Holding My Breath

Like many Americans, I’m having some feelings this week. Lots of flashbacks to the last election.

Four years ago, I was pregnant with my daughter and I was excited. I was so sure my daughter would be born into a world where she’d be able to take a female American president for granted. To me, it seemed like a no-brainer: our country’s most qualified candidate in history was running against our country’s most unqualified, outwardly racist and misogynistic candidate. It should have been a slam dunk.

I believed the polls. I had faith that an overwhelming majority of Americans would not choose fear and ignorance and hate. Needless to say, the outcome was shocking and traumatic. The experience was definitely a loss of innocence.

That election day I attended a goodbye party for another mom-friend of mine. This was a sad occasion for my whole family since her husband was friends with my husband and they were basically the first friends we made after moving to Oregon. This party was also the last time I planned to leave the house for a while, as my goal was to potty train my 2 year old son as best I could before the new baby came.

We had election coverage on in the background while we ate dinner. We had to turn it off while my husband put my son to bed, and I remember sitting in my room on my phone, scrolling. My first indication that something was wrong was when Florida went to He Who Must Not Be Named. After that, we watched with growing fear and went to bed in shock and disbelief.

I woke up the next day in a daze and proceeded with the potty training plan. It was horrible, stressful. I spent a good portion of the day in tears, not knowing what exactly I was crying about. All of the day was spent elbow deep in piss and shit, one way or another.

I remember thinking that my daughter would be ALMOST FOUR before we’d have the chance to vote him out. Four years is a hell of a long time to do a lot of damage. And so much damage has indeed been done.

As I write this, it feels akin to how one might tell a story of where they were and what they were doing when the twin towers fell or when Kennedy was shot. It was a dark day; one I’ll never forget. Looking back, it spun me (us) into a crazy-ass couple of years. My daughter was born. My post-partum anxiety took off like a brush fire. I went back to therapy. I spent a good few years just trying to get ahold of myself and figure out who I was and how to leave the house with pants on. All this with a background of news reports on hate, ignorance, fear, anger, violence. Rolling back progress and denying human rights.

Fall of 2019, I finally started feeling better, consistently better. I, like many others, declared that 2020 was going to be my year. And it was…until the pandemic. And now the election.

So you can see (I hope) how I am holding my breath. I’m white knuckling this. I’m so angry and scared. I want to believe the polls. I want to have faith in people to do the right thing. But frankly, this country is not what I thought it was, and we’ve all been here before, on this abusive rollercoaster from which we can’t seem to get off. I’m honestly not sure how I’ll get through the next few days…or weeks…or longer, depending.

To those in power who are using that power for personal gain and to manipulate and spread fear: we see right through you. You might be fooling some, but you sure as hell aren’t fooling me.

Abusive people use anything at their disposal to have power and control over others. If they can’t control others, their power is gone. Abusive people try to stop others from voting. Abusive people try to sue for votes to not be counted. Abusive people lie and manipulate the system. Abusive people threaten violence. Abusive people intimidate (in this case, by bringing guns to the polls, or by blocking traffic, etc.). Abusive people gaslight others and deny any wrongdoing. All of these behaviors are coming from a place of insecurity, NOT love, NOT protection, because if these people knew they could be fairly reelected in a just, democratic system, then there would be no need for such devious theatrics.

Abuse is not strength. Make no mistake, we are in an abusive relationship and that is an incredibly powerless feeling.

I voted as soon as I possibly could. I even made sure my ballot was received. And now, I wait. Full of dread, fear…and some cautious hope.


Day 2

Nolite te bastardes carborundorum

You guys, I am so fucking pissed I don’t even know where to start.

As a courtesy, I’m going to say now that this post is about politics and I’m extremely liberal and I also am not looking to debate right here, right now. If bearing witness to my rage is not your cup of tea, then by all means, please stop reading.

While I am not surprised by today’s news, I am beyond angry. Throughout this process (and that’s using an extremely polite word for the fucking power grab of a shit show the past few weeks have been), I’ve been angry with Republicans. They’ve lied about their intentions and they’ve cheated and they have undermined the democratic process. They do not represent the majority of Americans because they have engineered election outcomes. The people (read: not all Republicans are liars and cheaters) who have done those things don’t deserve to have power and don’t deserve my respect, at the very least. At the most, they deserve to be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.

But. Today, I found myself en fuego with rage at another group. Senate Democrats, but also Democrats in power. Why and how didn’t they fucking stop Barrett’s confirmation?! Why is it that Republicans continue to steal cookies from the cookie jar and never get the fucking time out from Mom? What. in. the. actual. fuck.

You know what this reminds me of? When I worked as a counselor to children who had just recently escaped domestic violence in the home, most often perpetrated by their fathers and endured by their mothers, do you know who the kids were most often angry with? Their mothers. They were angry because their moms couldn’t prevent the violence, couldn’t stop the violence, and often, in their minds, allowed the violence to continue. Other factors played into this: Their moms were a safe place on which to place their anger, and rape culture/violence-against-women-and-children-culture is SO embedded in the fabric of our society that these kids grew up taking it as a matter of fact that dads hurt moms and kids, so why get angry at something that can’t change?

Before I digress too much: if you haven’t figured it out yet, for me, today, the Republicans are the abusive dads and the Democrats are the victims/bystanding moms. And I feel like the powerless kid, watching everything unfold and having to endure the lifelong consequences and trauma. Fucking fuck, Mom. After so many hits to the head, I just want you to metaphorically kick Dad in the balls and TAKE THE POWER BACK.

I’m sick and tired of Dems posting shit to social media about how we need to dig deeper and don’t stop fighting and, of course, vote them out. These words have become profoundly empty in the cycle of violence we have been forced to endure.

You know what?! I do vote. And I march. I’ve done what I can in a rigged, fucked up system to get progressive people in office. I’ve done my part. And now, IT’S YOUR TURN. You know who is supposed to fight for me and my views? YOU. You know who is supposed to represent me in government? YOU! And yet, I don’t feel my values represented. Since this is coming from me, a privileged white woman, I can only imagine how women of color and other minority groups feel.

Don’t you dare tell me to keep fighting, when you’re the ones we collectively elected to do the fucking fighting. I realize that Dad is ultimately the one to blame here, but for fuck’s sake, he has proven time and time again that he can’t be trusted to govern the household with love, dignity, and respect. Kick him out of the goddamn house and start protecting your kids.

It’s for this reason that shows like The Handmaid’s Tale are so popular. The adaptation of June, the handmaid who gives zero fucks, is the personification of our collective rage. What we wouldn’t give to be able to shove the fucking Commander down the stairs, or run over a shithead with a car, because that’s exactly what he deserves and no one else is going to do it.

I don’t condone violence. My point is that my rage, and the collective rage I feel with other likeminded individuals, is so powerful and so intense that it hurts. There is this primal yearning to see those abusing power to feel just as powerless as the progressive masses feel right now.

It’s getting harder to bear all this injustice, especially when I know that the repercussions of today’s events will stretch out far into the future. It’s far from over and I’m so exhausted. I’m angry and scared beyond words can say.

And I’m especially sick and tired of waiting for people in power to do the right things.

Arm pump!

Brian and I were having a conversation, as longtime partners sometimes do. He had just explained something brilliant about which I had previously been ignorant.

Brian: …well now you know.

Me: (without missing a beat) And knowing is half the battle! (Arm pump!)

Brian: (laughs heartily)

Me: That’s like an automatic response for me. I didn’t even have to think about it! You know, those 30 second segments at the end of G.I. Joe were my favorite part of the whole show!

Brian: (incredulous): What? Really?!

Me: Dude, you’re talking to someone who grew up to become a therapist! I lived for those segments! I was just hanging on through all the violence and sexism to see what patriotic American moral we’d be taught at the conclusion.

Brian: I bet Saturday morning cartoons shaped our whole generation, just 30 seconds of propaganda at a time.

Me: (clapping) Yes! I was like, Ooh! What cartoon wisdom will they teach us today?!

Brian: What was even better was when they dubbed over them with hilarity years later. **pause** Porkchop sandwiches!

Me: Agreed. What an American treasure.

_______________________________

nanopoblano2019

Replace it with love

This has been a tough week.

I mean, the day to day stuff has been pretty normal. But the news. The Kavanaugh confirmation. It’s been a huge blow, to say the least.

I’m finding it hard not to remain cynical and bitter and very, very angry. Rageful. This is the world we live in now?! Women aren’t believed. Too many men care about nothing other than keeping the power and privilege that were handed to them at birth. Women live in fear – a fear so ingrained that many of us hardly notice the daily steps we take to prevent becoming victims of violence again. Lies are ignored. Justice is buried. The truth is twisted.

I can’t accept that.

I worry deeply about the damage this corrupt presidential administration has done and will do to international relations, the environment, the economy, our democracy, my husband’s job stability, my daughter’s human rights, the example set for my son.

I feel so powerless. I’m busy, I’m tired, I’m overwhelmed. I vote, but even that didn’t matter. I share things on social media…to my friends…who usually feel similarly anyway.

As a country, we seem to have crossed a line where decency doesn’t matter, human rights don’t matter, democracy doesn’t matter. I worry that there’s no coming back from this. I worry that some sort of pandora’s box filled with the darkest timeline of human evils has been opened and can’t ever be fully closed.

I know there are decent, good, loving, rational, respectful citizens out there. The majority, actually. But that doesn’t matter if evil keeps being handed more power.

I’m not even sure what I am trying to say here. I’m trying to find hope, moving forward. I’m trying to focus my rage – but on what? I plan to vote in November. And to march in January (Third annual Women’s March is 1/19/19). Is that enough? It sure doesn’t feel like it.

And one more thing.

Today, I played hide and seek with my kids. Well, it was kindof a mish-mash of hide and seek and tag with added screaming. It was really fun, and my kids were delighted. We laughed and hugged and chased and tickled. I stopped when they said stop. I reminded them about personal space boundaries. Because, you see, my kids are already learning about consent, respecting others, personal boundaries, honesty, and love.

I hope they grow up to vote. And march, if needed. But most of all, they are going to grow up and be kind. Respectful. Decent. Loving.

Together, let’s burn the fucking patriarchy to the ground.

And replace it with love.

 


Tell me: how do you plan to fight back??

I wrote letters to my representatives about gun control

The shooting in Roseburg, OR last week motivated me to write letters to my representatives encouraging them to pass sensible gun control laws.

I’m listing the Oregon reps (and their contact info) to whom I wrote, and below that I will include the basic letter that I wrote and adapted for each representative.

It’s not okay to take my writing from this site without my permission, but today, everyone has my permission for this post.  Please- take my letter and use it!  Write to your representatives and adapt my letter to make it say how you feel.  Make your voice be heard!

I’m sick and tired and frustrated, but I am also realistic.  I know there’s a good chance that all these reps will ignore my letter.  That is what it is.  But at least I did something.

Today, I did something.

What will you do?

———————-

Oregon Representatives

1. Kate Brown – Governor

contact her

2. Ron Wyden – Senator

contact him

3. Jeff Merkley – Senator

contact him

(I also wrote to my state senators and local representative but choose not to list them here.)

———————

Dear __________ ,

I have never written to any of my representatives before, but I am compelled to write now because of yet another horrific mass shooting, this time in Roseburg, Oregon.

I live in __________ and I am a wife, a mother, and a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Oregon.

I watched the press conference in Roseburg the day after the shooting where Governor Brown, Senator Wyden, Senator Merkley, and Representative DeFazio spoke. Not one of you spoke about possible solutions to the cancer that is gun violence. Governor Brown said that ‘today is not that day’ to speak about solutions. She is alarmingly wrong- the time is now.

This is the time for action. You can best honor the dead and the grieving by passing sensible gun control laws.

I do not know how to solve the massive problem of gun violence in this country, but I do know that gun control laws must be included. They work. They’ve worked for other developed countries like ours. It’s time to stop hiding your heads in the sand. It’s time to stop caving to gun lobbyists. It’s time to start crafting an evidence-based approach and get to work. It’s time for you to start doing your job to help make your community feel safe.

In the time it took me to craft this letter, about another four people have died from gun violence (according to the CDC, a person dies every 17 minutes from gun violence in the United States).

How many more people have to die before you take action?

Please,

Melissa ______

Violence, Sex, and Football

I watched the Super Bowl like most Americans (Is it most? It sure seems that way…), only a few hours delayed because I wanted to go grocery shopping without the crowds.  I wish every Sunday all the people stayed home from the grocery store so I could shop in peace.

And I watched it half-heartedly because my team is the Packers, but that’s for another day.

It was a fun show- a really exciting game that came down to the wire.  I enjoyed watching it…except for one part.  And I was sadly surprised that there wasn’t more outrage about this one part the next day on social media or daytime TV.

I’m talking about the horribly immature fist-fight that broke out during the last minute of play.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t too surprised to see grown men hitting each other at the culmination of months of playing a pretty violent game.  It reminded me about studies I read during college about how aggression levels in pro football players increases as the football season progresses (which points to the “catharsis effect” for getting rid of aggression as completely bunk).

I remember there being a good amount of outrage after Beyonce’s halftime show – how she had been too sexy, shown too much skin and/or done too many sexy moves.  “Little kids are watching this!  Cover up!  Be a role model!”  I remembered parents saying.

…so why not outrage at the fighting?

In my opinion, there should be far more outrage around the inappropriate display of aggression than around any display of sexiness.

The way I see it is this: most people will have sex in their lifetime, and even if they don’t have sex, they will be aware of their sexuality and will express their sexuality in some way.  It’s innate, it’s normal, and it’s healthy.  I draw the line at harmful, destructive behavior.  Yes, aggression is also innate (to a point), but most people do not go around hurting others.  It’s not healthy, and I don’t want my kid seeing it.  I am not advocating an all-or-nothing or good/bad approach – of course, kids’ exposure to both sex and violence should be both age appropriate (interpret how you will) and in context.

I find it really interesting that, when it comes to what we allow our kids to see in the media, we seem to be so much more permissive of violence and aggression than sexuality.  What makes sex – even healthy, consensual sex – so shameful?  And what makes violence so acceptable?

Eve Ensler once said something to the effect of (I’m paraphrasing from memory): people are more afraid to love than they are to kill.  I think she has a point, and it saddens me.

Shame on you, NFL players who took part in that fight.  It’s a frickin football game and everyone is watching.

I am sad and angry, but I am not shocked.

I had wanted to write a funny post, and a post about my life post- being pressly freshed, but I don’t think today’s that day.  Some other time, hopefully sooner rather than later.

—–

Another shooting.

I was a junior in high school when Columbine happened.  I was in my first year of grad school, living on the east coast when Virginia Tech happened.

I am no longer shocked when these things happen.  I stopped being shocked long ago.

I cringe when people/the media call school shootings “shocking,” because, to me, the word shocking implies that it was unexpected or we’re unable to understand what happened or why it happened – and that scares me.  To imply disbelief holds these events at arm’s length when we should be examining these public shooting phenomena under a microscope, from every angle.

The same goes for when people/the media call the shooter “a monster” or some other fantasy-like term.  To call someone a monster is to call ve an other – to distance that person for the sake of emotional protection.  If we claim an inability to explain or understand, then we’re able to wash our hands of the problem – because how can we fix something if we can’t or won’t understand it?

A third gripe is when people/the media say that the shooter “just snapped” as if this behavior, this decision to shoot people came out of frickin nowhere.  Human behavior is very predictable.  Our past behavior informs our future behavior.  There are always warning signs before someone gets to the point of going on one of these shooting sprees and I wish that instead of applying a grossly false and simplistic excuse, that we instead ask the question: what were the warning signs, and who ignored them?

I implore you to contribute to the dialogue around all this violence, because it’s going to take all of us to stop it, to prevent it.  I hope we stop blaming only guns, and stop calling for only gun control…or gun control and metal detectors…or gun control, metal detectors, and background checks.  I hope we stop dehumanizing the shooters and see them as human beings who we failed to help when they needed help the most.  I hope we work hard to reach out to people when we see them struggling with mental health issues – depression, violent tendencies, a lack of healthy coping skills, a lack of a healthy support system.

My bottom line is that we can’t ignore this problem or put bandaids on it any longer.  This virus is festering and spreading and I’m scared.  We must look at the root causes of this systemic violence and move towards prevention.

Today, I am very sad and angry, but I choose not to be shocked.

Review: Hunger Games left me hungry for more

I am a purist in the sense that, when I see a movie that’s based on a supercool book, I want the movie to be as close to the book as possible.  You hear that, movie makers?!

Now, I can understand that movie makers often need to cut out parts of a book in order to fit the whole thing into a movie or in order to make the movie flow, and I get that.  That’s permissible.  But when the screenwriters go changing the plot of the book and adding scenes that indeed never took place, that’s when I get angry all up in my grill.

That being said, Hunger Games was the closest book-to-movie adaptation I have ever seen (that I can think of here on the couch in my Hunger Games induced hangover).  I chalk this up to the fact that book author Suzanne Collins was both co-screenwriter and executive director.  Overall, it was freaking awesome and I wants me a second helping.

First of all, gotta love me some strong female lead character!!  I love Katniss.  She’s smart, she’s caring, she’s stubborn, and she’s downright kickass!  While I liked the casting choice of Jennifer Lawrence, whose amazing job in Winter’s Bone proved she was pretty close to perfect for this role, I really would have liked to see her more gaunt and lean.  She still has that cute baby fat on her cheeks, as well as curves on her body, and because of that, I had a hard time believing that she actually was hungry.

Not only that, but they didn’t really play up the whole hunger part of the Hunger Games.  Katniss and Peeta were supposed to dig into the food on the train to the capitol and we barely saw them touch their plates.  Also omitted was Katniss’ favorite part of the capitol when asked by Flickerman: lamb stew.

In looks, Peeta was not how I had pictured him.  He was supposed to be one of a few from District 12 who got enough to eat everyday, and so he was supposed to look healthier, bigger, a bit fatter than Katniss and he didn’t.  He was tiny.  And in the words of Liz Lemon, I wanted to look at him and just know that his arms would smell of freshly baked bread…but they were rather moldy.  In addition, I thought that book Peeta was far too whiny, sappy, and clumsy.  He annoyed the hell outta me, especially when all he was was a liability to Katniss.  I wanted Katniss alive and home with her Gale, where she belongs.  So, I was much more satisfied when movie Peeta turned out to be much less whiny, less sappy, and much less of a liability.  A definite improvement over book Peeta.

Let me just say that Elizabeth Banks was amazing.  She melted right into her role as Effie Trinket.  Indeed, she wasn’t even visible behind the caked makeup.  I loved the comic relief banter between her and Haymitch.  The only thing missing was a short scene or comment from her after the games showing how happy she was that she’d now get some recognition for her work.

Haymitch was pretty good, although I would have liked to see him fall off the stage at the reaping.  That would have been too good.  Casting for Flickerman and Snow were right on in my mind.  Very well done.  You just can’t beat Stanley Tucci with blue hair, grinning at the cameras like a hyena.

And Lenny.  You know, when I read your name on imdb, I was very skeptical, to say the least.  Cinna was one of my favorite characters, and I didn’t know if you could pull it off.  But bravo, my friend.  I think you proved me wrong.  All the way down to your beautiful gold eyeliner.

And Gale.  My dear actor person who played Gale in the movie – Since Katniss clearly has other priorities, please consider me as your companion with whom to run away and start a family of miscreant, rebellious wanderers.  Here is a list of some of my post-apocalyptic skills for you to review.  *Call me*

The scene of the reaping.  It was so well done.  It made my heart pound with nervousness, and in that pounding I could feel the hollowness.  From Effie, from the Peacemakers, from the propaganda film, the cruel intent was fake, hollow, thinly veiled.  To see the drab-colored District 12 residents, and that their only mode of resistance was the absence of applause.  Whoa.

They struck an interesting balance with all the child-on-child violence.  I assume that they wanted to keep the movie PG-13 to keep the younger audience (and their money) coming.  I must admit that there is this primal side of me that actually wanted to see all the brutal violence on-screen, just as it was described in the book.  There is also another side of me that is happy the movie was done the way it was, by portraying a good portion of violence in indirect ways.  I appreciated the artsy, frantic yet slow-motion way the first few minutes of the games were portrayed.  Music was all you heard as you watched through shaky, first person point of view camera angles as the bloodbath began.

I wondered how they would convey all the information book Katniss gave to us via her thoughts.  The answer was that we got to see previously behind-the-scenes scenes with President Snow and Seneca Crane, the other gamemakers, and with Caesar Flickerman.  Even though these scenes violated my previously stated standards against adding information to a movie that wasn’t in the book, these were very well done, interesting, and I imagine (hope) they came straight from Collins’ brain as what she had in mind all along.  In the book, all we see is the games from Katniss’ perspective in the arena, and these extra scenes gave the movie more depth without having to do something like give Katniss a running inner monologue so that the audience would know what the hell was going on.

More specifically, it was incredibly moving to get to actually see the rebellion starting in District 11 that begins to set the tone for the rest of the story.  That made the tears flow.

Scared the absolute crap out of me when the mutts arrived.  I wish they would have gone the extra mile to make them look like the dead tributes, though.  Ah, well.

As for the ending – it could have been…punchier.  More dramatic.  I expected more than that.  I liked Snow’s warning comments to Katniss; gotta set the tone of fear and paranoia.  Very nice touch with Crane locked in a room with the berries.  It was just Snow’s style.

I could go on nitpicking the details and giving the account about how much I cried when dear little Rue died…those big brown eyes…sigh.  But I won’t.

All I ask is – what will quell this hunger of mine until the next movie comes out?  I might have to make do with berries and dead squirrels in the meantime.