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quitting facebook

quitting facebook

after years of waffling over it and a week of seething after watching “the social dilemma” on netflix, today i clicked on the “deactivate” button on facebook and *poof*.

my account is still out there if i want to reactivate, but i think all my comments on others’ posts have disappeared into the ether. it’s easy to reactivate – i just have to reenter my password. after confirming three times for deactivation, one password entry to reactivate seems wrong.

i am already feeling weird withdrawal symptoms, but it’s not like i’ve completely wiped social from my life; i still have a twitter account, an instagram, and of my course my awesome blog here. it’s funny because i remember when i first signed up for facebook (in early 2005 – a somewhat early adopter), i had been blogging already for a while, was trying to maintain a messageboard, and had a pretty comprehensive website. my thoughts were: why do i need another thing?

who knew that other thing would develop into a worldwide thought control experiment.

anyway. to all of you still using FB, good luck in these next few weeks. it’s going to be interesting times. i’ll see you on twitter? instagram? here at my blog? maybe back on FB afterward? we’ll see how this goes.

on a side note: the tag for this post is dual meaning 🙂

 

what i’ve learned about a christian nation

what i’ve learned about a christian nation

here’s what i’ve learned about “christian* values” in america over the last four years, in the time that we’ve made america great again.

  1. it’s definitely ok for police to be judge, jury, and executioner for criminals. especially if they’re black. even if they’re asleep in their bed in their own home and have no criminal record.
  2. putting families seeking asylum in cages and separating children from their parents is ok. especially if they’re brown and from south of the american border.
  3. freedom of religion is ok, but only if it’s different varieties of christianity or the jewish religion. the other religions are just fake and people who don’t believe in jesus or god are going to hell so who cares what they think. hmmm. maybe we should just make being christian ok. catholicism is borderline, and we’ll pretend to be ok with judaism because there’s something going on with israel. and the end times are coming. so.
  4. displays of machismo and strength and pride for your country are great, even expected. we are americans, after all. but christian first. jesus definitely was good with pride and all that.
  5. poor people brought it on themselves, the lazy bums. i mean, pulling yourself up by your bootstraps is what america’s all about, amirite? looking out for number one – i got mine!
  6. health care isn’t a right! are you kidding? no one should be able live a healthy life if it doesn’t come naturally. and if you’re chronically sick, you definitely deserve it and should be able to just work to pay for your own insurance. also, why should anyone who’s healthy have to pay for health insurance? don’t need to go to the doctor, don’t need health insurance.
  7. no one should read the actual news or do any research on current events OR the constitution and bill of rights. just pay attention to what your facebook friend’s grandma’s neighbor is posting because she’s got the same political sign as you in her yard. the media are liars and definitely not watchdogs of the government.
  8. human rights are definitely political. the gays and transgenders chose that lifestyle. women should know their place (the home). black people can leave any time. differently abled people can just stay indoors. poor people should just find a job or two. shouldn’t expect to live if you’re a criminal.
  9. use the earth for all it’s worth. they’re trying to colonize mars so we can start sucking the life out of another planet! who cares if the oceans are full of plastic, the air is smoggy, drinking water will become scarce, the weather’s getting more calamitous, species are disappearing. as long as my life is convenient, that’s all that matters.
  10. mental health is for sissies. except if you’re a white male shooter. then it’s ok to cut him some slack.
  11. socialism is the work of the devil, even though it seems to be working well for a large chunk of europe. capitalism is where it’s at. because anyone can be jeff bezos and an almost 200 billionaire, if he works hard enough. that’s why it’s ok that he continues to pay few taxes and amass huge amounts of dollars during a pandemic and economic crisis. no one should have to give up their money to pay for others’ welfare checks and food stamps if they’ve earned it. because greed is cool and taking care of others is not.

in all seriousness, if this is what republicans are ok with when they tout a christian nation, i will take a hard pass.

these are not christian values as i learned and know them (thanks, mom!). but this is what i think when i hear about how america should be a christian nation. this is what i think when i pass DT signs on my neighbors’ lawns. this is what i think when i see my FB friends talk about how the murdering cops should be exonerated because they killed criminals. this is what i think of when i’m behind big, noisy trucks with DT stickers plastered all over them. and this is what i think when i see an american flag, ESPECIALLY when it’s juxtaposed with a rebel flag (WHY is that ok to fly BOTH – you love your country AND the portion that seceded and made war against it??). i hate that republicans have co-opted the american flag. the flag should be representative of the entire country, not just a very vocal, macho, i-hate-anything-that’s-different, republican portion. while i don’t believe we should all idolize the flag like they do, i do believe that anyone should be able to fly it with a level of pride in being american. it’s at a point where i feel like republican christians idolize the flag more than they worship their god.

because if america’s so great, it shouldn’t even need a flag. and it’s probably time for R christians to take a hard look at the gospel.

*i’ve probably made a few of my readers angry with me. I REALIZE – not all christians are like this. BUT WE KNOW. you know. yes. and you’d be hard, hard pressed to find an atheist who votes republican (although i’d bet a few of them vote marijuana party!).

EDIT: i just wrote this on an FB friend’s post about police shooting criminals

this is also a good example of where someone other than the police may have been a good option to send instead, like social services, or mental health services. using the right responders for the right situations is key, i think, to helping people become better citizens and breaking down systems that hold certain populations down, all by giving them resources to help them succeed rather than spiral further into a life of crime and addiction. lift people up! compassion is always a good answer.

2020: the year of hindsight

2020: the year of hindsight

holy cow, could this year be any weirder. remember 5 months ago when WWIII almost started and australia was on fire? that seems like 5 decades ago.  like some tweet i saw somewhere in my constant scrolling and need for information overload, it’s like 1968 and 1918 are happening while nixon is president. (one could totally argue worse than nixon. like nixon, buchanan, and harding all rolled into one.) if you support trump at this point, my level of respect for you is at a low point. the man is a useless leader.

anyway. back to hindsight. what i really want to touch on during this short time i have your attention is what’s currently happening with statues and memorials that are being brought down.

the question surrounding this, of course, is if statues and memorials to confederate generals and the like really do enrich a person’s historical education or if it is just a glaring reminder to those whose lives were ground under the bootheel of slavery or colonization.

i’d argue that it is one thing to remember and learn from history; it is entirely another to glorify it. (i have a feeling i’m going to get a withering comment from my dad on this post.) it’s one thing to keep aushwitz open to tours as a reminder of horrific acts that happened under hitler and another if germany were to have multiple statues of hitler looking dapper throughout its country.

i think before we dive into the people who’ve been memorialized by art, we have to take a look at the notion of the confederacy. we all know what we learned in school. the confederacy seceded from the union in 1861. when lincoln was elected, the deep south thought their way of life was threatened, which was an economy based on free labor of people owned by other people. the war began in april 1861, and the deep south was joined by the upper south. a replacement government was put in place.

because the north was pretty industrialized vs. the south and was much better funded and supplied, the south fell after four years. it’s no doubt that gen. lee was a brilliant military tactician. the confederacy lasted four years, but its legacy has somehow remained. just four years as its seceded country and then losing, and the south is still pissed that its economy was dissembled to give all people the opportunity to live free lives. (the current prison system is another story and another blog post.)

no doubt that the south and the confederacy were on the wrong side of history. it was a secessionist goverment that waged war against the united states so they could own other people and enslave them. so the question we need to ask is why it seen as “heritage”? so white people can continue to flaunt racist ideals? does the glorification of the confederate “heroes” continue to make flaunting those ideals ok?

that’s what i mean by glorifying. it’s hard to tell people to stop being racist when they can point to town squares with statues of slaveowners that residents proudly hold up as heroes. it hard to be anti-racist when you wave a flag that represents not just valor justice, purity, and the 13 confederate states, but the willingness of southerners to FIGHT for the right to OWN PEOPLE. and that represents a losing side! i can’t imagine what it’s like to be one of the people that an entire populace went to war to own, especially after that side lost and people are still proudly waving a failed, 4-year government flag 150 years later.

(oh but kate what about the time before the confederacy when they were a part of the united states and they were included in the union? the union turned a blind eye to slavery to reap the economic benefits! so you don’t want to wave the US flag? i would argue that the united states and its flag is ever-changing and working to improve. just like people whose opinions change and evolve, so does a country. also, quit idolizing flags.)

what i’m amazed by with all the confederate statues in the south: doesn’t the south have ANY OTHER heroes or important people? it was a bleak time in the US history, but it’s been 150 years, and there have been plenty of other opportunities for great people to make an impact. there are great people who were from the south who worked hard to get rid of slavery – why not memorialize them, if they want a statue in a place?

holy cow, i am digressing in this post.

so let’s take a look at a few of the people whose statues have been taken down.

charles linn: a captain in the confederate navy, banker, industrialist. one of the founders of birmingham. the statues was installed in just 2013! his statue was taken down after an unsuccessful attempt to remove a nearby confederate soldiers and sailors monument.

confederate monument: this was the oldest confederate monument in north carolina. it was removed by the owner.

robert e. lee: oof ho boy. there are a lot of lee. no doubt he was a brilliant military leader. he was actually a colonel in the US army from 1829-1861. if my memory serves me right, he was asked to lead the union army, but he was born in virginia and so his loyalties lay in the south. he didn’t seem like he necessarily wanted a war. he said “i do not believe in secession as a constitutional right, nor that there is sufficient cause for revolution.” the man served much more time on the US side than the confederate side, yet he is only known for the confederate side. he’s undoubtedly the face and name of the confederacy.

holdup here a moment. as i’m perusing the list of monuments removed, a LOT of them – and i’m talking majority – have been removed by cities or owners or other public entities. many are being moved to museums or organizations that preserve historical monuments. INTERESTING.

so many of the symbols of the confederacy are being removed from prominent locations like parks, city halls, and other locales that are places of honor and moving to places where you would expect historical items to be.

i’m glad you are with me on this discovery, readers. this is important to point out and really focuses on my initial arguments: these items are being removed from a location glorifying them and being placed in a location of history. we are not erasing history. we are just choosing not to glorify a piece of history that represents nothing but oppression for a large populace of the citizens of our country, our united states.

dang, i was all excited to do a “christopher columbus is trash and here’s who should replace him” post, but turns out a lot of these public entities are doing the right thing.

oh what the heck.

**************

christopher columbus is trash, and i’m not at all sad about his statues around the country being dumped into bodies of water. i especially love that the charge is being led by american indians*.

“oh look, i discovered the atlantic!” – CC, probably.

***************

here’s some cool statues, per my twitter followers: mr. rogers in pittsburgh, mary tyler moore in minneapolis, statue of liberty, salmon sculpture in portland, the girl standing up to the bull on wall street, actual ART like the thinker, easter island heads, etc. check out this boredpanda page for a bunch of cool looking art/statue installations!

thanks CNN!

* one thing this has led me to examine is mt. rushmore. i’ve visited many times; it was a staple stop on family trips to the black hills. it’s a national monument, but it was also the six grandfathers to the lakota. the original idea, by a doane robinson, was to carve american west heroes like lewis clark, sacacawea, red cloud, crazy horse, and buffalo bill into the mountain, but borglum thought it should have broader appeal and chose four presidents (who happened to be white men). oh, and borglum? a member of the KKK and had a deep believe in nordic moral superiority. excellent! so while rushmore is something i have a lot of past investment in, i also wouldn’t be sad if the NPS decided to relinquish control back to the lakota. it was theirs to begin with, anyway.

love in the time of covid (and protests)

love in the time of covid (and protests)

yoga practices start and end in anjali mudra, when you set your intention for your practice and then recall your intention. it’s also a moment of calm to focus on your breath and clear your mind. you sit up tall, legs crossed, hands to heart in a prayer position.

today i was sitting in anjali mudra at the beginning of my practice when lesley (my youtube yoga instructor) told us to create a space in between our hands, a space to represent our hearts. normally eyes are closed at this point, but i opened my eyes and frowned down at my hands, tented out to create a little cupped space with my thumbs touching, and i thought “if i could squeeze my heart into that little space and hold it out of my body, i would feel so much better right now.”

that’s when i started crying on my yoga mat.

but lesley, of course, brought it back to love and to send and receive energy in the world, and so i started my yoga practice with my mind and heart a little clearer.

******

on friday, liz and i went to the george floyd memorial where he was murdered. it was later in the afternoon, and the sun was bright, temperature in the high 70s.

we actually did talk about a game plan – what would we do if we needed to leave quickly? do we wear long sleeves? pants? do we need signs? (went with shirts instead of signs.) in the end, since we only went to the memorial we decided that we could wear the shorts and sandals that we wanted to. first, we stopped at megan’s to pick up a couple KN95 masks because it is still a pandemic, after all.

so a little over a week after george floyd was murdered, we stopped in front of the location where it happened to experience first hand what we’d only seen in photos.

the memorial itself was powerfully emotional. it was very much like when i stood in the lincoln memorial and read words from the president himself that had been etched into stone. the outpouring of emotion and personal stories behind each part of the memorial, each bouquet of flowers, each hand-written sign, each intricately painted mural – it’s overwhelming.

i think liz was pretty spot on when she said she felt voyeuristic during our perimeter tour of the four blocks total. it was uncomfortable, and i don’t know about liz, but i did feel out of place, if only because i know i live in white central minnesota. a diverse urban area is not something i find myself in often.

overwhelmingly the businesses that were boarded up against riot instigators were pro-protest. it was common to see BLM spray-painted next to the text that said “minority owned.” and the support from the surrounding homes was very positive. i thought it was really interesting to note that none of the homes were boarded up.

couches sat on sidewalks, and older people sat on them, resting their feet. young people danced and stood and yelled george floyd’s name and the continual mantra “no justice, no peace. know justice, know peace.”

a block in each direction from the intersection was filled with pop-up tents with supplies, food, basic needs for community members. anyone was welcome to join in the community of eating – food is the great connector. there were speakers in two areas, and liz and i stopped to listen to a muslim woman with words of steel, then a muslim man sing the call to prayer.

what’s beautiful was seeing the community. the response. the support. the art.

after we left the memorial, we headed to uptown, where more businesses were boarded up. where more artists were creating art and a sense of beauty out of blank slates and darkness. yes, all lives matter. but for so long, not all lives have. and calling attention to the marginalized, the oppressed, the ignored is what we need to start doing. by bringing it to the forefront, we’re uncovering some uncomfortable truths.

i think it’s ok to be uncomfortable though – and needed. because we need to push through this and come out the other side as better people and a better country. it was standing at the place where george floyd was murdered where i made a decision that i had to start engaging more. as an introverted, conflict averse person, that is really difficult for me, but it needs to be done because this burden can’t land on the oppressed – they’ve been trying for years and it hasn’t worked.

and this is not their problem to fix.

i hate having tough convos because it’s HARD and it makes me angry and sad and feel bad because they’re with people i know and love, and i stumble over my spoken words and can’t find the right things to say a lot of the time. but this is important. i listen. i learn. i will try to go slowly. change is not wrought overnight.

i wish i could cup my heart in my hands, hold it outside myself during this time; it would make this so much easier. instead, i do my best to send and receive love in the universe. and really, isn’t that what matters the most?

a spark at home

a spark at home

as i watched the protests-turned-to-riots unfold after george floyd’s murder, i grew more and more angry. i scrolled through my twitter feed, watching things happen in my homestate, my own minnesota, that i would expect in other places. as i write this, businesses have closed in precaution of possible rioting here in st. cloud (i live about 17 miles away). curfews came and went in the cities, as protesters continued to speak up for oppressed races. buildings burn. smoke fills the skies. people of all colors rage.

*****

sometimes my preconceptions about my friends surprise myself. as my anger unfolded, i watched my facebook feed come to life in a different way than twitter (less real-time, more personal connections). i expected certain friends to say certain things. when i saw particular people like particular posts, i wasn’t surprised. and then i jolted out of my comfort zone a bit as my friend M’s absolutely livid reaction to george’s murder surfaced to the top of my feed. M continues to surprise me in ways that really shouldn’t anymore.

i drove around the cities yesterday on my way to and from a pre-planned visit to see some friends and my parents in SE minnesota, avoiding any protests that might happen on I-35. when i got close to home in my small-town, rural, very trump-country area of central MN, i called M so we could commiserate in our rage toward the MSP police, the inhumanity of this murder, the resulting protests. it was like we fueled each other; we got so riled up. the topic of the looting and fires came up, and once again my preconceptions checked themselves, because M said exactly what i’d been thinking in the back of my head but was afraid to say out loud since this started:

“let it burn.”

*****

M is about as white and catholic as they come. i am as white but not so catholic anymore. we disagree on some politics, but i’ve watched her social stances veer toward left leaning through the years (though, as an aside, i’ve yet to convince her on the recycling front). and really, when you think about it, catholicism is all about social justice and  stewardship. why more catholics don’t take that stance, i’ll never know. i could go on and on about the maleness of catholicism and how women are the bedrock, but that’s another post. this is about our whiteness.

what’s hard to put into words is the paradox of embracing your whiteness but also realizing your privilege. knowing who you are while knowing that you’ve had a step up, a step ahead, an eye turned. my family was poor growing up, but we never lived in a place where the police regularly drove the streets looking for crimes in progress. i can bet you that every white person has committed some level of crime, and because you look like the cops, they turn an eye. or they weren’t there scrutinizing your actions. what the cops don’t see, they can’t arrest. the same kinds of crimes are committed by white people, and i’d bet at close to the same rate. there is drug use, theft, abuse. there are definitely money crimes. it’s just that the cops choose not to police your neighborhood. they also choose to punish or not punish in different ways – disparate, dehumanizing ways.

we can’t say that we don’t see color, because that’s not true. and we shouldn’t NOT see color. a person’s skin color is part of who they are; it’s a part of their heritage and life experience. to say we don’t see color is to say we are ignoring a part of a person’s identity. would you want to have a piece of you ignored or brushed over?

we can’t say that we don’t stereotype, because that’s not true. people’s brains are wired to stereotype, and unfortunately, we place preconceptions based on past experiences or what society feeds us. we can’t know everyone on the planet, so we need to group people into boxes based on characteristics. the most obvious characteristics are race and gender. after that, we place people into boxes so our brains don’t have to work to the point of fizzling out. i see a young white guy in a camo hat, driving a jacked up truck with an american flag waving in the back? i assume that guy’s a trump supporter. i watch a woman wearing birkenstocks hauling groceries to her subaru in cloth bags? liberal, environmental lesbian. we all do it. our brains can’t avoid it. when you accept this part of your primitive brain, the easier it is to try to work with it and break down the preconceptions.

*****

this afternoon, the president of the place i work at said something that actually relieved me a little bit. i’d been struggling with my feelings of anger. i was so angry at the police. so angry that this keeps happening. so angry that people are so scared of police that they feel like they can’t stop a murder from happening.

i am a run-of-the-mill white woman. i can’t possibly know what it is to be a person of color right now, and if my anger is at this level, i can’t even begin to imagine the anger and frustration a POC is feeling.

should i be this angry? can i be this angry? do i have the right to be this angry?

the president is a woman of color. she spoke briefly at a meeting i was in, and she expressed that we should ALL be angry about this. this gave me not only a sense of relief at the anger i was feeling about george’s murder, but also a sense of humanity. because of course all lives matter.

but this is not what that is about. and you know it.

*****

“let it burn.”

the united states has a history of disruptions and revolutions. the civil war. the depression/new deal/WWII. it’s time for another, according to the book “beautiful country, burn again.” (i would recommend everyone read this book.)

i am not a person who likes confrontation. call me a typical minnesotan. i like keeping the peace. i understand why people want to keep law and order. but when the law and order start to oppress groups, there is a tipping point. i was in an international media class in grad school, and i learned that it takes 80% of the populace to be oppressed in some way shape or form for revolution to happen.

the united states is built on revolution and rebellion. you want to talk about looting? let’s talk about the boston tea party. you want to talk about rebellion? what do you think the declaration of independence is? the first amendment in and of itself is the ultimate form of rebellion and watchdog organizations. american citizens have the right to assemble, have the right to freedom of speech.

i don’t condone violence. and i am the first person to say that your rights completely are yours until they infringe on others. i am no anarchist. but when an oppressed group has tried what they could and the oppressors have failed to notice, something has to give. colin kaepernick peacefully protested, and people got mad.

so when lake street started on fire and looters started to pile out of target with full carts, i wasn’t surprised. i feel awful for the store owners and the people out of jobs and those who will clean it up and the firefighters. and i am worried about residential neighborhoods and the people who live there (good news – there have been no reported injuries from the riots so far). there could be massive socio-economic repercussions for the MSP neighborhood if massive changes aren’t wrought out of this. but i feel much, much worse for george, his family, those who have been victims of power over the years, and oppressed groups.

it’s time to take notice, 80%.

*****

our experiences in this country are different based on what we look like and our background – and if what we look like and life experience matches those of who’s in charge. i’ve had hard times. you have too. like i said, i grew up poor. my 20s weren’t great. but i had access to an education. my family supported me. we didn’t have problems with food. i visited the library often as a child. we had transportation. think about all the things that you take for granted and what your life would have looked like had you not had a consistent education or people who supported you or food or safe neighborhoods or access to places to learn or be yourself.

i’m struggling with an answer to what to do. i’m agitated and feel like i need to do something – go to a protest (not a looting), volunteer at one of the areas that are helping clean or distribute food, donate to organizations that will help. covid, of course, is throwing a wrench into everything. but what i think is needed right now more than anything is to notice and acknowledge our shared humanity. if we see others as lesser than because they’re looting or because they’re protesting or because they’re lighting buildings on fire, and we don’t see that they’re doing these things because those in power have seen them as lesser than this whole time, then it may be time to take a step back and evaluate why you feel the way you do.

because i wish our society cared more about police routinely murdering black people than target getting looted and buildings burning. i wish we cared as much about a white woman lying to 9-1-1 about a black man assaulting her as much as we care about her choking her dog. i wish we cared as much about protecting black people protesting police who murder as much as we cared about protecting armed white people protesting wearing masks and not getting haircuts. i wish we cared more about people than power and greed.

so if this is what it takes for people to take notice and to effect change?

i wish i didn’t have to say it, but let it burn.

*****

When the sun come shining, then I was strolling
And the wheat fields waving, the dust clouds rolling
The voice come in chanting and the fog was lifting
This land was made for you and me

*****

FYI: this was experienced and written before we learned about the number of out of state instigators in the looting. i knew some was happening, but not the extent of it.

ten tips to start saving the earth (you won’t believe #9!)

ten tips to start saving the earth (you won’t believe #9!)

it all starts little! if everyone does one little thing, the collective effort makes a difference. isn’t this something that everyone can agree with?

(on the flip side, if everyone thinks “well everyone else is doing it so i don’t have to,” then we’ve accomplished nothing.)

so what are we starting little on these days, besides social distancing and wearing a mask to the store and making a crapton of bread and doing 40 puzzles a day (well, that’s kind of big stuff, actually)?

we’re starting with things we can do to help the planet. we’ve seen this past month what collective effort can DO. the air clears up. the pollution levels lower. the water gets clear.

so what can we do on a personal level to start the collective effort?

  1. recycle. ooh big surprise. i know i’ve talked about varying levels of recycling, so you know that plastic is kind of a crapshoot, but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be recycling your aluminum, glass, and tin. they recycle endlessly and you get money for aluminum cans, to boot. just do it. that means you.
  2. bring your reusable bag. yep, it’s hard. if you forget it, and you carried your items up to the register without a cart or basket, you can carry them to your car without a bag. if you need a bag, tell them to pack as much as possible into the bags. paper an option? take it. paper’s better on the earth than plastic. and we can plant more trees and recycle the paper. (i find it ironic that we move to plastic because we wanted to “save the trees”.)
  3. buy used. instead of buying something brand new, try to find a used option. now, there are exceptions to this, of course: underwear, beds, old and busted running shoes. but people give away perfectly nice sheet sets, throw pillows, pairs of jeans or work clothes because they’re one season old, jackets, books, etc. just visit your local goodwill or other used item outlet! now, sometimes craigslist or FBmarketplace is a crapshoot, but i’ve had relatively good luck. big ticket items i’ve purchased that have been perfectly wonderful? a canon lens. a lawn mower. freezer. now i’m looking for a riding lawn mower.
  4. reduce your plastic. this one is HUGE. HUGE. plastic use is so ubiquitous right now, and like i said before, recycling plastic is awful. maybe it costs a bit more to get the steel version of something or it takes a little more work or it’s just different to use soap that doesn’t come from a plastic bottle, but 90% of the time, the quality is better and the environmental costs aren’t as steep.
  5. grow some food. not only does growing your own food create less bad environmental byproducts like shipping pollution, farm tillage/topsoil depletion, and pesticide and fertilizer runoff, but it’s therapeutic, better tasting, and immensely satisfying. even if you throw a tomato plant in a pot and help it grow on your patio, you’re helping a little bit. plus, you may end up with enough pickles to last you 5 years. (personal problem.)
  6. compost. or try to. composting can be difficult if you don’t have the space, and if you don’t have space, you need some special equipment and you need to be mindful of your composting. even if you do have space, you still need to be mindful. i’m not that mindful of my compost pile, but it’s still there. i turn it only a couple times during the summer, which is awful, and i take a break during the winter because it’s out behind the house and i’m lazy. but i’m hoping to take some compost this spring and spread it out on my garden to till it in.
  7. plant. i recently read that a lot of our emissions problems could be overcome by just planting more trees. stop clearcutting forests. stop cutting down trees when building new neighborhoods and build around them. start planting everywhere. don’t want to commit to a tree? just plant a flowerbox or some perennials in your yard. more green stuff to take in the CO2 is good. and they look nice, to boot.
  8. drive efficiently. i’m only including this one because we are just now seeing the effects of fewer cars on the road. and while i know those of us in flyover country (or as i like to call it, most of the country) can’t not use cars as transportation, we CAN choose to drive more fuel efficient cars. and i’m hoping that the stay home orders really put into perspective what could happen if we put many more electric cars on the roads. for 90% of my use, an electric car would be perfectly fine. when it’s time to replace my nissan, i may look at an electric car.
  9. try. i am not a 100% follower of every one of these rules (well, except maybe recycling aluminum and glass). all you can do is try your best and hope that others are also trying their best. i see these “zero waste” people who are pretty much living as minimally as possible and off the grid, and while i would love to attain that sort of lifestyle, i know that my mindset is not there right now.
  10. realize. effect. the thing that i keep coming back to is that the root of everything we view as current problems: socioeconomic, health, political, power, etc. they are moot if there is no planet habitable to live on. earth don’t care if we nuke ourselves. earth don’t care if we wipe out coastal cities. earth don’t care if the ozone layer depletes (actually, the hole is now completely shut! see what can happen if we make change?). cuz you know what? earth wins every time, which has become abundantly clear these past couple months. so why not work with the earth and with other people than against? make yourself a tidy home.
happy 50th earth day

happy 50th earth day

happy 50th birthday, earth day! for your big day, we got you a pandemic.

i just read something that reminded me about how radical earth day was when it was first celebrated. there were no air quality and pollution controls, corporations were dumping waste directly into rivers and other bodies of water, and people in general had no idea how awful the water and air quality were. after regulations* were put in place, we became accustomed to the guidelines for clean air and water, and now earth day is an afterthought to most people. something we don’t think about much, because why bother?

(*let’s talk about federal air and water regulations for a moment. you may scream states’ rights and capitalism and free market. i argue that the federal government ABSOLUTELY has authority to place regulations, and strict ones at that, on air and water quality. in fact, i would argue that an organization such as the UN should be the one making worldwide regulations. why? because air and water do not know state or federal lines. we can’t pull over a water molecule for crossing into canada from the US. what we do in MN as far as crop and field work greatly affects crabbing in louisiana. we see air quality plummet when there are wildfires in alberta. water knows no bounds. air knows no bounds. get a global agency in charge of regulating them.)

and here we are 50 years later with a large chunk of the population at home because of a global health disaster, and guess what happened?

the earth shows us just how resilient and wonderful and awesome she is. i think it’s an eye-opening experience that we should be flabbergasted by to know that the earth will win, no matter what we humans end up doing.

china’s air pollution cleared up.

(NO2 is nitrogen dioxide. it’s released when fossil fuels are burned at high temps, mostly for fertilizer production. inhalation can result in heart failure.)

beijing looks pretty clear.

You can see los angeles.

people in india can actually see the himalayan mountain range from more than 100 miles away. for the first time in 30+ years!

wildlife are returning to their natural habitats

in nairobi, they’re seeing mount kenya.

the water in venice is the clearest it’s been in years, and the dolphins have returned to saridinia (not in venice – that was fake news).

stanford has calculated that the reduction in air pollution could help save the lives of 77,000 residents. so while we hunkered down avoid death by covid, we may have also inadvertently avoided death by air pollution.

now, all these environmental silver linings are not without their inconvenience on the human population, but when it comes to the rest of the earth and species we share the planet with, i’d say that this is something we need to pay attention to. we are at a turning point as it is with climate change, and i hope that by getting an extraordinary sneak-peak what our surroundings could look like ALL THE TIME if we put in some effort with reducing air pollution, we may actually make a difference after coming out of our houses and covid-funk. the timeliness of covid with our climate precipice could not have been more perfect.

because if there’s one good that comes out of this pandemic, i hope it’s opening our eyes to what could be, whether in our outdoor surroundings, our work lives, our family. so happy birthday, earth day. like i always say, every day is earth day.

 

anxiety in the time of covid-19

anxiety in the time of covid-19

i’m not an overly anxious person, but i do have low-level anxiety, and now is not a great time for people with low-level anxiety because it’s turned into what i imagine really anxious peeps’ daily lives are like.

yikes!

the tightening of my solar plexus, on a normal day, usually starts later in the day, if it happens. i wake up great and anxiety sort of builds up through the day. some days i get no anxiety. other days i get a lot. i get anxiety when i think about anxiety (oh cruel world). it’s never-ending circle once the anxiety roller coaster starts. (this is going to be a fun post to write, huh.)

what’s especially annoying is that anxiety’s symptoms pretty closely mirror symptoms of covid (minus the fever). so thanks, evolution, for making humans an anxious bunch!

so what do i do to keep my anxiety at bay? well, there are a few things!

working from home

(my life in a piece of clipart)

i have to say, working from home is pretty relaxing. being in the most familiar environment you have and being able to just get up and leave and do housework or sit in the living room or head outside is helpful when weird situations arise. extroverts among us, of course, are like WHAT IS THIS I’M DYING HERE, but as an introvert, this is a pretty slick deal.

running (or exercise)

running while anxious is GREAT. not only do you release a bunch of endorphins after you’re done and move that anxiety needle down, but the anxiety creates some sort of super-runner vortex while you’re out there. you can run through all the stupid scenarios and get stuck in your head, of course, or you can turn up the music and try to push the bad stuff out of your head. some of my best runs have been while anxious or annoyed. and like i said, after you’re done, the hormone release sort of relaxes everything.

yoga

you’ve all heard me wax eloquent about yoga! i’ve been doing yoga regularly for about 7 years now, and it’s probably the most useful mindfulness tool i have in my life toolbox. while i’m running, like i said, i can get lost in my head and thoughts run wild because running is a repetitive, mindless activity.

yoga, on the other hand, requires 100% brain focus. you need to focus on keeping your back straight but tailbone tucked; you need to think about how you’re going to move into a pose; you need to keep your middle toe in line with your knee when it’s bent; you need to focus your eyes on something to balance; and all along you need to keep your breathing in time with the movements. there is no more room for your other thoughts to crowd in. then when you’re in savasana and your brain can release its focus on the asanas (which means pose! i just looked that up because i wondered why every pose ended in asana – makes sense now!), and you can release your breath into normal breathing, your brain and body are so relaxed that any anxiety can just suck it.

puzzles

who knew?? puzzles, like yoga, take a lot of focus, and as such, you think about nothing else while you’re doing a puzzle. i don’t know about you, but if i decide to throw a puzzle on the table and sit down to work on it, i can think that 20 minutes have passed, and it’s actually been 3 hours. puzzles are ENGROSSING.

if you want a way to banish all else from your brain and don’t want to do any physical exertion, try a puzzle. anxiety knocks on your brain’s door, and brain’s like, go away. trying to find a piece with a little bit of black on the tip of the round edge and the rest is orangey-red with weird stripes and it’s got an odd hooked foot thing on one side on the -OOH I THINK I FOUND IT. nope. no worries – the search continues!!! it’s GOT to be here.

your brain on puzzles is probably similar to your brain on drugs. actually, i just looked it up, and puzzles are one of the ways they break addictions at rehab. brain power > heroin.

reading (oldie but goodie)

ah yes, the old standby to dive into a world not your own completely and immersively. as much as i could say that audiobooks are as good for this, i am going to say that you really need to READ a book to get this. in personal experience, audiobooks are not as attention holding as words on a page. i get distracted while listening to audiobooks, so i know if i need to get away, it’s time to read.

and now is not the time to try to be fancy or hoity toity – read genres that GRAB you. sure, we all like to learn about stuff and like to say “yeah i read that! it was great.” when you really did not think it was that great. because a great book will call to you while you’re doing other things. it will sing to you across miles while you’re working or taking your cat to the vet or getting eggs, carrots, and cream cheese from the grocery store (to make carrot cake, of course): “get in, loser. we’re going reading.”

(now if non-fiction calls to you like this, then you do you! i know that in general, non-fiction does not yell at me across miles to pick up its pages to absorb its words into my brain. and not all fiction does this for me.)

find your favorite genre when you want your anxiety to dissipate and just dive right in. for me, that means i read a lot of YA/adult thriller or post-apocalyptical novels (how apropos) or fiction (chick-lit, stephen king, john scalzi, pat rothfuss) or even really stellar memoirs (michael perry, bill bryson, running memoirs). for you that could be mystery, romance, crime, who knows! but your favorite genre that excites you is what you need.


there’s what i’ve found useful for me. finding hobbies or activities that can distract you from what’s going on is what’s most important, and i think it’s what we all need right now. making sure you’re not just moping around the house and watching netflix (unless it’s tiger king – what a weird show) is paramount. now is a great time to find out what you really enjoy with no distractions and learn more about yourself, especially for all you extroverts and social butterflies. for introverts with anxiety, we know what helps during times like these. take a page out of our book. (heh.) (also, introverts with anxiety, sometimes it’s hard to get off the couch. i generally don’t have this problem, but like i said, my anxiety is pretty low key. i hope the longer days are helping you out.)

guv in the time of covid-19

guv in the time of covid-19

i don’t think we need another soapbox about the government reaction to the coronavirus. that’s just clutter in the onlineverse.

instead, here are a few personal CV takeaways:

  1. you already heard the proximity alert i’m currently under in regards to nate. bad news bears.
  2. tomorrow i bring home my big imac from work to set up at home for working from home until further notice. all state employees are under orders to work from home if they are non-essential. of course, there may be times when i need to head in to campus to do some physical stuff (for instance, we are working on getting some 360º tour videos recorded and i will probably head in for those couple days). but i can do 99.9% of my job right now from home, so that’s what i guess i’m going to do. good news is that the VPN works and i’m able access all my files! (this is the “guv” part of this post from the title.)
  3. this whole quarantine/isolation thing won’t be too difficult, and i can’t imagine what it’s like to live in a heavily populated area right now. i’m glad i live in the country-ish and have space.
  4. i have got to stop looking at twitter and the news. an 23-hour-a-day info dump does nothing for the anxiety. during normal times, i wake up with little to no anxiety, and it slowly ramps up through the day. this is normal for me and something i just live with (i do have a prescription antihistamine/anti-anxiety pill i can take at night if it gets bad). now i wake up with that nighttime level of anxiety, and it just gets more intense as i learn more. some good news is that i think twitter has gotten over the PANIC hump and is moving into the QUARANTINE CONTENT phase.

takeaways are over, and now it’s just ramble time.

i like that because of CV, people aren’t out as much, making as much pollution. i’ve read some good things about air pollution in china being drastically reduced, which probably helps them out with getting through CV, when you think about it. fewer tourists in venice or someplace similar means clearer, cleaner water, and wildlife is coming back. maybe this will be a wake up call.

i like that even though the people of the world are hunkered down in their homes during this time, life goes on. the birds are coming back, flitting around in my trees outside, and i’m hearing bird calls that i haven’t heard in 6 months. rodents chitter and chatter at me when i get in my car in the morning to go to work. now that i won’t be driving to work, maybe the chatter will follow me as i go on a quick morning walk before sitting down at my desk at home. more birds will come, the grass will green, the froggies will fill my pond and fill the night with their songs. spring is coming.

i like that the minnesota dnr is leaving open the state parks. even though we need to stay 6′ away from each other, that doesn’t mean that we need to spend our entire lives in our homes. getting outside, breathing fresh air, being with nature and among the trees can do nothing but help, both physically and mentally.

i like that we’re at this moment where a reaction to a threat is social. to see reactions that are highly personal and interactional instead of a violent reaction is a really fascinating thing to take in, whether the reaction is extreme stocking up and isolation or going on spring break because you’re young and clueless. i’m not sure how this will end, with people being furloughed en masse and low-wage workers being paid overtime. i’m not sure if something will come from people finally seeing the value of teachers. i’m not sure that this will be the end of face-to-face education (i really doubt it). the social implications of the pandemic are bizarre. the people who get paid the most are sitting around with nothing to do while grocery store workers are considered emergency personnel.  (the former making an obscene amount of money while the latter make minimum wage.) will the value of work be examined? will healthcare get an overhaul? will “socialism” be less stigmatized? i think what may come out of this is that we learn how difficult it actually is to stay away from others and how much we do need personal interaction. we might say we live in a digital age of distancing, but we are social creatures. yes, even we introverts generally want to be closer than 6′ from others, especially people we like.

i like that my cats get to be my coworkers for the foreseeable future.

i recently read “beautiful country, burn again,” which pointed out that the US goes through a major overhaul about every 75 years (civil war, great depression). then it posits that we are at the cusp of another 75-year overhaul; this may be the trigger. while we may go back to life as we know it, it’s entirely possible that we may not. change is upon us whether we want it or not. so get outside. read that pile of books. do yoga 3x a day during your work breaks. thank your furry friends for absorbing some anxiety. live in this moment for now because we don’t know what’s coming. and stay healthy.

on LJ, randos, and the good ol’ days

on LJ, randos, and the good ol’ days

just yesterday, one of my grad school classmates posted on FB about livejournal and how she misses it regularly. LJ was the place where i first started blogging, after getting an invite since it was invitation only at the point. it was one of the first times i’d realized how the internet could be more than just a clunky HTML angelfire site, where i had inadvertently sort of set up a blog manually.

but what about LJ sets it apart from what i’m doing now? sure, there was a library of avatars you could use for each post, so you could set one that matched the theme of your journal for the day. perhaps it was an excerpt from some fantasy short story i was working on: time for the little fairy avatar. maybe it was about how much i missed xena being on the air: time for my gabrielle avatar. what if i was just feeling like shouting what was happening out into the world? just a cute little square closeup of chaseycat.

the most recent list of avatars i was using on LJ. omg why is tony bourdain not with us anymore 🙁

there were integrations that were fun. if you had downloaded and installed the editor on your computer, you could have it pull what you were listening to on itunes and that would show up on your post. my rage-y post could match the rob zombie i was listening to at the moment. LJ of course had a ton of plugins you could use, and one of them was a different little icon for each “mood” you got to show you were feeling when writing. mine, of course, was a set of little kitty faces with different facial expressions. an early set of emojis, as it were.

but it wasn’t the integrations and fun customizations you could do that made LJ something wonderful. i could do that with my blog now if i wanted to set it up like that. one of the things that made LJ wonderful was the community surrounding it. sure, you had your regular readers: friends, relatives, people you know. you followed them and they followed you; you saw what each other wrote in long-form social networking. but you also had access to millions of other LJ user blogs, and all you had to do was take a look.

this isn’t unlike following a hashtag on twitter now, except that long-form content is much more personal, much more involved, and much more interesting. you had duds – to be expected. but many times you stumbled across a goldmine of wonderfulness in blog form. in reverse, they sometimes stumbled across you. it wasn’t unheard of to have comments from strangers alongside your friends, and they ended up subscribing to your LJ (and most times i would reciprocate). this was the wonderful randomness of the anonymous internet.

i remember following a woman in grand forks and her journey as a non-trad student. there was a woman who was going through a messy divorce. several others, but the thing that drew me to them was their near-perfect grammar (what can i say – snob from the start). then there was one blog i started following very early on, probably in 2004 or 2005, that i just happened to stumble across. and i still read her blog to this day because SHE STILL BLOGS. and on a regular basis. (sure, i blog, but it’s not as regular as she does.) i follow her on twitter, but her blog posts are where it’s at. (don’t ever stop blogging, erin.)

which brings me to point two of what made LJ wonderful. in the current age of constant information streaming and sharing what is happeningRIGHTNOWomg, blogging is so intentional. you have to take a moment to put together a coherent post; maybe you have photos that you need to upload, let alone edit; your words need to make sense and flow for a successful post; perhaps you need to do hours of research (i often do). whatever your post is about, it takes time and effort to put what you want to say into words on the screen. in world where short-form bursts of at-the-moment feelings and 280 characters are king, LJ was its emperor. LJ posts took planning, persistence, and precision. and then you sent it into the ether and hoped for the best.

and it was a two-way street. while you wrote your post and said “yes world, you may now read this,” you also needed to comment on others’ posts you found helpful or interesting or fun. much like FB today, the reaction to LJ posts was just as important as the post itself. although i might argue that a blog post is just as much for the recording of events on a personal level as it is for the reaction, moreso than our current social posting habits today.

i think the art of long-form content is slowly dwindling. oh, we’ll still have books. we’ll still have news articles. i’ll still be blogging when i’m 65. but attention spans are shortening up and the age of video is in full force. maybe short-form is where it’s at, but there’s something about constructing a written piece that isn’t required, or isn’t 2 sentences of poorly written text, or isn’t just for the likes. and there’s something about the possibility of finding a random blog that’s just what you’re looking for, and hoping your words can speak to someone in the same way. our random, anonymous internet is lost forever, i think, and punchy status updates in 280 characters just isn’t cutting it.

check out my livejournal! it’s still active, i guess! i wrote on LJ from 2004-2011. 

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