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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

How to Deal

I'm having some trouble with it today. Simple tasks have been overthought into oblivion, to the point where even other over-thinkers in my family are laughing at me.

There is housecleaning to do, and a date with my father and younger daughter after she's out of school today; both of these seem currently insurmountable. I'm hoping that writing my feelings and my list out here will help some; it usually does. Because, well, I'm intelligent, I can adapt, and I've certainly done a lot here lately!

Finding that I'm bothered more by Stephen Hawking's death than I have been about other public figures I admire; I think that reaction probably has to do with the fact that my late husband was a huge admirer, so it makes me more sensitive. Also, the fact that some of my more religious friends are all saying things like, "Gosh, I hope Hawking is happy in heaven," in online voices that come off as smug really bothers me. The man was an atheist; don't try to slot him into your worldview now that he's dead. That's just rude and disrespectful.

And the walkout.

I have a high school child living in my home. She did not know if she would walk out today or not; I think it's important that she had the opportunity to do so without getting punished by the school. She's old enough for it to be her choice. But I've heard horror stories about other kids in our district being more or less publicly shamed if they chose not to. I don't know how prevalent it is; the horror stories I'm hearing are mostly from other concerned parents and they may be in Mama Bear or Papa Wolf mode and not unbiased.

But this is not okay. The whole concept of free speech is undermined if the folks who choose not to walk out for whatever reason - religious, academic, political, just can't be bothered - are pressured into thinking their choice is a Bad Thing. Neither of my daughters better be in the groups shaming these kids (and neither are likely to). They're both more of the make-friends-so-others-don't-feel-alone sort by nature in any case, but there's no reason they can't be both.

So yes, I do feel a bit better, having written it out. Now I can deal.

I think I'll go have some Pi(e). Spanakopita from Trader Joe's counts, yes?

Sunday, March 11, 2018

March Marches On

In many ways.

March is super busy for us, although at least this time there is only one play to worry about.

You see, this is Cookie Month (that is, the store sales, with little girls in green or brown or tan or blue out there selling cookies in front of your local supermarket or hardware store or what have you; the pre-sales were mostly in February). And although our cookie site sales have been fun, it is now evident that Lizzy is pretty much done with her Customer Service Face for the rest of the weekend after one of these. She becomes, well, a bit of a jerk, even to people (like her grandmother) she loves and trusts. Some of this is Aspergers/Autism/Whatever-it's-called-this-month, some is her personality, and some of it is Just Plain Ten Years Old and Grumpy With It.

Especially as there is also Spring Ahead Jet-Lag for everyone involved.

So although we had big plans to deliver the last of our cookies (we have six boxes left of the pre-sold cookies), and to distribute flyers to all 151 houses in our neighborhood (we started a Facebook Group; more on that below), Lizzy was rude to Grandma and not-exactly-rude-but-certainly-not-her-usual-cheery-self to assorted neighbors. So we managed about a dozen households (plus the half-dozen who are already part of that Facebook Group) before not only was Lizzy being insufferable, I was getting there myself.

We'll do the rest over the course of the week; may as well take advantage of the Spring-Ahead-Light.

Oh, the Facebook Group? Yeah, I have no authority to speak for the landlord (we all rent the land and own the buildings), or to speak on behalf of the neighbors to the landlord. But there is no means of communication between neighbors (aside from shouting or a phone tree, I guess), so when there was a water outage a couple months ago, my mom and I started this group to disseminate that kind of information to the whole neighborhood.

It's the neighborly thing to do.

And last week, some of the very few of us in the group (didn't know other's email addresses/weren't Facebook friends with them) actually used it to return a lost pet to a neighbor. So we printed out flyers to share out to the neighbors, inviting them to join the group.

That, my friends, is what the Internet is for, along with reconnecting me with not one, but two people I haven't seen in person for thirty years this last week.

Then there's The Play.

We are (you may have noticed) going Into the Woods this weekend.

It's always been one of my favorites. I am so excited to see Abby in it, even though I've heard her (and the boy playing her son, and the girl in our carpool) doing practically the entire play in the car, in the hair salon, in the parking lot... you name it.

And thank goodness for that carpool; it means that I take the girls to rehearsal (or my mom does when Miz Liz and I have her piano lesson), and the carpool friend brings them back of an evening. Even today, when they're doing tech rehearsal (lighting and all that) from noon to eight.

Because you know what that means?

That means Lizzy McCranky gets to bed on time tonight.

And that will help March go out like a lamb.

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Shades of Gray

Not these shades of Grey. I don't want to even see them, much less with my mother. I write better fanfic than that.

I'm talking about the shades of gray that art (especially the visual arts of film, TV, and comic books) makes us think about (i.e. "was Killmonger right?").

Here there be spoilers for Black Panther.

Which is why I didn't title the post Who Let the Rhinos Out?

There are also multiple links to wikipedia and TV Tropes.

You have been warned.


Was Killmonger right? Yes, in that people who look like him have been terrorized, kidnapped, raped, enslaved, murdered, etc., all over the planet, for hundreds of years. He was even right in that the fictional Kingdom of Wakanda should do something about it; they have the social equality, technology, and resources to do so. But his methods (kill 'em all and take over) is not the way to get things done.

Same goes for other comic book folk; it looks to them like sensible ways to fix things, but the methods do no good and often quite a lot of harm (*cough*Young Justice*cough*). There is certainly something to be said for direct action, or not telling your whole team the plan, or whatever; these are often necessary. But killing one's cousin and staging a coup because other people have done horrible things to your people isn't, well, rational.

Now keep in mind that I have not read the comics at all recently, and I have not seen Captain America: Civil War, so to me, this film exists in somewhat of a vacuum. I know the basics as I've heard spoilers, but this is the first Superhero Movie I have seen that was released since Laston got sick a year and a half ago, so I'm a bit behind.

That said, I really really enjoyed the movie. The casting alone, and the sheer acting skill of everyone involved. Okoye (the warrior) and Shuri (the gadgeteer) and Nakia (the spy) and Ramonda (the queen mother) being incredibly tough badass women, all in different ways, while still being women and not just the distaff counterparts of their menfolk. The costuming and sets and effects and Stan Freaking Lee's Cameo and all of it. The hilarity of having my favorite Befuddled Everyman as the "broken white boy" of the piece (and who knew how well he could do an American accent?).

The line "But in times of crisis the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers." Would that others would listen. But they won't, because the people that need to are seriously intimidated by this movie. 


In lighter (or at least orange-er. Orangier? Ah, ginger!) news, Miss Abby will be Dyeing for her Art this weekend. You see, she is playing Jack's Mother in Into the Woods at Studio East (cast B; there's a link) starting on the 17th (yes, St. Patrick's Day). One of her lines is describing Jack as, "a carrot-top boy with a sunny - yet vague - disposition," and so she (and the boy playing Jack) are both going ginger. Just a wash, no bleach needed, but we wanted it done before tech so they know how to light it properly. Hmm... I wonder if they cast her in this role because her skin tone casts its own shadows; she makes a believable redhead.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

More and More Often

It seems to me that my politically charged posts used to be limited to one or two a year. Elections, pork, government being made up of normal people.

These days, I feel like every single post I write has to be political. This could be because I strongly disagree with our current administration, because I'm just more aware of this stuff in general, or because it's just me as the only adult in the house.

I don't understand why the Second Amendment trumps the First (or the rest of them for that matter) in our society this past couple years. Let me explain my philosophy here: Human beings are more important than guns.

Any human. From anywhere. No matter what papers they have or don't have. No matter what color their skin is, what language(s) they speak, or what deity(ies) they worship. Or don't worship.

That simple, really. I get that some of you feel that you will not be safe (or your country will not be safe) without you having your gun. Of course, some of you think a wall across an international border  (but not another international border because why? There are no Bad Hombres in Canada?) will keep your country safe too.

Nobody wants to take your guns (well, there's probably somebody who does, but as a group, nobody wants to take your guns). We want your guns to be licensed. We want your guns to be insured. We want to make sure that nobody but the licensed and insured people (adults!) are using them, and we want to make sure they are held accountable if someone does use your gun without your permission (or knowledge).

You require auto insurance, because yes, yes, people driving automobiles cause more deaths than people using guns. But you don't require gun insurance. Logic 101; I'm sure you can take it as a remedial course somewhere.

And arming teachers? Seriously? Most teachers I know are neither trained, inclined, nor even willing to shoot back.

Maybe if we went back to being decent to people even when they're different from us, we wouldn't be so scared of other people all the damn time.

And yeah, those of you with whom I've already had this conversation? You know I'm not talking to you; I'm talking to the folks who derail your posts into "but not all..." 'splainings of various types. Please don't do that here.

Calm and polite discussion is encouraged. Ranting, 'splaining, proselytizing, and derailing will be deleted and blocked if necessary.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Brassieres and Reading Glasses

It seems an odd combination, no?

But here's the thing. I am prone to chronic allergic sinusitis, as anyone who has ever read this blog in February or March is aware (although two years ago it was actual flu). Allergic sinusitis leads to fear. Fear leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.

Well, the suffering anyway, if not the things in between. Allergic sinusitis comes with sinus pain and pressure (that's where the reading glasses come in; they were painful to put on this morning), as well as often leading (in my case) to viral or bacterial sinusitis, otitis media, bronchitis, and on at least one occasion, actual pneumonia (the last two of which is where the brassiere comes into the narrative; tight bras are uncomfy with bronchitis, et al).

I don't want pneumonia (or any of these things) again, so I stayed the heck away from the doctor's office in this year when the flu is kinda deadly. I have friends in the hospital, friends toughing it out at home refusing to acknowledge that it's flu, and everyone in between. It's my general policy (last year notwithstanding) to treat the symptoms of allergic sinusitis, until and unless I get an earache, wheezing, or fever, and I was damn well going to stick with my herbal teas (I decaffeinated about a week ago) and NyQuil unless I absolutely had to go in. (Yes, I know I was going to the doctor all the time in the year following Laston's death; I was easily panicked. That was an aberration.)

This morning I woke with all three. Not a high fever, thank Google, but sinuses, ears, lungs, dizziness. Called to make an appointment with my doctor. They said, yes, please, do come in; we have masks and hand sanitizer. So I did (though I brought my own mask; I already have them here, so why not?).

This is the first time I've been sick enough to go to the doctor since leaving AT&T, and isn't that interesting? So I discovered  when I got there that when I switched to the Washington State's ACA brand of my insurance company (because I'm no longer on AT&T insurance), they don't cover my regular doctor's office.

Well, expletive.

I have to give serious kudos to the nice woman at the Canyon Park PacMed office, who not only found the information I needed, she wrote it all down for me, including the phone number for the department I need to contact to switch my coverage to one that PacMed can take.

In the meantime, this insurance does cover urgent care and emergency rooms, so off I go to urgent care, where I was seen, well, urgently. They have my chart, because this urgent care is connected to the hospital bracketing our lives; Lee and Lizzy were born there and Laston died there. The doctor comes in, looks at my chart, and smiles at me. "This is not your first rodeo, I see. What can you tell me?" (honestly, I think he was so glad it wasn't flu he just wanted to stick around a bit!)

"Um, well, if I were allowed to prescribe, I'd say that I need antibiotics and prednisone, as much as I hate the side effects..." (the former upsets my stomach and the latter makes me alternately spacey and wired, gives me the munchies, and causes hot flashes). He smiled again and started the exam. Nose, eyes, ears, throat, back, chest, with lots of "mmm," and, "yes." Sticks the Giant Q-Tip of Doom in my nose for a culture.

"Hard to say whether it's actually bacterial until the culture comes back, but your history (he thumbs through the chart) indicate that's a common complication for you. You don't want cough syrup?"

"Nah, cough's not that bad; I can NyQuil it if I need to."

I think this last won him over; he could see I wasn't out to get narcotics, and I do actually know what I'm talking about here. He wrote an Rx for augmentin, one for the thingy so the augmentin doesn't tear up my stomach, and the prednisone.

Oh, and all you coffee or tea lovers? He said in this case, the caffeine (one serving a day, preferably in the morning) might actually help with the sinusitis, because it does to a lesser extent what the prednisone does; it's a vasodilator so it will make me feel less stuffed up. He did suggest I stick with tea until I'm off the antibiotics though, because coffee upsets my stomach.

So, as the wired part of prednisone wears off, I'll wind up here. Besides, I would like to remove my reading glasses now. Tomorrow, except for carting kids to Studio East, I plan on staying home, contacting the insurance folks, and resting up. I clearly need it.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

A Really Good Week

It has been a great week. <knock wood, salt over shoulder, bite tongue>

I don't have a job yet, but I feel really good about a couple of interviews I had this week; one with a consulting firm and one with a more technical temporary placement agency than the other one I'm affiliated with. So I have a clerical, a technical temporary, and a consulting agency, all working on my behalf. At the consulting place, in addition to seeing what they can do for me with the likes of Amazon, Boeing, etc, they asked me for some more professional writing samples so I can work for them directly on occasion, should they need a substitute when their usual tech writer is not available.

I've said that I would no longer work retail or customer care (aside from volunteering at Studio East and the Girl Scouts as I often do - more on that below) unless the need was dire. But that's not entirely true; my main objections to these sorts of positions are two-fold. One, the hours, as a rule, suck, especially for a single parent. Two - and this is a bit more complicated - if I'm working those kinds of hours, I need to work for an employer than cares about Jenn-the-person more than squeezing every last nickel to death and squeezing their workers to death in the process. There are a few companies - even large-ish ones - that still do this, and those I'd be fine with.

Still and all, I'd prefer writing or editing; I have a degree in Communications for a reason. And my specialization is in Intercultural Communications for a reason; I want to use that.

Preferably better than I did today, while helping Lizzy peddle sell Girl Scout Cookie pre-orders to our neighbors, some of whom speak more Spanish than English. I can work with ¿Quiere comprar bisquetas de las Girl Scouts? (although apparently galletas is used more often than bisquetas these days, or in our area, or both). I floundered a lot with what turned out to be no cobramos el pago hasta entrega. I was trying to say no tiene usted pagar... and there I got stuck. But my neighbors are kind about my efforts, even if their children laugh at me.

Feel free to use Google Translate to figure those out if you don't speak Spanish better than I.

In any case, although tomorrow is the last day for pre-orders, Lizzy has managed to sell just over half her goal before the store sales (which start March 2nd in our council). Be there.

And Abby? Abby got into one of her (and my all-time) favorite plays; she plays Jack's Mother (of Jack and the Beanstalk fame) in Into the Woods at Studio East! This is the role that Tracey Ullman played in the Disney film version of the play, so it's a pretty comic role, at which Abby excels. Rehearsals start Monday February 5th, and (thanks be to the Gods of both Theater (Dionysus) and Cookies (uh... I'm gonna go with Hestia?)), there are only two days of overlap between cookie sales and performances!

So today, with Abby at her dad's, Lizzy and I were busy and had a lot of fun. We got up, had breakfast, did some banking (sold some cookies to a teller), bought her some clothes on clearance, came home, got fresh air and exercise (although my fitbit battery was dead, darn it!) and coping-with-people practice and Spanish language lessons through cookie sales, and then a late lunch at home, did some chores, watched some Disney... and those last two will repeat until bedtime.

You have about 24 hours if you'd still like to order cookies here.

¡Y gracias por apoyar a las Girl Scouts de Western Washington!