Shelter Needs Part 1

This month I have been stressing a bit about the fact that we will be meeting with a Realtor and a homebuilder in August to see if we can actually afford to buy a new construction home. The timeline would be perfect: builds starting in September/October finishing in February/March. Our current lease is up in mid-May 2019, so that would give us a couple of months to transition and get the rental cleaned and ready for inspection.

I’ll be making another post covering my worries about this process later. I wanted to talk about renting houses and apartments. I’ve been renting since January 2005 and if my bumbling experience can help you improve yours, I am glad to share. Today we’ll look at all the places I rented and lived in on my own and in a follow up post we’ll explore my rental experiences with the husband in tow.

The first place I ever rented was a small attic apartment in Bangor, Maine. I had just ended a 3 year relationship (1 year engagement), gotten a new night job as a telemarketer, and was starting my student teaching assignment in the spring term of my senior year of college. Instead of staying on campus in my cozy single room I decided to stretch my wings and live on my own. I would avoid parking issues on campus when I returned in the evening and I would have a shorter drive to both the student teaching and my job. The logic was sound, but an important lesson I learned from this apartment was to keep looking until you find one with a real bathroom. A bathroom with a weird clawfoot tub that you have to buy one of those shower hoses for that falls off all the time and hooks and nails for the ceiling to hang the shower curtain from because there isn’t a shower rod might not be the best choice.

My second rental experience was in extreme northern Maine. My first teaching assignment was hours away from even the most major interstate. It was the kind of town that just has a blinking yellow/red light in the middle of it. The town police chief rented me his house for $395 a month. I had a furnished, 2-story house to knock around in that fortunately had a washer/dryer but unfortunately did not include heat. I didn’t know to ask about this, but when I ran out of heating oil in December and discovered I couldn’t afford more on my $24,000 a year salary, I learned a valuable lesson: NEVER RENT IN A PLACE WITH SNOW THAT DOESN’T INCLUDE HEAT IN THE RENT.

When I left (was run out of) that little town I moved to Arizona to teach and get my master’s degree at Arizona State University. I reserved an apartment using the internet and phone calls. I remember quite distinctly that I said to the woman at the complex “I am going to be living there alone and I can’t afford to fly out to see it. You have to be honest with me, is this a safe place to live?” I was so fucking stupid when I was 22. I drove cross-country in a Toyota Corolla packed full of all my belongings (and my cat Chloe). We arrived just as the complex office was closing to sign the lease and move in. I lived there for one year and had to be fumigated three times for German cockroaches, lost water twice due to water main breaks in the area, had someone break my master bedroom window and try to break in one morning, and had no washer/dryer but (thankfully) a laundry room in the complex. Lesson learned here was not to rent sight unseen, but I didn’t really have a choice and again, I was really dumb/inexperienced.

So as my finances improved a bit (as a result of an influx of student loans from my masters program) I looked for a better place to live. I now had a whole list of things I wanted in an apartment: a real bathroom, clarity about what is included in the rent, safety, and a washer/dryer in the unit. So I moved just a little bit west to a safer area, a gated complex, into a one-bedroom with a washer/dryer in unit. It is one of the nicest places I have ever lived, it was just a shame that I could not afford to furnish it with anything other than my IKEA platform bed, office chair, ad computer desk. My tv and internet router sat on the floor. Any gathering I had was a BYOF(urniture) gathering. If I had stayed longer I probably could have furnished it slowly, paid on my student loans for a while, and continued to gain experience as a band director. One of my biggest regrets was rushing to get my doctorate and leaving what was already a pretty good foundation in a place that I loved to live. The lesson learned here was to always consider leaving an apartment/house carefully, because you might actually already be home. But again, I was 23 at this point, naive and very ambitious.

My next living space was actually the empty apartment of my friend in Phoenix, because she had moved back to Ohio but her lease wasn’t up until the end of July. My lease was up in mid-June, so I got an air mattress and a litter box for my THREE (yes three at this point) cats and set up shop in her totally empty apartment to bridge the gap between my apartment and moving to Indiana. I didn’t stay here as long as I had planned because it was terrible and boring so I turned in her keys for her and headed east.

I had originally planned to stay at an Extended Stay for a bit until I could find an apartment in the college town (learning from lesson of renting sight unseen) but I had an acquaintance/regretful fling that I knew so my three cats and I stayed with him for about a week until I found a place.

Now the lesson I learned at ‘shitty apartment on the east side of town’ was to never rent at a place where people have to walk past your apartment to get down stairs. This is kind of like requesting a hotel room away from the elevator. The apartment was set up like a shitty motel, and so to get to the second floor you would walk up a set of stairs and then down a walkway/balcony to get to your door. My two bedroom, one bath apartment with the literal oldest appliances ever (but a huge built in bookshelf!) was situated as the first door of two on the second floor landing. So my neighbors loved to look into my apartment as they came home, and their kids treated the entire walkway as their playground, including right in front of my door. It was an okay situation for what it was (again, it seemed as though every time I moved I was broke and desperate) but overall it was loud, intrusive, and frustrating.

Up until this point I had always lived alone. I had never had a roommate aside from the brief first semester of college when I was forced into a double room with a girl who ended up living with someone else like two months in, leaving me alone in a double room that I eventually traded in for a single room in my second semester. Most of the lessons I learned from renting on my own were very basic: see before you buy, get a real bathroom, washer/dryer is important, being in a safe area (if affordable) is important, check out arrangement of units for how residents are forced to intermingle.

Next time we’ll move into the cohabitation portion of my history, and I will outline the lessons I learned as a result of having my first (and only) roommate of all time – the husband – and also how we navigated finding places to live together.

Familiarity

The husband loves watching TV. Every time I turn around he’s eight episodes deep into some new show that either he found himself or his friends suggested to him. He’ll try anything and if he loves it he’ll watch it right through to the end. He has his favorites for sure, but he has a thirst for the new. He is tireless in his efforts to include me in his enjoyment of a multitude of tv shows and movies. It is a chance for us to share an experience and talking about what we’re watching helps him feel like we are close, like we are together.

As the gift is offered, it is desired to be returned. Over the past week or so the husband has been asking me what I would like to watch. He wants me to suggest something new, something we can explore and discover together. I think he sees me absorbed in books, a pastime he does not particularly enjoy or share with me, and wants to have something in common. Given that I do enjoy movies and tv, it seems a reasonable place for him to start. And so I tried to think of something I wanted to watch.

The trouble I encountered was with the word new. I have a long list of things I would like to watch, but they are favorites, old friends watched over and over again, familiar to my eyes and ears. If you ask me what I want to watch, I’ll pull up The Office, Bob’s Burgers, or maybe something like Last Week Tonight with John Oliver or The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (I like my tough issues presented to me with comedy). My movies include Lord of the Rings and the unnecessarily stretched out Hobbit trilogy, Harry Potter, any Marvel movie (except Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: Civil War), and Pacific Rim if I can find it.

Any of these choices would be easy to pick and put on, but the husband wanted new. The fact that I didn’t want to watch anything he suggested, or that he had to watch certain things alone, had made him feel lonely and disconnected. He wanted me to participate. He wanted me to give him some indication of what I wanted to watch, since so many of his shows had been rejected, and in a way he himself had also been rejected. Psychologically me not wanting to watch his shows translated to me not wanting to be with him.

I heard him. Instead of digging in my heels I tried. I opened Netflix and clicked around, looking at the tv series and movies available there. It was like looking at a bunch of blank pages. They all looked the same to me. Nothing stood out. I clicked past Glow and Orange is the New Black and a dozen other famous Netflix series that are on all the “best of” lists. All these shows were like the opposite polarity of a magnet, close but still pushing my magnet away. We suffered through one episode of “Nailed It,” a show about people who are already not-so-good bakers trying to do a Pinterest copy of some professional bake to win $10,000, but that was the best I could do on my own.

So because I value communication and support in my relationships, I reflected on why this might be an impossible task for me in this moment. I have many shows that I know I like or liked in the past. Shows like Justified or the Sherlock Holmes BBC seasons were shows I ate up and started new. Why did none of these critically acclaimed shows draw me in?

In the past twelve months I lot has happened to me. The trauma and end to my job last June. The return to a job I am good at but is very stressful for me. I ended my relationship with my parents after surviving a hurricane while I was surviving the poverty brought on by the loss of the aforementioned job. My new job was full of people who liked nothing more than to make me feel like I wasn’t wanted, ignoring and isolating me with their behavior, all of that culminating in a schedule for the following year that would make my life even more stressful during the workday. I was able to get a new job, one that I am excited about, but it requires me to learn three new courses – their content and the pedagogy – that I have not taught before or learned for myself in a very long time. In addition to personal matters, the world is on fire and my efforts to stay informed and active only stress my mind with worries and anxieties about the future. If I truly assess the last year overall, psychologically it has not been a good time. I would go see my therapist but she isn’t part of the Florida Blue (BCBS) network anymore and way too expensive for me to afford on my own so I guess I have to find a new therapist too.

Watching The Office or Harry Potter over and over is like having a small stone in my pocket that I have worn smooth by rubbing it between my fingers. If I don’t have to look at the screen to know what is happening, if I can recite the words that Dwight says in an episode, or the usual good quotes from LOTR, even better. The flashy colors and battles of the Avengers calm me. They are all lucky pennies or soft rabbits’ feet. Talismen I can carry with me as comfort in…well…whatever times these are.

I may not have the capacity to welcome the new into my heart right now. I might not have the patience or the room for disappointment if something I pick turns out to be a dud. Perhaps I’m avoiding the possibility that a new show or movie might move my emotions too far and make them more difficult to manage. This all sounds a little over dramatic, but it also feels true.

We had already started the Amazon series Sneaky Pete, so we compromised and started the second season of this show that I was already familiar with. I didn’t even really want or care to do that, but now that we have started I am enjoying it. We talk about what happens and what we think will happen, and this pleases the husband. I hope he understands that more than the familiar may not be of much interest to me for a while, but I will let him know when I see something new I want to try. I hope I can find good ways to communicate this to him so that he can respect what I want while still feeling loved/cared for by and connected to me. That’s the goal.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to return my attention to The Fellowship of the Ring. Aragorn is being real angsty about his destiny and Bilbo is giving Sting to Frodo and making the angry face over the Ring. It was a stressful Sunday and I’m off to relax before the week ahead.

Read. Be brave. Stay angry.

Inconvenient Convenience

There are a lot of errands that a teacher must get done over the summer. Doctor’s appointments, car maintenance, pet vet visits, if it requires being someplace in person between the hours of 7am and 5pm it’s most convenient to get it done in the free summer months. Most of the things that I do in the summer have six month life spans, in that the next time I have to do this thing again it’ll be the two week winter break and I’ll have the time again. Sure I could take days off during the school year to do these things, and in emergencies I do, but I like to save those days for actual medical things or mental health recoup.

We have two dogs and two cats, all four of which are on the Banfield Vet Hospital Wellness Plans. For those of you who are unfamiliar with plans such as these, they operate as kind of a prepaid plan, not insurance. We pay about $20-30 a month for each pet, and in return we get all office visits free, routine vaccinations free, two comprehensive exams per year free (these include fecal exams, blood work, and a more in-depth checkup than a typical office visit), and in our current plans, free dental cleanings.

The dental cleanings only take a short amount of time, but the animals have to be put under general anesthesia to complete the process. We have to drop them off early in the morning so they can be prepped, and pick them up later in the afternoon after the drugs have worn off. It’s a day that is basically lost to driving and care for the animals so I like to make it part of my summer/winter break routine. When we made it out of this school year at the beginning of June and had our plans ironed out I called our usual Banfield location and made two appointments, one for both dogs in one day and another for both cats to go in one day.

Thursday afternoon I was dicking around on the internet and decided to check my email. I have a few gmail accounts and one yahoo account. The Yahoo account is the one that most of my auto-pay kinds of things go to, so imagine my surprise when I opened up the inbox and found two cancellation notifications, one for Daisy and one for Rosie, that said they were sorry we couldn’t make the appointment, but did we want to reschedule?

Banfield is a vet hospital that is usually found on the inside of PetSmart stores. It’s totally corporate and isn’t always the most reliable when it comes to scheduling. Lately, they have seemed to be understaffed, and the strain of that has started to show in their customer service. When Rosie had terrible diarrhea and vomiting at the end of May, I called to see if we could get her in as an emergency and they said they would have to turn me away because they were too busy. The fuck you mean? We got in at a different location, but they are our regular vet so wtf.

The appointments were cancelled somehow and I received no phone calls asking to to move the appointment, so I called to find out what was going on. The first time I called, it went to an answering machine message, and then to a busy signal. The second time I called, it was only a busy signal. The third time I called it rang through and a person picked up. I explained that I had received the cancellation emails but that I had not cancelled the appointments.

“Well, when we call, if you don’t pick up to confirm the appointment, we cancel it.”

No one called me.

“It looks like Rosie’s records were transferred to the Tampa location in May, maybe they called?”

The appointment was made over the phone at this location, I confirmed it in person when I brought Daisy in two weeks ago, and again, nobody called to confirm anything.

“Well, we’re all full up on surgeries through August so let me see when I can get you in next.”

No ma’am, the appointments were just cancelled twenty minutes ago, there’s no way you scheduled two surgeries on that exact day in that time, just put us back in.

“Well, we’re short on doctors and we’re full that day, let me see what I can do.”

She put me on hold, and then another person came on asking me what I needed, and finally I got the other lady back who said they had put us back on the schedule. Just in case, I asked her to confirm the cat’s appointment for the 27th, and she said yes, it was on the schedule. So fingers crossed that I’ll get all their stuff done before going back to school in the first week of August. Chances are that they were supposed to call me to ask me to reschedule due to the lack of doctors but cancelled without calling, but they weren’t about to admit that.

My biggest problem with how a lot of businesses deal with me is their inability to make up for when they make a mistake. We had several issues this week that seemed to all add up quickly – a doctor called in the wrong prescription so we had to call back and forth between the doctor and the pharmacy to fix it, the school district didn’t fill out a loan forgiveness program document correctly so we had to call around to fix it, the login for the husband’s AP scores wouldn’t work and when he called they said it was a server issue, then the pet appointment random email cancellation – and all stemmed from someone’s inability to do their job correctly.

If companies were more flexible or willing to fix the problem, I wouldn’t be so upset. But so often any “fix” that’s offered inconveniences me because they know that they have me over a barrel and I have to accept their arrangement. To avoid anything from issues with technology to human error, I find that it is necessary to call 2-3 times ahead of time for things, especially appointments, to confirm that what I think is going to happen is happening. I can’t rely on anyone to keep their word or do their job, and from what I’m experiencing it is only getting worse.

I think that my response to this is going to be to establish more of our activities with locally based vendors. There is a nice vet up the street that also does boarding in non-cage-type rooms and offers plans similar to Banfield’s Wellness plans. Our only hesitation is the difference in hours – Banfield is open every day of the week, this new vet is closed Sundays and only open until 6pm each evening instead of 7pm – but I think that would be something we could work with.

In this era of late-stage capitalism I find myself bending away from larger companies in favor of someone who actually needs and values my business. I have such limited resources (time and money) that I want to give them to people who appreciate that I have chosen to spend them at their business. As the pets’ plans expire with Banfield, I will probably move them up to this new vet under new plans. Another area I could go more local in would be ordering my books from local independent stores (I am guilty of getting most of mine from Amazon).

I would be interested to hear your stories in a similar vein. Have you experienced similar situations? Also, how do you shop local? Do you find that you get better value and treatment? What about quality? I would love to hear about different ways we can shop more locally and support our community. See you in the comments, or feel free to comment on Facebook or Twitter. Have a great weekend!

THIS WORLD IS ON FIIIYAAA

The world is somehow more on fire than it was a month ago which is terrifying, but impressive, so to throw some water on the flames I wanted to share some good things that have been going on here at Casa Angry.

First, I’ve been going to the gym on a fairly regular basis. I started while the husband was away for a week, and for the past four weeks I’ve been hitting it on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. My resting heart rate has come down from a lofty 80bpm to what seems like a more reasonable 66bpm (even though the internet assures me that anything between 60 and 100bpm is “normal”), I’m sleeping better, and I WILL GET MICHELLE OBAMA’S ARMS. My depression stays at bay better when I have a clear routine and clear expectations, so this was a welcome and helpful addition to my week.

Second, to go along with the gym thing, I’ve been eating way better. More fruits and veggies along with two cups of milk per day and 8-8oz glasses of water are all probably contributing to me feeling better too. I’m doing this to help with my depression as well as for my health. I am losing a little weight but if that’s what my body wants to do naturally then that’s okay. It’s not my overall goal. Mostly I want to discourage diabetes, heart disease, and this fucking depression.

Third: I AM WRITING A BOOK DID YOU HEAR??? As of this very evening I have a crisp 23,742 words in Google Docs which amounts to 47 pages and if I’m being super honest I don’t know if that’s good or bad for almost 30 days of work but I’m doing it. The best I can find online is that I should aim for like 60,000 to 100,000 words, with that upper end amounting to a 400ish page book. I figure I’ll write until the story is done, then as I edit I can cut or add as I see the need and the word count will fall where it will.

Fourth: I transferred to a different school in my district after I was offered the job this past Monday. The school I was at this past year was not the best fit in a lot of different ways, so while I will miss the kids I really loved there I am looking forward to taking on this new challenge. I will be responsible for Advanced Placement (AP) Calculus, International Baccalaureate (IB) maths (junior and senior levels), and one weird section of Algebra 1. I practically begged my old school to give me harder classes to teach, but the cards didn’t fall that way. I am thankful for this new opportunity and I hope I can rise to the challenge (duh, I will, I’M A FUCKING BOSS).

Lastly I am really excited about our finances. It might be tacky to mention this, but every. single. summer. before this one was an absolutely terrible and bumpy ride on the struggle bus and we often ran out of money in mid-July for one reason or another. This summer we’re going to make it all the way to when we start getting paid again without having to max out the credit cards or make a $5 Little Caesar’s pizza last for an entire week of dinners. One year it was so bad that during teacher planning week they said they had an extra two catered trays of ziti the teachers didn’t eat AND I CLAIMED THEM BOTH and brought them home and that’s what we had for lunch and dinner for like two weeks until we started getting paid again. Teachers don’t get paid until the last day of their third week back (one week of prep, two weeks with students) and honestly that’s ridiculous but this year we shouldn’t have to worry.

Last summer around this time I was frantically searching for a teaching job after “leaving” my online teaching gig. This year I took a job I wanted because I chose to go out and look for a new one and we have enough saved to be safe through the barren summer months. Security and safety are so amazing. They offer freedom an choice and room to breathe and think. Now granted, we’ll need that first paycheck right away, but there won’t be a gap and … I don’t know guys it just makes me want to cry and sob with relief.

I’m surrounded with books to read, I have words to write, there are puppers to snuggle and kitties to pet. There is enough money for food and shelter and a movie or two. These are some but not all of the lights for me right now in this very dark place, and I want to thank all of you that read and follow this blog for bringing light too. I means so much to me that my words are words you want to read. Thanks for being here. Stay strong.

Read. Be brave. Stay angry.

 

The Disruption of Civility

All right angels, we need to have a talk.

I have been screaming at the tv for a few days now ever since Sarah Sanders got kicked out of that restaurant, also since Sec. Nielsen got run out of that Mexican restaurant. The right wing media and personalities have predictably begun talking about how, regardless of their politics, these people have a right to privacy and people should just let them live their lives. They are attempting to offend our liberal sensibilities and get us to cower into our “we take the high road” identity so they can go about their business on the low road.

The left wing media has begun to take two different approaches to this. One is comparing the denial of service to these people to how Republicans favor the denial of services to LGBT+ individuals (think cakes, flowers, etc) and so somehow this is allowed because Republicans are fine with establishment owners denying service for other reasons. This is a false equivalence and should not be entertained. One is discrimination and one is a form of protest.

The second approach is to discuss whether we are entering an age where civility is dying. It’s the high road vs. the low road discussion. We must always be the better man and turn the other cheek. We can’t stoop to their level or risk being just as bad.

I want to be clear about where we here at the Angry Angel Books website stand on this issue. MAKE THESE PEOPLE MISERABLE.

These people should not have a moment’s peace BECAUSE OF THEIR POLICIES. If you see Stephen Miller at a restaurant you should gather people together and be sure that he doesn’t get his meal. Stand next to his table and recite Green Eggs and Ham on repeat until he leaves. Sarah Sanders is a liar and a mouthpiece for this horrific administration. We shouldn’t have to ask her how she sleeps at night because we should know because WE ARE OUTSIDE HER HOUSE WITH A FULL BRASS BAND PLAYING UNTIL THE COPS ESCORT US AWAY.

Every member of Trump’s cabinet, every Republican member of congress, every person in the East and West Wings all the way up to Trump himself should have zero peace outside of their jobs until these policies are reversed and we see results that restore humanity to the people that are suffering.

The very basic reason these kinds of actions have begun must be because we can’t reach these vampires at work. Sarah Sanders shuts down reporters and feeds them lies in the press room. We are denied access to the children concentration camps. The media thinks calling them concentration camps is too harsh. Congress is now more loyal to their donors than their constituents. We can call and write and petition, but ultimately on the Republican side they are going to do what keeps the money coming in.

So if they aren’t listening during business hours, we have to show what we as a society believe out in the real world. That might result in protests or marches. That might include a restaurant owner saying that they don’t serve the US Minister of Propaganda and asking them to leave their establishment. That might mean that citizens refuse to share space with someone who would not otherwise share space with them or those they care about and love.

We cannot be nice to these people. We don’t have to physically violent, but we don’t need to be nice to them. We don’t have to accept their money or their presence or their words. We live in a world where it costs nothing to prevent neo-Nazis from living comfortably in the public eye. It is our job as citizens to hold our public officials responsible.

There are children living in cages, being ripped from parents and flown around the country. Babies as old as 3 months being placed in the foster system and parents denied the return of their stolen children because they are now part of the adoption system. Refusing to give anyone even remotely involved with this or any other horrific policy that is coming out of this administration the time of day IS THE FUCKING LEAST WE CAN DO.

So kick ’em out. Don’t serve them. If they refuse to leave don’t feed them. Don’t sell them anything. Don’t talk to them. If they refuse to leave call the police and have them removed. Start a hashtag so if you spot a big name someplace people can converge there and disrupt the peace.

Flint still doesn’t have clean water.
THOUSANDS of children are being held and tortured through familial separation.
People seeking asylum legally are being illegally detained and tried.
Unarmed black men are still being murdered by cops.
There were almost more school shootings than weeks of the end of the school year in 2018.
Women are being denied birth control and health care because of religion.
And that’s just a brief sampling of what this administration has begun or allowed to happen in the first 500 days.

I’m sorry, I don’t have time to be civil. People’s lives depend on me being brave and just a little bit rude. It is my civic duty to stand and demand justice. Civil disobedience is something individual citizens and businesses alike can participate in. We have to support businesses that are willing to kick them out, because we all know that online trolls will go and drive their reviews down on Yelp and elsewhere.

It also bears mentioning that this weight should fall more heavily on white shoulders. There have been many discussions about white privilege in the past couple of years and if you walk away with one lesson from all of that it is that we run less of a chance of being arrested. GO DISRUPT THE PEACE so others don’t have to put themselves in what could be very real danger. WE HAVE TO STAND UP FOR PEOPLE WHO CANNOT STAND FOR THEMSELVES WITHOUT RISKING JAIL OR DEATH. WE HAVE TO USE OUR PRIVILEGE FOR GOOD. WE HAVE TO USE IT FOR PROGRESS. And if that means blocking the entrance to an Outback Steakhouse so Betsy DeVos can’t have a Bloomin’ Onion I WILL BE THERE WITH BELLS ON.

We. Don’t. Have. To. Give. Hate. Room.

I say any effort that stops hate, torture, murder, and destruction is very civil. Too bad fascists, you’ll have to make your own tacos at home. Now GTFO.

DISRUPT THE PEACE.

Read. Be Brave. Stay Angry.

With What You Have

I have sat down multiple times this week to write about the concentration camps on our border, about the separation of families, about how parents are deported while their children are flown as far away as New York, about how this is all policy and not law and could be stopped at any time – and I just can’t find the right words to express my horror and sadness. If you have people in your life that think this is okay or find a way to justify it, you need to get those people out of your life immediately. Family, friends, you have to draw a line, I’m sorry. There’s no more discourse to be had when we are keeping children in cages and failing to offer asylum to families already attempting to escape horrors in their own country, only to find more horror right here in the U.S. of A.

I have donated money but I don’t feel like it is nearly enough. I would volunteer to go and read to the children or something like that, but no one is allowed in. Not even the press or elected officials are being granted entry. Stories of sexual and physical abuse are already beginning to stack up, and more recently stories of children being injected with drugs and other agents are being released by leakers who have quit and want to get the word out.

The only thing to do when there is nothing to do is to volunteer your time or donate money or speak out and spread the word about the story so it stays alive. If you read this blog and you are wondering about reputable organizations to which you can donate, I have collected a few for you. You can trust that these orgs are on the up and up and are working tirelessly to not only protect families after the bullshit executive order that came out the other day, but also to reunite the children that were taken in the days leading up to the EO with their parents, some of which have already been deported without their children.

RAICES Family Reunification: https://actionnetwork.org/fundraising/bondfund

ActBlue, a collection of orgs: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/kidsattheborder?refcode=tweet

Pueblo Sin Frontreras: http://www.pueblosinfronteras.org/shelters.html

Border Angels: https://www.borderangels.org/

ACLU: https://action.aclu.org/give/donate-to-aclu?ms=footer_sitemap_donate&ms_aff=NAT&ms_chan=web&initms=footer_sitemap_donate&initms_aff=NAT&initms_chan=web

Also if you are wondering what some other things you can do are other than simply donating, this article from thecut.com as well as this article from refinery29.com outline some of the best ways to help.

If protesting is more your style there are several events going up nationwide for June 30th sponsored by Families Belong Together. Visit their website to locate the protest or march closest to you and plan to bring your best sign. I am still thinking about being brave and going to show my support, but my anxiety may have other plans for me.

Money, time, or vocal angry support are what we need. Oh yes, and please plan to vote and get everyone you know to vote too. I know that’s a solution, but when the last week felt like a year, November feels eons away when there is so much horror right now.

Stay focused.

Read. Be brave. Stay angry.

Those That Matter Don’t Mind

There are three types of people in the world today that absolutely infuriate me. They are people who, regardless of their intentions, slow down the solutions process. They are almost completely incapable of staying focused and are the golden retriever running around the backyard every time you yell SQUIRREL! For each group, squirrel is something different, but each time I just want to slap them and scream WHO CARES WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING RIGHT FUCKING NOW!!!

The Historian

Oh Twitter, you love to give me so much good shit, but sometimes you are so full of shit I can’t even stand it. And the shit that I can’t stand that my feed is rife with is the do gooder that just wants you to know things. The best example of this can be centered in the current horrific immigration situation happening at the Mexico border, where asylum seeking families are being separated. Children are being kept in cages and tent cities while the parents are kept in detention facilities I guess? I’m not here to discuss the horror because I just can’t, I’m here to give an example.

So someone says OMG THIS IS TERRIBLE THIS ISN’T AMERICA SOMETHING HAS TO BE DONE.

~A historian appears!~

WELL ACTUALLY THIS IS AMERICA *states facts about Native Americans and Asians and schools and internment camps in some long thread with links and pictures*

While I am 100% here for having a historical foundation for understanding current events, what I am not a fan of is someone I have never met (1) assuming I am a fucking moron who doesn’t understand America is built on the blood and tears of native peoples, (2) assuming I didn’t pay attention to some of the most horrific linchpins of American history, (3) THAT I HAVE TIME FOR A FUCKING CONDESCENDING HISTORY LESSON WHEN BABIES ARE LITERALLY BEING TORN FROM THE BREASTS OF THEIR MOTHERS AND KEPT ~SOMEPLACE ELSE~

There is a time for being a “well, actually” smug liberal douche and there is a time for action and I think that we need to stop being assholes to each other online and start organizing and working together in the real world.

The Contrarian

You’re online and understandably upset about an issue. We live in the After Times so honestly you can take your pick. Shit is wild everywhere. Let’s say you’re nervous because Trump is stacking the federal courts with his judges that are 10 years younger than judges appointed by previous administrations and look to be affecting federal court decisions for the next 60 years at least. You’re worried about that moderate Supreme Court justice who is talking about retiring, and wondering if the Democrats in the Senate have the balls to hold up a Trump nominee like the Republicans held up Merrick Garland’s nomination (hint: they don’t). You are a long gamer and are worried about what life and laws will be like when you get old.

You post about this. You tweet or write on Facebook or whatever.

~A contrarian appears!~

HOW CAN YOU BE WORRIED ABOUT THIS WHEN CHILDREN ARE IN CAGES?!?!

HOW CAN YOU BE WORRIED ABOUT THIS WHEN EPA REGULATIONS ARE BEING DESTROYED?!?!

HOW CAN YOU BE WORRIED ABOUT THIS WHEN THE WELFARE SYSTEM IS BEING DISMANTLED?!?!?!

And on, and on and on.

The contrarian’s goals aren’t just to change your focus, they attempt to make you feel bad or guilty for wasting your time on one issue when there are so many demanding your attention. Or, conversely, the issue they care about is so much more important and they want to get you on their side and away from that other icky non-important at the moment crap.

Now look. I can care about everything but I can only truly understand a few things at a time, and I’m someone who reads a ton and is on the internet a good portion of the day learning things. I watch the news all the time. I ask questions. I want to be knowledgeable enough about a few things that I can consider myself to be up on it. I don’t need to know ALL the EPA regulations to be able to say “destroying the environment is bad” and so I can coast on that and spend more time on how the court system works or immigration law or even how far federal education officials can stretch before they hit the walls of state control. We all have our niche issues.

SO STOP SHAMING PEOPLE ABOUT THINGS THAT THEY DON’T KNOW AS MUCH ABOUT. Also LEAVE PEOPLE ALONE, LET THEM FIND WHAT THEY WANT TO CARE ABOUT AND BE PASSIONATE ABOUT IN THIS ABSOLUTE HELLSCAPE. We can’t all care about the same things all at the same time or something is going to fall through the cracks. Stop being so self-important and form a community of people who all know about different things and learn from each other.

Often Historians and Contrarians get into fights because historians won’t shut up about their topic and Contrarians want them to care about more things so it’s breadth and depth having a massive showdown which no one wins and kids are still being kept in cages and abortion might be illegal in the next ten years. But keep fighting on Twitter guys, you will discover who is the smartest person in the internet at some point.

The Denialist

Of course we wouldn’t be where we are today if (mostly conservative but some far-left liberal) people hadn’t cultivated the art of “prove it” online. “I don’t believe you, WHAT ARE YOUR SOURCES??” And then you scramble to basically make a works cited page for this stranger on the internet to show how smart you are and then they say “Those are all probably biased and it’s not going to change my mind. We’ll just have to agree to disagree OR I have a right to my opinion like you have a right to yours.”

These people will deny facts. They will deny your personal experience. They will deny your education and expertise. They will give you just an inkling that they might be open to understanding, but that’s just bait to tire you out so they can just walk away and leave you frustrated and jaded. We live in an era of ignorance, and it is a cancer that shows no sign of slowing down. It isn’t just ignorance either, it is willful stupidity and purposeful denial of reality.

The denialist will show up in your comments or tweets (if you haven’t blocked them already) and throw out some stupid fucking statement that anyone with half a brain would know is 100% false and conjecture. That’s the worm. I have learned not to bite and to just block them immediately BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT GOING TO LISTEN TO ME. I want to repeat that one more time to those of you who are reading this right now and thinking “come on Amanda, we have to keep an open discourse if we’re going to make anything better.” THEY. ARE. NOT. GOING. TO. LISTEN. TO. YOU. PERIOD.

***

These three types of people, whether you encounter them online or in real life, exist to make things all about themselves, or at the very least to distract you from whatever you are doing. The historian wants you to feel small because you might not have an encyclopedic knowledge of whatever. The contrarian wants you to feel like you don’t care enough and that they care way more than you. The denialist simply wants to turn you against yourself and walk away fed by your wasted and expended energies. All three are complete black holes of wasted time. All three exist to steal your focus and your energy away from the real goal.

What is the real goal?

The answer to this is honestly whatever you want it to be. Like I said, it’s the After Times, so take your pick. Racism, gun violence, school shootings, immigration, corruption, the environment, education, pay inequality, getting Flint, MI some fucking clean water – goddamn just throw a stone and whatever issue it hits first is totally yours! And chances are there are quite a few people and organizations already working towards the same goal that you are interested in.

You can give money, you can give time, you can write letters or call people. I imagine it’s kind of like working for a campaign only you are supporting an issue instead. We live in the era of the internet, and so you can literally type “how can I support gun reform” into google and it will spit out a million things you can use to help you decide what to do and how to act.

You can care about everything, but we have limited resources. Just because you aren’t talking about Flint doesn’t mean you don’t care about it. Just because you aren’t wearing an orange ribbon doesn’t mean you aren’t a proponent of ending school shootings and gun violence. But you have to pick something and find a way to give just a nudge so you’ve done your part to move this giant ball of shit in the right direction. If all we do is tweet and comment and argue online without actually doing anything, that shitball is just going to get bigger and smellier.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that we can’t just sit back and do nothing anymore. Having a government that let us do that (for the most part) ended in 2016. Choose the issues that matter the most to you and put your time or money where your mouth is. Something as simple as ResistBot is free and will help you contact your elected officials on a consistent basis. Any of us can handle that. What you do above and beyond that is completely up to you.

Most importantly though, don’t let these three types of people distract you. STAY FOCUSED. If someone you suspect to be one of these three types of people pops up in your feed and starts to bait you, did you know that you don’t have to respond, and if they get too obstinate with you that you can even block them? It’s fucking magical! Find other like minded people and organizations that have your same mission in mind. Follow those people, join those groups, and go out there and make a difference.

The world is watching. People are counting on us. Children are counting on us. Let’s get out there and do something about it.