COVIDiocy

It’s amazing to me how much this pandemic is bringing out the very best and the very worst in people. Today I’m going to talk about the very worst. Warning: this is not going to be a tactful, unifying post.

As this stressful pot gets stirred, it seems that more and more of the idiots in this world are rising up to the surface to make their stupidity known. There has been a marked spike in aggression and violence towards Asian Americans. It’s appalling to witness.

There is nothing that will reveal your ignorance more than seeking out some random person and blaming a virus on them. There’s no better indicator of your overall douchebaggery than spitting or coughing on some old man just because you’re scared and you can’t figure out where else to direct your rage. And statistics are showing that Asian American females are being targeted three times as much as the males. What’s the matter? Afraid to pick on someone your own size? Cowards.

If you think that it’s acceptable to shove or shout at a person, if you think that will solve this problem or improve the situation in any way, then you are an imbecile. Do you think that by spewing your hate at people who are in the exact same contagious boat that you are, you’re living your best life? What would Jesus do? Such class. Your mother would be so proud.

And while we’re on the subject of twits, dimwits, morons, and fools, can you please explain what possible good it does for the leader of the free world (may heaven help us) to call COVID-19 the “Chinese Virus”? What goal could he have other than to spread hate, chaos, and division? How is that helpful? Is that what a leader should be doing at a time when we all need to come together? Where are the comforting and reassuring words? Where’s the compassion? I guess there’s no need for that, since everything is going to be back to normal by Easter.

I’m just so frustrated right now. This should not be who we are. End of rant.

Happy freakin’ Easter, by the way.

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Dude, Take a Breath

I was running errands recently, and one of the things on the to-do list was a stop at the post office. I had pulled into the suicide lane (aka the middle lane) of a busy 4 lane highway, because I had to make a left turn to get into the parking lot. I had plenty of time to assess the situation, because there was a lot of oncoming traffic to wait for.

As I sat there, I saw a man walking up the sidewalk. When there was a gap in the traffic, I noted that he was at least 20 feet from the driveway, and moving slowly, so I decided it was safe to make my move. And then he sped up.

But by that time, I was already committed. I was crossing the oncoming lanes, and cars were coming. When I passed in front of him, he was still a good 10 feet from the driveway, so I thought nothing of it.

I parked. It took a moment to gather my belongings. That turned out to be very, very fortunate, because the next thing I knew, the guy was pounding on my window and screaming at me.

“You b**ch! You almost killed me! You didn’t even see me.”

I tried to remain calm. I said, “Of course I saw you. That’s why I didn’t kill you.”

The whole time, he’s beating on my window, and I’m praying that the glass will hold, and feeling grateful that I had remained in my car long enough to have this conversation with a bit of a barrier between us. Because the man was unhinged. His eyes were bulging out of his head from pure rage. He proceeded to shout at everyone in the parking lot, telling them what a b**ch I was, and how I’d attempted to kill him.

Because, yeah, that’s my goal in life.

Needless to say, I didn’t get out of my car. Eventually he stormed off down the street. To say I was a bit shaken by this incident is putting it mildly. I decided not to pick up the mail after all.

To this day, that parking lot gives me a frisson. I make a point of looking all around me before I step out of the car. This guy will forever haunt the post office for me.

I really don’t understand people who go from zero to outraged in 2 seconds. Especially when the situation does not merit that level of aggression. I did not harm a hair on his chinny chin chin. Why did he attempt to harm me?

If Homie hadn’t gone completely crackers on me, we could have had a reasonable discourse. I would have apologized for startling him. That certainly wasn’t my intent. I must have triggered something in him. We all come with baggage. Sometimes our reactions have more to do with the past than the present.

But one wonders what a guy like that would do in private if he’s so willing to attack a woman in public. I wouldn’t want his life, where the tiniest of things brings him to the rage place. Along with being profoundly dysfunctional, it must be exhausting and isolating.

I suspect he will be dining alone come Thanksgiving.

Rage

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Raising Bullies and Bigots

By now, everyone knows about the actions of the ignorant little punks from Covington Catholic High School in Covington, Kentucky. That these privileged little private school boys had the nerve to wear their Make America Great Again hats and get into the face of a Native American elder who was simply trying to diffuse a situation, and who had proudly served this country before their repugnant butts were even born is beyond outrageous.

One of the boys in question is saying that he didn’t do anything but stand his ground and the gentleman approached him first. No, you stood your ground with a MAGA hat on, which is a symbol for hate, and you had a smug smile on your face, and an unblinking stare, a sign of aggression, while your friends continued to taunt and ridicule. There’s a distinction. It wasn’t as though you were putting your arm around the guy and asking for a selfie.

In fairness, the high school does not condone the actions of these kids, and has an apology prominently placed on its website. That’s further proof that the actions were inappropriate. But one wonders what kind of tolerance they teach at a school with this as the mascot:

covington catholic's mascot

Here are some lessons neither they nor these kids’ parents seem to be teaching:

  • Respect your elders. All of them. Even if you don’t agree with them.

  • Walk through the world with dignity, and don’t deprive others of theirs.

  • Be polite. Especially when you are a visitor.

  • Aggression is intolerable.

  • Hate is the most blatant form of ignorance.

  • You have no right to invade someone else’s space.

  • Kindness and decency is the only true currency you have.

  • NO ONE has the right to be a bully.

If I could speak to those boys I would say, “This video will follow you for the rest of your life. Hopefully you’re capable of shame and remorse and this will build your character. If not, you are psychopaths, and you are in serious need of intervention. Seriously. You should be worried. Get help.”

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Space Invaders

I wanted to write a creepy post for Halloween, and I asked several friends for suggestions. Every single one of them, without exception, said I should write about Trump. That, in itself, is pretty darned scary. But I think we are so used to being scared by him that it’s hard to feel the fear anymore. So I decided to write the below, instead.)

In the house I bought, there are dozens of large dents on both steel exterior doors, and on one wooden bedroom door as well. The only thing the previous owner would tell me was that there was “an incident” involving a tenant and her boyfriend. The fact that he would not go into detail leaves my imagination to run wild.

Given that these are sturdy storm doors, whatever blunt object was used to do this damage must have been heavy, and the sound must have been loud and terrifying. No person in his right mind does a thing like that. And if the damage to the bedroom door happened at the same time, then the perpetrator gained entry. The thought of that makes the hair on the back of my neck stand straight up.

Whether we are conscious of it or not, we all walk around in this bubble of security, and when it is popped, it’s beyond frightening. It challenges your sense of reality. It makes you feel as if there’s nowhere to hide. The reason most of us reside in this bubble is that knowing that it’s all an illusion would make it impossible to cope.

I used to work the graveyard shift on this tiny little bridge with an office the size of a closet. I was surrounded by windows for increased visibility when I had to do a bridge opening, but that basically meant that I was in a goldfish bowl, and anyone who wanted to mess with me could easily do so. Needless to say, I kept the blinds closed whenever possible. But that also meant I couldn’t see what was going on out on the street.

It was a very isolated job, which normally suits me just fine. Even though I was in a metropolitan area, at 3 a.m. it often felt as if I were the only person on the planet. And when the fog rolled in, that tiny room seemed like a coffin. (People with claustrophobia didn’t last in that job for very long.)

Late one night, I was on duty, and two teenage boys started pounding on the door. (Isn’t it always teenage boys? They should be sent to roam in packs on some remote Pacific island from the age of 14 to 25. I truly believe our crime rate would plummet.)

I nearly soiled myself. I peeked out the blinds and said, “What the #### do you want?”

The ringleader says, “Let us in. We want to see you do a bridge opening.”

My reply, of course, was, “F*** off, before I call the cops.”

But they continued to pound on the door and rattle the knob. (Years later, I can’t get the image of that rattling doorknob out of my head.) It occurred to me that there was just a thin film of bullet-resistant glass between me and these nut jobs, and the stuff was feeling pretty darned flimsy at that moment. And out there on my bridge, no one would hear me scream. Also, by the time the cops got there, well, it would be bad. (And by the way, the cops never showed up. As per usual.)

Eventually they left without getting in, or getting me. But then I got to spend the rest of the shift worrying that they might have vandalized my car. (They hadn’t. Not that time. They just threw the heavy duty trash can at the foot of the bridge into the river. )

Oh, and did I mention that in order to use the bathroom on that bridge you had to go across the street to the other building? Wonderful.

My point is, the reason the thought of the boogeyman in your closet or the thing under the bed or the clown in the storm drain is so unsettling for most of us is that these things violate your bubble of security. Clearly, they are up to no good. They rattle your doorknob. They shake your foundations.

And that’s completely understandable. Because sometimes you’re not being paranoid. Sometimes they really are out to get you.

Happy Halloween.

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On Being Anonymous

So, this happened: I got off work very late the other night. The city was relatively quiet. And there was a flower stuck in the door handle of my car.

I stopped. I looked around. No one was in sight.

I tried to let my better angel speak to me. I really did. I really, really did.

Maybe it was from my boyfriend. Awwww, how sweet! I do love flowers. But it was a single red carnation that was mostly wilted. That doesn’t sound like his style. (And sure enough, the next morning when I talked to him, he confirmed that it wasn’t from him.)

Or maybe it was from someone who likes bridgetenders. Or drawbridges. Or just some random person attempting to brighten someone’s day. Or maybe he or she saw the bumper sticker for this blog on my car, and is a fan. Well, that’s nice.

But the devil on my other shoulder insisted on weighing in, too. “Stalker,” she whispered. Or some crazy person obsessed with me. Someone trying to freak me out by invading my space. “See how close I can get to your car? And you’re alone at night…”

And why the anonymity, huh? What have you got to hide, bearer of wilted flowers? Who are you?

For future reference, that secret admirer thing? That becomes creepy after about the second grade. Reveal yourself relatively quickly (like, within an hour), or don’t do something like that. A simple note, stating your intentions such as, “I had this flower and felt like making someone smile.” That would suffice. Otherwise, even if you mean well, it becomes a power play and a mind f***. It’s not kind. At best, it’s disturbing. At worst, it’s aggressive.

Just sayin’.

Carnation

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I’ve Had It

Ever since I wrote Me Too, I’ve been in a foul mood. Until then, I had never listed all the outrageous things that men have done to me in my lifetime. I’d never looked at them in one big, steaming pile. Now I don’t think I’ll ever be able to avert my eyes again. And since then I’ve thought of even more criminal behavior.

And then, to make matters worse, learning about Al Franken and Charlie Rose makes me want to vomit. These were men I looked up to. Charlie Rose, in particular, has always struck me as a man of integrity. Ugh. What’s next? Is someone going to out Mr. Rogers or Bob Ross? I don’t think I could stand it. I might jump off my bridge.

I mean, I expect stuff like this from Trump. (And shame on me for helping to perpetuate this warped culture like that.) But are all men animals? Is testosterone such a heady hormone that we’re not even safe when wearing Kevlar?

I know it’s never a good thing to tar an entire group with one fetid brush, but seriously, this is too much. I am done with men for the foreseeable future. The thought of even throwing my hat back in the dating ring makes me sick. The cons of having a man in my life far outweigh the pros as far as I’m concerned, and it will take one heck of a man to convince me otherwise.

This public fury has been a long time coming. And the sad thing is that I have absolutely no idea how to purge it from my system. It’s like we’ve all, men and women alike, been injected with a poison that we can never metabolize. That’s no way to live.

manure

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Age Hath Its Privileges

Many years ago, I was standing with my niece and nephew in their Missouri kitchen. As we talked, I got the orange juice out of the refrigerator to pour myself a glass. Just then my brother-in-law walked in and snapped, “Who left the refrigerator door open???”

The tension level in that room was palpable. My niece and nephew fell nervously silent. I looked him straight in the eye and said, “I did.” Then I finished pouring my juice and calmly put it back in the refrigerator and closed the door. He turned and left the room.

I thought, “What’s the matter, Buddy-roo, can’t you pick on someone your own size?”

I found this doubly amusing because this was a man who thought nothing of leaving the lights blazing continually throughout the house, and he was worked up about the energy consumption of an open refrigerator for the 5 seconds it took me to do my thing. But it was kind of sad that he “had to” let it drop because the perpetrator was full-grown me. If it had been one of the kids, he’d have probably caused a massive stink.

It seems you have the least amount of patience for the ones you love. Perhaps because deep down you know you can get away with bad behavior with them. As far as I’m concerned, that’s the opposite of the way it should be.

When you find yourself being harsh with someone, you might want to ask yourself if you would react the same way if that person were an 80 year old total stranger. If not, perhaps you should re-think your tone. If you are capable of reacting with more respect, you should do so.

Similarly, I’ve worked with people who are absolute bullies to their subordinates, but are obsequious to their superiors. That makes it even more shameful, in my opinion, because they clearly know how to be polite; they just choose not to be when they can get away with it. Given the choice, I prefer people who are equal opportunity offenders.

Bullies are a pet peeve of mine. If I see you taking advantage of someone who happens to be more vulnerable, I will take you down every time. This often puts me in awkward situations, but the buck has to stop somewhere. Why not here?

bully

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Aggression is the New Regression

In the near future, when the leader of the free world is going to be someone who publicly declares “I’d like to punch him in the face,” and also condones waterboarding and other war crimes, can an uptick in violence be far behind?

There is a thin veil between humanity and aggression. That veil is called morality. The reason we don’t devolve to a society of cavemen is that we have developed laws and codes based on this morality. It keeps at least some of us in check. Violence is wrong. We all used to know this, at least on some level.

But soon we’ll have a leader who is willing to pierce that veil, and do it with a smile on his face. I’ve recently noticed a lot more adult bullying and intimidation. We are regressing. We are losing our civility. Check out this video of a man kicking a woman down the stairs. There is nothing on earth that can justify this type of behavior.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s a violent world, and always has been. Every woman I know has been abused in some form or another at least once in her life.  It’s hard to feel safe in that atmosphere. But the only thing we seemed to have in our favor was public outrage. Now the outrage seems to crop up when we don’t behave aggressively enough. It’s a different world.

I don’t know about you, but I’m scared. I’m also disheartened.

I leave you now with a link to a television clip from Morocco, in which a makeup artist is demonstrating how to cover up the bruises you receive from domestic violence so that you can “carry on with your daily life.”

For this, I have no words.

violence

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Whoa, Star Trek is Violent. Who Knew?

So, I’ve been binge watching Star Trek: Enterprise on Hulu. It’s been a delightful dance down memory lane. A lot like visiting much-loved family after a long absence. Despite having the most irritating theme song of all the Star Trek series, it’s one of my favorites.

You have to understand, I grew up with Star Trek. The original series began a year after I was born. I can’t remember a time when someone wasn’t boldly going somewhere or other. So this show has worked itself deep into my psyche. I was watching it the whole time my brain was developing. That’s something to think about.

I guess it took me a Star Trek-less decade to work its magic out of my system. I achieved this by choosing not to have a television, and rarely getting around to going to the movies. It’s been a delightful media purge.

This time around I found myself looking at the whole franchise with a critical eye for the first time in my life. And my conclusion? Holy crap, but this show is violent.

You’re probably thinking, “Well, duh,” but I swear to you that this concept never crossed my mind before. Star Trek makes violence seem so… peaceful. Not an episode goes by where someone isn’t being shot or stunned or blown up. But no one ever bleeds.

Not even in the Wild West of Hollywood did people have to discharge weapons with such an alarming frequency. But all acts of aggression in Star Trek seem to be in self-defense (“He started it!”), and therefore appear justified. And the good guys always win. People die, yes, but mostly they make miraculous recoveries and are not even left with any disfigurement.

If there are, in fact, sentient beings on other planets, I hope they don’t mistake Star Trek for an adequate representation of our culture. If they do, they’ll think we are a lot more technologically advanced, and yet a lot more barbaric. That’s quite the dichotomy.

star-trek

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Have I Been Torturing My Dog?

A friend of mine told me about this article on the Mother Nature Network about why dogs don’t like to be hugged. Basically, many of them see this as a form of aggression, and it makes them nervous. It does go on to say, though, that not all dogs are alike. But it gives you advice to determine how your dog is feeling about the subject.

After I read this article, I was completely reassured that my dog Quagmire loves to be hugged. In fact, he will throw himself into my arms and bury his head in my neck at every opportunity. He’s a snuggle addict.

And then there’s Devo. Sweet, beta-dog Devo, my long-suffering best friend. When I hug him, he goes right to submissive pose, and he kind of makes this “oof” sound. On some level, I guess I have sort of known all along that it’s not his favorite thing, but… I love him so much! I have to hug him!

But do I, really? I mean, how inconsiderate. So now, I scratch him in his favorite spots. I tell him what a good dog he is. I throw the ball for him. And when he lies next to me I enjoy it, but I resist the urge to wrap myself around him like a blanket. It’s not easy. But in the few days that I’ve made this change, I can already tell he appreciates it. Now if I could explain to him that I don’t like my forehead licked, we’d be on the same page.

Sometimes the touch you’re giving isn’t the touch that’s being received. That’s the case with humans and animals alike. True love means taking that into account. Give it some thought.

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This dog does not look happy to me.