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Blinking At Reality

It’s easy to feel defeated. The news is filled with the headline-worthy atrocities humans inflict on one another and on the planet. I remember growing up, I was regularly horrified as I learned about another new way everything was wrong in the world. Apartheid, the Cold War, chlorofluorocarbons and the Ozone Layer, the Lebanese Civil War, homophobia, female circumcision, sex trafficking, serial killers, factory farming, Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners around the globe. It was all too much. But I was young and spirited and became involved in activism. Sadly little seems to have changed. And has grown worse, really, in many ways. As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized I was trying to change symptoms when the root problems need to be addressed. Over and over again the main culprit seems to be capitalism. Young people like Greta Thunberg give me some hope:

School climate strikes: 1.4 million people took part, say campaigners - Activist Greta Thunberg, 16, says action proved ‘no one is too small to make a difference’ and Greta Thunberg calls for ‘system change not climate change

The system that needs to be changed to avert climate disaster is capitalism, which is losing its legitimacy largely due to the system’s failure to respond effectively to climate change.

How About Five Satisfying Things, Related to Nature?

Oh, and Happy Equinox! We got an early start on Sunday, spending the day on a friend’s goat farm (said friend pictured below). From the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy online:

Astrological and Cultural Significance of the Vernal Equinox
Throughout the history of mankind, the Vernal Equinox has been a time of celebration for many civilisations. For some, it signified the passing of the old year and the rebirth of the new and has, for a long time, been considered the beginning of the Pagan New Year, when the Sun reaches the First Point of Aries (2,500 years ago this was at the Cardinal, Fire Sign of Aries, the Ram). It was a celebration of the return of the Sun God from the winter underworld. The Lupercalian fertility festival also took place during the Vernal Equinox. Likewise, Easter - originating from the ancient Germanic fertility festival Ostara in honour of the goddess of spring, Eostre, but is nowadays all about fluffy bunnies and chocolate eggs - celebrations take place on the first Sunday following the full moon that occurs on or following the Vernal Equinox, when the barrenness of Winter is overcome by the fertility that comes with Spring.

Mark, post-sauna, posing in his bedroom

The Scourge of White Supremacy

Don’t watch the videos. Please. It’s horrific enough that white nationalist terrorists committed these atrocities. I’m terrified of these internet trolls who are moving their hate from online to the real world. And feeling empowered to do so by right-wing politicians.

At least 49 people were killed at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, on Friday, in a horrific and methodical afternoon slaughter, part of which was broadcast live on the internet after the publication of a white supremacist manifesto online.

New Zealand mosque attacks and the scourge of white supremacy: Shootings at Christchurch mosques are only the latest on a long list of acts of white supremacist terrorism in the West.

Although US media and political elites spend considerable time discussing “Islamic terrorism”, far-right, white supremacist terrorism is far more common. A recent study showed that two-thirds of terrorist attacks in the US are carried out by far-right individuals and groups. Research by the Southern Poverty Law Center, meanwhile, shows that most far-right violence is unambiguously linked to white supremacy.

As usual, I feel overwhelmed and powerless. This morning all I can do is offer up five hopeful or inspiring Muslim stories and events:


Dancing on My Own

Still blissed out when thinking about last week’s Robyn show. The City Pages write-up: Robyn offers shortcuts to ecstasy at her euphoric Palace performance. Photos from my friend Jon at Reviler. And here’s the audience singing Dancing on My Own. I’d thought that was pretty impressive. But later that week NYC had their own singalong while waiting for the E Train and watching it gave me goosebumps. Make sure you have your sound way up!

Today’s Top Five:

It’s nearly mid-March and our Spring break trip is less than two weeks away. Yet here I am, giving up or giving in, by buying Yaktrax. For both the boy and myself. Current temperatures are just above freezing and it’s been raining for days. I’m happy to see the snow melt, making our alleyway more navigable, though it means flooded basements for some. What’s disconcerting is the forecast. We’ll be back below freezing tonight through Saturday. It’s going to get slick out there. And we’ve had enough of falling. Too bad I can’t get Yaktrax for my car as well.


Embrace the Unknown

The other night my therapist was talking - again - about viewing events as neither good nor bad, without making a value judgment. And making a distinction between value judgments and observations. Well, yesterday morning I observed my little hatchback being rear-ended by a giant Dodge Ram. I am ok and I think my Volvo is as well. I had taken a different route to work than usual. At one intersection I started to turn right on red before realizing this was prohibited (there was a text-only sign reading “No Right Turn On Red”). So I stopped but the truck behind me did not. Well, not until it ran into my car. Randy, the Ram driver, tried to blame it on the ice but I think it was just morning commute impatience. We pulled over around the way and exchanged info. Such an exciting start to a Tuesday.

In other news, last week I was reading a roundup of local Twin Cities saunas (Rooftops! Mobile units! Infrared technology! Space eggs!) and posted to Facebook, asking if anyone wanted to join me in the golden egg. Thankfully a friend reminded me he has his own sauna. That I would be free to use, for free (instead of shelling out $35 for a half hour). On his farm. That also has goats. Thank you, yes! So we put a plan together to co-host a party at his place. I’m so very excited. I’ve already obtained the groceries needed to make BBQ tofu and more. And we’ll be drinking LaCroix instead of alcohol because - sauna. Safety first.

Five Things I Am Interested In And/Or Thankful For:

Last weekend I was feeling motivated. I had just listened to an Imaginary Worlds podcast episode about Margaret Brundage, who illustrated some of the best Weird Tales cover art in the 1930s. And then I saw a call for submissions, from women writers only, for 1930s Weird Tales style short stories. Sign me up! Initially, I had just been excited by the idea. Saturday morning I woke up with a fully formed story in my head. And I managed to flesh out the whole thing Saturday and Sunday. Now I’m making the final tweaks before I send it off. Whether or not my submission is accepted is irrelevant. It was just incredibly satisfying to write fiction again.

Sunday brunch bed head

And Still They Move

Well, I did not let that one go. I let him back in. We are all flawed. And we’ve continued to hunker down together at my place on weekends while this brutally long winter extends its assault. Sunday we canceled our brunch reservations due to a wind chill advisory. Record-breaking cold for March 3rd. Instead we stayed in my cozy bed a little longer than usual, before I threw breakfast together for us. Leaving the house these days is anxiety-inducing. I am a short woman driving a hatchback that is very low to the ground. The snowbanks are so high at every intersection I have trouble seeing around them, to look for oncoming traffic. As much as I want the snow to disappear it’s sure to be trouble when it melts. Minnesota is dealing with more snow cover than in 1965, which raises concerns about flooding come Spring.


Without Music, Life Would Be a Mistake

I can no longer recall where I spotted that Friedrich Nietzsche quote recently, but it pops up now and again and has always stuck with me. Music has been one of my main coping methods for as long as I can remember. And my quality of life improved with my first pair of headphones. Better still these days, with bluetooth noise-cancelling ones. My younger self could have benefited greatly from these. And anyone else who suffers from misophonia.

Five Good Things, music edition:

  • This new interview with Stevie Nicks made my day - topics ranging from Tom Petty to Drag Queens to “Game of Thrones” and missing Prince.
  • Tuesday night I dragged my tired self out, while it was snowing again, to see a band I was really excited about. ADULT. And I’m really glad I did. They were incredible. It even felt like going out to a show on a school night, back in the day, because I picked up some friends along the way. The buddy system is the best. Tonight I have a ticket to see The Chills, on their first US tour since 1996. I hope I can manage it. They are long-time faves but it’s going to be such a long day. Day job, then teaching at the part-time job then show? Then work in the morning. I’m getting too old for this kind of endurance test.
  • Next Tuesday I finally get to see Robyn! You and me together, Stars 4-Ever! I managed to buy a ticket during the pre-sale. That show sold out so quickly.
  • Brought to my attention via Mizna, this a great article written by Miray Filobos analyzing Rami Malek’s recent Oscar win:
    “My Facebook feed is engulfed with images of Rami Malek winning awards, and none of his role playing Freddie Mercury – a flamboyantly androgynous and queer legend. Erased from their Facebook posts – intentionally, I think – is part of Rami’s speech where he emphasizes that the film is, indeed, ‘about a gay man, an immigrant, who lived his life just unapologetically himself.’ The selective celebration of immigration and not of queerness is blatant, and the heroization of Rami Malek as an immigrant makes me wonder if he would have been so quickly claimed as ‘one of us’ had he, himself, been queer.”
  • Low covering Bruce Springsteen’s I’m On Fire has been in my regular rotation lately.

Still thinking about Stevie Nicks. So many highlights in that interview. This bit is pretty great:

I don’t like what the Internet has done to people and I don’t like the fact that it’s nailed romance to the wall. I think it’s hard for people to find love these days. That makes me sad as a songwriter, because I want to write about love — I write about my friends’ relationships. People who call me up and say, “Oh my God, I met this gorgeous man and I totally fell in love with him,” and and I’m like, “Tell me more!” But it’s not happening near as much. Girls, don’t take it personally. It’s not you — it’s the Internet. There has to be romance before there can be love and it’s very hard to find romance in this hardcore high-tech world.

I’m not in a relationship and haven’t been in one for a long time, because I have chosen to follow my musical muse all over the world. When I was 20, 30, 40, I always had a boyfriend — always. But I have decided I’m just going to be free and follow my muse and do whatever I want, because I’m 70 years old and I can. That’s my choice. But if you do want to find romance? Throw away your fucking phone.

Badass babe companions
ADULT. at Turf Club
Vowws at Turf Club

What A Time To Be Alone

Well, my weekend went sideways. For the past few months I’ve bent over backwards to make space for someone in my life. And it has routinely backfired on me. Interpersonal relationships shouldn’t be this exhausting. It is time to admit defeat. Before this I thought I had made peace with being alone. But the good times with him reminded me what I had been missing. This morning I watched Chidera Eggerue’s TED Talk. A lot of her points are ones I had already worked to internalize over the last few years. I do like who I am when I am alone. I am good company, for myself. Which is why I often travel alone and have a great time while doing so. And yet. I still find myself attracted to aloof, indifferent men. So this really hit home:

You’ll find this person doesn’t even know what they want. And the problem with people who don’t know what they want is that you will never be enough for them.

That scans. Time to let that one go. It hurts now but it will be better in the long run.

Had some unexpected good news this morning to offset this, a little. My federal tax refund magically appeared in my account today, despite having filed just last week. I was able to pay off some bills, and sock away some money for our big trip next month. Bonus? My son has been getting into indoor climbing. A relief to get him doing something physically active and away from staring at YouTube. For Giftmas I bought him climbing shoes and a harness. He already had plans to go climbing today and it just happens to be the annual one day sale at Vertical Endeavors. I was able to buy the kid a membership at quite the discount (he had been paying $18 per visit - this will make his new pastime much more affordable). Moving forward I hope to find more unanticipated good. I am certainly open to it.

Dinner with my son

Work On Your Context

It’s Saturday and tonight there’s a big happening with old friends and their old bands. I’d planned to be there. But woke up feeling like it’s just too much. I’ve given myself permission to sit this one out. Another friend - also on the fence about going - told me “there’s no shame in staying home.” That would make for a great tattoo but I would have to leave the house in order to get that tattooed. By Spring I’ll feel more social again. After all the wicked icicles melt and the constant winter storm watches cease. For now I’m recharging at home.

Five Good Things in the dead of winter:

Bonus: This had already been on my mind, again, and reinforces the notion I’ve got some habits in need of curbing. Do Not Disturb: How I Ditched My Phone and Unbroke My Brain

Winter morning at Lake Como

It Goes On

Feeling like we’re trapped in the Groundhog Day movie. Minneapolis Public Schools have already called for another snow day for tomorrow. And the snow hasn’t even started falling yet. That will be school cancellation day number six for 2019. These endless blizzards are getting old. And taking their toll on my personal well-being, and on my car. Last week my transmission went out on the way to work. Thankfully it happened just before I reached the highway but the unplanned expense and stress were a huge hit making it hard to maintain PMA but I’m trying. How about Five Good Things?

Unfortunately it’s still winter in Minnesota. And a very extra winter at that. Winter plus plus. So what could be more Minnesotan than listening to and celebrating our local-ish slowcore faves, Low. Calm Amidst The Storm: Low’s Debut 25 Years On.

Sweet Miss Olive
Sweet Miss Olive

Star of the North

Minnesota apologists will claim this is just a normal winter, like the kind we had when we were kids. But no. This extreme weather has all been happening in a more condensed window. We’ve already endured the 4th snowiest February on record and it’s only the 12th of the month. Minnesotans are complaining on social media about having nowhere else to put the snow when clearing sidewalks and driveways. And most of this snow came after the brutal cold snap that shut down all the schools for days. This winter has been a mix of hunkering down at home, then poking our heads out when it’s safe, to resupply. But life is more than just survival, even up here in the frozen North Star State. Thankfully I made it out for a friend’s birthday party Saturday night. Sure, I’ve enjoyed bands in a variety of venues but in a hockey arena? That was a first. Particularly the hockey arena across the street from the house I grew up, in the suburbs. That’s where I first strapped on my own ice skates at an early age, and on a regular basis (at one point I was able to skate backwards). It was a nostalgia filled evening and loads of fun. Especially seeing our friends’ bands play there. Including the birthday girl’s band, McVicker.

Five More Good Things:

Sunday we had our friends’ wedding to attend but more blizzarding happened. My son and I made baked goods for the reception and had hoped to get a Lyft down to the venue, since the roads were terrible. And there are no snow day cancellations for weddings! Not in Minnesota anyhow. But no Lyft drivers would heed our call. Thankfully some good friends live nearby, were also going to the wedding and have an AWD vehicle with good tires. The timing worked out just right and they were able to transport us - and our cookies and ginger-pear crisp - to the wedding in time. Phew. Too many close calls lately. And what a wedding it was. Short but sweet ceremony, favorite friends everywhere, fright prop photo booth, karaoke and more. So glad we made it.

Emma at her birthday party