Monday, July 13, 2020

The curse of being "a good girl"

We took our condo building off the market on June 16. It took Aaron, the real estate agent, until Saturday to return the unit owners' keys. TWENTY FIVE DAYS.

First he just emailed me the combination to the lock box with the owners' keys within. How's that for security? I pointed out to him what he should have realized on his own: these are condominiums, it's not an apartment building. I'm not a landlady, I have no right to anyone's keys.

Days go by. No response to my email. So I text. And email again. No response.

Then Aaron offered to meet me somewhere, to hand me the keys. That will be easier for him, you see. All he'll have to do is hop out of his car while it's still running.

No. I reiterate that the unit owners surrendered their keys to HIM, so HE must be the one to return them. I'm not taking custody of anyone's keys. He knows I'm right. This is just so inconvenient for him!

Days go by. No response to my email. So I text. And email again. And phone.

Finally, Saturday Aaron did what he should have done on June 17. He came, got his lock box, and returned the unit owners' keys. He did all this without ever returning my call.

Today I called the managing agent of his office. I explained how displeased I was with the way our realtor treated the unit owners' security. The cavalier way he handled the deconversion from the word "go." I was venting, yes, but it was more than that.

In this situation, I am responsible for the security of the people who live here. He was way too willing to compromise that for his own convenience. And I can't emphasize this enough: this was not his first misstep. Nor even his second. I felt like I had to protect his future clients from his dismissive approach to an important business.

His boss told me that there would be "a course correction" and that he was asking to me to "read between the lines" when he said he was "looking for a new position for Aaron." 

Then I felt guilty. Isn't that stupid? If I hadn't spoken up, I would have been seething with resentment. I do speak up, and I'm racked with guilt. I can't help it. I was born in the 1950s. I'm supposed to be a good girl.

"You're going to take one for the team"

Why do I go to a therapist if I don't take her advice? My shrink and I had a disagreement Saturday about dealings with my family. She made it clear what she thought I should do. She's sensitive enough to know that's not what I will do. I let her know that I will depend on her to be there for me if she turns out to be right.

The issue at hand: My niece's bridal shower is August 1 at her mother-in-law's home in Holland, MI. I RSVP'd immediately that I'd attend via Zoom. Then my kid sister (the bride's mother) IM'd me. Did I want to play "Thelma" to her "Louise" and ride up to the shower with her?

My kid sister and I haven't been friendly for nearly 20 years. Initially, our fissure broke my heart. I helped raise my sister, tried hard to protect her from the ramifications of the disintegration of my parent's marriage,*and help guide her into adulthood. After she married, I was an ongoing source of financial support for her growing family. So when she suddenly let me have it with both barrels, I was shocked and appalled and beyond hurt. Apparently she'd been harboring anger and resentment toward me for decades, and she said some genuinely awful things.

There have been feeble attempts by both sides of rapprochement, but once my mother died, we rather gave up. With time -- and with my friend Henry's encouragement to examine her behavior more closely and with greater compassion -- I've concluded that my sister was dealing with post-partum depression when she lashed out at me. I understand how powerful both depression and hormones can be, and I'd be inclined to cut her slack, if only she'd apologize. She never has. So while I've forgiven her in my heart, that hasn't had a great deal of impact on my behavior. I don't trust her not to hurt me again.

Which is why my shrink recommends that I NOT travel to Michigan with my sister.  So much can go wrong in 4+ hours in the car, then during the shower, and then in the 4+ hours back. Since my sister is driving, I'm dependent and vulnerable in this situation. And, to use a trite expression, there's been no evidence that this leopard has changed her spots.

Yet I'm going. Because it means so much to the bride, my niece. Thanks to Covid19, her wedding plans are falling apart around her and I want her to have at least this one happy, conventional bridal day. So even though it could be very awkward, it will only be one day (a day and a half, if we stay overnight), which isn't a long time when you consider the length of a lifetime.

There's a selfish aspect to this, too. I'll get to meet some of the groom's family at this get together. If by some miracle my niece's wedding actually happens, I'll see some familiar faces at the ceremony and won't feel quite so much like I'm entering an enemy camp.

So, as my therapist put it, "You're going to take one for the team, aren't you?"

Yes. And if it goes badly, I will count on my shrink to help glue me back together afterward.

*Though they never divorced. I wish they had. My sister and I would have experienced less day-to-day tension and hostility if they'd just given up and lived separately.

Atta boy, Darius!

Darius is the convict I correspond with through my church's prison penpal program. He is serving a life sentence at Western Illinois Correctional facility. You would not want to his life. His every move is monitored and restricted and his days are literally filled with darkness and stench. I acknowledge that he is there because he is a convicted killer, and that he cannot ever fully repay his debt to society. But he is a human being, too, and whenever I write to him, I recall that Christ said, "whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." So I keep the lines of communication open, letting him know that no matter how hopeless he feels in there, someone out here cares about him.

In June, I wrote to him honestly regarding my biggest concern about Covid19 -- that it will ravage the homeless population. You can't shelter at home if you don't have a home. You can't socially distance in a shelter. You can't wash your hands regularly if you don't have access to plumbing. With so many companies encouraging work from home, there are fewer passersby to rely on for the change that fuels your life. You could very well die before this is over.

Darius surprised me by echoing my concern. He admitted that while his life is unremittingly awful, at least he knows where his next meal is coming from.* He added something to my list of deprivations that hadn't occurred to me -- with fewer people dining out, there's likely less food in dumpsters for the homeless to scavenge. He also acknowledged that he has access to minimal health care, and minimal health care is more than the people on the streets get. 

When I hear someone complain about being "oppressed" because they're asked to wear a mask in public to protect their neighbor, I think, "SHAME ON THEM." Even a convicted killer serving a life sentence has greater empathy than these people. 

*Though you don't want to hear how he describes the prison food. You wouldn't be able to look at a chicken breast the same way ever again.

Of Gone with the Wind and snowflakes

Amazingly, some online conservatives are still bitching about the "removal" of Gone with the Wind. Even though there's nothing to bitch about. 

Because while GWTW was removed from the HBO Max for a matter of days, it's back. It's been been back. It was returned to the queue, completely uncut, weeks ago. You'd think that would stop the whining and misinformation. It hasn't. "The PC Police are taking it away!" "It's been banned!" You might also assume that people who can blog, tweet and post could also use Google, but apparently they can't. Because this is, literally, the first thing that pops up when you search "Gone with the Wind, HBO Max."


In early June, HBO Max temporarily suspended Gone with the Wind from its library. The move was inspired by a thoughtful LA Times op-ed by John Ridley -- which I'd wager my mortgage payment these bitchers haven't read -- where he states, "Let me be real clear: I don’t believe in censorship. I don’t think “Gone With the Wind” should be relegated to a vault in Burbank." Ridley just pleaded for some context to be place around the film. At the beginning or at the end.

Classic film lovers are used to the addition of context and are, by and large, grateful for it. TCM has been preceding potentially offensive films with host introductions for a while now. I specifically recall the ones I watched as TCM celebrated the 75th anniversary of D-Day in 2019. Before these wonderful old movies, certain serious flaws were acknowledged and discussed -- including the way less-than-equal treatment of black soldiers and their heroism was diminished, or internment camps right here in the United States were ignored. Putting works of art (and classic film lovers do think of movies as art) in the context of the time they were made does not harm them. It just helps the viewer better understand what they're about to see.

On June 24, less than two weeks later, Gone with the Wind was returned to HBO Max. Not a frame was removed. The narrative is untouched. Instead, HBO added a panel discussion The Complicated Legacy of Gone with the Wind. It was filmed at the TCM Film Festival in April 2019. I attended, and here's what I wrote about it at the time:
The only TCMFF panel I attended, but it was so provocative and intriguing. A quartet of film historians and authors discussed two inarguable points: GWTW is un-PC to the point of being offensive, and yet it's a great and highly watchable movie. As women, how do we process Scarlett, Mammy and Melanie? As people of color, how do we handle the romanticized depiction of slavery and Reconstruction? It lasted an hour and it could have gone on an hour more. 

Then there's this: Gone with the Wind premiered in 1939. It's regularly re-released in theaters: I've seen it on the big screen (at least) four times. It's been available on BetaMax, VHS, DVD, Blue-Ray and now streaming services. It was the first movie shown on TCM and (next to Casablanca) the one shown most often.

Yet NOW whiners demand to see it and are furious they can't? NOW they better hurry, before it's taken away forever?

They can see it for free, right now, on HBO Max. They can watch it for free, right now, with a video of a panel discussion I had to pay to enjoy. And they still aren't happy.

To what can we attribute this?

•  Genuinely fake news. These folks never actually read what HBO Max said in the initial, early-June press-release where it was stated the film wouldn't be banned, edited or censored. Instead they trusted hysterical, slanted social media for their news. And hysterical, slanted social media never told them HBO Max has restored the movie to their line-up.

•  Laziness. They read a headline and never bothered to follow up on the story. As I indicated above, all one has to do is Google the movie and HBO Max to be greeted by ads to watch it at home for free. But why let facts get in the way of their spreading misinformation that fits the narrative?

•  Professional victimization. Yes, those nasty PC police are trying to keep YOU from seeing a movie YOU haven't yet bothered to purchase, rent or even watch -- even though it's been readily available in a variety of formats for 80 fucking years. This is all about YOU. Not about how it would feel to be a person of color watching a movie that celebrates the Confederacy, romanticizes slavery and normalizes the Ku Klux Klan. No, this is about YOU.