Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Crimes against children

This thing we’re doing in America where we sit, on either the left or the right,  pointing derisively, contemptuously, and righteously at each other, doing nothing to stop children from dying, is the most dangerous game Americans have ever played in my lifetime. And it’s so pointless, because deep down, most of us know that guns, especially ones that rip multiple children apart in seconds, need to be highly regulated. It’s that simple. 

We’ve done a lot of dangerous things in my lifetime, mostly war-related, but also with things like anti-civil rights policies, police policies, drug laws and enforcement and prison privatization. These things are bad, but at least there were good intentions, however misguided (or even ignorance), behind them. This gun thing, it’s not well intentioned by any stretch of the imagination. When pressed to get to the root of why the average 2nd Amendment-touting, flag-waving American  wants to own an AR-15 or AK-46, it’s just because they *want to, and they *can. It’s that simple. 

Fear is at the root of most of the dangerous things we do in America, and on the surface, that’s at the root of gun-rights. People are afraid of everything, mostly things they’re not familiar with, like people who look and act differently from them, and they feel like they need “protection.” They are so deeply afraid that they’re willing to let more and more children die so they can feel safe. It’s that simple. 

Anyone who is not demanding regulation of guns when the faces of the children killed by them in a school shooting are so unrecognizable from being torn apart by high velocity weapons that parents have to give DNA swabs to do body identification is either delusional or a monster. And the next time it happens, they’re complicit. It’s really that simple.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Dear America: please don’t invade your women


I honestly can’t conceive of something more invasive than being forced to carry and bear a child. I’ve been pregnant 5 times, miscarried once and given birth 4 times, one of which was stillborn. Thankfully, the government was not involved in any of the family planning decisions I made for myself and my family, especially the hard parts my health care professionals were managing. Side note though — the government did play an important role in my first birth, which took place in California and New Mexico while I was a military spouse beneficiary of the wonderful military socialist medical care available at the time. I sure miss that.
 

My kids are now all adults, but I retain many reminders of the lifelong consequences of pregnancy and childbirth: stretch marks, a crooked, jagged c-section scar, gestational diabetes that became permanent. My rib cage is larger, my feet bigger, and my bladder has always less reliable than before kids (BK). And those are just a few of the side effects of my choice to have children. 


When I read today about how threatened Supreme Court justices felt when protestors showed up at their homes, my first thought was, “Oh no, let’s not do that. Let’s keep this professional,” but then I thought twice. I thought maybe this is what we need to do to make an impression on the justices. To give them a taste of their own medicine, as the saying goes. Those protestors are invading the personal space of the justices, causing them to feel violated. Welcome to the club. There’s some justice there, for any woman who has had to carry and bear a child in the years that Roe v Wade has been chipped away at. There’s some justice in learning what it feels like to have your privacy so invaded, because that’s exactly what they’re doing when they recommend overturning Roe v Wade as the means to controlling whether or not a woman can be used to breed babies for the population. 


Looking out a window and seeing a group of women milling around with signs, maybe chanting something like “keep your bans off my body” is pretty innocuous in comparison to forcing a woman to carry and bear, and often raise, a child. The former is mostly just annoying. The latter is horrific.  

Thursday, April 21, 2022

End of an Era


After almost almost 60 years, Haljohn’s 19 McDonalds stores in San Antonio and surrounding areas have been sold and the company is no more

I started working for McDonald’s in 1983 when I was 17 years old, in Universal City, Texas. I worked there for 3 years and made life long friendships with other employees, a few of which still worked with the company up til today.  For reference, I’m now age 56. (omg) 

Those years were developmental, and fun, and impacted my life in so many ways. I would not be who I am today without this company. I learned processes, responsibility, accountability, hard work, work ethic, good management, teamwork, pride in my work, marketing, product development/management, industry, the challenges of financing my adulthood, check-kiting, how to take apart and put together a milk shake machine, and how to wash equipment that weighed more than I did at age 19, in 100 degree water-spray plus soap. Also, the lifelong concept of “if you can lean, you can clean,” which has totally served me well in every job since and as an employer today, I wish was a high school class. And we mustn’t forget being asked to open (at 4 am), working all day, and then being asked in the same fucking 24 hour period to close (at 1 am) because someone else called in.  

But seriously, genuinely, I owe this job so much. Thanks to Rich and James and Dee and Darlene for hiring and managing me, at that young, self absorbed age, especially when I tried to call in at 3:30 am saying I was sick but I was really just tired and kind of still drunk-ish, after partying all night, and they (Darlene mostly) just insisted I get my ass in to open at 4 am because “BY GOD I better not be a worthless idiot.”

But also, I have to say that I was the best and fastest drive-through cashier ever, and I sold the shit out of some McD’s Big Macs and Quarter pounders and nuggets and fries and whatever McRib/McDLT/Happy Meal/ Grimace Glasses/etc promotional deal they had going on back in the day, because I was a totally motivated young person looking for a challenge and I found it with this company every day that I showed up. I remember Dee telling me that my shifts had the highest sales. What a great manager. Satisfactorily, I knew I was quick and efficient. It made me want to be even better. Also, my first experience with the power of data was so impactful. I work in nonprofits now and can’t go a week without wanting to know what the data says. I can trace the roots of that back to shift sales. 

Other “fun” memories include: 

Cleaning up the lobby and bathrooms after Friday night high school football game crowds -6 customers deep for hours at the registers, slimy lobby floors to mop, and the grossest (MOST grossest) things you can imagine in the bathrooms. 

Being trained to “not react” to men in cars in the drive thru exposing their genitalia to us as they arrived at the window to pay/get their food, because that would just “encourage them to come back again.” #goodtimes 

Half price meals while working being the only food I ate all day (but mostly they were free as opposed to other store locations because we had the best managers ever who understood how poverty stricken so many of us were). 

Learning to clean the grill (for some reason, why I don’t know because I was clearly the best cashier ever) to the sounds of Madonna’s first album (“Borderline, feels like I'm going to lose my mind, you just keep on pushin' my love over the borderline.”) 

Stealing toilet paper rolls (and other things) -SORRY! - but they paid me only $3.35 an hour for over 2 years and then only a nickel raise which was honestly insulting, but I was too dumb to know it. 

And of course doing so many extra duties as assigned, stressful birthday parties for bitchy moms with snotty kids, who I mostly adored actually and got great tips from, and ultimately got fired over because of a stupid misunderstanding I was too young and dumb to navigate concerning the keys to the birthday party closet and too much responsibility for the kid I was. Sigh. I was ready to move on anyway, and then got a great job as a bank teller doing way less work for a lot more money, so that was clearly my right time to go. 

I probably shouldn’t end on that note, lol, and I couldn’t do a post about these years without shouting out my dearest Mickey Dee friends, Sandy and Darryl and William whom I met working there in the 80’s, and who I am still friends with to this day even though our lives took us in so many different directions over the years. I will Love you guys forever. We had some great times together. Let’s never lose touch, k? 

Fun post about #MickyDeeNostagia: https://www.boredpanda.com/mcdonalds-80s-and-90s/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=BPFacebook&fbclid=IwAR0pgMJ9iH9V-mUIGxtq4wBpXHW0prgotejvDmpN1G2Aofco6J94DLcLO0I









Sunday, August 22, 2021

Off to college

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1s1u8KqZXpaAX-O_ajFd68oN6sKlKTaAJ

My youngest daughter just packed a cut-out of Bill Hader in the car to take to her sophomore year of college in San Marcos, Texas. #Essentials. 

This past week a picture of my oldest daughter moving into Trinity University in 2006 came up in social media memories. What a journey it’s all been. There was also the middle daughter who started out as a marine biology major at Texas A&M. Kids are such an adventure. 

Tomorrow I’ll be an empty nester, again. With Zoë, the youngest, less than an hour away, and in a pandemic, she was often back home last year for her freshman year, what with holidays and of course the summer. So my empty nestering was only for a few weeks at a time. All that build up last summer….the last one gone…you’re gonna feel so….(free, lonely?)….and then she was home for Labor Day LOL, and many times after that. Honestly, I saw her just as much in high school as her first year of college. In high school (pre winter 2020 semester of course) she was busy. School, theater, friends, all the time she spent in her room. ;) I hardly ever saw her except when she needed a ride. We spent a lot of car time together talking about our lives, though. 

I’m hoping that her sophomore year is much better than her freshman COVID year was. Most of that was spent on her bed in her dorm room, Zooming. A theater major, doing virtual school. When we look back at this, we know it’s gonna look ridiculous.  But what else could we do?  

Tomorrow we drive from San Antonio to San Marcos. It used to be a 40 minute trip back when I lived there. These days it can be an hour, 2….3 even. More precious car time. We’ve got the whole day to make the trip. The car is all packed. We are about to watch some dumb sitcom and eat popcorn. Zoë will probably come up with a reason to make me listen to some Elton John. So many reasons to live. #love

Monday morning I’ll jump back into my work life, which always keeps me busy, and I’ll think about what an adventure Zoë is embarking on. Her life just starting with so many cool experiences before her. I remember being 19 with endless possibilities stretching out into the future. My oldest child traveled to Florida to be a journalist after college and the middle child lit up stages in California and Connecticut. 

I can’t wait to see what this one will do. 

Life is good. 

Monday, June 14, 2021

I can’t ever give blood

Blame Mad Cow Disease. 

I was 22 years old when I moved to England in 1988 and little did I know that because of the 3 years I would spend there, I would never be able to donate blood in my lifetime. 

I’m not sure if I ever gave blood in the few years I would have been eligible to do so prior to the “Mad Cow” prohibition. I think I might have. But I had a lot of needles in my veins over 14 childbearing years with persistent gestational diabetes and the subsequent “pre”-diabetes. I may just be remembering those many, many vials of blood. 

The first memory I have of problems donating blood was in 1999. They asked me if I’d ever been to England and I said yes, so they asked me to “come back later.” They weren’t sure when would be a good time. They did say it had something to do with mad cow disease, which didn’t freak me out at the time as much as I think it should have. I was young then and felt indestructible, of course.

The next memory I have is from 2002, soon after I had my daughter, Zoe, at a blood drive in San Antonio, Texas for my employer. They gave me a questionnaire to fill out and one of the questions it asked was if I had lived in the UK between 1980-1996. (Later the questionnaires would narrow it to having lived 6 months or longer in the UK.) My answer was yes - right in the thick of that - 1988-1991. And so I was told definitively that I was not allowed to donate because of the risk of mad cow disease. 

I tried to donate a few times after that over the years, but the answer has never changed. Once I was touring a blood bank as part of a leadership group and they said I’d probably never be able to donate blood because the restrictions were permanent. 

Of course I’ve researched this mad cow disease, but I have to say that I’ve ever really been alarmed. My oldest child has researched too, as she is also prohibited. I remember her telling me once that we will probably both (and her dad) die of mad cow dementia, because the effects take a long time to manifest. But she also, doesn’t seem too worried. 232 people have died of it, since 1980. Is that that bad? 🧐

We didn’t eat a lot of British beef while we lived in England. Not because we were worried about Mad Cow Disease, although I do remember reading about it at the time. People were a little freaked out, not because of its effect on people though, but because of all the horrible sad cow deaths. Poor cows. That’s all that story was at the time, at least from what I remember. Otherwise I’d have had a better reason to refuse to eat at Wimpy’s Burgers when we were traveling than that it was kind of gross (but then there really wasn’t much choice). 

England isn’t known for great cuisine. We bought nearly all of our food from the military base commissary. We ate “on the economy” mostly when traveling or on a night out to the local pub. I totally fell in love with Indian food over those 3 years in England. Just delicious. If I ever go back to visit, I hope the Swaffham Tandoori place is still open. I’d order all my favorites at once. But only the chicken dishes. 

I remember being kind of grossed out by most English food, especially pub food that sat out for hours, or even days, in display cabinets. Spotted duck and toad in the hole and all those meat pies and puddings. Ew. I did like some Shepard’s pie and scotch eggs, which can be pretty yummy. I have a very vivid memory of picking someone up at the back door of a pub once or twice and seeing a cat drinking from a pot of stew on the stove. Not to mention we had a friend who sold deer road kill to the pub and I just couldn’t handle the thought of being served that for dinner. Also, the bar top was always covered in beer soaked yeasty smelling towels that probably rarely got a wash. A bacteria smorgasbord. Not that that stopped anyone from having a pint. Including myself. But, as it turns out, it wasn’t the hepatitis infested pubs that turned out to be the danger for us. It was the farmland’s grassy fields of cows. Mad cows. It will be pretty ironic if I end up dying from eating food I didn’t even like or want to eat in the first place.  

During the COVID pandemic, we heard that certain restrictions on mad cow disease prohibitions for donating blood were being lifted due to increased need for blood, but whatever those loosened restrictions were, they were not the one(s) that prevent me, and my oldest daughter, Ariel who spent most of her first three years in England, or my ex husband and all of our friends from those days, from donating blood. We still cannot. 

Here is what our research shows about the disease: "It can take up to 50 years for an infected person to show symptoms.  There are suspected links between Alzheimer's and mad cow disease.  Its long incubation period is called a silent period of infection.  It damages the central nervous system silently and progressively over time for years until it kills you. 

😳

Once a cow starts to show symptoms, it gets sicker and sicker until it dies, usually within two weeks to six months.  There is no treatment and no vaccine to prevent it.

As of 2019, 232 people worldwide are known to have become sick with this disease, and unfortunately, they all have died. It’s 100% fatal. 

It is thought that they got the disease from eating food made from cows sick with BSE. Most of the people who have become sick lived in the United Kingdom at some point in their lives. Only four lived in the U.S., and most likely, these four people became infected when they were living or traveling overseas.”

I’m writing this because I was recently tagged in social media in a post urging me to donate blood due to shortage. “But, I can’t,” I thought for the hundredth time. And was inspired to tell the story of the why. Maybe one day the restriction will be lifted. 

Or maybe I’m on my way to dying a slow, painful death of brain and spinal cord deterioration. I guess it’s a good thing I can’t pass that on. 

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1suPFzuvIf3GXxHftHH7J-7V5QDqzJHnO
A beautiful river that ran by our house in England.  There were no cows.  


Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Turtle Boat Meetings


They say that looking forward to something is as good as doing it. My three daughters and I are planning a 12 day trip around Colorado and Utah this summer, and the planning meetings have so far been as enjoyable for me as I know the trip will be.

Last summer, two of my daughters and I made a 12 day road trip from Cheyenne, Wyoming down through Colorado and New Mexico and ending in El Paso, Texas. The pandemic conditions meant a lot of things were closed, and my anxiety levels were pretty high. I’m glad we did it, though, because my 18 year old daughter had just missed out on all the fun of a senior year of high school. What better things to distract her with than Mountain Ghosts and Desert Aliens, which was the theme of our trip.

This year’s theme is, somewhat inexplicably, Turtle Boat. I think it’s the name of a restaurant we have in the itinerary? Maybe. It’s definitely the name of the highly detailed Google Sheets tool we have been using to plan the trip. There’s a tab for each component of the trip, from the Attractions we want to see and do, the Places we will sleep, the Restaurants where we will eat (one is called Turtle Boat, I believe)and the Homework we have after each meeting. At one point there was a separate sheet just for deciding which Airbnb we would stay in while visiting Denver.

My oldest daughter is the author of the Google sheets document. She’s a planner and an organizer. My middle daughter keeps track of our homework assignments and our meeting dates. She also likes order and harmony. I’m probably the worst at doing my homework on time, and I’m definitely not the most organized person. My youngest has to be cajoled into paying attention in meetings by the middle child, because she’s addicted to Twitter these days, but she definitely does all her homework. Even if she found an Ice Cave for us to get excited about that has no ice in it whatsoever. 😉

We meet on FaceTime in the late afternoon/evenings for meetings that are on my calendar for an hour but generally last for 2-3. As someone who hates meetings and despises Zoom, how can I love Turtle Boat FaceTime so much?

Last summer, Ariel had planned the trip mostly herself. I loved that all I had to do was go along for the ride. As someone with way too much responsibility going on in my professional life, I really love just going with the flow in my personal life, when I can. I would ask Ariel, “what are we doing tomorrow,” and she had all the details at her fingertips. Ah, bliss. I’m really looking forward to this summer’s trip being the same.

We are wrapping up the final details (and it’s only the end of May). We’ve got all of our Airbnb’s lined up, most dinner reservations made and attractions tickets bought, flights booked, and rental car reserved.

I’m gonna have to come up with new reasons to convene Turtle Boat meetings through June and early July because the planning is almost as fun as the trip itself.






Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Unmasking the Anti-Masker problem

As a liberal I’ve been frustrated for years by the “problems” some people on the other side are always telling me are so bad. Like the war on Christmas, prayer in schools being prohibited, the left not supporting veterans, voter fraud, someone taking all their guns away etc etc. 


“These things are not really problems,” I’ve railed and railed. But my protests were in vain because the people who believe these are huge problems, believe this very strongly. They don’t need evidence. They’ve create compelling narratives that have become evidence in itself. It’s an insidious cycle. 


And just when I was becoming desensitized enough that all these fake problems weren’t making me so crazy, the pandemic started, and I’ve had to watch the left do the exact same kind of thing. Specifically with the whole “anti-masker” issue. I say this isn’t really an issue. Pretty much everyone is freaking wearing a mask, I insist. But those who believe in the anti-masker problem do not need evidence proving it is a huge problem. They point to someone they saw in the grocery store whose mask slipped below their nose and insist this is a conspiracy of epic proportions. Or they share a meme on Facebook and there you have it. 


Many people firmly believe that cases are rising because of all the anti-maskers. They laugh derisively, contemptuously at me when I ask where is the evidence of this. They scream from their social media platforms WEAR A MASK (where they are more than likely preaching to the choir if this was actually a huge issue since unfriending anyone who doesn’t feel the same way has become a much bigger problem in general than anti-maskers). 

I want to be clear that I wear a mask wherever I go. I support trying to stop the spread of respiratory droplets in any way we can. And I believe most people are like me. Do we love wearing masks? No. Do some people on the right use the mask issue as a piece in their narrative to “prove” that the left wants to “control them?” Sure. But they’re still wearing masks in the grocery store, and in restaurants and anywhere else it’s required. 


I know this won’t convince anyone who believes anti-masking is a huge problem. Nothing I’ve ever said before about fake huge problems has ever changed anyone’s mind. Just for writing this, I’ll be accused of being a secret Republican or of not caring that thousands are dying of the virus or of just being stupid and/or uninformed. But I’m willing to bet when we look back on this it’ll be as evident as hindsight usually is that the virus didn’t spread because of a huge anti-masker movement. 


So, what’s my point? I guess it just frustrates the hell out of me that when we focus so much energy on fake problems, real problems get ignored. And we have a lot of real problems. If everyone started screaming about a real problem from their social media platforms the way they do about masks, maybe we could bring serious attention to an issue that needs serious attention. Maybe we could replace WEAR A MASK! with something like- 

EVERYONE SHOULD HAVE ACCESS TO HEALTHCARE! 

or

NO ONE SHOULD LIVE IN POVERTY! 

INCREASE MINIMUM WAGE NOW! 

TAX REFORM IS WAY OVERDUE! 

STOP GERRYMANDERING! 

WE NEED TERM LIMITS! 


If we could vote on a new slogan, my personal favorites would include—

PUT KIDS FIRST!

FIND COMMON GROUND! 

LEARN HOW OUR GOVERNMENT WORKS! 


Food for thought Update to this post: 

One of my favorite reporters did a post on a recent event at our Alamodome in which he reported that 10 citations were given to people not wearing masks and 7 more people left or were removed without citations during the event. The capacity ceiling for the event was 11,000, so if 17 people were unmasked, that’s less than 1% of 1% unmasked (at capacity), but unless the place was practically empty and these 17 people represented a large majority in attendance, the numbers still don’t add up to a huge anti-masker problem. I know people with excel spreadsheets could whip up a “projection” of how many people these 17 could potentially infect, but since everyone else was masked, it still doesn’t add up to a huge problem. The bigger issue here should really be this: With city ordinances in place prohibiting groups of 10 or more indoors or outdoors, why in the world did this event even occur?!