Happy Thanksgiving

I don’t get days off, but don’t expect some long and poignant post today. Well, maybe you shouldn’t expect that most days. Today is Thanksgiving, a day that people set aside in hopes that it makes them feel grateful for everything that they have for at least one day a year. It’s a day that politics should be left out of. I’m sure Halloween has pretty gruesome history behind it, still going to celebrate that. It’s not about the past; it’s about where we move forward.

I’m thankful for every day. I’m thankful for my beautiful boys. I’m thankful for their successes and their struggles, because both make me a better mother and human. I’m thankful for my supportive family, who’s always there when I need them the most. I’m thankful for my husband, who always lifts me up when it feels like everyone else wants to take me down. I’m thankful that I have a house, food, and loved ones. I have a lot to be thankful of, which I’m very thankful for every day. We don’t need a single day to be grateful. We should be grateful every day.

If you are lucky enough to spend the day with family, remember how lucky you are. If you are working today, putting your life on the line to ensure the safety of others, thank you for your service. We are thinking of you, grateful for your selflessness. If you aren’t fortunate enough to be with family, be with the family you choose. Blood doesn’t mean family. Love does.

Happy Thanksgiving and remember the lessons of today every day of your life. Even in darkness, there is something to be grateful for.

Social Media Help For Esports

Some teams have an awesome team behind their social media accounts. As a Boston Uprising fan, I feel as though they have done an amazing job. The Overwatch/Overwatch League teams (and Blizzard team in general) also have a knack for getting information out and actively engaging with their fans. This is just one of many things that I personally love about Blizzard. The problem is that PR on the social media front tends to be a problem for these teams/stars, especially in the Overwatch League and apparently now their Contenders teams.

You may have heard that there’s a new team in town: the Toronto Defiant. I cried a little on the inside when they had Neko in their video releasing info on 2 of their new players. The reveal was well-produced and the hype around it was perfect. This was social media used in an effective manner to achieve awesome results for the team. Even though this worst kept secret was something some Boston fans were hoping was fake. (Which quickly disappeared when Neko referred to HuK as a lying bastard on the internet, but still some of us clung onto hope that Neko would be our fearless Zen/Ana once again.) The Neko incident of calling HuK out on and it going viral on social media is just one of many ways that the PR team has failed players on the social media front. I could go into real life examples of how social media can give people a negative impression on you without the polish of an experienced professional, but I really don’t like to talk politics on Gaming Day.

Way back when DreamKazper did that terrible thing, I pointed out that this was just one of a few examples back then that you have these kids who are impulsive and inexperienced socially (in most cases) who need help navigating the finer points of engaging fans and social media strategies. As an Uprising fan, I can point to NotE and Gamsu as evidence that when a player uses social media properly can grow a massive following without any drama. Gamsu posts images of the beautiful views when he hikes or hilarious images of him missing his flights. Then there is NotE who goes the puppy route and keeps up this wholesome and goofy image that he has. These are players that have either been coached properly on social media PR or ones who just are personable and relatable people with a talent for social media.

Then you have teams like, I don’t know, the Toronto eSports Club who went full nerd-rage on Twitter. “We were told we couldn’t have our name so we quit Overwatch”. They sounded like petulant children. Does it suck that they had to change their name because of the Toronto Defiant? Absolutely. I don’t think it was right that they had to change their name. Throwing a childish fit on Twitter? Probably not the best way to go about it especially if you want sympathy over the situation. Plus, I mean just flat out quitting the game and bashing how awful it is? That brought up a lot of concerns for Uprising fans (and potentially even their players/staff) of what this meant for them since this seemed like a rash overreaction one the part of their academy team. When HuK comes off as a reasonable party in a situation, then you know you’re wrong. This is another case where someone who shouldn’t have a Twitter account while representing other people makes everyone look bad. (Applies to politics today as well.) In case you’re wondering Toronto eSports doesn’t actually own the academy team, the Uprising do. So, this really means nothing.

These teams and players need better social media coaching. Fissure has an awful reputation due to his social media presence. xQc has a reputation due to his online persona where you either love him or hate him. Social media today can make or break your brand if you let it. In a lot of these cases, they are letting it break them. I’m no expert on social media, but I have done enough where I don’t utterly squash the brand I’m trying to build up. If you don’t have the funds or means to get social media professionals to manage the more difficult people, maybe it’s a good idea to at least train them better in these areas. In most cases, the Overwatch League players are freshly 18 with their own income, living on their own, coming into a massive fan base. It can be easy to get caught up in the fame, not realizing the consequences of your actions in the grand scheme of things.

When Talking to Your Child About Death

The first time I had to discuss a death with my son, it was my aunt who had passed away. He was still young enough where he didn’t exactly comprehend it and it didn’t ultimately have an impact on him. (I want to say he was 3ish at the time?) The second time I had to discuss a death with him, it was my paternal grandfather. This time he was in Kindergarten. Still, he was too young to really understand. I asked him if he wanted to go to school, if he wanted his birth father’s family to take care of him (it was just before his Christmas break started) while I attended the funeral. I missed the wake to take care of my son. I couldn’t miss the funeral.

My son, who even still is a lot older mentally than he should be, decided he wanted to come with because it was the right thing to do. I reluctantly agreed that he could go, thinking that he was too young to be at a place like this. But I figured if he was mature enough to ask and understand what was happening, that he was able to attend. He wanted to come up to the body with me. I held his hand and we prayed together while kneeling in front of my grandfather. We attended the Catholic mass afterwards, where people were crying and remembering my grandfather. I stayed stoic, as I tend to do. Probably why I have the reputation for being “cold”. I stayed stoic until out of the corner of my eye, I noticed my son was trying to be like everyone else. He asked for a tissue, and started dabbing his dry eyes because everyone else was crying. He started forcing sniffling noises while doing it. I didn’t want to laugh during a somber mass, but I chuckled. He didn’t understand what was going on, but he knew the motions that he needed to go through and he just wanted to make sure he was doing it right.

It was a long time later when I had to tell my now older son about a death in the family. This time, it was his biological paternal grandfather, a man he maybe met twice? I remember failing at this opportunity, making a joke because that’s who I am. “Dylan, you know what sucks more than your computer dying?” Yeah, you can finish the joke. I said it. I should be ashamed of myself, I know. But you have to be me and my son to understand. He didn’t react. He didn’t even really know the guy. He was confused as to whether he should go to pay his respects, be alone among a room of people who he didn’t even really know. Ultimately, he decided that it was better for him not to go. He was 15; that was entirely his choice.

My youngest son’s school was doing a project about Veteran’s Day. We decided that it would be cute to write about my maternal grandfather, who served in the Navy and passed away when my oldest son was about 2 or 3 months old. We named our youngest after my grandfather, so we thought it would be cute for our son to learn about him. It was cute until he asked why he didn’t meet my “Grampa”. I calmly explained to him that my grandfather passed away a long time ago. “He’s dead?” I nodded. “Did he die in the war?” I explained that he died of cancer and that cancer sucks. “What happens when you die?”

I stopped. What was my approach here? What do I say to him? Do I say what I believe? That he’s just dead and there’s a body in the ground and that’s really it? I couldn’t do that. I found myself saying the words I’ve learned through all my years of Catechism. “Well, he’s in Heaven watching over us to make sure that we’re okay. He’s protecting us.” My son went on. “What’s Heaven?” I found myself getting wrapped up in a lie that I didn’t believe, as parents often do in so many situations. “Well, it’s where good people go. And your great grandfather was a very good man.” He nodded, asked a few more questions, and that was the end of the conversation. Until he kept bringing it up. “How can he protect us if he’s up in Heaven?”

I wanted to say to  him “Mommy doesn’t believe in God or Heaven or angels, I just lied to you because the truth sucks”. There was no right answer here. I had to keep going with this lie to protect him. Just because I didn’t believe, doesn’t mean he doesn’t have the right to believe if he wants to. It’s a loaded topic dealing with death, especially when discussing it with your kids. I worry about the day when I have to tell them that someone they were close to died because I’m the last person I’d want to tell me if someone passed away. The last. I’ve done it before. I’m not very good at it. I blurt it out without softening the blow. I answer questions honestly. I’m brutal and cold. I admit my faults. I have no idea how I would tell my child that someone they loved died. I could barely make it through a conversation about telling them how someone they didn’t even know died. Did my child need to know that my grandfather died of cancer? Was that too much to put on him? Did I screw up my oldest by telling  him the news through a joke?

I’m a mom trying to figure out this hard stuff just like everyone else. My way probably sucks and I don’t know how to fix it but it surprisingly has worked up until this point. I’m numb to the death thing and admittedly that has hardened me. My first thought it never “oh that sucks”, it’s always “okay, what needs to be done next.” I hope that I figure this out because as you can see, my gut instincts are not great here.

Knowing Your Audience

The pandemic has been something that has turned everything into an anxiety-inducing uncertainty. People lost their jobs. Some lost a major chunk of their income. Most average people are struggling and so far, there isn’t much hope for relief soon. The audience, the constituents, are hoping for relief. Looking for a sign that they have people on their side, understanding this struggle, who are fighting for them.

…But instead, the politicians are fighting for themselves.

I don’t normally like to talk about local politics. I know that I went on an angry rant about a city councilman in our city, who was a rape apologist and victim shamer that I still believe is defiant in the face of our disgust for 2 blogs. Who still doesn’t really believe he’s wrong, rather put out an insincere statement as a Band-Aid. But that was because his statements were a part of a horrible culture that still makes sexual assault/sexual harassment victims stay silent.

In this case of local politics, our mayor is asking for a raise for himself, other city employees, and our city councilmen. A raise, in the midst of a pandemic when businesses and the citizens are struggling, but are still seeing an increase in their property taxes. A raise, while they are talking about furloughing employees. This is the time to know your audience, and as my teenager says, “this ain’t it, chief.”

I understand that they are paid a lower salary than those in surrounding areas. I get it. I might not have an issue with this if I didn’t see so many people struggling right now. Asking for a raise while there are people in the city who are struggling shows that they are out of touch and uncaring. Especially when you have a sitting councilman who isn’t serving on committees since they can’t remove him from office because, well, he made comments contributing to a culture of victim shaming.

The argument is that you are going to get lower quality people for these jobs. Was this a self-own by the mayor? I mean, he knew what he was getting into salary-wise, considering he was on the city council for so long. I again point out, it might not be so bad to raise these salaries… if we weren’t in the middle of a pandemic that has caused financial devastation for so many people.

This is selfish. This shows that there are out of touch people in power in this city that don’t care about us, rather want more money in their pockets not caring about the money in ours. This shows me that come next election time, we need better people in there that are willing to do what they are supposed to do: put their citizens first. Instead of empathy and serving us, they seem only interested in serving themselves. Why should any politician be able to decide whether or not they deserve a raise and how much? Shouldn’t we, the tax payers, make that decision? Imagine any other job where the employees can make those decisions.

When You’re Walking Around a Fantasy World

My plan Tuesday was not to sit around watching the television glued to the senate race in Georgia. Honestly, I figured the Democrats would get one seat and the Republicans would keep the other. Whatever happened, happened. I had no control over the outcome and I learned long ago to not stress too much about the things that I couldn’t control. I have enough to stress about as is. It was what it was.

Tuesday, we decided to try Beyond Beef tacos. Spoiler: not only was I repulsed by it, I ended up covered in hives. It wasn’t fun. I couldn’t sleep, so I stayed up probably until 3 or 4 watching CNN’s election coverage because maybe it’d help me sleep. It didn’t. I was miserable and itchy and the hives burned and I wanted to scratch the hell out of them. I was shocked by what was going on in the election, which was actually helping to distract me. Would they actually win both seats? To me, it wasn’t so much that the Democrats won those races; it was the Republicans who are turning their own base away from them.

As an independent, who probably aligns more with a weird mesh of libertarian/democratic belief system, I get it from both sides. I get people mad at me, screaming about how I’m some socialist liberal when I point out the flawed belief system around Trumpism. When I agree with Republican politicians, I’m called a snowflake sheep Trumper. I’m neither. I seem to be unique in my belief of you can exist somewhere in the middle. At least if you’re a Republican or Democrat, you only really have to deal with the other side ganging up on you.

Back to my story.

Wednesday, exhausted and dealing with continuing sinus issues. I had planned on spending the day watching coverage of the counting of the elector votes. I knew it would be a historic moment and I wanted to be able to talk about it in the future with my youngest or my future grandchildren, mocking the insanity. History was going to unfold right in front of my eyes. They were going to fight about this all day, wasting everyone’s time in futile attempts that were ultimately going to fail. There was no fraud; these objections were purely motivational of people trying to get their last minute brownie points from the Trumpist base for their own future ambitions. When in reality, they should just let the hardcore ideals of Trumpism die with the ending of his presidency. Then what’s left of the shambles of the Grand Ol’ Party could recover their reputation, try to overcome this past, and become better people in the future.

I was right in all the wrong ways. I watched in horror as the events unfolded on my screen. It didn’t seem real. After living through the unreal experience of the pandemic, this still seemed like I was living in a fantasy world. There’s no way, not in America, that this would happen. We grew up being told that America was better than this. We grew up being told that this was a land where we were safe and free. These events make me question these apparent lies we were told. I didn’t feel like it was me sitting on the couch watching reality. It felt like me indulging in my sweet pleasures of trash “unscripted” television, watching an episode of “90 Day Fiancé” where some things are just too ridiculous to be real life. This wasn’t the America I grew up in. This would never have happened in that America. The America that stood together on 9/11. That America that came together during the Boston Marathon bombing. This is an America were there are people refusing to call these people for what they were: terrorists literally attacking our democracy.

This is almost like when you are watching the news when another country has their election and you know they are corrupt. The ones where America goes in with their shiny knight armor to save the day. The heroes of democracy, a role America tries to play every chance they get because they feel their approach to government is the ideal and superior to other countries. We are acting like that country today that needs America to come save. Only it’s us… and apparently we can’t save ourselves.

I kept saying that the division would ruin our country. My blogs reiterated the danger of this division. To watch something unfold that I only thought was possible in my imagination, doesn’t seem real. It’s not right and this is not the America I want my kids to grow up in. It seemed like something even too ridiculous for fiction. But here it was, our current reality.

I was reminded by a dear friend about how I would always right in my early days of my blog about how I taught my oldest to be the change he wanted to see in the world. That the future was his and he can help make it better. These are lessons I’m trying to teach my youngest. They are the future. It’s too late for us now, but it’s not too late for them. We can teach them to be better than we are. Because dammit, our country… our world… deserves better than this.

In the Christmas Spirit

I’ve never been one to have the Christmas spirit. I remind readers and my friends of that all of the time. I just don’t dig it. I do have some great friends that knew exactly what to get me: wine. While I haven’t been able to indulge in it as of this writing, I’m sure I will eventually. They didn’t spend a fortune on the presents that they gave me; it was the thought that counted. And I loved the gifts and very grateful for them. I have friends that didn’t give me anything except wishing me health and happiness for the holiday. I have the greatest friends in the world. Knowing that I had their friendship was equally important as the bottles of wine. I don’t need gifts. I need the things that can’t be bought.

The problem with the holiday, and part of the reason why I can’t get into the Christmas spirit, is because of the idea of materialism. It’s all about the stuff. People get mad because you didn’t spend enough on them, equating the love of the gift-giver to how much money they spent on the gift. Equating the cost of something rather than equating one’s love to the thought that was put into the gift. Sometimes I think that people who equate the monetary to the love of another is a selfish person. I feel as though they lost sight of what’s important. It doesn’t matter that my ring is smaller than some people; what matters is the love of my husband. I barely even wear my rings because it’s just stuff. Stuff doesn’t matter. Stuff can be lost or you can outgrow it. It’s harder to lose people or outgrow the person.

I don’t think I’ll ever understand the importance of fancy gifts. My parents always raised me of the belief that it was the thought behind the gifts. I remember one year my parents bought me some of what would be my favorite CDs to this day. They didn’t spend an exceedingly massive amount of money on those gifts. But they were music that I loved and that meant more to me than anything else. My parents raised me to be grateful for whatever we were given, even if it was just a simple card with well-wishes or a hug. It’s those things that matter. Not some expensive object that you may never use.

I made it my mission to not use any credit cards this Christmas. Everything that I bought was with our debit card, even those more expensive gifts the kids got. Why? My husband wants a new car and my oldest will be going to college. So I had a budget and I stuck to it because it wasn’t how much I spent on the gift; I believe that it matters more gift was something that made them smile. That was perfect for them.

There’s always the pressure of outspending people because other people value the monetary value of the gift, rather than the idea of the gift. It makes people anxious. It causes people to go into debt unnecessarily. It’s not important. The gifts aren’t the important thing. It’s the phone call from family, just talking about the holiday because you couldn’t be there with them. It was the waves through the window after they dropped off gifts. It’s the reminder that they are there for you, just to be there for you. That’s what’s important. And it’s sad that so many people forget that.

So be grateful for the gifts that you did or didn’t get, because it doesn’t matter. You won’t remember that so and so bought you this or that for the holiday. But you will remember those memories that you made while eating cinnamon rolls and bacon while watching movies and opening gifts. Or playing a game of Monopoly or playing a game on the new console, watching everyone failing. It’s the laughter and smiles. It’s the togetherness even at a time when we can’t really be together. That’s what the holidays are supposed to be about.

It’s Like Beating a Dead Horse

Last week, I wrote about a city councilman who… well… you can catch up here. There are some interesting things that have come up, which I’ll detail with both disgust and sarcasm later on. As well as a further explanation of, not that most level-headed people need it, why what he said was so awful.

The first point is this: there’s nothing the city can do about it. There is no way to remove him from office, or any other corrupt politician in office. This might have been mere oversight, but in 2005 our mayor was in legal trouble for taking bribes and was later convicted. Spoiler: there was nothing that they could do with him except let him finish his term.

You would think, and I could be absolutely wrong and even viewed as unintelligent for thinking this, that they would have said “Well, that was quite the predicament. Maybe we should fix that so we don’t have to deal with it again.” Apparently not. It’s been 15 years and apparently asking for critical thinking skills for local politicians is a big ask here.

But Brianne, why is what he said so bad? Apologists for this city councilman said that he was just saying that women need to be more accountable for their actions that may be contributory to their harassment or assault. Maybe women shouldn’t put themselves in a risky situation.

Where is there a safe spot? Where can I expect not to get raped or harassed? Let me know what this rape-free zone is and what the dress code is, because the other women of the city/country/world and myself would love to know.

Here’s what I do know, as a female. I know that I was told to walk around with keys in my hand, so if I were attacked I could fight back. I know my brother taught me self-defense when I was a teenager, just in case. I know I was given the speeches of going out in groups and never going out by myself. I grew up being told how unsafe the world was for me. I was lectured about my clothing, and how I was showing too much cleavage or my jeans were too tight/too low.

The implications of these lessons were clear: I needed to be careful, be suspicious, and dress like a nun to not get assaulted, while I don’t know any guy that was given any lecture about consent. Why? Maybe it’s because good people just know how not to assault people. The idea that women have some contributory negligence when they get assaulted is disgusting. And if you defend that notion, you are disgusting.

Why is it always on women? Why do we have to think about whether we are going to put on the outfit we will be assaulted in? Why do we have to stay home because we can’t find anyone to grab a drink with? I don’t get it. Maybe I’m just dumb. Maybe I’m naive to think that women just have as much right as men to live our lives how we want to and grab a drink by themselves at the bar because no one else wanted to. I’ve always wanted a daughter, but there’s a part of me that’s relieved that I don’t have to bring her up in a world where if she were assaulted, the first question would be some version of “What did you do to cause this?”

That is why what he said was wrong. Do I think he should apologize? No. Because that would be disingenuous. I have more respect for someone sticking to their guns, as despicable as those guns are, than someone who feigned regret. But I don’t think we should forget about this. I don’t think his constituents should forget about this. And I think this is something that they should be reminded of throughout the year until the November elections, with the hope that they do the right thing of voting him out. The rest of the city should be appalled that someone like this is representing our city. That someone with these outdated and misogynistic ideals not only exists in 2020, but that he’s sitting in a position of power in the city. Someone who blames ignorance of being the only damn person who didn’t know rape and harassment was an issue. Someone who is glad he said what he said because now he is educated that sexual assault is a big deal and thanks to him, everyone now knows what a big deal it is. This great man, who now thanks to him the citizens of our city know that there is a problem and his big idea to solve it is to educate people on how not to harass or assault women. Or to educate women on what to wear or where to go to not get assaulted. Something like that.

It’s almost as if organizations like RAINN exist for a reason. So here’s a brief overview of how serious of a problem this is. All statistics are from RAINN.

  • In America, 1 out 6 women were the victims of completed rape or attempted rape.
  • By 1998, about 17.7 million American women were the victims of attempted or completed rape.
  • 1 out of 10 American men were also victims.

There are a few things that are important to know about these numbers. First of all, there are a lot of situations where these assaults go unreported so these statistics are a lot higher than they are. Why? Because of people like this councilman who want to put some of the blame on women, because they should’ve known better. Because people still view this as something that the victim should be ashamed of. It’s also important to know that not only women are victims, so it isn’t just a bunch of hysterical women trying to take down a guy who is “misunderstood”.

He wanted an education? I just gave him a great resource and important statistics. I don’t expect to change his mind, because people don’t often like to admit their errors or even care about silly things like facts. This isn’t for him. This is for the people of the city who deserve better than what he’s given them.

Sometimes No Context is Needed

There are often times when you read comments made by people and without context they may look bad, but they seem less terrible when “in context”. That’s the famous argument celebrities and politicians use, right? “That comment was out of context.” “You didn’t read the comment in its entirety.” Whether that’s a legitimate excuse or not, that’s the one we get. Then, we get to debate about whether or not the context was worthy of the comment. It’s a crazy cycle; one that does its job of division.

In my city, comments from a councilman went viral. Comments like “…if you go to a sketchy nightclub known for these types of attacks with inadequate security, you bring unreliable friends with you and something happens, don’t be surprised.” And that seemed to be his defense for his other comments like “…use common sense and avoid the best you can if you want to avoid sexual assault. I assume that you wouldn’t go hiking in an area littered with grizzly bears, would you be surprised if you were attacked?” On social media after this story made it to our local forums, he defended himself by saying “…someone asked my opinion about something so I answered it truthfully. I could have lied just to make everyone happy but I’m not that type of person. I’ll be honest even if it hurts me.”

So was this commentary out of context or an honest statement about what he truly believes? Is he just ignorant of what those type of statements could mean for people who have experienced their own assaults, some who still suffer in silence because “it was their fault”? Or does he mean it and truly believe victims should be the ones to not put themselves in public, rather than maybe saying “okay, no matter where you are and what you are wearing, it’s never the rapists fault. Unless you happen to be in your own home and they break in. Or you’re at someplace where rape doesn’t happen. Because, there are ‘rape-free zones’ that are always obeyed.” But, if they broke in and someone was wearing just a t-shirt and that’s provocative, maybe that was their fault too? It’s obviously not the rapists fault. If it were, then maybe there would be harsher penalties for those who commit these devastating crimes.

So, was it out of context? I mean, potentially. I don’t know the guy. I don’t follow him on Facebook to know. But, I mean, is there ever a good context for saying things like that? I’ve been pretty pissed about something when talking to someone and I don’t recall ever comparing their victimhood about something to the plight of a rape victim. But I mean, I suppose you could claim ignorance about the implications with those statements. Again, who knows. Maybe they never had to watch someone suffer through the aftermath of an assault to take it as seriously as they should. Was he baited into the comments by someone else who just got under his skin? I’ve seen people annoy my husband, never heard him ever say something like that to prove a point.

Was it ignorance? He kept repeating the emphasis of how people should be taught in schools about sexual harassment and the like. Then, people can learn. I remember being in high school, where I graduated 18 years ago. I definitely remember learning about what sexual harassment was and what my rights were. I don’t really remember there being a section about how not to rape, but I sort of assume a decent human being would already know that lesson… though arguably any decent human being would just know sexual harassment is bad.

Or, was it just that this was how he personally believes? Again, I don’t know this person. But based on his interactions on this topic, it seems that he does believe this and stands by his opinions. I honestly admire people who stand by their convictions. Even if I find their convictions to be disgusting and disturbing and not one that I would want representing our city. If he truly believes this misguided notion that there are just some cases where women had it coming, then that’s his belief and who are we to tell him what to believe?

He’s not my city councilman. I’ve only engaged minimally with my city councilman and I found him to be a decent man that cares about his constituents. He fixed the problem I had as soon as he could and I couldn’t be happier. This councilor in question insists he will be re-elected anyways despite this, defiant to anyone who tries to help educate him on the errors of this thinking. How this type of thinking resonates with women, which is why many assaults even decades later go unreported. Because after something like this happens, they blame themselves when they shouldn’t. But now, they have an elected official that believes it. Whether out of context or not, whether out of belief or not, this belief system is why we are still behind on the times. Why rape is still something that people sweep under the rugs, as a shame that a woman brought upon herself and her family. Why rapists can walk free because “why should this few minutes of his life destroy his future”, disregarding the fact that those few minutes already destroyed another life. Any notion of assault being the fault of the victim isn’t one that I would ever support, no matter the context.

It’s a Time for Religion… I Mean, Holiday Cheer?

Thanksgiving has come and gone. My family had a quiet feast of delicious Korean food while in front of the television, watching the National Dog Show, then moving into a mini-marathon of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”. Just in time for the next holiday: Christmas. While our Halloween stuff is still out (don’t judge, we’re busy), I know inevitably this weekend we will be putting up the Christmas tree. Because we’re not insane and wait until December to do that. (Sounds judgey, but I honestly don’t care. People should do what makes them happy. I won’t insult or even comment aside from an eye roll.)

There are 4 types of people who celebrate Christmas: the religious, the crazy Christmas cheer people, the ones who do it out of obligation, or the ones who complain while doing it. Admittedly, I’m in a category between “Celebrating Christmas out of Obligation” and “Hates Christmas and Complains While Doing it Anyways”. I don’t judge people in the other categories, but I definitely know they judge me for being a Grinch. I’m okay with that. I know what I’m about. The sounds of Christmas music makes me want to scratch my ears out. The only Christmas show/movie that I really enjoyed was “The Moodys” Christmas from last year. I may sit down with the boys to “watch” a Christmas movie, but I usually read, write, play on my phone/Switch the entire time. Christmas just isn’t my thing. In fact, I would proudly leave my Halloween stuff up, mostly because busy but because that’s the holiday that brings me joy. If people can have their Christmas stuff up before Halloween or Thanksgiving, I can celebrate Halloween all year long.

This may sound like some War on Christmas, but I promise you that there’s really no such thing. That’s just a lie that media makes up to further push an agenda and divide us. I honestly think that people need to stop caring about what other people do. It doesn’t affect you, why do you care? Why do you care that someone would rather hear “Happy Holidays”/”Merry Christmas”? Just say the thing that makes them happy and move on. Not everyone celebrates Christmas, and that’s okay. They have their own religion or honestly don’t care about the holiday. If I could get away with not celebrating it, I would. This year gets to come as close as I can get to that, allowing me a quiet holiday where I don’t have to rush around to different houses with the kids while they are upset that they don’t get to play with their new goods. I think rather than judge someone as a Grinch or a crazy Christmas lady/gentleman, we should focus on what the holiday really is about.

The day is about family. It’s about giving back to those in need, if you can. It’s not about going broke on gifts that they probably only will play with once. Half the time, I think younger kids just like opening up the wrapping paper and don’t care what’s inside. It’s about togetherness, which will look very different for most families. I’m considering doing a Zoom thing where my parents/in-laws can watch their grandchildren open their presents. It’s about spreading joy to others. Don’t let commercialism tell you that it’s about credit card debt or useless crap. Don’t let people tell you that this is only a holiday to celebrate religion. Don’t let people tell you there’s a war on the holiday. Just do you.

That Tiny Little Virus We’re Not to Speak Of

I do tend to shy away from things that I deem too personal or opportunistic. I write about things that I think need to be discussed. I try to offer insight and welcome commentary back. I share to tell a story, not to get sympathy or gain attention. I share a story to show empathy, to let readers know that there are other people out there that have been in their shoes. Especially now, when everything feels so isolating. Now more than ever, people need a voice that let’s them know that they aren’t alone and that while there are situations that are uniquely them, there are other people who can share a similar tale. That’s why I write.

You see stories of battling this virus on social media. You learn that people you knew but don’t really associate with had it. You see stories on the news or viral tales on social media about a tragedy or triumph surrounding this virus. Each time, it has an impact but yet it doesn’t really impact you. It’s a story that you read, like any other story. I stayed safe because I’m at risk. I had a girls’ night where I drank wine with my friends on Zoom because it’s important to take the necessary precautions. I’m not a particularly cautious person, some would say. I take logical approaches to everything, and even as “I throw caution to the wind” there is a calculation and a reason why I do everything I do no matter how impulsive it seems.

During this girls’ night, they told stories of the things they experienced as medical professionals. How, sure the virus won’t kill everyone, but the bigger problem is the after. There are so many unknowns about the long-term effects. That’s the problem with something so new.

The thing is though, that those are stories. You’re not the one who gets the news that a loved one is in the hospital with it. You just watch the story happen online and send your thoughts and prayers or whatever else feels right and socially acceptable to do. It’s completely different when you’re living as a spectator to it at a more personal level. It’s different when you’re the one mentally preparing for the worst to be ready while hoping for the best. It’s a tricky thing to navigate, watching your own family become statistics to something that could be avoided if people just did simple things like wearing a mask so that we could’ve been done with this months ago. If people were more cautious about sanitizing and cleaning everything. If people didn’t resist science and just say “it’s only a flu, no big”.

The reason that my family members will make it through is because of science. Because there are better medicines and treatments now. Not everyone was/is that fortunate. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t concerns for the damage this virus could do to their bodies after their recovery. It just means that they aren’t in the statistics that had the worst possible outcome.

So while people may laugh about how this virus is a joke, I won’t. While people may laugh because I’m afraid of some imagined political ploy, I’ll know that I did everything that I could to stay safe so that I could be around to watch my sons get married or hold my future grandchildren. I’m not afraid of a virus; I’m doing my part to ensure that my kids have their mother at their wedding and to hold my future grandchildren. So that others can live their lives.

Remote Learning Will Never End

I feel like every day since remote learning started, I’m the fail mom. The one who has no idea what she’s doing because she is awful at technology. The mom who seems like the worst parent, because every day I get messages about how my child isn’t doing work. How he struggles with focus. It’s a rough journey that was supposed to end a few weeks ago but due to a spike in cases in the area, was postponed. The phase-in process for my youngest was supposed to take place on October 26 and was postponed indefinitely. My oldest was likely not going to school until the second semester. Again, who knows since his school was completely shut down due to a potential outbreak in the school (not cases contracted within the school, but people who attended parties outside of school, which led to potential exposure and quarantine of a portion of staff and students).

I wasn’t thrilled about sending them back, as I’ve mentioned several times here. I signed them up for in-person because I predicted that they weren’t going to go back for a while. I also did it because my youngest does need extra help because he struggles with focus. He needs to be at school with a teacher who knows how to accommodate his 504 plan. Sending him back does make it even more important to stay in my bubble. Not just to keep myself safe but to make contact tracing easier. Because my husband already spends a lot of time at various places throughout his work day that it makes it even more important to stay safe in a bubble.

I’m running out of ideas on how to make remote learning easier for us. I’m running out of ideas trying to play teacher while managing my workload. I don’t want to respond to the teacher, snapping “I’m doing my best here”, because I know that won’t help. She’s doing the best she can too. She probably doesn’t mean to come off judgey. Or maybe she does but doesn’t get to see that I am active in their education. I do ask to see if they did their work. I’m trying to do everything right and I fall short just like every other parent who is at home by themselves, trying to wear more hats than fit on their head.

I want this all to be over. I want this virus to just vanish as everyone tries to convince us it will. (In fact, I heard a rumor it was going to vanish after the election.) I want people to do their part so that the ones who’ve been doing the right things all along can finally get back to enjoying things. I want my kids to be safely at school. Maybe soon, I tell myself. Maybe soon.

We Have a Winner? Maybe?

Last week, Americans voted. Some did. No judgement if you didn’t. It was expected that we wouldn’t get results until the weekend, at best. It was officially called on Saturday: there’s a new president in town and he’s Joe Biden. Depending on who you ask, anyways. I’m for logical, and logically speaking there is no question that President Trump lost. But, that obviously doesn’t stop people from drumming up conspiracies. Like it or not, that’s how the election went.

I remember when Hilary lost, something that did make me cringe because I envisioned an unleashed man with the temperament of a toddler in the White House. Not that I was fond of Hilary. I voted for the Libertarian ticket because if nothing else, former Governor Weld would have done a good job and that helped make Johnson seem more appealing. I had the belief, and honestly I stand by this, that they were both criminals that had no business holding an office of dignity. Of the 2, at least we knew what to expect with Hilary Clinton. President Trump was going to be a wild card that would spend the whole time pretending he was still on television, vying for ratings. It was going to be a shit show either way.

I can say that my life wasn’t any better under President Trump. I honestly don’t know anyone who could say that his presidency made their lives better. Even worse, I felt scared every day. Would today be the day he just goes off the deep end and start a war to prove a point? What embarrassing thing would he say today that would make us weaker and more divided as a nation? I don’t care whether or not you think this division was started by President Obama; President Trump didn’t make it better and arguably made things so much worse. He loved to inflame the masses because children love any attention, even if it’s negative.

I cringed when I filled out my ballot to drop-off. I thought Vice President (President-Elect) Biden was too old. I felt like sometimes he had the same level of senility as President Trump did. Unlike in the past, I voted for the 3rd party because I wanted to raise awareness for 3rd parties and increase their chances of becoming a contender. I took a deep breath and filled in my circle for Joe Biden. My first time voting for a major party candidate. And the only reason I did is because I didn’t think that we’d survive another 4 years of President Trump. (I hesitate telling this, because people are so divisive in this country that me voting for Biden automatically makes me an enemy. A snowflake. A dumb libtard. This makes people ignore my reasoning.)

I don’t regret my decision. I believe at his core, he’s a good human being. At his core, I feel like he’s a good role model to have up there for the future generations. I feel hopeful when he’s around. I feel like things are going to be okay. Does that mean it will be? Who knows. But we can hope, can’t we?

When it was announced that he won, I went to social media. Some of my friends mourned and complained about how this meant illegals were going to take over. How people were going to get free rides and crime would win. They complained that the election was stolen. Other friends celebrated. I saw people in the streets on television having joyous celebrations. I’m just going to say this: you don’t have that many people happy about you leaving the White House if you did a good job.

I am rooting for President-Elect Biden as I would root for President Trump if he won. Because by not rooting for them, by wishing them failure, we are wishing ourselves to fail. We need to root for America to win, no matter who’s in charge. As I said on social media, “If the only thing that Joe Biden accomplishes is that our nation starts to grow together instead of growing further apart, than I’d be happy.” I stand by that. I don’t have high hopes that he’s going to wave a magic wand and suddenly we regain civility. I don’t know if he’s going to make any major changes that will improve my life. But, I do know that for once, I feel calmer knowing that there’s an adult in charge.

It Doesn’t Have to Be Like This

Today is Election Day. A day that was once pretty uneventful, considering that the president we choose and the other people we put in office have such a massive impact on our lives. This presidential election is different. This election we are led to believe that this is a battle for the soul of the nation. In a way, that campaign slogan is 100% correct. But I don’t necessarily buy into the fact that a single party cares enough about the people to care about the soul of the nation. I’m convinced they’d rather the soul of the nation be squashed because they like the anarchy. They like us divided because they can better control us.

My great state of Massachusetts announced that they have called up the National Guard for Election Day. How absurd? Not that the governor made this call, but rather that this was the right call. No matter which side wins tonight or whenever the election is officially called by election officials, there’s going to be trouble. Either side will argue that this was an illegitimate election. Not all the votes were counted. There was armed people at the polling stations intimidating voters. There’s going to be some reason for trouble, and the sad fact is that people are okay with that. They welcome the chaos, including our own elected officials.

But it doesn’t have to be like this. It really doesn’t. I’m sad for today. I do view today as a doomsday. Not because of the outcome of who gets elected into office. Because of the aftermath. Our country will burn and I’m so sad thinking that nobody cares about that fact.

I hope I’m wrong. I hope people can learn to be adults about this. I hope that people can say “Well, you voted for that person because you have your reasons and that’s okay.” I admit that I struggled voting. I have never voted for a major party candidate for president. The closest I came, admittedly, was considering a vote for Romney. I ended up deciding against it because I didn’t feel right about it. This year, I did vote a major party candidate. Not because I felt strongly about them. Not because of any other reason than I just didn’t want the other guy. Because I feel like one person wants to bring people together and the other loves the division. That was the deciding factor.

We need someone who brings everyone together. I hope that whoever wins decides to put their party aside and works to heal the divide in the country. It’s optimism that our elected officials don’t deserve. But we need it or, and I’m not a particularly religious person at all, God help us all. It will be a doomsday if we don’t get our (pardon my language) collective shit together.

It doesn’t have to be like this. It doesn’t have to be a Democrat vs. Republican thing. We don’t have to let a political decision divide us so much. It doesn’t matter who you voted for, as long as you truly believe in your vote for whatever reason you have. I hope that tomorrow, our country isn’t on fire and we can come out of our hangover feeling less terrible about how the world is going. Because we can change it, not in who we vote for, but in how we act and behave towards each other.

Tomorrow, if there are definitive results I will post a follow-up blog. But today, let’s try kindness and remember to vote.