Posted by: mydarkestplaces | September 16, 2022

Courtesy of 2006 Kate

Some old notebooks of mine were recovered today. Among many of the remarkable things I wrote then was what my version of a commencement speech would be.

Instead of barraging a lot of people with what they likely don’t really care to read by texting or emailing I’m going to send it out to the Internet to read or ignore as you so choose.

“The past four years have been eventful, remarkable, and unforgettable. From family and friends lost along the way. Changes to the layout of campus. The ebb and flow of faculty and staff, the trials and tribulations of the past four years have forever left their mark on us. If you’re like me, you’ve made incredible friends, met inspirational mentors, and had an overall transformative growing experience. This may have happened in the classroom, the Greek system, a sports team, or a club or organization. Sure, you may have toyed with the idea of transferring after the big loss, the low grade, or the disappointing election loss, but the thought of leaving St. Lawrence likely wrenched a part of your heart that you were trying to deny existed. Today we are being forced to leave. For some of us, our contact will be limited to communication from Calling All Saints asking for a donation to the St. Lawrence Fund. But for many of us, we will remember being a pub major, the old Hoot Owl mix, Club Win, the Green wall, and no matter where we are, either developmentally or geographically, we will remember St. Lawrence and the people who helped formulate our experience. And we’ll smile. Maybe cry. And call our friends and say, “Remember when? …” If I could entreat you to do one thing following graduation it would be to stay in touch with the people you’ve loved for the past four years. Ours is the generation with the easiest access to communication – everyone has email, many have cell phones, and almost all have Facebook. Ours is a privileged generation in that we can let the people we love and appreciate know that we do so. If our class achieves half of what we have the potential to we will change the world. Public health, medical school, high finance, grad school, teachers. Our class is going places, we just can’t forget those who helped along the way.

Congratulations, Class of 2006.”

Posted by: mydarkestplaces | August 22, 2022

If you follow me on Twitter you saw my rant there earlier in regards to what I’m about to expand on here, and announce a new nickname for the 45th President.

First the announcement. I spent most of the last six years calling him Herr Cheeto. However I’ve switched it up. In my mind he’s now Nero Cheeto. Legend has it that Nero, a Roman emperor, sat aside while his city burned. And 45 still looks like a stale Cheeto. Seriously. He should have better stylists.

Now for the bulk of the post.

I’ve drawn, at least in my mind, a lot of parallels between Stalin and Nero Cheeto. Both renowned for setting folks up high then tearing them down again. The big difference is that most of the victims of Stalin’s tearing down ended up dead. At least as of now, the same can’t be said of Cheeto Nero.

However, think of the impediments to Cheeto Nero just offing his opponents and critics. Yes, he’s been kicked off Twitter and Facebook, but his most ardent supporters (largely) haven’t. Nor have critics. Or reporters. Or, or, or.

Can you imagine if Stalin had the internet to contend with/use?

I’m just saying this is a very versatile tool. It’s destroyed the lives of John and Jane Doe for nothing worse than a sign in their yard.

I was reading the testimony Alexander Orlov gave in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, particularly the Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act and Other Internal Security Laws. I just described Orlov, a “get out before he kills me” defector. In his heyday Orlov was a midlevel-Someone in the Soviet secret police. He’s someone who tailed and tattled on this, that, or the other critic of Stalin and the USSR. He’s someone who was without a doubt responsible for the deaths of multitudes, but he bartered the information his, and his family’s, safety. I’ve just been thinking about how he would, if he would have been able to, navigate if the Internet had existed then.

How does this connect to Nero Cheeto? He had, and has, the Internet as a tool. He’s so inept he hasn’t been able to fully utilize it’s capabilities. He shares “leadership” traits with Stalin, but there isn’t a road of deaths running behind him.

All to say, if Stalin had had the Internet his kill rate would have far exceeded the roughly 20 million believed to have been killed by him at this point.

Pardon the rambling. Maybe this will be an indicator that I’m ready to do Stalin research again.

Posted by: mydarkestplaces | June 24, 2022

Rant on Choice

Many of you know, but not all, that a month ago I had my uterus and ovaries removed. The chief reason is that every month my ovaries had a hormone dump that made me actively suicidal.

My amazing doctor had me on a shot to prevent that every couple months, and it was mostly effective, but she was reluctant to continue that treatment as there wasn’t a lot of convincing evidence about a continuation of the medicine not being detrimental.

Why was this important? Looking back at the past eight years the bulk of my hospitalizations for suicidality tied in REAL close with my premenstrual hormone dump. It was time to stop those dumps from ever happening again.

Having gotten through what would previously have been called PMS since the surgery I can tell you. Having these body parts removed has done a lot for me.

Today Roe v. Wade was overturned. Again taking away a woman’s right to choose

All I’ve been thinking of is that, were I living in the Red Sea, my choice to have this procedure, as ultimately live saving as it has already turned out to be, would have been nullified. Because I’m still of an age that producing a child isn’t unheard of.

Think about that. Reins on a woman’s reproductive organs doesn’t just tie to actively reproducing. It ties to our ability to reproduce. Doesn’t matter I was never going to reproduce I COULD have reproduced. So that’s reason enough to keep my body repeating these likely fatal processes.

This is not to say my choice of this procedure supersedes the choice of a rape victim or unprepared woman to terminate their pregnancy.

I’m just saying that we all find ourselves in situations where difficult decisions have to be made. I can guarantee a woman going in for an abortion isn’t doing so as a means of birth control.

And turns out. If you want fewer abortions one good way to prevent them is education and providing birth control and condoms baggage free. And actually penalizing men who rape and pillage our bodies frequently.

Tell me, Justices, Senators, and Representatives. What are your options going to be if your 17 year old daughter is raped and becomes pregnant?

What will you do then?

Posted by: mydarkestplaces | May 29, 2022

Return to Stalin…

As I’ve been public with other places I’m on medical leave for a hot month or two following a significant surgery. If you’ve interacted with me (as an adult) you know I’m going absolutely batty not being able to work.

But look! Here’s this project I started years ago that I haven’t gotten far in…at all…because turns out reading about the deaths of millions isn’t necessarily the best thing for a majorly depressed empath.

However, I’m feeling like this book is still something that needs to happen. So I’m battening down the hatches to start working on the research and annotated bibliographies again so a book can be written about Stalin’s atrocities.

I entreat you for your help. When I start bemoaning being bored? Please encourage me to open a book and sit at the computer?

I’m not going to be able to do this without you. And this is something that needs to be done. Stat.

Posted by: mydarkestplaces | April 16, 2022

Equal opportunity outrage

I’ve been mulling over this post for the better part of a week. What’s happening in Ukraine is abhorrent and just flat out murder. I am outraged. I think it’s disgusting and crimes against humanity.

Here’s a newsflash though.

I thought the same during the Arab Spring.

There are a lot of people raising battlecries and outrage today who ignored the Arab Spring where the same thing was happening. President Bashar Asaad has been doing much the same thing since 2011. Blowing up hospitals and killing people who were trying to help his victims.

So I get it. I get the outrage, but where was the outrage when the same thing was happening to brown and black people? Where’s the attention when the same thing DOES happen to brown and black people?

At least the blocks at borders to refugees that went up in record time during the Arab Spring are staying up in regards to the folks from the Ukraine.

I just … we should always be outraged when a polity deliberately targets civilians. It’s time we indiscriminately berate and cry out against indiscriminate killings whether on an international scale or a scale that’s next door.

Love thy neighbor as thyself is what some guy said. Let’s start working on our governments – of all scales – to legislate this. To get it in writing so it’s not just some hypothetical goal.

Let’s be better.

Posted by: mydarkestplaces | August 18, 2021

Women in sports

I know we’re coming off the Olympics right now where we saw many of the greatest athletes in the world compete, but I’m left with thoughts.

When did I start to be interested in sports.

I’m sure wiffle ball and pickle around the neighborhood helped. As did Amanda and Home Brandi befriending me. As did, as always, my parents supporting my interests. But the first time I remember soccer, my sport of choice, being a real interest were the Atlanta Games and the US Women’s National Team winning the gold.

Following that triumph it was like a switch flipped. I wanted to know and do all things soccer. Travel teams, school teams, for a (very) short period of time ODP. I was all soccer all the time.

That was never a question for me once that flip switched.

As I’m watching A LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN tonight I’m more grateful for the precedent set by these women than I normally am.

I’m already looking forward to watching this movie, and the 1996 gold medal game if it’s streamable, with my nine year old (swiftly approaching adolescence) niece. She needs to know things can happen when a woman has hopes, dreams, and the willingness to work to achieve them.

Posted by: mydarkestplaces | June 12, 2021

Family revisited…

Seven years ago I wrote of family for the HuffPo. My family is nigh everything to me. My sisters, my brothers, my in-laws, my pseudo-parents, etc., etc.. I wouldn’t trade one of them for the world. Heck, even when I was a child I recognized how good I had it with my brothers and wouldn’t have traded them then either.

Everything there remains true.

Then I had a eureka moment a couple weeks ago. A lot of the folks I call family I call chosen family. That family is tremendously important to me no doubt, but then I realized I have a couple siblings who I don’t use that qualifier. I’m looking at you Hippo and Tall. You aren’t “chosen” family you’re just family.

I feel so lucky and blessed to have these sort of semantics present themselves in my brain at any given point. You all are pretty swell.

Posted by: mydarkestplaces | January 19, 2021

Hopes and dreams rekindled?

I don’t know if I’ve written about it here, I know I have on Twitter, and now I’m definitely writing about it here.

So. A few years back I got a pipe dream in my head. Ask anyone (at least Stateside) about Josef Stalin and what will come up will be Russia saving the day during World War II and maybe references to that photo from the Yalta Conference with Churchill and Roosevelt. Okay. Great. Fine. That was a thing, it happened. But what very few either know or acknowledge is what was happening in the USSR at the same time as Hitler’s Third Reich. Millions of people were being killed by the State. They were being accused of being traitors, of trying to sow upheaval, they were being accused of looking the wrong way. There were perhaps more ways to end up dead in the USSR under Stalin as there was under Hitler.

But that’s just not what we hear about or learn about. Unless, like me, you search it out.

And let’s be real. There are very, very few heart warming things to be read about from Stalin’s time. There’s some excellent writing and art – that emerged AFTER Stalin’s death – but not too many feel good stories about his time.

What I’m proposing lacks the feel good. But what I’d like to do is open up history so when asked what someone knows about Stalin they’re mentioning more than just that picture from the Yalta Conference.

Why this is coming up today.

I haven’t done any research or writing in months. I haven’t cracked a book, opened an article, or talked to a friend about it. When one finds their country under the power of a despot it’s hard to read about how bad it could get.

So. I’ve put all these pipe dreams on hold. I haven’t read anything, written anything, talked about it with anyone. Whatever.

Today I talked about it in the future tense.

I got out my tablet so I could read some words and take some notes.

I don’t know what this means. If it means anything. But I can’t help but feel it significant.

And this is the internet. So I’m allowed to just ramble about it.

Posted by: mydarkestplaces | August 26, 2020

White Privilege

I know there are people not just in THE world, but in MY world who question the existence of “white privilege.”

Let me learn you.

White privilege is thinking you’ll get a “Black Lives Matter” tattoo and then changing your mind because it would create challenges and difficulty in town and the work place.

I recently moved to a much more conservative community. A community whose Biden signs may, almost, equal the number of Trump signs in Portland. Maybe. I might be overestimating that.

But I’m making the choice whether to (or not) get a BLM tattoo in order to make my life less combative. My black friends don’t have that luxury. They’re kind of stuck being black.

I’m going to be thinking deeply about this for awhile. If you’re someone I typically bounce thoughts off of be prepared for more bouncing.

Posted by: mydarkestplaces | March 13, 2019

Different ways of learning…

I like hearing smart people talk, particularly when it’s about something they’re passionate about, but that’s not always the best way for me to retain information. It’s something where, as often as I’m told something, I won’t retain it.

That being said. If I write something down I’m far more likely to retain the message. An example. I recently re-enrolled in Become a Master Writer, a course put together by a friend to help her writer friends become better. To sum it up it is a lot of time spent copywriting writers from all spectrums to learn writing from the masters. One has to copywrite in hard copy not just typing something so it means one is processing in a different way than just hearing and seeing something. What’s remarkable about this is that I did this this morning. The piece being copied talks about the beginning of being a writer and looking for more from your writing.

I’m lucky enough to have folks telling me often that I’m a good writer. Heck, sometimes I tell myself I’m a good writer, but because I’m a precious snowflake my issues are all unique and I start to doubt that I’m a good writer the moment I finish reading the piece I’ve written.

Today I hand wrote a piece saying, “It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, [between thinking and knowing you’re a good writer] and your work will be as good as your ambitions.” After writing it out the goal is to listen to a partner piece. Because in my venerable age I now follow directions that’s what I did.

I weighed my comprehension of both messages. Writing and reading has me thinking, “Maybe I can do this. Maybe I can be better.” Listening had me talking with the baristas at Bryan’s Bux. Had me talking with some of the other customers. Had me wondering what the hell I was doing thinking to be so presumptuous that I’m a good writer.

I think, once I remember to bring a ballpoint pen with me (as opposed to a Sharpie) and remember to do further sessions, that maybe I’ll start to find the power to do more writing.

I want to be a writer who believes I’m a good writer. I want to be a writer that (heaven forbid) makes money from my writing. I want to be a writer that can be held up as an example of good writing.

Maybe these are things I can do.

Thanks, Elisa.

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