Prohibited

I didn’t write on Monday because I was doing a thing I wanted to write about on Tuesday, but then that became a thing I want to write about next Monday, so I said screw it, and here we are.

When I was in about fifth grade or so, we learned about prohibition of alcohol in the 20s. It was in my textbooks, and also sort of presented to me as a nonsense thing that we were all grateful the country got over after a few years.  Those against it were painted to me as sort of religious extremists.  It all gave off a very “we believe this thing, and you should, too,” vibe, which even at the tender age of ten, I did not like.  I went to a Catholic school and we were taught to spread the Good News, but only to those willing to receive it.  It wasn’t about pushing it on people-that was disrespectful.  (Of course, if you were already baptized in the church, they will shove that stuff so far down your throat you will choke on it.  But that’s a different blog for a different day.)  The point is that I found it all to be a little silly.

Around the same time, we stared the DARE program.  DARE was a drug and alcohol awareness program that was supposed to keep your kid off drugs.  What it really did was explain all the drugs that were out there to impressionable children.  I mean, we knew about cigarettes and alcohol because it was the early 90s and everyone’s parents were smoking or drinking, But I didn’t know what pot was until that day in DARE.  Thanks, Kenmore Police Department. 

Miraculously, I made it through high school with very little exposure to drugs.  Cigarettes, I started smoking at 16.  My first drink was when I was 13.  A couple of my friends smoked pot, but I didn’t, because DARE told me it would kill me or make me an addict because people would lace it with things like PCP.

Then one day I watched a documentary about the history of cannabis.  I don’t know what it was called, exactly.  I really wish I did so I could recommend it, because it was a real eye-opener.  It made me realize that while some drugs DARE told me about, like coke and heroin and the dreaded PCP, were very dangerous, maybe cannabis was closer to alcohol than any of that.  And then the documentary went on to talk about prohibition of cannabis, and I was right back in fifth grade thinking how silly it was that once upon a time, you couldn’t order a beer.

It is many years later and almost every adult I know has used cannabis in some form, be it CBD, or hemp extracts, or good old-fashioned weed.  Then, a few weeks ago, it was legalized in New York state, where I reside.  I thought to myself, “gee…I wonder if this will be in the history books someday.”

Tuesday, the day I meant to update, was April 20th, also known as 420, which is like Christmas for cannabis users.  Mark and I went out to the Cattaraugus Reservation because there was a sale, and we got free hot dogs and CBD cigarettes.  Also, a basket raffle…I love me a basket raffle.  Driving home, Mark said “this is our first legal 420!”

It was.  Prohibition is over.  I still kind of forget that it’s happened.  Like…Mark had a drug test recently for a job, and I kept getting worried he would fail even though they do not test for cannabis.  I have thought prohibition was ridiculous for so long and now it’s over and I just need to adapt, I guess.

Is this how they felt way back when, when they took that first sip of an ice-cold beer?  Like guilty, but not at all?

Country Living

To start, I did not catch a fish.

Despite my brother-in-law Jason’s guarantee that we would catch something, he was of course the only one to reel anything in.  We did however buy K a pole, and teach her how to use it, and she took to it like a natural. 

But let’s back up.

On Thursday of last week, Hubs and I ventured across New York state to visit his family in the country for his step-father’s memorial service.  Honestly, I don’t remember much of Thursday.  There was lots of driving for me since Mark doesn’t, and I was tired at the end of it.  We ate dinner and had a few drinks for his sister Dawn’s birthday, and I went to bed early. 

Friday, all my nightmares and worries materialized when I woke up and immediately ran to the bathroom to vomit.  My inner monologue was rampant with fear as I tried to calculate how long it would take to get me to the nearest hospital.  I took my Zofran and a Xanax and fell back asleep, and when I awoke it was after two and I had slept though the service.  Discombobulated, I walked outside in search of my husband and instead found most of my in-laws partying in the barn.  Had I realized it was so late I would have changed my clothes or brushed my hair or something, but I was in a fog.

I was sitting at a picnic table by the pond when E came around the corner.  She saw me and ran to give me a hug.  The kiddos headed up on Friday with their mom and step-dad, and this was going to be our first adventure as one big happy family.

Once, years ago when I worked at the daycare, Mark volunteered to help with our annual carnival.  I remember explaining a family to him-one of the kiddos was there with his mom, dad, and step-mom.  Mark turned to me and said, “I hope we can do something like that someday.”  This weekend, he got his wish.

Saturday was the day we would spend all together.  It began with fishing with Jason, as previously mentioned, wherein I caught nothing but seaweed and sticks, and also managed to snag my hook in a tree.  We did do a little off-roading to get there though, and at first I was scared Mom’s Toyota wouldn’t make it up the path and back, but it took it like a champ-like it was nothing.  Take that, Ford trucks.

After that we went swimming at a place called Stewart’s Landing that had a big dam.  Mark started telling us tales of jumping off of it, and then decided he wasn’t as old as he actually is and took the plunge.  Afterwards, K wanted to try.  I was nervous, watching her climb over the railing and standing on the edge.  She’s a strong swimmer, so it wasn’t the water that worried me, just the jump.  After insisting we all stop watching her, and then asking Mark to jump again so he would be down there if she needed him, she summoned her courage and leapt.  Mark was unbelievably proud.

After swimming we went to Jason’s for a fish fry.  I ate 2 whole fish (well, minus the head,) bones, fins, and all.  And it was absolutely delicious.  I pretty much just relaxed and visited while the boys shot BB guns with their cousin and the girls rode ATV’s with Mark and their mom.  Their step-dad also taught the girls to play horseshoes, and at the end of the night the boys decided they would have a sleepover at Jason’s.  So, the girls went back to the hotel with their mom and me and Mark had the night to ourselves. 

We went and hung out with his mother and his sister Dawn and did shots in the barn.  Then our nephew and his friends showed up and we hung with them for a bit before I headed to bed. 

In the morning, after the kiddos hit the road, Mark’s mom took us to McDonald’s for breakfast, and then we headed over to the Little Falls canal lock to do some fishing.  Mark somehow got me to climb the thing, which was terrifying.  I have seen locks before, since I live at the end of the Erie Canal.  We have one in the river, and one in the aptly named City of Lockport.  I have never stood atop one though, and it was very high up.  I’m not afraid of heights per se, but I am deathly afraid of my glasses falling off my face. 

We fished for a bit and nothing came of it, except for a story about how John (the man whose memorial we were there for) used to use nuts as sinkers when he was fishing.  Mark’s mother had gifted him John’s tackle box, and it was in the trunk of the car.  Right after Lauri told me this story, Mark opened the tackle box to find a dozen or so nuts.

He’s keeping them.  He’s hoping they bring us luck.

In the evening, we drove out to my sister-in-law Carrie’s, to visit with her and her boyfriend Sal.  Her kids, who I met ten years ago when they were all babies, are now almost adult-sized.  Afterwards, we drove home and I got a good night’s sleep, knowing I would have a long drive ahead of me the next day.

In the morning, I awoke before everyone.  I made some coffee and went out on the porch and watched the hummingbirds flit between the feeders.  When everyone woke up, we went to the grocery store so Lauri could get some stuff for lunch, and then we went to Tammy’s house.  Tammy is Tommy’s wife, who is Mark’s other late step-father.  On Friday, she told me she bought my book and read it cover to cover, telling me which poems she liked and praising my efforts.  She insisted I come by to sign it, so I did.  We also visited briefly with Mark’s grandmother, Vera.  Then Tammy was kind enough to gift Mark with some prints that were Tommy’s.  He was pleased.

We headed back to Dawn’s and had a nice lunch, and then we hit the road.  The ride home seemed a little quicker than the ride there, as it always does, and when we walked back into our lives there was an air of disappointment.  We spent such a lovely week out in the country with his family.  We were never bored for a second, even without our gadgets and such.  Everyone was kind and hospitable, and I will miss them.  I know Mark will too…he always does.

Anyway, it’s back to the real world…and the real world arrived in the form of an envelope.  I opened it to find a check for my book sales in May, and I burst into tears.  Guys…I have never been paid for writing before.  I remembered my first theater paycheck back in 2002-that was a big deal, but this is much bigger to me.  For the first time…finally, blessedly…it was real.  The shock had worn off, and I accepted the fact that I was indeed, an author.

Anyway…that was my week.  How was yours?

Mark and K about to jump.

A Political Pandemic

The other day I asked my parents if the government was like this when I was younger, and they were my age.  They both said no.  Dad elaborated that things changed after Clinton.  Sure, people didn’t like GHWB or Reagan, but congress was mostly fair and had our best interests at heart, it would seem.

I saw a question on twitter asking Republicans how they went from Terry Schiavo to “you can have a ventilator when you kiss my ass.”  This is just a random thought that is slightly related.

I’m a hardcore Democrat who is married to a middle-of-the-road Independent and occasionally we butt heads, particularly on GOP-brand stuff.  For the most part though, his beliefs are fairly liberal: equal respect and opportunities for all individuals being chief among them.  Hubs considers himself a Humanist, and does not like the way we separate people into groups.  I think in his head, any separation at all really only takes place between “assholes” and “non-assholes.”  That’s how he judges people.

I remember being young, maybe fourth grade, and we did a play for some patriotic holiday.  We learned the 50 states song, which I can still perform to this day.  We had a parade in the gym and sang and did skits about the presidents.  We were raised, through school, to believe America was the best country in the world, and was on the list of important things right behind God (Catholic school problems.)  We said the pledge every morning, we made flags in art class, we learned about the founding fathers.  Everything was tinged with “America is #1.”

High school.  They give us 2 years of Global studies first, in what I assume was an attempt to show us how worse off some other countries have it, so that by the time we got to American History and started learning about all the atrocities of our home country-all the way from slavery to segregation-we were still thinking “well, other places have it worse.”  I wrote a paper once, I don’t recall if it was for high school or college, but it was comparing the Salem Witch Trials to McCarthyism.  Two great examples of Americans acting like fools.

In Senior year, we took Government and Economics, and my stupid senior-itis self slept though it all.  Of course, I have taught myself how the government works-in college I considered changing my major from History Education to just History or Political Science.  So, I figured things out on my own, which if I’m honest is one of the best ways I learn.  (Side note, besides 1:1.  What I would not have given for an aide like they have at M’s school!  But I digress…)  Economics still alludes me-it’s the numbers.  I am bad at numbers.  Words are my forte.

Anyway, the point is that around the time I wrote that paper (which I think was first semester of college) I started to realize that something was fishy.  GWB got elected, and I was just a few months shy of being able to vote.  I started paying attention to things he was doing, particularly on the social front, and I started to get angry.

Even with Obama, a president I adored, who came and improved a lot of the mess his predecessor made, I still felt like we were being gridlocked.  Congress had lots of trouble agreeing on things.  There was massive outrage from the right, all over the place.  And now we are a few years later, with 45, and that outrage has slipped over to the left, while the right sit there like “well, I don’t remember saying that…”  Why wouldn’t they take that tack?  The president does.

Anyway, in the same fashion that I slowly discovered the Catholic church was full of shit, I also discovered America was.  Not the country, the government.  Again, like the CC, the people in charge were ruining the message. 

So, when I saw the bipartisan work that brought our (decidedly crappy, but helpful nonetheless) stimulus package to life, I was encouraged.  I saw 45 sign it.  I was pleasantly surprised.  Then Hubs comes home from work all enraged because the Trumpoids he works with are all giving dear leader the credit when it was the work of both parties.  So, he goes on an anti-Trump Facebook rant, as he is wont to do on occasion, asking for someone to please tell him what 45 is doing to make America great again.  He got a lot of anti-dem memes (which piss him off, he’s not a dem but people assume that since he’s also not republican) and his bro arguing with him in what for them is a playful manner.  What he did not get was an answer to his question.  A lot of “Trump is great” but no actual “and here’s why…”  Meanwhile, I’m watching this with like 100 news articles in my head detailing why he is in fact NOT great, even for these people who defend him, but I keep quiet because I leave my Facebook arguing for that handful of Republican’s who haven’t unfriended me yet. 

See, there’s two kinds of those, though.  Take my friend C.  Politically, we could probably not be farther apart.  She’s a staunch woman for Trump, and I’m over here like “But…’grab ‘em by the pussy.”  Sometimes she will post some things I disagree with, and I will post things she disagrees with, and we just keep scrolling.  It’s that simple.  It might stick with us for a minute…we might think “well, what the hell would make her think that’s ok?”  But we keep scrolling, and we don’t comment.  I WILL comment on something that I agree on-because as different as we are, those things do exist.  Here’s an example: she is a correctional officer near New York City and they were being denied the ability to wear masks because it violated the dress code.  That is the biggest load of bullshit I have ever heard and I don’t care whose side it originated on.  THAT, I was up in arms about.  (Fortunately, it was announced yesterday that they can now bring in their own masks.)

But then there’s the other faction.  There’s the relative who shall remain unnamed who posted several anti-abortion memes to my Facebook timeline because I posted something about how the government DOES NOT fund Planned Parenthood’s abortions.  Instead of reading the thing, he just went nuts on the whole “you must not think life is precious” tack, like I’m not a childcare worker with four kids.  Get outta here, bub.  Eventually his trolling of my posts (anything even slightly liberal) got me mad enough to go hard.  See, I figured a couple of things out.  This man was related to me by blood, yes, but he wasn’t present in my life.  He has no idea about me at all, proven by his many off-base Facebook messages regarding my employment, relationship, income, family reputation, etc.  And while his wife had always been sweet to me, I could no longer abide his ignorance and unfounded hatred.  So, I wrote a couple paragraphs that told him to go play a round of golf or see his grandkids instead of harassing a 30-year-old relative online and stop worrying because he was going to be dead soon, and I won’t be.

When I was a kid, the “grownups,” who were in their 30s and 40s, ran the country.  And those same people still are in charge in some cases.  Well, guess what?  WE are the grownups now, WE know what WE need, and WE are growing as the largest population while y’all die off denying climate change.  So, please go home and feed your cats, and stay out of the way.  I’m not saying your contributions haven’t been valuable, but just retire at 65 and move to Florida like everyone else.

I have tried to stay away from writing political based blogs, because I don’t care for your opinion if it is rooted in ignorance or hate, and those are the messages I get when I’m political.  But politics are playing a huge part in the pandemic here in the US, and I live in New York state.  Yes, I am blessedly 400 miles from the epicenter, but we also have over 600 confirmed cases in my county, the most cases in Western New York.  I don’t have times for your politics.  I’m not trying catch this thing, and I need my government on my side.  So far, I’ve seen encouragement.  Gov. Cuomo, who I never really liked even though I’m Dem (I feel like everything with him is a money grab and he focuses too much on the City,) has been a comfort to me in this time, providing insight and information that I frankly was not expecting.  Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz also graces my television screen on a daily basis, talking to me about my community.  I have found strength in these leaders.  Then there’s 45…I will say there have been glimmers.  Little glimmers that he might do the right thing.  Some have already gone out, but others remain.  I pray that he finds it somewhere in his Grinch-sized heart to help his people in the way he was elected to do, and not play politics in the process.   I hope…but I don’t expect much.

Tigers never change their stripes.

That said…Tiger King, man.  Wild.

Essential

I was at my grandfathers’ funeral luncheon when Gov. Cuomo announced that 100% of the workforce in New York state needed to stay home.  This would be disastrous for me and Hubs, who live solely on his paycheck right now due to my health issues.  For a couple of tense hours, we waited for his boss to call a meeting.  Finally, he texted me: “I’m essential.”  I had a shot of Jameson to celebrate.

Here are some people who are not essential:  my parents, though they are lucky enough to be working from home.  My sister, whose fairly recent promotion means nothing because no one is trying to rent a tuxedo during a pandemic-she’s out of work until further notice. 

Hubs works in shipping and distribution of safety equipment, so he is considered essential.  He was immensely relieved by this information.  But the shine of essentiality did not last for long.

First, there was the order he sent out the other day to DC with the tag name “Pence.”  Hubs is an Independent, and hates both extremes of the political spectrum.  He considers Pence to be the right side of that spectrum, and was furious he had to ship something that may end up assisting the man in some way.  He is trying to focus on the fact that Pence is head of the COVID task force, or whatever the hell they’re calling it, and hopefully the products he ships help someone in the end.

One time, he did an order for NASA, for the space station.  His fingerprints are in space.  They gave him a NASA t-shirt.  That was a better day.

Then, there’s the neglect.

Everyone is sharing memes and stories and such about nurses and doctors and police and fire and grocery workers.  I’m not saying these people aren’t important, they definitely are-but no one is mentioning distribution, past truck drivers.  Who do you think is loading those trucks? 

My husband.

He has a thankless job on a regular basis, and now he sees all these other people getting praise for being essential, but no one notices his contribution, or the contribution of the million other people in his position.  He knows he works behind the scenes-he finds little joys, like the NASA thing, or the fact that the work he does keeps people safe, but those are far-reaching concepts when confronted with your day to day trials.

Mostly, he is worried.  He is worried the work will run out, and they will lay people off.  He is worried when he unloads something from another country or NYC.  He is worried on the three buses he takes to work, and on the three buses he takes home.  He is worried for his job.  He is worried for the health of his high-risk wife.  He is worried for the health of his children.

Still, every day, he wakes up.  He smokes his morning cigarette and drinks a glass of juice and gets dressed.  He trods to the bus stop.  He rides those three buses.  He walks to work.  He unloads trucks, he drives a forklift, he checks orders, he cuts pipe, he cleans, he organizes, he helps his team.  Then he walks back to the bus stop, takes three more buses, and walks home.  He complains about little things; he complains about big things.  I listen, because he is on the front lines in his own way, and everything is changing.

The tenacity that Mark is showing in this trying time is remarkable.  I think that were I in his position, I would hide under a blanket and cry.  He just keeps going, despite all the worry he wears on his back.  If you ask him why, he give you some outdated hullabaloo about a man supporting his family, but really, I think that deep down he does it for him, to keep as close to normal as possible.  Mark’s work has always defined him, and he is usually proud of what he does, but the lack of recognition had him feeling down.

Until this morning, as we watched the morning news and saw a story highlighting workers who aren’t in healthcare or customer service.  A man drove by on a forklift, and Mark gleefully exclaimed “Thank you!”

He knows his job is overlooked by the average person.  I, myself, hardly ever thought of distribution before having a husband who worked in it.  Think of a jar of jam on a shelf at the grocery store.  How did it get there?  A stock boy-a truck driver-a loader.  It takes at least three people to bring you that jar of jam, and we never really consider them.  It is, by definition, a thankless job.

And yet, Hubs finds the joys.  He gets up and goes in day after day because he believes he is helping someone.  It’s kind of a beautiful way to look at a job most would turn their noses up at-and sadly, most do.  But he perseveres. and it inspires me to do the same.  I am trying very hard to find all the silver linings of this pandemic, and his persistence during this situation is certainly one of them.  I’m so proud of him for what he does for his family, and the risk he takes everyday to provide for us and keep others safe. 

He will always be essential to me.

Edit:

Mom: “You’re father and I are technically essential. I even have a letter from the governor.”