The Introverted Activist: What’s On My Mind

If you dislike politics, Friday’s posts are where they happen. I try to have a specific day because not everyone likes to talk politics or agrees with mine, and that’s cool. There’s more to me than that. So if you’re here for the turtles and zoo stuff, feel free to skip Fridays. I’m just glad you’re here.

So we’re, like, three or four weeks into the new year, and already I’m exhausted by the mess we continue to make. Awesome. Last week was horrible, really. I’ve been through government shut downs before. My mom worked for the government her entire working life, and we’ve been there. We experienced the three weeks of furlough and wondering how the bills were going to get paid. I survived it. Shut downs don’t scare me anymore. They infuriate me, like during the Obama administration when we were going from one 3-month appropriations bill to another. Come on, Congress. Get thumb out of ear and get budget passed.

So last week I was more angry than scared. I was proud of Democrats for standing strong and supremely irritated when Schumer caved. And I was OUTRAGED at Mitchy-witch choosing to reject funding to pay the military during the shut down. I know it was a pressure tactic, but it was cruel. Did you miss it? I’ve got you covered!

Here’s what Miss Heather wants.

  1. I want a clean DACA bill passed. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is the right thing to do. These folks were KIDS when they were brought into the country illegally. And now they’re college students, employees, tax-payers, and the GOP wants to yank them up and send them back to a country they may not even remember. Thanks for remembering Deuteronomy 10:19. Imagine being a toddler in the backseat of your mom’s car when she committed a bank robbery. Then when you’re 20, someone picks you up and puts you in jail for your mom’s crime. That she committed. Without your involvement or consent. Deportation of Dreamers amounts to the same thing. Why does that make sense to anyone at all?
  2. The second thing I want is funding for CHIP. Children’s Health Insurance Program is not the same thing as Medicaid. Whole different ballgame, folks. CHIP works with WORKING parents who make too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to buy health insurance. The program was a bipartisan effort to keep our kids healthy. Kids. Why is that wrong?
  3. The third thing that I want is for Congress to forget about the ridiculous wall. We don’t need a wall. The worst mass-shootings in our country’s history were committed by white people. We need that money for other things.

What have I done this week to achieve these goals?

  • I’ve called my senators on the regular. I speak with earnest civility to Bob Corker because sometimes he does the right thing. I rant at Lamar Alexander because he has swallowed the Republican bait hook, line, and sinker, and he only votes along party lines.
  • I have educated myself about the issues at hand. Education is key. So many people don’t understand what they’re voting FOR. It’s sad.
  • I have shared what I have learned online, and I have encouraged myself to keep fighting the good fight. It’s nowhere close to over.
  • I have begun discussing and researching candidates for the midterm elections. Even though 2018 has felt like a millennium at this point, November will come. And we can flip some states blue.

Here are some places you can plug in:

  • Indivisible 453 – Voter ID laws
  • 5calls.org – They will give you the number for your representatives and tell you what the burning issues are that you can call about.
  • Association of State Democratic Chairs – they can help you get in touch with your local group
  • DCCC – find out how to volunteer for the Democratic party
  • GOP – find out how to volunteer – I don’t expect that everyone holds my ideals. You do you. If we each work toward our important goals, we can shape this country the way it should be, with something for everyone.

 

What have you done this week to help move the country in the direction YOU believe that it should go?

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Possum Living: Laying the Ground Rules

So back at the beginning of the year (is 2018 over yet, because it feels like it has hung around long enough!), I shared some of my goals. One of them was the most ambitious thing I have ever tried. Inspired by the book Possum Living (cool video here), I plan to go all of 2018 without buying anything I don’t NEED. Sometimes there is a giant grey area between needs and wants. Take books, for example. I need books like I need air. But do I NEED to BUY them? Unless it is a text for my job, probably not. This outline is rather fluid, and time may force some changes, but I will share any changes as a means of holding myself accountable.

Needs:

  • Gasoline
  • Food
  • College tuition
  • Clothing (but NO T-SHIRTS)
  • Utilities and mortgage
  •  Cellphone – I have a Tracfone, so I have to get service cards periodically. Texts are $5 for 1000, and it’s the primary way we communicate at work
  • Books specifically relevant to work – must be read within a month of purchase
  • Car (I signed my car’s death warrant when I put my favorite sticker on it)
  • Potting soil and bare bones supplies for growing plants to sell at Farmer’s Market
  • Photo books – I do these twice a year as a gift for my mom, but I also get one for me. My photos are essential. But no superfluous photo gifts. I use Snapfish, and they usually provide me with good coupons.

Wants:

  • Books (Goodbye, BookBub! Until next year?) – Not even the illustrated Goblet of Fire due out in October
  • Harry Potter memorabilia (this kills me!)
  • Music (unless I already have gift card credit on the music site)
  • Toys for the pets. It’s too bad, really, because Lumen is quite destructive, but she LOVES HER TOYS SO MUCH! I stocked up on the one toy she hasn’t managed to completely murder and dismantle, so she won’t have nothing. Don’t look at me like that!
  • Additional pets – (no more snakes? WHAT? But… but…)
  • He wants a friend…

  • Additional pet housing, beyond basic supplies (food, UVB bulbs, etc
  • Toys in general
  • Impulse buys for the kids
  • Clearance holiday stuff *whimper* unless it’s for prizes for my students
  • Squishables
  • Coffee or meals out – unless I am traveling or it is pre-arranged date-night
  • Postage for packages to friends
  • Gifts – beyond family birthdays and gift-giving holidays
  • An addendum to the above rule: no creating gift-giving holidays. In our house, Valentine’s Day is a children’s holiday. I cannot turn it into a “Hey, gimme this Funko Pop! figure” holiday.

So you’re here to hold me accountable.  Almost As much fun as a host of fleas nesting in your armpits.

I make a lot of impulse purchases when I’m feeling sad, lonely, depressed, excited, anxious. I admit that I shop (and eat) to deal with feelings and to fill a void. So what am I going to do when that shopper vibe starts bouncing in my brain? I’m going to be creative. Literally. Like, I’m going to create something. Here are some ways to channel my energy

  • Write – I’ve been successful with this one. I have been writing a LOT. I have written so many blog posts this year already, and that’s not even the tip of my brain’s iceberg. I think I could spend the next few weeks and write out blog posts for each day for the rest of the year. Don’t worry. I won’t. But I could. And I wrote a short story and entered a writing competition. So yay.
  • Take Lumen for a walk or a run- I ran with her a few days ago, and I totally freaked her out. “If Mommy’s running, someone must be chasing! LET’S MAKE TRACKS!”
  • Who’s the happiest dog-parking dog in the world? And maybe the most exhausted. Little Pittie mixes are fast and intense, old girl!

  • Read – I am on NetGalley, and I’m working on reading a book I’m super-excited about. And when I read the book, I can REVIEW it, so that brings me back to WRITING!
  • Knit – I have the basics down. Yay, me. But I suck at it. Practice makes perfect, so I shall practice.
  • Give stuff away – Stuff begets more stuff. If I clear out some of the clutter, I am less inclined to buy matching clutter. Also, moving stuff out helps me to realize how much I already HAVE.
  • Make little turtles out of Sculpey – I’m good at this, and I owe some people some critters. I gotta get on this as soon as my right arm begins functioning again.
  • Play Neko Atsume -What better way to practice becoming a crazy cat lady than to learn to attract stray cats?

    My yarn balls bring ALL the kitties to the yard. And I can’t get rid of them. Help!

 

How do YOU deal with anxiety or depression? What’s the most effective thing for you? Tell me in the comments.

 

 

The Introverted Activist: Kicking Off the New Year with #Resolutions

Well, folks. Here we are. The first Friday of the New Year. I can’t promise that I am going to post on activism on a weekly basis. I get overwhelmed by the state of things sometimes, and I have to take a break. I am only one person. It doesn’t mean that I don’t matter, but it means I can give myself permission not to try to carry the weight of the world by myself. I might even be open to a guest post, if anyone is interested.

So I need to stay politically active. I have voted at every opportunity, and I have informed myself before hitting the polls so I’m not just voting blind (someone I know once had a moment where they thought they had accidentally voted for Stacey Campfield. The stuff of nightmares!)

Maybe the stupidest human being on the planet? And he got re-elected in our district because people didn’t realize who they were voting for. “Stacey? That’s some girl, right? Wimmen’s Lib!” This is why I will not cast a vote without knowing one candidate from another!

 

It was disheartening to learn that out of my city of 186,000 people,  11,000 voted in the November election, and it was the highest turn-out ever for an election that didn’t have anything state or federal on the ballot. But I was encouraged because several of the seats were taken by first-timers, one whose fundraising was a strictly grassroots effort. And I taught my kids that city elections are maybe even more important than national because it affects us right here at home.  So that’s good. Now what?

  • I can help people get connected to health insurance. Enrollment for health insurance is still open for 7 states, almost a quarter of the US population! Looking for health insurance? Maybe your state is one of them. Check here. Congress got rid of the individual mandate, which destabilizes a market that was beginning to shore itself up, but young and healthy people can still stick it to the man by getting insurance even though the government says you don’t have to.
  • I can learn about running for office. There’s an amazing website I found (maybe more than one) that gives the basics. This year, I am going to take the free class in how to run. If you go to that website and put in your address, it will tell you what elected offices are available and when the next election is.
  • I can call my representatives. I have one number for each on my speed dial, but I am going to add numbers for their other offices, too. I called so often this Fall that the intern answering the phone was tired of hearing from me. Want to find yours? Go here.
  • I will probably find my way to a protest or two. Them things is galvanizing.
  • And of course, I will share what I have done here. It’s my way of holding myself accountable. If I inspire someone else to action along the way, so much the better.

So that’s my list. What will you be doing in the coming year? And how can I help?

The Introverted Activist: We’re Still Fighting #Resist

What can I tell you that you don’t already know? I have not been as plugged in as I usually am because, frankly, I’m tired. Also, this year I implemented “No-tech Tuesdays” at my house because I enjoy giving my children yet another reason to resent me and because it is nice to have one day where I can say “Oh, no. I am not allowed to read anything else that Trumpertantrum has done,” so I missed some of the action.

Is Trump getting impeached

Again, I am going to have to odd because I just…can’t…even.

The low points of the week:

  • Senate confirmations of Betsy “Bought My Post” DeVos and Jeff “Too Racist To Be a Federal Judge, So I Have To Be Attorney General” Sessions.
  • the sexist censure of Elizabeth Warren
  • Kellyanne Conway’s commercial for Ivanka’s clothing line. It’s a low point mostly because I am so frustrated that the Senate is unlikely to do anything about it any time soon, though it was a clear violation of ethics.
  • My Representative, Jimmy Duncan, refuses to hold a town hall despite many requests. He denies the request based on the notion that he has received unkind emails since Trumpertantrum’s reign of terror, and he is sure a town hall will bring out “kooks and extremists.” He hasn’t held a town hall in over 20 years. If he is that paranoid, perhaps it is time for someone to oppose and depose him. Perhaps I am that someone. I don’t know yet.

The high points for the week:

  • 9th Circuit Court of Appeals smacks down the travel ban most gloriously. The fact that his tweets and rants about targeting a group of people based on their religion helped seal the deal is icing on that particularly scrumptious cake.
  • Then there’s this:https://twitter.com/XGroverX/status/829818984094654465
  • After Kellyanne Conwoman’s shameless (and I mean that in the most literal and astounding sense of the word) plug of Ivanka’s clothing line, the Office Of Government Ethics website crashed due to people filing complaints against her for using her public office in such a manner. They received 300K page views in 2016. In the first 40 days of this year, they have had 5,000,000 views. Hmm.
  • Preliminary paperwork has been filed to impeach ol’ 45.

 

What I did this week:

Honestly, not as much as I had planned. I hit a wall, but I am dusting myself off and preparing to dig in again.

I bought more cards to send to Senators. I want to  encourage those in Congress who are standing up to the Trumpertantrum. It is a tough job to do, and I don’t want it to be a thankless one.

I filed a complaint with the Office of Government Ethics over Kellyanne Conwoman. I’m sure I’ll be filing more in the near future.

I joined a “Huddle,” which is a small, local group that comes together to fight all of this garbage. We’re making t-shirts this weekend, and we’re sending cards to Congress and letters of admonition to certain others. More importantly, we’re encouraging one another and reminding ourselves that we are not alone in this fight.

For funsies, I signed a petition to discipline the Conwoman. These petitions don’t usually do much, BUT by signing it, I agreed to receive activism updates. I am all for that. I am new to this bidness, and I want to learn as much as I can.

Self care. I read an incredible book, and I treated myself to an autographed copy of another book that is due out soon and has had quite the buzz. And I slept when I was tired.

We are in this together. We can do it. We can’t give up, even when it feels like the chips are stacked against us and all that other cliche stuff. Want to learn how to be more effective in influencing Congress? Read this piece. There is even a link to a free e-book to help you learn more.

Face-palm of the week: Republicans aren’t telling us what the replacement for the Affordable Care Act will be because if they tell us ahead of time, we probably won’t like it. Uh, okay. Call me convinced, then.

What did you do this week?

 

 

Every Single Time

Every time, I promise myself this time will be different. I will be strong. I will not forget who I am.I will not give in to the anger or swear under my breath. I will not dissolve into a puddle of hatred and self-recrimination.  And every time, I am wrong. Wal-mart just has that effect on me.

Yes. I shop at Wal-mart. Don’t judge. No, go ahead. I judge myself all the time. But my choices at this point are to get a real job and put Squish in daycare or shop where my current budget allows. Rock, meet Hard Place. But I digress. We do buy our milk, eggs, and most of our soy products from a store where we can buy organic. We do what we can, right? RIGHT?

I hate going grocery shopping so much that I only go every two weeks. Planning out my menus for two weeks is a bit of a pain, but it limits the pummeling on my poor psyche gets to twice a month. I dread the trip. I should say I go no more than every two weeks. I will put it off for as long as possible, until we are eating pancakes and black beans every night (not together. That would be gross.). When it gets to the point where sweet husband is asking what I’m serving for dinner with trepidation in his voice, I know I can’t avoid it any longer. And yesterday, it was time.

I decided shopping would be less painful if it didn’t take an important part of my day (i.e. nap time). The plan was to make out the list at breakfast and go straight after dumping kids at school. Determined not to let the prospect of shopping ruin the morning, I plastered a sunny (psychotic?) smile on my face and asked the family what kind of things they’d like to see on the menu for the next two weeks. If I include them in the process, they are less likely to complain about what I am serving, right? RIGHT? Whatever. I might as well have asked them what kind of tires to put on the dishwasher for all the interest they showed. Sweet husband dutifully took pen in hand while I walked the 9 year old to school and made a few additions. A very few. He suggested that we have pancakes two nights. I give up.

But I was not going to let this trip turn me into a dried up, bitter shrew. That’s what having teenagers is for. This trip was for sustenance. Nothing more. So I packed up Squish, and we went. I cheerfully headed to the general merchandise section for the non-foods on my list. I found soap quickly enough, though the aisle was so narrow I had to leave my cart where it was. No problem. Next on the list? Deodorant. Piece of cake. I found it with no trouble. Except there was not a single brand for me. Not one. Do other people’s husbands not stink after their morning 5 mile run? My husband is secure in his masculinity, but I am pretty sure that if I brought home something that made him smell like flowers, he’d have something to say about it. No problem. I picked one that is unscented. What’s that, pumpkin? No. Mommy is only talking to herself. She is being so silly! No, those aren’t words Mommy wants you to use. This is FUN!

I managed to find my knitting needles in the proper size with little trouble, and I found the sandwich containers on sale (score!). Selling my soul for 25 cents off is what it is all about. Then I needed to find doorknob covers to keep Squish out of trouble at home. I located the baby section pretty easily. But the aisles are no longer marked. Nor do they make any sense. You may find diapers and bottles in pretty much the same spot. I certainly didn’t mind walking up, down and sideways through every aisle. Twice. It was actually fun! It was! So fun!

How I managed to contain my excitement and get over to the grocery side, I will never know. We had a fantastic time looking for our pretzels. I know those silly managers stock them in four different places just to make our trip exciting. Like a treasure hunt! X marks the spot. Where I lost my mind. Something snapped, and I couldn’t take it anymore. I began loudly talking to “myself” about the morons who created this ever-lovin’ floor plan, about the aisles that are so narrow that two people can’t pass, about the fact that the store has only carried the light variety of string cheese for MONTHS! If I want to be fat, I will jolly well be fat! Fat and jolly!

I shoved my cart to the check out and did my best to maintain pleasant small-talk with the cashier.  It wasn’t his fault. I grabbed up my groceries and headed to the car. And it was raining. Perfect. And once I got home, I was going to have to unload the stupid things on my own. Awesome. But I bought a lot of stuff. Plenty, really. I bet I can stretch these groceries out for at least three weeks. I think I’ll make some beans.

 

 

Back to School Blues

This photo has nothing to do with the blog except that padlopers make me happy. And I need that.

The beginning of the school year is hard for me. It’s not the forced adherence to an arbitrary schedule. It’s not having to say goodbye to the kids I’ve had such fun with. It’s not the sudden inability to pack up the troops and head off on some fun adventure. Sure, there’s some of that. But here’s my secret. I despise the end of summer because I have to shop for school supplies.

When I was a kid, I loved shopping for my school supplies. I’d run home from school on the first day proudly brandishing my list. I couldn’t wait until dinner was over so we could dash out to the store. Each item on the list represented an opportunity to buy something new. All for me. The possibilities were so exciting. Would there be enough money in the budget for me to have the Garfield folders instead of the plain ones? Would my mom spring for those weird triangular pencil grips that were all the rage, even though I had nibbled through every one she had ever bought me? And if there was something really unique on the list like a watercolor set, so much the better And I couldn’t wait to go to school the next day and compare my new treasures with those of my friends.

Fast forward a few years and a few kids, and the shine has definitely worn off a bit. I dread the arrival of “the list,” and I am in a snit from the moment it arrives. I don’t mind outfitting my kids for a school year. What bugs me is that I am forced to go to Wal-mart.

I know that there are other stores that sell school supplies. Office supply places spam my inbox every day with their “unbeatable” deals. But school supply lists rarely contain only school supplies anymore. As much as I hate shopping at Wal-mart, it’s worse when I have to visit multiple stores. So off to the mart we go.

I don’t know about your area, but our big, soul-sucking box stores have a little cardboard kiosk where befuddled parents can pick up supply lists starting in early July. A simple courtesy or shameless marketing? And here’s the catch. They only carry the lists for nearby schools. In my town, there are a LOT of schools, and the Wal-mart that is most convenient for us is apparently out of our area.

There’s something a little demoralizing about being zoned for a Wal-mart. We’ve all seen People of Wal-mart . I’m sorry I can’t live up to those standards . And you can forget about visiting the one that is officially “in our area.” Yes, it is brand new, but the floor-plan was designed by a schizophrenic. The make-up and produce are in the same area, the whole building has a ceiling that consists of bare pipes. Except for the bakery, which has an 8 foot ceiling and such low lighting that it’s like buying your baked goods at a garage sale. Yummy.

The aisles themselves also also drive me nuts with their inconsistency, as though the whole thing was thrown together in a hurry. Nothing says “quality control” like having so much space in Baking that you can fit 5 carts abreast but making Storage Containers so narrow that two carts can barely pass one another. And there’s no way to get from the front of the store to the back without going to the path in the center of the store because the sections are now a perpendicular maze. I get so frustrated that I end up channeling the spirit of the floor plan designer, talking to myself and swearing under my breath.

So this year, the kids and I stopped by a Wal-mart while we were running errands in a different part of town. I was determined that this year would be different. I would not end the trip in a horrible mood. I would not complain. I would enjoy this time of excited anticipation with my children. Whatever.

The smell hit me the moment we entered the (well-hidden) school supply section. I sniffed the baby. I sniffed the older children. We collectively checked the bottom of our shoes. Apparently, we didn’t bring this delightful aroma with us. It was already here. It smelled as though someone had taken a dump in the floor. A big one. Having once reported to my register 15 minutes late because I was trying to prevent shoppers from slipping in a puddle of urine, I am well aware of the probability of that little scenario. Yes, I once worked at Wal-mart. And I have seen things.

And that little trip never got any better. We were unable to locate most of the items on the list, and we were forced across the street to Target. Don’t get me started. Target is just as soul-less, minus the poop, and I wasn’t any happier when I left their store.

But if you would please excuse me. My daughter just brought home her list. I need to run to Wal-mart.