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The Rowling Paradox

It is no secret that I have been a Harry Potter/J K Rowling fan for a long time. to be honest it was when my oldest son brought home the first book.

I loved the series about a boy who is destined for the ultimate battle with the ultimate bad guy.

Harry was an inspiration. J K Rowling was an inspiration. She became the writer I wanted to be. Her world building was incredible with names coming from flowers and the stars and long ago forgotten British history.

I found the books to be allegories of WWII with camps and people disappearing and might is right type slogans from the Grindelwald era. I saw bureaucrats taking advantage of Voldemort’s shadow government doing their best to write laws against anything that went against their beliefs of what was the right and proper order of the world. Except that order meant pure magical humans and none of those pesky half blood magic peoples.

These stories always seemed to me to be about tolerance, about finding the good in people, accepting others for their differences. That people are who they are not because of their magical lineage but because of the choices they make in life. Dumbledore repeatedly said that to Harry.

So to hear that J K was making anti-trans statements was jaw-dropping. People in my life who were Potter fans are giving it up in order to not give more money to JK.

And I get their feelings. The tweets I saw in a Glamor article (https://www.glamour.com/story/a-complete-breakdown-of-the-jk-rowling-transgender-comments-controversy) did not put JK in a good light.

So she does not think trans medications or surgeries are a good thing? Act as if trans people are not real or their emotions are invalid? I hope she realizes who this makes her look like.

The problem is that these statements appear to be the exact antitheses to everything we ever learned in Harry Potter. That we need to judge a person by their character, by their actions and not the characteristics they cannot control. Rowling has made some choices that show her character and it’s not what you expected.

Suddenly, she is this hateful, prejudiced person against a small group who have made a choice of their sex, not sexual orientation. This is not something anyone does lightly, it does not happen willy-nilly.

With each new revelation, I have to re-work my feelings about JK. And it’s hard because I want to believe in the world she tried to create. A world that could live in harmony if people tried, if people saw the hypocrisy and hatred that lies beneath their souls and worked to change their hearts.

The truth is we will never be freed of Voldermorts, Bertha LeStranges, and Delores Umbridges. There will always be people who think they are better than others and try to make laws to subjugate those people they consider their lessers. There will always be people who are destructive for destruction sake. There will always be people who seek a purity of race that they themselves do not possess.

What I don’t think JK has considered is that she is becoming the worst of her creations , Delores Umbridge. She appears to want to bring clarification about what she feels is a dangerous medical course of action. But her words become a mess of misogamy without a shred of medical evidence.

What is a fan to do?

Well, this fan is keeping her books. And enjoying the memories associated with the Wizarding World. But no longer am I a fan of Rowling. Sorry Jo, but you get no more of my money. I will learn to deal with the cognitive dissonance that I feel towards Jo and what she created which was the best part of her.

And with any luck, Jo, you could come back to your senses and live the example your books have given all of us.

The Coffee Treat

Have you ever heard of the Lipstick Effect?

It is one of those weird little theories that states consumers will continue to buy little luxuries during times of economic stress such as recessions or downturns. Things like lipstick that doesn’t cost a lot but makes us feel good.

But for nearly the last two years, we have been living in a world where masks are a normal part of life and lipstick is not. I have not bought a new lipstick in all of that time although I have purchased chapstick. No one is going to see that.

Every week, it seems that something is the new ‘must-buy’ item at the store. Ice cream, cake mixes, flour, sugar. one time I went for coffee creamer and the shelf was nearly completely empty.

Once my workplace opened back up, I noticed something interesting. The Dunkin Donuts I passed by had a line, a long line. And it happened nearly every day. And at nearly every Dunkin or Starbucks I passed during my various travels.

I have been back in my office for a year and a half. And those lines are still long. I thought people would have moved on, found a different thing to focus on. But week after week, the lines don’t stop. One time I pulled in for an afternoon treat when there was not a line. Within minutes, there were three cars behind me.

And why not?

It’s not pink frosted or a Boston Cream but it will do.

For $5.00 it is possible to get a flavored coffee with cream, sugar, and whipped cream with a lovely sweet treat that involves flour, sugar, and hot oil. It’s a little bit of heaven during a rough period that no one would have ever believed would have lasted this long. Not only that, we can do it from our cars. Drive up, make an order, pay, and move on.

Do I have any scientific evidence to back this up? Not a bit. My theory comes from constant observation as I drive around my community.

But with the Lipstick Effect as my guide, I believe that instead of rewarding or treating ourselves to lipstick, we are now getting a coffee and donut to go. Does it last as long as that tube of lipstick?

We all know the answer to that.

But for those few minutes of caffiene and sugar, it feels worth it.

Dear Mike Pence,

Can we talk? I want to have a calm conversation with you.

I ask this as a fellow graduate of a church-based college. Yours is Presbytarian and mine in Church of the Brethren. If it makes you more comfortable, our spouses can be in the room as well. I realize that your wife went to a private college but my husband went to a church school, so that should aid in your comfort.

Please, have a seat. I can make some tea or coffee, set out some cookies, or cheese and crackers.

You’re going to need the sustenance because what I am about to say is going to be hard for you to hear.

Donald Trump, the former president and your former boss, is not your friend.

I know, I know. You worked hard for him, believed in his platform, and that he was the shining light in the Republican party.

But the man does not have your best interests at heart. I’m not sure he cares for you at all.

Why do I say this?

Because on January 6, 2021, the day when you chose to live by the law, his followers were looking to kill you. They were yelling “Hang Mike Pence” and set up a noose on scaffolding that was there for restoration work.

By minutes, you and your family were able to get out of the Capitol building before the insurgents calling for your death rushed through looking for you specifically.

Worse yet, your boss did nothing to stop the violent behavior. He never called the national guard to stop the attack on the Capitol but you did. Oh, he put out a tweet a few hours later telling people to go home.

But he did nothing to stop the insurgents. He did nothing to safe guard the Capitol police, members of congress, or you and your family. You ended up calling the National Guard.

What I don’t understand is how you can say it was just one day, it was another day in Washington D.C.

What I don’t understand is how you can still support Donald Trump.

Is this a PTSD reation to discovering that your boss didn’t care if you and your family was harmed, or worse killed, because he loved that his supporters’ mis-guided notion that Trump won the election?

Is the idea of continuing being vice-president or being president someday perhaps more important than your life? Or the life of your family?

We both know that January 6 happened, that it was real. We know that while protests might be a daily part of D.C., we also know violent protests are not a daily occurrence. We know that the Capitol does not experience violence like this on a daily basis. Congressional members do not have to hit the floor or bar the doors or quickly get out of the building on a daily basis.

I don’t pretend to know what motivates you. I haven’t been able to figure out why you continue loyalty to a man who doesn’t care if you live or die; he only cares that you give him what he needs by any means necessary. And just because you served him loyally for nearly four years, doesn’t mean that counted on the day he wanted to remain president.

I cannot figure how how you can justify all of that. Perhaps you can explain that to me.

Someday.

Meanwhile, I feel concerned that you don’t understand the danger you were in, that your family was in. I feel concerned that your naivete doesn’t get that Trump doesn’t like you and will put you in danger – again – if it means he wins.

Is it your Christian faith that chooses to believe Trump is the guy to make your Republican dreams come true or is it greed and a desire for power?

What would Jesus say to you if you were to actually speak to him?

I don’t think you would like the answer he would give you.

But this is one time you should listen to it.

What are you listening to?

During this pandemic time, I have been stressed.

Like so many others, I have days where I cannot concentrate despite having piles of work to get done. Some might call this ADHD, anxiety, or laziness.

I call it a pain in the ass.

The truth is, I want to get work done. I want my piles to go away and become organized. I try to look at every day as an opportunity to be better. And on those days when I am feeling really stressed, I find something on Youtube to play in the background.

At first I was listening to classical music meant for reading. Later I found music with titles stating that you’re in a library with a ghost or Hogwarts’ Hallway. These can be very soothing as I do data processing or number crunching,

But some days, I have too many people milling about me. Have music on makes the chaos around me worse. People want me to pay attention to them. (Imagine that!)

But I still need some sort of sound because I have tinnitus. The sound makes the tinnitus less overwhelming.

That’s were Handsome Nature, a Youtube channel, comes to the rescue. The folks at this channel put down some bird seed, set up their camera, and let the wildlife come. So you can watch birds and squirrels and chipmunks eat seeds. You can listen to their chirps and songs.

Picture by Floppy 2009

I find it incredibly relaxing. My productivity has gone up. I just feel better.

And when people come into this shared space, I don’t feel more stressed. The sound manages to become pleasant background. And when everyone leaves I can go back to my happy place while getting tons of work completed.

Give it a try. Your cat might love it, too.

I recently had a colonoscopy.

Some of you may know the prep that is involved. You have to take this awful syrup to clean out your gut before the camera goes in to take pictures.

But here is what you may not know. You have to stop all of your supplements several days beforehand because not all ingredients are known. Because nothing is left to chance that might cause extra bleeding, these pills must be stopped. Even aspirin and ibuprofen may not be taken because of their blood thinning properties.

As I lived for days without my vitamins, herbs, and minerals, I came to realize I cannot live without them. The glucosomine and tumeric help my arthritis. The tumeric and B-12 help with my diabetes.

Now combine that with my tubes of creams and bottles of lotions. Suddenly, it has become clear to me that this is all that holds me together. I use Vicks vaporub to battle my toe nail fungus (which I am winning). I have another cream to work on the athlete’s foot on only one foot. The moisturizing lotion I used is scented with lavender to aid in both dry skin protection and emotional well-being.

And then there is my blue emu pain relief cream. It looks weird but it helps. Now granted my pain is not great. I can get by with only tylenol as I cannot take aspirin or other pain relievers in that vein as they interfere with other meds. But without any one piece of my pots, tubes, or bottles collection, I am a mess.

I was so glad for the day of my colonoscopy. Not because I am a fan of anesthesia. I hate that stuff which makes me sick every single time. Once the procedure was over, and I recovered enough to eat supper, I took every single supplement on my list.

It took a few days but everything has slowly come back to normal.

Not that I am without pain. I can tell you when rain is coming. And arthritis is trying to beat me everyday. But thanks to my bottles, tubes, and little pots, I am able to keep my skin intact, keep the pain at bay, and fight against the autoimmune system that seems to want to kill me.

What keeps you intact everyday?

You know, when the other guy was finally out of the White House, I sighed a breathe of relief.

I thought I could go back to watching cat videos for fun not stress relief.

I thought I could go back to paying half of my attention to the political world because it wasn’t a stinking disaster ever single day – like it had been for the past five years.

I watched as the other guy would torpedo his party’s plans for world domination because they weren’t his plans for world domination. Heck, he couldn’t manage a response to a world-wide pandemic properly.

But after January 20, I thought I could rest, relax, and not think about it so hard.

Boy, was I wrong.

Maybe it was the Republicans’ reaction to the insurrection. You know, those representatives who thought what happened was OK because nothing happened to them. What happened that day was a matter of free speech despite those people beating police officers they said Black Lives Matter people didn’t respect.

Maybe it was their reaction to the shooting in Atlanta, a white guy having a really bad day. Who cares what the other guy said about the virus or how it put a target on the backs of Asians across our country. Or that he had to drive twenty-seven miles to get to the next spa that happened to be owned by Asians and employed Asians. Or that out of the ten people killed in that shooting only two were white.

I haven’t heard how the shooting in Boulder will be justified but that young man killed a police officer during his shoot-em up. Will there be leniency for him?

So I guess I am going to have to go back to my habits of the last five years. Keep my congressional representatives on speed dial. Call every time something pisses me off, which is damn near weekly. Write emails to state and U.S. members. And start contributing to senate races where the republican needs to be ousted.

Ted Cruz, Cancun Boy, that includes you.

There is so much going on this past few week, I have no idea where to start.

I am finding myself angry about a number of happening. Since I try to go with one topic at a time, let me start with on that hasn’t made much notice.

Many of us have heard about the increasing violence against the Jewish community. There were attacks every day of Hanukah. It takes a lot of guts to find the different looking people in your area and attack them. (sarcasm).

But that wasn’t the worst story I read. Newsweek reported that Dennis Prager, a conservative radio host, stated that Anne Frank held no wisdom for him. That would be fine if it weren’t for the fact he ridiculed her age and the fact that Frank was a secular Jew.

Prager himself was born into an orthodox Jewish family in New York. After college, he left his orthodox faith but maintains those practices he deems important. He also worked to help Soviet Jews emigrate to the US. So I was surprised by his comments about Frank.

Anne-Frank-school-desk-Netherlands-photo-album-1940

Picture from Britannica.com

It is true that Frank’s family was secular and that she was 16 when she wrote the diaries.  Despite everything that happened, Frank still believed in the goodness of people. Was that naive of her? Was it ill advised despite all of her experiences?

I don’t know and I am not going to judge Frank if she was wise enough. She was living through a situation that I can not imagine. She dealt with the stress of being in hiding from people who wanted to kill her because of an ethnic identity. The fact that she felt hopeful after being in hiding and knowing the outside world was dangerous is amazing to me. She chose to look at the world with the feeling of faith in mankind to always want to be better.

There is something I would like to give to Mr. Prager as a reminder. Nazis didn’t care if you were orthodox, conservative, or liberal. They didn’t care if you were an observant Jew, a passover and Yom Kippur Jew, or a fallen away Jew. All that mattered was that if you were a Jew, you needed to be eliminated. Maybe that was shut up in the ghetto, sent to a camp, or simply dead in a trench the Jews were forced to dig.

As we see increased violence towards the Jewish population, now is not the time to pick each other apart. Maybe Prager did this because currently because it is en vogue to criticize teenagers who take a stand against evil. Maybe he considers this young girl inconsequential because of her age and secular religious habits. All I can say that it takes a small man to disparage a young person to make him feel better about himself. Almost as small as the people who have to kill those who are different from themselves.

 

Christmas Porch

Decorating the front of my house always feels like a challenge. 

Porch Xmas signI am a simple girl, not quite a minimalist but definitely not a ‘more is more’ kind of person. I like it simple and not over done. In fact, when I decorate at work I get it to the point where I like it and then add three more elements. That way I know it is what it should be, what is expected for Christmas decorations. 

This last fall, I saw a porch decoration for fall in Better Homes and Gardens that really fit my vibe. So I copied it as much as I could. I didn’t have the super thick rope or the grapevine balls.

I had orange lights and orange rope. I had other pieces of halloween decoration and pumpkins. Once I put it together, I was really happy, it was simple and elegant. It wasn’t over done.

But now it’s Christmas.

Christmas seems to say excess, maybe scream it a little.

porch-xmas-wreath.jpg

So what did I do?

I stayed in my comfort zone.

I kept the orange rope, changed out for white lights, changed out the wreath, and added a Christmas sign where I had a Halloween ‘beware.’

A part of me thinks about adding some pine cones to the rope. And then I re-think when I consider all of the work involved. Now that school is done for the semester I want to be lazy.

I am making cookies, watching movies, and thinking about switching around that one troublesome part of my book to make it flow better. My plans include buckeyes and peanut butter cookies with chocolate stars in the centers. If I get lucky, there might be some Rumchatta chocolate pudding. 

But still, it’s pretty isn’t it? And it is a start of Christmas Cheer, even when this might be as far as I get.

Porch Christmas

Dear Jane,

I am so sorry for missing these birthday letters. Life has been crazy busy while I was taking two classes this past semester.

My relaxation is watching movies and listening to audio books. Where ever you are these days, do you get a chance to listen to these? I have learned to love them but it really depends on who is doing the reading to make it good or not. Some books done this way can be quite dreadful, especially if the reader doesn’t get the main character.

One book I listened to recently made the two main characters too giggly f

Still Life Audio

or the situations or their own character traits. That to me is really annoying, The other annoying thing is when the speaker’s volume is very loud for one character and very soft for another who are in the same scene. This happened in one book which lead me to turn up the volume for the soft character only to have to quickly turn it down for the next who’s voice was booming.

Well, if you can, I would suggest the Inspector Gamache series on audio. Louise Penny has centered these books in the town of Three Pines, an English settlement in the Quebec province. Our Inspector is French Quebecois but apparently speaks English quite well. These mysteries definitely have an Agatha Christie feel to them. There are many books in this series, each a gem. If you can, get the ones narrated by Ralph Cosham who passed away in 2014.

pride-prejudice-zombies-trailer-poster1Another thing you might want to catch if you can is a movie version of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Is this a great movie? Well, no. But Lily James gives a spirited performance as Lizzie who is an excellent fighter. I think you would be proud of her and this version of your book. I still don’t understand the proposal/fight scene. You will have to watch it to see what I mean. I think it is perfect for watching with teenage or older children, if they don’t mind zombie movies.

But it is your birthday and I hope that your special day is just that. I pray you get some cake and a bit of fun. It seems hard to believe that you lived for a short time and I am now older than you got to be. But your legacy has lived on and inspired so many others. I don’t think any of us can say thank you enough.

Wishing you the happiest of birthdays and a wonderful lazy day to dream of the next book,

Sincerely, your devoted friend, etc.

 

 

 

Study Music

For the last two years I have been working towards a certificate called a Library Technical Assistant.

It was a part of the condition of my job that I have, that I am to be working towards this certificate if I didn’t already have it. It has been great in a lot of ways; I have learned so much about the world of libraries and researching. The course on technology nearly killed me even though I learned more about excel and word.

Through all of this I have learned to listen to music while I am writing which helps build a wall between me and wherever I might be working. Some days I find myself in a library because my home computers do not have Microsoft products.

My school bag keeps a set of ear buds in it at all times so I can plug in and get going on what ever project I am doing. Having that wall really helps depending on where the computer area located. Some are right next to the check out desk which means I get to hear all of these conversations as people check out or get their card renewed.

What am I listening to?

duranduran 1980sDuran Duran

I loved these guys back in the 80s when they first hit the big time. I loved dancing to their music and would have loved to have gone to a concert but I was a poor college student. 

To be honest, I still have no idea what The Reflex is or why we are waiting for the New Moon on Monday. Some of the lyrics make no sense and I have no idea how some of the videos connect to the song that they are emphasizing. At some point I decided not to care.

At some point I lost track of the guys. I got married, had a kid, got divorced, got remarried, listened to a lot of country music and Raffi. Had more kids.

Hello Bananaphone. Goodbye Duran Duran

Then one day at a garage sale I found a Duran Duran Greatest Hits album. The more I played it, the more my kids made fun of them but I didn’t care. I loved their music. Then for one of my classes, I did a research project on the boys. I found out that they are still making albums and interesting music despite breaking up, connecting with other musicians, and later re-connecting with the original five, and breaking up again. At this time four of the original musicians are still in the group.

Duran Duran GettyImages-todayThrough 2015 they have been creating new music, some of it reminiscent of their earlier stuff and other albums that moved on with more modern sounds. As I hear more and more of these songs, I find my self falling in love with their music over and over again. White Lines, What’s Gonna Happen Tomorrow, All You Need is Now, and Pressure Off are just a few of my new favorites. As much as I don’t appreciate the costumes in the video of Girl Panic, I find myself loving the song and the supermodels portraying the guys.

I listen to their music because the mid-tempo songs help my typing become quicker and easier. I feel happy when I am listening to it and that makes projects get put together much easier. I will admit that I could have never gotten through this program without the music of Duran Duran.

Everyone has a band or an artist that they love. For me it is Duran Duran. No apologies, no justification. Not sure if I really care if the rest of the world disagrees with me.

Now if you will excuse me, I have to go listen to Serious one more time.

Duran duran serious