sense.  It isn’t really religion.

Except for the militant military cult that has been growing in recent years…the vehement veneration for men with guns, for forcing the world to accept what we want them to be, for the idea of our young people dying in our service, without really stopping to consider what that service actually is.  As long as they put on that uniform before they die, we practically worship them.

Of course, for those who return still alive, well, we have next to no use for them.  They didn’t die for us.  They didn’t fulfill their purpose.  We ignore them until they become a convenient political football for us to lob at the heads of those who disagree with the cult of the dead, those who would spend time and money fixing the broken who didn’t die.

This Memorial Day we, as a nation together, honor those who fell in service to the idea that is America.  Our young nation has spent a lot of years involved in war and we’ve fed generations of soldiers into the grinding machinery of war in that time, from that first shot in the Revolution to the last to die on the sands of the middle east…and this is the official weekend for us to honor that sacrifice.

May your veneration be filled with awe and wonder and not anger.  Lay flowers on the graves, talk to them, sing their favorite songs, cook their favorite foods…embrace your neighbor and for at least the one day set aside your differences.  Remember the idea that those men and women died for and maybe turn your attention to making that idea a reality.  The idea that America is a country worth our blood.  That our founding fathers (and mothers) set down the notion that all men are created equal, even those who are very different from you.

 

Photo by Einar Storsul on Unsplash

lets talk about sex…and abortion

May 24, 2019

I meant to post earlier this week, but the job hunt is a whole job of work!  That said, there have been a few things on my mind lately, in particular about that dirty word “abortion” and what it means to women.

As a woman over 50, I have never been pregnant, I have used birth control of at least one type whenever I’ve had sex my entire life and I’ve used birth control to manage health issues.  As a matter of fact I am using two forms of birth control right now to manage my extremely painful periods that come with excessive bleeding.

My generation was taught that these aren’t things we talk about in polite company, and that might well explain why so many cis-gender, white male people have absolutely no idea how a woman’s body works.  They don’t understand what a period is or why they happen.  They don’t understand how birth control works.  They don’t get that if every woman everywhere just “didn’t have sex” until they were ready for babies, they would never get laid.

Not to mention the increase in acquaintance rape that would occur, because so many men feel that they are entitled to a woman’s body, regardless of what she wants.

It also doesn’t touch the internalized misogyny and self-loathing of the women who believe that it is their god given duty to fight to end all abortion (and birth control) because clearly they don’t ever actually read their own good book in any detail.  I mean, their god sent a bear to eat children for making fun of a bald man, I doubt he has any serious feelings about a clutch of cells inside a woman’s uterus.

So, let’s be real here for a minute.  Let’s review what would actually reduce abortion, namely: a) Scientifically informed sex education, b) Free access to effective birth control regardless of race, wealth or location with education on how to use it and what can counteract it, c) stiff, mandatory sentencing for rape and sexual assault including cases of incest and child rape and d) access to reliable, affordable reproductive healthcare.

Let’s face it, the argument against sex education is lame.  Learning what sex is, how it works, what it does to the body and all of the possible consequences, including pregnancy, is not going to make your kids run off to have all of the sex.  Just like learning that gay people exist doesn’t make your kid gay, or learning how rich people got rich doesn’t make your kid rich.  Kids are going to have sex.  It’s part of being human.  Part of that drive for survival that had us marrying and procreating at fifteen just so we’d have enough kids to work the farm, and we just haven’t evolved out of it.  So while our morality about under age sex has evolved, those under age bodies haven’t.  Sex feels good, and kids are going to have sex.  Wouldn’t it be prudent to arm them with real information so that they can protect themselves?

And let’s talk about sex for a minute.  It’s 2019 people.  Women are allowed to have sex.  We’re allowed to like sex. Sex feels good, when it’s done right.  We don’t need men’s permission to orgasm.  As much as we’re allowed to say No to sex, we’re allowed to say yes as well, and in a world where science has gifted us with options for birth control, there is no reason at all that sex necessarily has to lead to pregnancy.

But no birth control is 100% effective.  Things happen.  Condoms break.  Birth control fails from time to time.  And when that happens, a uterus may get a new, unwanted tenant.  If someone moved into your house uninvited, used up all of your resources, made you sick and threatened your very life, wouldn’t you want them evicted?

Pregnancy is a hard, hard thing on a body. Anyone who tells you otherwise doesn’t understand the science of it or is blinded by religiosity.  Here in the US, our infant and mother mortality rates are climbing.  Pregnancy can and does kill mothers and babies.  No one who chooses not to be pregnant should be forced to give birth.

If you would force an 11 year old rape victim to give birth to her rapist’s baby, you are an asshole.  If you would force a scared college student with no money, no support system, no health insurance to give birth to a child just because you say so, you are an asshole.  If you would force a married mother of four who is barely making ends meet and will lose her job if she has to miss as much time as a fifth pregnancy will require her to miss, to carry that child to term, rather than aborting it as soon as she is sure she’s pregnant, you are an asshole.

If someone needs blood, I can’t be forced to give them mine even if we’re a type match.  If someone needs a kidney to survive, no one can be forced to undergo surgery to give up one of theirs.  Hell, if I die and make it clear that I don’t want to donate any of my body to anyone, no court in the land is going to over ride those wishes and take anything from me.  Why?  Because I have a say over what happens to my body, even when I’m dead.

That authority over my body isn’t suddenly superseded because it is suddenly invaded by a parasite.

Pregnancy and birth is a wonderful, miraculous thing…when that child is wanted and planned for.  When it is unwanted, pregnancy and birth is terrifying, painful (both physically and emotionally) and it ruins lives.

Our world is already over populated.  We already don’t take care of the children we have.  They go hungry, they suffer at the hands of abusive caretakers. They languish in the foster system.  All over this world there are children who were born because their mothers had no choice, no access to safe abortions.  All over this world there are children who need the help and resources that this country spends fighting abortion.

Maybe if we spent that money on taking care of the children that are already here and funding education, health care and actual prosecution of abuse and rape, we might find that the number of abortions drops all on its own.

 

Photo by Jan Zhukov on Unsplash

somewhere out there…

May 3, 2019

So this week, I got laid off.  Again.  It seems to be the fate of the technical writer.  It’s one of the first jobs cut when tough financial times hit a company.  I guess we aren’t completely essential to the bottom line, even if our job is to make life easier for the company.

Having just gotten a glowing review and a substantial raise, this one kind of came out of nowhere, and I was not prepared for it in anyway.

I did rise to the occasion though, and within a couple of hours I had an updated resume and was applying to various positions in the area.  The market seems fairly robust at the moment, and I’ve made sure I can cover two months worth of rent, so I’m not overly concerned. The search begins!

I’m a resourceful woman with a lot to offer the right company.  I just have to find that company.  Here’s hoping it doesn’t take too long, because unemployment is not even a third of my salary, and won’t even pay my rent.

I should go take my shower so I can head in to clean out my desk and pick up my last check.  I’d like to get that over with, so I can focus on what comes next.

 

Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

…confessions…

April 19, 2019

I have a confession to make, for maybe the fifth year in a row, I have completely forgotten about Easter. This year a reminder came when someone asked me why I didn’t have today off and I wanted to know why on earth she would think I should. Apparently in England it’s a public holiday.

I’d completely forgotten Easter was this weekend, thus today was good Friday.  It helps that none of the things that might remind me are a part of my current daily life.  As far as I know, none of my coworkers are Catholic, so there was no Ash Wednesday smudges to put Easter on my radar this year.

I’m pretty sure I’ve written about this before, but this year it seems this difference has been more pronounced…the change from a time in my life when this was the holiest of holidays, spent in prayer and contemplation of salvation to now when I find the idea of what I believed then so abhorrent.

See, this entire week, starting with Maundy Thursday which “celebrates” the commemoration of the Last Supper, through Good Friday, which in turn “celebrates” the idea that a man was horrifically tortured, shuttled between authority figures until finally those who arrested him convinced someone he was dangerous enough to execute, and killed in a torturous way all so that his blood, his death could “cover” the lowly, evil, failures that we are and allow us to come into God’s presence…as if the blood would render us clean.

Have you ever been covered in another person’s blood?  Did that feel particularly clean?

And yes, before you start arguing about Christian theology, allow me to specify that I am speaking to a very specific sect of Christianity.  I am aware that not every sect believes the same things about the death and resurrection of Christ, or about the depravity of a human being who isn’t “saved”, but I can speak only to my own experience of it.

I have amazing family and friends who claim Christianity for their religion, and in their hands the faith is beautiful.  But these people are also those who direct their faith into helping others, into accepting and loving others, not making the entire world out to be something barely above demons in their level of cleanliness or what have you.

There is a difference between those who believe that God’s love is unconditional and those who hang the condition of blood onto it, and I can honestly say I have seen unconditional love more in those who are not Christian than those who say that they are.  Anyone who says “unconditional love” and then say, but first stop your sinning doesn’t actually believe in unconditional love.

As a Pagan who has studied Christianity extensively, I don’t think the stuff attributed to Jesus in the bible was necessarily about “salvation” in the sense that the evangelical arms of Christianity make it out to be.  I think that word had a very different meaning to the people of ancient Israel, to the Jewish people.  I think that when we remove the bible from a cultural and historical understanding of the times in which it was written, we lose the meaning, which is how we end up where we are today.

Of course, Easter here in the US is more than that which I remember from my days within the cult of evangelical Christianity…in my years before that time, Easter was a holiday filled with candy and bunnies and all manner of goodies…and all around me there is all of that being played out as well.

This year, Easter falls between the Pagan holidays of Ostara and Beltane, two festivals that deal with the fertility of spring, planting, preparing, birthing and the natural world…festivals that we see echoes of in the bunnies and the eggs of our Easter celebrations.  I think I’ll focus on those things, on growing and emerging and feeling the sun on my skin.

I wish you peace and unconditional love, no matter what religion you claim or don’t.  I wish you joy and the freedom to celebrate however you see fit.

Photo by Gary Bendig on Unsplash

…watch how I burn…

April 16, 2019

Fire is a wondrous thing. It can sustain us with warmth in the cold, with food we cook in it’s heat…it can destroy structures and forests.  But even in it’s destruction, it brings rebirth.  I think for me that is what fire is…death and rebirth and death again.  Very Pagan of me, I know.

I’ve never been to Notre Dame cathedral, though I imagine I would love it, the way I love so many medieval structures.  It is a glorious example of the ingenuity and artistry of man, and in my experience sacred ground is sacred, no matter which religion is doing the hallowing.  I have felt the peace and been filled with Divinity in cathedrals and temples and mountain meadows.

As I watched the images coming across my Facebook newsfeed yesterday, I felt that familiar dread and fascination that comes with fire.  Part of me wanted to get close to it, to feel the heat on my face, to greet it as a friend…and part of me trembled at the power it has to destroy.

No matter how you feel about the Roman Catholic Church, or art or history, there is something very human in the sorrow that comes from this kind of event.  To see the faces of those who gathered in the area surrounding the cathedral, those who live in it’s shadow, to see their tears and wonder and horror, that echoes within us, just as it would if it were a neighbor’s home that was burning.

The good news, of course, is that much of the cathedral was saved, and much of the artwork had already been removed due to the ongoing renovations, but that doesn’t mean something wasn’t lost…something ancient and holy, something from our collective past.

It is also important to remember that this is the way of the world, buildings go up, buildings come down…history is written, rewritten, changed and burned.  Notre Dame, like many other structures in Europe that date back to our historic past, was partly modern, with repairs and reconstruction across the years.

If this is a death, it is also a moment of rebirth, for surely what was destroyed will be rebuilt, perhaps even better than before.  And if I can be even more Pagan for a moment, perhaps the Church that built and maintains it can experience some of that death and rebirth as well.  There’s no denying that the Catholic church has been experiencing little deaths for decades, with falling attendance and scandal after scandal.  I’m not saying it needs to be burned to the ground, but sometime fire is necessary to destroy the overgrowth, and hallow the ground for new growth.

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…achoo…

April 12, 2019

Allergy season is in full swing here in northern California, as evidenced by the constant watering of my eyes and the random bouts of bullet-sneezing that overtakes me.

I love flowers and trees and all kinds of growing things.  Unfortunately, my body thinks they’re all trying to kill me!  At least my bottle of generic Zyrtec should be delivered today.  I’ve discovered that I can get a bottle of 365 pills from Amazon for less than the bottle of 60 pills at the local drug stores, so I should be covered for the summer. I’m that Pagan who has to limit my “outdoor” activities in summer, when all the rest of the Pagans are out dancing among the flowers.

I miss gardening…not that I have a place for a garden in my current living situation, but still.  I handled my “allergic to growing things” by planting succulents in containers on my porch over the last 3 years and that’s helped.

Salvia-Embers-Wish-449x330This year I also pulled a struggling hibiscus tree from a sort of built in container and planted a beautiful Ember’s Wish salvia there instead.  mountain fireI also filled a container I had laying about and put in a Mountain Fire lily-of-the-valley, because I need more color and more…growing things.

The nice thing about container gardens is that when the time comes to move, they can all come with me.

I may have to go back to the nursery to get another salvia, they had so many beautiful hybrids!  And I’m told that they attract hummingbirds, so that’s a bonus!

I also have a fire pit out there on my porch, so maybe I can engage in some witchy behaviors after all.

Okay, enough rambling about my garden, I need to get myself busy with work.

 

Photo by Callum Skelton on Unsplash