Monday, March 29, 2021

Just Received My Turkish Kilim Rug Pillow ...


(Forgive my dog-wrinkled, worn comforter - saving for vacay and a house, so just a couple of inexpensive things, here and there, for Spring change.)

I received in on a good day for it, a little perk-up distraction from the one-year anniversary of my Snuggy pug's passing :(

I love embroidered, tapestry, and especially kilim pillows -  the only problem is that they're usually incredibly expensive, and we're saving for a June vacation, as well as a house.

However, I found two sellers on Etsy that sell pillows for $14 for the cover and $25 for the full pillow, regardless of size or pattern, made in Turkey.

This particular pillow is made by Sarakaya Kilim Pillows by Oya Cagligoncu, in Siva, Turkey.

For a little more, she will custom design one for you, if need be, but I found this one ready made that blended with my current color scheme.  Such excellent quality for the price, right?

Also, I bought my cranberry-colored Christmas pillows from the other seller I love, Sebil Pillows, pillows designed and made by Mustafa Mutlu in Keyseri, Turkey.

He even makes kilim Christmas stockings!

Both sellers will answer your questions within an hour, you'll receive the pillow within 1 week, and they both consistently receive 5-star ratings, I highly recommend both :)

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Brough Brothers Kentucky Bourbon Coming in April, and a Brief Kentucky Bourbon History Lesson


First question - are whiskey and bourbon the same thing? 

Experts will tell you no, the grains and mash are different, and bourbon must contain at least 51% corn - but everyday Kentuckians would say that other than unique taste differences among the brands themselves - "not really" lol.   

I mean, you can definitely tell expensive versus cheap, for sure - but being able to taste that much corn takes a connoisseur, which I most certainly am not lol.

Otherwise, on the bourbon news front, Kentucky produces 95% of the nation's bourbon, and will soon have a new entrant into bourbon royalty - Brough Brothers Bourbon will be available for national and international distribution and sale in April ... 

...  and my husband and I cannot wait to try it!

Bryson, Victor, and Chris Yarbrough, owners of Brough Brothers Bourbon - Louisville, Kentucky.

Arguably the first non-slave, black-owned bourbon company in Kentucky, and the distillery will be  in Louisville's West End - the same neighborhood where the Yarbrough brothers grew up and where Breonna Taylor lived :)

The reason I say "arguably" is there is a current dispute for that title by Sean and Tia Edwards' "Fresh Bourbon"  of Lexington ...

They own a small local business which has been  distributing locally for the last couple of years and are currently building a distillery; however, the Yarbrough brothers completed a distillery last year and registered for taxes for national distribution  last year - thus, it's complicated - and may result in them sharing the title or different titles (first black-owned bourbon small business versus black-owned large distribution in Kentucky, that sort of thing.) 

I say congratulations to both companies for breaking through that glass ceiling, 275 years later :)

Back to Brough Brothers, eldest brother, Victor Yarbrough, claims he tried bourbon in college, but didn't develop a taste for it until he began working in finance in London in his 20s; not to mention, before that time, bourbon and high-end whiskey (as opposed to cheap moonshine) was too expensive for West End L-Villers. 

(Btw, not all moonshine is terrible - ever tried the fruit-flavored ones or apple-pie moonshine?  Not bad. )

Now for a very brief history of Kentucky bourbon, which has been widely debated and difficult to find documentation of. 

Was the bourbon history in Kentucky brought over by the Scot-Irish, the French, or perhaps French Creole? 

Well, most white people here will tell you it's Scot-Irish, and our method of distilling attests partially to that account - but there is not written documentation to substantiate this being the case, which complicates the history.  Nonetheless, our distilling methods clearly do incorporate Scot-Irish methods - but there are differences - including the 51% corn requirement.

Also, though there is little mention of who actually grew, made and distilled bourbon in Kentucky, we do have some small documentation that slaves actually were the ones suggesting which ingredients to use and growing them, choosing the oak and making the oak barrels, and overseeing the entire distillery process. 

Then you find yourself also asking, "If it was solely Scot-Irish whiskey, why include so much corn, why do we even call it bourbon rather than whiskey, why is there a Bourbon County in Kentucky, and what's with the fleur-de-lys insignia still on some labels (like on the bourbon-trail map above)? 

Good questions - and well, I'm about to tell ya that - the influences and plot thickens - keep reading :)

The French aspects apparently have less to do with our distilling methods than they do our main method of transportation of bourbon/whiskey to the American South and the rest of the world, at that time - through New Orleans - which hints at the French connection :)

Also, what barely anyone mentions is that none of it would've been possible without Spanish, French, British, and American black slaves, not only providing the labor and making the actual whiskey, but submitting ideas for certain ingredients :)

Thus, in actuality, the Kentucky bourbon history is complicated - and likely includes all of these influences - plus the perfect climate (warm days, cool nights, milder winters) and soil (more limestone, filtering out iron and other metals) for corn and other bourbon ingredients - creating a distinctly different style of bourbon. 

You see, in the late 18th century, New Orleans was now owned and governed by Spain, but the people themselves were largely still French speaking and loyal to France and the Bourbon royal family.

Thus, they had to find new ways to get their French goods (and goods from other countries, including even the colonies) products to New Orleans - sometimes clandestinely (thus the semi-documented history below).  

France now owned most of Haiti (at the time, Saint Domingue) which at the time produced coffee, indigo, tobacco, sugar, and molasses, but that didn't guarantee passage through New Orleans, as the French and Spanish relationship became increasingly tense and  acrimonious again, after their brief partnership in the 7-Years War.  

Thus, how could France still get their products to their French-speaking loyalist people now under Spanish rule in New Orleans? 

You could transport it to New York, Boston, and Philadelphia - but then what?

Then, in the early 1790s, tension between Spain and France briefly eased again, and Spain began to allow anyone to use New Orleans port, provided they pay a tariff; however, allowed no one but themselves to use the Mississippi River for transport - no French, no British, no American colonists - no one but Spain.

This of course was somewhat helpful to get bourbon to New Orleans, but the sea passage to New Orleans from Europe takes longer and is tricky - and thus actually only complicated the issue and made shipping more costly. 

Then in the 1793, Spain began to allow passage downstream the Mississippi with others' goods, but only if you paid an extremely high tariff.  

Thus, to pay the tariff, producers had to cut expenses. The best way to do that was to grow the ingredients of certain products in Kentucky, build flatboats to carry them down the Mississippi River from Louisville (so named for Louis XVI) - using slave labor, of course - which included bourbon - with Kentucky's climate making it perfect for the production of bourbon - with French, Scot-Irish, and black slave distillery methods combined :)

Thus, the quickest, best way to get your products down the Mississippi River to New Orleans was via Louisville - French, British, American - and during that time, Kentucky farmers had the added advantage of growing many of the ingredients.

Also, the Spanish allowed passage downstream, but not back up - as if you could even travel back up, before keelboats and steamboats.  You could, but it would take a large number of people cutting down  brush and stumps, and pulling the boats from the sides with ropes, like canal transport.  

Thus, most people would travel back up via walking or on horseback, which took approximately 35 days - unless you were a slave, of course - and then once you got down to New Orleans (and the surrounding swamp regions), you might never come back  - and who could blame them?

Though New Orleans still has race and class issues, as mentioned before, the French's Code Noir had given people of color some legal rights (including the ability to buy their own freedom), and Spain was a bit stricter, but still less strict than American and British slave laws (which included no rights for people of color at all.)

Thus, who could blame a slave for signing up to become a boatman to New Orleans to transport the bourbon and perhaps never make the trip back? lol

(However, many trips by wealthier farmers and merchants also took slave overlords with them to ensure their return.)

Thus, the reason we have a Bourbon County, Kentucky - and why many still call it Kentucky bourbon rather than whiskey, despite being made using partially Scot-Irish distilling technique - is that New Orleans French/Creole connection and their loyalty to the Bourbon royal family :)

And there you go, brief history of Kentucky bourbon.

About as clear as mud in  the Mississippi River? LOL

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Just Scheduled My First Vaccine Shot For Next Week ...

*Updated with details about what the shot was like, as well as the very minimal "side effect" I had (if you can even call it that) added below :)

Last week, I received a text from the state saying that Phase 2 people (age 40 and older) were approved, but the only sites were in Louisville.  This week, I received a text that they are here in Lexington at Baptist Health Lexington and Kroger.   

The BHL site was already booked within 10 minutes of the text, only one Kroger location had appointments, so I scheduled my first shot next week.  

Not sure which vaccine, the site doesn't say - likely Pfizer because Moderna supplies are low and J&J's vaccine is not here yet.  

Mark will be going for his second shot in the next two weeks.  

Wish us luck!


Update:  We discovered Walgreens is now giving them to my phase as well, and I can get one at a better time, so I've canceled the Kroger one and rescheduled for Walgreens.

Just a note - again, I got someone with a thick Indian accent at Kroger, just like I did when we initially tried to schedule Mark.  

I ... really hope they didn't outsource their customer service to India.  I take issue with that, as my job as a medical transcriptionist was outsourced to India four times from 2006-2010, and I firmly believe outsourcing greatly contributed to the recession.  

Also I think American citizens will take all of the jobs that we can get during COVID, yes? :)


UPDATE:   Description of shot and any side effects 

Monday, March 29th - Pfizer vaccine shot #1 completed today - it's a tiny little needle prick and very quick, quicker than a flu shot.  No side effects at all :)

Tuesday, March 30th - My arm is a little sore today, exactly like a flu shot, but still no other side effects :)

7:30 p.m.  - All is still well; however, I will say that by this afternoon, I felt a little run down and took a nap, because I could almost fall asleep sitting up lol.  

If you knew me, you'd know how unusual it is for me to fall asleep sitting OR lying on the couch - like it literally never happens.  I'm one of those people that can't fall asleep on the couch, especially with the TV on, I have too much anxiety - it has to be dark and quiet for me to fall asleep lol.  Ask my husband (who falls asleep every night in front of the T.V.) -  I have never fallen asleep on the couch, but almost did today lol.

To me, it's not so much like a side effect as - how can I describe it?   

I don't feel badly, per se, and it's definitely not flu-like - it's more of just a feeling like activities require more effort, a general sense of malaise/fatigue?

For me, it's actually less viral-like and more similar to how I felt the first trimester of pregnancy, which makes me think that rather than true "side effect" of the vaccine itself, the fatigue/malaise may actually be related to lots of activity going on, very rapidly, in my body - like my immune system is on overdrive, my body's cranking out those antibodies, super fast, causing fatigue - make sense?  :)

In fact, the one and only other time in my life that I fell asleep on the couch was when I was pregnant, so that's why I liken it to that lol.

Mark claimed he got a slight temp and lost his sense of smell for the first 24 hours, after shot #1.

Hmm, not sure about that - because I saw the thermometer when he checked and the highest I saw was 99.3F, and he says he lost his sense of smell, but could smell the diesel fuel on a truck passing? ;)

Men, I love you, but sometimes, when you're not feeling well?  You're bigger drama queens than we ever thought of being lol.  

Not always, but yeah - sorry, in my experience, that's mostly been true.  I think God knew what he was doing when he created women to bear the babies ;).

Either it's that or I'm just lucky with side effects because none of that happened :)

He's due for his second shot next week, that's supposedly the bugger, but we shall see.  My second shot will be in 4 weeks.  

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Snuggy Pug's Sleepytime Song :)

 Mark and Snuggy, Christmas 2019

The mind is a powerful thing, isn't it?  

I was aware that the anniversary of Snuggy's passing will be this coming Monday, March 29th, but I was trying not to think about it.  I mean, I still say "Hi" to him every day - but I was trying not to think about the end, but the thing is, the mind doesn't let you :/

Anyway, this morning, at that stage when you're just waking up, but not fully awake, Debussy's Clair de Lune ("Moonlight" or literally "Clarity of the Moon" in French) from Suite Bermagasse was playing in my head.  

I hadn't thought of this song or heard it in a year. I couldn't bring myself to listen to it.

That is because it was part of the relaxation music I played, every day, for Snuggy to help soothe and calm him.  By that final week, the degenerative myelopathy had progressed to all but his neck and he could barely lift it and was starting to refuse to eat, which made it difficult to gauge the insulin.  

However, when he heard this music, he would still rub his little round pug head against me in affection, calm right down on my lap, and go to sleep :)

Here's the full playlist I used to play.

Of course, the first thing I thought of was that it was Snuggy, letting me know he's watching over me, while I sleep in the moonlight, with with his favorite sleepy song - but of course, I know that it more likely is my subconscious reminding me and comforting me at the same time ;)

Either way, it worked - the thought of that song while waking up brought a smile and tears at the same time :)

He also loved smooth smooth jazz or New Orleans jazz, which I also haven't played since he passed.  He'd lift his little round pug head when he heard it, he loved it  Sometimes I'd even dance around with him, and he'd still wag his little curlicue tail :)

I couldn't find his favorite anymore, someone must've taken it down, but I found this by the New Orleans' Preservation Hall Band, which I think he'd like, too :)


Hard to believe it's almost been a year. Miss you, Buddy - every day :(

Sunday, March 21, 2021

PS - The Real World: Homecoming, Episode 3 - Thoughts Thus Far ...

(*Edited - content added.)

So I just finished the third and latest installment of the weekly series and here are my promised further thoughts - just be forewarned, I'm about to get my rant on, up in here ;)

(As for my reasons for making an exception to my "anti-reality-TV" rule for just this reboot, read that original post, two posts below.)

I can't find a Becky/Kevin clip yet without someone's commentary added, so perhaps I'll post it here when there is.

Until then, I've got to say, I agree with Norman, who unstereotypically told Becky ...

"Shut up, Becky."

First of all, you never stopped talking or let anyone else talk or finish a single sentence during that "discussion."

Secondly, you are the only person in a group of 7 people that took no responsibility at all, for mistakes in your youth, nor gave an apology for the slightest thing.

Thirdly, you signed up to do this show, specifically knowing you were going to discuss racial issues and past mistakes, 30 years ago, promising that you were going to listen more and look for/provide healing - but then walked off like a drama queen, after claiming everyone "attacked" you. 

Look - nobody "attacked" you - they gently asked for clarification on some elitist, tone-deaf, stupid things you legitimately said, on camera.

Instead of examining that, you got defensive instead, which only made it worse, to the point where it would've been better to just - stop talking.

Even Kevin was surprisingly chill, this go round - that is, when you'd let him finish, without interrupting lol.

And may I just say that I'm so sick of other white people (particularly white women, but not exclusively, as many white men do, too) using the phrase "attacked" to describe verbal exchanges in which they actively participated in (and may have provoked) themselves, as if they're innocent victims?

(And that includes Sharon Osbourne.  Sorry, I was initially a fan, but the more we go along with this Sharon Osbourne story and her responses, the more frustrated with her I get and she's losing points by the day with me.  In fact, I was reminded of Sharon Osbourne exactly watching Becky and Kevin's interaction.)   

I don't think I've ever used the word "attacked" to describe a verbal exchange in my life!

Bullied?  Yes.  Attacked?  No.

IMO, the word "attacked" is reserved for actual war or physical altercations in which an innocent, unsuspecting person is literally physically attacked - NOT to describe a verbal altercation with at least two people actively participating, in some kind of melodramatic white-person false-victimhood! lol

Seriously - very few people of color I know ever use the word "attacked," except for maybe acts of actual war, but not even for other physical altercations (but typically they say "jumped" in physical altercations). I'm sure there are people of color who do, I just don't know any.

(But nobody was even "bullying" Becky - they gently asked for clarification on the elitist, tone-deaf, stupid stuff that was coming out of her mouth, giving her a chance to explain herself - which she used to only make it worse.)

Nobody on this show "characterized" you as anything, Barbecue Becky -  you did that to yourself. 

Even if they did edit the clips, saying these things at all, under any circumstances, was ... whack lol.

I mean, you literally tried to use "taking African dance classes" and "I'm friends with a Russian theoretical physicist (???)" as proof you're woke and not racist.

Are you serious with that? lol

That's just ridiculous, automatic white-person defensiveness, and it's absurd - and the amount of times you name-dropped and bragged about how much stuff you have, how many homes in various countries you have, what you've done and how many famous intellectuals you know -  you made yourself appear elitist - nobody did that to you but YOU.

Then you packed your bags and tried to leave in the middle of a house meeting, like a drama queen, saying to the producer that you'd "grown past" this show, like you were better than everyone else - refusing to say goodbye or explain, but asking if anyone was going to help you carry your bags.

Are you kidding me with that? lol

Girl, if this was a scapegoating or a group-bullying toxic situation, I'd agree with you - but it wasn't.

In fact, at first, it was more like asking you for clarification/giving you a chance to explain, which you only made worse - and then it was more like a group intervention lol.

You haven't "grown past this" - the problem is everyone else has grown up and grown past you, living in your over-privileged bubble, for the last 30 years,  that no one dare enter and challenge, and you crash if anyone ever challenges it, even with sugar on top, and yet you still imagine that your rich-white-girl problems are bigger and worse than everybody else's anyway!

Ugh, I know so many white women like this, including people that I reconnected with via FB that I went to high school with, even in my own family, both conservative and liberal. 

However, I think the fact that they claim to be my fellow liberal/progressives, but have no clue what financial struggle is, and yet their problems are somehow always still worse than everyone else's, actually makes me cringe worse than I do with conservatives lol.

Thus, I'm going to say this not only to Becky, but to 95% of the over-privileged white women I grew up with ...

Girls, I hate to break this to you - but you ARE Karens - you talk the talk, but you don't walk the walk.

Not only are most of you either too blissfully unaware or too afraid to even gently challenge the system, for fear of loss of what perks you DO get from a broken system, but you don't give of yourself and your time to actually do the work of self-examination for implicit racial bias and general self-improvement.

You complain about "me-too," but fail to see how you actually contribute to misogyny yourselves, by helping predatory men (and women) out, through not believing women who claim this, victim-blaming, and smearing other women via vicious, reputation-ruining gossip!

Then you take yoga classes, go to spas, and attend relaxation retreats to "escape" from all the "political stress."

Well, Namaste, ladies! Good for you!

Now, why don't you actually DO SOMETHING to help those less privileged than you instead, who could never afford to do what you do, to "deal with stress," whom you find various reasons to justify not helping (usually victim-blaming).

Despite at least having financial security, all your problems are still somehow always worse than people who don't, and no one ever can do enough to make you feel better (as if that's our job; not to mention, you are doing nothing at all to help THEM feel better), nor does anyone ever "appreciate" you enough. 

Everything is always about YOU, starring you as the innocent victim, demanding people "appreciate you" more  - though you're actually the one victimizing other people and not appreciating THEM!

Snap out of it, we have work to do!?!

God, that felt good to say! LOL.

Look at Julie - she took to heart what happened with Kevin in 1992, and shocked the sh*t out of us all, when she revealed that she really self-examined herself, back then, and came to terms with the fact that though she never hated or feared people of color or gay people, she didn't know any people of color or gay people, and she needed to learn - that it wasn't enough to just sit back and not actively say and do racist things, but to become ANTI-racist.

Now, her daughter is an ambassador for the Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham, she's on the board of a community organization to help underprivileged kids get to college, and marched with the Obama family in Selma, and used her voice for change on social media. 

What have YOU done, Becky? 

Constantly bragged about yourself and your privilege, used social media to try to sell your mediocre music, taken off to France during Trump, taken yoga classes and African dance classes, whined about misogyny and "me too," and imagine you can call yourself "woke?" 

I don't think so, Princess lol. 

Now - I'm sure there's good in you, too, I've seen it  - but time to get off your pedestal, Princess, grow up, and start giving more than you demand others give to you. 

Watch yourself again and try to do so without squinting and getting defensive, Love -  because it's not so pretty.  

You want to grow and heal? 

It takes work, my dear, and self-examination to heal.

Once again, don't sign up to look in the mirror and then get upset when you don't like what other people see.

Also don't quit when the going gets rough, and then whine about needing to heal ;)

FYI - If someone accuses you of being racist (which Kevin did NOT, he just gently challenged you on what you had done to challenge racism), or even just being racially biased, IMO, here's the best way to handle it ... 

You:  "Oh, I don't see myself that way.  What did you see/hear? 


Them:  "Well, you said ____."  

Now, as white people, we tend to get defensive, and give examples of how we have black friends, adopted black children, marched with BLM etc.  

However, none of that means we know the black experience - so let's all try to resist that urge and listen, if we want things to get better - recognizing that even if you're not racist, you have been raised in a commercially racial-bias culture that has been ingrained in us and there might be some residuals, and it's in all of us - even the most "woke" white people :)

You:  "Oh, wow, I get it now.  I'm so sorry I offended you, I honestly didn't mean to.  I didn't realize it sounded that way, or that it might come across that way.  I didn't mean it to sound that way, but I AM a product of my culture, so thank you for pointing it out so I can be more self-aware of how I'm contributing to the problem without meaning to."


Boom, we're done, here.  I mean, it's not that hard.

Now, I have seen, sometimes, where things really were a simple misunderstanding, especially on social media  - but that's why it's important to address it directly and immediately - ask questions and ask for clarification on both sides, in case something was simply mispoken or misunderstood - talking it through immediately before resentments fester, plus we all need to check ourselves before we wreck ourselves.

*Hop* off my soapbox/pulpit after rendering some tough love to my fellow self-proclaimed liberal/progressive white women, this Sunday ;)

Saturday, March 20, 2021

A Week of Giving Back and Gratitude ...

It's been an interesting week, after the prior week's current events reminded me of a dark time - because this week, I had several reminders of the people who were kind and merciful to me, during that dark time - and an opportunity to pay them back in gratitude (though none of them ever asked me to).

Also, as I mentioned on here, about a year-and-a-half ago, I discovered a former dear friend of mine had died.  This person was living here in Lexington, but I had kept hoping I would be in a better place financially, when I saw him again, so that I could spoil him appropriately; thus, I put it off until too late :(

Since that time, I have been on a kick to let the people know, who really made a difference in my life, that they had, even if I seemed like a cheeseball - especially people who were kind to me during the darkest time in my life, when it seemed there was otherwise no kindness or mercy to be found.  

So first, on Monday,  I completed extensive dental work that I hadn't been able to afford to have for years.  (Well, almost done - with the exception of getting Invisalign this summer and then a dental implant of a premolar after my teeth are straightened).

I first began going for cleanings in 2013, and when I first came in, I was afraid to even look them in the eye, I was so ashamed, so broken, really, and terrified of their judgment.   

I hadn't had dental insurance is 20 years, and I never said a word about the situation I had been in until two years prior; and I didn't want to make excuses for not taking better care of myself - so I just thought I'd take whatever judgment they'd have to make on the chin.

However, the thing is - they didn't :)

I never said a word about that, but right off the bat, when we found I needed a root canal, my dentist told me she would be the last person to judge anyone, as she grew up on well water in the country, plus loved Snickers bars in high school and college, and had 2 root canals by the time she was 30.

My dental hygienist and I also connected immediately - besides sharing the same name, we found we liked so many of the same things from music, to food, to preferring mountains to the beach, to us both losing one of our beloved two dogs at the beginning of COVID (when vets offices were still closed) to our philosophy of giving people the benefit of the doubt and kindness, but both also learning to set better boundaries before it was too late.  

So this past Monday, after 8 years there, and just being able to afford dental work I couldn't before (Mark's stroke in 2017 didn't help the financial situation)  - plus my dentist telling me previously that she often skips lunch, plus how tough things had been during COVID for them, dentists and the ADA having to fight to get the vaccine like other healthcare workers, despite being in people's faces all day -  I decided to bring the entire office a big bag of toasted Panera bagels and various cream cheeses, to show my appreciation :)

During my visit, I only told my hygienist privately (because I had the best connection with her) my fears upon first coming there of being judged, and that actually, I had been homeless during the recession in 2010 - but that she, and everyone there, had been so kind to me, so full of mercy, that it really helped me realize not everyone had become a judgmental twat lol.

She said she'd always felt a special connection to me, she's happy to see me on her schedule, and that I was loved there - which meant so much to me.

I didn't go into too much detail, and what I did share, I asked her not to, but also explained that as cheesy as it may sound, when you're in a dark place and there is no kindness, mercy, or light, that even the smallest kindness means so much, and I wanted them to know how much I remembered it and how much they were appreciated :) 

She said, "You have grown so much from when you first started coming in - I just thought you were nervous about dental procedures, which is common; I had no idea it was this. But whatever it is, I always try to think 'you never know what the person in this chair is going through, so be kind; and if they're rude, just try harder.'  But you never have been, you're always so wonderful, we just love you, here."

We also talked about having the same name, but a different spelling - but there are two meanings for the name; one is, of course, "gem," but the other is the female version of Christ or "Christ bearer" or "fair, clear Christian" - and I told her that I could see both in her :)

Then we laughed about being saddled with those name meanings, being a lot to live up to, so we were like, "Thanks, Mom!" 

But they also never let you forget what the goal is, on days we don't always live up to our names ;)

Thus, she just sent me this little card, and I know I'm a cheeseball, but I cried for like 10 minutes over it:

My husband just came over, put his arms around me, and cried with me.  

He was like, "See, you deserve that.  And you needed that.  You ARE a wonderful person, and these are wonderful people you're connecting with now, they see you - they see through all the smears and lies in this town, they see you. Now you just need to see it yourself. "

Then, another friend of mine, whom I've referred to as my spiritual mom (whom I've been "paying back" over the last few years, when I could), asked me if I could help her order something for her pastor.  We don't always agree on politics or issues of faith, but her pastor was from always tremendously kind to me.  I remember once wanting to speak to him privately and asking him if he had a moment to spare later, and he dropped saying goodbyes to people at the church at the door to take a few minutes right then.

I was like, "Oh, no, you're busy now" but he wouldn't hear of it. 

 And the thing is, it wasn't just for me, he did that for everybody.   He says it's because he grew up rough, in Mexico (still has a scar from a knife fight), but God showed him mercy and he promised God that if anyone needed anything, and he could do it, he'd go right now.  

Anyway, my "spiritual mom" asked if I would help her order something for him over the internet for his health that he couldn't afford, she'd pay for it. 

Of course, I wouldn't hear of it - it was my chance to pay him back for his kindness that day, as well as continue pay her back for hers :)

(This was money from my paycheck, btw, not Mark's ;)

So I bought it and it's shipping as we speak.

We're not wealthy, now, by any means, but we're a lot better off than we were, or especially I was, during the recession.

And I just feel like the way that this week has gone has been more than coincidence - a reminder of not only how far I've come, but to give back what I have to those rare people that were simply kind to me, and showed me mercy, when no one else did. 

If you are one of those people and are reading, again, I cannot thank you enough - and I firmly believe God used you as an angel in my life at that time, and I will never forget you - thank you!

It's just super nice after being reminded of a dark time the week prior, of a time where I was mercilessly judged like Meghan (to a smaller degree) to be reminded of the rare kindness people showed me then and be able to let them know how much they were appreciated  :)

Friday, March 19, 2021

Just Starting to Watch "The Real World: Homecoming New York"

The same "cast" back  in 1992 ...

Anyone that knows me well, knows I can't stand most "Reality" TV and the reason why (which I won't discuss here). 
Additionally, I have said many times, starting way back in 2005, that I thought that glorifying competitive-style reality TV was the beginning of Trump-style politics.

HOWEVER - the only exceptions I have to that are non-competitive reality-TV shows or house-hunting/remodeling shows (even though much of what happens in those is staged, now, as well).

For me, these exceptions also include only the first two seasons of the first "reality TV" show, The Real World, which aired on MTV.

However, I would disagree with the "Reality TV" label, for those first two seasons, because the first two seasons were more of a documentary of a social experiment:  Seven artists (singers, dancers, writers, artists) from all areas of the country; black and white, gay and straight, rich and poor - are given a free apartment in NYC and a small allowance, and are filmed 24/7, just to see what would happen. 

It wasn't until Season 3, when their ratings started to tank, that events and fights started getting staged, people starting getting paid big bucks for appearing rather than a place to live and a small allowance (because part of the "lesson" was teaching young struggling artists how hard life really was in New York),  and "confessional booths" were added to encourage behind-the-back discussions, rather than saying what they really thought and felt directly to their housemates. :/

They also talked about real issues, bigger issues than themselves, in the first two seasons, like racism and AIDs, because they were intelligent people of conscience  -  not gossip and  "So-and-So slept with So-and-So." 

I quit watching the third season, when it became clear that this was no longer a documentary of a social experiment, they were now signing up losers who had no skills or goals at all, just hoping to become as famous as the surprise fame which accompanied the cast of the first two seasons.  

Also, unlike the first two seasons, the show now had big sponsors and big money to pay the participants with, to include now intentionally hiring people to be group antagonizers to get ratings (Puck was an a-hole, and clearly hired to be one - sorry), and a "confessional booth" was added to encourage talking behind their roommates backs.

To their credit, though there is a confessional booth in this reboot (along with several features that were later added like dramatic sound effects, etc.) - they noted they didn't have one, and they refuse to use it individually.  

Instead, they all go in together and go, "What's going on?  Let's talk."  Bravo :)

Also, this was of course before competitive-style "Reality-TV," when things not only became obviously staged and and scripted, but veered towards individual or team competition for money, in which participants were encouraged to corporate-strategize, fight, stab each other in the back, make alliances, throw each other under the bus, smear campaign the competition with lies, cheat, or steal anything - and later admitted to doing so, unapologetically, in confessional rooms  - just to win some money.

Which, of course, America glorified, Donald Trump stuck his name all over, and then became president ;)

The first two seasons of this show was before all of that - when there was no big money, there was no big prize for a "winner," there was no fake drama created for effect, just watching natural idiosyncrasies of people from very different backgrounds trying to live and struggle together in NYC in a social experiment.

And we know this because Kevin, now a professional journalist and writer, predominantly on issues of race - who was vilified by the public at the time for his bringing up race issues frequently - has repeatedly said that they did not cast him intentionally as the "angry black man with a chip on his shoulder," nor did he believe the production staff spun it and edited clips to have him viewed that way (although he says he believes later seasons and other shows do that) - and that considering his whole career has been based on race relations, he'd be the first one to tell you if he thought they had. 

He also said (and the rest of the cast agreed) that the only racial spin on it was typical marketing bias at that time, towards focusing most on the "pretty, happy, white people," Eric and Julie, and that is the result of implicit racial bias in marketing - primarily race, yes - but not  just race, also our American obsessions with happiness, physical attractiveness, and sexual orientation as a culture - as even other attractive white members who were quieter (Andre), edgier (Becky), or gay (Norman) weren't focused on as much as the always-exuberant Eric and Julie.

Otherwise, he says that the public's perception of him wasn't the fault of the show's production team purposefully casting him or spinning things that way, that was John Q. Public's fault - and just more proof of our racism as a society. 

Kevin adds that they just "had no idea what they got," when he signed on, particularly in the wake of Rodney King happening while filming, and he says that what you saw happen, actually happened, and there are still hurt feelings today over it, that some of them haven't seen each other since, and he hopes there will be some healing with this homecoming.

Now, the original cast returns, 30 years later, all 7 of them - and who could forget Julie from Alabama being confronted by first just Kevin ...

... and then others on her racism. 

Though she never admitted her racism, she did finally admit to racial ignorance/naivete, adding that she had never really been around people of color, and that she needed to listen and learn more, and ultimately becoming BFFs with with Heather, the female rapper? :)

(Let's face it - no one, in the history of the world, ever thinks or says they are racist - and yet clearly, racism still exists ;)

In fact, the most memorable episode (besides the above episode), was at the end of the season, when MTV surprised them by announcing them they were taking them to Jamaica as a reward for sticking out the entire season despite problems, only they weren't allowed to tell friends, family, or in interviews, until it aired. 

Thus, Heather and Julie, frustrated that they couldn't tell anyone, wanted to tell someone, so they picked up a White Pages (yes, children, back in the day, instead of Google, we used to have printed phone books with names, addresses, and phone numbers, listed alphabetically, and yellow pages for business) and began calling random people (yes, children, before Caller ID) and just saying, "Hey, guess what?  We're going to Jamaica!"  LOL.

All phone calls were recorded by the show's audio, so people were like, "That's great, I'm so happy for you!  Who is this again?" LOL.

You couldn't do that, now, without people getting upset (even back then, some did) - but back then, it was hilarious and awesome  - and I know, because some friends and I tried it once - because it's not a prank, it's a "Sharing good news with random strangers" call lol.

Anyway, I've just started watching it, hoping they've tossed the later-season staging and go back to "real" talk versus "reality-tv" staged talk. I'll let you know what I think, meaning if it's returned to the original "real" format or staged BS like it became by Season 3 (and all other "reality-TV" BS since).  

But hey, at least they weren't thrown together to be pitted against each other for a prize - if you stayed until the end, you all were rewarded with a trip to Jamaica!

Also, the homecoming was filmed during the pandemic, quarantined for two weeks prior and tested daily, so they became part of their own "bubble," so it will interesting to find out how that went - and hopefully, it will go more like the first season and "real" reality, and not be too staged. 

First PS - 

Okay, I'm 20 minutes in, and I admit it -  I'm crying, and I don't know why?!? LOL.

I teared up first when Eric couldn't be present and had to Zoom in because he's tested positive for COVID -  but mostly, I still kept laughing because of Heather - Heather always brings the party :)

Then I teared up again, because everyone finally admitted that Kevin was right about racism in America, back then, though they labeled him the "angry black man," at the time.

The Rodney King beating literally happened while they were filming, and yet nobody wanted to talk about it or racism - but Kevin.

(Which, of course, I already knew Kevin was right, attending college here at UK, in the South, as a social work student, and just after Rodney King - and that people just didn't want to talk about it or face it.) 

To his credit, Kevin took responsibility for his overly aggressive approach and  "not accepting people for where they are, but expecting people to accept people where he he is."

All of that made me tear up, I was so happy for Kevin's redemption - that has to be healing for him - in fact, you can see it on his face, how touched he was, and later, from the previews, healing tears rolling down his face  :)

But I think my tears actually started to flow the most when Julie's daughter announced to Kevin via Facetime that she was the ambassador from her high school at the Civil Rights Institute in Birmingham, Alabama, and that her mom's experience in New York (and later L.A.), after challenging herself on race, was very influential in who she wanted to become - someone who changed the world for civil rights.

Okay, that one got me - Julie's daughter, who literally looks like Julie's twin, wants to be an ambassador for civil rights - amazing.

And Becky said something interesting, that their fights weren't fights, they were debates, where people listened to each other - as opposed to later reality TV in which fights were staged and people got physical.

True dat.

It's good to see some people can change for the better, with the passing of time, maturity, and self-examination - good to see.

(However, most people don't have the opportunity to view themselves on video, for the next 30 years, in order to see their  mistakes and how things really were versus preferring selective memories of events ;)

Unfortunately, I've heard tidbits about Becky - like so many fellow liberals I know - despite talking a good liberal, anti-racist game, later acts like a over-privileged "Karen" (not uncommon in upper-middle class and above white people, conservative AND liberal, and Kevin calls her on it, and she and Kevin argue (again) and she threatens to leave the show? 

We shall see. 

Lots of my own memories, too, from during that time in life.  

I remember I had some friends playing Ice-T/Body Count's "Cop Killer" so loud it would wake the dead, and other friends wanting it banned (successfully, both rock and hip-hop stations here in Lexington refused to play it) and threatening to kick the asses of anyone who played it or showed sympathy for Rodney King.  

I personally didn't encourage killing cops OR banning the song - but I admittedly like the song, it was an interesting mix of thrash metal and rap, at the time, and I supported their right to their artistic expression of anger over Rodney King.

Hey, I'm a Johnny Cash fan, remember?

If a white Johnny Cash can sing about fantasy killing someone with "I shot a man in Reno, just to watch them die" in "Folsom Prison Blues" in 1957 to work out his issues by writing therapeutically, but would never do so in real life, then Ice-T, as a black man, should be able to sing in fantasy about killing cops over police brutality, also to work out his issues by writing therapeutically, never doing so in real life.  

I don't have to like it or let my kids listen to it (or more likely, listen to it with them and discuss), but these artists have every right to write fantasy lyrics as a sort cathartic of therapy :). 

I mean, these are musicians and artists therapeutically and cathartically expressing fantasy aggression in artistic expression of things that they will never do  in real life  - NOT the President of the United States or Congress, responsible for shaping very real law and policy, trying to pass off/ promote their personal fantasy aggressions into a legal reality  - there's a difference! 

Thus, instead I tried to facilitate communication for better understanding instead of banning anything or physical fights.

However, this usually just ended up with my either verbally out-debating ignorant, over-privileged idiots, or wound up with people just saying, "Save it for class, nobody wants to talk about that shit"  and "nobody likes mouthy, opinionated, smart girls - just laugh at the guy's jokes and listen to them talk politics," ended up feeling like something was wrong with me because I wanted to discuss things to facilitate better understanding, rather than continue to ignore and pretend until things exploded again, or ban things or physically fight.

Oh, but you want to ban music or provoke fights instead?  Okay.

And here we are, 30 years later.

Very glad, also, that even though there's a "confessional room" given to them this time around, which they noted they didn't have, they don't go in alone and bash the others - they all go in together - and whatever they have to say, it's not behind any backs - it's straight up to faces, out loud in front of God and everybody - at least so far lol. 

More later ...

75-Year-Old Xiao Zhen Xie Fights Back From Her Anti-Asian Attacker's "Bad Day"

First, the background situation - attacks on Asians and Asian-Americans have increased 150% in the U.S., in the past year, and on Tuesday, 21-year-old white male, Aaron Long, shot and killed eight people in Cherokee County, Georgia, targeting Asian spas and massage parlors.

Six of the victims were Asian, but Long said the crimes were not racially motivated, they were motivated by wanting to "remove temptation" for his sex addiction - 
(which of course brings to mind a question of sex-trafficking and exploitation was involved?)

In addition to first stating, "This was not a hate crime," Captain Jay Baker, of the Cherokee County's Sheriff's office proceeded to say: "He was pretty much fed up and had been kind of at the end of his rope. Yesterday was a really bad day for him, and this is what he did.”
These are the kind of things white-male police often oddly say about white-male murderers - remember when the Austin PD said the Austin TX mail bomber was a "poor, troubled, frustrated" kid as well?

(And we all know, had the shooter been black, there would've been a knee on his neck, and he likely wouldn't be alive anymore ;)

As a result of his "bad day" speech, as well as his allegedly now-deleted Facebook posts of him saying "I love my T-shirts" with this T-shirt ...

... which say "COVID-19 - imported from Chy-na" ...

...  Captain Jay Baker is no longer the spokesman for the case and is currently under investigation ;)

HOWEVER - yesterday, in San Francisco, after attacking an 83-year-old Vietnamese man, Ngoc Pham, earlier that morning, witnesses (including the filmer of this phone video just after the incident) say 39-year-old white male, Steven Jenkins, apparently also had a "bad day," when he walked up to Xiao Zhen Xie and punched her in the left eye, completely unprovoked.  

She fought back with a piece of wood and bloodied his nose - and he's the one leaving on the stretcher. 

Now, that's a "bad day" - when you, as the kind of person who sees yourself as a persecuted, frustrated, white male victim of other races, faiths,  women and "temptation" - decide to abuse your actual power versus these groups by attacking random Asian elderly people, scapegoating them for COVID-19  - but you're the one who winds up leaving on a stretcher, after getting your ass kicked by a 75-year-old Chinese grandma!  

(I love it!  I especially love his face in the video, complete disbelief lol).

(Video provided by CBS-KPIX5, San Francisco)

Jenkins was arrested for assault and elderly abuse, but not a hate crime, as of yet, either. 

And not so funny is that she still cannot see out of her left eye due to bleeding, is traumatized, and is afraid to leave her home now :(

Oh, but shhh,  never mind -  we're all supposed to just keep pretending power abuse/scapegoating, racism, and sexism don't exist anymore, and never did ...

... and that white men aren't violent unprovoked, and that we aren't enabling it by making excuses like they "just had a bad day," when they go on shooting sprees based on race, gender, or political affiliation and blame the victims instead ...

... and that white cops don't kidnap, rape, and kill women who were simply walking down the same street they're supposed to protect. or knee black men in the neck, who didn't resist arrest, over a $20 counterfeit bill.

How many white male shooters and bombers have we had since Trump, hmm?

And yet, we liberals warned that Trump's irresponsible "free speech" rhetoric was fanning the flames of violence, racism, and hate crimes, but Trumpers continue to pretend it's not, and have thus tried to find any way in the world NOT to tie him to increased violence and hate crimes and continue blaming scapegoats - including actually trying to find the most nonsensical, crazy ways to blame us Democrats and other lefties for the violence, without a shred of evidence.

For more on dysfunctional-family/group-level delusional denial, enabling, and scapegoating, read prior posts ;)

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

An Example of How Respectful Disagreement Can Still Happen on the Internet LOL

 So,  as I said, I've been "unplugged" for the last few days, briefly glancing at news; however, something popped up as a "recommended for you" video from YouTube (based on stuff I'd previously watched) about Meghan and Harry, and I unfortunately watched it :/

Yep, for the most part, social-media commenters are still nasty - just checking - talk about delusions of grandeur and narcissism!

A bunch of unqualified, armchair "physicians" with an inflated sense of self, who imagine they are qualified to diagnose anyone, let alone a person they've never met, never even heard speak until that interview lol.

A "diagnosis," mind you, which they admittedly made well before that interview, based entirely on tabloids and gossip rags, and from as remote a place as they could possibly be from "their patient" (*snicker*) and/or her royal-family group dynamic?  

Thus, "physicians" - heal thyselves - from thy delusions of grandeur, elevated sense of self/narcissism, attention-seeking, and demanding just your perspective be heard as your God-given right to freedom of speech (but not Meghan's or any dissenters)  ;)

Thus, I chose instead to bypass those folks, ignore the nasties and respond to a person who commented as fact, to the tune of "No one had ever publicly 'attacked' the royal family like that."

I responded with essentially  "Did you ... not see the 1995 BBC interview with Diana? It was much worse."  (See below copy of that comment ;)

A different commenter responded, and it was refreshing to know that though rare, it is still possible to have a polite chat with someone on the internet, listening to the perspective of the other person to better understand, even if you still respectfully disagree overall :)

Note:   Despite these being public comments, I blacked out the original commenter's name, the name of the second commenter that I had the polite discussion with,  and any references to the presenters of this video or the name of the video itself.

That is to make it just a bit more difficult for the one residual "smearer" left of me, who likes to follow me around (even impersonate me) and cause trouble ;)

Thus, in addition to people being so rude and nasty, this is another reason why I rarely comment anywhere, anymore, and also why my comments remain closed (see the note under my profile in the sidebar ;)

Also note that there were other people's comments between ours (and I mostly ignore people just clearly wanting to fight rather than discuss, unless it just hits me the wrong way, on the wrong day lol), so I made screen shots of just our replies to each other.  

However, this person was reasonable, asking me to look at other aspects that are questionable, so I did, and vice versa :)

Thus, I understand more where L is coming from, I really do.  We still don't agree, but I do understand better where she's coming from. 

Here it is, in its entirety - proving it is still possible for people to respectfully disagree without being nasty or personally insulting, in the interest of better trying to understand each other :)

My last reply was a little lengthy, so I had to zoom out to get it all in, sorry for the smaller font - but at the same time, I hope it's read, because it's the point that I most wanted to make ;)


PS -  Now, I know that I've stated on here myself that is my opinion that Trump is suspect for being a narcissist and joked about it.

However - note that opinion is based on things I've actually seen him say, do, and Tweet himself, over the last four years -  not social-media memes, gossip, or tabloid rags.  

Note that still, I have repeatedly stated that is my opinion, not a fact. 


That is because though educated in psychology and sociology, originally headed towards being an LCSW clinical therapist, I don't have that license, or virtually clinical experience myself, so I don't have the actual qualifications to diagnose him or anyone else.

Even if I did have a license, a PhD, and years of clinical experience, it would still legally be considered just my personal, subjective professional opinion (since psychology is not an exact science, as nothing can definitively be proven, and observer personal bias comes into play, all too often).

Also, such diagnoses should only be made only after several in-person private evaluations over time, not based purely on piecing together videos and statements made here and there, as that would be an incomplete, biased, unfair, irresponsible, and unethical evaluation.

In fact, any actual licensed clinical therapist diagnosing anyone and stating it to others as a fact, rather than their opinion - especially without consent of the "patient" - risks losing their license over HIPAA violation and other legal ramifications. 

However, I will say that if any public figure fit the DSM-V and other more in-depth college textbook descriptions of a narcissist, in my opinion, it would be Trump.

And yet still, that's just my speculative opinion - again, based on things I've heard and seen myself, from his own lips and Twitter account, live or on video - because I'm not qualified to make that diagnosis about anyone or state it as a fact ;)