Who Invited You

As I suspected, I had fun… but it wiped me out. We all ended up staying there for about an hour and a half, dodging the rain under the shelter house now and then as needed. Unfortunately, Aunt Sharon forgot to bring her packet of pictures. πŸ˜πŸ˜‘ She asked if I would come out towards the end of the week to take her to see Mom anyway, so I’ll just grab them from her then and figure out what she wants to do with everything.

Lemme see if I can remember who all was there. πŸ€” Me, Sharon, Jim, Vicki, Toni, Wendi, Gloria, Jamie, Chris, Me, Matt, Anna, Jamie, and Mark. 😳 I think that’s it, although it felt like more people than that at times. I tried to absorb as many people’s stories as possible while they were talking, but you know how it is. 😏 It was nice though. And they made a bit of a fuss about me showing up at one of the family “things” since I often don’t, but it was all in fun… and they’re not wrong. πŸ˜…

I allowed myself to zone out as I watched the ducks, geese, and babies every now and then. πŸ˜΅πŸ¦†πŸ¦† All of the critters helped to make it sort of peaceful once you reached the edge of where all the picnic tables are. I even sat right next to some geese for a minute and none of them tried to give me the business. πŸ˜„ But I’m back home now and trying to get back into “home” mode, and at least right now I’m looking optimistically towards tomorrow and some of the things that I want to do.

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Stop Typing and Get Ready

When I talked to Aunt Sharon yesterday, she mentioned that she had finished writing what she wanted for her “family history” project that she’s been working on. I think it’s going to be a brief scrapbook or storybook from her, Mom, and Uncle Jay’s childhood. πŸ™‚ It started with us just talking about how so many old photos are unlabeled, and sometimes difficult to figure out who’s who and what’s going on, so she decided that she would start writing down memories that would then go with certain pictures, to eventually be assembled into a document that she could print and share.

It sounds like the writing is done, it’s been typed into a word document, and now she just needs to have the matching photos scanned and put into the it… and I think that’s where I’m supposed to come in. 🀨 It shouldn’t be too much trouble to do, it’s just getting the oomph to spend an afternoon over there talking it all through and making sure each picture is positioned with the right story. πŸ€“πŸ”ŽπŸ“• I mean, I absolutely love the idea, so all of us “younger” people will get to hear the stories and see the things that we might not have known about otherwise… so hopefully it all comes together.

If nothing else, at least I’ll be able to scan all of the pics that she gives me today, kinda like how I just did with all of the photos (of Mom) that she loaned me a few weeks back. I’d love to snap my fingers and have every old photo just magically appear on my hard drive, but at least as we do this little bits at a time they’ll start getting archived and saved for future Shepherd / Riecky / Snead / Batina / Klingler / Burnside / Meridith / Orlowicz generations to see. 😁

Oy… somebody send me some energy plz. πŸ˜₯ This is probably gonna be rough.

Merry Christmas, Ya’ Filthy Animal

After watching a couple Christmas specials last night, before it reached midnight I got into the shelf with my DVDs on it and dusted off “Home Alone” for us to watch as well. 😊 Surprisingly, and I have no ideaΒ how she managed this, but Cassi said that she remembers watching it within the first couple of years of it coming out – but that she hadn’t seen it since then. πŸ€”πŸ€¨ At least not as in sitting down and watching more than a few minutes of it at a time. πŸ™‚ So that was kinda neat, watching a movie that me and everyone else on the planet have seen dozens of times, and seeing her experiencing it with new eyes.

Since neither of us had any obligations to wake up to, we both ended up sleeping in. I slept unusually soundly in the bedroom, while she slept out in the living room – where Maven decided to wake her up just a couple of times, probably like “Hey. I know who you are, but why are you in my house right now?” 😼 We didn’t set any alarms, and just figured that I’d end up taking her home whenever we got up and around.

But before we really had a chance to put that non-plan into motion, her grandma decided that she was going to do a real Christmas dinner in the evening and asked if I’d like to join them as well. πŸ˜³πŸ™‚ Even though Cassi and I aren’t together anymore it was nice that her grandma thought enough about me to include me, and since I’d be taking Cassi back up there anyway I accepted the offer. πŸ˜πŸ‘πŸ» So we spent much of the afternoon just watching Netflix until it was time to go up and get the evening started. By the time everything was said and done I didn’t end up getting back home until almost 10pm.

On the way home I was thinking about what a difference time has made. When Genesee and I were together, my family had gatherings for nearly every other holiday on the calendar each year. πŸ˜‹πŸŽ‰ And for Genesee, it wasn’t something that she was used to, but in a good way… my family became her family and she looked forward to every gathering we had. This year… this year was the first year since I’ve been alive, I believe, where there was no multi-family Christmas get-together in our family. 😐 (I’m sure it was killing Toni. She tries so hard to keep things like they’ve always been.)

Now, folks in Cassi’s family don’t always get on well. 😏 I don’t mean it in a bad way, but just in a way where I wouldn’t necessarily count on them having a family gathering for Christmas. So that’s what made me smile, originally thinking that it was just going to be like any other Monday today, yet there I was eating an awesome dinner with all of them. For a moment it made me think about how Genesee appreciated our family doing that sort of thing, and now that my local family is no longer doing it, it was me that was appreciating being invited to someone else’s family holiday thing. πŸ™‚

But I’m ending Christmas Day feeling better about things than I thought I would. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™‚οΈ I had company for the eve and day that I hadn’t expected, some neat presents from Genesee (πŸŽ…πŸ»)Β that I’d never even seen before but were perfect for me, I got to sleep for about 10 hours straight, and then I was surprised again with the family dinner when I had projected that I’d be back home and just moping around the house by myself by that point.

This Is Not Where I Belong

I guess my cousin Shannon and her hubby are hosting an extended family reunion out at their place this afternoon. She’s texted me about it a couple times in the past few days, as has Toni, but I’m afraid I that have to disappoint yet again by letting them know that I won’t be going. 😞 Being depressed enough as it is, going out there and seeing everyone that I haven’t seen in forever would unfortunately and unintentionally just make it worse.

Think about it. Every interaction that I’d get involved in, it would likely start with “Hey, how have you been?” “What have you been up to?” “How’s your mom and dad doin?” or some other friendly inquiry to which I don’t have a positive answer. 😟 And I lack the ability at the moment to just “fake it” and reply with a convincingΒ “Pretty good, how ’bout you?” “Ahh, not much. Not much.”Β or “You know how it is, about as good as can be expected.”

I can just see a situation where if I wasn’t careful, I could end up being an absolute buzzkill to the get-together by blurting out detailed truthful answers –Β and that’s no good for anyone. Β (Plus, when people ask how you’ve been, they usually don’t really wanna know how you’ve actually been.)Β So the best choice is to send my apologies, thank her for inviting me anyway, and just stay away so they can have their happy gathering.

Because We Have To

I like to think of myself as a thoughtful, logical, reasonable person. And because of that, all of the noise surrounding the events in Charlottesville over the past several days really has my brain spinning. So many people are saying “what they’re supposed to say” or what they believe that others think they should say. And hardly anyone allows themselves to see the hypocrisy that’s permeating the news coverage and social media.

We all start out on the same page. The first amendment. The right to assemble. The right to free speech. And when that idea suits someone’s agenda, they’re certainly all for it. But the gathering of white nationalists and other racist white groups in Emancipation Park… because it’s widely accepted (and in my opinion, correct) that being white and racist against African Americans and jews is a very bad thing, that group that wanted to exercise their right to speech and assembly didn’t stand a chance.

They knew that their gathering would be triggering to many people, and perhaps they even wanted to disrupt the calm on purpose… and they came in helmets, carrying sticks, shields, pepper spray, etc. And as you would expect, there was a large group of protesters of the event on the other side, and many of them even came with things that could be used as weapons. It was a powder keg, and things played out in the way that you’d expect such a passionate gathering of opposing forces would do.

What’s bothering me is that nearly all the news outlets, as well as the views on social media, seem to be relieving the protesters of the event of any responsibility or blame for the way things went down. That’s difficult for me because we’ve all seen the videos… people from the white nationalist group attacking protesters, protesters attacking the white nationalists. This was something that most definitely went both ways, despite news personalities like Joy Reid saying “there certainly was not” violence coming from the protesters.

Because their views are understandably unpopular, the people who organized and attended the event are the ones that are getting all the blame. Photos and videos of them getting attacked are celebrated. People are doing everything they can to identify them, post their personal information online, and even get them fired from their jobs or expelled from their schools. Statues of Confederate “heroes” are being torn down, spit on, kicked, etc… and again, all of it to the cheers of the humans.

If you are a guest on a news program, even if you lead with condemning the racist views and actions, if you dare to point out that protesters also participated in the violence as well you will be shamed or shouted down. If you assert anyone’s right to assemble and speak, you’re going to be labeled a Nazi sympathizer or worse. If people really looked at this, it should scare them… mob mentality, justifying violence if someone’s views are different than yours, cheering vandalism, turning a blind eye to illegal actions if they are done by someone who is confronting a politically incorrect symbol, idea, or view.

I have friends who also share this view. The white nationalists, just like anyone, had a right to assemble and assert their right to free speech. They should have known that it had the potential of blowing up, which it did, but that shouldn’t preclude them from doing it. For those that went there and got into fights, on either side, it’s obviously wrong. You don’t have to like what someone is saying, but that shouldn’t give you permission to physically attack them (again, on either side) and it certainly shouldn’t result in the cheers and praise of the mob.

Nobody seems to be doing the “if the shoe was on the other foot” thing. If an extremist black group were to gather and speak, would the media be as quick to essentially praise anyone that attacked them, simply because such incendiary speech “shouldn’t be tolerated” or whatever? Would that group be treated with the “they should have known better” mindset like the people who gathered in VA? And would people (in general) tolerate taking photos of all of the black people, blasting their information all over social media, and doing everything that can be done to destroy their lives? I really don’t think so.

I’ll be honest… of those that gathered, I don’t have any idea what they were speaking about. I’m pretty sure it was awful, difficult to listen to, and probably meant to get people fired up like it did – and yeah, everything that happened because of the event is horrible – so I don’t know what can be done to prevent such things from happening. The idea of “hate speech” vs “free speech” is obviously a tricky one… but if you take away the political correctness, if you take away the passionate views, it comes down to one group interacting with another group, with each side having a portion of violent actors within it, and anyone that participated in physical violence is just as bad as the next one, regardless of their reason for doing it.