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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blog news, healthcare, poor judgment, true crime, videos, YouTube

Did the ‘rona finally get me? It’s not clear at this point…

This is probably going to be a short post, because I’ve already written a travel post and I have a splitting headache. My nose is running; I’m coughing and sneezing; and I threw up breakfast (due to coughing). I don’t have a fever, body aches, or exhaustion at this point. I can also still smell and taste things. I just feel like I have a bad cold. We did a COVID test last night. It was negative. So far, Bill has no symptoms of whatever’s got me.

I don’t know if this is COVID-19. We’ll probably test again later to see if I have a positive result. If it is COVID-19, I am grateful to be vaccinated. This shit sucks… but it’s not as bad as the last flu I had, in which I felt like I was dropped off a building and run over repeatedly by a truck. I’m also grateful that we made it home before I started feeling sick. If I have to feel like warmed over shit, I prefer to be in my own bed.

I actually slept pretty well last night, and woke up feeling slightly more energetic, except for the headache. The most annoying thing about this is that my nose is running constantly. I feel like I have to hold a tissue to my nose all the time. That, and the coughing fits that make me puke. That’s not unusual for me, though. I normally cough a lot because I have cough variant asthma caused by allergies. If I had itchy eyes, I would almost assume this was allergies.

Even if I do now have COVID, though, I figure it was only a matter of time. Unfortunately, I think COVID is one of those bugs that is going to get everyone at some point. Just like everyone occasionally gets colds and, to a lesser extent, the flu, I think COVID is going to be one of those sicknesses that spreads to the masses.

Anyway… even though I could probably rant about something today, I just don’t feel like it… so I’m just going to leave this post at that, and go enjoy my clean sheets. I’m grateful I had enough spunk to at least freshen those up a bit. And I’m super glad we bought an air conditioner for the bedroom a few years ago. It would really suck if I had to be sick and swelter in the heat… which isn’t so bad today, but the house is holding heat from the past few days.

Maybe I’ll find something crazy or funny enough to blog about… Actually, for now, I would encourage those who enjoy cop bodycam videos to check out this one. It’s classic– and it’s not safe for work, because there’s a lot of yelling and cussing. But I sure laughed watching it, and had to see it twice. I’ll probably watch it again in an attempt to get some endorphins going. These cops are to be commended for not losing their shit on this guy. Seriously… they have to deal with some very disrespectful people!

This guy is really too much.

And just in case I do have ‘rona, I’m going to stay inside and hope Bill can walk the dogs later.

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condescending twatbags, politics, religion, stupid people, wingnuts

The strange case of the scary, satanic, plastic spoon from Sonic…

It’s Sunday morning, so I think I’ll write a post about wacky social media posts by Christians that go viral. Why is it that Jesus loving, God fearing, Christian types are so often white males who want to declare everything fun and fantastic as evil and satanic?

Yesterday morning, as I was cracking open my bloodshot blue eyes for the first time of the day, I opened Facebook and noticed that a college friend had commented on a viral post. My friend had written her reaction to a picture of a plastic toy that was put in a “Sonic Wacky Pack” for a Mississippi man’s daughter. The Mississippian father, name of James Charles Phillips, had written a lengthy post about how his daughter felt that the toy “felt evil”. Because her father has obviously indoctrinated her with right wing religious bullshit, the child was afraid of the fluorescent green spoon, modeled after the scepter carried by Masters of the Universe character, Skeletor. She threw it out of her dad’s truck… evidently opting to litter and befouling God’s beautiful creation, Planet Earth. How very Christian.

I decided to share the post with the comment, “This is fucking stupid.” At this point, a number of my friends are laughing with me about this guy’s wackaloon post about the evil spoon from Sonic. Some have agreed with me that this man’s post is also kind of skeevy, since it’s a dad praising his good little daughter for recognizing a piece of plastic as “evil”. One friend pictured the guy wearing a MAGA hat. Another said she got “Jim Bob” vibes, as if the daughter is his property.

My first thought, upon looking at the “scary and satanic” spoon, was that the top of it reminded me of a woman’s reproductive system. Maybe dad was skeeved out because the horns on the scepter look like fallopian tubes. They live in Mississippi, and that’s a place where a woman’s reproductive rights are likely to be stripped away any day now.

Yikes! It really does look like a woman’s reproductive innards. Maybe dad thinks that’s satanic, too. This photo came from Wikipedia and is in the public domain.

I was curious about this guy, so I went to the original post. I noticed that, at this writing, he has well over 16,000 followers on his Facebook page. Who in the hell is he to have so many followers? Especially since he doesn’t write particularly well and lives in Mississippi? So I did a Google search, and discovered Revival in Courage, a Web site that is connected to him. Weirdly enough, the site appears to be based in North Carolina, but when I read the description of the self-described “Constitutional Cowboy”, and look at the person in the pictures, I’m pretty sure it’s the same dude. A link to his very public Facebook page confirms it.

Mr. Phillips appears to be a political activist, who does “motivational speaking and teaching”. He served in the United States Marines, and raises Longhorn cattle and “nine little patriots” with his “bride” on their farm. I looked around the site and wasn’t surprised to find that it’s basically advertising right wing political beliefs, with dire warnings about the United States’s inexorable slide into communism. Once again, I can only shake my head at the lunacy. I don’t think this dude even knows what communism is.

From what I can see on their home page, members of the Revival in Courage group believe that public health mandates are left wing strategies to take away our liberties as Americans. They deny that COVID-19 is a public health emergency, and that ivermectin really does effectively treat the virus. They are vehemently against wearing face masks, and they’re especially against children being required to wear masks.

They are against vaccines for children, even going so far as connecting them to abortion and declaring them “genocidal”. Naturally, they’re against abortion, and want it completely abolished.

This group believes that the 2020 presidential election was “stolen” and the results were fraudulent.

This group is against gay pride, and gay rights. They are for forcing children in school to pray and read the Bible, even though not everyone is Christian. They think the schools are full of “filth”… I guess things like the satanic Skeletor spoon from Sonic are “filthy”, as is any discussion of sex education, any books that might actually give children liberal ideas or help them think critically.

I see that this group deems itself “patriotic”, and refers to members as “patriots” and “minutemen”. And, looking under the speakers tab, I see there’s a list of people– James Charles Phillips among them– who are promoting the idea that they can “save” America from liberals who want to “take away their rights”. One of the speakers is Dr. Jeffrey Barke, who wrote a book titled Covid-19: A Physician’s Take on the Exaggerated Fear of the Coronavirus. The book actually gets pretty good ratings on Amazon, probably because it caters to the many people in the United States who are frighteningly wedded to the extremely conservative “Trumpian” mindset. However, there are only five reviews posted, so my guess is that the ratings are inflated.

I’m sitting here amazed, since a viral Facebook post written by some religious wingnut with extremely right wing ideas, has caused me to fall down yet another rabbit hole, when I could be reading Jennifer Grey’s life story. Still, I was amused by the many posts on the guy’s Facebook page. A lot of people were telling him, in no uncertain profane terms, how fucking stupid this is… and how he shouldn’t be teaching his children to be so terrified of plastic spoons that look like women’s reproductive organs and glow in the dark. In fact, many people have rightly called what this dad is doing as emotional abuse. Isn’t life scary enough without kids being afraid of satanic influences at Sonic? I guess it’s only Chick-Fil-A for this guy’s family from now on, since he’s so afraid of his kids being desensitized and influenced by evil demons at Sonic. If you have some spare time and need a laugh, I recommend reading some of the comments. They’re hilarious. Many people are pointing out that it’s just a plastic spoon!

Mr. Phillips has even posted a video in which he calmly tries to explain himself… I’m not sure he quite makes the mark with what he said in the video. I’m not going to post it here, but it’s on his Facebook page, and at this writing, is still public. He doesn’t sound like Marguerite Perrin of Trading Spouses, at least… but like her, he probably thinks tarot cards and gargoyles are “dark sided” and satanic. What a bunch of nonsense.

Get the hell out of my house in Jesus’ name I pray!

On a more serious note, though… I am a bit scared of these crazy right wing nutters who think they need to “save America” from communism. These people have the unfortunate combination of inherent stupidity, hyper-religiosity, no critical thinking skills, and no experience beyond what they’ve known their whole lives. Add in their love of weapons, and you have people who really could make America a dystopia akin to Gilead in The Handmaid’s Tale. Now, to me, that is scarier than Satan ever could be…

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China, healthcare, law

COVID dystopia in China makes me glad to be western…

For the past few days, we’ve been dealing with a minor inconvenience involving my favorite toilet. The toilet, like many in Germany, has its flusher mechanism mounted in the wall. We’d had some issues with the flusher before. At times, the plastic hardware behind the flusher was somehow malfunctioning. In the past, I could usually take the button off and maneuver the innards of the flush mechanism so that it worked properly again. But this time, something broke, rendering the toilet unflushable and irreparable. So now, we have to use the toilet on the main floor until the flusher can be fixed. That’s a bit of a pain in the butt.

Our landlord has assured us the plumber, along with the landlord’s son, who is currently apprenticing with the plumber, will be out this week to fix the issue. I look forward to having the toilet fixed, because it’s annoying and inconvenient to have to go downstairs to pee in the middle of the night. But, I realize it’s a first world problem. We’re very fortunate to be living in a beautiful, large, freestanding home with a backyard. We also have a toilet in the basement that rarely gets used. Things could certainly be much worse. We could be living in an apartment in Shanghai.

This morning, as I was pondering what I wanted to write about today, I consulted CNN. I saw the bizarre news story about the now late Vicky White, a former Alabama corrections officer who helped inmate Casey White escape the jail where she was working. I had seen the headlines about that story and was sort of casually following it. In a prior life, I probably would have been very interested in writing about White and her inexplicable choice to consort with an inmate who, by most accounts, is a very dangerous man. I like to write about true crime, and this story has “movie of the week” written all over it. Maybe I will write about that case at a later date, as new details come out. I am pretty tired of writing about COVID, Ex, and my other “pet subjects”. However, though I am so sick of thinking and writing about COVID, I feel compelled to write about the situation in Shanghai today.

Wow.

Even though things have gotten more “normal” in Europe over the past few weeks, they’re most definitely not normal everywhere. Especially in Asia. In Shanghai, residents are being forced to endure incredibly harsh lockdowns in the fruitless quest to quash COVID-19. The situation is really shocking, especially if you’re a westerner. I don’t know how closely my fellow Americans have been following this story out of China. It definitely makes me question if the Asian approach is the best one, even though so many people seem to think they have it right.

Ever since this COVID drama started two years ago, I’ve seen many people hail east Asian peoples as having the “right” ideas about controlling the virus. So many smug, self-righteous western commenters on news articles about COVID have held up east Asians as being so much kinder toward their fellow man. I’ve totally lost count of how many pro-mask people have pointed to how Asians voluntarily and cheerfully wear face masks when they’re sick. Then, those same people accuse their countrymen of being selfish, narcissistic and even sociopathic, because they don’t want to be subjected to ongoing COVID-19 rules and restrictions.

While I completely understand that face masks were necessary, especially in the beginning of the pandemic, and I’m all for promoting vaccinations and quarantines when they are necessary, I can’t get on the east Asia love bandwagon when it comes to their extreme approaches to public health. Especially in Shanghai. This morning, I watched in shock and horror as video footage of police officers in hazmat suits played on my computer screens. The Chinese cops are showing up at the homes of people who have the misfortune of living near someone who tested positive for the virus. Under new harsh guidelines, not only are COVID positive people forced into government run quarantine centers, but so are their neighbors, even if they’ve tested negative. And the police are breaking down the doors to private residences to drag the people away.

According to the article on CNN, pleas from private citizens are falling on deaf ears.

“From now on, people who live on the same floor (as Covid cases) must be transported (into quarantine),” a police officer says in the video.

“It’s not that you can do whatever you want — unless you’re in America. This is China,” another police officer says sternly, waving a bottle of disinfectant in his hand. “Stop asking me why. There is no why. We have to obey our country’s regulations and epidemic control policies.”

The article I linked from CNN shows just how outrageous things have gotten, particularly in Shanghai, but also in other Chinese cities. I realize that China isn’t all of Asia. Maybe it’s not nearly as bad in other Asian cities. But given how many people live in China, I think it’s bad enough. One video shows citizens being forced to hand over their apartment keys so they can be locked into their homes from the outside. Those who refuse to give officials their keys have holes drilled into the walls, so padlocks can be installed on their doors. The video also shows workers installing bars on windows to keep residents locked inside their homes.

Yikes!

The quarantine centers are said to be squalid, and it seems that no one is safe. One reporter described people in their 90s being dragged off to the centers. Another spoke of babies not being allowed on the subway system, because they couldn’t produce negative COVID-19 test results. Local citizens who speak out against the draconian rules are censored. Some people have become so despondent over the endless rules that they have committed suicide. One CNN correspondent said that she’s been locked in a hotel room for two weeks, with one more week to go, before she can go to her final destination of Beijing.

Of course, we don’t have anything like this going on in the western world. A lot of people are legitimately selfish about COVID-19 and the pursuit of their own “freedoms”. I’m not saying that people who completely ignore concerns about the virus are right. I think we all should take reasonable precautions against COVID and other viruses. But there’s a limit to how far people should be expected to go. I don’t think the Asian approach to COVID, or anything else, is necessarily the best. In fact, my heart goes out to the people who are enduring that hell in China right now. I can understand why some people have concluded that life isn’t worth living anymore.

Another story that I haven’t adequately explored is the war in Ukraine. Again… watching and reading the stories about that situation make me feel very fortunate to be where I am. I have read several heartbreaking stories about Ukrainian women whose husbands have been murdered in front of them. Then, some Russian soldiers have raped the surviving women, who then must endure the rumors and gossip spread by their neighbors. I know that if I had the misfortune of being in that situation, I would try to deal with it, as those women have. I would have no choice. But it still seems insane to me… I don’t understand the level of complete disdain for other human beings that has been shown, both in Ukraine and in China. It’s as if they have no hearts for others. It’s just horrifying.

Well… I suppose I should “embrace the suck” and “count my blessings”. Yes, it’s a pain in the butt to have to deal with a busted toilet flusher. But I guess these stories from CNN are a stark reminder that my problems are really first world problems. I have been extraordinarily lucky on so many levels. Reading these stories have inspired a few moments of sheer gratitude.

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expressions, music, obits

April truly is the cruelest month for some people…

I woke up this morning to read a gorgeous, heartfelt, loving tribute my cousin, Clark, wrote for his wife, Chris. Today would have been their 38th wedding anniversary, had his wife not passed away on April 10, 2022. My cousin has spent the past fourteen months taking care of Chris, who had cancer that spread throughout her body. I know my cousin and his family have faced cancer too many times. What makes the timing of this loss especially cruel for this couple is that Chris passed just days before their daughter’s wedding. But, as my cousins in that part of my family are very devoted to their Christian faith, they did note that Chris probably had the best view of her middle daughter’s spring wedding.

I’m not the most religious person myself, but I like to think that Chris was watching her beautiful middle daughter walk down the aisle to her new husband. It’s a comforting thought. As we’re all in need of comfort lately, I see no harm at all in believing fervently that Chris is celebrating among the angels with other loved ones.

A few days ago, one of Bill’s high school friends also departed this life. His circumstances were very different than Chris’s. Mark decided to die on his own terms. I don’t know the exact details surrounding Mark’s death, other than that he committed suicide. He evidently left no clue to his family and many friends that he was choosing to die. Based on what’s on his social media, many people were left in total shock and grief. I see that in the days before he died, Mark tied up some loose ends. He spent time with friends and loved ones, and took pictures, which he posted on his profile.

While I am generally in favor of letting people exercise free agency and self-determination, I can’t help but wonder how those people who spent those last moments of Mark’s life feel about his decision. Granted, there is nothing they can do about it now, which probably makes this even worse for them. Maybe it’s pointless to be angry about Mark’s final actions on Good Friday. I can only speak for myself when I say that Mark’s decision probably would have devastated me, if I had known him better. As it was, I never met the man in person, although I know Ex knew him. I wonder if she knows what he did. I’m not about to tell her, of course… But I do wonder.

Even though I never met Mark, I have been affected by his decision to kill himself. Bill hadn’t seen Mark in many years, but he remembered him fondly and was still upset by his decision to kill himself. I have been here to comfort him, which means that Mark’s death touches me, too. Yes, there were tears shed for him in our house, if that matters to anyone.

Bill and I both understand that there were obviously things going on in Mark’s life that must have been too much for him to take. What went wrong was obviously none of our business… and, when it comes down to it, death is something we all have to face at some point. Maybe it gave Mark comfort to go out on his own terms. I am a bit concerned for his survivors, though… especially the ones who were there at the end. He apparently never let on to what he was planning, and he never gave them a chance to voice to him how they felt about it. Maybe they feel cheated or angry… although so far, I’ve seen nothing but an outpouring of love and good wishes. Personally, while I’ll be the first to admit that I sometimes fantasize about doing what Mark did, I also think it was kind of a selfish thing to do. But then, I also remember that it was his life, and when it comes down to it, he wasn’t obligated to live for anyone. As far as I know, he had no children and was no longer married. His parents predeceased him. Maybe he just felt “done”. Or maybe he was very depressed or suffering from some ailment no one else knew about. I guess we’ll never know.

This morning, I noticed that I was getting a lot of hits from North Carolina. People are hitting a post I wrote back in February about a man named Chad Carswell. I had read about him in the Washington Post. Mr. Carswell was making news for needing a kidney transplant, but refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19. To be honest, I wasn’t, and am still not, very impressed by that choice. However, I do recognize that not getting a vaccine is his choice to make. It’s his life.

My post about his case was admittedly a little snarky and, perhaps, even kind of rude. It’s been interesting to see the delayed reaction to that post from early February. I can see that the people who have found it are sharing it and clicking it repeatedly, also hitting the disclaimer link, and even my travel blog. I’m not sure what they’re looking for. My mind hasn’t changed about that situation, although I still agree that people should always have the right to make choices. That right extends to everyone, though. A surgeon has the right to refuse to perform surgery on someone who isn’t medically qualified to have surgery. I don’t know what’s currently going on regarding Chad Carswell’s case. It’s none of my business, and frankly, doesn’t necessarily interest me at this point in time. But obviously, something has triggered people to read my post about him. I do wish him well, even if I disagree with his decision not to get vaccinated. Hopefully, his decision doesn’t lead to his loved ones and friends mourning his passing in April, too.

Anyway, since death is on my mind today, I decided to record a song. I actually discovered this very simple song by John Prine only this morning. I thought it was kind of poignant and fitting, given how many losses I have experienced this April and in past Aprils… For some reason, April really is the cruelest month. It’s the month when it seems like so many people have died senselessly in school shootings, bombings, wars, suicides, and due to illnesses… As I watch flowers and trees literally bursting into bloom on a daily basis, I can’t help but think of people who have departed life in April, or have had their lives completely changed or ruined due to someone else’s choices. So below is my rendering of “I Remember Everything”, which was apparently released after Prine’s untimely and gruesome death from COVID-19. It gave me some comfort to sing it, even if it may not be among my better performances.

Incidentally, Switzerland is a place where people can legally choose to die… and it does appear to be a heavenly place to be in some areas.

I tried to do another video featuring my homely, middle-aged, mom-bodied visage on camera, but I couldn’t get the video to sync properly with the audio. I don’t look particularly great on camera as it is, and wasn’t wanting the video to look like a poorly dubbed martial arts film from the 70s. I got tired of screwing with it and decided to just use some photos from our visit to Switzerland last summer. The shots are of Lakes Zurich and Lucerne, which I found very peaceful to look at. “I Remember Everything” is yet another song I could probably do on guitar if I put my mind to it. Maybe I’ll try that at some point. But for now, here’s my latest musical effort. I hope someone enjoys it. I’m sure John Prine would have appreciated the chance to get vaccinated against COVID, although I really don’t know how he would have felt about it. I do know that a lot of people miss him, including relatively new admirers like me.

Edited to add… It occurs to me that John Prine died in April, too… and I just discovered another one of his songs. This one was about what he planned to do after death. It made me smile, especially since the chords are super easy and I could play along with it. Wonder if this is what came to pass for him when he did finally die in 2020…

I can actually play guitar to this one, and it’s quite fun to do so!

Now, as it’s Thursday and we’re about to leave town, I better close this post and get on with my chores of the day, such as they are. Gotta vacuum, you know… and walk the dogs.

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