The Repeal of The Affordable Care Act…

…theory does not practicality make.

Why can’t people extend logic just a smidge?  An iota?  A scintilla?  If you have the creative capacity to dream up scenarios to defend your shitty, weak hypotheses, what is the harm in thinking an additional minute or two to ensure your idea isn’t completely off-base or entirely wrong?  Wouldn’t it make it easier to sell?  Wouldn’t it make it believable?  Because, when you don’t take that extra five minutes or so, you’re left with being challenged by some nitwit, healthcare consultant in the South who doesn’t care much for people and certainly isn’t agreeable when she identifies significant gaps which she, in her distorted sense of ethics, deems immoral.

Alas, no.  Logic is not a consideration in Conservative decision making. Neither is decency.  Nor humanity.  If it was, these assholes wouldn’t be hijacking government via “special sessions” (imma lookin atchu, NC General Assembly) and the Senate wouldn’t be voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act when they should otherwise be in bed, fucking their rent-boys.

A few things to note:

  1. The costliest demographic to providers and insurers in healthcare is the chronically ill, age regardless.
  2. The general public will never escape the burden of funding care for those who cannot pay the bill.

In a society that relies on employer subsidized healthcare as the model, eliminating the consumer’s protection with respect to preexisting conditions is reckless, irresponsible and immoral. There is absolutely no guarantee any person can maintain constant employment. Costs for non-subsidized health insurance are unrealistic for middle and lower class citizens without opting for a deductible that is unreasonable.

With Ryan’s plan, the state and federal governments are still involved. The insurance providers are still involved. They’re still subsidizing the cost. Your tax dollars are still paying for this albeit less efficiently because you have diluted the market, as a whole. Your insurance premiums will still be offsetting the cost for the providers.

 “For sick patients who cannot continue coverage, Ryan’s plan calls for a return to state-run high-risk pools. These pools allow sick people to buy insurance separately, while states, insurers and the federal government help subsidize the cost. The president-elect’s website says he supports risk pools.

Risk pools have a long and controversial past. Before the ACA was passed, 35 states ran risk pools for people with preexisting conditions ranging from cancer and diabetes to more minor afflictions such as arthritis or eczema. Premiums for risk pool coverage were as much as 250 percent more than a healthy person would pay for individual insurance, and some states, overwhelmed with sick patients, had wait lists for coverage or imposed other restrictions, said Fish-Parcham.”

Additionally, as we see in other business models, when there is shrinkage or loss, the cost of business is passed along to the consumer. Do you honestly believe providers (practices or hospitals) are not going to inflate their charges to the consumer to make up for the bad debt of others?  Do you think you’re not going to be stuck assuming that burden?  YOU WILL BE.

And so forth.  Further reading here.

Go Fuck Yourself Weekly: Peter Thiel

Mayor of Libertaria
Population:  all the white boys who haven’t progressed beyond The Fountainhead

Peter Thiel is totally gay, people but that’s not why he wins RM’s esteemed Go Fuck Yourself Weekly Whenever award.  Nope.  I’d say we love gay folks but I’d sound like pander-pander-salamander or Donald Trump. Peter Thiel wins this round of Go Fuck Yourself Whenever because he is a horrible, horrible, horrible person with a dangerously “good brain.”

A little background music for the background, s’il te plaît.

On the surface, Bollea v. Gawker was a lawsuit about invasion of privacy of a reality tv personality (oxymoron, no?). Pull back Hulk Hogan’s ridiculous bandanna and you’ll not only find a bald head but Peter Thiel’s bulging forehead vein, a lust for vengeance and very deep pockets.

The end result: the death of Gawker Media due to an award of $115+/- million in compensation for the deeply traumatized, champion of diversity, Hulk Hogan.  Believe it or not, people celebrated this. They celebrated the collapse of a controversial media outlet. They were overjoyed that Nick Denton lost his empire. They delighted in AJ Daulerio’s bank account being frozen (worth all of $1,505.78).

All this celebration while missing the critical point: free press has been compromised by a Silicon Valley billionaire with a grudge. The precedent has been set: regardless of fact, regardless of reason – if you don’t like what is in print simply bury the outlet and move on with your bad self. So long as you have the dollars, of course. Thiel had the resources to kill Gawker. Thiel had the fire in the belly to stick it to Nick Denton (a post in Valleywag from 2007). All he needed was the case. Hogan’s was it. Nine years later, Thiel gets his and the cornerstone of our democracy – fuck it.

Meanwhile, Thiel’s company, Palantir Technologies, has been working for ICE’s HSI (since 2011) on a project called FALCON.  The scope (via Raw Story): develop and implement a “complex intelligence system which allows ICE to store, search and analyze troves of data that include family relationships, employment information, immigration history, criminal records and home and work addresses.”  In 2014, Palantir entered into another agreement with ICE’s HSI to build a case management system which processes civil and criminal cases.

Peter Thiel has been a very busy, totally gay man, people.  If you haven’t figured it out yet, the “totally gay” comment is what sent Thiel into rage overdrive with respect to Gawker Media.

Now, Thiel has a new folly.  Thiel is part of President-Elect Shitgibbon’s transition team.  Should you be concerned?  If his past actions are any indication of his determination, Thiel is going to get what Thiel wants. We know Thiel wants money and I’ll even go so far as to say “Good for you, totally gay, money making dynamo!  You make your dollars!”

But what about the diversity element?  How does Thiel feel about that?

Back in *1996, Thiel co-authored a book with David O. Sacks titled “The Diversity Myth:  Multiculturalism and Political Intolerance on Campus.” In it, Sacks and Thiel attack multiculturalism and diversity in academia, namely Stanford University:

This is a powerful exploration of the debilitating impact that politically-correct “multiculturalism” has had upon higher education and academic freedom in the United States. In the name of diversity, many leading academic and cultural institutions are working to silence dissent and stifle intellectual life. This book exposes the real impact of multiculturalism on the institution most closely identified with the politically correct decline of higher education—Stanford University. Authored by two Stanford graduates, this book is a compelling insider’s tour of a world of speech codes, “dumbed-down” admissions standards and curricula, campus witch hunts, and anti-Western zealotry that masquerades as legitimate scholarly inquiry. Sacks and Thiel use numerous primary sources—the Stanford Daily, class readings, official university publications—to reveal a pattern of politicized classes, housing, budget priorities, and more. They trace the connections between such disparate trends as political correctness, the gender wars, Generation X nihilism, and culture wars, showing how these have played a role in shaping multiculturalism at institutions like Stanford. The authors convincingly show that multiculturalism is not about learning more; it is actually about learning less. They end their comprehensive study by detailing the changes necessary to reverse the tragic disintegration of American universities and restore true academic excellence.

A passage plucked from the book and shared for your reading pleasure by Advocate:

But since a multicultural rape charge may indicate nothing more than belated regret, a woman might ‘realize’ that she had been ‘raped’ the next day or even many days later. Under these circumstances, it is unclear who should be held responsible. If the alcohol made both of them do it, then why should the woman’s consent be obviated any more than the man’s? Why is all blame placed on the man?

Passages cited by The Guardian on diversity:

Real diversity requires a diversity of ideas, not simply a bunch of like-minded activists who resemble the bar scene from Star Wars.

…and…

As paradoxical as it may seem, the extreme focus on racism has become the source of acrimony, as multiculturalists charge whites with more evanescent and intangible forms of racism, such as ‘institutional racism’ or ‘unconscious racism’. As a result, the awareness of racism, once the main hope for ending racial division, today has become a major cause of debate and friction.

In October 2016, Forbes contacted Thiel about “The Diversity Myth” and his spokesperson responded with:

More than two decades ago, I co-wrote a book with several insensitive, crudely argued statements,” Thiel said in a statement. “As I’ve said before, I wish I’d never written those things. I’m sorry for it. Rape in all forms is a crime. I regret writing passages that have been taken to suggest otherwise.

Granted, Peter Thiel did say “I am proud to be gay.” during his speech at the Republican National Convention this past July but is that enough? While it is certainly brave to own homosexuality at the Republican National Convention, the act itself does not mean the person doing it is free from bias and prejudice.  One can very easily fall into the category of marginalized while harboring feelings of bias.  Most do it daily, completely unaware of their own behavior, on some level.

There is no disputing Thiel’s genius which may be the saddest thing of all.  No one is demanding he cast aside his Libertarian ideology (although, I do think a 49 year-old Libertarian is intellectually stunted. That way of thinking should be left in one’s 20s.).  What Thiel does need to do is become less of a demented, evil fuckstick intent on using this country as his token while he plays his distorted version of Monopoly. Visiting a psychiatrist may also come in handy to get that anger under control.

Shutting down a media outlet because you don’t like what it prints is not the way this country works.  Manipulating a legal system for your own personal satisfaction is absolute bullshit.  It’s one thing to be a profitable supplier to a government agency.  It’s another thing to be a supplier of goods and services which harm society.  Enabling a government’s effort to harm people, citizens or non, is unethical but I suppose ethics get a little fuzzy when your vision is blurred by dollar signs and dancing bags of money.

As for the whole diversity issue, from a casual observer’s perspective, it looks as if Peter Thiel has end-stage Implicit Bias (best case scenario).  I shudder to think if this is intentional, although I should not be surprised.  Not in Shitgibbon’s Amerikkka, at the very least.

And, with one long, detailed, not-so-snarky post, Mr Peter Thiel, congratulations!  You are cordially invited to go fuck yourself in the totally gayest way you could imagine.  I’m putting my money on ball gags and leather because I’m also thinking Peter Thiel is a very, very, very, totally gay and totally naughty boy.

*Cannot confirm actual date of publishing.  Five (Advocate, Forbes, The Guardian, Goodreads, Independent Institute – 1996, 1995, 1995, 1996, 1998 respectively) sources cited three different years.

Safe Spaces…

…and apologies.

“The president-elect added: ‘The Theater must always be a safe and special place. The cast of Hamilton was very rude last night to a very good man, Mike Pence. Apologize'”

Wait a minute. I thought there were no safe spaces. I thought we were supposed to accept and embrace reality.

There is absolutely nothing more insufferable than blazing hypocrisy.

For eight years, people have stomached vile rhetoric, listening to wretched commentary about the President and the First Lady. For hundreds of years, people have endured intense and indescribable pain which has been flippantly dismissed and/or excused.

Now, now we’re supposed to create safe spaces? After we have been told there are none, to get over it? Does anyone even listen to themselves?

If you are an asshole (yes, asshole) who:

1. promotes conversion therapy
2. supports defunding health care providers who provide legal procedures and stem cell research
3. voted against the auto industry bail out which shows zero understanding of economics and supply chain implications (small business owners, Imma lookin atchu)
4. opposes pay parity for women
5. supports the denial of equal rights for the LGBTQ community
6. voted against $84 million in grant money for black and hispanic schools

…then you reap what you sow.

If it’s a safe space you seek, find your basket.

And, President-Elect Trump, you don’t get to demand a fucking thing of the citizens you serve. You work for us. Not the other way around.

A Day in the Life of an Expat

I read the news today. Oh boy.

On Wednesday, November 9th, 2016, I awoke in the five o’ clock hour and just lay there in a half-asleep state, my brain still feeling the effects of the sleeping pill I had taken before going to bed. I use them only rarely now, when I know it will be impossible to shut my brain off in order to fall sleep. This was one of those nights. The day before was the 2016 presidential election back in my home country, the USA. In Sweden we are several time zones ahead, so when I finally pulled my groggy ass out of bed at six AM, it was still going on. The polls had closed but they were counting up the votes. I went to sleep the night before feeling relatively confident that Hillary Clinton would win, hopefully with a sizable landslide. Of course she would win. Everybody said she would. They had totally dismissed Donald Trump’s chances and were already talking about her presidency in the present tense. When she wins, they said, the cult of personality started by Donald Trump and its zealous adherents will still be around, and they will be very pissed off and very loud. She will have to figure out how to deal with them and heal the country. This was the constant narrative being repeated during the final weeks leading up to the election.

But then, the totally unexpected happened, was still happening as a matter of fact, as I opened up Facebook fully anticipating the messages of triumph and joy from my American friends. However, those weren’t the messages I saw. Instead, I saw a lot of updates written in full caps, about the shock and despair and horror they were feeling. Wait a minute…

Thus began the Five Stages of Grief.

Denial:

My husband made us coffee as I sat there reading those updates, not fully comprehending what I was seeing. “Uh…so it looks like Trump won,” I reported. The words hit me like a sledgehammer. My heart was pounding in my chest, like I had just finished running a marathon. At first I actually thought this had to be a joke, that my friends were mistaken. Or they were trolling. I mean, there’s no possible way that Donald Trump could be the next president of the United States. Right? That’s just ludicrous.

“Whaaaat?!?” His response was undoubtedly being repeated around the world.

I should have been getting ready for work, but at that moment all I could do was sit there, ignoring my coffee and trying to figure out what had just happened, because it hadn’t really happened.

Bargaining:

After all, they were still counting up the votes and neither candidate had reached the 270 vote threshold in order to win. He was ahead but there was still hope. There was still time. It hadn’t happened yet. Hillary could still win. And she was AHEAD in the popular vote! But Trump had taken North Carolina and Ohio and…Florida. They said that if Trump took Florida then he would win. It was well and truly over.

Depression:

I somehow managed to shower and dress myself and board a train to take me into the city to work. I sat there on the train feeling completely numb. I no longer wanted to look at Facebook. The updates and articles being posted were just too goddamned depressing. I needed to try and focus on the day ahead of me, on my students. I teach Home Economics at an international school in Växjö, Sweden, and I went over the things that needed to be done. The ninth graders would be baking little meat pies and spinach-feta pies and I had to make sure I bought Quorn crumbles for the vegetarian students so they could substitute those for the ground beef in the meat pie. The sixth graders were making candy apples and caramel popcorn, and I was wondering where I put the Popsicle sticks.

I had to switch to a bus when I got to the train station in Växjö. It was a minus four (24 Fahrenheit) freezing cold morning, as November mornings in Sweden typically are. The bus was late, and as I stood there on the totally exposed bus platform, for fifteen minutes, then twenty, and then twenty five minutes, I watched bus after bus which wasn’t my bus drive by. I thought about jumping in front of one of them. I didn’t want to live on this planet anymore. Nothing made sense. Donald Trump had won the election. He had done every single thing wrong, lost all three debates, committeed gaffe after gaffe, and got caught doing and saying things that would have been deal breakers for literally any other candidate. And yet, he won. Hate had won. Sexism had won. Racism had won. Bigotry had won. Islamophobia had won. Xenophobia had won. Anti-Intellectualism had won. Stupidity had won. The Ugly American had won.

By the time the bus finally arrived, I couldn’t feel my toes, so instead of throwing myself under it, I boarded it and felt its delicious warmth surrounding my body.

Anger:

I eventually got to work. Groceries were bought and I welcomed the distraction of lively practical lessons. Every now and then, an American colleague would ask me, “So, are you a proud American?” in a can-you-believe-this-shit-is-happening kind of way. Swedish colleagues would ask me how I felt about the election, and I would tell them that it hadn’t really sunk in yet. Right before my last lesson, there was some kind of minor drama involving two students’ lockers. They both started chattering at me in rapid Swedish and I couldn’t really understand what they were saying. At that moment, I couldn’t have cared less, and I told them so. “I don’t care.” I was fighting back tears at this point. If I get an email from a parent informing me that they didn’t appreciate me telling their kid that I didn’t care about their problem, then I would apologize and tell them that Donald Trump had just been elected president and I was barely holding it together emotionally. And they would totally understand.

There was a staff meeting directly after my last lesson, but I decided to skip it. It was almost miraculous that I managed to show up to work at all. Throughout the day, a various times I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs, “WHAT IS HAPPENING????” As I sat on the bus on the way home, it finally sunk in. This was reality. And the tears finally came.

Acceptance:

For some reason, my left ankle was killing me all day. I must have taken a bad step and twisted it. I limped through my lessons and when I got home, my husband took a look at it and said it was all swollen and bruised, like it was sprained. I have no idea what happened. I certainly do not remember spraining my ankle. But I must have. Nothing to do now but deal with it.

Dear Deplorables…

…now that you have it, what are you going to do with it?

My parents, some of questionable sanity, instilled a sense of obligation in me at a young age. Confronted at the age of four with anti-Semitism by the family up the street, my father (the sane one), showed me how to manage bigotry in one sentence and a door slam. Both my father and my stepfather taught me that it is my moral obligation as a Jew to ensure all minorities, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation or any other category, are safe from harm.

Throughout my life, I have seen and experienced prejudice, discrimination and overt racism directly and indirectly: at school, at work, during my leisure time, while participating in the most mundane activities or the most critical. It is not dramatic when someone says these experiences can be traumatic and terrifying. When your concept of safe spaces are corrupted, life does become unbearable.

When I speak up, when I interrupt, I fear people hear the words and the voice of a crazed individual ranting on a street corner. Yet, if I don’t, I wonder “who will?” So I do. I do me. As I was raised. As I was inspired by my father, my hero, one of my best friends. And I know I am not alone. I am so fucking blessed to count amazing, brave and bold people as my friends. Men and women who stick their necks out every day to stop injustice and make this hellscape a better place for the benefit of others and not themselves.

As I watch the election returns trickle in, I sit in awe. Of all we have been taught, of all we have learned, the path we are, as a nation, choosing to go down is one of hate and fear. One of intolerance and exclusion. One of complete and total lack of regard for our fellow human beings. As a society, we have committed to dismissing the pain of others. As a society, we have dedicated ourselves to perpetuating stereotypes, false information and lies. And for whose benefit and what cause? To satisfy fear and ignorance. For it is much easier to hide behind the cloak of intolerance than it is to confront our bias, own our weaknesses and grow as people.

Every single man, woman and child in this country, citizen or non, deserves better than what is unfolding right now. This is not the “change we need.” This isn’t the punishment we deserve for our bad behavior, either. This is, simply put, bullshit.

To the deplorables, the leaders and the followers, this is yours now. The responsibility. The accountability. The time for bluster has passed. The time for action has arrived. You must now prove to every single person you are not the bigot you claim you aren’t. You must now prove to every person that you are, indeed, human. You must now earn our respect.

Your margin of victory is small so don’t think of this as a referendum or a free pass. Our black lives still matter. Our safety in public toilets still matters. Our freedom to follow whatever religion (or none at all) is still ours, per The Constitution. The Supreme Court has ruled our same sex couples can get married. You don’t have to like or approve of these basic principles but you will still have to accept them. Just as we have been living with your intolerance all of these years.

Show us you can lead by building the bridge to healing. Show us you can lead by being humble and decent. Show us you are anything but the horribly behaved example you demonstrated throughout the election. The ball is in your court. The burden has become yours.

The Millennal Whoop…

…that one and maybe the other one.

Earlier today, I was listening to Spinning by GROUPLOVE.  Why does that matter, you ask?  Because it’s fucking music and fucking music dictates my existence, that’s why.  And, since not even Dock is immune to a power pop song, I thought I would play Spinning for him on the way to McTeacher night at Mac-Don-Ald-Ssss because we had to dump some money into this valiant fundraising effort while slowly killing ourselves via chicken fusion, “beef” and filet-o-fisk (the word fish in Swedish is fisk).

Around minute who-gives-a-fuck Dock says “Oh!  The Millennial Whoop. Gotta have the Millennial Whoop.  Can’t have a song these days without the Millennial Whoop.”  I What-You-Tawkin-About-Willis him and wait for his knowledge drop.  Whether I like it or not, Dock is way more au courant than I in the music scene.  “The Millennial Whoop.  You know, where all the Millennial bands full of 90 members sing songs that have to include at least one ‘Wo-Oh,’ typically two.”  I’m all what-the-fuckity-fuck-are-you-on-now?  Dock patiently repeats himself and then launches into a diatribe about the Millennial bands with their eleventy billion members, their lutes, their mandolins and their ukuleles.

“Millennials have to be special, creative and different so they decided to add in a ‘Wo-Oh’ so their friend who can’t carry a tune gets a star for participation.  As for the ukuleles, well, there as many of those as there are strings on the instrument.  Each ukulele has one string and it’s played by a single person, reflecting the individuality and specialism of the player and the instrument because, in keeping with the spirit of Millennials, special things require special dedication.  A ukulele will not be sullied by a player playing all four strings at one time.  Oh fuck no.  A ukulele and its string gets the respect it deserves:  one instrument, one string and one player.  Just like the singer who can’t sing but doesn’t like feeling left out:  that person gets the ‘Millennial Whoop’ credit on the liner notes.”

You can see where we’re going.

Ever the reluctant optimist (Me.  No, really.) says “You know, I have been observing a weird trend.  It seems like the entire world has had enough of the Millennials’ handcrafted, *artisanal bullshit.  Even social anthropologists are like ‘Ugh.  I can’t eeeeven any longer with you snowflakes.  Lemme go find a hairblower to melt your sorry asses.'” Dock, being the curmudgeonly skeptic that he is offered a plate of doubt but I persisted.  I even said “Remember all those years I said, ‘let the Millennials try to change the workforce?’  No longer.  Fuck ’em.  Let them get lost on the way back from yoga or the food co-op and miss a meeting.  I’m busy raising a seven year-old and nagging you to take out the garbage.  I can’t be arsed to remind them to do their jobs or show up for a meeting.”

We came to the conclusion that, like everything else, the Millennials kind of suck.  But, we’re Gen-X so we really don’t want to invest the energy into actively disapproving of them, let alone disliking them.

Then, we decided to do a comparative analysis about shopping for a vehicle:  Gen-X vs Millennials, reality vs life through rose colored glasses.

Car salesweasel:  Hi there!  I bet you’re looking for a car!  What can I help you drive off the lot today?

Gen-Xer:  A car?  Is that what you’re selling?  I was hoping for a kidney or one crack, please.  Also, can you confirm the rumor that Mudhoney is playing a rent party in the backroom?

Millennial:  Oh wow!  Hi!  Thank you for being so helpful!  Why yes, I am looking for a car!  Can we be friends?  What’s your user name on Tumblr, Instagram, Snapchat, Kik and Waterbuffalo?  Are you on Yelp so I can review you?  What about FourSquare?  Will you give me positive feedback as a super-extra-awesome customer when the transaction has concluded?  Also, I’d really like a t-shirt but please make it one that looks like it’s from the 90s.  I’m totally dedicated to retro.  Can’t you tell I’m going for the Cobain-meets-man-bun look?

Car salesweasel:  So, whatcha looking for?

Gen-Xer:  Something that goes backwards and forwards.  Relatively reasonable fuel economy.  Carplay or other stupid interfacing whatever. Turn signals would be nice.  One of those rearview cameras, too.  Just so long as it doesn’t jack up the price because I’m not paying list.  You hear?  I am not paying list.  If you have it in black with tan interior, we have a deal.  You dig?

Millennial:  Ok!  So, this is what I’m thinking about!  I have a few pictures if you want to see what I have downloaded!  I have added some stickers and emojis to convey my feelings because I’m not really great with the words!  I’d like a car that is environmentally friendly because we don’t care enough about the environment these days and I’m super-extra-passionate about the environment and none of the candidates even addressed that in the debates!  None!  Can you believe that!?!  Well, Bernie did, at least!

Next, I need really gentle tires for the blacktop!  I hate hurting things, physically and/or emotionally!  I wouldn’t be able to sleep at night knowing I caused any form of pain!  Also, I left my favorite fluffy at my parents’ house when I was there doing laundry and they told me I wasn’t allowed to come back for two weeks so sleeping has been really. really, really hard.  :cry cry cry:

Super critical!!111! Do you offer carbon offset credits? Because, again with the environment!!! I cannot buy the Grand Wagoneer without the credits! I just can’t! And I really can’t see myself and my 20 dogs in a Fiat! There’s just not enough room for that!!! We can’t have the dogs cramped on the long trips to the mountains for the weddings I have to go to! Also, I haul *a lot* of mason jars and pickled vegetables for my side business. Are you interested in purchasing pickled gourds for your Thanksgiving dinner? I handcrafted them myself with help from my friends who make their own diaper cream. :sticks screen in salesweasel’s face: LOOK AT MY WEBSITE!!! Helvetica is the best!!! I masturbate to style guides. Oh. That was TMI, wasn’t it?

Car salesweasel:  Are you financing the purchase or…?

Gen-Xer:  What the fuck is wrong with you?  I’m financing this like I financed the toilet paper I had to buy yesterday.

Millennial:  So, here’s my concept of how we should be paying for things!  Money is corrosive to the soul and thus corrosive to society!  In order to build a more perfect world, I suggest we trade!  You will give me the car and I will give you two hours of manual labor at your home!  I can empty the dishwasher, take out the trash or clean the litterbox! Wait!  You look disappointed.  Fine.  I’ll throw in a case of my special, birch scented homemade beard wax if you promise to give me a year’s worth of oil changes, too!  What do you say?  Do we have a deal?  OMG OMG OMG!  If we do, I will totally meet you at the park for a game of kickball!  You’ll love my friends!  They make the best moonshine you have ever tasted in your life!  Right in the bathtub!  I’m telling you.  The things one can do with what one already has.  If people just stopped, slowed down and appreciated what was around them and the unique gifts life has to offer…

Then we started making fun of the Millennials’ farm-to-table lettuce sammiches on stone ground wheat bread.  Little did they know the lettuce was sourced from Compare Foods on Avondale Drive in Durham and the bread was stolen off a delivery truck parked by the Sheetz on Miami Blvd.

Being Gen-X is whatever.  We knew from a young age no one gave a shit about us or anything other than themselves.  This was impressed upon us every time we came home from school to an empty house with only the television to keep us company.  We’re not necessarily the bastards of the young but we are the bastards of the Boomers.  There’s a lot to be said for being the progeny of the narcissistic.

While other generations have said our attitude sucks and we’re slackers, thinking that was going to incite some form of change or emotional growth and development, we stayed true to our ambivalent selves and did nothing.  We don’t fucking care about what people think.  Never have.  Never will.  We remain the generation just trying to make it across the hellscape.  We’re the generation that took existentialism and nihilism and made it something for the masses as opposed to the intellectually sanctimonious and elite by merely breathing and rolling our eyes while smoking a blunt and drinking PBR from a CAN.

And, as we sit on the cusp of this nation’s destruction, some of us are concerned but we’re also not. Gen-X continues to see your bullshit. Be it the selfishness and narcissism of the Boomers or the complete inability to accept that humans are ordinary from the Millennials. Whatever comes to pass, as the circus continues around us, Gen-X, sandwiched by The Bearded generations (patchouli Deadheads who refuse to let go of the past and hipsters who really have no fucking idea what irony is), will remain spectators, quietly singing along to the Millennial Whoop in our financed vehicles while consuming processed food, drinking overpriced coffee, comforted by the knowledge that we don’t look through rose colored glasses.  We’re not snowflakes.  We’re not special. We’re not seeking “experiences.”  We just don’t want to be assholes – bearded or clean shaven.

Oh well, whatever, nevermind.

*Look at this.  Even spellcheck won’t acknowledge the existence of artisanal.  That’s how fucking lame this word and this concept is.  To prove my point further:  the word includes the word ANAL as the suffix.

La lutte est cruelle…

…Madame Kardashian West

Poor Kim Kardashian West whose pain we can all relate to. I, too, understand the sheer terror of being held at gunpoint in a *Parisian bathtub, losing that which I hold dear and value highly.

As the day wears on and we remain distracted by the news, as we so often are, let us remember all that is important for it is not Syrian refugees. It is not children without food, schools without textbooks or adults without jobs. It’s the fate of a woman whose diamond ring and grill was ripped from her possession. A woman whose sole existence is to promote an unrealistic body type to attain and lifestyle to emulate. A woman whose come-up was a sex tape. A woman who understood and upheld the integrity of marriage…for 72 days.

That is the true tragedy of the day. And a truly awful way to begin the Jewish New Year.

Let us pray.

*Change Paris to Rouen
Change bathtub to bathroom
Add:  stench of cat urine, three bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau, two hours of vomiting and not knowing where the wine ended and my insides began
Also:  jetlag

But it’s alright, ’cause it’s all white…

or is it?

Another day, another explosion, another Muslim to blame.  Expedient and convenient.  In rapid fashion The Deplorables emerge from their basket, full of rage and bare chested, arteries close to exploding as the Do-Gooder-Patriot thumps his chest in outrage.  The call to eject citizens or aliens, legal or non, grow louder and louder as crumpled cans of Budweiser hit the floor and Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless The U.S.A” bleats in the background along with Fox Noise, Alex Jones or whatever nonsensical voice from the Alt-Reich will serve as the clarion call to the patriots.  Pick up the guns, bruh.  We gots ourselves some work to do.

Let’s say The Deplorables get their way: Der Trumpenführer und Col Wilhem Klink Pence are elected in November.  The mass deportations begin.  Muslims *poof* gone!  Mexicans (And let’s be blunt about the definition of Mexican, shall we.  We all know the word “Mexican” encompasses anyone from Central and South America in this instance.) *el presto* dunzo!  African Americans who refuse to heel to the esteemed white man and accept institutionalized racism *boom* outta here.  Jews, sorry my fellow brothers and sisters, we’re off to live on disputed soil in a desert because Secretary of White Washing, David Duke, thinks were shifty, at best.  I’d cite more but, admittedly, I’m bored.  Also, why bother?

So, now that the Great Again United States of America is as white as a mountain of blow, all is good, right?  There are no longer any explosions (abortion is outlawed so no need to fret about that).  Crime no longer exists because white people don’t do that stuff.  Right?  Right?  Wait…I’m…wrong?

After all that expended energy – the culling of the herd, the elimination of the undesirables, there is still crime?  There are still people who are (scratches chin) bad?  But, how could this be?  It’s a white, christian utopia full of hard working, non-welfare taking, non-idle people who spend their non-work time at church or building homes for Habitat for Humanity (although why HH exists when everyone has a job and can afford a home escapes me entirely).  When do the adults find time to commit crime?  When do the studious angels find the time between school, volunteerism and extra-curricular activities?

The fact of the matter is, Dear Deplorables, you can eliminate as many brown, yellow, black, olive, purple, polka-dotted, twenty-armed, two-headed, nine-footed humans from your country as you wish.  You will never eliminate bad behavior.  It could be debated that the Deplorable is the embodiment of bad behavior but that’s tangential and not relevant to the discussion.  The bad behavior remains.  What will the basket dwellers do then?  Do they systematically jail their brothers, sisters and cousins or do they bounce them out of the country, too?  Back to Europe, for you guys!  You are so fucking horrible, you white criminals, we’re going to make sure you have to endure the hell that is democratic socialism with its stupid healthcare, its 36-hour work week and guaranteed four weeks of paid holiday a year.  That’ll show ’em!

Deplorables, you will never have a society free from crime, free from vice and free from bad behavior.  Certainly not when you’re a part of it.  But, regardless, the bad behavior will always be here.  Even if your nation becomes a sea of white faces as you so desire.  Your solution of toting guns and eliminating those who look and think differently than you is about as rational as a two year-old’s fallback of a temper tantrum for not getting a second cookie or a sixteen year-old’s screaming “YOU ARE RUINING MY ENTIRE LIFE” because she can’t have the keys to the family truckster.

Throw out everyone.  Make every minority leave.  Oust everyone who has a dissenting opinion.  I guarantee you there will still be things blowing up, people walking around crowded places with guns and knives, women still being raped and children still being abused.  I guarantee you will still be in physical danger to a degree.  Otherwise, in your white utopia that you have achieved, you wouldn’t have any need for that gun you’re clinging to, right?

Shitty Pizza, The Past, The Future…

…and The Now

Last night, John Oliver did a bit on charter schools, primarily the regulation or the lack thereof.  Believe it or not, Opinionated Public School Teacher’s Step-Daughter has no clearly defined opinion on charter schools.  I have seen models which are disasters.  I have seen models which are successes.  My son is currently number 78 on the waiting list at a charter school in our area.  We find that mildly hilarious because number 78 should really be “OHAHAHAHAHA!  Why bother?”

After flirting with and subsequently becoming involved in a two year relationship with private schooling, I have arrived at the conclusion that there is one significant component missing from private school – baseline (quantifiable and measurable) standards for performance.  This conclusion helped me realize that private schooling may not be the best approach for our family.  It’s simply too loosey-goosey and subjective for my comfort level as a parent and that is before we address the annoying political bullshit of dealing with the private school mentality.  I am a busy human who doesn’t have time for that nonsense and even if I did, I find that sort of thing too tedious to entertain.

In Oliver’s closing, he summed up charter schools by addressing the business aspect of the “scheme” (or scam, depending on one’s perspective).  While tangentially related to private schooling, based on the tax status of the school, that isn’t as relevant to this essay as his last statement which I have highlighted for emphasis.

If we are going to treat charter schools like pizza shops we should monitor them at least as well as we do pizzerias.  It’s like the old saying ‘Give a kid a shitty pizza, you fuck up their day.  Treat a kid like a shitty pizza and you can fuck up their entire life.’

The reason why this statement is so impactful is because it isn’t limited to any particular form of schooling.  This can be applied to charter schooling, private schooling, home skooling and public schooling.  This statement is the most succinct summary of my son’s first year in JuniorMAPP (otherwise known as a combined first and second grade classroom) at his old private school.  It defines our current reality and every single obstacle we as parents have to help him manage, that he as a student must overcome and that his teacher has to work with by luck of the draw.

Last year, my son was treated like a shitty pizza.  The toppings were one teacher (nicknamed “Lizard” by my son) and one autocratic, considerably neurotic control freak of a school administrator who goes by various names depending on the source.  The side-effects of said treatment have been generalized anxiety, erosion of self-esteem, stomach ailments, occasional vomiting and nightmares for the child.  For the parents, a leave of absence from work was required to manage the exhaustion as I could not keep up with the demands from work, an ailing parent and the train wreck that was happening to my child at school on a daily basis.

The shitstorm began approximately five weeks into the new school year for the Milkface with minor, aggravating issues.  Initially, I thought he was just being petulant and having issues adjusting to a new teacher given that his previous teacher was so stellar, anyone who had the misfortune of following her would be bound to fail in some way, shape or form.  I was quick to coach and possibly quick to dismiss some of his concerns.

It took Milkface’s bursting into tears and refusal to leave the car during morning drop-off to make me understand something was critically wrong.  Milkface had been in daycare and/or a preschool environment since 12 weeks old.  The only other instance when he refused to get out of the car was while he was being bullied at the YMCA camp.  It was at this moment I realized there was a serious problem and requested a conference with his teacher.  His teacher, following protocol, extended an invitation to the school’s director.

In spite of what we (Dock and I) thought was a productive conference identifying gaps and weaknesses, along with developing a plan to keep Milkface focused, busy and engaged, nothing improved.  Milkface remained disconnected and physically ill.  His teacher continued to verbally intimidate the students, yell and refused to engage six and seven year-olds in a manner which six and seven year-olds should be engaged.  Milkface was legitimately terrified of school for the first time ever.

Over the course of the school year, what seemed like millions of emails were exchanged, heated conversations were had, unpleasant conferences were attended and accusations were lobbed by all parties.  Dock and I had enrolled Milkface in the program with the intent that he would stay there for his entire K-12 education.  Milkface approached me and asked if he could explore other schools to attend for the following year (hence the charter school reference).  I approached the director and asked if it would be possible to skip his second year in JuniorMAPP (as he had started first grade at the second grade academic level) and promote him directly to SeniorMAPP (and a different teacher) to avoid the horrible Lizard.  We made it clear there would be no re-enrollment until we had a guarantee that Milkface would not be looping with his current teacher.  Then, we started the search for another school.

Around the beginning of April, after another trip to the doctor for vomiting and stomach upset, Milkface decided he couldn’t take any more of his current school.  He stoutly refused to return to the school in the fall.  He did not care about leaving behind his friends and other teachers he adored.  He did not care about ending up ridiculously out of contention in the charter school’s lottery.  He did not care about being the new kid in a huge, public elementary school with a year-round calendar.  Milkface wanted out and that was it.  Dock supported Milkface’s decision.  I did not.  I reluctantly completed the enrollment paperwork for the public elementary school near our home but held off as the director said she would have her answer for us on May 1st.

Then, this happened:

Sad Max

I promptly enrolled Milkface in his new school and sent an email to the director the next day informing her of our decision.

So, that’s the past.  The relatively recent past.  The close enough past that we’re still dealing with Milkface’s nightmares, his uncertainty about his academic performance (which was excellent in KinderMAPP), his low self-esteem and his anxiety about school.  Fortunately, we don’t seem to have any more issues with nausea and vomiting from nerves.  Thank goodness for that.

There are days I will vent to my friends who are still involved with the school on one level or another even though three months have passed.  I vent even though Milkface has started his new school three weeks ago and appears happy in the new environment, is making friends and managing the new kid blues really well, has a lovely teacher, the school runs like Mussolini’s trains and he’s catching on to Common Core quite well.  I mention the past because it’s not so long ago and the differences between the two institutions are so significant, his new school makes the old school look like some faith-based home-skooling network run by Trumpanzees and Duggarfangurls.  I mention the past because when you leave Princess Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns, you become a Suppressive Person; not unlike Scientology.  You made noise and challenged authority.  You pointed out the flaws.  You may have even said unkind things while your child was being treated like a shitty pizza.  Worst of all, you showed your emotions because observing any child being treated like a shitty pizza upsets you in ways people who do not know you (or don’t know you well) will never understand.

The past isn’t exactly the past.

Your friends will tell you, encourage you, to look toward the bright, brilliant future your child has ahead of him.  Focus on the positive!  Be happy you made a great decision for your child (or, in this instance, listened to your child as he made a great decision).  Think of all the negativity he is avoiding.  Enjoy the fact that he is thriving.

This is wonderful advice.  It comes from the right place.  It is said out of love and concern.

Unfortunately, it overlooks the immediate:  The Now.

Today, because my son was treated like a shitty pizza by shitty adults, I have a child who is damaged to the point where he is afraid to seek help or clarification from his teacher because the previous teacher wouldn’t allow that behavior in her classroom.  She either refused to help the children because they had to be “self-sufficient” or “independent” (she is a lazy one, that one) or she would yell.  As Milkface adjusts to Common Core, he has questions but is reluctant to ask for help.  When Dock asked him when his library books were due,  Milkface said “I suppose I could ask Henry.”  Dock coached him “Well, isn’t there anyone else you could ask?”  Milky responded “Logan is very nice.  I could ask him.”  Dock prodded a bit more “Milkface, think for a second.  When you have a problem, you ask a…grown-up.  Who is the grown-up in your classroom?”  Milkface said “Oooh!  Mrs. T!  I guess I could ask her.”  But the latter part was said with a great amount of apprehension.  Milkface remains terrified to engage his teacher unless he is engaged first.  He is entirely reactive in this situation.

It’s not limited to asking questions, either.

Last week, Milkface melted down over instructions for his Math Mountain homework.  The word “and” threw him for a loop and it took him well over 30 minutes to calm down enough to approach the worksheet again.  Math has always been his strongest and favorite subject.  By the end of last year, he was so deflated and demoralized by being told he wasn’t smart enough to learn material that he was already learning on his own, he has zero confidence in his skills or his intelligence.

I can look to the future but not right now.  Right now, Milkface needs me to help him get through The Now.  Milkface needs all of the adults to help him find his safe zone, rebuild his self-esteem and restore his confidence so when he makes a mistake, it’s not the end of the world.  In our family, mistakes have always been a learning experience.  A wrong answer is still, in a round-about way, a right answer because we learned what not to do.

The Now is so negatively impacted by the past; we do not have the luxury of time to fuck around.  We are in the process of rebuilding what was considered an ideal student because two adults didn’t do their jobs.  And this makes me angry, hurt, devastated and sad.  This makes me a ball of negative emotions I have to hide when my child is around.  This makes me feel terrible.  This makes me question my decision making:  was I right in leaving Milkface in a toxic environment for an entire school year to avoid the trauma of forcing him to be the new kid in the middle of a school year somewhere else?

While it’s natural to think that I’m overreacting because that is something a mother would do, it’s important to understand:

  • My child was in the first grade last year.  His first year of elementary education was phenomenally negative.  The foundation of his education was traumatic.  One of the most important years in a child’s education was an emotional nightmare.  This is wholly unacceptable.
  • The behavior on the part of the teacher was not an isolated instance.  Complaints were lodged by other parents in previous years.  This is a problem that should have been solved years earlier.
  • Administration’s response was, at best, marginal.  The issue clearly was not a priority if the bad behavior was permitted to perpetuate year over year.  For a person who speaks of her institution as “her life’s work,” she seemingly overlooks a crucial detail:  a parent may view their children as their life’s work.  Mutual respect goes a long fucking way in my world.

How does one let go of the past when it is present and requiring attention?  One can look forward and set all the goals they wish but that amounts to nothing more than daydreaming if you are not addressing The Now.  Willing things to happen, wishing for things to happen does not make things happen.  Working on things, fixing what is broken and healing will make the future happen with positive outcomes.  Ignoring the past, living in denial and pushing aside the past’s problems that exist in The Now is merely perpetuating bad behaviors.  Pure and simple.

(and I say this not to chide those who are encouraging me and helping me through a really difficult time)

After Milkface’s experience, I want him to have what I have always wanted him to have; what I want every child to have:  an emotionally stable, safe, secure environment in which he can grow and learn to the best of his capabilities.  An environment which fosters respect for others, a love of learning and fun.  I want him surrounded by positive behaviors exhibited by children and adults, alike.

Neither Dock nor I are perfect parents, let alone perfect people.  We’re flawed.  We fuck up.  We parent in ways people find atypical, nontraditional or entirely bizarre.  And you know what?  We give zero fucks because this works for our family.  When we make a mistake, inflict harm or screw up as it relates to Milkface, we own our foibles and apologize, just as we expect Milkface to do in turn.  We also do not expect any other person in our lives to be perfect but we do expect accountability.  We saw very little of that at Princess Celestia’s School for Gifted Unicorns last year which, in comparison to the year prior, contributes even further to our heartbreak and pain.

The past is not the past.  Not yet.  It’s still very much The Now for all of us.  Maybe, this time next year, we can all look back and all that we will have to talk/laugh about with regard to PCSGU is the music teacher who cannot sing, the amazing friends made and that magical first year.  Maybe, this time next year, Milkface will be whole again and his new school will be his domain – a place where he can come out of his shell, entirely, and his love for school will not be dampened by adults who let their pettiness, selfishness and personal grievances snuff out what little professionalism lies within.

Teachers and administrators remember:  Treat a child like a shitty pizza and you can fuck up their entire life.

No amount of rationalization, blame-shifting, saying the problem is with the student or his parents will change that, either.  The burden for the student-teacher relationship never falls on the student when the student is six years-old.  Additionally, if you have enough time to spare to critique parenting methodologies (yes, the erstwhile Lizard tried to blame Milkface’s performance issues on us), you have enough time to ensure your administrative tasks are complete and correct (something Lizard never seemed capable of doing).  And, portraying a well-behaved child as a discipline case only makes you look inept when the next school sees no evidence of what you tried to pass off.  It’s your own form of bad press.

For us, The Now will consist of repairing the broken child and guiding him towards a (hopefully) auspicious and happy future.  This entails working with him to ensure his self-esteem is not defined by a very unfortunate experience.  His new teacher is aware of what she inherited and is on-point.  Milkface adores her (“She doesn’t yell, Mommy!), so we’re fairly confident that he will do his best to please her.  Furthermore, we have seen his excitement for school return in the way he approaches his homework.  There is very little grumbling or pushback.

But, I also have some work of my own to do for The Now.  I need to remember while I’m healing Milkface, I need to take some time to make sure I’m healing myself because this process took quite a bit away from me, too.  Watching your child hurt is brutal.  Hurting along with your child isn’t exactly a good time.  Openly hurting and feeling as if others are not only watching you but judging you for what they do not understand is frustrating at best.  Heartbreaking is more appropriate.

Throughout this entire ordeal, I forgot to do one of the things I’m really quite good at:  giving zero fucks because people, as a rule, don’t understand what makes a person who they actually are.  They don’t know the experiences that formed you.  Shit, people don’t know what you had for lunch.  As you go through a significant trial with an audience, you suspect you’re being judged for whatever loopy behaviors you may exhibit (and maybe you’re merely being slightly narcissistic because it could be that no one gives a damn); crying, puffing steam through your nostrils and ears, kicking rocks, laughing manically, babbling to yourself in a foreign language you don’t necessarily speak well.  For a long time, until PCSGU entered our world, I didn’t give a good goddamn what people thought of me.  I have no idea what changed my attitude but I found myself less Kang and more Maxsmom.

Fuck that.

I’m 45 which should be “old enough to know better.”  I get angry when children are treated like shitty pizza and I’m done explaining myself or apologizing for it.  If you don’t want the side-eye of doom or my wrath, don’t treat kids like shitty pizza – directly or indirectly.  An adult’s series of bad days can very well become a child’s legacy and battle scars.  If you’re not remotely prepared to accept that level of responsibility and accountability, you need to get the fuck out of education and stay the fuck away from children.

Munich…

…and jumping to conclusions.

Why wait for the facts when it's easier to act like a total asshole?

Why wait for the facts when it’s easier to act like a total asshole?

Completely emotionally drained from yesterday’s bullshit, I went to bed early.  Early enough that I didn’t stay glued to the news as I usually do when stories such as these break.

This morning, I woke up and did my usual routine of coffee grab, dog duty, breakfast for the Milkface and checking Facebook for birthday reminders.  I was distracted by two things at the top of my feed:  an article from The Local – Germany and a rambling verbal tantrum about Obama’s failure to protect German citizens from Muslims who want to see the world burn.  It came as no surprise that an American would ignore basic facts and twist a story to suit a political narrative:  Obama is the problem, our foreign policy is weak, we are soft on terror, we enable terrorism by allowing immigrants entry into our country.

The tragedy in Munich is not an IS related incident.  The tragedy in Munich was committed by a man called Ali Sonboly who was born and raised in Munich.  He has no ties to IS.  Per reports, Sonboly was obsessed with mass killers and inspired by Anders Breivik.

For those who do not remember Anders Breivik, he is the far-right extremist who shot up a summer camp on Utøya in Norway in July 2011.  Breivik had written a manifesto of explaining his ideology and his desire to to deport all Muslims from Europe.  In short, he’s a racial purist. Utøya was carried out as a means to draw attention to his manifesto.

This morning, there are people who are inferring that the atrocity in Munich is related to the nightmares in Nice, Paris and Istanbul.  This line of thinking needs to stop immediately.  We must understand the difference between Utøya and Munich and Nice, Paris and Istanbul.  Utøya and Munich were perpetrated by members of the far-right who want Muslims, non-whites and immigrants out of their country.

Not unlike many people who are currently supporting Donald Trump’s “platform.”

Obama is not the problem.  Muslims are not the problem.  Hispanics are not the problem.  Immigrants are not the problem.  The problem is with people who are reluctant to embrace change, accept those who are different (from them) and perpetuate hate because they are unabashedly ignorant.  The problem is with those who live in a fear of losing control and no longer being a majority.  The problem is with those who actually believe that being white and Christian means that they are better than those who are not.