Writer’s Blech

That was some break, huh? I mean, I’ve taken a few vacations in my time—a couple from this blog; many more from reality—but 370+ days is pretty ridiculous.

I feel compelled to offer an explanation, although I suspect I am alone in believing one is absolutely necessary. But since you’re here and apparently have some time and/or braincells to kill, please allow me to take a stab at it.

As difficult as it will be, I shall resist the impulse to make up a bunch of crap to make myself seem glamourous, worldly, or socially conscious—like my high school classmate and former best friend Lisa used to do every fall when we went back to school after summer vacation, and everyone wanted to know what everyone else had been up to for the past three months. I had no problem telling people I’d been reading, babysitting, swimming, visiting my grandparents, and fighting with my brothers, but she was not content to admit she had been involved in anything so pedestrian.

I haven’t spoken to her since 1986 (when she gushed about having been accepted into a sorority and asked me how many kids I had as if expecting me to say nine or ten with number eleven on the way) but if I were to call her up now, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear her say she’d spent the past year perfecting her Meridional French while quarantining with Sting and Trudie and a few of their friends in Turks and Caicos (Perhaps you’ve heard of it?) or sequestered in some lush and remote location writing the screenplay for a documentary she hopes to make with (insert obscure indy filmmaker name here.) 

To be honest, at this point I’d give almost anything to be able to say I’d spent the past 12 months reading, babysitting, visiting my grandparents, and fighting with my brothers—or even listening to Lisa brag, lie, name drop, or pretend to be an independent filmmaker. Especially since that would mean I had not spent the year avoiding almost everyone—including my children—while washing my groceries and lurching back and forth from wanting to write something that would make people laugh and realizing there wasn’t much about 2020 that didn’t make me want to cry.

Even the election, which appeared to go my way this time around, could not budge my writer’s block. Because the results were not in for what seemed like decades after the polls closed. And when the votes were finally counted, I couldn’t even celebrate or joke about that because first, I am not one to gloat and second, I very much believe in Murphy’s law and I wasn’t going to do one damn thing that might jinx the final electoral college tally. And then came recounts, the legal challenges, that psycho Sydney Powell, as well as Lin ‘I’ve Completely Lost the Plot’ Wood, and the insurrection and—oh never mind. You know what happened. You were there.

In March of 2020, when the Jarhead and I went into lockdown, I was on the verge of writing about our latest renovation project and excited to make fun, as usual, of all the trials and tribulations associated therewith. We had a whole new team of contractors; an entirely different type of house upon which to test our skills and the strength of our marriage; and a completely new set of issues we had never run across before. In short, it should have made for comedy gold.

But instead, the mine went bust. Somehow joking about unreliable contractors, bail-jumping contractors, nonexistent footings and egregious electrical code violations didn’t seem all that amusing. Especially when Covid-19 was literally killing someone every 33 seconds or so. 

Add to that mix the fact that so many people didn’t seem to give a good goddamn. Instead, they were mocking, complaining about or flat-out ignoring mask mandates and attacking anyone who tried to follow or enforce them. Some even called them violations of their civil rights and likened them to being forced to wear the Star of David or a number on their wrist. Wow. What a bunch of drama queens.

As if they were being singled out and mistreated instead of simply being asked to protect the more vulnerable members of their communities. As if wearing a mask is some giant burden. As if surgeons have been wearing them for fun all these years and not for the safety of their patients. As if they don’t wear them for hours at a time during complicated operations without suffocating, all without whining or crying about it. I know. Let’s not confuse the issue with facts.

While we’re on that topic, here are a few points for folks to ponder: If mask mandates violate your constitutional rights, does it not follow that the DNR rules that require the wearing of blaze orange during deer hunting season do the same? And does it not follow that the city ordinances requiring you to cover your junk in public are, by that same logic, unconstitutional?

Seems to me, your righteous indignation is a bit inconsistent and your sudden interest in our beloved constitution a tad convenient. After all, seeing your junk might make me sick, but it probably won’t kill me. Which makes me wonder: if you don’t like laws requiring you to cover your face, how are you remotely okay with laws requiring you to cover your ass?

Perhaps, in addition to flouting the mask mandates, you should also be flouting these other forms of governmental overreach? Perhaps you fellas should skip the pants and underwear next time you head to Lowe’s and march proudly into the store to pick up your wood—I mean, lumber. And maybe you gals should just go topless to the office or the gym. And if someone challenges your right to do so, you can just look them in the eyes (ahem, they’re up here) and give them a quick lesson on constitutional law. What’s the matter? Are you shy?

Perhaps that’s taking things a bit too far. So how about instead you get up a group of people to protest the laws requiring you to wear blaze orange while deer hunting. It doesn’t have to be a big deal. Just convince your peeps to grab their guns, throw on some camouflage and some doe urine and say, “Screw that shit, man. I’m an American, and ain’t nobody forcing ME to wear orange.”

Now THAT is a protest I can get behind. I will not only support your cause; I’ll go to your rallies and help you spread the word on social media. I will even drive you to your favorite hunting spot and offer you a hearty ‘good luck!’

Okay. I probably won’t say good luck. But I will say this: If plane crashes were killing as many Americans a week as this virus has, these people would be singing a whole different tune. If their own kids or other loved ones were dying from Covid-19 as fast as all those anonymous sick and old people they’ve never met; if they had to work in hazmat suits caring for patients as they lay dying alone, they would not only wear the damn masks but also urge everyone and their brother to stay TF at home. But they aren’t living that reality, so they have the luxury of not giving a damn.

Let’s not kid ourselves. The people who refuse to cover their faces may dress it up to be a constitutional issue but that’s only because they could never say with a straight face that it’s a hardship or a sacrifice. At best, it’s an inconvenience or a nuisance. And don’t let them kid you either. They may say they oppose government overreach but what they’re fighting for is the right to endanger the lives of as many of their fellow citizens as they like. They can tell themselves it’s bigger than that, but they’re full of crap. Because you don’t see them strapping on their assault rifles and marching to the nearest state capitol to protest laws requiring them to wear seatbelts, drive a certain speed, or carry car insurance.

Just like the parents who demanded that teachers and other educators ‘do their effing jobs’ and work in classrooms without the protection of a vaccine but who couldn’t do that ‘effing job’ if their own lives depended on it (as many of them proved with aplomb) their interest lies not in protecting the teachers who typically have to manage 20 to 30 children per hour for 7 hours a day, but in not having to manage their own 2.4 children 24 hours a day. I’m not even going to address the stunning lack of empathy it takes to accuse teachers of not wanting to do their jobs when in fact what they want is simply to not get exposed to a deadly virus and die.

And let us not forget the state and local officials and school board members who insisted that it was okay for teachers and support staff to be up to their elbows in germy kids all day even though they themselves won’t meet in person because they’re not willing to sit in the same room with other adults. Ah, how I love the smell of a double standard in the morning.

The worst part is, if we had done what needed doing for as long as we needed to do it, we would not have nearly half a million dead in the US alone. And we might have been out of the woods already. 

But alas, for some that was too much work. Or maybe it wasn’t as satisfying as belittling the staff at the grocery store when they offer you a mask because you ‘forgot’ yours, or as entertaining as the news reports about hospitals running out of capacity. Or maybe it just wasn’t as much fun as dressing up like Rambo and brandishing weapons that you only fire at helpless deer, glass bottles, paper targets or clay pigeons.

I know. That was a low blow. How could I possibly know for sure that all those deer, bottles, targets and clay pigeons are helpless? I actually I have it on good authority from Eddie Izzard that clay pigeons are in fact fuckers.

Which perfectly illustrates my point: Apart from making fun of these people and devising creative ways to punish their ignorance and/or selfishness, there has not been one ounce of laughter or pleasure to be gleaned from the situation that isn’t, somehow, also painful AF.

And yet it seemed every other writer and humorist on the planet was able to carry on. SNL was still making episodes—albeit from their own homes and in their own clothes. And the late night talk show hosts were all still cracking jokes. They just weren’t doing it in front of a live audience for a while. But they still did it.

So what was my excuse? I had never had a live audience. Or a team of writers. It had always been me and my computer. In my own home and in my own clothes. Or more accurately, pajamas.

Maybe that’s the problem. Maybe I need to change things up a bit. Maybe tomorrow I’ll dig out some of the Jarhead’s cammies and storm around the house ranting to my cat about the Bill of Rights and see if I can make her laugh.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Throwdown Thursday

We interrupt our regularly scheduled program to bring you the following special announcement regarding items seen on social media since the 2017 Women’s March.

But first a confession:

I did not march. I should have marched and I could have marched, but I didn’t. In fact, the Princess and I had planned to attend the march in Madison. It would have meant changing plans we had already made with other people, but we hoped they would understand. Because the thought of us walking together as mother and daughter showing our support for womankind and united in our commitment to human rights sounded absolutely awesome. But then as word spread about the march and the size and scope of the event grew, the logistics became an issue and we were forced to reconsider.

But we were there in spirit. And we knew we would be represented because the folks who were marching were in effect marching for all of us. Not just white women or young women, healthy women or rich women, or able-bodied women or pretty women. ALL women. Plus immigrants, the underprivileged, and others whose rights are constantly under attack by those who know and understand them the least.

So instead we spent the day with my mother-in-law, which may not sound like a landmark event until you consider the fact that it was the first time I have ever spent an entire day with my mother-in-law since I met the Jarhead. Not only that, but it was the first time the Princess has spent the day with her dad’s mom since she was two months old and I was in the hospital having emergency surgery.

I am not alone in having skipped the march, nor am I alone in having wanted to march. In fact, whether I did or did not attend the march is totally beside the point.

However, there are some women who did not march that day who are not content to have sat this one out or simply found something better to do that day. Instead, they are criticizing those who did participate and mocking them for it.

Now I’m a big believer in free speech, so they can say what they want to say. No matter how stupid their words, or how ignorant of fact, or how loaded with middle class privilege their words are, they have the right to speak their minds.

Fortunately, so do I.

And so, to all of you scoffing at the marchers with your #notmy march:

Good for you. You have everything you need and want. You can take care of yourself and you don’t need anyone fighting for you, thanks very much. That’s great. As a woman, I am genuinely both happy for and proud of you.

But consider this: The only reason you have what you have now—including the right to voice your opinions on social media—is because of those who came before you and who fought for YOU. Yes, long before you were born—and I don’t mean months or years but DECADES and in some cases a CENTURY before you drew your first breaths—others fought so you could vote, own property, drive, marry the person of your choosing, stay single, use birth control, go to college, get a job, have a career, demand equal pay for equal work AND speak your female mind in public.  You may have legitimately earned what you can claim as your own today, but you wouldn’t have SQUAT right now were it not for the folks who marched, led protests, got arrested, were beaten, publicly shamed and humiliated, and went to court for your right to mock today’s activists. You are the beneficiaries of their blood, sweat, and tears. You have things for which they fought and reaped in many cases not one single reward. Do not forget that.

The same goes for some of you sharing and commenting on photos of women in the military with the caption “This is how REAL women march.”

I like to believe this one was intended to be fun. A joke to be shared between military women and by friends of military women. And that’s cool. Esprit de corps is a wonderful thing.

But from a few of the comments accompanying the posts it seems that some folks are using it to take a swipe at the marchers. As if marches and protests aren’t worthwhile, and that those of us who have not served in the military have nothing to contribute to their country.

To the folks who happen to feel this way, I say: I’m genuinely happy for and proud of our women who have served in the military. As a citizen, I am also grateful for their service, and as someone who has spent YEARS arguing with chauvinistic servicemen about the lack of equality for women in the military, I’m also thrilled to know that times have changed.

But before claiming the high ground and insinuating that those of us who did not serve in the military are not “real” women—before you look down on those who march on main street instead of in formation, and who fight wars with words instead of automatic weapons—remember this: It wasn’t that long ago that women earned the right to serve in the military, and it’s been even less time since our choice of military fields were limited to nursing and clerical work. And it’s only in THIS century that women could fly an aircraft, serve in combat, and serve as drill instructors.

Those changes did not happen overnight, and unless you are much older than I am, you are not the reason these changes took place. It is only because women of earlier generations marched, protested, argued, got arrested and went to court for the right to serve our country, and the right to choose how to serve it. We are the beneficiaries of the blood, sweat, and tears of women who were denied rights we now enjoy.

So be proud. Be happy. That’s what we all want and most of us deserve.

But remember to be grateful. And if you can’t be grateful, at least don’t be disdainful.

Love and peace to all.

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.