Monthly Archives: March 2019

An open letter to my brother

        I have a half brother I don’t know, and he’s about to turn 18. Our father died eight years ago and his mother decided that she didn’t want me or our sister in Will’s life at all. To her, I’m a bad influence because I’m too liberal, a non-Christian, and, I assume a host of other things that conservative evangelicals would think make me an instrument of—I don’t know—sin (?), vice (?), degradation or something (?). The devil? I don’t know.

        Our father wanted us to know each other, but with his death, Will’s mother got the final say and it’s not my place to force the issue. Except, now, Will’s technically old enough to make his own decisions about who he wants in his life.

        I hope he chooses to reach out, to talk to either me or Amber. The version of our father that Will knew during his first ten years, and the version that dad’s second wife saw and has reinforced in Will’s mind isn’t all there was to the man. Will probably only knows about his grandparents, Carl and Dorothy Malott from what our Aunt Helen has told him, which I don’t suspect to be much. Aunt Helen is one of the kindest people I know, and I’ve rarely, if ever, heard her say anything critical about anyone. In most cases, that’s a good thing, but getting a clear picture of someone means seeing their warts and scars, too.

        I would like to know my half brother. The invitation is open.


First Saturday Report: March

Writing & Submitting:
Still working away on the new project. After hacking out 11,000 words in order to get back to the point where I took the wrong turn, I’ve gotten back on the right (write?) track and nearly replaced all 11,000 with newer, better words.

There’s an old saying about writing that goes “The world doesn’t want you to write. It wants you to do the dishes, vacuum the floor, pick your nose, do the laundry—anything but write.” Lately, the world has been working overtime to make that point clear. My day job is insidiously demanding more than the allotted 40 hours of my time, and making me travel to various small midwestern cities — once, in a snow storm that turned what should have been a 2 hour drive home into a six hour drive.

Some days, I get home and, since I’ve spent the hour and half in the morning writing, then eight to nine hours at work on a computer, the last thing I want to do is sit down and look at a computer again. Sometimes I go for a run, have dinner, and then it’s time for bed. I live alone, except for the two cats (who don’t have thumbs so I can’t delegate chores to them), and so there’s always dishes to do, a toilet to clean, a floor to vacuum, laundry to do, groceries to buy, podcast stuff to do, and friendships to maintain (I don’t want to abandon my friends because close friends help you live longer and I still have a lot to do). So, things take longer to accomplish—for me anyway.

Recently finished the seven part Problematic Badass Female Tropes series with my friend, Jenn. It’s based off her seven essays on the same topic (read them here). Those will be out starting some time in April. She’s writing a series on Toxic Masculinity Tropes that we’ll talk about in the fall.

Lining up the plans for another Outrider Live show. We’re planning to record this one on April 6th. It’ll be the first one that is open to the public, so keep an eye out for the announcement and invite your friends. The poet will be Siobhan Scarry (book). Not sure who the musical performer will be yet.

Finished Nick Lantz’s collection The Lightning that Strikes the Neighbors’ House. It’s a fantastic collection, most famous for having the poem “Portmanterrorism” in it, but there are many other fantastic and deep poems in it.

Started reading J. Robert Lennon’s novel Broken River. I like his first novel The Light of Falling Stars, but as things sometimes go with me, I lost track of him (and lost the book) and missed all his other novels until now. I’ll get caught up eventually.

My friend Stephen McClurg sent me some music recommendations, but I’ve not had time to follow up on them. I did, however, download “Flashback: The Best of the J. Geils Band.” It was one of the many cassettes I used to have back in the day, and I finally decided I needed to have Centerfold back in my collection (speaking of problematic things). I also picked up New Order’s Complete Music – basically a remix album of their Music Complete album. Sigh. I’m a sucker for New Order. And finally picked up The Frames album The Cost, which has their Academy Award winning song Falling Slowly on it (from the movie Once)

Pretty much done with watching things that can’t be done in an hour or two. So no more binge watching TV shows. I did rewatch The Power of Myth with Joseph Campbell and Bill Moyers. It’s on Netflix, but I bought the series from iTunes. With the death of Marvel on Netflix I’m debating dumping all my streaming services. There’s some things I like to watch from time to time, but the truth is, I’m not terribly interested in very many of the Netflix offerings. I need to read more anyway.

Random Thoughts:
At work, they’re trying to get us to sign up for a health program through our employer offered insurance. We have to get a health screening and if we don’t meet the BMI and/or waist size requirements we have to complete a “health challenge.” Failing to do those things will incur a punitive surcharge (up to about $75 a month) on next year’s monthly paycheck deductions. You can do the screening with your doctor, rather than at the on-site screening, and there is a waiver your doctor can sign if you’re already on a plan with your doctor that will prevent the surcharge, but over all the thing is intrusive in a weird and creepy way.

One of the things you’re given if you have to do the health challenge is a digital, Wi-fi enabled scale that connects directly to the services’ website. You don’t have control over it. So, every day you step on the scale the insurance company and you challenge coach get your weight automatically. There’s also an app provided by the insurance company and cleared by corporate that can be linked to a fitness tracker — either your current tracker if you already have a compatible one, or you can buy one from the service.

Again, it feels way intrusive on the part of my employer and the insurance company . . . and it’s super ironic. One of the things the for-profit health insurance industry and their libertarian supporters say to oppose things like Medicare for all or universal single payer is that it’ll create this government nanny state that’ll take away your “freedom of choice” when it comes to how you live your life and what doctor you can go to. And yet, under the guise of “costs” to the employer and insurance company, it’s okay for the corporate nanny to put me on a diet with the fitness coach of their choice.

You might say, well, go work somewhere else. That’s not the point. Every company that offers health insurance will do things like this to “control costs” — you should read that phrase “control costs” as “maximize the CEOs annual income.” For profit health care isn’t about health care—it’s about profit—and we aren’t the beneficiaries, we’re the fucking resource and if we’re sick or faulty—the insurance companies will find a way to reject us or exclude us so that they can maximize income instead of spend money on our health care (which is a deduction from their balance sheet). Since the ACA prevents them from excluding on preexisting conditions anymore, they have to come up with ways to squeeze profit out of those people in poor health they now have to spend money on.

Our society is geared toward making us unhealthy. Our cities are designed for cars, not people. Our good jobs often demand we be sedentary for 40 to 60 hours a week. Our most affordable foods are hyper processed and drenched in high fructose corn syrup while our healthiest foods are expensive and often not easily accessible to people in poorer neighborhoods (read about food deserts).

If corporations are really worried about the cost of providing health insurance to their employees, and not just telling that to their employees to justify the Big Brother like monitoring of their health as a possible means to further exploit them for profit, then they should be supporting Medicare for all. But, of course, if we get Medicare for all and we aren’t dependent upon our employers to provide us health insurance some corporations might start losing employees and find it hard to keep employees because employer provided health insurance is one of the ways corporations manipulate people into become dependent upon the employer for more than a monthly salary.