26 September 2017

Welcome to the Sick

If you got a sick feeling and a bit of a headache because you were upset over NFL players taking a knee, welcome to the world of millions of other Americans. Most of the time that our president opens his mouth, this sick feeling washes over us.

Here’s why:

  • He brags about grabbing pussy.
  • He said Hilary Clinton doesn’t look presidential but couldn’t define what that means. (She wears pantsuits every day, just like he does, so what’s not presidential in that look?)
  • He commented on Megyn Kelly having her period during a presidential debate when he didn’t like the questions she asked.
  • He rates women, calls them pigs, and comments on their physical attractiveness as if it makes any difference to their professional accomplishments.
  • He felt a judge with a Hispanic name could not give him a fair ruling.
  • He calls Senator Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas.”
  • He likened private school to being as hard as, or harder than, being in the military.
  • He called out the Khan family, who’s son was in the military and killed, when he didn’t like what Mr. Khan said about him.
  • Rather than comment on policy, he has personally insulted senators and representatives John McCain (as I was putting the finishing touches on this post, something new came out about McCain; I haven't had a chance to find out details yet), Mitch McConnell, Jeff Flake, Lisa Murchowski, Paul Ryan, and Charles Schumer, among others. He has also called out Jeff Sessions, James Comey, and other federal employees who work for him. 

Is this enough disrespect to enrage you yet? Remember, he also mocked a disabled journalist.

How many free passes are you going to give him? One Sunday afternoon of black men making a statement against a history of racism in the United States makes you more uncomfortable than at least two years’ worth of racist, misogynistic, and anti-veteran statements from a rich white man who deferred his military service.

Of course you’re not enraged over those things because you’ve been supporting racist mascots and athletes who abuse women for years. But I guess you think keeping a racist mascot can be brushed off as staying with tradition. I don’t know how you can accept beating women; that one is beyond me. (Unless that is tradition as well.) But now, having some of those racist traditions in the United States being brought to your attention front and center when all you want to do is drink beer and watch a football game makes you uncomfortable. Makes you angry. How dare they use their First Amendment rights when I just want to have a lazy afternoon.

You say the players should protest on their own time. The First Amendment doesn’t work that way. If people only protested when it was convenient and comfortable, not much would have changed in this country vis-a-vis civil rights. Plus, the president is racist and disrespectful on the taxpayers’ time regularly, rather than on his own time.

You say the players are being disrespectful to millions of veterans. Some of those veterans support players taking the knee. Does that make those veterans any less patriotic? Also, why is it more outrageous to you that athletes disrespect veterans (so you perceive) yet the president is disrespectful to millions of women, persons of color, and Muslims, many of whom are also veterans. Where's your outrage over that?

Don’t bring Obama or Clinton into this. Clinton lost the election so you can’t use her as an example anymore. Obama put up with tons of racist crap during his administration and he did not resort to hurling insults. Say what you want about his policies, he was a class act. Oh, I almost forgot the birther movement, which was encouraged by none other than our current president.

Welcome. Welcome to the sick feeling that our current president invokes on a regular basis. There is not going to be a turning point that makes this president see the error of his ways and makes him be a nicer person. He is an asshole and will remain one. It’s up to us to stop putting up with his garbage because we don't want to feel sick anymore. And if it makes you uncomfortable that’s too bad. 

15 September 2017

Book Review: Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places by Colin Dickey

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Here's my review as it appears on Goodreads.

Ghostland: An American History in Haunted PlacesGhostland: An American History in Haunted Places by Colin Dickey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really liked this book in the beginning. I grew up in an old haunted house in New England, yet I'm always a skeptic. (99% of supernatural activity ends up being the wind or a cat — and cats are creepy as hell.) I liked reading the stories behind the stories, whether they debunked the legends or gave credence to them. I’ve always been interested in history and nonfiction and ghost stories are the old “fake news.” Entertaining but you shouldn’t necessarily take them at face value. As the book went on, I found the stories themselves no less interesting but the format became tedious.

A couple of the stories really stood out to me. There are many cases of ghost stories being used to control a narrative that makes people feel safe. We don’t have to feel guilty about marginalizing someone or face realities of our country’s brutal history if there’s a fun story.

Does it count as spoilers to discuss the historical facts around ghost stories? Just in case, here’s your spoiler alert.
The Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, California is a place I always wanted to visit when I lived in the area. I was more interested in the weird architecture than in the story of the so-called insane woman who had it built. And it turns out I probably had reason to be. According to Dickey, the worst sin Sarah Winchester committed was being slightly eccentric and misunderstood by her community, and thus the rumors of her insanity flourished. “[Her legend] depends on a cultural uneasiness to which we don’t always like to admit. An uneasiness about women living alone, withdrawn from society, for one.” This is a common thread among ghost stories and horror movies and happens in popular fiction and in real life — a woman is different from how society thinks she should be and is persecuted or even punished for it.

About Shockoe Bottom, Richmond, Virginia, Dickey says so succinctly, “The ghosts of Shockoe Bottom are overwhelmingly white.” This is an area of the country where we find “the first settlements,” as long as we are only counting the settlements of the Europeans. This is an area of the Southern United States known for its slave auctions. Atrocities were committed in the area, yet the ghosts are white people from the 1700s and 1800s who haunt touristy bars and restaurants. Erase history much? If you really want to be horrified by scary stories, read accounts of the slave auctions.

From the Salem witch trials to haunted Southern plantations to the Amityville Horror, a common thread in ghost stories is someone powerful trying to marginalize a minority and coverup their guilt over it. I think it’s time for a lot more of the facts and history to be revealed about the stories that have become so common in our country.

View all my reviews

14 September 2017

What Goes Through My Head When I Lock My Door

When I'm alone in our apartment, or alone with Muffin, I lock the deadbolt, day and night. Here is my thought process:

I'm walking down the hallway toward my door. I nod "Hello" in a neighborly way to a man also walking down the hall. I enter my apartment (having had my key ready since I first got into the elevator because women are conditioned from an early age not to be fumbling for their keys in an area where the distraction of doing so might make them vulnerable to an attack) and close the door. I put my hand on the deadbolt but I don't turn it right away.

What if the guy who just walked by thinks I'm locking it because I'm afraid of him? 

It's not about him specifically, though, it's about being a woman alone in an apartment building. 

So what if he's offended? 

It's none of his business if I lock my door or not, unless he was planning to enter the apartment, in which case fuck him, I did the right thing by locking the door.

I'm a narcissist for thinking he hears me turn the deadbolt or cares that I locked the door if he did hear it.

I turn the deadbolt.

I'm smart and strong and rational. I do not assume every man in our building is out to get me, or anyone else. My mind doesn't automatically jump to rape -- I don't want anyone coming in to steal our television, either. Why do I worry so much about locking my door? It should be something I don't even think about.

I'm not going to say all women think this exact thought all the time, every day. But I will say that many, if not most, women have similar thoughts often, and with good reason, because of the way they are treated by men on a regular basis. A woman doesn't have to have been raped or otherwise abused in order to feel threatened or even slightly nervous around men.

To all the nice guys out there, you're wasting your breath defending yourself to me. Talk to other men about not being dicks so that in a generation or two women might not have to worry about which guy walking down the hall of her building is a nice guy.

12 September 2017

Motivation Monday -- I Fell Down

Yeah. It's Tuesday again. I'll get the hang of this one of these weeks.

I'm a little bummed out. I fell while running on Saturday morning. I tripped on a bump in the sidewalk. It's so stupid. I'm not as scraped up as my last fall, but my right knee is still fairly bruised and swollen. Yesterday I Frankenstein shuffled around the grocery store and it exhausted me. Today I'd like to try walking one mile. The few pounds I'd lost the last two months have migrated back on because I haven't been as active as I'd like to be and we were traveling for a couple days so it was difficult to eat as well as I'd like to.

The Army Ten Miler is in less than a month. With my hamstring and IT band I'd been beginning to think I was going to have a nice, slow run rather than aim for a PR. Now I don't know what's going to happen. I'm keeping the race in mind but I'm sure I'm leaning more toward a nice, slow run than a PR at this point. Somewhat ironically, my hamstring and IT band feel a lot better so maybe this forced rest is actually going to do me some good.

I'm trying to be more conscious about drinking water and eating lighter until I'm back into training mode.

For now, though, I really want to curl up with a book and a hot cup of coffee.

05 September 2017

Motivation Monday -- Blerg. It's Tuesday Again.

Because of the holiday yesterday I thought it was Monday when I started writing this post. I ran early this morning and started writing down the thoughts I had as soon as I got home.

I love reading Runner's World. I've been a subscriber on and off since I was a teenager. Maybe it's because I've been reading it for so long that I find a lot of it tedious now and I have a rather love/hate relationship with it. I like reading the recipes but I always question the necessity of so much flaxseed. I ran just fine in high school and college without ground flaxseed. And most runners who aren't Olympic athletes or world champions will, too. There's often the obligatory "We're cool enough to drink beer or wine" article that always makes me feel like it's only okay to do that because a half marathon was just run, but drinking a drink every day might have negative consequences on performance. (Performance against whom, though?)

What really grinds me gears, though, is the occasional article for beginners about how all you really need is a pair of shoes and the desire to do it.

And after they tell you that all you really need is a pair of shoes and the desire to do it, there are pages and pages of reviews and advertisements for all the gear they just told you you don't really need. A watch. And a tech shirt because "cotton is rotten." And this sports bra and these socks. And a hat. And, forget a water bottle, you need a hydration system, even if you're only going out for a mile or two and it has to have pouches for your gel. It should ideally have a pocket for your iPhone with the perfect playlists for any workout. And this jacket for rain and this one for snow and this one for the two days in spring when it might rain and be chilly and get sunny later. Heaven forbid you be wet or cold or hot or hungry or without music for five or ten minutes.

Running is the simplest sport in the world yet we've somehow made it difficult. We've added materialism to a basic human body movement. I know some people like gadgets and stuff. I know a magazine's main job is to make money through advertising. But I hate that someone looking to give running a try might get overwhelmed and give up because they give a crap about whether or not they have the right gear. You really do just need a good pair of shoes and the desire to do it. Forget all the crap.