A stupid update and stupid Ebola

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I realized that I haven’t been posting lately and although I’m sure no one has noticed, I have, and that right there goes against the whole point of this blog experiment. This is not to say that I haven’t tried. I went and started about half a dozen of these but then got too overwhelmed or tired to complete them. So here I am with a brief synopsis on my junk, which I may or may not go into further detail on at a later date.

When last I posted it was shortly after my cousin’s memorial service. It’s been really hard, and affecting me in strange little everyday ways – but also in big ways. Like how I celebrate Christmas sort of ways. This year has been upsetting and disruptive to my routine, traditions and things that make someone like me – someone with major anxiety and depressive issues – on edge.

My great aunt, who is really my grandmother (she was there for me like a grandmother when her sister, my actual grandmother, wouldn’t be), suffered a series of strokes that have left her barely able to think, see, hear or speak. The matriarch of my family, as well as the single wisest person I know, has now lost everything, is in a senior living facility, and her life is being dictated by this monster of a cousin-in-law whose motives in the whole situation are dubious at best. I feel so entirely helpless in this that I don’t know what to do. TheRapist has tried to help me with it, but she doesn’t understand our relationship. She doesn’t get how for the majority of my life I felt that only one person in my entire family understood me, and I’m losing her: systematically, and in most despicable ways.

A terrible run in with the cousin-in-law has also started a strange thing in my family. People by and large are on my side because this woman is particularly offensive. However, it’s making things hard in other ways.

My house is entering its fourth year of renovation. Meaning that my entire house is in disarray, half of it has little to no electricity and no lighting, many of our belongings are in storage (including stored in my studio – thereby preventing my being able to use it) and it’s just not a big enough house for this much disruption. The main reason this is happening is because my father insists on doing these renovations by himself, but he doesn’t want to do it. He’d rather play with his boat or his band. So a project that could be finished in a weekend or two has taken nearly four years. Any interference from my mother or me is met with hostility and accusations. It’s created an environment of stress and resentment that is just too much right now.

Especially considering that my mother has atrial fibrillation and congestive heart failure. We finally got the heart failure into remission when she just made all of her stress worse and now it’s acute again. Awesome. Add to that my father quitting his fucked up (once epically awesome job) for a new one, and having to wait for the new health insurance to kick, it’s been a ball over here.

And it’s not just my mom who is sick. Our ancient greyhound is not doing too well either; and we don’t expect to spend another Christmas with him.

Personally I’ve not been in a good place. I may have to have a surgery next year that I’m not really on board with but am afraid I am without choice. My anxiety is at epic levels (obviously), I’m unemployed and unemployable. I am now, for the first time in years, officially broke. I don’t know what to do anymore.

Everything has been coming at me from all angles (even more things, things that I don’t want to even mention, lest I well up or throw up), and just when I thought things couldn’t get worse, my grandmother called crying yesterday. My grandfather isn’t well, and instead of going to the doctor or the hospital, he’s refused medical treatment and aid. He won’t let us move him or let the ambulance take him. He’s announced that he wants to die and won’t get out of bed and eat.

So right now there’s this epic vigil going on at my grandparents’ house. We’re all just waiting for him to knock it off or die. And seeing as he is a stubborn old fool, and he isn’t well to begin with, he’s going to slowly die in his bed, breaking the hearts of his four children, nine grandchildren and two great grandchildren. And there is nothing we can do about it.

For the first time I really don’t think that I can handle this. It’s literally too much for me.

So there’s that. My completely bullshit life, and the reason I’m not really up for much socializing or generalizing or blogging.

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Before I go, I do have something I’d like to say about this Ebola outbreak. There’s been a lot of panic, a lot of bullshit reporting, and apparently even some ignorant and ridiculous conspiracy theories. But what it comes down to is this:

The reason why Ebola is spreading through Africa uncontrollably right now is because of poor sanitary conditions. The poor sanitary conditions are a direct result of having no access to clean water. This is a larger, much more terrible, much more difficult, underlying problem that needs to be addressed and no longer ignored.

Having no clean water is a major and horrific reality that you almost never hear about, and that most people in the western world don’t give a shit about. But the fact is, around a billion people worldwide have no access to clean water. An estimated 345 million of those people are in Africa alone. So now these diseases that are rare, that are containable – hell, some that should have been obliterated ages ago – are free to go unchecked because there is just no way to maintain sanitation when there is no sanitation to begin with.

What is happening with the Ebola outbreak in Africa is only an issue with us in the Western world because it’s starting to affect us directly. And like most things that happen around the world, they get ignored until they affect us directly. It’s sad.

Coming up with new treatments that only first-worlders can afford, or doing special new screenings at airports is ignoring the real issue and placating the few. It is the equivalent of walking into the most used room of your home, seeing a steaming pile of shit in the middle of the floor, covering it with a facial tissue and then walking away.

Without fixing the whole problem, the core problem, the ACTUAL problem, things are going to get worse and worse. For all of us.

Everything that happens everywhere in the world, everywhere on this Earth affects us directly. There is no us and them. There is only us. This is our problem and it is spreading. It won’t be long before it’s a rampant issue in the US. And note how I said ‘rampant’ – because it already is becoming an issue here.

So I just wanted to point that out. I also want to point out that these massive problems aren’t impossible. There are solutions. Everyone and anyone can help. You can raise awareness. You can demand it become a central political issue. Go to water.org to get further educated and see what else you can do to help bring clean water to these areas.

That’s it for now. Later.

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Messages to the Troops and Squash Genius

20lbs of Premium locally grown pepo. Fear them.

Yesterday I went to a Lion’s Club out in the country to make Christmas cards for deployed soldiers. The frustrating, just glue-stick-it-together, popped-out-of-a-scrapbooking-machine cards I assembled and signed were on par with what I expected from the awkward scrappin’ moms crowd who were hosting the event. I myself am more the hands on uber-nutbar creative type who mixes her own inks, prints with a letterpress machine and makes her own paper, so you can imagine there was much cringing as I applied the foam Christmas icons to the card fronts, but it was for an excellent cause so I didn’t complain. I spent a good amount of time unnerving the ladies with my asymmetry and ‘misuse’ of frames, but whatever. They’ll live (or they unstuck them and redid mine after I left).

My issue with the day really wasn’t the lack of creativity in the cards so much as the lack of creativity in the messages people were putting into those cards. What most people don’t know is that there are more people over there fighting in Afghanistan who have no one to come home to than who do, so even a single Christmas card can make the biggest difference to someone. Therefore the message inside the card should really mean something, not just be something generic and trite.

Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be some weird Veterans Day rant or whatever. I don’t go for the flag waving chauvinism others do, and it’s cool if you do. It’s just not my scene. I support our troops, worry about their rights and safety,  and really want to see them come home. Like now. Yesterday even. (I’m a physicist, I’m working on it).  But I am also not going to write a scary, generic thank you for protecting our freedom message in there.  It just seems so impersonal as to become disrespectful. I mean, imagine that the only thing you get for the holidays is this card, and it’s just some run of the mill “Thanks for your service.” Besides, the card kits come with an insert explaining to the recipient where the cards come from and thanking them profusely for defending our freedom.

I also didn’t want to get weird and write something too personal. So while I was contemplating what exactly to write, I perused some of the messages some of my scrappin’ compatriots imparted.

Sigh.

Okay so they weren’t all bad. My favorites were the ones little kids signed, their names in big crinkly letters or no letters at all. In the end most of what the ladies did was just rewrite the insert onto the blank bit of the card verbatim. So it says the same thing twice in the same card. (What else to expect from card-kit aficionados?)  Nice. There were a lot of random removed thank-yous. I think the winner of all of them had to be the one someone signed ‘Fondly’. Seriously. Just ‘Fondly’. No message, no name. Fondly. How much more dispassionate can you get? Or maybe passionate – for all I know this lady has a certain kink for mystery men or soldiers and she was really saying ‘fondle-y’. You can imagine it bothered me enough that I couldn’t stop overthinking it which led to a rant about letter writing and salutations and got me on this whole thing about people formally signing letters with ‘Sincerely’ as though to prove that they aren’t lying. Everything in the body of this letter is truth. Sincerely.

Now all the scrappin’ ladies think I’m nuts – but funny – and offer me hot cocoa as a ‘relaxer’.
They didn’t seem to catch my point about what we put into the body of the card matters. (And more specifically that what they put in their cards was what I was contesting).

In the end I wrote little messages about how I hope that the card and the season finds the recipient well, that they are staying safe, and that I hope they come home soon. (Written a lot more eloquently than that I assure you.)  I also mentioned that I would be thinking about whoever got my card, and all of our soldiers on Christmas. You know, that someone cares that they’re out there. And I mean it. I think it’s all too easy to forget what’s going on in the world. We are a culture of out of sight out of mind.

Everyone should get in on this card making gig. It can really make a difference in someone’s life.  You can find resources online like www.operationchristmascard.org  where you can get more information.

This is what comes of Mum trying to break out of her comfort zone and go somewhere she’s never been before and doing stuff she’s not into: Getting ‘lost’ within walking distance of the venue; seriously annoying unsupervised children; dangerously unsupervised children; glue sticks; scrappin’; hot beverages and a density of cookies that could probably irreversibly damage the space time continuum. (It might even give the universe diabeetus in that one spot. I should check the math.) I even spent some time hearing of the exploits of two women who are competitively breeding. No shet.

Later we would go back to the farm stand we were ‘lost’ at and spend $7 on a 20lb grab bag of squash, the purchasing of which involved highly detailed descriptions of the different varieties and flavors of each to other nervous patrons. (Why these people were nervous of squash is beyond me. Vegetable revolution perhaps? Fear of fiber?) This came at both the amusement of the farm staff and as a surprise to myself – as I had no idea that I even knew that much about that many pepo. Go me, squash genius.