I’m Not Trying to Convert Anyone Anymore

I’ve been thinking a lot about argument, discussion, debate and discourse lately. For obvious reasons. When I argue these days, it’s to stand up for a point I think is important or advocate for a value I believe in. But I no longer really try to convince other people that they’re wrong and I’m right. In many cases I’ve simply lost faith that it has much of an effect, but at a deeper level this is yet another callback to my Mormon upbringing and worldview.

Mormonism is a missionary faith – as is pretty well known. Most everyone has seen or had an interaction with the official missionaries out and about, or is familiar with them as a concept through pop culture. Missionary service is an expectation of young men, and increasingly encouraged for young women (which didn’t use to be the case compared to encouraging them to prioritize marriage). Not only that, there is a perpetual mission effort within the culture and structure of congregations, supported by messages and guidance encouraging all adherents to proselytize. “Every member a missionary,” as the slogan goes.

This attitude towards conversion comes from a place of genuine love and caring. The underlying premise is that if you have found Truth, you have an obligation to lead others to that truth. If knowledge of this truth is necessary to salvation, you do not have a right to keep it to yourself and deny others the opportunity. If you love something, if you believe it: you share it. Complacency about other people’s understanding is not allowed.

My observation is that this attitude remains intact even if one leaves the faith. I’ve written before how my Mormon-ness doesn’t “wash off,” even if I no longer believe in it. The cultural conditioning and in-built heritage remains. I don’t think I’m alone in this. I’ve noticed that a lot of people who leave the church seem to go through a period where they seem to try to replicate missionary work in reverse – having become convinced of the “truth” (in this case, the falseness of the faith), they want to “open other people’s eyes” to it. Whether knowingly or otherwise, I witness a lot of people try to use the same tools of conversion for deconversion. And for the same reasons! If you care about someone, you want the best for them. Ergo, if you think a belief system is bad, you are unable to be complacent about it and feel a responsibility for their welfare.

Here’s the thing: I don’t think it works.

No one “deconverted” me from my faith. It was the result of over a decade of intense internal debate and inquiry. Topic after topic was picked up, examine, interrogated, debated, researched, and – yes – prayed over. Gradually ideas, realizations, perceptions, and information combined and coalesced into something I could no longer deny: I did not believe the same things that the organization taught. I thought it was wrong, I didn’t trust or believe several of its key truth claims, I could not participate in the community and remain true to the things I did believe, and there was no successful path for a cultural participation in the heritage of the faith without also a full throated and genuine adherence to its beliefs structures.

And every time I have tried to explain this process to a believer – a misguided attempt to do “missionary work” for my experience and perspective – I have failed to do it justice. I have failed to explain it in a way that makes sense to them, or they have failed to listen. We are operating from two fundamentally different perspectives of Capital T Truth.

I was having a vigorous (but respectful) political discussion with a loved one the other day that centered on the protests against police brutality in the States. We do not agree politically, but are able to argue and debate fairly successfully. I love this person, and they love me and while our differences have caused friction, they have not caused rift. In this I am so much more lucky than many people I know and I’m grateful beyond words for it.

The most significant aspect of this conversation for me happened towards the end of the discussion. After debating philosophical differences between sides of the political spectrum, trading thoughts on what the manifestations of those differences are, and talking Big Picture concepts, I referred to my own (admittedly anecdotal) experience of working for a police department myself for five years and what I witnessed there. (For those who don’t know, this police department was affiliated with my alma mater and a religious institution.)

This person’s reaction was along the lines of, “That experience really ruined a lot of things for you.” The implication being, that my political and religious views were fundamentally changed during this period of my life – and not for the better.

My immediate reaction was a flash of white hot anger. It felt really belittling to be told, in effect, “Your reaction to your own personal experience and observations are wrong,” by a person who was not there, was not privy to my thought process, and in spite of these gaps, does not see some of the choices I’ve made as valid or correct.

But after a beat, calm reasserted itself because the truth is, this person is right. Working for a police department for five years did change my view of policing. Which is a perfectly rational progression of events. Most people with opinion on policing have never worked for PD! And working at an institution controlled and managed by a religious organization also informed my view of that organization. Which again, feels like a pretty sensible way to form a point of view. I know a lot of people with views on religion who have never stepped foot in a place of worship. Now, we can debate the rightness or wrongness of my opinions, but at least they are informed by years worth of first hand investigation and inquiry!

This person is at some level unhappy at how I went through certain experiences and I didn’t come away from them with the conclusions (politically or theologically) that I am “supposed to.”

And I was unhappy that my practical and personal experience seem to be so easily dismissed when I feel both have given me specific insights that should carry some weight.

We are operating from totally different perspectives on Capital T Truth. (Seems relevant to the protest situation of people of color and their experiences…and any other number of divides.)

We’re at an impasse of beliefs. I don’t think we’re ever going to get over it. That’s okay.

The best we can do is practice empathy and kindness, and stop trying to change the other person, or hoping they’ll “come around” to a more palatable (to us) way of thinking. I’m not going to convert this person to my way of thinking, they are not going to convert me back to their faith. We have to learn to find other ways forward.

I’m delighted to say that where once a conversation like this may have ended in tears, this one ended in jokes, story swaps, and expressions of love. We’ve had to practice kindness and respect for one another in new ways. We have to learn how to make our case and then move on, not get stuck in arguments as if life were a perpetual YouTube comment section or subreddit – what a ghastly thought!

I’m no longer trying to change minds. I don’t think I can. One has to convert, or deconvert oneself. Missionaries of all stripes may serve as catalysts to change, but all true change comes from within.

I’m not a missionary of any kind anymore, and I’m not really attempting to be. I’m simply doing what I think is right, and standing up for what I believe. I’m doing it with my voice, my vote, my money, my time, my attention, and my platforms. Perhaps it will serve as a catalyst for someone else’s introspection process, but if not, it doesn’t matter. I’ve done the internal work, and I am still doing it, and that is ultimately the only thing I am or can be responsible for. In a weird way, this is also a legacy of my Mormonism because of a bunch of other slogans and messages I picked up. Anyone who grew up in the faith will recognize perhaps the most famous,”Choose the right,” supplemented by a popular hymn called “Do What is Right.

Black lives matter.

Systemic disadvantage exists, as does systemic privilege.

LGBT+ lives matter.

Trans women are women.

Trans men are men.

Nonbinary people are real.

Patriarchy is wrong.

Separate but equal is inherently unequal, no matter how to try and swing it.

Racism, sexism and homophobia are not “mean-ness,’ they are a collective system of traditions and institutions (many of them intentional, many of them not) that cause disproportionate harm and allocate disproportionate privilege.

Kind words and actions are welcome in overcoming overt hostilities, but do not make one any less racist, sexist, or phobic if your actions and beliefs continue uphold systems and structures that continue this disproportionate harm.

And everyone needs to do the work and learn the difference between being “nice” and “good.”

Do what is right, let the consequence follow.

 

Weekend Links – Black Lives Matter

Welcome to another Friday in 2020. Congrats, we made it.

Breonna Taylor’s killers have still faced no consequences.

Jenna Wortham, a culture writer at the New York Times whose work I follow in a lot of streams, wrote a brilliant opinion piece on why #BlackLivesMatter has become a unifying theme now – 7 years after its creation and several years of being treated as “too radical.”

Some international police data for comparison.

Boy, bye.

Had a vigorous debate with a loved one about the difference

Late, but glad you’re here. (Also, when the already powerful “join” up with you, they will inevitably try and claim they were always on your side. It’s bullshit, but it doesn’t matter, because it’s evidence that your movement is winning.)

Late, but glad you’re here.

Police. Are. Not. Soliders!

An economist and public affairs scholar on the moment, the role and power of anger in both economics and policy, performative support from corporations, and elections taking place in a pandemic (which have been a shitshow in places like Georgia…by design):

Noted food writer and editor Helen Rosner on apples, and the rot thereof.

SDS Nation loves a treasure hunt.

What a stupid time to be alive.

Before we crow too loudly over stock market gains, we need to interrogate what exactly is being bought...which is a whole lot of stock in bankrupt companies at the moment. This is speculation in its original form. Maybe they will come back but maybe they won’t.

Friend of the Blog Caitlin on our unique cocktail of rage.

We are learning a lot about who is and is not “essential” in our society, and how incongruent our subsequent treatment of those groups. Agricultural workers have always been uniquely interesting to me because we simultaneously NEED them to make our production work, but we also villainize them with anti-immigrant rhetoric and crackdown on them (rather than the bosses who hire them and benefit from their cheap labor). Our whole attitude towards the people who feed us baffles me.

Amazing that this isn’t just…expected and codified already?

He’s actually unhinged. He just also happens to be dumb and bad at it.

I am 100% certain she is a better negotiator than he is. Big Cersei Lannister energy, which I grudgingly respect, given the deal she’s made and the person she’s shown herself to be.

Over in the world of literature, J.K. Rowling continues to promote some pretty aggressive anit-trans commentary and perspectives. Her platform, her right, but it’s disappointing nonetheless. As is often the case with fantasy and science fiction, those genres frequently serve as the first cultural places kids of all stripes including queer ones feel safe and understood for the first time. It’s hard when your childhood idols turn out to be just as disappointing as other adults. I hope she educates herself and expands her views because as a powerful, rich, and respected white woman with a megaphone, her words carry weight. However, this take from Harry Potter himself seems like a good one to promote rather than linking to any of her vitriol.

ContraPoints to the rescue to explain an actual trans perspective.

Let’s explore what systemic really look like, shall we?

Of course our intrepid leader spewed off his latest vile conspiracy theory after first hearing it from a “journalist” who also writes for the Russian propaganda network. OF COURSE HE DID. We live in the dumbest timeline…

It’s lynching, it’s just foregoing the rope.

Say it with me: ANTIFA is not a thing. At best it’s a VERY loose set of ideas whose adherents are not in agreement with themselves 75% of the time, are not organized in any meaningful way, and have no official representation. Contrasted with, say the KKK. At worst…it’s a fascist propaganda device.

I saw a comment that the current shift we are seeing on racial issues has a lot in common with the trajectory of gay right support. This strikes me a good comparison for a lot of reasons. Centuries of underground history, decades of small-scale protest and challenge, small radical elements advancing the cause with riots (hi Marsha P. Johnson!) while more quiet academic investigation slowly debunked false assumptions. Finally, as it became marginally and incrementally safer to be out in public, enough of the “mainstream” straight population were able to view their LGBT+ friends and loved ones and understand their experience as different but not deviant. By the time we get to enough full scale peaceful protests in support of LGBT+ rights, it’s more of a rubber stamp of majority or overwhelming public sentiment than revolution. It’s shameful how long it takes, but that trajectory makes a lot of sense for me when considering the BLM movement. Unpopular, radical, mainstream (white) resistance, publicity, accumulated public experience and evidence, subtle change, more awareness and empathy for the lived experience of actual people and less reliance on stereotypes…swift and trackable shift in public (white) opinion.

Weekend Links

It’s been a week. Let’s get right to it. I’ve mixed in a few pieces of welcome wackiness to break up the anger and updates. I’m posting this early because just thinking about all the new that can break before the end of the day is making me sweat, and will likely require it’s own post to respond to.

If you’re going to any marches or protests this weekend, check in with me on social and let’s swap some photos.

STRAP IN.

Get mad. Stay mad.

This…isn’t bad for us. More savings and less spending.

Oh, so he was guilty. Who knew, right?

It doesn’t matter if you’re “good.”

Getting really, really stressed about November.

A friend and I were texting this week and I opined that you need a PhD in internet studies and memeology to understand most extremist groups these days – across all ideological stripes. I stand by that.

Two words: sex weasels.

There is a great confrontation coming in society about how much we can exist and expand as an economy based on “service.” Whether that’s other people cooking the majority of our food or serving it to us, we need to think boldly about alternative ways of living.

Small Dog Nation LOVES an art heist!

It also loves an archaeological find.

The last man in an iron lung.

You create this world where you’re not just militarizing the police—you equip the police like soldiers, you train the police like soldiers—why are you surprised when they act like soldiers?” Rizer, a former police officer and soldier, said. “The mission of the police is to protect and serve. But the premise of the soldier is to engage the enemy in close combat and destroy them. When you blur those lines together with statements like that…It’s an absolute breakdown of civil society.”

Well, I’m crying now

The Rhodes Center on what comes after COVID, optimism and pessimism both considered. (Finance and food updates are less than chirpy.)

QUEENS OF INFAMY UPDATE.

Seems like a relevant anniversary to remember with solemnity.

Zoom fatigue is real.

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Friend of the Blog Caitlin penned a piece on being a stranger in a strange land: a Canadian in the US in the current day and age. Worth a read.

When we elected Donald Trump, we elected a political arsonist. The sole consolation of his presidency, in its early years, was that there was surprisingly little dry tinder. The economy hummed along, seemingly imperturbable. We faced few foreign crises. Domestic divisions remained mostly digital. This is not to dismiss real disasters or excuse cruel policies — from children thrown into cages to toxins dumped into our streams to the lethal mismanagement of Hurricane Maria — but it could have been worse. Playacting civil war on Twitter, as the president often did, was never the nightmare scenario. The nightmare scenario was the social fracture and violent crises of the 1960s layered atop the political and media system of the 2020; the tests of presidential leadership that have defined past eras demanded of this leader, in this era. We weren’t there, and then, all of a sudden, we were. We are.

This cheetoh-dusted failure of a human being has made every single crisis we have faced – natural or man made – worse. Every single bloody one. I honestly hate him.

Edited to add: hate him. His malignant narcissism is a poison.

However, he doesn’t cause damage by himself or in a vacuum. He’s aided by protections from people who long professed contrary values but were happy to discard when push came to shove, and has surrounded himself with useless yes-men who add confusion upon confusion

K-Pop stans are having none of your racist bullshit.

No shit.

Call it out in your own groups.

….this is…this is a hell of a headline...

The god damned gall of this man.

General Mattis has chosen now to speak. So has a former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

We live in the dumbest timeline, but we can’t change the past and we can change the future:

Clicktivism is Not Enough

If you posted on your social media yesterday, great. Time to do more.

 

Consume Diversely

Black owned beauty brands – women of color are not just disadvantaged in not having their skin tones reflected in product offerings the way lighter tones are, they are also not proportionately included in the business, development, and ownership structures in the beauty industry.

Black owned businesses you can shop from online

 

Educate Yourself

This doc is making the rounds and with good reason!

White folks – it’s not on people of color to do extra work to make us more understanding and comfortable. We cannot be passive actors in this and must fill the gaps in our own knowledge.

Read diversely. I’m sorry to say my education in retrospect is woefully lacking in writers of color and the only way to fix that is to ready more writers of color! Make an effort, check them out from libraries, buy from bookstores, attend events featuring black authors. Give yourself explicit goals on Goodreads or with your book club. Read widely, fiction and nonfiction alike, to educate yourself on the policy AND the personal and how they intertwine in the lived experience of your neighbors.

 

Advocate for Others

If you are the beneficiary of privilege, you have a moral obligation to use it for others’ good. So say all the major religions, most moral philosophers, and The Gospel of Small Dog Nation.

Black Lives Matter. Full stop. Put money where your mouth is.

If you’re white, deliberately support your communities of color better.

Donate to bail funds – black communities are disproportionately affected by this and have less access to resources to make bail (when they are more likely than other demographics to be arrested for the same crimes or actions, receive harsher or more punative treatment and state handling).

Support Minnesota specifically. The murder of George Floyd happened in their community and they are the epicenter of this messaging movement right now. (Also, my dear friend Lauren is a Minneapolis native and has been posting local resources and messages dilligently on her Instagram)

 

“Lift EVERY Voice…”

Register now if you haven’t. Show up in local elections and not just November. And – this is critical – support measures and candidates that seek to strengthen and enhance voting opportunities for your co-citizens, not curtail them. Different candidates will have different platforms like making election day a national holiday, expanding and resourcing additional polling stations, election protections, and more. There are a lot of ideas, vote for the ones you think best and most likely to expand the rights and benefits of citizenship to those who may not have access.

Volunteer to register voters and expand the ranks of the citizen support network that makes our elections possible and trustworthy. Democracy is a team sport!

Take it a step further if you can and put yourself in the shoes of the most marginalized. If you were a prisoner, would you want the right to vote? If so, do you support candidates who want to restore voting rights to that group? If you felt a school was underfunding and therefore not the best option for your child, vote to increase its funding so that other parents less privleged than you. If you wouldn’t wish it on yourself, don’t inflict it on others. This is basic, basic stuff.

 

June Moodboard

While clearly I made this board prior to the explosion of bad news, I’m harnessing summer energy this month regardless.

If we’re lucky we will travel to the States to see my husband’s family – though we’re keeping an eye on everything and there’s still a chance this isn’t happening. We’re eating well and exercising daily. We’re watching our wallets. We’re keeping ourselves steady in an unsteady world so we can then turn energy outward.

And yeah, summer is protest season. I’m signed up for two so far. I encourage you to do the same.

 

 

Sunday Check In – Recognizing Racism and Doing Better

God, I hope I get this right because this is a difficult subject and while I want to write from my perspective, I want to also state clearly and up front that this is not about me. It’s peak white woman to try and make someone else’s struggle your own, but that’s not what I’m trying to do here, I’m trying to write about the only personal existence I’m an expert on and that happens to be my own. If I’m clunky about it, help me do better and make my actions and word better reflect my intentions. 

I was raised in a religion that denied ordination to the priesthood for men of color until only a few years before I was born. More than that, the doctrine of Mormonism requires participation in certain sacred ordinances – which in turn require those (male) participants to have been ordained. These rituals are necessary to salvation. In other words, I belonged to a faith that for a century taught that people of color couldn’t be “saved” in the same way as white folks. By the time I was growing up in the church, this was no longer true, but generational racism didn’t vanish from that community and it was a long time before I really confronted the history and teachings that had reinforced it for so long – and which have never been fully repudiated. The last time my husband and I voluntarily attended church services was the week that the church published an essay on its past racism and a white man who was teaching the lesson stood up in front of our predominantly black congregation and lectured people of color about how he had been taught “certain things” about race growing up and how the essay didn’t make sense to him. Of all the people in that room, we had the least right to anger, but we still felt it and it was still a transformative moment in our decision to leave the faith.

I spent large portions of my life as a racial majority and didn’t really think about how that impacted me. This included two stints in Virginia and one in Texas – not exactly places with an ambiguous history when it comes to America’s racial history. Luckily I also spent some important years on a Micronesian island where white folks were the minority which was instructive in ways I didn’t fully appreciate at the time but do as an adult. Everyone should experience being a minority. I was outrageously privileged given my family’s circumstances, but it was the first step in more self awareness that my experiences were not the norm.

This isn’t to big myself up, quite the reverse. I can look back on my life and cringe at comments I’ve made which I didn’t realize until much later were racially charged. I’ve never used racial slurs and would have reacted with outrage if anyone accused me of being racist, but I can see in retrospect that while I might have been innocent of malice, I was still ignorant.

One of my grandmother’s once told me that she and my grandfather would “have a big problem if [I] married a black man.”

University professors lectured me on how poverty was a self-inflicted wound.

Family members opined on how various communities could only experience tragedy or difficulty due to a lack of “virtue.”

Church leaders taught me that God had to wait for white people to be “ready” to accept black folks – as if other people’s salvation were dependent on my personal level comfort and that was a perfectly okay thing to believe.

I grew up swimming in racism, I just didn’t recognize it for a long time. 

You learn better, and you do better. I still screw up despite good intentions, I’m still unlearning assumptions and patterns that I didn’t realize I’d ever been taught, and I’m still unpacking where I may be part of the problem. Sometimes this means speaking up, sometimes it means shutting up, and other times it means using whatever voice I have to amplify other voices instead of my own. Because it’s not about me. 

Becoming anti-racist requires you check your assumptions, your privilege, and your power at the door and deliberately work to empower others – even and perhaps especially at the expense of your comfort.

Here are some resources to learn better.

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Weekend Links

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”
– President John F. Kennedy 

Anyone who has cheered the dismantling of the State Department, the propaganda attacks that reduce the credibility of the Justice Department and trusted law enforcement, or outright dismantle them…

Anyone who cheered on some people marching on state capitols armed like militias, confident they would come to no harm…

Anyone who turned a blind eye to localized radicalization and militarization in their own community’s power structures, or worse enabled it because they knew they would benefit from it…

Anyone who shrugged at actual Nazis marching in the streets, or downplayed leaders who refused to condemn them…

Anyone who wanted systems broken rather than reformed in ways that meant they would have to share a bit more of their power, money, or sense of communal safety…

Anyone who worked to suppress voting of communities they didn’t want represented, undermining the point of the democratic process by ensuring that election results are increasingly at odd with with will of the electorate…

Anyone who shrugged or cheered when our press institutions were attacked, taken over by conglomerates, dismantled, and disparaged…

Anyone who raged at athletes kneeling, people marching peacefully, boycotts, and all other inconvenient non-violent actions as an “unacceptable” way to protest…

….what did you think was going to happen?  

What we’re witnessing in the States is not rioting, it’s rebellion. It’s what happens, in the words of Dr. West, what happens when the system cannot reform itself.

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Notorious AHP knocks it out of the consumerism park again – tackling how spending and debt has been ingrained into American/western society and framed not just as normal but necessary and even patriotic. Now it’s catching up with us all. But we’re also experiencing a forced alternative…and finding out how a forced break from our “business as usual” might be bad for “the economy,” but is much better for our brains and wallets for many. “In many ways, the pandemic has functioned as a great clarifier, making it impossible to ignore the dilapidated state of so many American systems. It’s highlighted whose work is actually essential, which leaders actually care about people who aren’t like them, and whose lives are considered expendable. The supply chain is broken; the social safety net is in shambles. And a whole lot of things we thought of as needs have revealed themselves to be pretty deeply unnecessary.”

Help, I’m poor but everything in me is craving this beauty of a summer dress.

Lizzo on the power of being your own hype man and rejecting performative feminine humility.

Karen-ism strikes again. Fellow white women, do better. (For the record, NO ONE should be subjected to the abuse being hurled at this woman, and the gentleman involved agrees, but she does deserve scrutiny and her behaviour condemnation for her actions. Her claim of not wanting to cause harm literally doesn’t make sense when she was explicitly attempting to get this man in some kind of trouble and was willing to dramatically exaggerate – to be polite – her description of circumstances to do so. She was trying to weaponize her privilege. That should come with consequences.)

Speaking of fashion, I think Gucci is on to something here. Seasonal collections are literally a hundreds of years old construct, and may not be as relevant in the current age. Go for it, Gucci, experiment!

Great idea in the middle of a global pandemic, cool leadership.

THINGS. CAN. CHANGE.

We live in the dumbest timeline

Anyone interested in going subterranean?

Another black man is killed on camera, another wave of protests, and quite likely another summer of rage opens.

To no one’s surprise, the algorithms of social media are fundamentally skewed in favor of radicalization. And thus too, their business model.

Sure. Why not? I assume we can expect the zombies soon?

It’s not even June yet…

 

The Year of Back to Basics: May

Another weird month in lockdown, a lot of plans disrupted, a lot of progress to celebrate or report back on.

Money

After a lot of governmental shenanigans, stimulus checks arrived for expats and we put ours straight towards debt without hesitating. The ‘Rona may still hold sway but we are staying steely-eyed and focused.

Money was spent however, especially since I shredded my athletic shoes and put irreparable holes in my workout pants – in the crotch and thighs no less. Fetching! Both were replaced. We picked up some household goods like pairing knives, a cooling fan, and an Ikea shelf, and I also bought a batch of new knickers to replace pairs that I’ve owned since before we moved to the UK and were becoming, er, unbecoming. And then, I confess that stress lipstick was purchased at one point.

I plan on purchasing some additional items for summer – believe it or not, I don’t own any shorts and seeing as how we’re already sweating in our city flat in late May, it looks like August is going to roast us – but after that, I’m going to close down the wallet for several months. I’ve got everything I need and am trying to be extra careful to stay aware of needs vs. wants right now.

 

Relationships

Long calls with siblings and parents, good therapy sessions, controlled mental health symptoms, positive work relationships. My friendships have not had the focus I wanted this month, so will be spending more energy on that in June.

 

Basic Bitch

Weight was a problem this month, no two ways about it. But I’ve been sticking with my virtual barre classes (shoutout in my favorites post of last month!) and have started tracking my food again, because while it might be basic, it’s honestly the best way to keep myself on a health track. I upgraded a free app to a annually paid version to help with this and it’s helped. I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH – do not focus negatively on your quarantine response and coping mechanisms. My health and weight goals predated the pandemic and we’re all doing the work to figure out what healthy means for us on individual and macro levels right now. This is what’s working for me, but YOU DO YOU, BOO.

 

Elsewhere

More Agatha Christie. Also lots of romance novels, because self care. I’ve nearly read 100 books so far this year!

I declared my “make a garden” project ticked off. We don’t have a terrace anymore and I can’t see us moving for a very long time, so I’ve built an indoor Eden instead. As the proud mother of 13 thriving plants, I think we can adjust this one a bit.

Dramatic reduction of plastic in my life, blog post coming.

 

 

 

Sunday Check In

A little while ago a tweet ran across my timeline that I have not been able to stop thinking about:

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This one hit so deep my bones felt bruised. It was just so accurate.

2019 was probably one of the most substantive years of my career, and it turned out to be one of the most important of my marriage/family and friend relationships. It was a tough year in many ways, and a really rewarding one in others. Most of all, it felt progressive in the sense that I was able to actually feel and see my own progress. Money and career felt steadier than they had for the entire decade prior, my mental and emotional health felt more under my own command than any time I could remember – life felt like something I was living and moving through intentionally rather than something that was buffeting me along.

I don’t have a single friend who wasn’t experiencing some version of hard work paying off in a significant sphere of their lives. It didn’t diminish the very real, grown up challenges many of us were managing…but we were managing them.

And now, we’re looking at our third full month of some kind of lockdown, side eyeing the people who are acting as if government official guidance has changed (it hasn’t, substantively), and honestly debating what our summer will look or feel like. Everything – from the economy to social life to a sense of “normal” – has just stopped.

The sudden, crashing halt from progress to stagnation is unsettling and vertigo inducing. We’re all just waiting to see what happens next, and planning for the future is so theoretical as to be useless.

My 34th birthday is coming up and I’ll be spending it in lockdown. We’ve been in it since mid March and we’re nearly at the halfway point of 2020. Who knows where Jeff’s birthday will find us in fall. We talk about it jokingly, and I try to keep a cosmic sense of humor about it overall, but what does it mean to “write off” several months if not a year of our lives? Not entirely of course, life goes on in lockdown but it’s not life as many of us know it – and has a heaping pile of anxiety and stress on top of it all as an added bonus.

Will we travel to see Jeff’s family as we planned? We haven’t seen family face-to-face in about two years. Will we go back to our offices in any way, or is our “work life” fundamentally and permanently altered? If the latter, even if you’re happy about it, how will we adjust to this? How long will it take? Will I have a job in two months? Boy I hope so. Will there be a recession (probably unless you think that we’re already in one, which is a compelling argument to me)? Another one?! Yes. How will we handle it? *Lol shrug.*

Sorry to be a bit of a downer this week – it’s mostly due to hormones, so don’t take it too seriously. But if you too are struggling with this feeling of “stuckness” please let me know, and how you’re dealing with it.

Off to perk myself up with a Bank Holiday weekend mimosa and some vitamin D through our open window.

 

Weekend Links – Bring on the Bank Holiday!

Ducklings, it’s a Bank Holiday weekend and the links are dropping early because mama needs to lie in a sunbeam and do as little as possible for three days. I mean, let’s be real that’s my usual go to, but with quarantine we do it with GUSTO.

This week I introduced Jeff to Fleabag and he got me to finish The Last Dance which I enjoyed tremendously, in spite of not being a sports person outside of live collegiate games.

I know the weather is brilliant in the UK right now, but guys…please don’t be dumb. There’s still a pandemic on. Act accordingly.

 

I’m obsessed with the squirtgun priest. More creativity in unusual times, please!

A charming story about my favorite wildlife critter.

A firm rebuttal to my post of earlier this week. Okay, okay I’ll give up on the self-loathing already!

The British Museum is producing a film of its famous Pompeii exhibition and making it available for free. (YouTube)

As a long time fan of The Financial Diet, this podcast episode (doubling up as a YouTube vid) discussing the ephemeral nature of fame and fortune that we’ve been living with (and completely rebuilt commerce and social capital around) was a great listen.

One of the few bright spots out of this mess, but also a sobering reminder of what it will take to affect climate change trends.

Setting aside the batshit craziness (which is admittedly a challenge) can we all agree at this point that the one thing we cannot and should not do is take the guy “at his word?

God, I hope we don’t go back, at least not the way things were.

Elegant and refined solution. Pure couture.

It’s bad faith all the way down and has been for a long time.

Yes, let’s experiment!

Still don’t really get where QAnon came from, what it encompasses, and what people who believe in it…believe? This is a long read, but worth your time.

Reader survey: trolling or a side effect of that unproven med we cannot be sure that he’s taken or not – thanks to the masterful work of a press release that refuses to confirm or deny whether he’s been dosed.

Trolls and Twitter eggs are going to kill us all… I don’t think anyone imagined the great science fiction digital undoing of our world to be this stupid.

Speaking of Twitter, yes, I followed this privileged saga and thought Roman really didn’t do herself any favors, but cannot help but contrast her being “on leave” while other (male) columnists have actively attacked and pursued punishing actions against critics (Bedbug Stephens, anyone?) and still have their jobs.  Roman publicly apologized and Teigen publicly accepted.

And in THIS week’s drama of white women trying to elevate themselves by comparing or contrasting themselves to other women – particularly women of color – Lana del Ray pulled one out too, on Our Lady and Savior Beyonce no less!