Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for June, 2020

Recipe for Disaster

Ingredients:

1 night feeling a bit dizzy
1 slight cough
1 morning sore throat
1 article about a Texas family

Method:

Set the first ingredient aside for 24 hours. Then add the second ingredient. Set that mixture aside for another 24 hours. Add last two ingredients, and whip into a frenzy.

Place frothed mess that is surely COVID-19 onto a refreshed CDC website. Set a test timer for one week.

While the timer is running, think carefully about the ingredients.

Remember:

  • The three sleepless nights leading up to the first.
  • The fact that major construction is happening on the floor below the office where you’ve been spending many hours every day. (Hello, construction dust!)
  • Sleeping on your back. Mouth open. Possibly snoring. (Gasp! No!)
  • That only one of the ingredients is a common symptom of the ‘Rona.
  • It’s pollen season. (Ohhhh. Riiiiight. Allergies.)
  • And also you wear a mask every time you are in public, which is not often, AND wipe down and/or spray everyone and everything that enters the house.

Add a good night’s sleep and reminders to fermented stew.

Poof!

Toxic brew evaporated.

Read Full Post »

Dear Folks Who Are Wondering What It’s Like To Go To A Theme Park That Just Reopened:

It’s weird. Every bit of it is weird.

As indicated in my last post, we took Eddie to Six Flags for Father’s Day. “We” meaning “Gideon and I” because Dominic didn’t get off work.

馃檮

Anyway, I had to make a reservation for us to go. That’s new.

Also new:

路 Hand-washing stations outside the entrance

路 Temperature scans on the way in (not sure that helps if people are asymptomatic, but ok)

路 The requirement for everyone to wear a mask at all times

路 Social distancing in the queue

路 Social distancing on the rides themselves

路 Having to scream/laugh through a mask (but that might just be my problem)

路 Hand sanitizer everywhere

So yeah, plenty of changes.

There are some things that haven’t changed:

路 Crappy attitudes of the teenaged staff

路 Skin-boiling heat with no shade in sight

路 Unappetizing food such as a burger with the bun literally dripping butter

路 The potential for ride malfunction

Here are the mechanics working on the ride we just exited — the one we were stuck on for 15 minutes.

So it was different, but not so much so that I would stay away. We have to get our membership money’s worth!

Yours in thrills,
Beth

Read Full Post »

Dear Eddie,

Happy Father’s Day! Yeah, you aren’t my daddy (gross), but you are my baby daddy.

You helped me make these two:

But let me tell you: They challenge me. Regularly.

You know my favorite Christmas special? Let me help you: It’s “The Year Without a Santa Claus.”

I feel like Mother Nature with Heat Miser and Snow Miser.

I’ll explain.

They are old enough to handle Father’s Day on their own, but ignorant enough that I felt they needed reminders. And it had to be over text so you wouldn’t know.

But, as you know, they fought Friday night. As you also know, Gideon holds a grudge.

So this was the exchange yesterday:

Not only am I bothered by the unfortunate and consistent lack of punctuation and correct capitalization, I’m outraged at the fighting over text.

I know today ultimately will be a good day for you (I’ve got some things in reserve to make sure), but I wanted you to know what happened behind the scenes.

We still made it snow in Southtown.

Love,
Mother Nature (aka Yo’ Baby Mama)

Read Full Post »

Dear T—–,

Since Eddie and I listed our downtown condo on Airbnb last year, we’ve hosted all types of people. You have the distinction of being the guest who stayed the longest, and are — by far — the most “interesting.”

I appreciated you coming and staying a while. You helped pay the mortgage on the place when the bookings dried up thanks to the Coronapocalypse.

I definitely feel like I earned your money, even from the first day when you couldn’t find the building (despite me texting you the address three times). Eddie was going to walk down the street and help you with your bags, but you said you had too many.

That was my first clue that you were not planning on staying just the three days you originally booked. And also that you’re not so great at instructions/rules.

I feel like I got to know you really well over the first 48 hours when you sent me 75 texts (I counted). Thanks for letting me know about the various credit cards you like to use, your habit of carrying around $5K in cash, your sleeping habits, your mom’s new restaurant, her birthday, your professionalism and your disdain for the security lady at the front desk.

Near the end of your first booking, we started our stay-extension dance — a dance we repeated four times. I feel like we truly cemented our relationship over the 112 additional texts during your stay.


It’s charming that you developed a pet name for me. I thought the first time was a slip of the fingers, but I became “Bethy” or “Love” for the duration.

I was so amused that I forgave you for locking yourself out three times. But I’m having trouble forgiving you for not returning the keys and parking pass.

To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect when you finally did check out. Let me tell you: I have an active imagination and had concocted various scenarios.

However, it was cleaner than I expected. I could have done without the weird, greasy residue on every surface, though.

Let me know when you want to come pick up your bong.

Also, thanks for the review. Maybe I should start a dating service too.

Best wishes and warmest regards,
Bethy

Read Full Post »

America is a dumpster fire at the moment.

(Oh wait: Sorry, I’m wrong. Trump promised to “make America great again,” so this must be great. Silly me.)

As a palate cleanser, here are 10 things I learned about my kids over the past two weeks, told in photos with captions.

1. Dominic is more responsible and interested in hanging out with the family now that he is “on a break” from his latest high-maintenance girlfriend.

2. He can be very charming, personable and helpful — even going as far as rowing me around a lake.

3. A boat in a lake is a good place to have serious conversations about life.

4. He won’t go hungry. He can at least make restaurant-quality breakfast sandwiches.

5. He can’t help himself: He is compelled to harass his brother.

6. His brother is a big fat ham.

7. Gideon doesn’t really like cake. He wanted a flan for his birthday. I’d never made a flan before, but it turned out so well (Behold the Birthday Flan!) that I think it’s going to be my signature dessert.

8. Gideon likes to help me make anything in the kitchen. He enjoys cooking as much as I do.

9. He and I feel the same way about hiking unmarked trails in the rain to get to an anticlimactic lookout.

10. We like the same shows.

There’s my dose of positivity today. I’ll reread as necessary to keep my spirits up.
What are your bright spots? Please share!

Read Full Post »

Dear Schoolhouse Rock creators/artists/writers/musicians:

I grew up with your catchy songs that aid learning. (For Millennials and GenZ, it’s like the 1970s version of “Hamilton.”)

It should be no surprise that I’m partial to the grammar ones:

I mean, just TRY to get those out of your head.

I’ve been thinking about one in specific lately: The Great American Melting Pot.

And, even more specifically, these lyrics:

It doesn’t matter what your skin.
It doesn’t matter where you’re from,
Or your religion, you jump right in
To the great American melting pot.

Yeah. A bit idealistic, no?

People are actively protesting because skin color DOES matter. (When people say, “I don’t see color,” my eyes nearly roll out of my head. Of course you see skin color just like you notice if someone has brown hair. The key is not attaching JUDGMENT.)

And immigration … well. It’s like people want to say, “That’s it: America is closed.”

Don’t even get me started on religious bias.

So. I’m writing this because I’d really love a revival where you tackle thorny issues such as redlining, Jim Crow laws, Operation Mockingbird, First Amendment rights, white privilege, etc.

I feel like storytelling via music could come in handy here.

I remember when I first truly understood the concept of white privilege. I had walked a couple of blocks in downtown Atlanta and overheard three separate conversations among black people where the subject was race.

I went home that night and asked Eddie if he thinks about being Hispanic on a regular basis. He said he did. He’s been pulled over and asked to prove he’s legal, for example. He’s Puerto Rican, FFS.

And that’s when it clicked: I rarely thought about being white. And that’s a privilege. Now, of course, I’m hyperaware.

Not everyone has that moment of clarity. So I think it’s time for some lessons in your trademark accessible way.

Can you help?

Thank you for your consideration,
Beth

Read Full Post »

Dear Readers:
Yes, this is another topical post (read: rant) about what is happening in America. The country is burning (literally and figuratively). Sorry, not sorry. A story about kayaking with the family can wait.
Beth

Police cruisers drove into a crown of people in Brooklyn. Yes, this actually happened.

Dear White People:

I’ve been fighting with some of you all week. I refuse to scroll past your inane posts and try to make nice. You can unfriend me, unfollow me, ignore me — whatever you have to do to be safe in your echo chamber. But I am not going to resist calling you out if you post something ignorant.

You say: What happened to George Floyd was wrong, but the looting and property damage has to stop.
I hear: Destroying property is worse than murder.
I respond: Reverse that sentence. Say instead, “Looting and property damage is wrong, but police brutality and murder have to stop.”

You say: People getting arrested at protests deserve it. They must have done something wrong.
I hear: I’m trying to find a reason to believe our institutions aren’t broken.
I respond: You have to face it: They are, in fact, broken. Police are reacting violently to police protests ABOUT POLICE VIOLENCE. Let that sink in. This is what happened to someone I know personally during a peaceful protest. By the way, the First Amendment guarantees the right to peaceable assembly.

You say: People who comply with police don’t get in trouble.
I hear: La la la la la — I’m not listening.
I respond: Even if/when people comply, they still get murdered. Also, let’s pretend for argument’s sake that someone HAS done something wrong — like pay with a counterfeit bill. Does DEATH fit that crime? (The right answer is “no,” you mongrels.)

You say: The mainstream media isn’t trustworthy.
I hear: I’m desperate to find excuses not to face the truth that Trump’s America is a disaster.
I respond: You’re wrong, as I explained in my last post. Listen to me. I know my stuff.

You say: All lives matter.
I hear: I don’t know why we should focus on black people when we are all equal.
I respond: We’re clearly not equal. White privilege exists. Start from the 1600s and go from there. If you need something bite-sized, read up on redlining.

You say: I haven’t experienced “white privilege.” I’ve worked hard for everything I have.
I hear: I don’t want to believe that I have it better by virtue of my skin color.
I respond: It’s not about hard work. It’s about starting in a different place by virtue of skin color. No, you shouldn’t be embarrassed to be white, but you should understand the concept of systemic racism and work to make changes. Read this. Watch this:

I hope this helps. We have to work together to make America great again, and I guarantee it’s not Trump’s way.

Love,
Beth

Courtesy of Creative Nonfiction, here are some action items:

LEARN

ACT

 

SUPPORT

 

FOLLOW 

 

Read Full Post »

 

Hey Y’all:

It’s come to Auntie Beth’s attention that some folks don’t understand how the mainstream media works. As Auntie Beth has more than two decades of experience as a journalist for TV, radio, newspapers and magazines (yeah, no spring chicken), she is here to help clear up confusion with some DOs and DON’Ts.

DO have a healthy suspicion of social institutions.
DON’T only get your news from alternative news networks. There are many sources of legitimate news. If you need help finding reputable sources, use this updated interactive media bias chart.

DO understand the criteria for newsworthiness:

  • Timeliness: News is new.
  • Proximity: The news hits close to home.
  • Conflict: There is some disagreement/opposition.
  • Prominence: Names make news.
  • Impact: The news is of consequence and is useful.
  • Novelty: There is a deviance from the norm.

DON’T wonder why the conversation has shifted from COVID-19 to protests when protests hit all the above criteria.

DO understand that media representatives use the criteria to choose what to cover (see Agenda-setting Theory in communication studies). There aren’t enough staff or hours in a day to cover everything that is newsworthy. So editors, reporters, managers, producers, etc. have to make some hard decisions. These are economic/structural forces beyond the individual journalist (see Hierarchy of Influences model above).
DON’T mistake this for telling people what to think about what gets covered. In 1963, author/scholar Bernard Cohen said, 鈥淭he press may not be successful much of the time in telling people what to think, but it is stunningly successful in telling its readers what to think about.鈥 But again, it’s not willy nilly and based on bias. Also, no one is controlling you.

DO understand that the way to combat this structural issue is to get your news from many sources. Again, the key here is choosing reputable sources — usually the mainstream media as there is an attempt at objectivity. Therein lies the bigger picture of what is happening in the community, region, nation and world.
DON’T get your news from Info Wars or Wonkette and think you know what’s really going on.

DO understand that news is an industry with many, many employees.
DON’T believe that every person working in this industry is part of some elaborate conspiracy theory.

DO know that news owners/folks in charge typically don’t get involved in day-to-day reporting and news coverage. (Exception: Sinclair Broadcasting.)
DON’T believe Auntie Beth? She’s happy to send you her dissertation that delves into this exact topic. That’s right: Auntie Beth has a Ph.D. in journalism and mass communications.

The findings of this study are in opposition to the ‘powerful pressure’ idea that the dominant ideology of the status quo finds its way down to the news product via the highest levels of the media organization: the owners who represent the status quo (Sutter, 2001; Iggers, 1999; Herman & Chomsky, 1988; Smith, 1988; Bagdikian, 1985).

DO understand that mainstream media reporters are literally risking their lives to cover what is happening in our world.
DON’T disrespect them by calling their work “fake news.” Don’t let the President of the United States (!) work you into a frenzy for his own ends. The mainstream media is not the “enemy of the people.” News he doesn’t like is not “fake.”

DO think carefully before you post something possibly incendiary.
DON’T run from dialogue if you go ahead and post it.

DO have an open mind. Be ready to admit you are wrong if someone who has actual experience tries to explain how things work — even if this flies in the face of the conspiracy theories you’ve been swallowing.
DON’T double down and tag Auntie Beth in something you think proves your point.

DO listen to someone who works in the industry you are criticizing.
DON’T watch a YouTube video and think you know everything. You didn’t sleep at a Holiday Inn last night.

DO understand that Auntie Beth is a living, breathing human being. In fact, High School Friend has known Auntie Beth since eighth grade and knows she is trustworthy. HSF also should know by now that Auntie Beth speaks her mind.
DON’T try to “other” her so you don’t have to pay attention.

Auntie Beth understands it’s a big industry. Not everyone in it acts responsibly or ethically. But Auntie Beth believes in the importance of the Fourth Estate.

If you have any questions, Auntie Beth is here for you. She also can call on any of her dozens of current and former colleagues at the national and local level to help set your mind at ease.

Happy watching/reading!

 

 

 

Read Full Post »