Biden, complaints, Duggars, healthcare, politicians

Scientists are worried… what else is new?

Arran let me “sleep in” until about 5:30am. I finally got up because his stomach was gurgling so much that I couldn’t ignore it. He’s been having some issues lately with his stomach and bowels. The vet reports that he has no parasites, so there must be something else going on that will probably smack us in the face soon. He was happy to eat his breakfast, though, and went back to bed. I am now wide awake, having just read more articles on the Internet that have me feeling a bit triggered.

First, I read about how the governors of Texas and Mississippi have decided to pander to their ignorant conservative base by re-opening everything and doing away with mask mandates. To be clear, I hate face masks. I have not made a secret of that. I do think it’s too early for things to go back to “normal”, though. The pandemic is definitely real, and I think this step is probably going to cause a lot of problems that no one needs.

Just because Texas no longer has a state mandate requiring face masks, that doesn’t mean individual businesses aren’t going to require people to wear them. So the onus will be on low paid workers to enforce the rules. Also consider that Texas is loaded with people who carry weapons, many of whom are a bit unhinged. I don’t have the scientific data on this, but I did used to live in Texas, in a relatively liberal part of the state. I saw a lot of crazy shit, and that was during the somewhat sane Obama era. So it’ll be interesting to see where this decision leads.

I did have a good time reading the comments, though… One person described himself as a “front line worker” who was glad to see the mandate go. He wrote that he doesn’t like wearing masks and he thinks people should be able to decide for themselves. Naturally, that upset a lot of people, who just piled on this guy. One dude cited his own experience in the military as he went after the mask free front line worker. But then it turned out the front line worker had also been in the military and got out. The first guy assumed front line guy couldn’t “hack it”. Front line guy said he was tired of being deployed to Iraq. I can’t blame him for that. Below are a few of the best comments in response to this statement:

“My heart goes out to all of the frontline workers impacted by these decisions. Their work has been hard enough. They deserve better.”

While I personally do think it’s a bad idea to re-open everything completely and live as normal, I do think it’s cool that “Mario” calmly took on all the virtue signalers and their tired arguments. I don’t understand why people feel the need to spout off the same crap when someone is obviously going against the grain. I mean, I’m sure Mario has heard that masks supposedly protect other people. I’m sure he’s heard the stupid seatbelt analogy (which, in my opinion, is truly not a good comparison). All he’s said is that he doesn’t like wearing masks and supports people’s rights to choose for themselves. For simply stating that, he gets a whole shitload of blowback, some of which was pretty embarrassing for those who swung and missed.

Why is it that so few people can simply let someone voice an opinion? Why do we have to quash comments by those who go against the grain? Is it really so dangerous for people to speak their minds? You’d think COVID-19 safety measures are akin to the Bible. Going against what the so-called experts say is akin to actual sacrilege to some people. Personally, I think it’s a good idea to stay away from people as much as possible. That’s what I do. I comply with the mask rules, but I hate them and expect that they’re temporary. But God forbid I say that out loud. I’ll get a whole load of people who are graduates of the Google School of Public Health trying to school me on COVID-19.

How is it that I, someone who has actually gone to graduate school and earned a MPH from an accredited program, can’t be on the “masks and closures forever bandwagon” with everyone else? Well… truth be told, I have a feeling that if you were to poll people with healthcare backgrounds, you might find that their personal opinions on this issue probably run the gamut. But the ones who disagree with the official opinions don’t say so, because if they do, they have to deal with backlash like that above and people questioning their competence and intelligence. So while I don’t necessarily agree with Mario’s opinions, I give him credit for having the guts to speak up and take on all of the people who feel the need to correct his opinions and quash his freedom of expression.

The truth is, even if everyone on the planet wore a mask 24/7, people would still get sick and die. And being masked up 24/7 is not a great way to live, for so many reasons. I think people really need to think seriously about that. It doesn’t mean I’m non-compliant, immature, stupid, or selfish to say that, either. But so many people have a knee jerk reaction to anyone who says something that isn’t the norm, especially when it comes to COVID-19. It’s ridiculous, and it shows a serious lack of critical thinking skills. Yes, masks are a good idea for now. But they shouldn’t be a permanent solution. That’s why I think they aren’t akin to seatbelts. And even if I’m totally wrong, I think it’s a mistake to discourage people from sharing their opinions. Information can’t evolve if everyone always says and only believes the same things. Someone has to think outside of the box for innovation to happen.

I also don’t like how people make assumptions about perfect strangers who dare to speak their minds. I don’t know Mario at all. He could be a fabulous guy. So could all the other people commenting. But we’ve gotten so accustomed to just ripping people’s heads off because we’re behind screens and can’t stand dissenting opinions. It’s alarming how uncivil people are in the Internet age.

Anyway… moving on, because I’ve written about this ad nauseam and I’m tired of it.

The next article I want to comment on is about how scientists are concerned that there hasn’t been a COVID-19 baby boom. Apparently, experts expected that there would be a big increase in babies born thanks to the lockdowns. That didn’t happen. In December 2020, which was nine months after the lockdowns began, health departments in the United States reported a 7% drop in births. And this is causing upset, because of our aging population. From the article:

“We need to have enough working-age people to carry the load of these seniors, who deserve their retirement, they deserve all their entitlements, and they’re gonna live out another 30 years. Nobody in the history of the globe has had so many older people to deal with.”

Okay… first off, when I was getting my MPH, I heard about our “aging population”. I distinctly remember hearing that when smoking fell out of fashion, it put a strain on our healthcare system. People were living longer and developing more chronic diseases. That was causing them to use the healthcare system more, which ran up costs and crowded the hospitals. Yes, it’s a good thing overall that people are smoking less, but now we have a new problem. I finished my MPH in 2002, so it wasn’t that long ago…

Now, it’s 2021, and we have a public health crisis. It won’t be the last one. However, I’ve been hearing for YEARS how overpopulated the Earth is, and how we don’t have enough resources for everyone. I have also seen how shitty things are getting… from global warming and the ensuing natural disasters, to the lack of social justice, to children being forced to go to school at home to avoid a deadly virus. Why in the hell would any sane person want to have a bunch of kids now– sane being the operative word?

I am 48 years old, and I paid off my student loans in 2018. I have yet to own my own home. Imagine if I’d had children and they were trying to launch at a time when there’s massive unemployment and disease. When I was a young person, I could always go work in a restaurant or service industry if I needed to make some money. Right now, people in the restaurant and service industries are hurting because there aren’t any jobs for them during a pandemic. A lot of those jobs depend on tips. If no one is allowed to go out to eat, there go the tips. And I’m sure finding a job is very difficult right now. People go back to school to avoid shitty job markets, run up bills and take out loans… and then they graduate to this shit and wind up financially ruined.

I am fortunate that my mom and Bill’s mom are both very independent. I have friends who are not only trying to raise kids and pay off their student loans, but are also having to support their elderly parents. Children and the elderly are also groups of people who need supervision, and that costs money, too. Both childcare and senior care are very expensive. So I don’t blame people for not reproducing. I always wanted children, but in retrospect, it’s probably a blessing that I never had any kids.

I mentioned this in the Duggar Family News group, and someone basically responded to me with what I quoted above. Not having enough babies means there will eventually be no one to take care of the “old folks”. Well, pardon me, but I think that’s a really stupid reason to have kids… just so there are people around to take care of the elderly. People should have kids because they want to be parents and are up to doing the job of raising them well and providing for them. They shouldn’t have kids just in case one or more of them might want to work in healthcare. That’s ridiculous. Moreover, we all have to die. Maybe we should rethink saving lives at all costs. Dying isn’t the worst thing to happen to a person.

I think there’s little to worry about, though. Justin Duggar just got married. He’s 18, and his wife, Claire, is 20. They’ll probably start popping out kids soon. His siblings, likewise, are pairing up and popping out babies. Yes, those kids are going to grow up Quiverfull, but maybe some will break out of the fundie cult and be “normal”. Anyway… all of this makes me think I might want to look again at buying longterm care insurance. But even then, chances are, I’ll be alone when I’m an old woman… if the virus doesn’t get me first.

Joe Biden has stated that doing away with mask mandates is “Neanderthal thinking”. I think that’s a poor choice of words, given how many of us have close ties to Neanderthals. I found this out thanks to 23andMe. He might want to rethink disparaging the Neanderthals… they’re probably craftier than the average Trump supporting Texan.

Standard
book reviews

Reposted: An updated review of Marya Hornbacher’s Wasted…

I read Marya Hornbacher’s landmark memoir about her experience with anorexia nervosa many years ago. In 2015, I re-read it and wrote an updated review, which I am reposting here as/is.

Back in 2003, when I had just started writing product reviews on Epinions.com, I posted a review of Marya Hornbacher’s groundbreaking book, Wasted: A Memoir of Anorexia and Bulimia.  This book was originally published in 1998.  I remember that very clearly, because at the time, I was working at a restaurant and didn’t have a lot of money to blow on books and music.  I really wanted to read it.  So did everyone else that used the local library.  I finally checked it out months after it was first published, then bought my own copy.  Marya Hornbacher’s storytelling blew me away.  She’s close to my age, too, so I could relate to some of the cultural references she made during her coming of age years, even though she’s from Minnesota and I’m from Virginia.

I recently decided to re-read Marya’s book, even though I read it a few times years ago.  It’s been a long time since I was last diet obsessed.  Though no one would believe it to see me now… and they probably wouldn’t have believed it then, either… when I was a teenager, I used to diet obsessively.  I never made myself throw up or binged, but I did used to restrict food and would, on occasion, go without eating for days.  It’s been many years since I last did that.  I find that now, if I try to starve myself, I can’t really function very well.  I get pale, shaky, confused, and extremely short tempered.  Though it’s been awhile since I last fainted, I imagine if I went too long without food, I probably would.  I used to faint all the time when I was younger. 

As a teen and college student, I would starve myself all the time.  I did it, in part, to lose weight.  I probably also did it for attention, and because I had very low self-esteem and hated myself.  Some of my friends knew, but my family never did.  If they had known, I doubt they would have cared that much, since I have never been thin.  Either that, or they wouldn’t have believed me, unless they had seen it for themselves.  I do remember my mom yelling at me once when she hadn’t seen me eat in awhile, but it seemed to be more out of annoyance than alarm.  I have since come to realize that a lot of times, my mom is annoyed about being concerned.  The two conditions go hand in hand for her.  If I’m honest, I’m kind of the same way.  I get worried, but it annoys me when I feel worried.

So anyway, I just finished Wasted yesterday.  I can’t say I’m as blown away by it as I was in the late 1990s, though I still think it’s a damn good book.  She starts at the beginning, explaining that her parents, though still married at the time the book was published, were a very dysfunctional couple.  They had weird food habits.  Marya would have friends over and there would be “nothing to eat”… or, at least nothing that kids would like.  Her mother didn’t keep sugar in the house, so there was no chocolate, no sugary cereals, no Cheetos or potato chips… 

By the time she was in fourth grade, Marya was a full blown bulimic.  She later progressed into anorexia nervosa and was deeply entrenched in it by age 15.  As a teen, she was hospitalized three times.  The first time, it was for bulimia, so she had fewer restrictions than some of her fellow patients, who were there due to anorexia nervosa.  She gained and lost weight repeatedly, eventually reaching a low of 52 pounds in 1993, while a college student.  She very nearly died.  In fact, doctors once gave her a week to live.  She managed to rebound and recover, though she was eventually diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder with atypical features.  I read about her experiences being bipolar when I picked up her book, Madness: A Bipolar Life, published in 2008.

Marya Hornbacher definitely knows what she’s writing about, though her experiences were very extreme.  She’s also a very vivid writer who has a relatable voice.  Her eating disorders, while bad enough on their own, were mixed with alcoholism and drug abuse.  She got involved with males… guys she didn’t know well and didn’t care too much about.  At the same time, she was extraordinarily talented.  She spent a year at Interlochen, a Michigan private high school for artistic teenagers and, according to Hornbacher, a hotbed of eating disorders.  Her health suffered so much there that she had to leave after a year, yet she still managed to achieve a lot.  She won a scholarship to American University in Washington, DC, Bill’s alma mater as well as my older sister’s.  She did not graduate from American, though, because once again, her eating disorders got in the way. 

Throughout the book, Marya offers “interludes”, passages written after she had supposedly recovered.  She explains what it’s like to read her files, written by medical and psychological professionals who took care of her.  She also writes about physical damage she did to herself and how it affected her circa 1996.  I have no idea if she still has physical issues nearly twenty years later.   I would guess she does. 

I suppose if I had to offer a criticism of Wasted, I’d say that it may be dangerous reading for some people.  Those who have struggled with eating disorders may find it triggering or “too informational” on how to maintain the disease.  For example, Marya writes that many bulimics eat certain brightly colored foods so they have a marker when they vomit to see what’s come up.  That’s a trick that may not have occurred to those reading her book for “thinspiration”.  Some people recovering from an eating disorder may feel compelled to try some of Marya’s methods themselves. 

On the other hand, I don’t know how in the world Marya could have written her story without describing the disease and what she did to maintain it.  While being more vague about the extremes of her illness– for example, not telling readers that she got down to 52 pounds– might have made this “safer” for people who have anorexia nervosa, it also would have made for much less compelling reading.  People who don’t understand eating disorders and don’t know why they are so dangerous should know about the more dramatic aspects of the illness.  Aside from that, people with eating disorders are forever looking for “thinspiration” anyway and they’ll find it wherever they think it exists.  An Amazon.com underwear ad could be triggering to someone with an eating disordered mindset.  I don’t think it’s possible to completely protect people from themselves.

In any case, Marya Hornbacher’s first book, written when she was just twenty-three years old, is brilliantly composed, full of candor, and uses vivid language.  I do recommend it to those who wonder what would compel someone to starve themselves, binge, and purge.  Those who struggle with eating disorders may do well be be cautious.

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.

Standard
book reviews, religion

Repost of my review of Lynn Wilder’s Unveiling Grace.

Here’s another exMo lit book review I’m trying to preserve.  This one is about a former Mormon BYU professor who leaves the LDS religion and becomes a Christian.  It was originally written November 25, 2013 and appears here “as/is”.

If you’ve read many of my book reviews, you may know that I often read what I refer to as “exmo lit”– that is, books written by people who are former members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons).  I became interested in exMormons because my husband is one.  He converted to Mormonism with his ex wife, then left the faith a few years after they divorced.  Watching the aftermath of that decision has led me to discover a couple of online exMormon communities.  I’ve made new friends, many of whom are very interesting and intelligent people and I’ve read lots of books about the “exmo experience”.  Of course I’d want to read Lynn K. Wilder’s 2013 book, Unveiling Grace: The Story of How We Found Our Way Out of the Mormon Church.  I downloaded it to Kindle and finished it over several hours in one sitting. 

Who is Lynn K. Wilder and why did she write a book about qutting Mormonism?

Dr. Lynn K. Wilder is currently an associate professor at Florida Gulf Coast University, where she teaches courses in education.  Prior to her work at Florida Gulf Coast University, Dr. Wilder taught at Mormon owned Brigham Young University and was on track to become a full professor.  She and her husband were raised as mainstream Protestants, then converted to Mormonism in 1977.  They raised their three sons and daughter in the faith, first in Indiana, then later in Utah, when Wilder was hired to teach at BYU.

In her book, Unveiling Grace, Wilder explains what about Mormonism attracted her husband and her to the faith.  Much of it seemed to have to do with coincidental “miracles” that coincided with good and bad events in the Wilders’ lives.  Dr. Wilder was a teacher who worked with kids with special educational needs.  But she longed for a family.  It was challenging for her to sustain a pregnancy; she had at least a half dozen miscarriages at around sixteen weeks before her first two sons, Josh and Matt, were born.  Her next son, Micah, and daughter, Katie, rounded out the family.  Having the children was difficult and she relied a lot on prayer and good works through the LDS church to win favor with God…  or at least that’s what I got from her story.  She explains that for thirty years, she attributed her eventual success to Mormonism instead of traditional biblical Christianity.

It was her son, Micah, who facilitated her family’s exit from Mormonism.  Micah was always a very devout Mormon and had dutifully applied for a mission when he was about to turn nineteen.  He was originally supposed to go to Mexico City, but a medical emergency during his training necessitated a change to Orlando, Florida.  While he was in Florida, Micah and his missionary companion tried to convert a black Baptist preacher, who apparently convinced them that Mormonism is a false religion.  Micah got in touch with his mother just as he was exiting his mission and very soon, the rest of the family followed Micah out of the church.  The entire family, apparently to include the young women who married Wilder’s sons, are now “biblical” Christians.

My thoughts

To be honest, I have mixed feelings about Unveiling Grace.  I am not a particularly religious person myself, so I wasn’t reading this book looking for a faith promoting story.  Wilder, like my husband, is an exMormon.  Those who have never been exposed to Mormonism may not know that it’s usually a very big deal to leave the LDS church if you have other family members in the faith.  Wilder is very fortunate that she and her husband were converts and everyone in their family was willing to leave the church.  I know of many people who have lost contact with siblings, parents, and children because they quit Mormonism.  My husband is, in part, estranged from his daughters because he’s not LDS anymore.  The LDS church can make a very effective alienation tool, since it requires everyone to pray, pay, and obey before everyone gets the promised blessings.

Wilder does a good job illustrating some of the less appealing aspects of being LDS, especially for women who have career aspirations.  She writes that she was expected to be involved in several time consuming “callings” within the church.  Perhaps the most demanding role she was pressured to take on was presidency of the Relief Society.  Every LDS woman over the age of 18 is a member of the Relief Society; it meets every week on Sunday and one evening per week.  Being president of the ward’s (congregation’s) Relief Society was a very large commitment and required Wilder to be an example to other women in the church.  But Wilder had decided she wanted to pursue her doctorate and, besides taking care of her four kids, was also working outside of the home.  Wilder explains that the church’s prophet at the time had asked all the women to quit working outside of the home and be homemakers, tending to their husbands and children.  She also explains that her decision to work went against the prophet’s words, which put her at odds with local church leaders.

Wilder repeatedly writes about how prestigious and excellent Brigham Young University is, and yet it’s a university that almost lost its accreditation in its School of Education because there were too few professors working there who had gotten their degrees at universities other than BYU.  Another complaint was that the student population was not diverse enough.  When BYU did start taking students who were more diverse, some of whom also had disabilities, Wilder claims that some professors wondered allowed how some of them had gotten into “their” program.  It seems to me that any university that has that much “group think” and lacks diversity can’t be a real beacon for higher thinking.

Years later, when Wilder was a professor at BYU and determined that she no longer wanted to be LDS, she also realized that if anyone in the church found out about her disbelief, she would lose her job.  Her work at BYU required that she be an active Mormon who believed in and promoted “the gospel”.  The fact that Wilder’s disbelief in Mormonism seriously threatened her job at BYU is a sign that the school is not as excellent as it is purported to be.  If anyone should be at liberty to think freely, it’s a college professor.  And yet apparently most professors at Brigham Young University (the ones who are LDS, anyway) are not allowed the freedom to think freely about religion and other subjects.  Deviating from Mormonism means losing their livelihood, which to me, seems counterproductive in a university environment. 

Dr. Wilder was one of the few education professors at BYU who had been entirely educated at other universities and was also a convert.  She writes that she encountered some discrimination in Utah for being a convert and having a career.  One would think that Wilder would be more logical, given that she was educated at secular universities outside of Mormonism.  However, Wilder seems to rely a lot of feelings and “signs” when she is presented with a dilemma.  She presents several instances in which opportunities seemed to “fall out of the sky” and claims that they were signs from Jesus rather than recognizing that they could have come from something else.

Wilder writes one story about wearing a cross and having to hide it under her clothes, since Mormons don’t revere the cross the way other faiths do.  She lost the cross while working and went to the lost and found at BYU, where the girl working the desk told her that they wouldn’t have any crosses there.  It turned out several had been turned in, though none were the professor’s.  As she was walking away, the lost and found girl ran after her and said someone had just turned in Wilder’s cross.  Wilder took that as a “sign” from God rather than considering that she might just have been lucky. 

Dr. Wilder writes about how her sons had each gone on missions– all three originally were assigned missions abroad, which supposedly means that they were “more impressive” than other Mormon missionaries.  Let me state for the record that I don’t know if the missionaries who go to foreign countries really are better or more impressive than other missionaries are.  Wilder mentions that common belief in her book, that those who are called to foreign countries, especially in Europe, are somehow more prestigious than those who end up in the United States.  She is obviously very proud that her sons got called to Russia, Denmark, and Mexico (then Florida, but only because of the medical issues).  And yet, it doesn’t seem to occur to her that all three young men, who each served “honorably”, were out spreading what she later calls a “false religion” to innocent people around the world.  In fact, her youngest son, was actually led astray by someone he was trying to lead to Mormonism.  I’m not disappointed that Wilder’s son’s beliefs changed, though I don’t think that his mother is as “recovered” from Mormonism as she seems to think she is.

This book also rambles a bit, which makes it hard to follow sometimes.  Wilder starts in the recent present, introducing readers to her family and explaining how her sons were all different, yet amazing people.  In 2006, her third son, Micah, had an epiphany that changed everything.  Then she abruptly goes back to 1977, when she and her husband decided to convert.  From there, the book skips around somewhat, rather than progressing in one direction.  If you aren’t paying close attention, it’s easy to get lost.

Overall 

I think this may be good reading for Christians, especially those who are former Mormons.  Many parts of Unveiling Grace are interesting and it’s basically a well-written book.  Wilder does bring up several aspects of Mormonism which can be problematic for those who can’t entirely buy into the belief system. 

On the other hand, I get the feeling that Wilder still has some recovery to do.  Some of her faith promoting thoughts seem to be the same kind of thoughts Mormons have, only rebranded as evangelical Christian.  She seems to rely a lot on feelings and “signs” as to what’s right, rather than rational thinking and logic.  Given that she’s a college professor, I find that a little troubling.

For more information about Lynn Wilder…

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on sales made through my site.

Standard
book reviews, family

Reviewing In My Mother’s House by Kim Chernin…

I just took a lovely nap. It commenced after I finished reading Kim Chernin’s book, In My Mother’s House. Kim Chernin, born Elaine Kusnitz, died recently, which is probably how this book came on my radar. She was 80 years old. She was a lesbian, a feminist, a much regarded author with a doctorate, and the daughter of a famously communist mother, Rose Chernin. She was survived by her daughter, Larissa, who was her only child, born in 1963 while Kim was studying at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. Married and divorced twice, Kim took her mother’s surname after the second divorce, as did her daughter. She is also survived by her wife, Renate Stendhal.

Kim Chernin died in December of COVID-19. Her only sister, Nina, had died when Kim was four years old. Kim owed her life to Nina, because when her mother got pregnant with her, she reportedly told Nina, then an adolescent, that she wasn’t sure she should have the baby. At the time of her pregnancy, Kim’s famous mother, Rose, was thirty-nine years old and very busy with her career as a left-wing activist. Nina reportedly promised their mother that if she would have the baby, Nina would take care of it. Sure enough, Kim was born in May 1940, and Nina took care of her. Of course, no one knew at the time that Nina would get very sick with Hodgkins lymphoma, which would kill her in 1944.

At the beginning of her book, In My Mother’s House, Rose is visiting Kim and Larissa, who was a young girl at the time. She’s asked her daughter to write a book about her life as a labor organizer and Communist Party. Kim Chernin, who was nationally known as an expert on body dysmorphia and eating disorders, agreed. It took her seven years to finish the book, which was originally published in 1983. The result is a multi-faceted book about one woman’s unusual and riveting history between two super powers, Russia and the United States. Rose told Kim about her life– quite a lot of which had already been lived before Kim was born.

Rose Chernin and Paul Kusnitz, Kim’s parents, were Russian Jews. They were born at the beginning of the twentieth century. When Rose was about thirteen, her mother moved her and her sisters from Russia to Waterbury, Connecticut. Rose became politically active as a young woman, dedicated to the idea of communism. She joined the Communist Party in 1932, three years after officially becoming a United States citizen. That year, the family moved to Moscow for a couple of years before returning to the United States. Kim’s father was an engineer educated at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, so he helped develop the Moscow Metro (subway) system. The family returned to the United States in 1934, six years before Kim was born.

In the ensuing years, Rose Chernin was very active in promoting communism in the United States. Kim Chernin grew up hearing about the wonders of the Soviet Union, which her mother promoted as a more humane society. Kim read works by Marx and Lenin from a very young age.

In 1951, Rose Chernin was arrested for conspiracy to overthrow the government under the Smith Act of 1940. The Smith Act of 1940 set criminal penalties for advocating the overthrow of the U.S. government by force or violence, and required all non-citizen adult residents to register with the federal government. Rose spent a year in jail, in part because her bail was set at $100,000, which she could never hope to raise. The Immigration and Naturalization Service tried to deport Rose, but were unsuccessful because of a 1957 ruling that the Smith Act was unconstitutional.

I was initially drawn into the story about four generations of women in Kim Chernin’s family because of the richness in which the story was written. Kim was a very intelligent and expressive writer, and I got the sense that she and her mother had a complicated yet loving relationship. Kim grew up attending communist rallies with her mother, who was very much a supporter of worker’s rights and tenant advocacy and an opponent of racism. Naturally, Rose’s ideas ran contrary to the ideas promoted by the U.S. government. But there was a time when Russia and the United States were allies, as both powers fought against Hitler’s regime.

Kim also went to Yiddish school, although she rebelled against the teachings there. And yet, in reading her book about her mother, I can tell that the experience in Yiddish school left its mark on her as she weaves her mother’s voice in to story. Kim had a complicated relationship with her mother, and they are said to have fought “bitterly”. However, Kim also clearly adored her, and that loving quality is liberally injected In My Mother’s House. Rose Chernin lived a very long and productive life. She died in 1995 of Alzheimer’s Disease. She had just turned 94.

I’m glad I read this book. I promise, it’s not the book that sent me into afternoon slumber. Rather, I think it was because Arran woke me up at 4:30am and I couldn’t get back to sleep. I have always found the Soviet Union and Russian history very interesting. I also find Kim Chernin interesting because of her work as a feminist and expertise in the subject of eating disorders. Her trilogy about eating disorders, Obsession: Reflections on the Tyranny of SlendernessThe Hungry Self: Women, Eating and Identity, and Reinventing Eve: Modern Woman in Search of Herself, put her on the map as a writer. However, In My Mother’s House, is a loving and fascinating tribute to her mother, who was quite an amazing woman. It also offers a glimpse at Kim’s grandmother, a woman who never could adapt to life in the United States and was later sent to an institution, where she wrote beautiful letters.

Kim Chernin managed to impart her mother’s wisdom as she wrote in Rose Chernin’s voice, “You want to fly? Grow wings. You don’t like the way things are? Tell a story.” Words to live by… although I’m not sure I’m as good at following Rose’s advice as Kim was. May she rest in peace.

As an Amazon Associate, I get a small commission from Amazon on items sold through my site.

Standard
complaints, Germany, housekeeping tips

My new vacuum is a German speaker…

When Bill told me he was going away for three weeks, I said I was going to buy myself a “present”. Most women would buy themselves some earrings or something. What did I do? I bought a fucking vacuum cleaner. But it’s not your ordinary vacuum. This one is a dry/wet vacuum. It’s like a hybrid steam mop and vacuum. It has an app, and “speaks”. I didn’t decide to buy it for its ability to speak, though. I bought it because it’s cordless, upright, and lighter than my corded Dyson, which I’ve been dragging around for the past few years.

This guy did a review. He’s in America, though, so his vacuum speaks English.

Supposedly, I can change the language in the app, but I wasn’t able to access it yesterday, even after I registered and got an email confirming that I did. Somehow, I wasn’t able to click on anything that shows them I received their verification and would allow me to set a password.

Tineco is supposedly very responsive, but I left them a message on their Facebook page and, so far, nada. I also found it rather concerning that there was a sticker on the vacuum that asked consumers not to take the vacuum to the store, but to contact customer service. I’m not sure how to take that. But anyway, I haven’t tried it out yet. By the time it got to me, it was late afternoon, and it took some time to remove it from its box. Every part was wrapped in plastic and shrouded in cardboard. Since I’m still in pain from my recent spills, I’m moving slower than usual and was in no mood to mess with the new toy. Aside from that, it needed time to charge.

Ah well… I’m sure I can learn the German phrases uttered by my new cleaning buddy. As long as I can figure out how to use the damned thing and it does what it’s supposed to, I’ll be happy. I think Dysons are overrated. I’ve had several of them, and they never quite live up to the hype. I decided to buy my current one only because the Dirt Devil I had when we first moved back to Germany fell apart after less than a year. The Dyson may not suck as well as it should, but at least it doesn’t fall apart. And at least it’s not designed so that when I round a corner and the machine brushes against the wall, it doesn’t accidentally hit the power button and shut off the vacuum. That happened many times with the Dirt Devil.

For some reason, upright vacuums are hard to find in Germany. Everybody seems to prefer canister vacs without powered heads. I find the canister vacuum cumbersome and annoying, and I hate using it. So hopefully, this new vacuum with be good for lighter jobs, especially since Noyzi deposits so much hair all over the place and tracks mud on the floors.

In other news, I also ordered a new laptop computer yesterday. I did so as I Skyped with my mom. I don’t really need a laptop that badly, as the one I have currently is mostly used for travel purposes and I’m not traveling nowadays. However, it’s also seven years old, and doesn’t move as smoothly or efficiently as it used to. Of course, I have a feeling that my fucking credit card company might have declined the charge, since I rarely charge things and this is a high dollar item. Usually, they text me to get my approval, but I never got a text last night, and the pending charge isn’t showing up on my bill anymore. So that will probably mean calling them, which is a pain in the ass, since I pretty much hate calling people. I might just say fuck it and either use another card or wait until I’m feeling impulsive again. Like I said, I don’t need a new computer so much as I want one.

I’m not as sore as I was yesterday, though I still have some pain from the bruises and actual wounds. My knees look even uglier than they did when I photographed them the other day. The left one has developed a light brown scab, while the right one has a dark red one. The bruises are slowly changing color. Last time I saw the one on my right knee, it was kind of greenish, while the one on the left is more bluish.

Arran continues to wake me up in the wee hours of the morning, but I am a lot more careful about going up and down the stairs now. Don’t want to have another accident. Next time, I might fall on my face, and I don’t need to be any uglier there.

My former student in Armenia, who now works for the Peace Corps, has asked me to make a very short video in honor of the 60th anniversary of the agency. That will mean putting on some makeup, which I haven’t done in weeks. Maybe I’ll make a new selfie, too. The one I’m using now is a year old, although I look kind of pretty in it. It was taken just before we went to France for the annual wine expo, which I believe was postponed this year. It’s a shock to see how much things have changed in just a year’s time. Now, Angela Merkel and her pals are talking about extending the fucking lockdown until March 28th. I suspect people will freak out.

I was feeling a bit depressed and sad for the future yesterday. I probably shouldn’t read so much doom porn in the papers. Every day, it’s more about COVID-19, and how new variants are popping up. I read comments from people who are all about living life the way it is now. I read articles about how the governors of Texas and Mississippi have decided to end the mask mandates and allow businesses to reopen. I hate the fucking face masks, and being forced to wear them is very depressing for me. However, I am not dumb enough to believe that it’s safe for everything to open up, especially in the United States.

At the same time, I’m tired of all of the hostility and disrespect people have for each other. Everyone is on edge, and there’s no room for differences of opinions. People who don’t want to take the vaccine are being harangued by honor graduates of the Google School of Public Health. To be sure, I have no issues getting vaccinated myself. As soon as I can get the shot, I probably will, mainly because Bill will turn into Pat Boone if I don’t. But I can understand why some people don’t want to be vaccinated. Some people are legitimately afraid of the vaccine, for whatever reason. It should be their decision, even if I don’t agree with it– as long as they aren’t directly working with vulnerable people. Being rude, derisive, and confrontational towards people who aren’t with the official program is not the way to change their minds. Same thing I’ve been saying about the fucking face masks. All that behavior does is polarize people even more.

But… as it is now, the fucking vaccine will take awhile to get to us. I am low on the priority list. And I suppose that is how it should be, since I’m not officially high risk and I live like a hermit anyway. It sucks, though… and I would be lying if I didn’t say that I don’t think about checking out on a daily basis. This is nothing new for me, as I have often felt like this even before COVID-19 was a thing. It doesn’t mean I’m planning to off myself, either. It’s more like I feel like I’m stuck at a never-ending party that isn’t fun anymore and I’d like to go home and go to bed. 🙂 And since I have no real purpose, other than to feed my dogs and make Bill laugh, I wonder what the point is of staying.

Anyway… at least the weather is getting somewhat better and the days are getting longer. I’m hoping the backyard will dry out some and we’ll get some grass back after Noyzi destroyed the lawn. At least we can sit outside and drink cocktails, right? And listen to music from a time when things were less bleak, exhausting, and downright annoying.

I guess I’ll go try out my new German speaking vacuum now… and maybe put on some makeup and make a video for Stepan. Have a special day.

Standard