Friday, December 11, 2020

A New Tradition

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are:

fluffy ~ chestnuts ~ sparkling ~ mantle ~ jolly ~ reindeer

It was submitted by:


I'm not a traditional Christmas kind of person which, if you know me at all, probably doesn't come as much of a shock.

What will is that I'll be attending church all month for advent and if there's a Christmas service I'll probably do that too.

But first...

I live in the Deep South, and it's hot as Satan's balls 90% of the year, it seems, so roasting chestnuts in front of an open fire really ain't a thing we do down here. I don't even have a fireplace or a mantle to go with it for stockings to be hung on, and even if I did, my cats would find a way to pee in them or rip them down or hide within them such lovely gifts as hairballs or pieces of rodents, a spider leg or two.

My cats are also the reason I don't do a tree with a fluffy skirt stacked with wrapped gifts or sparkling lights or garland or fancy ornaments. I do not have the time or inclination to pick the damn thing up 27 times a day or vacuum up the needles they pull out or clean up the vomit after they eat parts of things they shouldn't eat. The longer I've been sick with chronic fatigue syndrome the less I've had any desire to drag all this stuff out only to have to put it back up when I've barely recovered from cleaning it all up every single day.

I give my kid his presents as soon as they come in because I can't keep gifts a secret, and even though we do eat with family on the eve of and the day, it's never been particularly important for me. I've never been the kind of religious person that does the whole holy day thing. I'm not religious at all, and the days that seem to have the most meaning for others never have meant those things to me. Parts of holidays are fun, and I pick and separate out which things I enjoy and which things I'd just be doing because it's what people are expected to do. I'm fine with keeping my traditions to watching Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Elf and Home Alone (1 and 2 and sometimes 3) and making cheese pennies for Christmas Eve. I like watching old cartoon Christmas episodes and buying candy canes in random flavors to try and before things got really extra tough this year, I loved searching for the perfect gift for someone and watching their face light up in excitement when they opened it and saw what it was. Alas, 2020 will be a year of skipping that one no matter how much I enjoy it.

Something good did happen this year though that will help and has helped ease some of the tensions and burdens of this chaotic mess, and I think I'm a better person for it.

I took my atheist ass to church.

Ok, it's not that simple. I don't know if you may have seen the church signs of the UCC in Clackamas County, Oregon that often go viral on Facebook, but I stumbled across them several months ago. Some of the best ones used scripture to discuss acceptance of the gay community. One said "our transgender siblings have heartbeats." Another talked about jesus as a refugee. This was in stark contrast to the far right evangelical christianity I had grown up around down here--the church beliefs that so many used to tell me my kind of love is a sin and hell-worthy. I'd grown up around people that used their religion as a weapon at every possible opportunity, and I had a lot of old wounds and feelings and, let's face it, trauma associated with christianity and religion as a whole. I followed the page out of curiosity over the signs figuring I'd see more I could share, and I did. But I also saw a clip of a Sunday sermon and there was Pastor Adam, jolly as he almost always is, talking about love for the LGBTQIA community with a pride flag hanging behind him. He talked seriously and openly about a Jesus who accepted everyone on the margins of society and that, in fact, that's all Jesus was about--love. I can't quote him verbatim, and I don't think I should because I could never do the words justice. You have to see it for yourself. His point though was about how wrong everyone else was who used the Bible to condemn.

I bawled.

There's no shame in admitting it. Suddenly here were these old wounds being soothed in a way I didn't know I needed and at a time in my life when I thought I'd gotten past all that. Here I was feeling so much...vindication is the right word I suppose. Or maybe not but it will do. I started out with a couple videos, and then I read his articles on the church website and then some more on the site for the Raven Foundation. And I don't mind telling you I was an absolute mess every single time. Every one of them. The kind of love and acceptance of who I am that Pastor Adam talked about is not what I got growing up, but it's what I deserved, and I see that more clearly than ever now. There was never *any* reason to withold it or to judge. Never.

Of course seeing the sermons after the fact just led to me wanting to watch them in real time which I can do because the pandemic kind of forced the church to go virtual. Every Sunday morning I see the post that says everyone is welcome--atheist, jewish, christian, gay, trans, straight, pagan...anyone and everyone gets a seat at the table--and I smile and get a little excited looking forward to taking part and (shocker!) sometimes even commenting. The first day I watched live, someone commented they are a trans witch who took communion with an Arizona tea and a piece of birthday cake, and received so much love and welcoming...and I knew I'd be okay. Everyone is welcome to take communion, too, by the way. Nothing is required to have a seat at the table and break bread together. 

The sermons themselves with their messages about love and acceptance and peace...about those on the margins being who Jesus represented, about universal healthcare and living wages and housing as a right...these are things that are important to me, deeply so, and to see them represented in arguably one of the most important and misused books in all of history in a way that was denied to me my entire lifetime has been transformative. This church and this Pastor never say the people who used religion to hurt me are not "real" Christians and never deny that this evangelical kind of christianity has unfortunately become mainstream. They call it out. Loudly and proudly and often. They shine a light on all the ways the church and Jesus and the bible are and have been used to oppress. It's real work for justice and not flippant thoughts and prayers. What this church and Pastor Adam particularly are doing to address the issues the religious right have brought to our political system are important...possibly vital. 

And it's what I needed in one of the most stressful years yet. It kept me going when I didn't know how I would. Many people can say the same. In fact, I see them say the same a lot of Sundays. 

So I guess I have a new tradition for the holidays. Perhaps the best one yet. Ok nothing can beat Elf but perhaps a close second.


Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado

Wandering Web Designer

On the Border

Part-time Working Hockey Mom

The Crazy Mama Llama

Friday, December 4, 2020

Time After Time

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This month 6 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My “Secret Subject” is:

It’s January 1, 2021. How do you see 2021 playing out?

It was submitted by:


Time is a construct.

I mean, sure, we age. We have sunrises and sunsets and calendar years to mark our trips around the sun, but we also arbitrarily change the time twice a year in most of the United States to fit old farming and harvest needs, so time is not really an unmalleable fixture.

We get lost in 8 hour work days and fixed holidays and 7 a.m. alarms, school bells, deadlines, punching in and punching out, and begging for any scrap of life unhindered by the clock. We live on borrowed time and someone else's time and at some point a clock or a day of the week or the marking of a brand new year starts holding far more significance as a symbol than it does as reality.

I'm not really a new year, new me person. I don't like to set myself up for absolute failure.

January 1st isn't going to magically change anything for me. My chronic illness isn't going away. I won't wake up with a new body or a brain that will suddenly be better at handling all the things my body can no longer do. I won't wake up to better behaved cats who don't pee on the stove the night before Thanksgiving leaving me to not discover it until it is much too late. Yes, yes I mean I burned cat pee on Thanksgiving. My financial situation isn't likely to change for awhile if ever. None of the things that have made my life more difficult in the day to day is going to change once I wake up on January 1st far earlier than I'd like because dogs have to be walked and the vacuuming needs doing.

Are there going to be improvements? Maybe? We elected someone who isnt trump. I mean , there's that. But, at *best* we prolong our descent into fascism until someone better at it than Trump comes along and woos enough people. Frankly, Biden is far too little too late to stop that train from rolling. He has no plans on investigating Trump. He's our modern Gerald Ford who we remember for what besides pardoning Nixon? I won't suddenly get healthcare or the ability to buy weed legally or be less afraid for myself, my genderqueer kid, or any of the friends I have in marginalized communities. We won't be able to quit saying the names of people killed by police as Biden prepares to funnel more money into policing. Kids will still be in cages. All the unbearable parts of being American will still be there and unfortunately will be even less talked about just like under Obama.

We will still be living in a pandemic. Vaccines aren't going to be widely available for some time and who knows if they'll be affordable even then. I haven't left my house for most of 2020, and I still won't be able to on January 1st and probably for much of 2021. My immune system is compromised, and no one gives a shit enough about their loved ones not to gather and spread death much less about strangers with shitty immune systems. I'm stuck here for the foreseeable future.

If I hear one more healthy person tell me I'm being too cautious when my kid has no other parent if I catch it and die, I'm going to fucking explode.

What I'm trying to say is 2021 is going to be the same as 2020 but without the stress of an election year. It'll be stress over a president who won't get anything done or can't. It will be stress over a conservative Supreme Court and career politicians that should have been drug out in the street ages ago and if not 5 years ago then definitely when they abandoned us in a pandemic to play head games with each other while we starved and died as sacrifices to the only Gods allowed in this country--capitalism and money. (And of course the minor god of internet clout). 2021 will be all the same problems I had in 2020. I'll be living in struggle and trying my best to find happiness and peace in the little things.

I am a roll with the punches kind of person, but it's good to be able to predict most of the punches as they come, so I cant pretend anything about the coming year is going to drastically change, and that's ok? Maybe? I honestly don't know. It's been a rough one, but I've made it this far so fingers crossed I can hold on for longer. It's fine to live for those little things and little moments...because I'm the only one that can get the dogs to take their meds without a fight and knows that my kid's favorite color is pink. I have to finish reading Discworld and finish painting the halloween mural in my kitchen. I have an album I pre-ordered coming, and I kinda want to see if David Lynch actually is doing a series for Netflix. I can't do those things if I'm not here...and when those projects are done there will, hopefully, be more. Hopefully there will always be more.


Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado

Wandering Web Designer

A ‘lil HooHaa

Part-time Working Hockey Mom

The Crazy Mama Llama

Friday, November 13, 2020

Conversations with Death part 2

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are: masked, singer, popcorn, whatchamacallit, and snow owls

They were submitted by:


Death sits in the middle of the floor surrounded by cats. He always sits on the floor. He says it fits more cats. One time, he actually patted the floor and said I CAN FIT SO MANY CATS IN THIS INFANT. It took me a minute to realize he was referencing a meme, should have said BABY not INFANT, and wasn't, in fact, talking about feeding cats to kids.

Listen, it's not the weirdest shit he's ever said since I started explaining internet culture to him. But he's trying.

Anyway, he sits in the floor and he is absolutely covered in cats and cat hair and a dog too who either loves him like they do or is thinking mightily about stealing a femur. I select an episode of The Masked Singer at his request and push play. We have coffee. We have snack packs and a couple whatchamacallits and popcorn. We're good.

He even brought a pair of snow owls shakers full of his special curry spice blend. Curry is his favorite. And curry popcorn ain't bad. Don't knock it til you try it.

"So tell me why again you wanted to watch this show?"


A giant seahorse had taken the stage doing a version of Ocean Man by Ween. I mean, odd choice for this show, but ok. Why not WAH? Wet Ass Horsey? I didn't say this out loud, however, because I had a hard enough time explaining Ben Shapiro memes. I can't handle doing that whole song with him.

He bobbed a little to the tune and dare I say hummed? a little. I mean I have never heard him as much as I thought him. That doesn't make sense but literally none of this does. Basically, his part of the conversation just appears in my head like I've heard it but he didn't actually say it out loud. So there were some vibrations that I would think are humming, but who knows.

"Are you familiar with this song then?"

The vibrations stopped. He shrugged a little.


I mean, he's right, but I literally cross my fingers hoping he won't ask about what it means because I played Sturgill Simpson's Turtles All the Way Down thinking he'd appreciate it...but instead I spent like 2 hours afterwards explaining drugs before I gave up, and I don't have that in me today.

He turns back to the tv. Commercials are on. I can't fast forward because I'm broke and have basic hulu, but these days I'm kinda glad I can't. These might be his favorite part of watching anything. Maybe they make him feel less...alone? I didn't realize the levels of absurdity we'd gone to. Capitalist fever dreams. So when I can't explain why a vampire at a therapist is a great way to sell auto insurance, I get a sense that he's kind of relieved that we are both left haunted by the inescapable Lovecraftian horrors of modern advertising.

The show continued on with Death pretty enraptured by the teddy bear, peacock, lemur, and alligator singers who graced the stage with their short performances, but there wasn't anymore humming. After the final break, the winners and losers were announced. When that lemur pulled its head off and revealed the human inside, I knew from the flame of blue that lit up the room from Death's eyes that we were going to have to have a major conversation.

I grabbed his as the words hit me.


"Uh....i think I might be rubbing off on you. You don't say that word."


"yeah tell me about. Sometimes it is."


"You know what? I'll explain, but we definitely need more coffee first."


Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado

Wandering Web Designer

On the Border

The Crazy Mama Llama

Part-time Working Hockey Mom

Friday, November 6, 2020

Conversations With Death

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 6 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

 My subject is: all or nothing. 

It was submitted by:

My only explanation is that I've been reading Discworld and Death is my favorite and my cats all did these things. 


Death, the real Death and friend of Sir Terry Pratchett, stood beside me looking out the back window at the rising sun, both of us with hot mugs of peppermint mocha coffee warming our hands in the cool winter morning. This guy. We'd been hanging out regularly when he had some down time, and it was finally time to have a talk. THE talk. 

"listen, we have to talk about the cats thing"


"Yes. Cats. Your obsession with cats"


"Listen, I've read the books. I know what you told Ipslore the Red about cats being the only thing that makes life worth living. I've read them all."


"I knew it! I knew that's why you liked to visit here."


"Always with the puns, you."


"Oh I think you do. You're, uh, eye flames or whatever flash a deeper blue when you're being coy.


"Do you know what they did yesterday?"


"That was a rhetorical....Anyway, they broke into my refrigerator and stole the good turkey!"


"The really delicious, thick turkey for sandwiches that costs me too much money..."


"Well, yes..."


"No, it's for me, duh."


"ok then how about the time they broke into the bathroom and ate toilet paper and threw it up everywhere?"


"They somehow got the door open to basically the outhouse and ate some toilet paper and threw it up all over the carpet."


"It's for...nevermind. Nevermind. What about the time one of them peed on the stove?"


"But why the stove??"


"Ok then. Ok. Ok. what about the time Seymour started throwing up while pooping in one of their 'business boxes' and ran out while still pooping all the way to the carpet to finish pooping and threw up at the same time all while making eye contact with me?!


"...he's fine. You know how he is."


"Yes, but I mean...can't you see they're little demons and not exactly the only thing that makes life worth living? They are stubborn and difficult and forces of destruction."


"Docile? These assholes? Are you kidding me?"


I take a moment to glance his way. His eyes glow a serene blue. He's not in any way being facetious even though he just exactly described my horde. And as the cats come up in ones and twos to get some ear scritches and skeletal blood and show love the best they can to our guest and then to me so I'm not left out, I suppose they are pretty rad even though they are, in fact, demons. I had been thinking he was too easily fooled by their cuteness, but maybe I was being a little too harsh in my frustration. I'd certainly gotten highly skilled at cleaning carpets and upholstery, and you never know when that might come in handy...

I sat my mug on the counter and reached down to pick up a grey ball of fluff who nuzzled my neck and gave me a polite little meow. And if he could, I swear, Death would be purring himself.


Here are the other posts for today. Please enjoy:

Baking In A Tornado

Wandering Web Designer

A ‘lil HooHaa

The Crazy Mama Llama

Part-time Working Hockey Mom

Friday, October 16, 2020

Like Father Like Daughter

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are: disguise, darkness, treats, street, thankful

If we are friends on social media, you might have already seen the bones of this post there. My birthday was on sept 26, and with my dad having been buried on my birthday, every year it's a lot. i spend too much of it reflecting on difficult things, honestly. but i wanted this written on my blog, so I adapted it for this post. thanks for reading. 

Sometimes I wonder how I turned out this way-- far left, outspoken, loudly queer, and nonreligious. I wonder how I could've grown like a dandelion in a sidewalk crack, flourishing despite the madness of everything around me, despite everything that tried to kill me, in spite of those things. How did I find my own way in bumfuck, georgia? So many people I know walked around in disguises to fit in, and I never could not when it came to being proud of who I was. How did the queerness peep its lovely head out and never stop pushing for the beauty of a life outside of the darkness? How did it find just the right bit of brokeness in the sidewalk that was my outer shell and break it wide open?

Maybe it was my dad...which is hard to admit since I hated him for so long with everything I had in me.

No exaggeration.

I've talked at length about how being a kid was for me. I've reaped the benefits of analyzing, publicly, The Things I Went Through shining a light on the abuse and the drug use and the Trauma™ and young me fighting for life and wanting to die all at the same time. It's kinda cliche but his dying left a lot for me to figure out with zero closure. I'd hold up a bit of myself to the light and wonder if these characteristics were tricks or were they treats? Somewhere along the way I realized this person, my dad, gave me so many trauma responses and complexes AND some of the things of love best about myself.

Like maybe how i exist in spite of what everyone believes about people like me.

We're country folk. Rural is a word people might use, but rural doesn't encapsulate the experience of the vastness of land and cows and coyotes and the relative absence of people. I grew up on a plot of land and a house my dad built himself with the help of friends and with some of my grandparents' money and the rest he got from selling cocaine. That land was bordered by a pair of dirt rows and a couple fields. You had to travel a few miles to get to paved road that even still really couldn't be called a street. Two cars couldn't fit without rolling on someone's yard a little. Land still yet untamed especially when darkness fell much like this man that helped shape who I would end up being and wanting to be.

I still meet people in the area--Im still in the general vicinity--who knew him and regale me with tales of him being the first person to have consistent supply of coke for these kinds of folks. He was the man to go to if you needed a fix, and it didn't matter too much what it was. If he didn't have it, he could probably get it. Look at that hairstyle and tell me they're lying.


My grandma told me stories about him hating school, about getting in trouble...about how she found a weed plant drying out in her backseat and just drove on to town to get groceries anyway, about the first time they got an antenna installed, and she had to ask the man to leave because when she went to check the shop roof by ladder, she could see the pot plants up there before she even made it to the top.

This cop hating, moonshine distilling, weed growing, coke selling, shroom loving, hairy son of a bitch raised me, and I reckon it shows. He defied standards and expectations. He broke the law when he wanted to make a buck or to have a little fun. He did everything in his power to not be his parents--country folk who pretended they weren't, perfectionist walk-the line parents, "what will people think" parents. Amazing to think someone like my dad could come from that.

I know how it must have felt all those years.

He fucking sucked at being a good father, but he did show me how to carve my own path and laugh in the face of anyone who stood in my way. I learned from him when to harden myself against a world that wanted to break me even though I had to learn on my own when it was ok to be soft. He taught me that laws aren't always just, that cops can't be trusted, the best wine comes from grapes you grew yourself, and corn whiskey ain't good unless it's made illegally at 3 a.m. on your carport while your kids pull peanuts off the plants you took as part of your payment for welding some shit on a farm. He also had a day job.

Sometimes I struggle with the memories I have of the man, but the older I get and the deader he is, the more I can separate him from the nightmares and appreciate what I did have instead of longing for what I didn't get. We buried him on my birthday in 2006. It's impossible to separate my birthday from my dad, and for the last couple years at least, that hasn't been a bad thing. Sometimes I might get to thinking I'm not so broken anymore.

Just gonna lean into it and be thankful I had someone to teach me to be my own person, always.

There's no shame in being my father's child. Not anymore. Not ever again. 


Baking In A Tornado

Wandering Web Designer

On the Border

The Crazy Mama Llama

Part-time Working Hockey Mom

Friday, October 9, 2020

Hills and Valleys

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 6 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

my “Secret Subject” is:

You’re on a cross country road trip and you can only stop in 5 cities. What are they and why?

It was submitted by:


I've been asked a very similar question for secret subject swap which is no problem. It's bound to happen over the years I've been doing this, and it gives me a chance to reflect on whether my answer may have changed. It has certainly been a tough couple years for most of us at least the Americans in the bunch, and that kind of stress--the stress of watching your country fall apart in front of your eyes--changes a person.

But in this instance, ultimately, my answer is the same as it has been. Took me a minute to really dig in, but the purpose and the goodness in what I'm doing came back to me. 

If I were on a cross country road trip and could only stop in 5 cities, I'd choose to visit the people I write in prison. There are 5 currently, so it works out perfectly.

My trip would start out in the panhandle of florida close to my home state of georgia and would eventually take me to michigan, oregon, and two different stops in california. the cities change when they get moved, but the states remain the same. 

I've been open about writing people in prison and making those connections here on my blog and everywhere else I share about myself. It's a topic that people who have been in my life are already familiar with coming from me, but in case you're new, I've been writing folks for 13 almost 14 years now. And it was kind of a therapeutic fluke that I even got started in the first place.

A little over 18 years ago when we were both 20ish (me at 21 and not quite for him), someone I'd known since middle school and someone I'd had B I G feelings for was murdered in his home during a burglary gone wrong. He got home that night while the burglar was still in his apartment and was shot after walking in on the crime. He was still a child really, not old enough to take a legal drink. And the ugliness, the randomness of it, the senselessness made me angry for the longest time especially when the two people involved (burglar and driver) really didn't get much in the way of punishment for the murder.  They'd gotten longer sentences for the drug and gun crimes they'd been convicted of alongside the homicide. I went hardcore into believing in strict approaches to punishment, in long term mandatory prison sentences, in capital punishment.

I turned my career path in that direction and while I pursued a criminal justice degree, cognitive dissonance hit hard. None of the things I thought were needed were supported by the research. Oh sure you could find any ol' jackass who wrote a book about it and plenty of politicians who supported it (which should have been clue 1), plenty of talking heads who brought it up...but the actual research wasn't there. In fact most of the research in the books written by supporters of it was based on twisted interpretations of papers and theories that contradicted everything these books were (like broken windows theory).

Before I'd really changed my mind on the whole of it, I was researching a final paper about the death penalty and its effectiveness for one of my classes, and somehow I stumbled upon a pen pal site for people in prison. There are plenty of them now, but at the time the one I found was a volunteer group who posted little blurbs from people isolated on death row looking for folks to connect with on the outside.

I was shook.

That's probably an understatement.

I was angry. How dare they, right? How could they? How could anyone allow that?

But curiosity got the better of me, and I kept going back to read through them. And eventually I decided to write someone not that much older than me and the person I'd lost. It should have been obvious to me at the time that all these choices had been purely emotionally based. I hadn't logiced my way through any of it.

Hindsight, though, you know?

Looking back, more than anything, I think I wanted to find a monster on the other end of the letters I wrote. I wanted an excuse to keep hold of my anger because such a big part of me was scared to let it go and scared of what letting it go would mean... Would it mean forgetting my loved one and letting *him* and his memory go? I was scared of who I might be without that anger. But those letters changed me forever.

I didn't find a monster. I found a friend.

We didn't always have the strongest connection. He'd grown up poor and unsupervised and in a racist household. He'd grown up more in prison than out and that had an effect, and there were times his immaturity and hatefulness wouldn't bend to any help I tried to give, and I'd have to step away for my own sake, but we stayed a part of each other's lives for the 12 years he remained in prison until he was executed by the state of Texas. I'd be here all day talking about what I think about that decision, but that's not why we're here.

What I learned over those 12 years to now could fill a bookshelf--about myself, people who are imprisoned, and the system. I've written dozens of people and helped them prepare for returning to life outside or helped them fight unfair sentences or just offered them an ear to listen when they had no one else.

It hasn't always been easy or a dream and when I got this question after answering it similarly before I wondered if my answer could be different... It hasn't been an easy year for writing folks. Prisons aren't immune from covid scares because staff aren't tested, and my friends aren't getting adequate prevention measures or healthcare. One person I write had it and was denied so much as a Tylenol for the body aches and fever much less any real help. He didn't even commit a crime; he got a felony murder charge for loaning the actual murderer his car keys. And even if he had, covid isn't part of the punishment. Denying medical care isn't part of it either. It's not easy to see people who have been a big part of your life be exposed to a deadly virus and denied even basic care. you have zero control, and there's no amount of writing and press that changes things. Nothing will change until more people die from it and the courts get involved, and by then it could be far too late. 

And on top of that someone I've written for a long time has grown increasingly paranoid and delusional and aggressive over the last few years. I've tried in vain to get him into programs for his mental health and when I finally managed to last year, he immediately took himself out of it because he wasn't automatically given carte blanche access to things he wanted. He became obsessed with doing violence in prison to get his way and ended up targeting two child molesters because they're politically neutral by prison standards. No one would have a vendetta against him if he hurt someone accused of those crimes. They both died from their injuries. Say what you want about the value of the life of these particular people. I get it. But I also know him well enough to know that he did this A) because he needed help he didn't get and wouldn't accept and B) because he thought it would make the prison administration bend to his demands. I've had to redefine what my ethics and moral lines are over these years as it is, and with this, a line had been crossed that I couldn't move or bend or redefine. I made a tough decision to cut the friendship because the person who did those things is not the same person I started writing and in the aftermath of the attack it became pretty clear there wasn't much of him left at all. It was also clear I wasn't safe writing anymore. The conspiracy thinking had amped up to a level where he thought everything was some kind of code or coded message. I know I did the right thing for me, but I also have immense guilt for not being able to get him the help he needed before this all happened.

I guess saying it hasn't been a great year for writing folks is a bit of an understatement.

Was it enough to change the way I think about it overall though? Almost. Admittedly, I almost lost all desire to keep going. There were so many times this summer I didn't know how I would keep finding the motivation to put pen to paper and do the thing, but I have a few people I've written a long time that have been there anytime I needed to vent and been as much of a friend as anyone else in my life. It's not just letters and acting on their behalf with the system to get help when needed or be a voice for them on the outside. They hype me up on my art and crafting and pin stuff and writing and look forward to pics of my car dressed up. They talked me through making my decision to cut the other person off because who else would understand on the same level besides someone familiar with the subculture and politics inside prisons? At the end of the day, I am as fortunate for the friendship as they believe themselves to be, and until we live in a society that gives consequences instead of punishment, every road trip I could take would be best spent visiting folks I never get to see who have very little access to anyone else besides a relative--if they're lucky. 

I've spent quite a few vacations inside prisons visiting rooms. I've sat through tear gas and tear filled families making last visits before an execution. I've laughed and cried and made memories in those rooms like I would with anyone else. Why wouldn't I?


Baking In A Tornado

Wandering Web Designer

A ‘lil HooHaa

The Crazy Mama Llama

Part-time Working Hockey Mom

Friday, September 11, 2020

Preparedness and Shit

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are:

French toast ~ wallet ~ dog food ~ trail mix ~ iPad

It was submitted by:

Being prepared and skilled *shouldn't* be a radical concept, but it's treated like one. Let's go forward from this point with an open mind. 

A lot of people are still ignoring what should be obvious more and more every day. There have been calls for a second civil war, and the more violence that keeps occurring propels us further along that route with every passing week. To some experts, it’s all but guaranteed. The question, to them, is when not if, and this summer has done more to progress that possibility than any others in a long while. And while I hope that I am wrong, I also feel like ignoring the slowly accelerating descent into fascism that’s happening is what has allowed it to fester…to grow and spread and taint more and more of our way of life. I also think it’s better to be prepared for something major than to sit back and hope and pray you never have to deal with it while you dine on French toast and hashbrown waffles at brunch downing mimosas to hide your anxiety.

Yes, it’s more numbing to grab an ipad and scroll through the same 3 apps while dissociating for hours, but there’s also benefit in being prepared for emergencies, to have a plan in case something bad happens where you are that forces you to leave quickly or to hole up and do your own thing for awhile, and I’m going to give some resources to you in this post that might be helpful in making that plan and taking at least a moderate amount of control in a life that currently feels like chaos if you pay even a modicum amount of attention to the news especially as more and more countries have alt right governments. India’s prime minister is a literal Nazi, for example. He’s a member of the Nazi party in India. We haven’t learned much from our past mistakes, and we ignore even more.

Some of this will be common sense for any kind of emergency situation like having waterproof storage for your wallet, but obviously it’s more than that. Survival medicine, foraging, how to use every bit of land that you have access to for gardening, how to prep food for long term storage, how to make trail mix and homemade dog food, etc. Use them as you need to. And also keep in mind that in any scenario, your best bet is to find a group who all share these skills to make it longer term. Talk to your friends and family about these things and help them learn.

An overall base guideline 

· Checklist:

· Tips for different scenarios:

· Survival tips:

· Intro to Mutual Aid:

· Building community groups and mutual aid:

· Activist tools:

Good overall resources 

· Coal Cracker Bushcraft (youtube)

· Gray Bearded Green Beret (youtube)

· Tacticool Girlfriend (youtube)

· Live Like the World is Dying (podcast. I listen on spotify)

· The Prepared (online site)

· (food tips)

· The Anarchist Library

· Free publications, books, audiobooks, videos:

· War on Everyone by Robert Evans (also check out his podcasts It could Happen Here and Behind the Bastards)

· The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker


Emergency Prep for if you have to leave your home or “bug out” 

· Ultralight bag with gear recommendations

· Supplemental kit for urban environments:

· Several articles discussing individual items for your kit:

· Winter supplemental kit

· Another Winter/super cold quick camp setup:

· Longer term wigwam setup if you’re in one area for a while before moving on:

· Hygiene while on the move including info for people with periods (cw: cisnormative language):

· High calorie trail mix recipe:

· Making fire in rain:

· Concealed wilderness fire:

· The beginning of a series on map reading (all are recommended):

· 5 minute tarp shelter:

· 10 survival shelters in under 10 minutes:

· Ultralight medical kit:

· Diy firestarters:

· Best dry bags (for your wallet and shit):

Cooking for camps and blackout/brownout situations 
(also keep in mind if this will call people to you and leave you vulnerable. Only cook when it’s safe). We’ll have complex and simple recipes depending on what food sources are still available) 

· Complex probably wishful thinking recipes with subsections for “car” camping and vegans

· Camp bread (this same channel has many others that are good to watch):

· Cooking fire building and how to make cowboy coffee:

· Jerky and tipi smoker:

· Off grid cooking:

· Warm weather survival food kit:

· Survival trapping kit:


· How to create a medicinal plants reference guide:

· 3 part series on plants (video 1):

· Finding and harvesting fatwood for good fire starting:

· Urban foraging:

· Natural vit c:

· 7 nuts that can be foraged:

· List of recommended products from foraging knives to resource books:

· Resources:

· Online resources list:

· Using Black Walnut for iodine:

· Milkweed:

Trauma, emergency, and wilderness medicine:

· A list for bag essentials and recommended links for self teaching:

· Wound closure in the field

· Podcast with pdf downloadable transcripts for emergency medicine:

· Survival Doctor’s guide to wound care (there’s a second book available for burns):

· In the extreme case you are in the wild without a first aid kit:

· Military medicine downloadables:

· Another ifak:

· Applying an Israeli bandage:

· How you lose body heat:

· Street medic guide:

Bushcraft for long term scenarios 

· How to choose and use a knife:

· 18 Essential knife tactics for bushcrafting:

· How to maintain your knife in the field:

· How to build a “camp” bathroom if you don’t have running water or housing:

· Lashing:

· L7 trigger traps:

· Ridgeline toggles (for shelters):

· Making needle and thread:

· Basic knots:

· More knots:

· Choosing bladed tools:

· Spring pole traps:

· Making rope:

Staying hydrated/clean water/additional hygiene 

· Beating dehydration:

· Survival water kit:

· Sourcing water from the wild:

· Water storage at home:

· Staying clean without running water:

Gun and defense basics

· Ballistics protection:

· Personal protection equipment:

· Various firearm basics, reloading ammunition, chemical exposure:

· Basic gun safety:

· Black Bloc:

Long term food storage 

· Pickling:

· Building a pantry the LDS way:

· Best techniques for long term storage:

· Canning tips:

· Best foods to buy in bulk:

· Freezing:

· Storing guidelines and lengths:

· Smoking fish at home:

· Most recent consumer guide for buying a deep freezer:

· Freeze drying techniques:

Gardening and homesteading: 

· Keeping rabbits and hens for protein:

· 5 indoor fast growing veggies and herbs:

· Edible landscaping plants:

· Starting seeds indoors:

· Variety of gardening techniques, instructions, top survival scenario choices, etc:

· Building raised garden beds (see Gardener Scott’s channel for other raised bed tips and so much

more. Super valuable source):

· Easy fruit trees to grow:

· More gardening and small animal keeping videos:


· Ham radio basics and resources:

· Beginner’s guide:

· Ham radio guides for hobbyists and for survival


· Fema tips for pets:

· Cheap recipes for dog food if you can’t loot any:

· Some emergency care tips for pets:


Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado

Wandering Web Designer

On the Border

Part-time Working Hockey Mom

The Crazy Mama Llama

Friday, September 4, 2020

Balance Brain

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 6 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts. 

My “Secret Subject” is: Do you feel as though you’re more right brained? Or left brained?
It was submitted by:


 Both? Neither? I dont feel like either aspect of my thinking and skillsets are dominant. 

And I'm not just saying that because every quiz I've ever taken has said I use both equally but... ok it might have a little to do with it. 😉

Ive been learning to draw for the first time in my life, and I've actually gotten pretty decent at it. I didn't think that was a creative skill I could tap into, but I've kinda proven myself wrong on that. I won't be drawing any realistic nudes any time soon, but I'm proud of where I'm headed. I write. A lot. Imaginative and dark fiction and personal essays expressing emotions I need to put out in the world that would otherwise fester inside my body eating away at any peace I have. I craft things. I've spent the last year and a half designing my own enamel pins and then creating funny cosplays with my cat to advertise for my shop. I've taught myself to sew by hand and machine. I love painting cardboard houses for my cats. I've upcycled clothes... The list for the things I can create is pretty long. I love that side of myself. 

But I'm also good with math. I always have been even when I hated the subject, and for the last 7 years of homeschooling my son, I've been able to teach him fractions and decimals and graphing and algebra and geometry without really having to relearn much. I get a satisfaction from factoring polynomials that I can't even begin to put into words without sounding like an absolute nerd. I enjoy listening to true crime cases and methodically putting together the pieces of a puzzle and decide on a theory of events. When I am overwhelmed with emotions about something in the news, I turn to facts. Recently when Kyle Rittenhouse opened fire on protesters in Kenosha while I watched on a live stream, I spent the next few days putting together timelines and looking up laws of that state. The act of analyzing the events with facts instead of just focusing on the traumatic scenes that will forever be etched in my brain is the only thing that has allowed me to stay relatively calm and get some sleep.

I don't think either side of my personality wins out. I don't reach to logic and facts more than emotions or imagination. I spend as much of my waking time going through the motions while daydreaming as I do going through the motions listening to podcasts about current events, sociopolitical issues, history, and murder. I'm always learning both facts and how to make something. I come up with recipes by experimenting in the kitchen which is a little creativity and a little analytic understanding of ratios and flavor combinations. 

Balance, I guess. And that's important for me. When you're discussing social issues, the emotions and the empathy and the reimagining of solutions is just as important as the facts and logic, and that's an area that I have remained focused on for much of my adulthood. Theory and praxis. Reinventing from what has been and what is to a better tomorrow. There's no "make America. Great again" or "build back better." None of us should be happy with going backwards, and every step we take in that direction brings us closer to total fascism. Whether you're more like me or more right brained or more left, everyone has a role in moving forward, moving to a normal that is good for everyone not just a few. 


Baking In A Tornado

Friday, August 14, 2020

Wings on things

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will 

take them. Until now.

My words are:

parents ~ outsiders ~ nest ~ quarry ~ pickup

They were submitted by:

A little fiction since I'm ready for spooky season


Sandra jumped in the passenger side of the deep blue pickup and slid over next to the cutest boy she'd ever seen. Randall Whitman. When he'd invited her on Snap to take a ride out to the quarry--and everyone knew what you went out *there* for--she screamed. Loudly. Then sent him a butterfly filter selfie of her best smile saying yes!! Just two exclamation points. 3 would be overdoing it. 

And then she had screamed loudly again when her parents told her she couldn't go.

Two very different sounds.

No one was going to stop her, though. She knew that. Randall didn't invite just anyone to the quarry, not that she knew about, and she WAS 17 after all. Practically an adult. And of course she didn't have the stupid virus, and he probably didn't either so what could it hurt really? She hadn't been able to see anyone in ages. No parties, no spring break, no vacations...she deserved this. NEEDED it. And let's face it, most of her friends were outsiders. She got the rare invite from time to time, but none of them were exactly popular. This could be her chance to turn things around senior year.

So she had messaged him to pick her up a little later than first planned after her parents usually went to bed and climbed out her second story window onto the roof of the back porch down a small tree off to the side, and onto the ground. Home free.

Okay so it wasn't exactly easy...but this was Randall Whitman. If it had been anyone else, she never would have went to so much trouble.

She let out a breathy laugh and asked how his summer break had been as he hit the gas after making a left to hit hwy 22 out of town. When he said, "better now" she felt the blush down to the tips of her toes and leaned in against him a little less innocently. It was going to be a good night.

The night wasn't as hot as it had been before the rain earlier in the evening which was good. His air didn't work. But the windows were down and the recently rained earthy scents of a Southern summer blew around them. When he slowed down to take the dirt road out to the quarry, she could hear crickets and frogs doing what they do, crooning to one another.

They pulled into a spot overlooking the edge of the quarry. She was about to ask him if he would like her to play some music, but to her surprise he popped the door open and got out. She must have looked confused because he chuckled and told her he had a blanket to put down in the bed of the truck and some snacks if she wanted to chill back there and check out the stars.

Who wouldn't? Really. She hasn't been on many dates, but she was pretty sure this qualified as romantic.

Randall pulled a big comforter from behind the seat and helped her step out the truck on the driver side. She helped him spread it out and climbed in kicking off her sandals while he grabbed a bag with chips, candy, and soda from passenger floorboard.

She got herself cozy even as her skin turned a little sticky from the humidity and waited, the air full of tension that almost caused her to giggle nervously

The bubbling excitement she felt turned to icy panic when she heard a scream in the woods to the right of the quarry. Those first date butterflies froze and fell while chills ran across her skin. She turned to ask Randall what it was, but he wasn't there.

She got into a crouch and peered inside the truck from the back--the passenger door was still open and the light on inside. Nothing. Looking around frantically in the dark, she couldn't see him anywhere.

"Randall????" Barely a whisper.

"Randall Whitman! You come on out now. This ain't funny." A little louder but not much.

She eased back out of the truck's bed and around to the passenger door. The bag lay open on the ground. Candy, chips, drinks...and condoms. Well, she thought, presumptuous but at least he was covered just in case.

No Randall though.

She leaned down to pick up the bag and get back in the truck when she saw the specks of red pocking the dirt. There weren't many, but she was fairly sure it was blood. Fresh blood. It certainly wasn't rain drops.


 She was going to have to call her mom.

She couldn't get out to look for him without some kind of light besides her phone light, and she couldn't leave him. He must have had the keys so even if she wanted to, she couldn't, and it was cruel as shit just to leave knowing there were most likely drops of his blood on the ground. *Was* it his blood? What if that was part of some nasty prank? Oh god was someone going to pop out with a camera so the whole school could laugh about her thinking she was going to hookup with Randall?

Then she heard another scream, closer...above her? Something was off. She closed her eyes and sighed. This was not going to be fun.

The phone rang.



Three times

"Sandy?" Her voice was thick with sleep.

"Mama, I need you and daddy to come pick me up."

"Sandy Janelle Ellison! I thought we told you that you were absolutely not going out with that Whitman boy tonight?!? Are you kidding me?"

"Mama, I know...but right now I'm scared. He's gone."

"What the hell do you mean 'he's gone?'" Sandy heard her dad's muffled voice in the background probably saying "Doreen, who the fuck is calling at this time-ah night?"

"I mean he was getting snacks from the truck, I heard a scream, then when I looked back he was gone. I think there's some blood on the ground."

"Oh Lord where are you? Was he screaming?"

"Was who screaming" her dad in the background again. "Hush, Gary. It's your daughter."

"It wasn't him screaming. We're at the quarry, and it came from the woods."

"Sandy! The quarry! I never. I raised you better than this. You're grounded when we get back...."

The rest of what her mama yelled into the phone was lost in the high pitched metallic squeal of something sharp being dragged across the roof of the truck. Sandy dropped her phone in the floorboard, and it went dark. She froze in place...listening, waiting.

The night was like a black blanket surrounding the truck, but she knew she wasn't alone.

Her phone started ringing and as the phone's dim glow lit up the cab, she saw orange eyes staring at her through the windshield and the outline of some massive winged creature. She could see the wings stretch when it landed on the hood of the truck and walked closer.

Inexplicably she tried to picture what size nest something like that would build and barked out a laugh.

The phone stopped buzzing. And as the light faded to black she could hear a splinter as the thing struck the windshield. Mama better hurry up, and daddy better have his gun.


Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado

Wandering Web Designer

On the Border


Pat-time Working Hockey Mom

Friday, August 7, 2020

Pipe dreams

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week 5 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My “Secret Subject” is:

What makes a place a “happy place”?

It was submitted by:  

*I'm not sure this is the answer anyone was really looking for, but given this entire year, it's all I can think about.
**I'm going to try to do this as succinctly as possible because there are decades worth of conflicts and multiple acronymed organizations at play with my answer. I don't want to lose you along the way, so be gentle if you're already aware of the background. I'm trying to make this easier for anyone who has no idea about it to understand. 


I think many of us in America who existed and were aware of society in the years following 9-11 have a kind of collective PTSD. Maybe that seems obvious because what happened on that day did, in fact, change a lot about this country and how we view the issues of privacy vs freedom, but it was also that post 9-11 world that led us to the Iraq war, to the lies we were told about the intent and reasoning for the Iraq war, to the loss of life and years of meaningless fighting.

Iraq was our Vietnam. And it left it's mark.

Now anytime any mention of foreign aid or intervention hits the news we collectively stick our fingers in our ears and hum to drown it all out. If we don't know anything about it, it will be fine. If we don't know, then is it really happening? And we assume, because the lies of Iraq burned us so badly, that more lies are being told to try to get us to care about people that don't look like us or live here.

That's what happened with Syria and how our collective trauma cost almost a million Syrian lives (so far?). No one wanted to believe Bashar al Assad was doing the things he was accused of--things he was most definitely guilty of--because if we did, there we were involving ourselves in yet another Middle Eastern country's problems when it had always gone so badly before and really why couldn't we let them solve their own shit.

Why can't entire regions stabilize and take care of themselves after decades of behind the scenes u.s. coups and shit? Hm. I wonder.


Obama understood that collective PTSD, I guess, and so we stood by while barrel bombs, torture chambers, and chemical weapons were used to decimate any dissent. More than twice as many people were killed by torture in Syria's prisons than in the entire near decade of conflict in Libya. That doesn't even begin to include all the other methods Assad used on his own people while his wife bought thousands of dollars worth of jewelry and joked about being the real dictator.

And that's the basic gist of it. People in the Middle East were rising up against mistreatment by dictators throughout the region in the early 2010s beginning in Tunisia. When Assad took over for his father in the early part of the century, he'd dangled a few carrots of freedom over the people and just as quickly snatched them back when he found out most people don't really care to be ruled by a dictator, so it's kind of surprising he didn't predict the dominoes of rebellion falling in "his" country as well, but I guess being a dictator makes you get a little too full of yourself. Dictators take huge gambles, and this time, he made a mistake thinking he had full control of things.

well. Sort of. He also bet that we wouldn't interfere, that no one would, if he had to quell any uprisings and in that way he was 100% correct. 

The people of Syria were tired of their leader and his family profiting off the land while mostly living in poverty, tired of knowing what could be if he wasn't ruling after all he'd given them a taste himself, so rebellion was guaranteed especially for the Kurds.

The Kurds are an ethnic group living in regions of Turkey, Syria, and Iraq. The vast majority of these people consider themselves Muslim, but they also have their own language, customs, and culture--non-Arab Muslims. And in Syria, even through they're the largest ethnic minority in the country, they have been denied statehood meaning they are not recognized as members of the country but also cannot leave the country because not enjoying statehood means no passports for travel, no recognized identification, etc. Not only that, Assad kept up the tradition of attempting to erase Kurdish culture that has existed in this region. In order to be a member of Syria, the Kurds must give up their practices, their language--everything about their ethnic identity--to assimilate.

When civil war broke out, Kurds were a large force in the rebellion. No one wants to be erased. And with the instability of Syria and the attacks by ISIS attempting to take advantage of that instability, the Kurds in Syria were able to create Rojava. Think something like what happened in Seattle during protests but better organized, armed, and with a solid ideology--a sort of leftist's paradise (besides the constant threats of violence) and an smallish scale experiment of how leftist ideas could be modernized for a working society now. 

As I said as a disclaimer in the beginning, this is dramatically oversimplified, but if you're interested in the more in-depth story, you can find those details online anywhere, but Rojava is the important part of this story, because I feel like if I had a happy place, it would be similar.

Rojava is based on the ideology of Murray Bookchin, an American leftist, learned by the Kurdish activist Abdullah Öcalan (Apo) while he was in a prison in Syria. So a Kurdish activist in Syria led a revolution from prison based on literature from the United States. The things that had to line up for this to occur are pretty amazing. Apo created a system after reading Bookchin called Democratic confederalism which operates on the ground in a very anarchist way. It's based on self organization as a whole that focuses on environmentalism, feminism, multiculturalism, self defense, and a sharing economy. Power is distributed from bottom to top not top down as in our system. Local community groups handle most of the problems and distribute for social programs as well as taking on most of the defense of their particular areas. And if a problem can't be solved locally, it goes to a higher community level. There isn't so much a heirarchy as a horizontal passing of issues. And all the committees and communes and organizations in charge of decision making are directly elected by the people in the communities they represent.

Women, life, and freedom.

That's one of the most common slogans of Rojava. While in prison, Apo came to understand that the patriarchal society he'd grown up in was flawed and that if society was going to move forward and be successful, women would have to hold the same positions in life as men. Women's importance and right to power and equitable treatment is written right into the constitution. Women took up arms and gave their lives to help fight off ISIS and the Syrian army itself. Women started women's houses to give women education and economic help. Abused women were rescued from their homes and given the options to live in villages for women and children only to allow them to heal outside the presence of men while they learn. And when asked, many of the male soldiers in the area are the first to admit that without women, Rojava wouldn't be. No not every man has made this miraculous change in less than a decade, but the changes that have been made and sustained in an area that is steeped in toxic masculinity and patriarchy tied to religion are huge, and they feel unreal. They feel too good to be true until you hear about them, read them, hear the men and women talk.

Restorative justice is also a huge focus. Police aren't ever the first on scene for smaller, nonviolent issues, and even when violence does occur, the community is just as involved as police are. When a murder happens, local community organizations take the perpetrator to authorities who will send him to trial and sentencing, but those same organizations also immediately set out to make sure both families are at peace and when that is achieved through mediation and negotiation, a feast with both families takes place. Even ISIS soldiers are given less than 20 years in prison and put through de-radicalization programs. They're educated and given the same resources as the Rojavans jailed for their offenses. The goal is to stop the root issues causing any crimes to happen not to merely punish someone for breaking a law.

Anarchy is not chaos. It is community support and outreach.

My happy place looks a lot like this. People who have no power imbalance where all different kinds of folks have equal footing in society, where problems are solved by involving the community, where the point of the society is to provide and give everyone a chance to have some sort of success. It's not a wealthy region partly because it has had to fight so hard to exist and remain existing, but there's not a wealth gap that leaves some in mansions and others on the streets dumpster diving to survive either which is no small feat given everything they've faced and that at its height nearly 3 million people lived there.

I don't know the future of Rojava. Turkey has made good on threats to push them from their homes by force and is backed by Russia. For a good while the U.N. presence and some U.S soldiers kept them at bay, but Trump pulled our troops from the region in late 2019 which has left the region with less stability forcing the Rojavans to ask for help from the Syrian regime that tried to erase them, and for now there seems to be a tenuous agreement but Assad has never made good on such agreements. I rage and cry every time I think about the nearly 1 million people that Bashar al Assad has murdered often in the most heinous ways because we could have stepped in. We could have, for once, saved lives instead of taking them. But we have too many scars from wars raged by careless, reactive men and too much fear anytime we hear about involving ourselves in foreign issues. also gives me hope that people aren't eternally destined for capitalistic greed, that community isn't lost and, that it is, in fact, possible to provide for everyone and for everyone to work together to ensure it. And if I have to have a queer femme commune to do it on the small scale in an apocalyptic America amidst another civil war so be it.


I'm going to link the other participants in this this month's Subject Swap, but before I do, I recommend the podcast Women's War about Rojava hosted by Robert Evans and written about a trip he took there as a journalist to find out if what was being written about it were true. And I also recommend the two part episode of Behind the Bastards (also hosted by Robert Evans who was in Syria itself for awhile) about Bashar al Assad. Both are incredibly informative and a lot of what I've written here was learned in those podcasts as well as the many articles online and the Rojava website and reading literature. 

Baking In A Tornado

Friday, July 17, 2020

This time. Maybe.

At the end of this post you’ll find links to the other blogs featuring this challenge. Check them all out, see what words they got and how they used them.

I’m using: balance, cerebellum, gentle, overhear, surround

They were submitted by:


I feel like I'm on autopilot lately. Cerebellums be getting us through, right?

As I'm writing this, protests against racism and police brutality and how those two intersect to cost Black lives have been going on for 47 days. I've watched live streams from independent journalists for most of those days keeping up with marches and protests across the country in as many cities as I can and occupations in new york city, buffalo, the North Carolina governor's mansion, Aurora, d.c., Atlanta, Nashville, Louisville, Seattle, and more.

I have seen American citizens be brutalized for nonexistent or arbitrary rules, shot point blank with less than lethal rounds, choked, hit, gassed, maced, pepper balled... I've seen protesters shot at by racists and people mad about being inconvenienced. I've seen them hit by cars while I've been on their streams and unfortunately I saw someone shot and killed. Every time I open a live stream these days I brace myself for seeing someone get hurt or even die...and that's from the relative comfort of my home. I can't imagine how bad it is for people on the ground, the ones streaming every night to get the truth out who have been targeted by police in multiple cities across the country despite their press passes (because of their press passes) or for the ones marching for justice and reform every day they're able.

I've also seen protesters give each other gentle education, make demands, surround one another with love, and succumb to the stress and cause problems. It has not been a faultless movement and fear and defensiveness has cost lives, but the good, the empowerment, the organization has been more than a balance to the ugly. That good, that love and it's search for justice and equality has exponentially outweighed the bad.

It feels different this time.

I remember (vaguely) the LA riots/protests. Protests about our involvement in Iraq. I remember the occupy protests in 2011/12. I remember the protests after Michael Brown and Freddie Gray. There were protests after Trump won and again in 2018. For many of the years of my life there have been protests to address our attack on other nations, our attack on Black and Brown people here and abroad, and for an end to the kind of unfettered capitalism that costs so many lives especially Black, Brown, and queer ones. Yet here we are...

But this time...maybe?

Earlier this year people protested for the right to get sick and die and also get others sick, for haircuts, for using servants for conveniences...and the general public looked on in horror at what we were willing to do to one another. Coughing and spitting and screaming spittle on folks during a pandemic for the right to go to a bar. The divide seemed impossibly wide.

And then George Floyd was murdered by police in broad daylight by an improper chokehold by a police force representative of every department across the country with a long history of lynchings, rounding up slaves, busting unions, belonging to the KKK, committing assaults, running drugs, having theft and prostitution rackets with the locals and more.

People of color are tired. Tired of dying over nothing more than the color of their skin, when they're asleep in their own homes, doing what they're told, or acting out. Doesn't matter. Tired of building up their own communities just to have them destroyed and then told to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Tired of existing in a society this unfair just to be told they're playing a "race" card.

If you use that phrase, eat my entire ass.

People are tired of a system that allows people to sit back and profit off their work, that makes it impossible to escape poverty, that puts people in huge amounts of debt to get an education they'll never stop paying for during their lifetimes. People are tired of being overworked and underpaid and having to choose between food and water or not even having access to clean water. People are tired of men like Jeff Bezos whose taxes if appropriate could, alone, pay for so many social programs, for needed infrastructure, for mass transport, climate change programs, and more. Seriously...and more. And he would still have more money to burn than most people will ever see in their lifetimes. We're tired of being in the caboose begging for scraps and fighting for a step up while people with inherited wealth and endless opportunities have golden toilets and rows of shark teeth ready to snap the smallest chunk of change.

We're tired.

And angry.

And this time, it's different.

If you listen closely, you can overhear it whispered from our lips in the shadows of the night and the bright of day. Every moment.

This time.



Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado

Wandering Web Designer

On the Border

The Crazy Mama Llama

Part-time Working Hockey Mom