Getting settled

But no internet yet…  So far the news is as follows:

No AC.
Dog has claimed a fan all of her own and sleeps with her belly facing the breeze.
Neighborhood is a pleasing mix of everybody.  I might be the only yuppie in the hood.
I’m tired of painting and the real painting hasn’t yet begun.  Maybe it will be better after the AC arrives.

But most importantly, as I was walking the dog last night, I rounded our corner, looked in a window, and thought mine.

Late to the GOT Argument…

… about rape.  So GRRM was asked about the Sansa story arc and how it differs from the books.  He said, more or less, that the decision was made to give Sophie Turner a story-line that would be challenging for her as an actress.  Fair enough.

While acknowledging that rape is a fundamental factor in the lives of women over millenia, up to and including today where ISIS rapes women, the women of Sierra Leone survived civil war with visible and invisible scars as the result of rape…  basically google any conflict you can think of and add rape to your search term and you’ll find the stories.  GOT is a fantasy based in the political happenings of the Middle Ages, and again, rape is historically prevalent and represented equally in the books and in the show (though perhaps not quite as explicitly in the books as on the show because it’s HBO and …  boobs).

So while all of that is true…  Sansa gets raped because the way to give an actress a meaty role is to have her survive systematic spousal rape?  Is there no emotionally challenging story line for women that doesn’t involve her reproductive function?

And on GOT, there is.  Arya is getting to grow without being raped (so far.)  The Sand Snakes seem more or less in charge of themselves and throw around swords, so there is that.  And overall, it’s fiction, it’s HBO, and the show isn’t dismal when it comes to letting women function as fully realized human beings.  I just read that quote and thought really?  That’s the best the showrunner could do to provide Sophie Turner with a challenge?  

Working Stiffs

Ratwell and I talk about everything.  Sometimes this is plot points, sometimes this is Game of Thrones, sometimes this is the big, scary, unknown future.  At least I’m scared.  Ratwell is optimistic.  I recently came across this article in The Atlantic about guaranteed basic income and what the world would look like if everyone had basic housing and nutrition needs taken care of.  In other words, what would you do if you didn’t have to work?  Not “I just won the lottery” not working, but kind of like life on unemployment not working.  Personally, I’d make the argument (as I did nearly 10 years ago) that we already have a system sort of like this in place.  We don’t call it guaranteed basic income, but if you play the game and get your student loans in exchange for a higher degree like a good citizen, chances are you’re going to find a job.  It might not be fulfilling, it might not be exciting.  You may not even be doing work that needs to be done.  Indeed I’m convinced that there is significantly less real work to be done than there are people who need jobs, but it is in everyone’s best interest if we keep employment levels up because bored employees who are scared someone is going to find out that they’re functionally useless spend a lot of money to assuage their fears.

So it more or less works out.  We keep up appearances, we participate in the social agreement that things are better like this than they are under some other construct because yay capitalism.  We take loads of antidepressants to make up for the fact that we’re living lives that are in complete opposition to our biological, emotional, and social needs, and somehow this is better than what it would be like under some other construct wherein people could add value to society irrespective of whether or not the value was determined in terms of profitability.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if we tackled the things that need to be done instead of the things that we get paid to be done?  No one needs another commercial to sell them on Depends.  If you need Depends, you don’t need a commercial to convince you that you need them.  And you aren’t going to run out and buy Depends if you don’t need them just because you saw a commercial for the new Depends that fit more like cotton drawers.  Lets turn all the depends advertising people towards literacy efforts.  The tampon people too, while we are at it.  I’m sure we could put the viagra actors to better use.

I would write full time, and do a lot more to support my social network, and see my dad more.  My roommate would garden.  And sing.  And find a horse to be nice to.  And help AIDS researchers with their patents and legal issues.  The scientists that are researching new formulas for making foot padding for Nike shoes could instead spend their time solving global climate change.  Or turning all of the plastic floating around in the ocean into mobile resting spots for those poor polar bears that get stuck swimming in the ocean forever since there are no more icebergs to climb on and take a breather as they’re looking for dinner.  Think of all the money we’d save on antidepressants if we could pursue our purpose in life without worrying about whether or not it will pay enough to keep us in a house.  No one needs another 1.7M, 3,000 square foot monstrosity to live in with their 1.5 children and 3.5 cars.

It’s a real question: How much stuff would you give up to be happy?

Ebola

Writing, at least for the past month+, has involved intensive research and writing on the subject of Ebola, or more specifically, Ebola in West Africa.  I know more about Ebola than I ever wanted to know.  It is one of those subjects that exposes everything wrong with our media.

First of all, the general tenor of the media reporting has had a distinct flavor of “those uneducated, backwards brown people.”  Do any reading at all, and you’d think that the “traditional burial practices” involve rolling around with the dead person, propping them up in the corner and sitting on their lap like Santa Clause.  Here are your traditional burial practices:  wash the body, have a funeral to which the entire community is invited and at which family and friends are likely to touch the deceased, and bury the body.

What of this is so different than the way we bury people here?  Okay, so we farm out the washing to the mortuary, where they suck out all of the fluids and replace them with chemicals, then paint up the body so it approximates life.  Then we have funerals, and I’ve been to several.  People touch the body here and kiss the forehead here too.  And then the body is buried.  If my mom had died of Ebola, I would have caught it.  I touched her as she was laying in the hospital, I touched her after she died.  The problem isn’t cultural nuances, it is that someone who dies of Ebola is more contagious after they’ve died, so any contact at all is a risk for transmission.  Yet and still, the bodies must be buried.

Second, you’d think that pervasive ignorance was to blame for the magnitude of the spread of this Ebola outbreak.  No mention of abject, grinding poverty.  No discussion of corrupt governments, the legacy of civil war, not enough doctors, health clinics with too little staff, no supplies…  Nope, those backwards brown people.

And then, if that wasn’t enough, the narrative about how the western world – the “international community” – intervened with education, contact tracing, safe burials, and proper care protocols, and saved the day.  Clearly, money made a huge difference.  Money, supplies, doctors, etc.  And yes, education was required.  All of that required resources…  Ebola had never been seen in West Africa before.  But West Africans did a hell of a lot to save themselves too.  And the idea that learning was a problem doesn’t hold water, because the same report that hints at ignorance and intractability also points out that stigma and fear of Ebola lead to healthcare workers being ostracized and threatened with violence.

Get into the story and it’s fair to say that Ebola in West Africa was a clusterfuck of epic proportions, and will continue to be felt for a long time.  Ebola is terrifying, but what about the fact that kids who didn’t get vaccinated because the whole system fell apart over Ebola are now at risk for dying for measles at a rate equal to the number of Ebola deaths?  Yeah.  Bet the media isn’t going to have histrionics about *that.*

So yes.  I know more about Ebola than I ever wanted to know.  And I’m incredibly grateful that I haven’t had to watch anyone I love die of it.  And the Ebola orphans make me want to quit everything and just go hug children in Africa.  And I hate how stupidly, structurally colonial and racist the media is.

That is all.

Teague

From The Camellia Reckoning, in progress…

“Your best, Simone.”

“Yes, Sir.”  Simone had been expecting the call.  It wasn’t like a break-in at the Infirmary was your every-day occurrence.  Never mind the disappearance of six patients and a dog, if the early reports were to be believed.  What anyone would want with a dog mystified Simone, but there it was.  She could add it to a list of things she didn’t understand and let it go.

Now that there was official word, she could call Teague in and get on with it.  After all, no one was better than Teague.  Unflappable, detail oriented, unquestioningly loyal… If she needed to get to the bottom of something, Teague was Simone’s first line of defense.

She didn’t bother putting the phone back in its cradle, she pressed the ‘call release’ button and dialed Teague’s extension.

“Took you long enough,” Teague said as he settled into his usual chair.  Simone raised a questioning eyebrow.  “I saw the news.”

“Mmm.”  Simone acknowledged the statement but didn’t expound.

“Extrinsic break in at the Infirmary.  Anything else I need to know?  Or am I to start at the end and work my way back to the beginning.”

“That sounds about right.”

“Political sensitivities?”

Simone rolled her eyes at the question.  Of course there were political sensitivities.  “What do you think?”

“Dumb question.  Sorry.”  Teague shook his head, an involuntary acknowledgment of the price of privilege.

“Let’s just get this behind us before the 21st, okay?”

“Absofuckinglutely.  We wouldn’t want this hanging over the biggest event of our social calendar.”

“Be nice, Tea.”

Teague snorted.  “Nadia is in charge of the flowers.  You have no idea what my life is like at this time of year.”

“Poor Teague.  His adoring wife gets distracted.”  Simone’s tone was teasing, but there was a hint of envy behind the words.  Theirs was a world where you either got philosophical about change or went crazy.  Give it long enough and everything changes.  Everything but Teague and Nadia.  Fresh off of her latest term contract, Simone could appreciate the continuity.

“Is that all?”

“Yeah, yeah.  Go get your hands dirty.”

Teague stood.

“Wait.”  Simone knew Teague, knew that an invitation to get his hands dirty might take them places they’d rather not go. “Not too dirty.  Just a little dirty.”

Teague understood her warning and nodded.

Settling

Isn’t all bad.  I settled on a house.  It isn’t all said and done, not for a while yet, but I go to sleep debating the writing potential for various rooms.  There is the room with the insane wall-paper.  Has the advantage of being cozy (Realtor speak for small) and I know how to remove wallpaper.  Or the family room with the fireplace.  Lacking the requisite family for a family room, I can use it for whatever I want, right?  The basement is going to require renovation before anyone wants to spend a whole lot of time down there, so that’s not on the list of possibilities.

The most important part is that there will be a place to write.  And a place for my obscene collection of sewing stuff.  And a place for me.  It isn’t huge, it isn’t new, and it doesn’t have granite counter-tops, but it has a giant cherry tree, and azaleas like the ones in front of the house I grew up in, and tulips.  And it feels right.  It certainly doesn’t feel like settling.  It feels like a great deal of luck.

I don’t know who these people are that do great work (of any variety) out of great chaos, but I’m about ready to be done with the chaos.  Settling in.  Settling down.  Sounds good to me.  Really good.