Circling the Drain

About this time eight years ago, my friends on the right filled my inbox with e-mail comparing Barack Obama to Adolph Hitler. Now I’m seeing Facebook posts from friends on the left comparing Donald Trump to Adolph Hitler.

Yesterday a new Facebook friend, whom I’ve never met and about whose political persuasion I know nothing, posted a documentary-style clip explaining the factors that enabled Hitler’s rise to power.

The Facebook friend did not compare anyone to Hitler, he just posted the clip.

I shared my observation that both sides seem to use Hitler as a scare tactic.

This morning someone replied:

“Yes, that’s true. That was irritating because it showed how little we understand history. And here we are again not understanding why a facist in the White House could be dangerous.”

I asked for clarification, which I have not yet received: “Did you mean to type fascist or racist? You’re just one letter off from each possibility.  We’ll never understand anything, past or present unless we seek to understand.”

Our downfall will be that most of us don’t care to know. We don’t ask for clarification, we don’t ask questions, we don’t listen with open ears to opposing views, we don’t want the truth to get in the way of our hate. We feed on soundbites. We feed off ratings-getting media-promulgated hate.

Round and round it goes.

Back when the Flint water crisis dominated the local news, I witnessed ignorance in all its infuriating glory.

I was wrapping foil strips onto a small plastic board as fast as my stylist could paint highlights into my hair.

The woman in the chair across the aisle was chattering away at her stylist.

The noon news was playing on a tv mounted in the corner.

Another story about the water in Flint.

“Where’s the mayor in all this?,” her stylist asked.

“He’s vacationing in Florida,” the woman replied.

The mayor of Flint is a woman, I thought to myself.

The woman went on about the male mayor.

The mayor of Flint is a woman, I wanted to say in a matter of fact voice to John, my stylist.

But I didn’t.

She continued on about the male (now adding white-privileged) mayor vacationing in Florida during a water crisis in his city.


And then I almost laughed.  Adding the white-privileged brought her opinionated, knee-jerk ignorance to a nearly comical level.

A couple of weeks ago I was back at the salon.

Another blatantly fact-distorted discussion on another topic between two customers.

Please John, put me under the dryer and turn it up LOUD, I can’t take any more.

I watched some of the RNC speeches last night.

I wonder how many people who did not watch them will be discussing them at the office, at the salon, on Facebook today.

I wonder if the woman who replied to my Facebook comment was referring to Donald Trump.

I wonder whether she meant to type racist or fascist.

If she meant fascist, I wonder if she has asked anyone who has worked for him whether or not he runs his companies in a fascist manner.

Because that would be helpful to know.

I wonder if she knows that he generously invited all of his primary opponents to speak at the convention. I wonder if she knows that he allowed Ted Cruz to speak without vetting his speech, to speak without the promise of an endorsement. Because that would be something to consider.

A fascist would allow none of that.

I’ve watched  a couple of interviews in which longtime friends of Trump’s say he is not a racist. I wonder whether she has heard any of those interviews.

I wonder if the statements of those who know him well have any weight with her.

But since I don’t know whether she meant fascist or racist or whether she was referring to Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders or none of the above, I won’t jump to any conclusions.

Obama is Hitler, Trump is Hitler, the mayor of Flint is a privileged white man.  Yesterday, in a woman-on-the-street interview, a senior citizen said Trump is pure evil. When asked why she had no answer.

My guess, in the absence of an answer, is that he is pure evil because someone told her he is pure evil.

Because someone pulled out the pure-evil political-opponent-bashing template and compared him to Hitler.

Round and round
and round

God help us.


Public Service Announcement: memes

I keep seeing people referring to pretty pictures with inspirational quotes in the foreground as “memes.”  They’re not. They’re pretty pictures with inspirational quotes in the foreground.

According to Wikipedia, “A meme acts as a unit for carrying cultural ideas, symbols, or practices that can be transmitted from one mind to another through writing, speech, gestures, rituals, or other imitable phenomena with a mimicked theme.” (I added the bold.)

Mimicked theme is the key.

My daughter explained it to me this way, “You take something that is easily recognizable from pop culture and apply a phrase to it..”

Like this skeptical baby.

We might hope our pretty picture with the inspirational quote becomes an easily recognizable pop culture image some day, but until then it’s not a meme.

Glad I could clear that up for you.





Bloggers and Tumblers and Tweets, Oh My!

I don’t Instagram.  This one statement, spoken by daughter to her friends, in the back seat of my SUV, on our way to the Grand Hotel, Mackinac Island, where we were about to bless a group of bright, beautiful former prostitutes, is why:

“Oh! This one is Instagram worthy!”

I shy away from “worthy.” So, though I’ve known about Instagram for quite some time, I didn’t have my first look at it until Saturday, when I scrolled through my daughter’s gallery.  Artsy, hip, stylish, beautiful and definitely not about keeping it real.

Case in point: ice cream.

My Plum Market app notified me that all flavors of jeni’s would be on sale for a few days. So Thursday, whilst picking up a few grocery items, I took a quick and happy jaunt down the frozen foods aisle to see what new flavors she might have.


Oh yeah. As soon as I unloaded my find, I snapped a quick pic before nestling it into the freezer. All I wanted to do was give my Facebook friends an opportunity to “rejoice with those who rejoice.” And to alert them to the goodness that could be had.

I didn’t care about the frost on the carton or the shadows on the counter. I just wanted to ring the bells, call my fellow jeni’s lovers to worship.


This is the pic my daughter took the next day. Frost-free and against a backdrop of similar colors, but still not deemed Instagram worthy.

I love a good photo. I really love a good photo. But for me a good photo is one that evokes an emotion.

Instagram is for the aesthetically astute. An astuteness I may not have.

And that’s too much potential judgment for me.

I just like what I like.


I don’t tumble, either.  I tried tumbling for a minute or two, but it just wasn’t my thing. They just weren’t my people. Tumblers are collectors. They are people with style who like to display their good taste. Good taste in photos, good taste in quotes, good taste in lifestyle aspirations. They don’t seem to post much original material, they’re more decorators than artists. I’m not a collector.

And so I blog.

Bloggers like to tell stories, stories they’ve captured with their cameras or tapped out with their fingertips.

There may be all kinds of judgment and ridicule involved in blogging, too, but no one has implied it out loud in the backseat of my car, so I’ll just assume there isn’t.

A new friend, upon learning I have a blog, said he would check it out. After doing so he wrote something along the lines of, “Clean, not cluttered. Good work.”

A tumbler would be very pleased with such a praise, but if you don’t have anything nice to say about a blogger’s WORDS, then don’t say anything at all. ‘Cuz with us it’s all about the words. (If by some slim chance that new friend is reading this, no hard feelings).

I was vacuuming massive amounts of dog hair off the foyer rug when that last thought hit me when the memory of his comment bubbled to the surface.

So I turned off the vacuum, put down the hose,  grabbed my laptop and made a note (‘cuz that’s what bloggers do) in case I felt like writing a post about it later.

I proceeded to vacuum the hallway, put the hose down again, and changed “when that last thought hit me” to “when the memory of his comment bubbled to the surface.”

‘Cuz bloggers are always dropping what they are doing to jot and reword.

It’s a miracle my house is ever clean.

My daughter loves the look of things and I love the sound of things, the rhythm and cadence of words.  I stop, smile and sigh when a sentence is just right. Just, just right. It’s a rare and beautiful thing.

Maybe I could tumble beautiful sentences.


The hub has never been on Facebook and he is completely unaware of Instagram and tumblr. I strangely and warmly admire him for that. There’s something really something, now that I’m thinking about it, about a man just living his life without ringing any bells.

Well, any bells but twitter bells, that is.

A hip young co-worker recently hooked him up. He now follows bass fishermen and they follow him.  My daughter is warmly and strangely proud of how quickly he mastered the hashtags and @s. He chirps at his fishing heroes and they chirp back at him. It’s kind of adorable.

I signed up, I’m sorry to say, because I wanted to #VoiceSave someone.

On the rare occasion that I open the app, I am overwhelmed by the chatter of people I know nothing about on topics I care nothing about. Not knowing how to make them stop, I slam the app shut.

Good name, twitter. It is exactly like the convention of birds gathered in my hickory tree most evenings: Loud, frantic, disorganized, mile a minute chirping.

Tweeters just like to convene.


A Roll of the Dice

“Mom, it’s bad.”

“What?”  My mind scanned the possibilities.  She wasn’t dead, or hurt so badly that she couldn’t call on her own behalf.  Did she kill someone?  “Did you get in an accident?”


“Are you okay.”

“Yes, the airbag went off and injured my hand, but that’s all.

I gulped and braced myself for the answer:  “Is ANYONE hurt?”

“No.  The woman is fine.  It doesn’t look like there is much damage to her car, but the front end of mine is completely smashed.”

“Were you texting?”

I was heating up left over hamburger patties when she called – organic, grass fed hamburger patties, to be exact, because, as you know, I am kinda’ BOO-zhee.

I grabbed my purse.

“You can have both burgers,” I said to the hub as I headed toward the door.  “I’ll pick something up for myself on the way home.  I’m starving though.  I hope this doesn’t take too long.”

She and her smashed in car were about 45 minutes away, I knew I wouldn’t be eating any time soon.

And then I did something that I have NEVER DONE in my entire life.  I put down my purse, and said, “I’m going to eat my burger before I go.  She can wait.”  I assembled my burger – mustard, ketchup, pickles – and ate it wolfed it down.

On the way to the accident site she called and said she had ridden along in the wrecker to the tow yard.  I should pick her up there.  The ONLY reason I answered her call en route is because I have hands free calling and answering built into my car.  Otherwise, I would have waited until I stopped at a red light and called her back.

She skipped class last night to get together with a group of friends who are in town from Cleveland and Chicago.  She is allowed one absence per semester, and she spent this one on a get together of tumblr friends.  On the way to the gathering the hostess sent a group text, and because she COULDN’T EVEN WAIT until she stopped at a red light to read it, her sweet, easy life just got a whole lot harder.

I couldn’t help pointing that out to her on the way home.

She’ll have to kiss goodbye the job she lined up for the summer at the Boys and Girls Club – which she loves, working for her old boss – whom she loves, because it is 25 miles away and she no longer has a car.  Instead she’ll have to get the kind of job she hates because those are the only jobs within walking distance of home.

Kiss summer fun goodbye because she has no car and every bit of money she earns will have to go towards saving for a new one.  And towards car insurance because she will no longer be on ours.

I would not have been quite so disgusted, quite so quick to boot her from our insurance if this had never happened before.  But it did.  Just one year ago.  Her car was still drivable that time.  But the $500 deductible to get it fixed pretty much wiped out her savings.

“You could have killed someone and ruined your life,” I said that time.

“You could have gotten yourself killed and ruined my life,” I said.

Before the first accident, she swore she didn’t text and drive.  She lied.  And that was the hardest bit, because the one thing I had always admired about her was her honesty.

She said she learned her lesson back then. And maybe she did.  But it didn’t stick.

“Why can’t you grasp the concept that if you are moving forward, you have to be looking forward?” I asked.

“I do understand the concept,” she said, “and if I ever have a car again I am going to lock my phone in the trunk while I’m driving.”

That kind of struck me as being like an alcoholic saying, “I’m going to lock my booze in the trunk while I am driving.”  He won’t.

The sheriff didn’t ask her if she was texting.  He should have.  Texting while you are driving should be as legally egregious as drinking and driving.

This morning, as I drove her to work, I asked what she might have missed in class last night.  She said, “Probably not a whole lot.  Ever since the professor started to date someone, we take a 20 minute break and then he says, ‘Have we had a break yet?’ and then we take another one.”  I’m assuming so he can resume his text, e-mail or facebook conversation.  Lord have mercy on this text addicted society.

DO YOUR JOB AND THEN TALK TO YOUR GIRLFRIEND.  When you get home.  Like a grownup.  Like a professional.

KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE ROAD.  Text when you get home, or to your destination, or AT A RED LIGHT.

I ran some errands after I dropped her off at work.  A woman was walking through the Costco parking lot with her head down, looking into her phone.  WATCH WHERE YOU’RE WALKING!  She could have easily been hit or backed into by a driver who, head down, was sending a quick text.

Lord have mercy, my head is going to explode.