Roe and the Erosion of Rights

Before I jump into the meat of what I want to say, I want to step back and look at why I’ve really slowed down my blogging. A few things have been going on. First, I’ve been really struggling with my mental health. It’s been with me my entire life. I’ve had some sort of depression or another. In the lead up to the 2016 election I was obsessed with politics and it was not healthy.

I was frustrated with our political candidates in 2016 as well. I didn’t like Clinton’s policies and I thought we needed a significant shift in our foreign policy and domestic policy. That we should use the next presidency to reduce military spending and strive to make significant changes in our healthcare policies and expand our basic rights. I believed we needed to codify this into law. I didn’t see Clinton doing that. So, I submitted a protest vote in 2016. I voted for Bernie. Now, I rationalized this a few ways. I gave money to the DNC, I voted for all the national Democrats aside from her. I also knew that my protest vote wouldn’t have a significant impact in Oregon. I was right. Clinton handily won Oregon, won the national popular vote, and I got to protest that we should have had a better candidate than Clinton.

However, with Trump’s election, things rapidly spiraled. I needed to step back from all of the chaos he was causing. I couldn’t handle the news. Instead, I ramped up my donations. I give to more established causes across more diverse set of political interested than I did before.

Then my health started to fall apart. In 2019 I learned that I’ve been struggling with significant allergies for years. The care I was receiving seemed to ramp up my health issues and just before everyone else was stuck in their houses for Covid I was stuck in the house because I would have anaphylaxis reactions. So, instead of protesting, I read and wrote book reviews on here and donated more.

I read White Rage and I believe that book does the best job at explaining the history of why we’re seeing these erosions of rights than ever before. So, given the dire circumstances, I did the only rational thing, voted for Biden, donated more money to more causes and focused on getting healthy.

My health is moving in a better direction, though I’m still deep in the forest and a long way from getting out of the woods.

I sent that protest vote in 2016, because I wanted a leader that could start structural change. Someone that was willing to buck convention to risk reelction by codifying more rights. We need more rights enshrined in federal law. We need democratic leaders that recognize the Republicans goal is power. Continual power for a white ethno-theocratic state. One that doesn’t allow for BIPOC or their allies. One that only allows Evangelical Christians.

Roe is most recent right to fall. it will not be the last. It didn’t start here. Our rights have been on a long decline since 2001 when the Supreme Court decided the election, even though recounts indicated Gore was likely going to win Florida. It continued with the Patriot Act and the continual erosion of the 4th amendment. Then we saw the continual erosion of voting rights, first with the Citizen’s united ruling and culminating with the elimination of the VRA. This caused the huge lines we’ve seen at all the most recent election. It’s why we see so much dark money sloshing around.

I know I have a lot of privilege in our democratic system. My goal during the next few years is to ramp up my donation and leverage my privilege to push the Democrats farther to the left to counter the extreme rightward pull of the Republicans. I will mostly do this during primaries when I vote, but then vote for the Dem candidate when it makes sense.

Our rights are going to continue to erode. Gay rights and contraceptive are next, then interracial marriage, then we’ll be an apartheid state again. That’s the goal. In the mean time, I hope to do more blogging, I will donate. I will do what I can.

Published a Book!

It’s been a while since I published articles on this blog. I think I’m going to start up again, try and stick with something once a week or every other week. We’ll see.

There have been two reason why I haven’t been writing much on here. First, I really couldn’t deal with politics given the whole Trump administration, Covid, and my health. The other reason is that I’ve been doing a lot of short story writing over on http://www.wizardness.com

In fact, I’ve done so much that I’ve published a collection of short stories that I’ve written over the past 8 or so months. There are some that are ONLY in the book. If you’re interest, feel free to check it out. If not, that’s OK too. I mainly did it for me.

Here’s a link to the book. The main overarching theme here, is that Death is a therapist. They are there to help you transition from this life to the next without anything holding you back. It will take as long as it needs to take. Each story is a glimpse into the life of someone. It’s a part of their life that they will have to work through with Death.

If you buy it, I hope you enjoy it! Please leave a review regardless.

How I deal with – just Google It

So, I watched the video above and it’s about something I’ve struggled with for a while. Over the past 8 or so years, around the Trayvon Martin shooting, I’ve been doing work on understanding racism in the US. My own history with racism and why we are where we are as a society. It’s been a lot of soul searching and growing as a person. My education has gone through fits and starts over the years and some of the reason behind that has been getting the “Just google it response.” Now, I typically didn’t ask the question myself. I’d see an interesting tweet or retweet on Twitter and want to know more. Often, there’d be a question and the response was do your own research.

During the Black Lives Matter protest, I found this troubling. I wanted to read more anti-racism books, but I didn’t know a good source or which books were the most recommended or well regarded. For example, Ibram X. Kendi’s book How to Be an Anti-Racist was getting rave reviews in the media. However, when I looked at the point of view of some of the Black people (mostly Black women) I follow, they were not happy with the book.

So, how do, we move past this? Well, my approach was to get broader perspectives. Follow more people. Follow them for a longer period off time. Those folks will likely provide recommendations to sources that you can read. Furthermore, it provides you the opportunity to decide how much this matters to you. If the topic, really matters to you, then you will spend the time to follow them, read their thoughts on that topic and other topics and learn through listening to them over time. Just getting one or two questions answered right then and there really won’t stick, so if you want to learn about a topic like Black History or LGBTQ+ topics, then you need to invest time and energy through continual engagement.

By engagement, I don’t meant that you should always talk to the people you’re following. Sometimes, this may lead to more negative interactions because you’re well meaning but ignorant. You may need to build a basis of understanding before you can really have a serious conversation. You may also need to deal with your own (mis)understanding of history and how that applies to you personally. Many white people have family histories that tie directly to Black pain and suffering. You may know that you had slave holders in your past or people that fought for the Confederacy. Those are things you need to reconcile with before you can meaningfully engage with Black History and Racism as a topic. If you don’t, then you will simply get blocked and rejected because you don’t know enough to know how ignorant you are.

So, in my opinion, the best approach is to continual to learn through watching and following (but not in a creepy way). You will learn a lot. You will get book recommendations. When you ask specific questions, acknowledge the work you’re asking them to do and request books they recommend so you are learning from a trusted source. Then make sure you thank whoever you asked to do this labor. If they wrote a book that meaningfully impacted you, support the author by helping educate other people about the book.

Cosmic Horror, Pandemics, and Allergies

A few days ago a YouTuber Brian David Gilbert posted a video called Teaching Jake about the Camcorder, Jan ’97, which I’ve embedded below. This video has been sitting with me since it came out. In the video BDG plays a father teaching his son how to use an “expensive” camcorder, it feels like a fairly generic period video. However, when Jake, which given the perspective of the video is the viewer, rewinds or fast forwards Father changes facial hair. Some times his affect changes, but most of the time he does an excellent job maintaining the illusion of the same repeated video, as if Father has forgotten that he already taught Jake how to use the camcorder, by saying the same things. Similarly, Jake follows the exact same actions. Eventually, Father talks to Older Jake, the viewer, directly through the camcorder asking him to stop, that he’s gone. Then the figure appears. It’s more of a negative of a figure. It’s an unmoving void of where a figure should be. Given the context it’s safe to assume this is a stand in for whatever killed Father. Later the Father screams at what Jake can only assume to be a stuffed bunny. Father eventually walks out of the room and then out of the house, ending the video presumably to meet his fate.

That figure and the impotence of the Father has sat with me. Partially, the whole creepiness of it. Will I open a door and that figure be there? However, that’s not really why I’ve been thinking about it. There’s an air of inevitability with the piece. It’s happened and seems to be still happening. It’s repeated so perfectly that it fits with how our lives have been during the pandemic. Personally, it hits even closer for me, though. Given my allergies and that every single vaccine has reported allergic reactions. Some severe. It’s always reported, to me anyway, jauntily, that despite the reactions no one has died. Yet.

There’s a dread that creeps in. That figure, that silent absence screams at me. I know I will have a reaction. It’s inevitable. The only question is what will that reaction be like? Will it be like the last time I had ginger? Where my vision constricted within a minute of eating it. Where I started to pour sweat out my pores. Where I could barely talk as I groped for my Prednisone. Eventually going to the ER for shots of Epinephrine and Benadryl.

Would be the tamer almost constant reactions I have to perfumes and chemicals like the Shea Butter lotion my wife used the other day that gave me a slightly tightened throat and a bit of a cough when I smelled it. Or will it be the last time I had Tooth paste where I had a tightened throat, swollen lips, and numbness in my tongue?

Regardless, that void of a figure will be there. I have to step out side to greet that emptiness that unknown. I know the pandemic, that lurking horror hiding behind the stuffed bunny just out of sight, will likely kill me if I get COVID-19. I’ve struggled the past year and a half to express how I’ve been feeling with these allergies during the pandemic. So, despite the horror and fear of my impotence of that empty figure, I must confront it. But like the father, I can do it on my own terms.

Grief, Depression, and Loneliness

When I was in High school, I was always drawn to The Offspring’s song Gone Away I never really understood why, considering I’d never lost someone the way the narrator had lost someone. Certainly not someone that was close enough to me that I’d want to switch places with them. In a similar vein, I recently read Gideon The Ninth and Harrow The Ninth both by Tamsyn Muir. The first book, Gideon, was suffused with a sense of loneliness, loss, and otherness. There was loss everywhere, it felt like the entire world was dying and decaying in front of the protagonists eyes. While in the second book, Harrow, a direct sequel, it was jarring because the narrator was so unreliable that it’s clear that they were intentionally disassociating rather dealing with her grief.

The music I’ve been listening to during the pandemic has a similar haunted feeling to it. Specifically, Riverside’s Lost (Why should I be frightened by a Hat?) and The Depth of Self Delusion both of these songs are sparse, mournful, and have a strong sense of loss about them. Other songs, like Turn by Magna Carta Cartel describe the anger the futility can days just slipping away.

I got to thinking about these things last night when I read an article in Psychology TodayThe Loneliness of Unshared Grief” which talks about the grief of surviving alone (even when you’re with your family) in the pandemic. The loss of the sense of normalcy. The loss of daily interactions with strangers and of other routines. These, as my therapist has pointed out to me over the past year or so, are normal things we should be grieving. We’re grieving the loss of who we were. In some cases we’re grieving people that we love and care about that we lost. We’re grieving the loss of a sense of safety.

It’s ok to grieve.

You aren’t alone in grieving.

I’ve been doing a lot of grieving myself. Not just from the pandemic, but also my allergies. I have lost most of freedom of movement because I don’t feel safe walking outside. Wood smoke sends me into anaphylaxis. I used to love to walk at night. The calm and quiet would let me work through whatever I was feeling. It was a way that dealt with some of my depression, my grief of nightly parental strife – that loss of emotional safety at home. When my nephew was living here, I used daily walks to help him work through his anxieties and stress from school and family. I can’t do that with him any more.

I am grieving over the loss of food. I have a diet of about 6 things. Well, I’m sure I can eat more than that, but I feel so unsafe eating them that I simply avoid them. I’ve learned that this is something of an eating disorder, I mention it in my Book Review: The End of Food Allergy by Kari┬áNadeau, I’m scared of trying food I used to love because it might “attack me.”

I’m grieving of all these things. I’m also grieving about the pandemic.

It’s cathartic to read or watch videos that make you feel grief. It might help you process your grief. To give a name to what you’ve been feeling. The reason why you’re angry. If you like video games I recommend playing Gris, because it’s definitely about a woman going through the stages of grief and is a gorgeous game.