complaints, controversies, healthcare, law, modern problems

Well… most of us knew this sad and scary day was coming…

I wasn’t surprised yesterday when I read the news about Roe v. Wade, and how six out of nine Supreme Court Justices voted to overturn the landmark decision that has allowed American women to legally access abortions since 1973. I was about to include the word “safely” in my previous sentence, but decided against it. Because truthfully, accessing abortion in the United States hasn’t been safe in years.

I can remember as far back as the 1990s, hearing and reading about doctors who provided abortions being murdered by gun toting, right wing zealots. I can remember hearing and reading about women having to face throngs of protesters when they visited Planned Parenthood, even if their visit was simply to get gynecological care or treatment for a yeast infection. I’ve read more than a few stories about parents who bravely sought late term abortions of their very much wanted developing fetuses due to a medical catastrophe, only to be confronted by some intrusive asshole holding up a sign and pictures of mutilated fetuses, screaming at them for “murdering” their child.

So many times, the people who presume to tell strangers what reproductive choices are appropriate for their lives have no ideas about how to care for babies that are born to people who aren’t ready to be parents. Their usual stock answer is to put the baby up for adoption… but that conveniently ignores the fact that there are many thousands of older children languishing in foster care, waiting for some pro-life person to give them a home. Those who want to adopt, often prefer to adopt babies… preferably babies that are completely healthy. They also don’t pay any mind to the fact that giving up a baby is very traumatic, and many times, the baby is given up only because of finances.

People who regularly read my blog may know that I like to read advice columns. Recently, I read a post written by a mother whose daughter gave up her baby girl for adoption. Years later, the daughter who “chose life” yearned to have a relationship with her long, lost child. The young woman wanted nothing to do with her birth mother, and this was crushing to her– as well as her mom, who had written for advice. I remember reading the comments left, most of which were pretty shaming toward the birth mom. People wrote things like, “What did she expect?” and “This is what happens when you abandon your baby and give it up for adoption!” and “Birth mom is just going to have to suck it up.” With that kind of judgment from the masses, is it any wonder that so many pregnant folks who don’t want to be pregnant would opt for abortion? At least with an abortion, there’s no wondering… and no one has to know or judge.

People who are against abortion also tend to be against welfare, and they never hesitate to condemn anyone who seeks help when they need it. They are usually against universal healthcare, mandatory leave for new parents, and requiring birth control to be covered by health insurance. Hell, they are also against having to have health insurance! And by God, many of them are just fine with people owning as many weapons as they want to own, no matter how deadly they are.

Then there’s the other side of the abortion spectrum. What about all of the developing embryos that were created by people who dearly want to be parents? Those embryos, which to most of the pro-lifers should be considered full fledged babies, are usually discarded when people have had as many babies as they want to have. But now that states can determine what constitutes personhood, there could be a real issue with procedures such as IVF. I’ve often thought about the many children who have been killed in schools by crazed young men with guns. How many of those children were conceived with help from a reproductive specialist? How many of them represented years of dashed hopes, massive money spent, and dramatic upheavals, only to be gunned down in a classroom? We can’t seem to do anything about the gun nuts, but we can sure as shit force people to gestate, even if it might threaten their well-being… or even their lives.

I saw many people opining about this decision. Most of the people I know are heartbroken, angry, and vowing to vote blue. Some of my friends still have friends who are happy that women are now going to be forced to gestate. A lot of the people who don’t have a problem with the Supreme Court’s decision are men, or women who are beyond their reproductive years. It always makes me cringe when I read a comment from a conservative white man who has no empathy for women. It usually doesn’t take long before they make a comment about women’s “personal responsibility” and birth control. They’re often pretty clueless about how to access birth control and what it takes to get it– and afford it. They don’t ever think about the number of rape and incest cases that never get reported, and assume that people who are pregnant and don’t want to be got that way because they were “irresponsible”. I often see and hear them saying things like, “She made her bed. She needs to lie in it.” Really… they think babies ought to be punishment! Like– if a woman has a baby she isn’t ready to raise, that will teach her to keep her legs closed. Well… isn’t that disgusting?

They never think about the times females are in situations in which they are pressured to have sex. The female might not have wanted sex, but she likes the guy she’s with… and HE wants sex. But he doesn’t want to bother with a condom… or the one he’s had in his wallet for over two years has a tiny hole in it. The types of people who blame women and want to “teach them a lesson” by forcing them to birth never think about that scenario. And if you point out to them that all pregnancies are caused by men, they want to argue about it and slut shame.

And then there are the people who say that this ruling hasn’t made abortion illegal, it’s only put the decision back into domain of the states. That conveniently ignores the fact that there are many states that have had trigger laws on the books for ages, just waiting for Roe v. Wade to be overturned so abortion can be made illegal immediately. And there will be other states that will rush to push through legislation that stops abortion, forcing the women with means to go to other places to get what they need (or want), overloading those states’ or countries’ systems. And the women without means will suffer and possibly even die.

Yesterday, I commented to a man who made a statement about how this decision hadn’t made abortion illegal, and was only shifting the responsibility to the states. A woman responded that those who want abortion can “always go to another state”. As if that’s the easiest thing in the world for a teenager with no money or transportation to do… But then she ended her comment by asking me if I wasn’t glad my mom hadn’t aborted me. I had to laugh at that, and I took great joy in telling her in very blunt terms that no, I AM NOT GLAD my mom didn’t abort me. I explained that if she had aborted me, I would not have been any the wiser. Developing embryos are oblivious. They have no concept of life or death, right or wrong, heaven or hell, or anything else. And if she had aborted me, we both would have been spared significant pain.

I was born in 1972, and abortion wasn’t legal everywhere at that time. Even if it had been legal in Virginia in 1972, I doubt my mom would have had one. My father wouldn’t have wanted her to do that because he was a conservative, white, southern male, and I think he liked the idea of being the father of four. But he wasn’t the one doing most of the work of child raising, and to be frank, my mom was not very good at the job. I had to hear many times about how upset she was about being pregnant with me, how obnoxious I was, and how her friends didn’t want to go anywhere with her because of me. And you know, all of that might have been true… but it’s not the sort of thing any parent should be telling a child. I heard it repeatedly, not just from her, but also from my siblings. In fact, when she’d get annoyed with me, my mom would even say “Where did you come from?!”

I grew up feeling resented and put up with… and although I had most of everything I needed or even wanted, in terms of material goods, I wasn’t cherished much. I have often felt rejected by the people who are responsible for my being here in the first place. It’s not so bad now. I’m 50, and don’t rely on my mom anymore. My dad died 8 years ago. We clashed a lot, and I think he was often ashamed of me. There are worse things that not being born… or even dying. Anyway, whenever someone thinks they’ve burned me by asking if I’m not glad to be here myself, I always delight in telling them “no.” I think babies should be wanted and deeply cherished by their parents. I also think that ideally, babies should be raised by the people who birthed them, because even the best adoptive parents can’t erase the biological connection that children have with their parents. People want to know where they came from; if they didn’t, DNA tests wouldn’t be so wildly popular.

I noticed this morning that my response got a few likes, as well as a comment from the woman who asked me if I was not glad to be born (which I didn’t bother to read). It also got at least one angry reaction. I want to ask the angry reactor if she would have preferred it if I’d lied. People who ask such personal questions of perfect strangers should be prepared to handle the truth. I don’t feel ashamed of myself for feeling the way I do. My life hasn’t amounted to that much, in spite of my best efforts when I was younger. If I died tomorrow, my husband would be devastated… but I don’t have any descendants, and my family of origin mostly feels alienated. I live in country that isn’t really my home, and my home country is becoming a place I don’t recognize anymore. I don’t look forward to the process of dying, but I would be lying if I said that dying wouldn’t probably be a relief. Because it means I no longer have to worry about anything at all… or engage with clueless idiots who don’t understand why people are so very upset about this ruling, and what it will mean for all Americans.

Well… I probably ought to close out this rant… because I suspect some people might not like it very much and may feel the need to “correct my opinions”. And while I think that writers should be brave enough to be truthful and tackle the rough subjects, this feels pretty raw and painful. I’m glad I’m 50 now, and this ruling will have no bearing on me, personally. And I’m also glad I don’t have any children to worry about. The United States is quickly turning into a dystopian hell.

But… on the positive side, at least I’m feeling somewhat better. Second COVID test was also negative. Of course, some people want to insist that it might still be COVID, and I should test again in a week. If I’m still sick, I’ll do that. But this really feels like every cold I’ve ever had… and I have no doubt that colds still exist. I don’t understand why people seem to want me to have COVID. What difference does it make, as long as I get well? It’s not like I ever interact with people, anyway.

ETA: I forgot to add that just yesterday, Germany’s leaders struck Hitler era legislation that forbade physicians from “encouraging” abortions. Doctors were being fined thousands of euros simply for providing factual information about abortion. And it was a brainchild of Hitler and is only just now being stricken from the books. The USA needs to take a lesson from more civilized countries.

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disasters, Duggars, modern problems, politics, YouTube

Careful, guy… your “Q” is showing.

It’s quite understandable that a lot of people are still expressing outrage and grief over the most recent school shootings in Uvalde, Texas. I have a lot of friends who are teachers, and every day, they face the reality of school shootings in the United States. I also come from Gloucester, Virginia, a rural, southern, down home kind of town, which means that I’m affiliated with a lot of southern, conservative, White people. Some of them are still my friends, even though I departed the Republican mindset a long time ago. Some are my relatives. And some are friends of friends.

A couple of years ago, a woman with whom I went to high school died. Her death was during the thick of the pandemic, although she did not die because of COVID. The way I understand it, a few years ago, she had been in a car accident that caused significant injuries. Infection somehow set in as she was healing, and it never completely went away. The infection eventually got out of control, and she went septic, which caused her death.

I remember this woman in high school, as we ran in peripheral circles. The last thing I remember of her when I knew her, was when she sang a song called “Love Will Be Our Home” at a talent show. At the time, I wasn’t a singer myself. I remember her telling everyone that she was nervous, just before she sang her song in what I thought was a pretty soprano voice. Years later, I was surprised when I heard of her death. Then I noticed where she was living. Her husband, who also went to our high school, evidently was originally from Lexington, Virginia, which is about ten miles from where my parents grew up. It’s also the town where Bill and I got married in 2002.

My high school classmate and her husband, also apparently a classmate, though I don’t remember him, were making their home in tiny Natural Bridge, Virginia, which was where my dad grew up, and where I still have lots of relatives. I never knew we had this connection. I remember that when my classmate died, there wasn’t enough money for her funeral. I donated a couple hundred bucks to her family’s GoFundMe to help bury her, even though we weren’t really friends. No one ever said “Thanks” or anything, which is no big deal, I guess. I’m sure they were overwhelmed by the sudden and tragic loss, and the fact that they weren’t able to be with her when she died, thanks to COVID precautions.

And what has this got to do with my opening paragraph? Bear with me.

One of my friends from my hometown, now a schoolteacher in North Carolina, is absolutely devastated by the school shootings in Uvalde. Even as someone who isn’t a teacher, and doesn’t have children, I am sickened and horrified by the details coming out about this terrifying event. What makes an 18 year old teenager so consumed with rage, hatred, and contempt for others that he storms into a school and kills innocent children and teachers? The colossal mistakes, made by law enforcement who failed to act decisively, are especially egregious. The more I hear about what went wrong, the angrier I feel for the victims, and the sadder I feel for the people who were left behind. This shit has been going on for over 20 years! When is it going to stop? When are we going to learn from these dreadful events and do something that STOPS angry boys from getting access to weapons and killing innocent people?

My friend, the teacher, posted the photo below.

No kidding!

A couple of her like minded friends added their agreement to the above sentiment. I’ve been saying this myself. How can our government presume to force people to have babies when they don’t want to be pregnant? But then, we do NOTHING to make sure those babies grow up into functioning adults? It makes no sense. And then I saw this beaut of a comment, made by the husband of our classmate, who died a couple of years ago… this guy, living in my father’s hometown, who needed GoFundMe to pay for his wife’s burial. This is the exchange they had:

Careful, guy… your Q is showing.

Wow… First off, what he wrote is kind of hard to decipher. I think what he’s saying is that he thinks having access to weapons keeps people “free”. But how free are you, if you constantly have to worry about your child being blown up by a crazed, angry, 18 year old kid with a semiautomatic rifle? How free are you, if you only feel safe when you’re packing heat, even if you’re at church or shopping for groceries?

He also seems to think that we should just accept that people are going to be violently killed, because “people have been killing people forever”. So, he thinks that we should all be able to arm ourselves, so that when some nut with a gun comes at us, which is, according to him, “the way of the world”, we might have a prayer of killing them before they kill us. Next, he seems to think that the fact that more people are realizing that violent discipline methods, such as “whopping ass” (as he puts it), aren’t very effective and cause children to suffer psychological damage, is actually making people more violent. Because what we really need, when we’re much younger and smaller than the adults in our lives, is someone to knock the hell out of us. That, according to this mental giant, is the way to “instill respect”. Jesus Christ.

I really felt like responding to him. I wanted to say, “Careful, guy… your ‘Q’ is showing…” But I didn’t want to get into an argument on my friend’s page. I also didn’t think it would accomplish anything, other than make a few people laugh. As we have all found out with heartbreaking clarity this week, life is SHORT. It’s a lot shorter for some people, than it is for others of us. And I don’t have time to argue with idiots who can’t or won’t be convinced that their logic is seriously flawed.

I already annoy enough people on Facebook, particularly when I disagree with them or point out logic failures. One lady named Miriam got annoyed with me last night, because I disagreed with her comparison of ultra pious people, like the Duggars, to kids in high school who take harder classes. She wrote that she gets a kick out of seeing religious people get knocked off their high horses. I can see that. It is kind of satisfying when people like Josh Duggar, who presume to try to tell other people how to live, and preach to them about family values and so-called “high Christian lifestyle standards”, turn out to be lying hypocrites.

But I disagreed with the analogy she made– and she specifically stated that this was her analogy. She likened upstanding Christian types, like Josh Duggar, holding themselves out to be above reproach as needing to adhere to higher standards. Like high school students taking AP courses. The work is harder, so smarmy religious people who think their shit doesn’t stink need to “step up”. When they fail, it’s kind of satisfying to see. But do we like to see brave high school students fail when they try something harder? I hope not.

That comparison struck me as nonsensical. Hardworking high school students should be encouraged to take harder classes. They should be commended for challenging themselves, and trying to get a better education, especially if they are blessed with a fine intellect. Yes, the work is more difficult, and the expectations are higher, but there are rewards for that kind of hard work.

Besides, most people I know with keen intellects are not ultra religious or pious; that is the opposite of being logical, right? On the other hand, it doesn’t take a great brain to accept some of the batshit religious dogma peddled by fundie Christians and their ilk. A lot of weak people, looking for a blueprint to Heaven, will swallow all kinds of ridiculous bullshit to achieve what they think will be that end. So to me, comparing ultra pious people to high school students taking harder classes is a poor analogy, and I dared to say so.

Her snippy reply to me was, “It was an analogy, Jenny.”

To which I responded, “Okay, Miriam.” Because I didn’t feel the need to argue with her. I thought her analogy made little sense. Maybe I could have couched my comment in some nice, flabby language to comfort her ego more, but as I just wrote a few paragraphs ago, LIFE IS SHORT. It’s much too short for that mess.

In light of that exchange with Miriam, and knowing how I tend to get carried away with overthinking when I engage in those kinds of discussions, I decided to exercise some self-discipline. I didn’t engage the Q guy from my hometown, who now lives in my dad’s hometown, and is pretty much EXACTLY like the people I know from both places… including people in my own family. I know, by this point, that trying to discuss these things with them is pointless, and will only lead to pain and frustration.

I can understand why a lot of conservative people don’t like liberals. Liberals can be condescending and rude, and some of them lack any understanding for what the “salt of the earth” types live with on a daily basis. Unfortunately, a lot of conservative people, who are also sometimes lacking tact, have poor or absent critical thinking skills. They mostly just think about what affects them. They don’t often consider how thinking about all people can make things better, and safer, for everyone.

Like, for instance, the “Q” guy quoted above, who needed a GoFundMe campaign to pay for his wife’s burial, and didn’t even think to say “Thank you” to those who donated. That guy is probably against welfare. He probably doesn’t like the idea of universal healthcare. He’s probably pro-life, and he’s definitely pro-gun. He sees these ideas as just and moral… we should all be responsible for ourselves. The government needs to stay out of it. Except public safety is certainly within the domain of the government. Especially if the government expects to force women to stay pregnant and birth babies. I wonder if the government is going to force women to take care of themselves while they’re pregnant… or even capable of being pregnant. It makes little sense to me that some people will do ANYTHING to stop women from accessing abortion services, but once that baby is born, they don’t want to do ANYTHING to make sure the baby turns into a beloved child, a happy teenager, and a healthy adult, who is ready to have a career and a family.

Nope… I think a lot of these Q types are interested mostly in controlling women, and making more babies for fundies to indoctrinate into religion and conservatism. It’s disgusting, and it’s quite frankly, deadly. I will end today’s post by encouraging everybody to have a look at the video below, posted by Fundie Fridays.

She pretty much says what I think… and also offers some interesting backstory on Roe v. Wade.

I wanted to also include an excellent video made by Dr. Les Carter of Surviving Narcissism. I watched it yesterday, and I thought it was very insightful. He talked about his frustration as a mental health professional, watching how our system emboldens people like Salvador Ramos. Unfortunately, Dr. Carter made the video private. I guess he got some heated comments, or maybe YouTube flagged it. It’s a shame. I really appreciated his thoughts on this crisis we’re all experiencing. Maybe he’ll repost it at some point. Or maybe not. I’m glad I watched it, though. Since that video isn’t available anymore, here’s one Mr. Atheist did. I think he did a good job with his video about the school shootings.

I wish I knew.

Other than that, I wish you a pleasant and safe Saturday… may God protect you and yours from the likes of gun toting whack jobs and perverts.

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law, modern problems, politics, true crime

Do I even want to go “home” again?

The featured photo was taken on May 18, 2014, when Bill and I took a last Space A Hop to Germany, ahead of his military retirement. At the time, we didn’t know we’d be coming back to live in Germany just weeks later. We’re still here… and we no longer really want to go back “home” again. It definitely gives me some empathy and a unique perspective toward people who flee other countries for the United States…

Today is the one year anniversary of the death of an old Peace Corps friend of mine. I wrote about Matt last year, a few days after I found out about how he was senselessly killed by a reckless driver in Brooklyn, New York. Matt Jensen was a very special person. He had dedicated his life to teaching English as a foreign language, and students of all ages benefited from his natural acumen in the classroom. Matt was born to teach, and he had loads of charisma and a wonderful sense of humor. Although we hadn’t spoken or seen each other in many years, I was genuinely heartbroken when I heard about his sudden death last year. It just seemed so incredibly unfair.

For months, I watched the news to see if anyone would ever be arrested in connection with Matt’s death. Finally, in February, just as I was about to give up on justice, I was inspired to do one last search of the news. Sure enough, that very day, I found out that the police had taken a suspect into custody. I wrote another post about how I felt about that. I didn’t expect a lot of people to get it, since it was one of my more “creative” efforts… but to me, the post I wrote about Matt’s killer’s arrest set to the Police’s 1983 album, Synchronicity, made a lot of sense. When I knew him, Matt bore a resemblance to Sting.

I’m still watching for updates on the case involving Tariq Witherspoon, the 30 year old New York Emergency Medical Technician who is being held responsible for mowing down Matt with a borrowed black Rolls Royce last year. Every time I think about how Matt died, it seems more absurd to me. This was a man who served in the Peace Corps twice. He had devoted his life to helping people, especially those who wanted to learn English and improve their lives. To think that he was taken out by an over-the-top status symbol driven by a man who supposedly devoted his life’s work to saving other people’s lives! It’s completely ridiculous.

Every day, there are more news articles about how absolutely insane the United States has become in recent years. From the relentless attack on women’s rights, to the senseless gun violence at schools, churches, and supermarkets, to the abhorrent racism on every common street corner, I’ve become a lot less impressed with my homeland. Last night, I was reading a sickening story about a nine year old White boy who brought a whip to his Black neighbor’s house. He was captured with a Ring camera, whip in hand, visibly seething with rage as he banged on the neighbors’ door, demanding that their daughter come out. Why? Because they’d had an altercation at school, and he wanted to “finish” it with a fucking whip! Below is a video of the incident, along with follow up footage of the Black girl’s parents confronting the whip wielder’s father. Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised that the boy’s father came to the door with a gun in his hand. I can see where this kid’s rage comes from; his father is clearly a toxic and dangerous person.

What the HELL is wrong with people?

What is especially sad to me is that this is a nine year old child. He probably has no idea about slavery in America, and how enslaved Black people were whipped, beaten, raped, and murdered so that rich White people could get richer. I hate to think that this child, at just nine years old, has this much hatred for others. I see how angry and violent he already is at age nine. What will he be like at 19? I hope he gets some competent help from a therapist before he winds up arrested on felony charges, as his dad was after he fired a weapon at the Black couple who confronted him about the whip and the damage the boy allegedly did to their car.

Amid stories like the one above, there are so many angry people in the United States. I read another story this morning about how Spain is considering allowing women paid time off when they suffer severe period symptoms. I think the idea is very progressive and humane. While my own periods have mainly just been annoying and inconvenient, I know women who literally get sick every month when they have their periods. I have known women whose cramps were so bad that it hurt to walk, and they spent days vomiting.

What a contrast this policy is, especially in a country as Catholic as Spain is, to the anti-women legislation being considered in the United States right now. I grew up believing that the United States was the epitome of a “free country”. But if the Republicans have their way, abortion will be outlawed, and women could find themselves at risk of being arrested when they have miscarriages. That seems extreme, but consider that Lizelle Herrera, a woman in Texas who miscarried, was actually arrested recently and accused of “murdering” her unborn child. Thankfully, good sense eventually prevailed, and she was released after what was surely a very stressful and horrifying ordeal at the Starr County Jail. I hope the American Civil Liberties Union helps her sue the fuck out of the people who reported her to the authorities and arrested her. What is especially scary about Herrera’s case is that she had gone to a hospital for help, and wound up being accused of “death of an individual by self-induced abortion”. If we don’t do something about the right wing anti-abortion zealots, this is a fate that could affect a lot of women. And it may lead to miscarrying people not getting medical help when they really need it, for fear of being arrested and charged with murder.

Mama Doctor Jones spells it out for all of us. Outlawing abortion in the United States will result in a lot of morbidity and mortality.

Naturally, the comment section for the article about Spain’s proposed legislation included many awful comments from American males, who have NO idea what it’s like to have periods, be pregnant, or deal with the aftermath of childbearing. Having lived in Europe for almost eight years, I’ve admired the family and community focused laws here. No, it’s not perfect, and people here pay a lot of taxes, which I know would not be popular in the United States. But Europeans recognize that children need their parents. Women who have babies in Germany get a very generous paid maternity leave before and after their pregnancies, as well as other benefits. Fathers are also granted time off to bond with their babies.

In the United States, we have people screaming about fetal rights, yet denying citizens the means to give babies and children a healthy start in life. When someone points out this discrepancy, they are sure to receive a snarky, unempathetic reply, usually from a Republican male, who obviously cares more about money than fellow human beings. This is what one typically tone deaf man– a man who claims he’s a doctor, no less— had to say about Spain’s proposed legislation:

Great. How do you prove that you have severe period symptoms compared to moderate ? How can you control for abuse of taking time off and differentiate between authentic cases and fictitious ones?

This was what a woman said in response to the “doctor”, who doesn’t have much regard for women:

Wait, you claim to be a physician? It seems horrible that this would be your level of compassion for a patient. There have been days out of every month for the past 40 YEARS when the pain was so severe I was vomiting and in tears. I spent the time with a heating pad or in a hot bath, trying my best to even prepare a meal for my family or perform the most basic tasks. This began when I was 12 years old. I was never diagnosed with any specific problem, and often told (mostly by male doctors) that it was just like that for some women and to “push through.” How does one prove such a thing?

Lots of people took on this supposed “doctor of misogyny”, as he continually mansplained why this law could be problematic. According to him, there are a lot of women in Spain who are just waiting to game the system and take off work when their period pain doesn’t warrant it (in his opinion, anyway).

I also saw a comment from a man who probably votes for pro-life candidates, but harangued a woman who pointed out how misogynistic the United States is. He told her to “get a new job” and exercise “personal responsibility”. When she came back and told him she was a member of a union and got decent benefits (for the United States, that is), the guy told her to “stop crying”. In his mind, she already had hers and needed to STFU. He couldn’t see why she’d want to advocate for others, who aren’t as fortunate. Does this man have women in his life? Does he care about them? Based on his comments, I’d guess not.

The pervasive self-centeredness and selfishness in the United States is just awful. It really doesn’t make me want to go home, even though I know I’m going to have to at some point. We have some unfinished business that needs to be handled. But do I want to move back there permanently? I have to be honest. I don’t think I want to. The United States has changed noticeably since the Trump years. I think Trump’s presidency has awakened and emboldened some of the worst people in our society. It will be years before the United States is back on track. It hurts to see how awful it is from afar.

Meanwhile, here in my little Hessian village, people are community minded and focused on doing things for the environment. Our local Facebook group shared a new “bee feeding vending machine” that is available now. Someone repurposed an old gumball machine so that it sells “bee bombs”– bee friendly flower seeds that can be planted in gardens to provide bees with fuel. Here in Germany, it’s illegal to kill bees. The government has wisely realized that without bees, we’d have no food. Similar legislation and efforts to save bees in the United States would probably garner nothing but derision from the clueless.

Well, I know it’s inevitable that we’ll go home at some point. Does it mean we’ll stay there for good? More and more, I’m thinking that maybe we won’t. My Italian friend, Vittorio, was right when he told me some years ago that America has a “weird-o-rama” culture. He was spot on. I didn’t see it when I was in the thick of it, but after years in Europe, it’s as plain as day. And it’s truly heartbreaking.

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communication, modern problems, social media

Compassion fatigued woman writes, “I don’t give a hoot about you…”

This morning, I happened to read an article in The New York Times about how the recent Gridiron dinner turned into a COVID-19 “superspreader” event. The annual “A-list” event, is held for journalists and politicians by The Gridiron Club and Foundation. Last week, many famous and powerful people, including Judge Merrick Garland and President Biden’s sister, Valerie Biden Owens, were in attendance at the dinner. One week later, over 50 people who attended the dinner, most of whom mingled maskless for hours, sipping cocktails, enjoying food, and watching skits, tested positive for COVID-19. Fortunately, no serious illnesses have been reported. Everyone who attended had to prove that they were fully vaccinated, although they were not required to present negative COVID test results.

I checked out the comment section. Sure enough, I found the usual reactions. Lots of people had obviously commented without reading. There were some political statements made. Many people were smugly informing the masses of their personal practices regarding COVID prevention, while simultaneously lecturing everybody else on what they should be doing. Some people were derisive, while others were insisting that COVID is no worse than a cold or flu. All I could do was shake my head.

Just as I was about to move on from the article, I noticed a particularly interesting exchange. It reminded me of my “fuckery” with Mary last week, when she left me a nasty comment because I wrote the word “ridiculous” in a comment section. These three women– total strangers– butted heads. And one of them wrote, “I don’t give a hoot about you.” Wow… that comment made me recall the old Woodsy Owl PSAs about and not polluting. “Give a hoot! Don’t pollute!”

Who says “I don’t give a hoot” anymore?

So, looking at this discussion, it involved three women. One tried to be empathic, even as she corrected the hostile woman’s use of “affect” vs. “effect”. The other was somewhat “nice” at first, then seemed to get angry and told the hostile one to “f off”. And the hostile one wrote what, I think, a lot of people are feeling right now. She’s “over” the pandemic crap. She’s got compassion fatigue. I can relate to that, even though I don’t think I’m as mean as she seems to be.

I think the hostile woman is tired of caring about COVID, like a lot of us are. It takes energy to be worried, and a lot of us don’t have energy to spare. A lot of us are tired of preachy comments from people like the first commenter, telling everyone to “wear masks”, “socially distant” [sic] (funny how she corrects the hostile woman but doesn’t correct her own mistake), and “get vaccinated”. I know people are frustrated, but I wonder if the folks who feel the need to preach have ever actually changed anyone’s minds when they order people around in comment sections. Why would a stranger in a comment section heed your unsolicited advice about COVID? Hostile lady who says she “doesn’t give a hoot” is being brutally honest about the state of things and how she feels about it. And she obviously doesn’t want to be convinced otherwise. If she hasn’t listened to the experts, why would she listen to a random commenter on Facebook? It’s baffling.

I don’t agree with the hostile poster’s opinions that the vaccines don’t work. They obviously do help people stay out of hospitals. I also don’t think her other opinions about people being “lazy” are accurate, either. Some people are lazy, but not all of them are. To me, she just sounds like someone who’s over the whole thing. I can’t blame her for that.

However, as someone who has lived the last two years in a country where masking never went away, I don’t believe that masks are all that effective. They might have helped in the very beginning, when we had no vaccines or anything, but their current effectiveness is probably pretty marginal. Here in Germany, we’ve been forced to wear the godawful FFP2 masks for awhile now, and yet COVID cases continue to rise. I suspect it might be because while we all have had to wear masks, we haven’t been forced to cover our eyes. The virus can also infect people through that conduit. Also, the masks come off for certain activities, plus people don’t wear them properly or replace them as often as they should. So, in my opinion, mask wearing is largely theater. I also think that we’re all eventually going to get infected, no matter what we do. That’s not to say that I think people shouldn’t try to avoid getting sick. It’s just that it’s probably inevitable… and as another poster wrote, there are a lot of other problems in the world that we need to pay some attention to at this point.

As for the Gridiron dinner, it sounds like the COVID infections are a bit of a non-issue. A week later, over 50 people got the virus, but they’ve all reported mild symptoms, because they were all vaccinated. Pretty soon, COVID spread could turn out to be a lot less newsworthy, since it’s going to spread. That’s what viruses do. So, it’s probably time for us to find ways to either clean the air, block the virus, or treat the symptoms effectively.

I did find it interesting that the first commenter– the one who demanded that people go back to following the rules– felt the need to tell the hostile woman that she’s a “nice” person and doesn’t want to spread COVID. The hostile woman made it very clear that she doesn’t care. She doesn’t give a hoot. She’s like a lot of people right now– totally over the whole thing. So why was the “nice” person trying to engage with her? The other lady who commented– the one who wrote that she worked two jobs and got a college degree– was correct in realizing that the woman who didn’t give a hoot doesn’t care. She told her to “f off”. And yet she still tried to engage with hostile lady. LOL… I don’t know why ANY of them bothered commenting. What a waste of time. But at least it gave me something to write about besides Ex.

I think, when it comes to COVID-19, I’m pretty much middle of the road. Even though the mask mandates were supposedly lifted in Germany last weekend, I haven’t rushed to go out into the world again. It’s not because I’m necessarily “afraid” of the virus. To be honest, watching how things are deteriorating in the world these days, I don’t think it would be such a bad thing to be beamed up, although I would rather that experience not be painful. But I don’t want to deal with the mask bullshit. We aren’t legally required to wear them anymore in most places, but there’s still the whole social pressure crap to deal with and silent judgment from other people who probably ought to be minding their own business. I do think the vaccines are worth getting, and I think they are more effective than the masks are. Like I said– Germans have never stopped wearing them, but people are still getting sick. And I doubt people are going to appreciate being told to wear safety goggles in public. What does work is staying away from other people.

Anyway… at the end of the month, we will be taking a trip to three different countries. Hopefully, we won’t get sick. But if we do get sick, at least that particular cherry will be popped. Hopefully, we will survive. I do feel for the hostile lady. She probably isn’t really as mean as she seems. She’s just tired of this shit, as are we all, and being ordered to be “nice”, “kind”, and “compassionate” by a sanctimonious stranger is annoying. She probably just wants to be left alone, yet wants to communicate that to the masses, who feel compelled to respond to her. And I feel for the other ladies who are concerned and want to be helpers– or influencers– or whatever. However, they probably ought to get clued in on the fact that most people really don’t give a hoot anymore. Being empathic and kind is good… but don’t expect to change hearts and minds that are resolutely made up… and fed up.

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family, lessons learned, love, modern problems, sex, slut shamers, social media

Kids don’t owe their parents anything… do they?

This morning’s post comes courtesy of a recycled article on The Atlantic’s Web site. Therapist Lori Gottlieb, who once wrote a very entertaining book about her experiences with anorexia nervosa, has an advice column. Because I read her book about anorexia, and because I’m a sucker for advice columns, I read Lori Gottlieb’s advice somewhat often. The article I’m writing about today has appeared several times on Facebook, as The Atlantic has an annoying habit of recycling its content, even when it’s woefully outdated, as it often is during the COVID era.

The Atlantic also attracts a lot of obnoxious commenters, one of whom is prompting me to write today. I ran into one of them after reading the 2019 era letter Gottlieb responded to in June of that year. Have a look at this letter from Lynne, of Oakland, California.

Dear Therapist,

My daughter gave a child up for adoption about 25 years ago. She already had one child, and although I offered to help her raise both children, she felt it wouldn’t be fair to us or to the baby, so she gave her up to a very nice couple, whom we both interviewed and liked. The couple has kept in touch with us both over the years, sending pictures and updates on their daughter.

My daughter always felt that in time the child would want to get in touch with her, and in fact, her adoptive parents have encouraged this, but the girl has always said she didn’t want to. This is very painful for my daughter. Can you give us an idea as to why the young woman might not want to meet her birth mother, or offer any explanation that would make my daughter feel less rejected? She has even tried contacting her on Facebook, and the response was that Facebook was not an appropriate place to discuss this relationship. But no reciprocal contact has ever been made.

Lori Gottlieb points out that perhaps Lynne’s daughter hasn’t thought long enough about why the baby girl she gave up in 1994 might not want to meet her birth mother. Gottlieb reminds her that children who are given up for adoption don’t have a choice in the matter; those life altering decisions are made for them by adults. They also don’t have any say in who gets to adopt them. Sometimes the adoptive families turn out to be wonderful people. And sadly, sometimes adoptive families are abusive or worse.

When those adopted children become adults themselves, they must have the right to make decisions for themselves. Self-determination is something that all kids should grow up to expect for themselves. It’s probably even more important for adopted children, who often have to listen to other people opine about how they should handle their experiences with being adopted. Sometimes, people tell them they should find their birth families. Other times, they are told they shouldn’t look for their birth families, since that will presumably be “hurtful” to the adoptive parents. I wasn’t adopted myself, but I do know several adoptees. I’ve learned that every story is unique. Most of the adopted people I know have found their birth families and satisfied their curiosity about what led to their being given up for another family to raise. But I know there are some adoptees who would rather not know any family other than the one that raised them. That should be okay. They don’t owe their birth families anything.

But really, if you think about it, that should be true for all children. Kids don’t owe their parents anything. They had no choice about being born. While it may be very hurtful for parents to understand this, not everyone is happy to be alive. I know there have been a lot of times in my life that I’ve wished my mom hadn’t had me. It’s not so much because I’ve had a terrible life. In my case, it’s because depression is a constant companion that has left me feeling worthless, no matter what I do. When I was a child, I was told that I was neither wanted nor expected. I was frequently told I was an inconvenience, as if it was my fault my parents made me. I know that my parents came to appreciate me, but I was told enough times that I was a pain in their asses that it made me feel very rejected. And that has made me wish abortion had been an option for my mother and she would have considered it, even though I know some people are glad I’m around. Of course, I doubt my mom would have had an abortion, even though I “crashed her party” and made her life more complicated. Many people don’t realize it, but treating kids like they aren’t loved or wanted is often how personality disorders and neuroses are born.

Adopted children probably have a different kind of trauma inflicted on them. I think of the super toxic line in the campy 1981 film, Mommie Dearest, in which Faye Dunaway, playing Joan Crawford, reminds her daughter, Christina, that adopted children are the “luckiest”, because they were “chosen”. Then, Joan makes Christina give up her birthday gifts to all of the “poor orphans” who don’t have parents. Meanwhile, a lot of them wonder why they were given up. What were the circumstances? Was it a case of a teenaged mom who couldn’t afford a child to raise? A sad situation involving parents who were killed in a freak accident? Or was it a more sinister situation involving extramarital affairs, rape, or incest? I can understand why some adopted children might not want to know. Or maybe some of them are simply not looking for the baggage that can come with discovering one’s origins.

How lucky was Christina Crawford?
Narcissism is not a family value.

So… while I can understand why Lynne is distressed that her daughter’s biological daughter doesn’t want to meet with her bio mother, I can also see why the now adult child isn’t interested. I agree that Lynne and her daughter should respect the young woman’s wishes. There may come a day when she changes her mind, but Lynne and her daughter should probably resign themselves to the idea that she might not come around. Sometimes this also happens to bio parents who didn’t give their children up for adoption. My husband’s older daughter hasn’t spoken to him since 2004. It’s been the source of tremendous pain for him. Frankly, I think older daughter is very stupid for throwing away her father, who is a kind and decent man. But it’s her life, and when it comes down to it, she doesn’t owe him anything. And since she’s a grown woman now, he doesn’t owe her anything, either.

As is my habit, I looked at the comments left on the Facebook post for this article. Naturally, some of them were terrible. Reading one of them made me realize that people who give up babies for adoption are kind of damned if they do, damned if they don’t. A number of people felt that the bio grandmother and mother had a lot of “nerve”, expecting to meet the now grown bio daughter. It seems that many people lose sight of what a tremendously painful decision giving a baby up for adoption is for many birth mothers. Does it not occur to them that the birth mom might wonder about her long, lost offspring? Do they forget that a lot of women would prefer to have an abortion rather than give up their baby? As awful as abortion may seem to the pro-life crowd, a lot of people who unintentionally get pregnant would rather not have to wonder about where the baby is and how the baby is doing. Being pregnant is a burden that has the potential to be dangerous or even deadly for some people.

But there was one commenter who was especially horrible. In case anyone is wondering, no, I’m not the original poster. I just noticed how “Richard”, who really should go by the name, “Dick”, was taking her on in an abusive way.

Why does “Richard”, who claims to have voted for Jill Stein, have this idea that “women can’t control themselves”? While it’s definitely possible for women to be sex offenders, it’s mostly men in that contemptible role of not being in control. It’s a fact that sometimes women do get pregnant as a result of rape or incest. Generally speaking, it’s not the women who are out of control. When a woman does get pregnant and keeps the pregnancy, she’s not going to get pregnant again until those nine months are up. But the men who are out there fertilizing those fertile wombs can theoretically get hundreds of women pregnant every year. So I really think Richard should STFU… but I also wonder where he got such a hateful attitude. It sounds to me like he had an unhappy childhood or something. Or maybe he has an unhappy adulthood. I wonder how much fucking he’s doing. However much it is, he’s probably doing it alone. That would account for his mean spirited comments.

One other thing I notice from the above exchange is that both people seem to be hurting. Why else would their responses be so vitriolic? And why do people feel the need to get into fights with strangers in comment sections? Is Richard really as big of a dick as he seems to be? Why is he “slut shaming”? Makes me think that there’s a woman in his life who made him pay for something he doesn’t think he should have to pay for.

I think Lynne’s daughter can take some solace in knowing that she made a couple happy when she gave up her daughter for them to raise. That was ultimately a selfless decision, in spite of the many comments people are leaving that indicate that she was “selfish” for not raising the girl herself. The alternative could have been for her to have an abortion. Of course, personally, I happen to agree with “Richard” that people shouldn’t have casual sex if they aren’t prepared to be parents, even if I think his actual comments are extremely rude and insulting. But that’s just me, and that’s what worked for me.

Sometimes I do regret that I never had children, but then I realize that I would have wanted Bill to be the father of my children. I didn’t meet him until after he’d had a vasectomy at his ex wife’s behest, so pregnancy wasn’t destined to happen without significant medical intervention and expense. When the timing was optimal for an intervention, life got in the way. Bill went to Iraq, and we had significant debt. I have never wanted to adopt a child, and one of the reasons I haven’t wanted to adopt is because of the very special problems and issues that often come up due to adoption. But again, that’s just me. I understand why some people think adoption is wonderful. I don’t think they’re wrong; it just wasn’t for me. Neither was medical intervention to get pregnant. Maybe this is the universe’s way of telling me that motherhood isn’t for me.

My heart goes out to Lynne’s daughter. Not just because she wants to meet her now grown bio daughter, but because so many people apparently think she was terrible to give the baby up for adoption in the first place. It’s the same kind of disdainful attitude people have toward sperm donors– guys who give up their sperm so that people can have birth families. I have often pointed out that I don’t agree with labeling irresponsible fathers as “sperm donors”. Actual sperm donors provide a valuable service for which they are paid. Guys who knock up women and leave them high and dry are not in the same category. And women who decide to give up their babies instead of aborting them presumably offer something of value to other people. They should be treated with compassion, instead of contempt. Giving up a baby is not an easy or painless decision for most people. At the same time, I agree that the birth daughter doesn’t owe her bio mom anything. But then, that’s really true for every child, when it comes down to it. That feeling of obligation toward one’s parent is a construct of civilization, not a biological one.

I hope Lynne and her daughter find peace and comfort.

Here’s a link to Stick Figure, the book by Lori Gottlieb I mentioned at the beginning of this post. If you make a purchase through this link, I get a small commission from Amazon.

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