A year ago, today…

I always use baby talk with my cat, because she is incredibly skittish, and anything close to conversational tone causes her to hide under the bed.

This isn’t an article about my views on the events of January 6th, 2021, since, at the time it happened, I had no idea what was going on. My January 6th of 2021 was spent bundled up with the cat and the Xbox controller, as it had been a particularly bad pain day for me, and playing Minecraft is my form of self-medication.

I only heard anything about the attack on the capitol building when I called my mom for her daily jollying session. She was still in the hospital on her third round of chemo at that point, and when I asked her how she was feeling, she said she was worried about what she was seeing on TV. I don’t have TV (I have a television, I just don’t have any service…), so I assumed it was more of the same “steal the vote” shenanigans, (Which, technically, it was…) so I told her not to stress, and distracted her with humor.

When I finally had a chance to check on the news later that night, I understood why she was frightened, but I also wasn’t in the least surprised, since I’d predicted there would be a coup attempt back in early 2020. You don’t need to be a political science major to see the pattern forming, especially when it’s being broadcast in real time on a daily basis.

Something I did get to witness, from this particular microcosm of Central California, was what was going through the brainspace of the people who thought knocking down the barriers around a federal building was going to be like an episode of Punk’d. There was genuine confusion as to why people would be arrested. These were the same people who proudly displayed “thin blue line” flags on their cars during the BLM protests. I could say that everyone can see the hypocricy, but it’s not true. They really think that they’re “the good guys”, and that they’re fighting the good fight.

The human mind doesn’t like to change. It doesn’t like to accept new information if it doesn’t mesh with what it’s already learned before. (Regardless of whether or not the information it learned before was true or accurate.) If the information is too different, the brain will react defensively, even to the point of aggression. (Which is why your crazy uncle Chuck isn’t invited to family gatherings anymore.) This is true for everyone, and training your brain to not be a crotchety, stubborn, ass takes a lot more effort than most people are willing to expend.

Marketing experts know this, which is why 99% of politics is marketing. When those people marched on the capitol, they carried a brand logo with them. They displayed it on their hats, shirts, cars, and flags. If a group of people showed up at your house covered in Snickers logos, the obsession would be obvious, and you’d be quick to label them “The Candy Bar Cult”. The strange part about all of this is that the ones covered in the logos don’t seem to realize that they are in a cult at all. That’s how powerful the marketing is.

Human minds can be changed in huge ways, if the changes are small, and similar enough to the information the brain already contains:

“I want to eat healthy.”

“Fiber is healthy.”

“Peanuts contain fiber.”

“Snickers contain peanuts.”

“Snickers are healthy.”

“People who don’t eat Snickers are unhealthy.”

“People who say that Snickers is unhealthy are sheep who have been fooled by the anti-Snickers media.”

“We need to make people eat Snickers, or they’ll die.”

“People who refuse to eat Snickers, or try to prevent others from eating Snickers are trying to kill people, and should be killed first.”

This is a big part of why I don’t watch TV. I know I’m not immune to marketing, even though I know how to guard against it. However, an easy step we can all take to prevent ourselves from becoming human billboards is to realize that we don’t need the product as much as it needs us. If we have the presence of mind to walk away from the feed, it becomes easier to see the sales pitch, and then we learn to recognize it for what it is. – K

Dodged a Freight Train, Hit by a Truck

My mother has Leukemia. We discovered this, very abruptly, at one o’clock in the afternoon on Christmas Eve. The nurse told my dad to take her to the nearest hospital immediately so they could begin chemotherapy, and an hour later, she was one of the many people waiting on a stretcher for the very limited medical staff available due to the massive influx of Covid19 patients. She didn’t get a bed until much later on Christmas Day.

She’s in the same hospital I was for my spinal surgery a year ago.

Her particular variety is Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) which is fast-moving. At her age, she has a less than 10% chance of making it out of the hospital at all. My dad is the only one allowed to visit her, and he can only do that for fours hours maximum per day. My parents’ house is over an hour away from the hospital, so he’s driving two round trips every day. We offered to cover an extended stay hotel room, but he doesn’t want to risk Covid exposure by adding a new location to his routine. He wouldn’t be able to visit her at all if he gets sick, because her immune system is basically non-existent.

I don’t talk much about my mother, because if you’ve met me, you’ve met a younger version of my mom. She’s likely neurodivergent, but has never sought formal diagnosis, which is probably just as well, because at her age, she’s more likely to be dismissed as a “crazy old woman” rather than be taken seriously.

Nobody has ever taken her seriously, and her mask was that of a clown for the longest time. When she started to get too tired to keep it up, people thought she was just no fun any more. They called her anti-social. They made fun of her for not being able to make chit-chat with strangers at the grocery stores, or responding bluntly to people trying to sell her things. These are familiar, normal autistic behaviors. She was being authentic.

“Where’s the old Jeannine?”

She’s right there, you’ve just never met her.

Since I can’t visit my mom in the hospital, I’m doing the only thing I can. I’m using my mask to cheer her up, making her laugh until she pees her hospital gown, and talking to her like she’s not crazy. Because she’s not crazy.

She says she gets confused sometimes, and that she feels like she’s losing her mind. I tell her that the world is a confusing place, and that if she loses her mind, maybe it’ll bump into mine somewhere. – K

Other Ramblings…