Author Archives: mrswhatsit9

You Don’t Have To Be Superwoman

multitasking woman

Other than this blog and my associated Twitter account (and blogging/tweeting professionally under my real name), I’m not on social media – no Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, What’s App, Snapchat, etc.

So I’ve mercifully been spared the hot new trend: Competitive Quarantining.

But my friends – who I’m keeping up with via phone, text, and Zoom – have told me about it. And it sounds awful.

It’s that friend/colleague who is showing up in business attire, with fully done hair, nails, and makeup, on every Zoom meeting, while also posting about learning to speak Korean and play the banjo, starting her novel, Instgramming perfectly composed pictures of the three home-cooked-from-scratch meals she’s preparing for her family every day, polling for clever names for her new sourdough starter, and boasting about the fact that she has created fully individualized 8-hours-per-day learning plans for each of her three kids through the middle of June. And she’s started doing P90X five days a week and has already lost four pounds! #Fitspo!

And you know what?

If that’s her jam, that’s fine.

But that doesn’t mean it has to be YOUR jam, or if you can’t manage all of that right now, that there’s something wrong with you.

You know what?

I’m an introvert who normally works from home, as is my spouse. We have no kids to try to amuse and/or educate, and neither of us is at risk of losing our employment (or health insurance, or house).

And I have to tell you, even I am pretty stressed out and anxious.

Your kids bathe most days and sometimes get out of their pjs? And spend a little time most days working on their school work? And aren’t on their screens fully EVERY SINGLE SECOND they’re awake?

You bathe most days and sometimes get out of your pjs? And manage to get a least a little work done most days?

You’re all eating something on a fairly regular basis? That’s at least occasionally leafy green (rather than gummy green)? And you’re managing not to have beer for breakfast?

You and your significant other haven’t gone all Thunderdome (yet) over who gets the last Xanax?

Good for you!

If you have the bandwidth and interest in baking, or learning a language, or an instrument, or starting an exercise program, or sewing cloth masks, go for it (but maybe keep it to yourself or share it only with your actual close friends rather than splashing it all over all your social media platforms).

And if you don’t?

That’s OK, too.

I think you’re doing great.

Business vector created by freepik – www.freepik.com

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

Together While Apart

various communications devices

Physical distancing is hard. And I live in a house (so we have some space and a tiny yard) with a spouse, two affectionate cats, and three pretty betta fish. (Come to think of it, the spouse is pretty affectionate, too.)

I’m trying to get people to use the term “physical distancing” rather than “social distancing” because that’s what we’re really doing – we need to stay away from each other physically while not losing touch socially.

What are you doing to try to accomplish that?

So far, I’ve been calling, emailing, and texting a lot.

Zoom has been a lifesaver.

My Spanish class has now moved online via Zoom. The first class was a bit of a disaster, but we were all new to it, and they asked for feedback this morning, so I was able to offer a number of suggestions for helping it go more smoothly next week.

My gym, which graciously automatically suspended everyone’s memberships while they’re closed, is starting a sharply reduced rate membership next week with three weekly real-time Zoom classes that will be archived for those who can’t make the live time. I’m not positive, but I think I may have been the very first person to sign up for it.

My belly dance group is going to try to get together via Zoom to dance on Sunday afternoon. It’s ATS, so I’m not sure how well lead-and-follow is going to work virtually, but we’ve all agreed if it’s a total #FIAL, we’ll just open up some wine and hang out.

My birthday was last weekend, and I got the fam on Zoom in the morning (even my brother and sister-in-law and their three kids, who’ve historically been resistant to using any sort of video calls, much to the consternation of my out-of-state self and out-of-state parents), and a group of friends on Zoom for a late-afternoon-that-stretched-well-into-evening birthday happy hour (we popped open some rosé champagne, because, hey, birthday).

I “met” a friend for a Zoom coffee late yesterday afternoon. She and I have been friends for more than 15 years, and we generally get together every few months for coffee. And we were overdue. Doing a bi-weekly Zoom with a good friend who lives in Sacramento, too. She and I were supposed to see each other while presenting together at a conference next month. Not anymore, but at least we have Zoom.

I’m getting out for a daily walk around the neighborhood, always staying on the left side of the street so I can dart out into the bike lane or road (after checking to make sure I’m not about to be mowed down by a bus or bike) any time anyone approaches.

I’m seeing virtual art galleries in many windows, draw by the kiddos who live in that house. Some of my neighbors are starting to put teddy bears in their windows in response, so the kids can go on teddy bear walks.

Local musicians are starting to play from their porches or stoops, and one of the local groups that tracks and shares information about live music is coordinating paying for sidewalk concerts. Musicians are making themselves available for people to sign up to buy a sidewalk concert for a fee for themselves, their neighborhoods, or you can even buy one and send it to a friend.

Our city council member last Friday organized the first stoop/porch happy hour for our Ward, encouraging everyone to go out front at 5, stay in our own yards, and chat with each other from a safe distance. A small number of people on my block participated last week, but the CM is encouraging everyone to do it again, and we have a few more commitments here on our block for tonight.

How are you staying in touch when you can’t, you know, touch?

(I know I just wrote about this last week, too, but I think it’s something we all need to be doing in an intentional way. Human contact is necessary for our mental and emotional health, and none of us can bear additional strikes against those right now.)

Image found here.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

How Is Everyone Doing?

monarch butterfly on lantana

Yes, I really want y’all to tell me in the comments.

Things are really hard right now.

Our daily lives and routines, at least for most of us, have been SIGNIFICANTLY disrupted.

MANY, MANY people are being laid off.

Your favorite small, local businesses are in dire trouble.

Those of us fortunate to still be working are trying to adapt to full time telework, many with kids at home who need some degree of supervision and/or homeschool direction, and for an unknown period of time.

Our normal stress-relieving activities – gyms, theaters, movies, bars, shops, dinner out (or in) with friends, travel – are curtailed, also for an unknown period of time.

Meanwhile, the news is bad, and social media is adding to the stress many of us are already feeling because of financial worries and fears for our own or or loved ones’ health.

We’re all trying to adapt to a new world of physical distancing.

And yes, I use the term PHYSICAL distancing intentionally.

I think calling it “social distancing” is a mistake.

SOCIAL distancing is the LAST thing we all need right now. We just need to think differently about how to stay close to each other without actually being close to each other.

Clever things I’ve done or seen done to maintain a sense of connection, community, and centeredness in this difficult time:

  • Call your friends and family. Yes, on the actual telephone. With your actual voice. And actually talk to them.
  • Go one better and video call. Your computer probably has a built-in camera, and your smartphone definitely does. Apple products have Face Time built in for one-to-one, and I’m sure there’s something equivalent for Android. Want to gather a group? Zoom allows you to host up to 100 people for up to 40 minutes on their FREE account.
  • Virtual happy hours. You can use the speakerphone capacity of every single phone that exists – landline, mobile, smart – or a video platform.
  • My city council member has organized a Ward-wide stoop and porch happy hour tonight for 5 pm. We’ll all make our drinks – or order them for carry out or delivery from a locally owned business (yes, our city council included relaxing the laws to allow carry out booze in their COVID-19 emergency legislation) – and talk to our neighbors while maintaining a safe distance.
  • One of my neighbors organized a Google group and sharing of contact info for our block. We’ve been able to use it to get to know neighbors we didn’t know well yet and to share information about things like all the free digital resources the public library offers (ebooks, emagazines, video streaming, online courses, audio books, music streaming) and how to access them, offers of/requests for help, etc.

Also: GET SOME EXERCISE. You can still go for a walk and even chat with folks you see on the street as long as you keep your six foot distance. Fresh air is good for you.

Many gyms and fitness instructors are offering free video classes online, on their own platforms or on Vimeo or YouTube. My municipal government is streaming fitness classes on the local public access TV station and on the mayor’s social media platforms multiple times a day.

Did you know you can subscribe to the Peloton app for like $13 a month? It doesn’t include the bike, but they offer ALL KINDS of classes that don’t require a fancy pricey bike.

Also also: LIMIT SOCIAL MEDIA. In many cases, it’s adding to – rather than helping to ameliorate – anxiety right now.

What are you doing to maintain social closeness in a time of physical distancing and/or to maintain your mental and physical health right now?

Photo by the author, just because it’s pretty (yes, that’s my yard, from last fall when the monarchs came through on their way to their winter home in Mexico). If you copy, please link back.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

What ELSE Can You Do?

1103777-Jerry-Springer-Quote-Take-care-of-yourselves-and-each-other

Hecate had a great post yesterday about constructive ways you can respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

I’d like to add a few things.

Check on your elderly neighbors. If, like me, you’re a healthy adult under the age of 50, you are at relatively low risk, even if you contract coronavirus, of getting really sick. The 80 year old lady who lives down the block could die. Phone her to see if she needs any errands run – groceries, prescriptions, etc. Then go get her what she needs, drop it on her porch, and ring her bell to let her know it’s there.

Many local groups are starting Google doc signup sheets for people willing to do this. See if your community has one. No? Start one. Tell your friends and neighbors.

If you’re in a stable employment situation – salaried office worker or other person who is going to be continuing to get paid throughout this – donate to local nonprofits. Your local food bank is going to be hit hard as schools close and families whose kids normally get two meals a day at school suddenly need to be fed at home. They need your help. So do all your local nonprofits that support people who are experiencing homelessness.

Actually, lots of nonprofits need your help right now – many hold spring fundraising events that normally bring in a significant portion of their annual revenue, and those events are being cancelled or at least postponed. Even if you can’t go have a free cocktail, give what you were planning to, or maybe even a little more. Hey, it’s not like you’re spending money on going out.

While you’re at it, call your city council member and ask what the plan is to keep feeding kids even while the schools are closed.

You know who else is hurting? Small, local businesses. Big chains will weather this, although there are likely to be significant layoffs. You know who’s going to have trouble staying afloat at all? The local coffee shop, independent bookstore, small restaurant, boutique, etc. You know how you can support them right now, even if you don’t want to leave the house to buy anything? See if you can buy their stuff online. Yeah, you might have to pay a few bucks for shipping, but get over your Prime- spoiled self. For services, like restaurants, buy a gift card. Those things never expire, and it gives them the money NOW and you can use it later.

While you’re talking to your city council member, ask what they’re planning to do by way of emergency legislation to help small, local business. And ask them to include, in that emergency legislation, suspending evictions and utility shut offs.

Oh – and don’t hoard. Sure, buy an extra pack of toilet paper – but not seven. Buy a few extra cans of soup – but don’t clean out the shelves.

And don’t spread unverified “information.”

Yes, you need to take care of yourself, but we also need to take of each other.

Image found here. (And yes, you read that right – it’s THAT Jerry Springer. Doesn’t make him wrong.)

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

It’s Not Going to Be a Woman (Again)

WarrenHarrisSelfie

It’s not going to be Kirsten Gillibrand, despite the fact that she has smarts, and charisma, and experience, and gets shit done.

It’s not going to be Amy Klobuchar, despite the fact that she has smarts, and charisma, and experience, and gets shit done.

It’s not going to be Kamala Harris, who was my first choice until she was forced to drop out two months before the first votes were even cast, despite the fact that she had some good plans, and smarts, and charisma, and experience, and gets shit done.

The Harris campaign was somewhat disorganized, and her fundraising never took off, in significant part because the Bro Left, white AND black, promulgated deceptively edited “information” about her record as California AG. Miosgynoir, and relatedly, our primary process takes too goddamn long and costs too much goddamn money, requiring candidates to create behemoth fundraising operations that go on and on, when their time could and should be much better spent doing things like talking about what they plan to do as President and, even more importantly, showing us the work on how they plan to accomplish all their lofty goals (St. Bernard of the Snows, I’m looking at you).

It’s not going to be Elizabeth Warren, who was my second choice until she was forced to drop out yesterday, despite the fact that she had LOTS of good plans, and showed us all the work for those plans, and smarts, and charisma, and experience, and gets shit done.

The Warren campaign was well-run and her fundraising was strong. It’s funny how all the dudes who, in 2016, said, “I would TOTALLY vote for a woman if it was Elizabeth Warren. I just don’t like Hillary Clinton” were like “nope” as soon as Elizabeth Warren was actually running (it is totally NOT funny).

I think 2016 scared a lot of people. Hillary Clinton was the candidate of a lifetime, and she didn’t win. Can any woman win? Well, if every person who said, “Elizabeth Warren is clearly the best remaining candidate, but I just don’t know about her electability/ability to beat TrumPutin” had actually, you know, VOTED for her, well, who knows? We never will.

Black voters get to pick the Democratic nominee, as well they should. They’ve earned it by being the most dedicated and reliable Democratic voters. They ARE the base, and the base spoke clearly on Tuesday and chose Uncle Joe.

The thing is, black voters won’t determine the next President – at least not alone.

That’s up to white women, specifically suburban white women.

48% of white women voted for Donald Trump in 2016, compared to 45% who voted for Hillary Clinton (yes, the much-quoted 53% statistic is wrong). That’s still too many. Don’t think internalized misogyny is a thing? Talk to any evangelical white woman and have your eyes opened, terrifyingly.

And then many of those women had an epiphany on November 9, 2016, or shortly thereafter, as the implications of what they’d done became clear.

And then the small blue wave in Virginia in 2017 happened, followed by the big blue wave nationally in 2018, and the even bigger blue wave in Virginia in 2019.

What changed?

White women, specifically suburban white women, many of them like this woman.

Look, I’m not excited about yet another septuagenarian white dude becoming president, and I’ll bet you aren’t, either.

(One thing Team Joe could do that would REALLY help with that? Choose a woman as a running mate. Plenty of good options out there, some of whom have already specifically said they’d be interested in the job. Stacey Abrams. Val Demings. Tammy Duckworth. Tammy Baldwin. Sally Yates. Maggie Hassan. I could go on…)

And take time to be mad and sad, to rage and throw things, to drink some brown liquor, to eat too much ice cream or too many potato chips. Refuse to do any emotional or domestic labor for any men in your life for at least a little while. Do what you need to do. I know I am.

And then get ready, ladies, because this is going to be on us. I know the black ladies already are ready – they’re ALWAYS ready, Goddess bless and strengthen them – but white bitches (and non-black WOC), pull yourselves together and get ready to put in the work. It’s going to take every single one of us to do this, and 48% of you demolished any margin we had for error by your bad choices four years ago. Time to make amends.

Image found on Elizabeth Warren’s Twitter feed.

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

 

Maybe Cut People a Break

CompassionQuote

A few weeks ago, I had an encounter that I’ve been thinking about off and on since then.

It was an average weekday, mid-day, and I was getting on the bus line I ride most frequently. It picks up two blocks from my house and heads right into downtown, so it’s a multiple-times-a-week kind of thing, even though I work from home.

I get on, greet the driver, pay my fare, walk past a few folks in the front of the bus, sit down in one of the many empty seats, and take my book and reading glasses out of my bag.

I quickly become aware that a woman in the front of the bus is talking loudly. This is not an unusual occurrence, especially on this particular bus line. In fact, one of my FAVORITE things about this line is that often, someone will spot a friend or neighbor on the opposite end of the bus, and they’ll proceed to have a conversation, entertaining all of us, sometimes leading to bus-wide commentary on whatever topic they’re discussing, particularly if it’s local politics or sports.

This lady was not talking to a friend.

She was saying some pretty mean things about white people.  Glancing around, I realized I was the only white person on the bus at that time, also not an unusual occurrence.

“Eh,” I thought, “as a group, we’ve probably earned it, and remember: it’s not personal,” and went back to my book.

And that was all fine, until it became kind of personal.

Now, as anyone who knows me will tell you, I am pale. Like, really pale. Super-pale. My forebears are from Scotland-pale.

And the lady starts going off about how ugly pale-skinned white people get skin cancer and they deserve it, ha-ha-ha, isn’t that hilarious?

I’ve had multiple occurrences of skin cancer, only basal cell, thank the Goddess, and I go to a skin cancer specialist dermatologist every six months to keep an eye on things, so that’s bad enough.

However, one of my dearest friends of 20+ years died a year and a half ago of metastasized melanoma, leaving behind her husband (also a dear friend) to finish raising their two teenage sons alone.

Ouch.

In the modern world, what we tend to do in a situation like that is video the person being a jerk, post the video to every social media platform we have, try to find out who they are, and do everything we can to ruin their lives.

Why?

Look, maybe that lady on the bus is genuinely a mean person. She parks in the handicapped spot even though she doesn’t have a disability. She always takes a penny and never leaves one. She litters. She lets the door slam in your face, even when your hands are full. She cuts in line. Her favorite hobby is kicking puppies.

Or maybe not.

Maybe some white person had recently been really mean to her. Maybe she was having a shit day and needed to take it out on someone. Maybe she’s had enough of systemic racism and finally broke. Whatever the cause, I was handy.

And it hurt, and was cruel, more so than she could even possibly have been aware of.

People are mean to each other all the time. It’s particularly easy to be mean to strangers. It can be tough out here. The thing about being a stranger is: it’s not personal. There is literally no way it can be. Maybe rather than trying to wreck peoples’ lives over shitty behavior, we could all try cutting each other a break over momentary lapses.

Maybe think about that the next time someone posts someone else’s bad but private behavior on social media, before you pile on.

[Edited to add: Just to be clear, I’m not talking about recording and sharing incidents of police brutality, or of any other type of systemic abuse of power. I’m not even talking about recording and sharing incidents where a racist white person calls the cops on unsuspecting black folks who are just trying to go about their business, which is also a misuse of institutional power. I’m talking about person-to-person bad behavior, even if it’s motivated by bigotry. Just don’t.]

Image found here.

[Header image text for screen readers: Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.]

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

 

Buenas Tardes

(well, at least it’s “tardes” when I’m writing this – can’t vouch for when you’re reading it)

(And why is the alphabet song for Spanish kids so much more hip than the one I learned as a kid? I feel like native English speakers need to demand better!)

Last night, I finally started on this year’s New Year’s resolution with my first in-person Spanish class.

I took French in high school – and college – and grad school – and while I can muddle my way through menus and Où se trouve les toilettes?, I cannot speak it, or any other language than English. And it’s time to change that.

The first thing our native Spaniard teacher had the 12 of us do was introduce ourselves – “mi nombre es Mrs Whatsit” – and tell the class why we were taking Spanish lessons.

  • Two of our number are not originally from the US and are adding ANOTHER language to their existing trove. (Envious.)
  • Four of our number are studying Spanish for career-related reasons (two in medicine, one in hospitality, one in education).
  • Two of us were just interested in learning another language (in my words “because I’m tired of being the stereotypical ugly American who doesn’t speak anything but English”).
  • The final four? Have Spanish-speaking partners/fiancees (two same-gender) where the English-speaking partner wants to be able to converse with their beloved’s family.

The students were of several races, from all over the US and outside it, and four were learning another language FOR LOVE.

That gives me hope, hope that, despite TrumPutin’s depredations, our richly multi-ethnic, pluralistic society will survive.

So if you were to ask me, this afternoon, “¿Cómo estás?” I could truly reply: “Estoy muy bien, gracias.”

(I also, clearly, need to learn how to do accents and the inverted punctuation marks on my keyboard.)

(Edited to add: JUST FIGURED OUT THE ACCENTS! And the punctuation marks! Go me!)

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.