It’s Another Day

It’s Tuesday, a day when I’m supposed to come up with some though-provoking topic to inspire something. Anything. But I’m less than inspired by the world around me. Today is one of those “dead inside” days, where I’m just going through the motions of… whatever it is this dumpster fire going on around us is. Today, it’s all random thoughts as they come to me. This is “Random Rantings” after all. Plus, the writing experts say to always write on a schedule, even if there’s nothing to write about. So, here we are.

I don’t sleep well, so last night I put on the DNC in hopes that it would put me out. It did. I’m not inspired by politics. I appreciate the argument that this election is for the soul of our country, but I’m afraid to point out to everyone that the soul has been long lost in favor of partisan divide and brainwashing that both sides have brought upon the masses. If there’s hope for our country’s soul to be saved, I hope to be alive to see it. Today, I’m more cynical than ever and I roll my eyes at those who in one meme point out this fact but in the next meme out some talking point for the political side that they so blindly follow. I think people my age are getting more news from memes than they are from the actual news. And no, that’s not a good thing. I did wake up a little bit afterwards, then just watched some infomercials.

I read the news, listening to our school committee say that the phased-in plan that they chose was the best option because it gave a choice. But, there’s no choice. There’s no real choice. It’s either your kids won’t get a proper education or they get sick/get others sick and add more statistics into this pandemic that’s supposed to be a hoax or something. And masks, am I right? Good thing my kids aren’t the first to go in. I’d be even more pissed about my decision if my kids were the sacrificial lambs here.

There was a dog running loose in my lawn yesterday, one that looked well-loved and just lost. I tried to help him. He didn’t want my help. It was interesting that I felt more compassion for that dog than most of my neighbors. Then they tossed trash on the sidewalk and I remembered why that was the case. I sighed, went back into the house and fed my dogs some treats.

We received our mail-in ballots yesterday. I look forward to not having to actually trek 2 miles to get to my polling area that doesn’t seem to ever have enough parking and have lines normally, without their being a pandemic. That’s why I normally do early voting. But, with pandemic closing down city hall essentially (but our kids are going to school… go figure) and the construction, going to city hall sucks these days too. Mail-in it is.

When I woke up this morning, I did hit my September weight loss goal already. That was exciting news. Hard work really does pay off sometimes. It’s a good thing I actually sincerely love salads and working out. It’s also a good thing that I found a diet that actually works for me and is sustainable. I hope this means I can be back into running shape soon. I do love some fall runs, with the foliage around me and the smell of people burning leaves. Fall is the best. Too bad people don’t understand things like “pandemics” and now I can’t enjoy the fun fall activities I love. Because like everything else, people ruin everything. Making homemade pizza for supper may make me feel better about everything.

That about sums up the random thoughts in my brain today. Hopefully Thursday can bring something more inspiring. I’m just really tired of screaming about local politics and other annoyances that we can’t escape in our real life.

Navigating the Tricky Season of Preparing for School Next Year

The school district my boys attend had their last day of school yesterday. With another school district releasing their tentative guidelines for next year and the state releasing theirs, it has caused a lot of… mixed feelings. From uninformed people saying their kids are going to die of carbon dioxide poisoning if you make them wear masks and the others fighting about how selfish non-mask wearers are, there have been a lot of opinions on this topic. As usual, I’m here to share mine and I’m choosing to look on the positives.

For instance, the biggest positive is that I won’t have to do “distance learning” with my kid every day of the week. Sure, I’ll have to do it 2 or 3 days a week potentially, but I’ll take that over struggling to get them to do their work done every day. Those other days, they will have the teacher in the classroom helping them out as best as they can with restrictions in place. I’m sure their help, even as restricted as it may be, is going to be a lot better than what I’m doing as I frustratingly scream at my youngest saying “Just use a calculator, I don’t even care anymore.”

I have started “doomsday prepping”, if you will. I ordered materials to make masks for the boys for school so that they can comply, while being as cool as possible. I bought some Spongebob fabric for my youngest, and this really neat “peacock” colored fabric for my oldest. I bought supplies ahead of any announcement because honestly, I don’t want to be put in a place where I’m stuck without anything I need and I have to resort to “homeschooling”.

I will be sending my boys back, even if these strict guidelines are in place. My oldest is going to be a senior and he needs to have as much of this senior experience as he can. My youngest has his own set of issues and getting him back into the strict routine school offers is going to be the best thing for him. Will getting him to wear the mask be hard? Maybe. But as someone with a terrible immune system, I’m okay with having extra protections to ensure I don’t get sick. It’s fine when you’re a healthy person to throw a fit about making your kid wear a mask, but this is for as much my protection as it is his.

I think the smaller classroom sizes only benefit the kids, especially kids like mine with sensory issues. With less “noise” going on around him, he might be able to focus better. The teachers may not be able to closely interact with the students, but they are still going to get more individualized attention in the classroom instead of getting lost in the shuffle of 19 other students. The teacher will be able to take more time explaining things that other kids are struggling with.

People tend to always have this knee-jerk reaction of negativity, without looking at the positive. Like, now I get to send my kid back to school for at least some of the time and regain some of that “me-time” I haven’t had since March. If done well, this could be a positive thing for students. I have to start thinking about the positives because right now everything seems to be on fire around us in the world that we need to start looking at the positives in the situation.

The Duty of Writers

Writers are expected to have moments of poignant insight that stirs strong emotions in our readers. We’re supposed to be observational. We’re supposed to offer insight and opinions, eliciting some type of response. We are the people that others turn to in order to forget about life for a while, imagining other lands, or just to help them process something that they were otherwise struggling with processing. It’s a heavy weight to have to bear sometimes.

To continue with my last post, I did want to discuss what went on last week and what is still going on today. Tuesday’s post was to offer disdain for the people who were complicit in letting things get to how they are today and how we can help to make things better by voting those complicit players out of office. I did try to make it clear as possible that I stand with those fighting injustice. Today, I wanted take a different approach. I wanted to make it clear that sometimes it takes a fire to start fresh again. These protests are the fire, both figuratively and literally, it seems. It isn’t just one race marching; it’s a rainbow of support across the spectrum. Fighting racism is no longer an “Us vs. Them” mentality. This is a matter that impacts us all. We could sit quietly, but that’s not how change ever happens. That’s not how the LGBTQ+ community earned their “rights” (I use quotations, because they are still struggling to get the rights they deserve). That’s not how women got the right to vote. That’s not how the civil rights movement started. It started from people who were willing to shake things up.

I don’t condone violence. Police are there to protect people, not harm innocents. You shouldn’t assault a police officer because of the uniform they wear. Bad officers deserve to actually get punished for their crimes. The fact that they aren’t is the sole reason why people have trouble trusting the men and women in blue who are supposed to protect us. It’s the same reason why many struggle with Catholicism. You sweep a problem under the rug enough times, eventually people are going to revolt. It’s an unfortunate consequence of terrible actions. Rather than face things head on with courage as they should, they ignore the problem. They defend the indefensible. Sure, I had my knee on his neck for nearly 9 minutes, but he was on drugs and had COVID-19 and had heart problems and how was I to know that when he went unconscious after saying that he can’t breathe that putting the full weight of my body on his neck was going to hurt him? My bad. Over a potentially counterfeit $20? That’s why people are revolting. How many cases of brutality from cops do we hear? Even more terrifying, how many don’t we hear about?

I won’t immediately jump on the “f- police” bandwagon. I’ve had family serve with honor. My son hopes to be in law enforcement, with the goal of helping injustice in the world. To do so, would be a slap in the face of those good officers who died on duty while serving and protecting. But I also think that people do need to rise up and fight against these injustices that are hurting Americans. This continued racism is passed on to other generations. I see that when my son wasn’t played with because he was a “little Chinese boy” or when he told me about how other kids think he looks weird. I’m not blind to what’s going on. And these are kids who learned racism was okay from their parents. Kids aren’t born to hate; we teach them that. Our choice is to teach them to love and to fight for what they feel is right. My oldest wants to change the world by tackling change on the inside. As skeptical as I am that he can make a difference, I believe that I raised him with enough compassion and conviction that he can be one of the many of the next generation that can create change. Because that’s what we need right now.

So it’s not “F” police; it’s “F” the institution that encourages the bad behavior and refuses to hold those so-called “bad apples” accountable. How many crimes do they get away with, while their brothers and sisters protect them at all costs? Those are the people you want to get rid of. Not the ones taking the time out of their shift to play soccer with kids or giving them a reward for wearing a helmet while out biking. You want to encourage the good and get rid of the bad. When that happens, when you stop allowing them to be the judge, jury and executioner, then people might start trusting the police. It’s their job to enforce laws, not make them up as they go or only enforce them when they feel like it. Police should have the compassion for dealing with people while being courageous to help those in need. They shouldn’t be killing people on camera with no soul in their eyes and let people say “Well, this was a misunderstanding…” Sitting on a neck for nearly 9 minutes isn’t a misunderstanding; it’s murder.

To sum all of my 2 day posts up? It’s the institution that breeds and accepts these awful incidences that are at fault, not every single man and woman in blue. It’s the media at fault for pushing the agenda that makes them the most money. It’s the politicians that remain in power because they have divided and conquered us, while we sit around and blindly follow them. We are the ones who can make the change. Through protesting to see changes in policing policies and fighting for true equal rights. Through electing these people out of office. By stop watching the mainstream news because they are lying to us anyways. Maybe losing money and ratings will encourage them to start being the honorable institution that they once were. These are just some ways that we can help turn this sinking ship around.

And We Start to Open Up Again

I don’t particularly care to debate whether or not opening up is 100% the right thing. Because honestly, it won’t ever be 100% the right thing until there’s better testing, tracking, and a vaccine. That’s just science. As someone who does get sick often and badly, I take a look at this in a more realistic way. Again, I know I could choose not to go out to stay safe and that’s my plan. I’m not living in fear. I’m living in protection. I’ve been bedridden by sinus infections before because they get so bad, imagine if I got this? My family understands that. My parents are in the high-risk category, so my kids haven’t gotten to hug or really see their grandparents aside from waving in the window. My husband wears his mask and takes as much precaution as he can to stay safe, but there’s no real guarantee that he won’t bring something home to us. That’s a risk that we’re supposed to be willing to take.

But just because they government is opening up the world, that doesn’t mean I’m going to participate. I watch the daily rises and falls in the numbers. Until they get to a much lower place, I’m staying home and no one is coming into my house. I honestly don’t care about anything except keeping my family safe, which includes taking the precautions I need to so that I don’t end up dead. Dramatic? Maybe. But I just want to make very clear that peer pressure doesn’t work on me and I’m not going to do something because crazies with a gun think I’m irrational and living in fear. If I’m the one living in fear, how come you’re the one with the gun?

I’ll probably lose friends along the way. I’ll piss off family members that already don’t agree with my decision. It’s not their decision to make. I’m not withholding my kids from anyone. People can call them, voice chat with them, but we already have such a short time on this earth. I’m not going to go out with tubes down my throat because someone thinks I’m trying to hurt their feelings. I’m not. I’m doing what I believe is the right thing and you’re not going to convince me otherwise unless you’re an experienced and highly educated medical professional. Because science.

If you choose to go out and let your kids run around in large masses, that’s what you think is the right move for the safety of your family. I won’t judge you for that. But I would appreciate not being judged for what I think is the safe and right thing to do for the safety of my family.

It’s Going to be Okay

That’s something I think we all need to hear these days. We’re all struggling. A lot of people have lost their jobs. Parents who still have to work through this are struggling to balance working from home and managing their children’s education at the same time. Or they are trying to manage finding daycare for their kids while they go to work, adding to their stress of worrying if it’s safe for their kids. We’re not mentally in a good place right now. Or at least I know I’m not. But, it’s going to be okay.

It’s going to be okay because you’re doing the best that you can. No one can expect anymore than your best. You’re always going to think that you’re not doing enough. But you are. You’re doing your best for that moment in your life.

It’s going to be okay because eventually things will start to feel some type of normal again. Whether it’s the new normal or getting back to what your life used to be. Normal is really what you make it to be, not what everyone tells you it should be.

It’s going to be okay because we’re meant to adapt, adjust, and change our approaches. We evolve at our own pace. Change isn’t something that everyone can accomplish at the same time. And that’s okay.

It’s going to be okay because someday it will be safe for kids to hug their grandparents again. We just have to keep reminding ourselves that this is all to make sure that we have our family as long as possible.

It’s going to be okay, somehow. Because we need to have some sort of reasonable optimism that we will get through this. That we are going to come out of this stronger than when we went into this.

Because that’s who we are.

So, just remember: it’s going to be okay.

It All Starts with a Character

There are so many current, relevant topics I could be discussing right now. Like how countries are seeing a resurgence in cases because they opened up probably way too soon. How if you need a 10 step strategy on opening up, it may be too soon to. People have the right to feel terrified because no one really knows anything about this virus, except for the fact that it’s death toll keeps rapidly rising and there’s no real treatment or vaccine to help people through it. Or how people who ignore these guidelines for staying safe are the reason why we’re still dealing with this.

But I don’t want to. It makes me sad and angry and all types of negative.

Instead, I will work through my brain’s struggle to come up with a story to start a series of children’s stories. I have a character that I so desperately want to see come to life. I have her personality in mind. I’ve envisioned what she looks like. But I’m not a children’s author. Aside from “Dear Child”, I’ve struggled a bit trying to get back to the genre because I know there are stories there. I know that my character is going to be a flawed character, but I want to send a message of empowerment not to just other girls, but to all kids. I have all these great hopes for the story.

Unfortunately, I have no story. I’m not sure if it’s my workload breaking into my brain’s creative side, draining any will of creativity out of me. I’m not sure if it’s anxiety over what’s going on in the world that is hurting my brain. I just know that I have a great character, but she’s just sitting there smiling at me through my rough sketches of her. It’s frustrating. I’ve never had this long of a dry spell in my personal writing.

It is probably a combination of being burnt out from writing due to my workload and the fact that with the kids home all the time with no break while juggling said workload as well as my new “school of mom”, that I don’t have that quiet time where ideas just flow from me. With everything going on, I don’t see that changing any time soon and that does make me a little sad.

Writing may seem like an easy task. But words are hard. Stories are hard. Having the will to type endlessly is hard. Writers don’t have an easy job. We are tasked with inspiring emotions and getting people to relate to a fictional character. We need readers to connect on some level to the story. And we don’t get the ability to tap into the nuances of body language and inflections that can often only be heard. We can try, but we can’t reach everyone and we know that. But you need to be able to reach someone.

Maybe over the weekend I can get the chance to sit down and work on something. Maybe.

A Writer Who is at a Loss for Words

I was sitting around thinking about what I should write about. Should I be celebrating that I’ve only gained 5 lbs during this coronavirus time of eating whatever you can get your hands on and mindless snacking out of stress and boredom? Should I go on a rant about people being irresponsible and how dumb I think the protestors are and how I not-so secretly hope that they get it and learn a major life lesson? Should I lament about how I’ll never think to myself that homeschooling would be much easier than sending my kids to school in a world where school shootings are so on trend?

All viable topics. But what does it matter? I could discuss how you’re not only protecting yourself but you’re protecting others by staying safe and following these rules. But I won’t change your mind about it. I won’t change your mind that it’s selfish to ignore mask rules or social distancing measures or how you shouldn’t hang out with family just because you miss them. This is your time to show how selfless you are. And you’re failing at it. But, it doesn’t matter because my opinion doesn’t change anything. I have a right to my opinion; you have the right to yours.

The virus topics are all played out. No one wants to read another story about how this sucks, because people read things as an escape or to find something that they relate to and find solace in. My pessimism has taken over; there’s no solace to be found here.

I have no topic. This post is just like the Blues Traveler’s “Hook”. You’re reading because I’ve engaged you. I’ve captured your attention. But there’s nothing of meaning. Of substance. It’s words, and I’m struggling to find them right now.

A writer without words. That seems crazy. What good is a writer if they don’t have the words? But they say that “you should create a schedule and stick with it, even if you have nothing to offer”. It seems silly, but this routine is as important for the writer as it is the reader. It means that the reader has something to look forward to. It makes the writer sit down and write. It forces creativity, though not necessarily in the right way. But it does.

I just have to keep up the mantra of “It could be worse”. Things could be worse. I’m told this too shall pass, but the problem is that it’s either not going to pass fast enough or it will pass too fast and we’ll just end up right back here hoping that no one you know gets sick or dies.

Zoom: It is Our New Way

This morning, I get to argue with my child over wearing pants because he has a Zoom meeting with the rest of the class. Zoom is apparently our new way of life. The last time his teacher had a Zoom session, my son was too sick to join in the fun. It will be nice for him to get that experience, at least seeing his classmates. This whole thing is finally wearing on him, making him sad he doesn’t get to hang out with his friends. I promised him he could have his friends over after this was all over. If this ever ends. It feels pretty endless right now.

Next week, I have to try out the Zoom thing myself for a meeting with his 504 team. Which is always super fun because I’m terrible at technology. You’d think for someone who freelances, streams (maybe starting up again next week some time), and games as much as I do, I wouldn’t be so terrible at figuring out new programs. But I am. Here’s to hoping. Though, let’s be honest I’ll probably fail at something.

Zoom has almost become a meme at this point. It’s like a false sense of normalcy at a time when nothing seems right. Does this new program open up doors after this whole thing ends? Probably not. Despite this current situation proving that some people can actually successfully work at home, employers will still insist on going back to normal. But for now, this gives us the opportunity to pretend that everything still goes on. Except our sanity, that’s long gone.

Families are using Zoom to stay in touch. Schools are using it to have classes, giving children some type of connection with their teachers and peers. Businesses are using it for meetings. This has become the way. As technology evolves more, maybe more people will get to enjoy working from home on a regular basis which can save everyone time and money. But, right now I’m just hoping that we make it out of this healthy and safe.

Upending the Lives of Children

My child thrives on routine. Due to his many difficulties, routine is something that is sacred to him. If things don’t go to an exact routine, his entire day is destroyed and that’s the reality of having a child like him. Even my older son prefers to stick to a routine and gets a little antsy if things don’t go according to plan. But he’s far more flexible when his routine is shaken up. This is probably one of the biggest challenges I have so far.

I do have as strict of a routine as I possibly can for him, while also managing my own work expectations. This is something a lot of parents are trying to manage right now: juggling their work commitments to their home commitments. That’s not a new concept; working parents have been struggling with this for a long time. The problem is now we are trying to do everything at the same time. Spoiler alert: We’re all failing at it. It’s okay to admit that. It’s okay to admit that my son has failed every science project that we’ve received because he doesn’t follow the instructions, such as “work with a parent”. I’m honestly not sure how his teachers manage to get him to listen. His teachers are saints and magicians all at once.

Their lives are, and I don’t mean to be dramatic here, ruined. They aren’t getting that social interaction with other children that they need to thrive. They don’t get to run around at the playgrounds. Seniors are missing their year-end events. Juniors are missing out on prep time for their things like college tours, college fairs, and exams. These are experiences that they aren’t going to get back. And that’s sad. My heart hurts for them. Just because I didn’t care about these events, doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate the milestones. It doesn’t mean I don’t feel compassion for those students missing out on this. You only have your youth for so long and to have these major moments not be a part of them, that does make me feel bad for them.

That doesn’t mean there’s no reason for it. I keep seeing petitions about how people should be at risk to put these events on anyways. I agree about the importance of these events, but to put lives at risk for them? Until there’s testing made more available and a vaccine created, it’s never going to be safe out there. That’s science. There’s more evidence of the probability of reinfection than there is that there’s no risk of it. But this is so new that no one knows anything. If this were my kid, I wouldn’t be able to attend the ceremony because it was too risky for me, nor could my parents who have a very close relationship with my son. There are safe ways to do things and there’s being completely stupid.

Some places have setup schedules where an individual student can bring a couple of family members to see them do the walk and the students get that experience, even if they can’t share it with their friends. That’s a safe idea. That’s a good approach. That allows for social distancing, while giving the child that experience. It won’t be the same as the grand graduation ceremony students usually get, but it’s better than a Zoom graduation.

People are making rash decisions because they aren’t thinking logistically; they are thinking selfishly. Your want to do something doesn’t take over the reality of the situation. The reality of the situation is that there are over 50,000 people across the country who have died and that number doesn’t seem to be slowing down. I’d even be willing to bet that those places who have decided to say “eff it” and reopen are going to make those numbers jump even higher. Do I like it that I’m in charge of providing barely adequate education to my children? No. Does that mean I think the schools should open up just because I don’t want to deal with it? I’d rather have my children alive, I’m silly like that.

In a time when we should be growing closer together, helping each other, we are bickering like children. We are stubbornly following whatever our political affiliation wants to spoon-feed us and doing so blindly. This was a test to see if our country could unite to do the right thing and make the changes to become better, and I’m sad to say we failed.

Being a Joiner

I’m not a joiner. I don’t like the idea of just following along just because. I’m my own person and peer pressure doesn’t dictate anything that I do. If anything, I’m usually the bad influence. Not on purpose, but I’m not going to lie that it ends up that way. When it comes to social media, I usually stick to that. I don’t want to offend people when they invite me to do those challenges on Facebook, but I’m not going to post 10 selfies of myself. I probably only have 2 or 3 selfies and only a handful of pictures of myself. I’m okay with that. Photographs steal the soul, or something. I’m not going to just participate in something, because that’s not who I am.

I did end up in a Facebook “challenge”. Not because I felt compelled to by peer pressure. It was because the concept was intriguing to me. 10 days of posting album covers that shaped my musical upbringing? The challenge of picking just 10 albums from my younger years, even in my late teens and early 20s, was interesting. There are so many bands, songs, and albums that have touched my life. That I have related to so strongly that they are the only things that can manage to get my hardened heart to feel strongly enough to cry.

It’s also interesting to show off, as much as possible, just how eccentric my musical tastes are. People would be confused listening to my most listened to playlist on Amazon, where my playlist is so varied that it jumps around practically every genre. I’m okay with that. I don’t care if people laugh at my music. I like what I like and people being closed-minded and judgemental don’t bother me. Mostly because I don’t care. I’m not out to impress anyone. If a song has hit me in the feels in one way or another, I like it. I don’t think I need to defend myself or my choices, and if people want to make fun of me for that, it says more about them than me.

Will I do another challenge? Probably not. This is a one and done. I like the challenge of sharing my favorite music. I don’t like the stress of trying to pick people and not make them feel like they have to or whatever. Plus, I don’t like having to do the posts every day because honestly, that’s more work than I want to put into social media.