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Goodbye, Vitamin

Goodbye Vitamin

There is a saying that every cloud has a silver lining, but for this particular book I had to try to find the right saying to express the opposite. The best way I could describe it is that it’s like that last good day or so that you get out of a bouquet of flowers. You can see the leaves starting to brown, the petals starting to lose luster, but you are still focused on changing the water and enjoying the beauty while it lasts. That’s what this book is like. Goodbye, Vitamin was a funny and delightful story tinged with the sadness that comes with slowly losing a family member to dementia.

Fear not, this is not a tear jerker. It is sentimental and realistic, but doesn’t rip your heart out of your chest. Khong keeps everything backlit with just enough sunlight to keep the focus on love and support and not on despair. We get glimpses into what families try to do to stop the progression of the disease: vitamins, healthy foods, exercise, mental stimulation – all these are used by Ruth and her mom to help her dad try to retain as much of himself as he can for as long as possible.

Ruth is a divorcee who decides to quit her job as a sonographer to move back in to help her mom with her dad. She struggles with moving on from her marriage as she attempts to help and understand her parents. Her father was a well-loved professor at the university, and his students ask for the chance to help as well after he is asked by the dean to take a leave of absence until his health condition improves. Much of the comedy of the book comes from Ruth interacting with these students, trying to make her dad believe he’s teaching a class on California history while avoiding the dean of his college, who has threatened her dad with arrest should he be caught on campus.

This was a very fast read for me, enjoyable content plus short length always equals a one day read, and I was through the 194 pages before you could say lickity-split. Khong’s story made my heart smile while staying realistic about the sadness that accompanies this condition. I recommend it with all the strength I can muster. Go get you some.

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All About Me: Fear Itself

A conversation with someone who you are getting to know might delve into their biggest fears. A 2014 Washington Post study outlined Americans top 5 worst fears as public speaking, heights, bugs/snakes/animals, drowning, and blood/needles in that order. Public speaking as the worst fear? Wow? It was also an interesting analysis of fear between the political parties, showing that Democrats tend to be more fearful, and that seems to be due to an increased level of education. Ignorance is bliss and bravery apparently.

For me, living in the After Times has redefined what it means to be afraid. I’m still terrified of heights and spiders, and I have my lady fears of being raped or having someone break into my house to kill/rape me, but some very real fears have come in to join the old ones. How much longer will regulations be in place to keep tap water drinkable and all that entails? How many more hurricanes will come next year due to rising ocean temperatures and how much worse with the storm surge be due to rising sea levels? At what point will I not be able to afford to go to any kind of doctor? At what point will I not be able to get women’s health items like birth control for my terrible periods or mammograms later to watch for cancer? When will the housing market get so out of control that we can’t afford to rent, but also don’t qualify for or can’t afford to buy?

It would be very easy to just live my day to day life and ignore these threats. I have a job, I get paid biweekly, we live a little better than paycheck to paycheck, we have insurance, we have things to do that we enjoy. But if I pick my head up to look around, if I watch the news, if I do any research I begin to think about how tenuous all this is and I become very afraid.

There is quite a bit to be afraid of right now if you are paying attention. These are my fears. What are yours?

 

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The ATGP – Sunday Edition

Opinion: Flaking Out

On Tuesday the news was super hot for noted garbage person Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and his Papa Pope/President Bartlett super fun speechy time in the Senate. He’s had enough! he says. Things are too distracting! We can’t govern! he laments. He will be leaving office because he just can’t stomach the political climate of Washington anymore, it has caused him to put his morals and integrity into jeopardy one too many times.

Sure it doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that polls show that your re-election is next to impossible. This speech couldn’t possibly be a “you can’t break up with me, I’m breaking up with YOU” moment, made to make the senator look superior and “above it all.” You’re getting primaried, Jeff, and you’re gonna lose. They can’t primary you if you quit first. Oh wait, I’m sorry, “retire.”

meme

Obvious saving face aside, there is another issue here: Sen. Jeff Flake is still a garbage person. After making his speech he went and voted to prevent nursing home patients from being able to sue their care facilities, and got rid of a law that made it easier for consumers to sue banks. And he’s helping back a law that would make abortion illegal at 6 weeks SIX WEEKS. Before most women even know they are pregnant.

It is very difficult for me to take a politician’s “woe is me, everything is awful” speech seriously when he then goes and votes for everything Trump supports. It’s hard to be like “aw, Jeff Flake’s out of a job” when he’s constantly benefitting from the distractions Trump provides, and he’ll probably get a pundit job at Fox to keep his coffers full.

These are the After-Times, I know a distraction when I see one. I recognize smoke screens and changes of topic. Tweets meant to anger and confuse, press conferences meant as diversions, lofty speeches meant to beguile. Even my husband insisted that this was a Good Thing(TM) and we should embrace when people are willing to stand up and say something is wrong. How brave of Flake to stand up when he knows he isn’t running, when he has nothing to lose, when he can still turn around and vote for bills that tear down rights and regulations, appoint dangerous people in important roles, and continue to deny truths and proof that we are in some very real danger.

You created the environment that allowed Trump to happen, and you benefitted from his presidency legislatively and probably financially as well. See ya later Jeff. Don’t let the door hit ya where the good lord split ya.

If you’d like to read more, check out Gin and Tacos post on this topic here.

 

 

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Men Are Trash

Please do me a favor and watch this 30 second Heineken commercial.

What is this famous actor person trying to accomplish? This lady bartender has taken an order from a customer, is filling a glass with that order, and is bringing that order back to that customer in return for money and maybe a tip. Your shitty, half-closed eyes, swaying back and forth dance, creeper act isn’t going to distract her from doing her fucking job. You’re “still practicing”? FOR WHAT??? WHAT DID YOU EXPECT TO HAPPEN??? That she would walk by your table, forget what she was doing, and stick your dick in her mouth?

Also, how is this selling beer? A great example of marketing without being too sleazy is Dos Equis. Their company has the slogan “The Most Interesting Man in the World” and you get the message that drinking that beer makes you special, interesting, and if a girl sees you drinking it, that’s the assumption she’ll make. While still sexist, that’s a clear marketing message.

The Heineken commercial is so gross and sketchy that every time it comes on I cringe and then scream at the television. He looks like that old, drunk guy that hangs out in the same bar every night and tries to feel up the employees. GROSS. Everyone knows someone like this. Everyone knows that guy that thinks his very presence or sexy look will draw in any woman, that he has a right to any woman, that any woman would be honored to have him look at them, touch them, kiss them.

In the age of Trump, Harvey Weinstein, et al, this is unacceptable advertising. It’s an ad that makes me feel uncomfortable for that waitress, who just wants to get through her shift and serve beer at this very fancy restaurant/bar, but has to keep an eye on the weirdo trying to give her the eye from the table near the bar because he might grab her leg or stick his hand up her skirt on her way by if she doesn’t respond to his swaying/squinting alone.

And don’t fucking #notallmen me. If this doesn’t describe you, THEN KEEP IT MOVING and be secure in the fact that this isn’t you. Unfortunately it describes A LOT of men and I feel confident making a generalization in an age where dozens, HUNDREDS of women are coming forward to say ENOUGH.

So Heineken, if you’re listening, ENOUGH WITH THE COMMERCIAL. It’s fucking gross.

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The Keeper of Lost Things

Keeper of Lost Things

I want you to imagine the most kind person that you know. That person that honestly listens to you when you are talking, who calls or texts just to say hello or ask what’s up. That friend that always sends a card, always offers a hug or a shoulder, always comes back after periods of separation, frustration, or just plain busy-ness.

The Keeper of Lost Things is that person written into a book.

An old author Anthony collects lost things. From something so small as a button to something as important as ashes, he stores and catalogues them with the intent of trying to return them to their owners. Even those people around him, his housekeeper, his gardener, the child from the neighboring house, all seem to be castaways and castoffs, left adrift in a world to be collected by him and kept safe.

But then he dies, and leaves his estate and all his things to Laura (the housekeeper) who is a divorcee who has escaped a loveless, neglectful marriage and is rediscovering herself. She brings in the neighbor child who we discover later in the book that isn’t just quirky but has Down’s Syndrome (she calls herself a “dancing drome” and when I said it Dan Sing-Drome I got it) and the groundskeeper Freddy who has a cleft lip and has a hard time making friends.

This book drips with thoughtful kindness and how it can survive in a world of gossips and self-involved assholes. It shows we can let people in even when we would rather keep everyone out, and that act of opening up is just as kind to those that need someone to welcome them in. Laura and Freddy’s patience with Sunshine (the neighbor), Freddy’s patience with Laura as he attempts to show he cares for her, Laura’s patience with the errand that Anthony has left for her, and all their interactions, even when they are bristling and sharp, end with forgiveness and kindness.

Ruth Hogan does not take you on a roller coaster ride with this story. She speaks to your wishes (the time and money and space to decide what to do with your life) and your insecurities (mental health, dealing with loss, dealing with starting over) and shows that it’s going to be okay. If you just communicate what you need, do your best, and support one another, everything comes out in the wash in the end.

I needed this book. It make my heart warm with hope in a life and world in which I am constantly sad. When I started the book I didn’t think I would finish it. I am so glad that I stuck with it. Go get you some.

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All About Me Monday: A Joyful Noise

I am an advocate of therapy. I have excellent coping mechanisms, but even I am not strong enough to get my brain through all the iterations of cat’s cradle necessary to get through all of life’s bullshit. So whether it’s a few months or a few years in between I always return to an office where I get asked leading questions that help untangle my fishing reel of a mind to start back at square 1 again.

I’m in between visits right now, but things are starting to get dark for me again so I’m starting to bring in methods learned in my last set of visits. Since I’m feeling like the world is trash and there is nothing to look forward to, one of the things I was taught to do is to list and focus on things that make me happy. This is difficult for me because I do so little outside of work, but this week I’m gonna give optimism and positivity the good old college try and share some things that bring me joy.

McDonalds!

Goddamn do I love me some McDonalds. A couple of weeks ago I bought a Mc Pick Two with a Double Cheeseburger and a 6 piece McNugget and one of the McNuggets had a chicken wing bone in it and I DM’d them on Twitter and they took care of it right away and I have an envelope coming my way in the mail with coupons and it’s gonna be a McDonalds early Christmas for meeeeee thanks chicken bone that didn’t crack my tooth before I had health insurance back!

Going to the Dine-In Movies

I don’t care if their menu is tiresome as fuck all, if I get a seat that is 100% mine and a bathroom made for kings PLUS NO CHILDREN I will gladly fork over the $16 for the ticket, even if I don’t get any food. But LOL who am I kidding I’m at least going to get the large popcorn that will give me diarrhea later! LIVE, NISSEN, LIVE! And I can always smuggle a few McDoubles and a small fry in with me in the pockets of my cargo shorts YOU HEARD ME, I SAID WHAT I SAID.

BEING ALONE

I do not regret getting married and I love my husband and pets but I need like one day and one night at a hotel once a quarter to clear my head without noise and talking and expectations and obligations and etc etc etc because being alone is one of my absolute favorite things and I miss it so much sometimes. It’s why I love driving in my XTerra so much: it’s just me and Beyonce’s Lemonade album and my medium fry for the 15 minutes it takes me to get home. Our house is okay and awesome because of the pool, but the rooms are small and there isn’t much room for being apart, so it can get a little tense sometimes.

One of the best Christmases I ever had was in 2008 in Bloomington, Indiana when I picked out my own live Christmas tree and decorated it, bought what I wanted to eat, and spent the holiday completely and blissfully alone. I woke up when I wanted, listened to music and watched the shows I wanted to watch, ate what I wanted to eat, and in general just lazed about. I think I even drove out to a KFC and got a 20 piece family fill up and ate on that for a couple days too. It was quiet and I was free. I’m just saying I would love to have just a few days of that once in awhile now.

Reading

I mean, this is obvious but you would be surprised at how difficult it is to find a quiet space to read, either physical or mental space. I do not believe that audiobooks are reading (it’s someone telling you a story, you’re not reading it), and I can’t pay attention long enough to use them anyway so I read, but as already mentioned our rental house is very tiny and there isn’t a good place to go and get lost in a book. So I’m asking for a pair of noise cancelling headphones for Christmas so that no matter where I am, I can put those on and be able to concentrate.

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What brings you happiness? What can you hold onto in these times of insanity? Let me know in the comments.